Obsessed by all things ‘Made in Britain’, ‘British Heritage’ and banging on about supporting UK manufacturing weren’t enough, there are so many factories, textile mills and manufacturers in the UK that I wish to visit; Bute Fabrics on the Isle of Bute, off the west coast of Scotland, Harris Tweed on the Isle of Harris/Lewis, The Heavy Woollen District in West Yorkshire, Mulberry in Somerset, James Homer factory in Walsall which makes accessories for Ettinger, and so on.
It was a pleasure to visit another factory of a British heritage brand, Lavenham Jackets, better known as the home of British quilting and English manufacturer of quilted horse rugs, diamond quilted jackets, quilted waistcoats and accessories (my horse riding friend swears by it). Founded in 1969, the factory is located in Lavenham, a humble medieval lopsided-village and food capital of Suffolk. It was my first time seeing how rolls of fabrics being quilted by giant computerised multi-needle quilting machines, the tension control system offers a healthy marriage between the fabric (layered by wadding and lining) and spools of variegated rayon thread to ensure it has the quilting effect.
Making the quilted jacket. CAD (computer aided design), specification sheet, sample docket are primarily guiding principles before the production line proceed. Each worker has a specific skill level which he/she is assigned to assembly line’s work stations; sleeve, panelling, lining, pocket, black flap, fastening, quality control etc.
Constructing a quilted outerwear is all too familiar to me, I made one myself (the hard way) when I was at college thankfully I was awarded with a Merit. Eye-hawking each worker sewing parts together was indeed fascinating especially in this scale, I couldn’t imagine a finished jacket was assembled by more than 10 workers!