Warping & Sizing
Warp refers to the longitudinal threads in woven material, tightly stretched on a beam. The latitudinal threads, known as weft or filler, interweave with the warp to create fabric. Large spools of spun cotton are prepared for warping or winding onto a beam, which is then inserted into a loom for weaving. If the yarn is purchased, 7.5 lb spools are prepared for warping. Threads are anchored and wrapped to a large beam in parallel rows, creating a warping beam. Different towel widths need varying numbers of warp threads.
These filled beams are placed in a rack holding up to 12 beams and sized in preparation for weaving. The threads are sized or stiffened for easier weaving, with PVA starch, urea, and wax applied and pressed into the yarn. The threads are then dried quickly over Teflon-coated cans heated with steam. These beams, with their coated threads, are finally sent to the looms.
The beams are moved to the looms using a pallet jack or hydraulic lift truck. Loom widths vary, ranging from as narrow as 85 inches to as wide as 153 inches. Weaving is slower on wider looms as it takes longer for weft threads to cross the warp. Beams are mechanically hoisted onto the looms using a warp jack designed to handle their weight and size.
Towels are woven on dobby looms, which employ two sets of warp and consequently two warp beams. One warp, the ground warp, forms the towel body, while the other, the pile warp, creates the terry pile or loop. Each set of warp threads is meticulously threaded through a set of metal eyes and attached to a harness. These harnesses, which can adjust their vertical positions relative to one another, mechanically raise and lower the warp threads, allowing the weft or filler to pass between them, thus forming the woven fabric.
Dyeing & Printing
Once the toweling fabric is created as one continuous roll, it’s wound onto an off-loom take-up reel. It’s then transported to the bleaching process as large fabric rolls, where they’re immersed in a water bath with bleaching chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide and caustic defoamers. Toweling must first be dyed pure white before any other color. The chemically saturated toweling is exposed to high temperatures that trigger a reaction, bleaching the towel. The roll is then washed up to three times to remove all chemicals, and dried.
If the toweling is to remain white, it’s then cut, lock-stitched, and labeled using a single machine. If it is to be dyed, the large, dried, uncut rolls are immersed in vats of chemical dyes, known for their colorfastness after extensive home laundering. After dyeing, the toweling is pressed between heavy rollers to ensure dye penetration, then steamed to set the color. After another round of steam drying and fluffing, the dyed towels are ready for cutting and hemming.
Cutting, Sewing and Packing
After cutting and hemming, the towels undergo a final visual inspection before being hand-folded and sent to packaging. Here, automated equipment forms a bag around the towels, and UPC labels are attached. The packaged towels are then stored in the stock room, ready for shipment from the plant.