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Clothing Fabrics - Worsteds

( Originally Published 1924 )

We find two different processes in wool manu-facture: one makes the fiber into worsteds, the other turns it into woolens. In making worsteds the fibers are first carded. This process is carried on by passing the wool between rollers rotating in opposite directions from which project the ends of many small wires. Opening and separating and straightening the fibers through this process leaves the wool in soft strands which are taken off by a huge comb and wound upon a wooden roll into the shape of a large ball.

The next process is gilling, the straightening of the fibers. It is again made into a large ball ready for combing. The short stock and nibs are removed and the fibers made more nearly parallel by means of a comb. Two further processes of gilling take place, then the fiber is wound into a large ball, named a "finished top."

The dyeing process may be carried on in different ways. It may be done while the wool is wet after scouring, while it is in the top or ball, while it is in the thread or skein, or while in the piece after it is woven. If the wool is to be dyed after scouring, it is given the required shade and then gilled and recombed ready for drawing. The soft untwisted wool, the top, is put through a process, called drawing, which usually consists of nine distinct operations, drawing and redrawing until it is twisted into the desired size. This process is also called roving. The fiber which has now been twisted is wound on spools. In spinning, the thread is reduced in size or twisted together into two, three, or four strands ready for weaving. All imperfections which are apt to show in the finished goods are discovered by careful inspection and the goods are discarded. If the wool is to be dyed in the skein, that process is now followed.

Thread is used in two ways in weaving, as warp, the thread which runs lengthwise of the cloth, and as filling, or weft, the thread which runs across the fabric. The cloth is now woven into the desired lengths. Knots, wrongly woven threads, and all other imperfections which are discovered through careful examination are corrected. This is called burling or mending. Further scouring and washing to remove oil or any foreign matter is again done to cloth. The process of fulling is carried on by running the web through a machine in which the cloth, moistened with a specially prepared soap, is subjected to pounding and very great pressure. This process gives to undressed fabrics the required finish. Different kinds of finish require varied treatments.

The web of cloth is now dyed, thoroughly rinsed, all moisture extracted, and the fabric dried. A machine through which the cloth is run brushes it, thus lifting the long fibers, and shears it, cutting the fibers off to even length. Now another examination for imperfections follows, and those discovered are corrected.

If given real care and the quality is satisfactory, worsteds ought to last for many years, because the long staple, hair-like wool is used. The quality of the raw wool used and the expense involved in making combed yarns causes the high price of many worsteds.

Some better known worsteds are basket cloth, Bedford cord, challis, cheviot, coatings, cravenette, crêpe, etamine, flannel, gabardine, grenadine, nun's veiling, Panama, pinstripes, plaid, poplin, serge, shepherd's plaid, skirtings, suiting, tricotine, Poiret twille, piquetine, voile, and whipcord.

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