I suppose I ought to have a category titled, “Things I didn’t know,” because that is where this entry would have to be placed. Or it could go under “Things I learned while looking for something else,” or even, “Things I should have noticed before but did not.”
While looking through my collection of American Fabrics magazines, the above ad caught my eye. It tells how fabric maker Cohama maintained the Cohama Hand-Looming Workshop, a place where the fabric designers could experiment with their ideas before committing to large runs on the mechanized looms. I thought that this was a pretty neat idea, and gave Cohama some silent brownie points for such a practical solution to what can be a costly problem.
But it turns out that Cohana was not the only wool manufacturer who relied on the hand loom to try out the new ideas of the designers.
In the Fall 1949 issue of American Fabrics there is a small article, “Ideas Tailored on a Moment’s Notice”, in which they show the hand weaving operation at Forstmann Woolen Company. Called the Provincial Designing Room, it was under the direction of Miss Margaret Swanson, and employed two hand looms on which weavers would interpret the ideas of designers working for clothing manufacturers. The designer could watch the fabric develop, and make changes if necessary. After the designer was satisfied with the sample, it would be processed by the mechanized looms.
I love the quaintness of the Provincial Designing Room! In the photo above Miss Swanson is working with Ellen Brooke of Glenhunt (A suit and coat maker) and a hand weaver to develop the fabric to Miss Brooke’s satisfaction.
Brooke and Swanson, looking at how the newly developed fabric cuts and drapes.
The hand weaver, Alice Berman, making the sample worked out by Swanson and Brooke.
A swatch of the handwoven sample
And where the run of fabric will eventually be made, on the fully automated looms at Forestmann.
All illustrations are from the Fall 1949 issue of American Fabrics and are copyright Reporter Publications, Inc.