Wednesday 1 December 2010

Ultimate Six Frock Coat - collar fabric

Fabric 6

After the success of preparing the Red Tartan for weaving, this month I’m now looking at the fabric for the collar.

This is a doubly difficult one to match: firstly it is woven from a number of colours which mix with each other to make further variations, and breaking this down to the colour of the yarns needs some careful observations; also there isn’t that much of it on the coat (just the collar, two pocket flaps and a brace between the back buttons). None of these pieces is individually large enough to demonstrate the size of the pattern repeat, a I will need to put them together like a jigsaw puzzle to find this out.

The things to initially work out are the base set of pure colours it is made from; how these mix to produce the finished result; and the size of the pattern repeat.

To do this I need to look closely - VERY closely. I was hoping it might be possible, using a very high res scan, to isolate the individual threads and work out a colour match (see below), but the weave is quite tight, and the adjacent strands make it difficult to be objective about it, so that won’t work.

Pulling back, and looking at the design as a whole, I’ve worked out that the same sequence of colours run both vertically and horizontally. This means that where the same colour crosses itself I will see a square of the true colour, to which I can get a match.
In the picture above, this happens in the triangles on the far left (black) and the far right (turquoise).

This works well and I have soon deciphered the bands of colour needed.

One final check will show if I’ve got it right. Using the online tartan builder I used before, I enter the colours I have distilled and set them to even width stripes. I have to turn off the tartan mirror-repeat, and this gives me a surprising good result.

Taking this a stage further, I can then take some images I have of the fabric on the coat; cut them out and montage them together, matching up the squares of colour where appropriate; then lay the preview image of my fabric over the top to see how well it matches - which it does!

Sadly I cannot use the Tartan weavers to do this fabric as well, as they weave with a twill (click the image left to enlarge, and notice the diagonal lines visible on some of the squares). What I need is a plain weave. Also the colours I need are not in their standard palette, so would have to be custom dyed, which is very expensive process.
Still, I have all the information I need to take to an alternative (and hopefully cheaper) weaver to make it for me to a quantity more economic for what I am doing.
I already have a cunning plan here too . . .  stay tuned.


  1. Fascinating! So much work but great to see the payoff coming together. Looking forward to more updates.

  2. Amazing work! Bravo!


  3. Truly you are a genius when it comes to finding the right materials in the right colour and there's always a palpable air of excitement, adventure and tension in your blogs.

  4. I love how the final image plays with your eyes when having it full screen.

    The fabric starts to look transparent!


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