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Book Review - the P&B Universal Range


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#1 Sator

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Posted 06 October 2009 - 02:12 AM

I think it is pretty much the world's worst kept secret that my favourite books of cloths are the two volumes of the Lear, Browne and Dunsford range of Pederson & Becker heavy weight worsteds.



By now I am sure you all know of the virtues of more traditional tailoring weights of cloths. Poulin for example advise that one use nothing lighter than 14 Oz. These days most cloth merchants offer suiting that is only less than that weight.

These more full bodied cloths are easier to work with. They don't slip around like a slimy eel on the cutting room table like light weight super cloths do. They take to being stretched and fulled with the iron, so they can be shaped much as potter might shape clay. They are easier to fit, because they drape cleanly and crisply over the subject. And the finished garment looks clean, crisp, structured and immaculately ceaseless. Modern lightweight cloths - yes, 13 Oz cloths were regarded as lightweight as recently as the 1970s - look like wrinkled and soft pyjamas, by comparison. The ceaseless finish of the garment has the effect of making the wearer look slimmer and taller. Trousers take on an amazingly steep vertical drop that makes the legs look much longer. One stands out amongst a crowd of people wearing rather droopy, and rumpled looking garments. This sort of "soft" look is promoted as looking nonchalant but usually it just looks sloppy and tired.

Not to be forgotten is the fact that heavier cloths demand heavier canvassing, and that in return means more structure and shape. The sort of ultra light canvassing that is routinely used these days means that all modern coats are in some way soft, unstructured, and heavily compromised garments. Proper structure helps to eliminate the sloppy drape and replace it with a crisply starched look. It is even probable that the old fashioned practice of extensive shaping of the canvas with multiple cuts was made possible by the heavier canvas materials that were once used.

Naturally, some object vigorously to heavy weight cloth saying that the modern soft coat of light cloths is more comfortable. In the searing heat of summer that is certainly true. However, at any other time it is remarkable how little one notices the extra weight. However, there are some who eternally run warm even in their birthday suits and complain of the cloth running too hot no matter what they wear. Others, such as me, find even 23 Oz weights to be nothing all that remarkable. There is enormous individual variation. Whatever the case, it still remains important to use the fullest bodied cloth that can be tolerated in the climate it was intended for. Also the character of the weave and finish can be just as important as the weight. A light woollen cloth with a pronounced nap will always run warmer than a tightly woven worsted that is substantially heavier. Tightly woven cloths can sometimes have a metallic feel to them - they feel cold to the touch on a cool day, and can fail miserably in keeping the wearer warm even when the cloth weight is quite high.

The P&B Universal books generally start at 15 Oz or so. Admittedly there are one or two lighter cloths in the range of 12-13 Oz, but these are by far and away minor exceptions. The weave is nice and tight but for the most part the average twill or plain weave in there is not that extremely tightly woven. Nor is the finish the smoothest and finest I have seen. However, the designs are all classic, and despite a tendency for seam edges to fray somewhat (perhaps suggestive of a looser weave setting), they have plenty of body to compensate and make up beautifully.

So here without further ado are a selection of some of my favourite designs in the P&B Universal books.

Moderately wide rope stripes - either pink or lavender on a navy background:





An unusual deep and rich aubergine colour, that looks at first glance like navy:



A nice soft grey:



Fancy stripes. Unusual but highly tasteful:





Another soft grey, but in a heavier weight:



A genuine heavy weight charcoal grey twill:



The weightiest cloth in the book in classic plain navy:



A heavy narrow herringbone weave:



A medium to dark grey medium width herringbone weave:



Midnight blue for a clean formal look:



A real heavyweight barathea (I think) for the ultimate in crisp formality:



A classic looking grey rope stripe:



A navy pin dot:



A gorgeous blood red pinstripe on a dark grey background:



A few of the nicest striped dress trousering you will see. Guaranteed to make your legs look longer:









A few POW checks:







I only wish there would be another volume.

Those tempted should contact Harrison's of Edinburgh.

http://www.lbd-harri.../lbd_about.html
Contact: post@lbd-harrisons.com

I always find Penny to be very helpful and friendly.

