How We Make a Garment – Revisiting Maiwa's Quilted Coat

by - Thursday, March 25, 2021


It all starts with a trip to visit the threads. These trips happen years before the cloth hits our cutting table. We talk to spinners and weavers. We try to get a sense of what they can do and what they want to do. Many are ambitious and have big dreams for their looms. This is where we begin — combining their dreams with our dreams. It takes imagination to see these twisted strands of cotton as cloth, and then to see that cloth as a garment. It also takes considerable experience to plan the journey the cloth will take.

Have you ever stood beside a handloom with the shuttle being thrown and the heddles thrumming? The sound is unlike anything else in the world. When you hear it you realize that weaving is its own kind of music. With an experienced hand at the loom, the music of the cloth plays every day, little by little, until one day the warp is finished. The threads are cut and the bolt is taken away.

With handloom, the economy of scale and the culture of weaving go hand in hand. In a lot of ways every loom is a sample loom. That makes it easy to try ideas and to experiment. It also means that different types of cloth can go to individual weavers. Some love to create plain weave as quickly as possible. Others are perfectionists who want to be challenged by intricate supplements, double weaves, jamdani patterns and so on.

We don't design a garment by picking what we think will sell from massive swatch-books containing thousands of options. Limits build creativity. And so we start with naturally-dyed artisan cloth. Often it is cloth that we have a collaborative hand in creating. When we work directly with weavers we can make suggestions and occasionally solve a design problem through a weave structure. It is a beautiful way to work.

At our studio, the process of making the quilting for this coat begins. Seven meters of handwoven naturally-dyed cotton are used for the outside and the inside lining. This is combined with another seven meters of organic cotton mull in two layers for the inside padding.  These are all quilted together with vertical lines every inch to create three and a half meters of finished quilted fabric. But we're not done yet...

On the studio table the finished quilted fabric is hand-cut with scissors to the size of our pattern pieces. These are thoughtfully arranged in combinations to balance the colours, lines, and dynamics of the garment.  

The finished coat is a collage in cloth; the perfect canvas to show the best of hand weave and to play with the harmonious palette of natural dyes.

The Maiwa Quilted Coat. Naturally dyed, handwoven quilted cotton, with a contrasting cloth on the inside, creating a reveal when you cuff a sleeve. An accentuated standing collar and an open front without closures.

How we make a garment — designed to be kept and worn for a long, long time.

To our U.S. customers – don't forget that the exchange rate works in your favour, it's like an extra discount.

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