October 29, 2021 - Clothing & Accessories

What is Made to Measure Clothing?

Kitenge African menswear tailor measuring fabric to make made to measure shirts in Tanzania East Africa

Made to measure is the process of creating a piece of custom clothing fitted specifically to an individual in their preferred measurements. It is cut and sewn using a standard-sized base pattern and uses consistent manufacturing processes.

Ready-to-wear is pre-made clothing that is available for immediate purchase usually found in high street shops, markets and online. The fit of a MTM garment is more superior than ready-to-wear clothing, as it is handmade to fit an individual’s unique size measurements.

MTM clothing is more expensive than ready-to-wear because each item is individually handmade by an experienced tailor to fit a customer instead of being made in large quantities in standard sizes.

Suits are the most common item of clothing to be ‘made to measure’. However, you can now order all sorts of MTM clothing online for men and women including made to measure shirts, made to measure trousers and made to measure skirts.


Continue reading to learn how made to measure clothing is made, its advantages over ready-to-wear clothing and further details about our unique and colourful MTM service.

What is the Made to Measure Process?

Once a tailor receives your chosen product style, fabric selection, preferred measurements and any customisations that you require they can start to prepare the pattern and cut the main body fabric.

The most experienced tailors cut by hand without using a ready-made pattern as a guide. All they use is a piece of chalk, a tape measure and a pair of fabric scissors. Watch the videos below of one of our African menswear tailors, Tairo, in Tanzania preparing and cutting fabric for a men’s custom-made shirt.




In comparison, the majority of ready-to-wear clothing is made in bulk in large factories. There may be a long production line and many different machinists can make one garment.

Multiple layers of fabric are spread over each other (called a lay) and the different pattern shapes are cut out using electric cutters controlled by either a human or computer. Other methods of cutting fabric in bulk include die, laser, plasma, water jet and ultrasonic.

After cutting, the tailor assembles all the different pieces together by using a professional sewing machine. Tailors usually assemble the entire garment themselves instead of passing it along a production line. They are highly skilled and can make an entire garment from start to finish.


Kitenge master tailor sewing African print clothing at his workshop in Tanzania East Africa

Kitenge’s master tailor, Abdallah, at his own workshop in Tanzania

Benefits of Choosing Made To Measure Clothes

Made to measure clothing has so many great benefits compared to off the peg clothing. It is an investment that can help save you money in the long-term as the high-quality materials and expert craftsmanship means the garments last longer.

You’re more likely to wear made to measure garments more often and you won’t need to replace them often. This is also good for the environment as they are less likely to end up in landfill. Discover what made to measure clothing could do for you.

1) Fit – the main advantage of ordering a MTM garment is that it will fit you perfectly and you will therefore wear it more and for longer.

2) Comfort – because your MTM clothes fit perfectly and are made using high-quality fabrics they will also be much more comfortable to wear.

3) Customisation – you may also have the option to customise your MTM garment and have control of the design process. Discover ideas on how to customise your made to measure shirt.

4) Unique – if you can customise a MTM garment then it will be more unique than ready-to-wear clothing, which often copies the latest trends seen on the catwalk.

5) Sustainability – as you are likely to wear MTM clothing for a long period of time, due to the excellent fit, quality materials and craftsmanship, it helps to reduce the amount of clothing sent to landfill. Read more about how to look after your custom-made shirt to ensure it lasts as long as possible.

Also, because your item of clothing is cut to order only necessary clothing is made, which reduces the waste of surplus, unwanted stock usually held by ready-to-wear retailers.

Bespoke vs Made To Measure Clothing

We’ve already explained the difference between made to measure and ready-to-wear clothing but what about bespoke? Bespoke tailoring is when a design is created entirely from scratch to match a customer’s unique requirements.

For example, Saville Row tailors in London, UK, make one of a kind bespoke suits often for well-known sportsmen, musicians and actors such as Daniel Craig when he played James Bond. A bespoke suit is often made for special occasions such as a wedding, red carpet, black tie and other formal events.

The price of bespoke is more expensive than made to measure due to the time it takes to design and make the garments by hand. There are far greater fabric options, which are usually more luxurious too. The number of fittings and alterations is unlimited which makes the fit of bespoke more superior than made to measure.

Learn more about the differences between bespoke and made to measure clothing.

