Finishing is a standard practice in the production of fabrics. Finishing processes are applied to the fabric after it has been woven. The finishing has a lot to do with how a fabric feels both initially and throughout its lifespan. The finishing processes employed serve a number of purposes. They help to maintain the lustre and feel of the fabric, may reduce the amount of wrinkling, preserve the colour brightness and give the fabric a smooth, silky finish.
The finishing process is so important that some companies, including some of the world renowned mills in Italy, heavily guard their finishing secrets. Proper weaving and finishing techniques, applied to the right kinds of yarn, are the key ingredients to producing the world’s best textiles.
In our busy day to day lives, easy-care bed linen is essential. A finishing process is applied to many fabrics to improve the crease recovery and smooth drying potential. This enhances the yarns, and does not detract from the lustre or longevity. Some companies coat their fabrics with agents so that they can be promoted as “easy-care”. This is misleading and as the finish washes out, the sheets don’t launder well, pill and become rough.
Each type of fibre has its own softness value and this will affect the fineness of the yarn that it becomes. The weave will also contribute to the overall softness of the fabric.
Softening is a normal process applied to a fabric to give it a softer handle and smoother appearance. It can be applied as mechanical, chemical or physical processes, sometimes combined, to improve the softness characteristics of the fabric. Softening is performed at the end of the weaving process, usually simultaneously with other processes to stabilise the fabric’s structure.