World Finest Cloths - Part 1 - Dormeuil
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The history of The House of Dormeuil is interwoven with the constant search for the rare and luxurious. Dominic Dormeuil explores breeding farms around the world each year to select the most precious fibres and produce exceptional fabrics.
Australia is the world’s leading producer of Merino wool, with the wool produced in Tasmania considered to be one of the country’s very best. Originally from Saxony, the Saxon Merino sheep is the aristocracy of wool sheep, so to speak. It is a high-maintenance animal and only very few breeders work with a flock of purebred Saxons.
Artisans manually sort each fibre depending on its fineness, separating out the fibres into a number of qualities.
The area surrounding Leeds in the United Kingdom, where Dormeuil’s fabric manufacturing premises are located, is the birthplace of the international textile industry. It was here, amongst the lush green valleys irrigated by Pennine water with its unique properties, that the best worsted weavers and the leading experts in fabric finishing set up in business more than a century ago.
The fleece is washed to remove impurities such as grease, dirt and straw.
The wool fibres are separated, disentangled and aired to give the carding strand. It is at the carding stage that blends of fibres can be made.
Long fibres will be combed to align the fibres in parallel. The shorter fibres are then removed.
A continuous strand of clean fibres called the « Top » is obtained
The strands are dyed in bulk prior to spinning.
The different types of dying:
Top dyeing: his consists of dyeing the fibre strands prior to weaving.
• Yarn dyeing: this consists of dyeing the spools of raw wool thread after spinning.
• Piece dyeing: this is generally the least expensive technique. The product is woven in its natural colour and then dyed in an autoclave.
Spinning consists of twisting the natural fibres to obtain a more durable continuous yarn, transforming natural wool fibres into a fine, smooth, compact yarn.
Worsted spinning (long fibres): the fibres are combed during spinning to remove the airspaces and more twist is applied, creating a fine, smooth, durable yarn. This method is used primarily for men’s suits.
Woollen spinning (short fibres): he fibres are not combed when they are spun, and little twist is applied. This gives a soft, lofty thread. This method is used primarily for jackets, coats and knitwear.
Designing the Fabric
1. The fabrics in each collection are created by Dominic Dormeuil and his Design team, before being prototyped at Dormeuil’s premises in Yorkshire, England. The House of Dormeuil designs a new fabric collection twice a year.
2. Warping consists of unwinding the yarn cones onto a warp beam ready for weaving. The warp yarns are wound at an even tension and in parallel in a specific order, a process known as drawing-in.
3. The weave is produced by interlacing warp (vertical) yarns and weft (horizontal) yarns at a specified frequency.
For a plain weave, the warp and weft are aligned to form a simple criss-cross weave. Each weft thread crosses a warp thread by passing over it, then under the next one, and so on in regular fashion.
This type of weave is created by passing the weft thread under two warp threads then over two more, offsetting by one thread for each pick to give the fabric its diagonal effect.
The satin weave is characterised by four or more weft threads floating over the warp thread or conversely, four or more threads passing under it.
4. The darners painstakingly examine the fabric using a powerful magnifying device which allows all the fabrics to be repaired by hand, using a needle.
5. Burling happens at the same time as darning, all the knots are removed to ensure a perfectly smooth surface for finishing.
This involves transforming the raw fabric coming off the loom into finished fabric that can be used to make clothing. Dormeuil uses more than 50 different finishing techniques, including high pressure washing, stabilisation treatments, steaming and singeing.