Finishing covers all the processes, mechanical and chemical, that a fabric will go through to obtain it’s own unique qualities between the loom and the shop, or worktable.
Since the finish of the cloth is so vitally important all weavers will take as much care with the finish as with every earlier step – either to choose the best finishers or to create their own specific, high quality finishing workshops.
The best quality cloths are always woven and finished in the best quality mills. Where reputation is built on quality alone, costs reflects quality and you do get what you pay for. For instance, all wool woven by Fox Flannel in Somerset ( the south west of England) is sent to Yorkshire (in the north of England), where the water is softer, to be washed and finished. The same applies to Anta in Scotland who weave in one area and send the woven material across the country to areas of softer water for the best finishing process.
Not unlike the magical water of the Liffey that makes Guinness what it is – and that all true followers swear by.
Once woven, fabric from the loom is ‘gassed’– any excess fibre is burnt away, before it is then washed, bleached, starched and pressed. All finishing processes happen somewhere along this cycle.
Finishing tends to fall into four categories:
Some of which also have practical implications for later use, such as printing, gauffraging, watermarking, calendering, emerizing and mercerising.
b) To enhance performance
Many and varied, such as paper backing to make fabric walling easier; stiffening or starching or creating sheen at one end of the scale; washing and stonewashing to remove sheen and colour at the other end.
Finishing processes that really proof against soiling, water, moth and sunlight can be quite severe, sometimes with detrimental or limiting effect to the potential or planned design ideal.
Resistant and retardency finishes include those against fire, at a level slightly less than fully proofing ( so that the fabric remains softer, ) also against water, soiling, sunlight….