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Product Update 1: Fabric Creation

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Posted by Jenna A on 6 October 2013 at 11:00 PM

Wow, what a hectic month! We’ve been out in Taiwan, overseeing the masters at work on producing the very first run of Tribesports Performance wear.

Jenna in FactoryFrom creating the fabric to applying the swingtag on the final product, sportswear manufacturing is fascinating. Well, we think it is, and thought we’d share some of the juicy details with you - grab some popcorn, it’s time to find out how Tribesports Performance Wear goes from the design to your doorstep, starting right here with the fabric creation process.

The fabric has now been knitted, dyed and set. If, like some people in the Tribesports team (we won’t name and shame… this time) you had an image of the world’s biggest curtain shop where there were simply rolls-upon-rolls of different colored technical fabrics for us to pick up and use, think again! Each material we’ve used in the Performance range has been specially developed to meet our specific technical performance requirements, here is an insight into that process…

Please note: Below is an example of the bulk fabric creation process. Prior to this there is a long process of working with the fabric mill to develop and review fabric swatches until we reach a fabric that is the perfect weight, composition, hand feel and has the desired technical features to fulfil its specification.

The majority of the technical fabrics used in the Performance range are a polyester/ spandex blend, using high quality yarn to achieve a beautiful hand feel and 4-way stretch for good movability and structure to the fabric.

Here is a very basic low-down on how performance fabric is made. Its impossible to do the process justice in one post, but we hope this gives a small insight into the effort that goes into creating the perfect technical fabrics for your Performance sportswear.

  1. Polyester granules are spun into polyester yarn and this yarn is equally split into 1.5kg yarn spools.
    Polyester granules

    I may start to get a little bit geeky from here on in - apologies if I go into too much detail!

  2. Approximately 148 yarn spools are set into a circular weaving machine (which takes up an entire room – it is magnificent!) The process of preparing the yarn spools ready for knitting can take two people a full day to complete.
    Spool machine

  3. 2800 needles are positioned in a specific layout in the middle section of the circular weaving machine. The way that these needles are positioned determines the exact way that the fabric looks. This is an incredibly intricate process and will take at least 8 hours to do.
    Tribesports Performance Wear Power Mesh
    The power mesh - for example - requires the needles to be specifically positioned to create this super-breathable square-mesh hole construction.

  4. The circular knit machine knits the yarn in to a greige (a length of fabric which will be milky in color).

  5. The greige is now transported from the weaving mill to the dying mill. This amount of yarn creates approximately 4,100 yards of fabric.

  6. The greige is scoured and cleaned to remove any impurities in preparation for the dyeing phase of production to ensure that the dye is able to penetrate the fabric easily.
    Dye fabric
  7. The greige is split into equal weights and inserted into a dyeing lot with the appropriate dyestuff and technical fabric treatments, e.g. color fixing agent and moisture wicking treatment.

  8. Each dye lot is then heated to 150-170°C and left to allow the fabric to absorb the dye and the technical treatments.

  9. The fabric is now soaped and rinsed to remove the residue dyestuffs.The dyed fabric is then dried, pressed and inspected to ensure the color is correct.

  10. The fabric is then ‘set’. This involves passing all of the fabric through a huge oven (the one in our dying mill was over 30 metres long!) and the sides of the fabric are scored to ensure that it keeps its shape ready for production. The antibacterial treatment is also applied at the setting stage.Fabric setting

Only now is the fabric ready to be rolled, packaged up into polybags, stacked and sent to the factory ready for garment production.

Rolls of Fabric ready for the factory

The fabric creation is a truly incredible process to see. There is so much complexity and skill at every stage to ensure the best possible end result for the fabric that will be used to create your Performance wear range, and this is just the beginning! Next stop - pattern cutting…

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