Double Cloth

Our 2015 series of blogs all relate to cloth weaving, printing or otherwise embellishing. The hope is that we further educate ourselves about the products that we sell and visit some of our fantastic suppliers who are busy manufactering high quality textiles in the UK.
The First of these blog posts is on ‘Double Cloth’. Double cloth is a two-layered woven cloth, the layers can be quite different; a tapestry design on one face with a plain layer behind, or they can be a reverse of each other (a double faced double cloth); as seen in ‘Welsh Blankets’, where there is no’wrong side’ just a different version on each side.

A Welsh 'Tapestry' style blanket showing the two different 'faces'.

A Welsh ‘Tapestry’ style blanket showing the two different ‘faces’.

Having read up on this and had it explained to me a couple of times by experts I still don’t feel like I have the best grasp on the actual technicalities of how this miracle happens but essentially two fabrics are woven simultaneously with binding yarns interconnecting the two layers to form a single cloth.
At the ‘National Wool Museum’ (Wales) in Llandysul, Carmerthenshire the story of the woollen industry is followed through from fleece to finished product. The production of woollen cloth has a long history in Wales with different areas having different moments of success and decline, the production of blankets became centred in West Wales in the 19th century with a high point in the first decade or two of the 20th century with plain colours and stripes forming a large part of the prodcution as well as the ‘tapestry’ style Welsh double cloth blankets. Originally the double cloth blankets were woven from a fairly coarse two ply woollen yarn and their weight and durability mean that they found use as rugs and curtains as well as blankets. It is interesting to note that many of the 19th century American quilt designs, particularly those produced by the Amish of Pennsylvania, seem to owe much to the traditional Welsh double cloth blankets.

The clear geometric designs associated both with traditional Welsh blanket design and 19th century American quilt design.

The clear geometric designs associated both with traditional Welsh blanket design and 19th century American quilt design.

As well as housing a large variety of working machinery associated with woollen cloth production, The National Wool Museum also home to a good collection of historic blankets, outfits and cloth samples making it especially valuable for today’s designers.

The collection of vintage Welsh blankets at the 'National Wool Museum' in Llandysul, Carmarthenshire.

The collection of vintage Welsh blankets at the ‘National Wool Museum’ in Llandysul, Carmarthenshire.

Very much a working museum current production is run by Raymond Jones of Melin Teifi who has a vast knowledge and understanding of both the history and processes of the Welsh woollen industry. Melin Teifi produce both their own range of woollen flannels and commision weaving for other designers and it was exciting to see some very contemporary designs on the looms.

Welsh Blanket weavingWelsh blanket loom

Current production on the looms of Melin Teifi.

Current production on the looms of Melin Teifi.

http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/wool/

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