Really Really Really Exciting and Exhausting and Hectic few days.
So through the my unbelievable luck and the extraordinary generosity of one of the fabric guys, I had the fortune to get a personal tour through a fabric factory! Literally being a gi-bloody-normous lingerie geek (did i mention that :P) I found the whole experience absolutely fasinating. My dyslexia can get the better of me and so I’d never really taken much in when it came to the process of fabric, besides a vague relocation of weft and warp’s. So for two people to take two hours out of their days to take me personally round and explain in completely dyslexia friendly terms the entire process, giving me souvenirs, secret information and allowing me to take as many photos as I want, was just amazing.I am so so happy I got the chance.
1. First these teeny tiny needles are threaded up. Im not gunna lie, I dread threading up your bog s
tandard domestic needle. Anything to avoid it from about a meter of excess thread to gripping on tightly to the very tip of it before it slips out. And then 40- 96 of them seriously ! Apparently it takes about a day to thread up a machine, geeze I am not surprised !
2. All the tiny little gossamer threads that make up a teeny little patch of fabric !
3. They have scanners to scan for needles messing up. Apparently in some factories in China and the like they have people checking for this. 😮
4.Lycra- so stretchy it literally gets brought in this much when rolling up.
5. The Rolling Room.
6. Apparently the reason most fabric factories have big chimneys is because they chose to take the cheap option and burn off oil and marks that are made in the sewing process off when they dye them, which is awful for the environment. Simplex dry clean all their fabrics, which is environmentally friendly, but expensive.
8. The Dying Process ! They tye the fabric up into a rope then at 190 degrees it rattles round and round these machines untill voila ! They had lots of different sizes. This was the second smallest one:
These were the medium sized ones:
Biggest, so big I couldnt get a photo of so much as half of it- despite precariously leaning back on tiptoes in platforms as it was ( dedication?! )compared to the smallest one that does about 20 -30 metres !
Or they spray dyed fabric, where the dye is spurted out from little wholes while the fabric is wrapped around it, which they did for elastic and the like.
9.Next I saw how the actual dye is created. Which I had untill today completely and utterly underestimated. Sure I’ll have a crack at blending a couple of Dylon sachets together and maybe chuck in some coffee/tea and think thats complicated enough ! They first mix the dye up in little test tubes. All very satisfyingly technical looking. Then when they’re done label them up in bottles. Those bottles represent just 1% of the actual colour- and even then they only use one or two drops on test samples.
10. They then lab dib them- up to four at a time, and that takes 4 hours. Then they get dry it off before they can check the colour.This sample is for a M&S bra, of course all the different fabrics will take the dye so very differently. The two pieces already decided are the cup and cradle pieces, the piece that they were checking was the wing. First you use your eyes to see any differences ….then pop it under a lightbox where you can switch the light to different settings such as bedroom light, outside light, and store light. The reason it looks different in different colours is the ultra violet light that runs in store and outside lights.
Anyway this particular sample looked just the tiniest bit blue. To double check though you use a Spectrometre. This you pop the scrap of fabric through the hole and light flashes onto the fabric then takes an average sample. It then flashes up on the screen the exact amount it matches to the original.
This one scored 0.73 which is only just a pass, and in this case they considered it a fail, too blue. Thankfully the computer gives a recipe for the perfect amount of dye!
11. Then, once the dye is finnally perfected, come the tests.
First up is- the heat,then rubbing tests, cold water tests ( for when you leave wet clothes overnight etc), stability wash- (which tests how much percentage its shrunk or expanded), measure the weight, then measure the stretch, then record it all by using a gray scale chart in each area from 1-5.
11….. Et C’est Tout! The fabric is then ready to be rolled up, sent off , shipped out, cut up and stitched together !
Overall I had an amazing day, that I was so grateful for and now understand appreciate the process of fabric making a lot more entirely !