Kitenge’s Made to Measure Garments

What makes our made to measure service so unique is that we source the finest, authentic, colourful, African wax print fabrics direct from the African continent to make our stylish, high-quality clothing. We source the majority of our raw materials locally in Tanzania, which supports small businesses, communities and the local economy.

Learn how you can tell the difference between authentic and counterfeit African wax print fabric.


Authentic African wax print fabric designs by Kitenge Store

Kitenge’s unique collection of authentic African wax print fabrics

Once we have received your order, we take your selected fabric(s) and raw materials to our tailors with your specific size measurements and chosen design details (if customised). The 100% cotton fabrics are pre-washed before they are delivered to our tailors to prevent shrinking when the finished garments are washed.

Our tailors begin to cut the fabric by hand in their own workshops to fit your individual size measurements. The garment is then sewn together by using an industrial sewing machine. Our tailors have invested in the best quality machines, including Brother and Juki, using the profits made from our orders.


Kitenge Store African menswear tailor cutting fabric to make custom-made shirts in Tanzania East Africa

Kitenge tailor, Tairo, cutting the fabric pattern to make a men’s custom made shirt

Once all of the different parts of the garment have been assembled they add the finishing touches including the buttons for shirts (using a specialist machine), the zipper for pencil skirts and create the drawstring tie for trousers and shorts.

They also attach the care label to the inside of the garment so you can check how to wash your African print clothing easily at home. The finished garment is then carefully steamed to a crisp, neat finish and quality checked before being packaged ready for worldwide shipping.

What is great about MTM is that you have more say and control over the design process. For example, with Kitenge’s made to measure shirts our customers can choose their preferred sleeve length, collar and cuff style etc. Therefore, you could be the only person in the world wearing it!


Kitenge Store models wearing African print shirts for men at bar

Kitenge models wearing our made to measure African print shirts for men

If our African wax print fabric is too bold and vibrant for you then you could order one of our plain coloured shirts instead. Our plain coloured MTM shirts are available to purchase in easy to wear colours including black and light blue.


Kitenge Store models wearing plain coloured custom made shirts with optional African wax print fabric contrasts office

Kitenge models wearing our plain coloured shirts with optional African print fabric contrasts at the office

If you would like to add a splash of colour to your plain coloured shirt then you have the option of adding African wax print fabric contrasts to the collar, cuffs, button placket, sleeve placket and pocket(s) for a truly unique look.

This is the perfect solution if you’re bored or wearing dull and boring shirts to the office or when working from home. Did you know that wearing colour can help you to feel more creative and productive at work?

Learn how you could easily wear our versatile plain coloured shirts with optional African print fabric contrasts.

You can currently take advantage of our great special offer. When you purchase your first made to measure shirt you can get another one for FREE! Simple add two made to measure shirts, with the same sleeve length, to your basket and use the code: MTMFIRST.

We don’t just make African menswear but also MTM women’s African print shirts in either short, 3/4 or long sleeves. If a comfortable pair of elasticated trousers/pants is more up your street then look no further! We also make colourful African print trousers for men and women. You can choose your preferred fit, length and if you would like side pockets and/or a drawstring tie.


Women's custom-made brown African print trousers model wearing catwalk Bristol museum UK

A Kitenge model wearing our custom-made Yellow/Brown African Print Trousers

If you are heading somewhere warm and tropical then make sure you check out our men’s and women’s African print made to measure shorts. Simply choose your favourite fabric design, measure a pair of shorts that fit you well at home and let us do the rest of the work!


Male model wearing African print fabric made to measure shorts by Kitenge Store standing next to palm tree

A Kitenge model wearing comfortable African print made to measure shorts

Last but not least is our MTM stylish African print pencil skirts, which are very popular for work and a great way to brighten up an office, especially on a rainy day. Why not get noticed by wearing one to a job interview! All we require are 4 simple body measurements: your waist, hips, leg circumference and desired length.


Model wearing women's blue African print pencil skirt custom made by Kitenge Store

A Kitenge model wearing our custom-made Blue/Green/Purple Pencil Skirt

Be the envy of all your friends and receive tons of compliments by wearing your very own handcrafted Kitenge design. Visit our made to measure page for further information about the unique service and products we offer.

Perfect fit guarantee mtm clothingYou can also learn how easy it is to take your measurements at home with our simple instructions and see what our valued customers have to say about us. Your first MTM clothing purchase will be covered by our perfect fit guarantee. Find out more by visiting our FAQs page and contact us if you have any questions.


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