Production update 1: parkrun milestone t-shirts

April 29, 2015

We’re super excited to get your milestone club t-shirts to you! We're still on track - delivery to the UK and distribution through Wiggle is still expected to be end of June.

In the meantime, Tribesports thinks it’s really important that people understand the amount of intricacy and attention to detail that goes into manufacturing quality kit, and the benefits that technical features give to runners of any ability.

We’ll be giving you regular updates on each stage of production and what goes into making technical sportswear, and how we get your milestone t-shirt from design to your doorstep.

Factory updates from the production in Asia will be alternated with what happened UK side to get the t-shirt production set in motion. 

We’ll jump into the bulk fabric creation – this has just been completed in Taiwan, and the fabric is on its way to the production line.

Fabric Creation 

Here is a laypersons guide to how technical sportswear fabric is made. It’s impossible to do the process justice in one post, but we hope this gives a small insight into the effort that goes into creating good quality technical sports fabric.

1.   Polyester granules are spun into polyester yarn and this yarn is equally split into 1.5kg yarn spools. The first time we saw these tiny granules it seemed hard to believe it was the starting point of a t-shirt!


Polyester granules

2.   Geek out time: Approximately 148 yarn spools are set into a circular weaving machine (which takes up an entire room – it is magnificent!) The process of preparing the yarn spools ready for knitting can take two people a full day to complete.


Circular weaving machine


3.  2800 needles are positioned in a specific layout in the middle section of the circular weaving machine. The way that these needles are positioned determines the exact way that the fabric looks. This is an incredibly intricate process and will take at least 8 hours to do. The mesh fabric used under the arms of the t-shirts requires a specific placement of the needles to create the hole construction.

4. The circular knit machine knits the yarn in to a greige (a length of fabric which will be milky in colour). I think you’ll agree greige is a great word!


Cleaning greige


5.   The greige is now transported from the weaving mill to the dying mill. This amount of yarn creates approximately 4,100 yards of fabric. This first production run of t-shirts required approximately 31,000 yards of fabric!

6.   The greige is scoured and cleaned to remove any impurities in preparation for the dyeing phase of production to ensure that the dye is able to penetrate the fabric easily.

7.  The greige is split into equal weights and inserted into a dyeing lot with the appropriate dyestuff and technical fabric treatments, e.g. colour fixing agent and moisture wicking treatment.

8.  Each dye lot is then heated to 150-170°C and left to allow the fabric to absorb the dye and the technical treatments.

9.  The fabric is now soaped and rinsed to remove the residue dye stuffs. The dyed fabric is then dried, pressed and inspected to ensure the colour is correct.

10.   The fabric is then ‘set’. This involves passing all of the fabric through a huge oven (the one in our dying mill is over 30 metres long!) and the sides of the fabric are scored to ensure that it keeps its shape ready for production.


Fabric setting


Only now is the fabric ready to be rolled, packaged up into polybags, stacked and sent to the factory ready for garment production.


Rolled fabric


Our fabric production is done following Blue Sign standards, which guarantees sustainable textile production. It eliminates harmful substances right from the beginning of the manufacturing process and sets and controls standards for an environmentally friendly and safe production. This not only ensures that the final textile product meets very stringent consumer safety requirements worldwide but also provides confidence to you that you’re acquiring a sustainable product.

The fabric creation is a truly incredible process to see. Infact before this bulk fabric creation there is quite a long process of working with the fabric mill to develop and review fabric swatches until we reach a fabric that is the perfect weight, composition, hand feel and has the desired technical features to fulfil its specification. We’ll cover this process in a future update.

There is so much complexity and skill at every stage to ensure the best possible end result for the fabric that will be used to create your milestone t-shirt, and this is just the beginning!

Next factory update we’ll look at pattern cutting. That’s after next weeks update on the design process. Stay tuned folks!

You can see our full retail range for running here, featuring great quality products that we're getting fantastic reviews on from the parkrunners who have already tried us out on their runs.

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