#2 J. Maclochlainn

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Posted 06 October 2009 - 02:40 AM

I like Penny a lot, very sweet lady.

I must add that they do not "normally deal with individual members of the public", according to Penny. Bunches are quite expencive and many are gone as soon as they are made, so they prefer to deal with people who have a business. I (and they as well) suggest for the casual purchaser of their fabrics to go through their tailor or local fabric house (if they are willing to order it for you), otherwise, in Europe, Penny said I could order direct for my customers, so if you want some yardage contact me.

Jason

Sator, just offering a service, I apologise if this is in breach of the TOS
Silly Cognoscenti, Drape is for windows!

#3 Sator

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Posted 06 October 2009 - 09:45 AM

Also please keep in mind Andrew Rogers. He is a merchant who in short lengths to any member of the public who is interested. He can be contacted via email: britishclothsales@gmail.com

#4 Sator

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Posted 06 October 2009 - 11:18 AM

For a fine example of a three piece lounge suit made of this cloth see here:

http://tuttofattoama...-completed.html



I think it is 74101 - pink rope stripes on a navy base.



#5 Frog in Suit

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 01:45 AM

This book review is a great idea. Could you see your way to covering other suppliers as well?

I have a suit in a navy with a white pin/pin head stripe ( not sure what the correct description is), also my (striped) morning trousers which I suspect might be P & B. Is there anything in the book which you have not shown that would meet those descriptions?

Best,
Frog in Suit

#6 Gruto

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 03:40 AM

Great review, thank you, Sator.

QUOTE (Sator)
all modern coats are in some way soft, unstructured, and heavily compromised garments. Proper structure helps to eliminate the sloppy drape and replace it with a crisply starched look.


Sator, it do amuses me to follow this silent fight with the LL drape. Don't misunderstand me, I think it's great that someone defends hard tailoring. I believe I can see the beauty in both philosophies Thinking.gif



--
The Journal of Style

#7 Sator

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 11:30 AM

Keep in mind that the most thorough studies ever written of what drape is, its aims, and historical origins can be found right here on this forum. Unstructured (more exactly semi-structured) tailoring of the Armani-Scholte variety is actually just a variation of traditional tailoring. It's actually not a thesis-antithesis, hard vs soft dichotomy at all. All degrees of structure have their rightful place. The main determinant should be the weight of the cloth. Weightier cloths should take stouter canvas, which means a more structured coat. Lighter cloths take a softer canvas, which means less structure. It is a simple matter of logic, not of rhetoric. The real problem is with those so dogmatic that they insist that things must always be one way or the other.

#8 Sator

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 11:55 AM

QUOTE (Frog in Suit @ Oct 7 2009, 01:45 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I have a suit in a navy with a white pin/pin head stripe ( not sure what the correct description is), also my (striped) morning trousers which I suspect might be P & B. Is there anything in the book which you have not shown that would meet those descriptions?



There is a white pin stripe with a 1cm repeat #74132:



#74131 is navy with light grey pin stripe (ie the stripe is less distinct).

I'm afraid all the dress trousering in the book has already been shown above.


#9 Frog in Suit

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 08:35 PM

QUOTE (Sator @ Oct 7 2009, 03:55 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
There is a white pin stripe with a 1cm repeat #74132:

I'm afraid all the dress trousering in the book has already been shown above.


Many thanks, Sator, for taking the time to research this.

74132 looks spot-on: weave, stripe, except that the stripes are 1.5 (one and one half -- I measured), not 1, centimetres apart.

Oh well... Sigh.gif

Thanks again.

Best,
Frog in Suit

#10 J. Maclochlainn

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Posted 31 October 2009 - 10:57 PM

I'm taking a break from hand working a pair of trousers out of this
Posted Image

to let you know what I think. So far it's nice, no snags or bad spots, nice even run of the pattern. Only down fall, is as Jeff stated, it does fray quite easily. I suggest if hand working this fabric to hand serge the edges first, even as easy as it is to fray it handles serging up to the edge quite well. Hand stitching with this fabric is a dream :thumbsup:


Jason
Silly Cognoscenti, Drape is for windows!

