There are two distinct levels of fabric on this coat: the solid colours; and those that need to be custom woven, and it’s this second batch which separates the men from the boys.
Most of the coat is from the solid colours, which I have been getting custom dyed over the past year or so. Subject to minimum orders, these still were within my budget.
This leaves me the four rewoven fabrics - Red Tartan (fabric 1), Checked Collar (fabric 6), Woven Back (fabric 9) and the Lining (fabric 14).
They all present their own individual challenges, but it’s the lining that’s the one which needs a seriously good specialist weaver to handle it. If I can't get this matched, my project would be dead in the water.
Early on in my quest I had been advised by a lining supplier that I’d be better off getting it printed and no-one would be able to match the weave.
This was very frustrating - it had been woven in the 1980s, so why, with all the advances in loom technology and computer control could it not be done today? Surely this should be a breeze.
Last year, when I came to commission my rewoven Tennant Coat lining, the Chinese mill I used asked if I had any additional fabric needs, saying they could take on anything I could require.
I put the Six Frock Coat lining to them, and they admitted it was beyond their ability. This was a bit depressing.
Undaunted I carried on the search, this time with a new spin on the problem, by not regarding it as a lining. I hadn't thought of it in these terms before, and I shan’t say how I broke this mindset, but it worked a treat!
With this fresh approach one name kept coming up, and it was a UK based weaver too, making things a lot easier to handle.
I showed them the challenge, and instead of gasping and asking how I’d want it done, they simply asked how many metres I would want. At last - someone on the same page as me!
At a future date I’ll explain how we worked to make his extraordinary fabric happen, but once we had done two small test weaves, it was time to commit to commissioning the Lining Impossible!
This also signalled the commissioning of the Check Collar fabric I showed you last month, all of which took place while my lining was on the loom.
Early last week I had word from the mill that the lining was done, and being pressed and finished ready for shipping out to me, and after settling up a hefty bill, it arrived, triple wrapped for safety.
Frantically tearing the package open I knew this was make or break on this coat - but I shouldn’t have worried - my lining is PERFECT and jaw droppingly stunning to see in such a large quantity.
It has cost me double what I have already forked out on all the solid colours combined - but it has been worth the effort.