Visiting the Texollini Factory

Samples of Texolinni fabric. Click to enlarge

One of the members of my American Sewing Guild group organized a field trip to a local textile mill specializing in knits called Texollini.  According to our guide, Merchandizing Director Sherry Wood, the plant is one of the few vertically integrated plants left on the West Coast.  Fabric is knitted, dyed, and printed all in one facility.

Knitting machines and yarn spools

It was a real education in the planning, technology, and skill needed to produce textiles.  Texollini knits in the round on huge machines, using yarns from all over the world.  We paid close attention to the creation of two different textiles, one a very fine knit most likely for lingerie, and another adding lycra for stretch.  The machines operate automatically, but it takes hours of skilled labor to thread them.  They can knit polyester, rayons, cotton, wool, linen, and even cashmere in a variety of textures.

A dyeing machine

After watching the knitted tubes split open, washed, and dried, we moved on to the dying facility.  Here long swaths of fabric fed into machines that looked a little like submarines. The dying process takes hours to complete. Afterward the dye bath is filtered for harmful chemicals before it is put into the sewage system.

The plant includes a good sized quality control section, where dyes are first developed.  They produce samples that are tested for color, shrinkage, stretch, and piling.  Once the customer is satisfied, a full order goes into production.

Printing cylinders

Texollini knits to order. On the day we were there, we saw plain jersey polyester fabric knitted and dyed. Unfortunately nothing was being printed, but the big rotary screen printing machines were on view.  Thousands of cylinders are stored on site to print unique designs; clients can also use the design staff to create new patterns.

Seeing the laborious creation process for textiles made me rethink my sewing habits.  It takes so much time and effort to produce fabric, I’m going to take extra care when I use it.

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3 Responses to Visiting the Texollini Factory

  1. Carol in Denver says:

    What an interesting trip that must have been. I would love to see an in-depth video of the process, from very beginning (designing? sourcing fiber?) to end (how the end-user used it). Sounds like something PBS might show.

  2. Lizzie says:

    You were lucky to get this first-hand look into a modern textile factory. Were you surprised by how few people it takes to run a factory like this? One of the big problems with returning textile manufacturing to the USA is that a modern plant provides very few unskilled jobs.

  3. Emma Benitez says:

    Fascinating article – it must have been a really interesting visit. I was reading about the old Barbizon lingerie lines, made in Utah, where at that time they were one of the few companies where the entire process of fabric spinning-to-garment manufacture happened all in one place. If a similar situation at Texollini exists now then I wonder how many more they were back in the day. Of course, one distinct advantage of making your own fabric from start to finish was that companies could market their fabrics as ‘new’ and unique inventions, such as Barbizon’s ‘Tafredda’ etc.

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