Lavenham Factory Tour

11th July 2012

Lavenham 5

Lavenham 1
Fabric swatches board.

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.

Lavenham 4
CAD, specification sheet, sample docket.

lavenham 2
Computerised multi-needle quilting machine.

Lavenham 3
Right: A multi-needle shuttle, looks like a beetle shell huh?

Lavenham 7

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.

Lavenham 6
Alignment check.

Lavenham 8

Lavenham 9
Buttonhole stitches.

Lavenham 10
Final inspection before packing.

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!

Many thanks to Lavenham team for allowing me to snap around the factory like a crazy paparazzi, and Sane Communications for the organisation.

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  • Reply Fion 11th July 2012 at 01:38

    Beautiful and insightful post.

  • Reply Ravjoy 11th July 2012 at 01:41

    Amazing, the factory doesn’t look like any other typical garment factories like what you see in tv documentaries. You are so lucky to see the jacket being produced in close up.

  • Reply Apple Choi 11th July 2012 at 01:57

    Love the fabric swatch board picture.

  • Reply Cornelle 11th July 2012 at 02:29

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your factory tour posts, love how you are very passionate about the UK manufacturing issue, the craftsmanship. I think it would be interesting if you cover the ones that you wanted to go like the textile mills. A quick question out of curiosity, are you from a fashion design background?

  • Reply Yuna 11th July 2012 at 02:52

    Amazing coverage, thanks for sharing >,<

  • Reply Bam 11th July 2012 at 02:54

    Amazing isn’t it being a blogger?

  • Reply Flying 菲 11th July 2012 at 02:58

    Bam, and your point is? Being a blogger allows you to explore great things, such as this factory visit.

  • Reply Mary Pottiger 11th July 2012 at 03:01

    Oh I did cad/cam at university, I absolutely hated it.

  • Reply Michelle Lee 11th July 2012 at 07:52

    wow amazing post

  • Reply Georgina 11th July 2012 at 09:59

    The skill that goes into making some garments is incredible. Kind of shows why designer gear is so pricey.

  • Reply The Douuk 11th July 2012 at 11:27

    Brilliant and insightful post.

  • Reply Anália 11th July 2012 at 18:44

    I really love your photography.

  • Reply Lulu 11th July 2012 at 21:21

    Love the behind the scenes taken in the factory.

  • Reply Ronelle 11th July 2012 at 21:21

    Nice post Kit.

  • Reply Harper Matiko 12th July 2012 at 00:16

    This. Is. Awesome. I am super interested in seeing different materials and processing as I am a product design major. Thanks!

  • Reply Nicola V M 12th July 2012 at 10:34

    I’m studying fashion design at LCF and this post has the best perspective/aspect side of how manufacturing process works, one day, one day my work will be produced in England.

  • Reply Rainermaid 12th July 2012 at 10:44

    What a big mean quilting machine.

  • Reply Gabby D 12th July 2012 at 11:02

    Amazing photography as always.

  • Reply Jade 12th July 2012 at 11:24

    Reminds me of the Barbour jackets factory.

  • Reply Ting 12th July 2012 at 11:26

    Oh I see Paul Smith written on the fabric swatch board, are they collaborating together?

  • Reply Duck 12th July 2012 at 13:57

    We should totally go to Harris/Lewis to see the tweeds being made!! And I’ve always wanted to go to the Outer Hebrides – the furthest I’ve ever got in the islands is Skye.

  • Reply Dina 12th July 2012 at 15:50

    Great posting as always.

  • Reply Elifaza 12th July 2012 at 16:18

    Fantastic post Kit, love this whole factory visit which changes the perspective view of sweatshop, looks like a nice environment to go working.

  • Reply Edie Lamb 12th July 2012 at 17:18


  • Reply winnie 13th July 2012 at 00:29

    The guys that work there look so engrossed in the task at hand, I bet it’s quite theraputic at times! Your handwritten details make me want a wacom tablet so baddddd.

  • Reply Sam 13th July 2012 at 04:27

    Hum I wish HK had some heritage brands and traditional labels to visit and document. You UK bloggers are so lucky to be able to document these laborious processes and to bring into light the value of their workmanship. The photo of the button hole reminds me too much of my failed attempts at sewing in the past. :S

  • Reply Tracey Mode 17th July 2012 at 07:19

    Nice coverage.

  • Reply Luxury Sky 20th July 2012 at 04:27

    I really know the factory how to work!!!

  • Reply Fashion Times 20th July 2012 at 10:17

    This is really fun. Got my eye on your blog.

  • Reply Jeane M. 21st July 2012 at 03:20

    A wonderful post…

  • Reply The Hooting Post 22nd July 2012 at 06:18

    Great insights on the behind-the-scenes with snapshots of the factory!
    Thanks for sharing awesome photography and info too! 🙂

  • Reply Mat 9th August 2012 at 13:06

    so good, i get excited about this stuff just like you. wish i could get to a factory and see some of the craft

  • Reply Studio visit: Michelle Oh 1st June 2013 at 18:55

    […] emerging talents.  My last year’s visits to Abraham Moon & Sons Mill, Dr Martens, Lavenham, and Tusting were immensely in-depth and insightful, despite the long train journeys and sore […]

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