Crichton Bespoke of Chester - Q & A on Shirt Making

Crichton Bespoke of Chester - Tailors and Shirt Makers

Crichton Bespoke is based in the charming city of Chester, England. Managed by Patrick Barker, the company was started by Patrick's father in 1969 as bespoke shirt makers. The business has expanded to offer bespoke tailoring and continues to manufacture in Chester, where it has its own workrooms.

The Chester Rows in the centre of the city date from medieval times and offer covered walkways containing shops and other dwellings on two levels. Here you'll find Crichton Bespoke. The area is worth a visit. It's nice. And why not call in at Crichton Bespoke to be measured for a shirt whilst you're there?

We asked Patrick a few questions about the shirt making side of the business. Food for thought when choosing a shirt. Many thanks to Patrick for taking the time to respond to young Mrs Tweed's pestering.

Q & A with Patrick Barker, Managing Director of Crichton Bespoke

What are the most popular designs for shirts?
Out of the three or four hundred cloths we carry in stripes, checks, plains and fancy paisleys, the most popular shirts we make are classic white ranging from fine Sea Island to heavier Oxfords and herringbones and blues ranging from pale ice to deep azure.

How many style options do you offer?
We carry a set range of 6 collar styles, ranging from the Classic and Windsor through to the Button-down and Nehru, 4 double-cuff styles and 4 single cuff-styles. But customers can request their own unique collar and cuff design where we would create their own pattern.

Monograms come in 3 different styles and sizes and a wide range of colours to compliment the shirt fabric. They can be placed on the breast, rib, pocket or cuff. White collar and cuffs, coloured inner-collar bands and under-cuffs and details on the front strap are all offered. The cut of the shirt is very much down to request of the customer whether it be for a fitted or a more full-bodied shape.

What type of buttons do you use on the shirts?
We use a mother of pearl button and on dark cloths we use a smoked shell button.

Why choose bespoke shirts?
Choose bespoke because of the wide and exclusive range of fine cotton shirtings on offer, the style options which allow the customer to design a garment from scratch down to the colour of the thread used, and the comfort, fit and shape that simply cannot be matched with an off-the-peg shirt.

Tips on choosing a bespoke shirt?
My advice would be, do not over complicate your shirt order. The most beautiful orders I see are the English-cut shirt with Classic or Windsor collar, double-cuffed in luxurious plain cotton or an understated Bengal stripe. Great for the office with a suit and tie and for casual with the sleeves rolled up.

Tweedy's thought: Bengal stripe shirts are absolute classics. A nice broad navy or red stripe on white. What could be better? I feel a gap in the wardrobe needing to be filled.   

Is there such a thing as a perfect fit for bespoke shirts?
Each customer is different in body shape and style preferences, my job is to create a garment that is comfortable and easy to wear as well as addressing the customers own individual style requests.

How many hours does it take to create a bespoke shirt?
It takes on average four to six hours of labour time to create one of our bespoke shirts.

How many client patterns do you have on record?
In our time in business, we have acquired a library of thousands of individual customer’s patterns which can be called on for a customer after years between orders, presuming the customers measurements have not altered…

The Steps to Create a Crichton Bespoke Shirt

Patrick explained the steps in making their bespoke shirts. All of their shirts are cut by hand in their work rooms right in the heart of the city of Chester.
  1. First a paper pattern is cut from the individual measurements taken from the customer.
  2. This set of patterns is then laid onto the material and all the separate twenty one pieces that make a bespoke shirt are cut out.
  3. These pieces are then given to one of our skilled seamstresses to have the firm linings stitched into the collar, cuffs and breast strap and sewn together.
  4. The shirt is then ready to have the button and button holes done, it is then pressed and the finished shape of the collar and cuffs formed on wooden moulds.
  5. The shirt is then trimmed of threads, checked over for the high standard of quality we pride ourselves on, packed and wrapped in tissue for the customer to collect.

Minimum Number of Bespoke Shirts

In Patrick's opinion, a gentlemen should have a bespoke shirt for each day of the working week, two for casual use at the weekend perhaps, plus a Tattersall if he is a shooter and a classic stud fronted dress shirt.

Tweedy's Stats: Nine bespoke shirts will see you right, gents. 


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