#11 Sator

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 12:01 AM

Some additional thoughts on the P&B Universal books.

These are generally not the ultimate in refinement. The finishing is sometimes a touch less smooth than ideal, and the weave settings not that dense. The fraying is a function of the looser weave settings, I fear. The results is a cloth that is with a sometimes slightly rougher texture than most city worsteds, although there is significantly variability throughout the book. The striped trousering in the book is much more smoothly finished and this is probably deliberate. The heavier 18-21 Oz twills are somewhat more roughly finished with a hint of a flannelised type of nap.

The H Lesser 16 Oz book cloths are far more smoothly finished and more closely woven. This makes the cloth run much cooler and I can comfortably wear this in 24-26 degree C temperatures, if it is not too humid. The Lesser 16 Oz book shows nicely how a refined heavier weight cloth should look. Personally, I still love the P&B Universal book as it offers far more variety than the Lesser 16 Oz book. Furthermore, the P&B Universal generally starts at 15/16 Oz (although there are about 3 or so 12-13 Oz designs in there) and only goes up in weight from there. Some cloths are noticeably smoother than others. They might have been woven on different machines, possibly even by different mills. That said, a more woollen and slightly napped finish on a cloth is not always a bad thing. It certainly does make it run a lot warmer - if that's what you want. Sometimes it is also an aesthetic choice, as with flannels. Smoother cloths with tight weave settings however, run cooler and keep their shape better - as well as probably fraying less when cut.

#12 Sator

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 09:34 PM

A little summary of the formal dress cloths in the P&B Universal book. Heavier weights lends dress clothes a cleaner and dressier appearance, making many of the designs in this book a leading choice for both day and evening dress.

1. Dress Trousering
There are several examples of these and they are probably some of the most attractive designs currently available. At 15/16 Oz weight they drape well giving a clean, crisp front crease edge. See the first post for pictures.

2. Baratheas
These come in a range of weights in both black and midnight.

74144 12 Oz black
74145 13/14 Oz black
74146 15 Oz black
74147 15/16 Oz black
74148 12 Oz midnight
74149 14 Oz midnight
74150 15 Oz midnight
74169 17/18 Oz dark navy
74170 17/18 Oz black
74171 18/19 Oz black
74172 17/18 Oz midnight

Midnight blue is an alternative to black for evening dress, and is said to be "blacker than black" under artificial light. It should be mentioned that the shades labelled as "midnight" look like black. Only with close inspection and comparison with a black cloth can you see a faint blueness to the shade - with the eye of faith. Only the one that I have called "dark navy" really has a noticeable blueness to it. 74150 is actually lapelled "blue" rather than "midnight" as the other ones are, but it really looks like a very blackish midnight blue.

3. Herringbone Weaves
These are also very classical for both day and evening formal dress. For evening dress, a pattern with a narrower repeat is traditional. Oxford grey is a mixture of 95% black with 5% white yarns and is an alternative to black for daywear.

74151 15/16 Oz black - microherringbone with repeat of 4mm
74152 15/16 Oz midnight - 6.5mm repeat
74153 15/16 Oz black - 6.5mm repeat
74117 15/16 Oz black - 12mm repeat
74118 15/16 Oz Oxford grey - 12mm repeat
74119 15/16 Oz dark grey - 12mm repeat
74122 15/16 Oz midnight - 12mm repeat
74175 18 Oz Oxford grey - 6.5mm repeat

4. Miscellaneous Other Weaves and Designs for Daywear

74114 charcoal 15/16 Oz serge weave
74115 dark grey 15/16 Oz serge weave
74116 light grey 15/16 Oz serge weave for morning suits, morning waistcoating
74163 charcoal 15/16 Oz pick-and-pick - the two-tone weave lends a bit of interest
74178 charcoal 18/19 Oz serge weave
74179 dark grey 20 Oz serge weave
74180 medium-dark grey 18/19 Oz serge weave
74181 light-medium grey 18/19 Oz serge weave for morning suits




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