July 5, 2019 - Clothing & Accessories

What is Made to Measure Clothing?

A Kitenge tailor creating the fabric pattern to make a custom made shirt by hand 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.

Read on to learn how made to measure clothing is made, it’s 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 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.


Abdallah Kitenge's main tailor using a sewing machine at his workshop in Tanzania


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

Why Made to Measure Clothes?- 5 advantages

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 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.

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.

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.

Kitenge’s Made to Measure Garments

What makes our made to measure service so unique is that we source the finest, 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 many small businesses and the local economy.


Pile of African Wax Print Clothing Fabric Close Up


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).

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.


A highly-skilled African menswear tailor in Tanzania cutting the fabric pattern to make a men's made to measure shirt by hand


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 pencils 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 shipping.

What is great about MTM is that you have more say and control over the design process. For example, with our 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!

If our African wax print fabric is too bold and vibrant for you then you will soon be able to order plain coloured MTM shirts in easy to wear colours such as white, black and light blue. If you would like to add a splash of colour to your plain coloured shirt you could add a kitenge contrast to the collar, cuff, pocket and/or button placket.

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 and if you would like side pockets and/or a drawstring tie.



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


Kitenge green African print board shorts worn by a male model leaning against a palm tree in Tanzania


Last but not least are 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 measurements: your waist, hips, leg circumference and desired length.


Women's African print made to measure pencil skirt model wearing


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

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