We mentioned in a previous article the different materials for a made-to-measure suit and we remain now on the suit essentials by approaching spinning and weaving.
There are eight major processing steps from freshly shorn wool to the fabric used to make a tailored suit. All of our fabrics go through these steps.
What are the different steps?
Naturally fat, fleeces retain dust and plant debris. So this wool, called raw wool, is first washed and dried.
There are five phases:
- soaking (to remove as much soil as possible)
- degreasing (all the “Suintine” fat is not removed, a tiny part is left on the fiber, otherwise it would be impossible to work in carding)
Once clean, you can dye the wool or leave it in its natural color. The dyeing can be carried out at different stages of the transformation according to the technique used: either after washing, or on carded and / or combed ribbon, or at the spinning stage or after weaving. The operation is carried out in large containers containing a coloring solution kept boiling. The wool is plunged and stirred for a while before being rinsed, wrung out and left to dry.
This operation consists in disentangling the fibers. Etymologically, the word derives from “thistle” (plant spiked formerly used to rub, soften and clean the fleeces).
There are several steps for carding. First, the wool is “ensimée”, that is to say that it is impregnated with an emulsion intended to facilitate disentangling. Then it goes into the card (drums filled with very fine steel spikes, rotating at high speed). These divide, parallelize the wool fibers and retain the vegetable impurities that may have remained.
This technique gives a coarse fiber, “the cardboard ribbon”.
If the cycle is only carded, the fiber will give more rustic-looking fabrics (Tweeds …)
If the final use requires a smoother and finer wool, it will have to follow the defoliation and combing operations before spinning.
The fibers composing the cardboard ribbon are still tangled: they are said to be felting. Before combing the ribbon, it must be defused, that is to say, regularize, parallelize and straighten the fibers. Three successive passes are carried out on machines which assume the doubling and the stretching of the ribbons.
This operation completes and perfect the carding of wool passing through the “combed cycle“. The main purpose of combing is to remove the very short fibers known as “nozzles” and the last small impurities that still remain. To do this, the cardboard ribbon passes through a succession of combs more and more fine. Like carding, combing provides a raw material for spinning, in the form of combed ribbons.
Whether carded or combed, the ribbons are then transformed into threads, subjecting them to two operations (stretching and twisting). The successive stretches by the spinning looms, gradually bring the primitive lock to a size of thread that can be up to 400 times smaller. Then, the thread will then undergo a twist on itself and will most often be twisted with one or more other threads. This stage, which gives it resistance and regularity, is called the twisted one. Another important element of the spinning is the direction of the twist of which one spins: to the right or to the left.
- Yarns are said to have undergone an “S” twist when the torsion line follows the S-letter bias;
- Conversely, the yarns are called “Z”, when the line of torsion follows the bias of the letter Z. An old tradition is that we spin carded threads in Z and combed threads in S.
Weaving consists of intertwining threads, combed or carded. Vertical threads are called “warp threads” and horizontal threads are “weft threads” or fillers. The method whose warp and weft threads intertwine with each other is called armor.
All fabrics are created from the three basic armor:
Primers are finishing treatments that give the product its final appearance. This is a series of operations that end-of-production textiles undergo. The goal is to change the appearance, surface, feel or properties of textiles.
Here are some examples :
- padding: the textile is immersed in a bath and passes between several rollers before leaving. This allows treatment of the entire textile by promoting penetration and diffusion of the primer.
- scraping and crushing involves tearing the fibers off the surface; they modify the thickness of the fabrics and give them softness.
- sanforisage: a treatment combining a mechanical action with a heat action, and aiming at rendering natural fiber fabrics irreversible;
- glaze: it increases the gloss on the surface by starch deposition;
- Emerying gives the fabric a “peach skin” feel. Emerying is frequently done before dyeing. The machine consists of cylinders covered with sandpaper (sandpaper more or less thick);
- calendering gives shine and flexibility to the fabrics by passing between two heated rollers;
- the infeutrable finish on wool;
- anti-stain primers. There are two types of primers, “Soil repellent” primers, making the textile surface oleophobic, “repelling” stains, and “Soil release” primers, making the textile surface hydrophilic, which facilitates the elimination of stains when washing.
Next week, we will continue to focus on custom-made suits by developing different types of armor.
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