Julia Jones visit to Sanderson Fabric
After years of selling curtain & upholstery fabrics at Julia Jones here in ColwynBay, North Wales, we were treated to a factory visit by Sanderson to see how their fabric is printed at Standfast & Barracks in Lancaster.
I was interested to see how the process works, and it’s always good to understand more about the product that you sell. I had no idea how fascinating it could be!
When the raw fabric arrives at the printing mill, it needs a certain amount of processing to get it ready for printing. Ever wondered how they get rid of the fluff and loose ends on a roll of cotton/linen mix fabric?
It is rolled through a machine with fire burning at its centre, so that the flames can burn off all the unwanted bits. By the time it comes out the other end, it has a smooth, uniform surface and lovely smell of fresh straw!
I was intrigued to learn that the Indian silk that we use in our bespoke curtains is hand woven by local people in their own homes in remote villages inIndia, before being transported on the back of a motorcycle to be sold. This is why the rolls are slightly shorter than our other fabrics – they wouldn’t be able to carry or produce them otherwise! I can now see that any quirks and irregularities in the fabric are part of the story of how that fabric was made, and that each roll is unique.
Fabric is printed using a variety of processes depending on the type of cloth, the quantity and finish required. The conventional rotary printers work 24 hours a day, with up to 21 cylinders in a row, each with a different colour rolling out designs of all shapes and colours. For finer designs, and high end silk printing, a flatbed printer is used. It was fascinating to see the printing screens lined up, and as the fabric was passed from one screen to the next, colour was drawn across the screen and another element of the design would appear.
Fabric is also printed using an ink-jet digital printer, a bit like our printer at home but on a much bigger scale! They told us that this gave the option of much smaller print runs and special one-off designs. As well as decorative fabrics, full of colour and intricate design finishes, I was intrigued to hear that the factory also produces camouflage fabrics for military use!
I can now appreciate the work that has gone into the designer fabric collections that we sell here at Julia Jones, including Sanderson, William Morris, Harlequin, Sion, Zoffany, Designers Guild and Osbourne & Little. It’s great to know that they are printed here in the UK with British skills and expertise at their core – something we reflect here at Julia Jones with our hand made bespoke curtains. Come and have a look for yourself at our showroom in Colwyn Bay, North Wales.