Skilled workers were employed to carry out the different steps in cloth-making.
Cloth-maker, Thomas Fox, listed some of their job roles as
woolsorters, washers, scourers, combers, spinners, spoolers, warpers, weavers, quillers, millmen, burlers, packers and helpers
Thomas Fox, Coldharbour Mill, Uffculme, Devon,1813
Have you any wool?
Tradecloth was sometimes made from local wool. Imported wool was used too. Most of this came from Saxony in Germany where Merino sheep had been bred to achieve a finer quality fleece.
The wool was sorted according to fibre type:
- Longer, straighter fibres were most suitable for combing.
- Softer, crimped wool was carded.
Combed and carded wools were spun into yarns:
- Yarn made from combed wool is strong. This was used to make the worsted warp of Devonshire serges or long ells.
- Carded yarn was more suitable for broadcloths and the wefts of serges.
Features of tradecloths
Gloucestershire broadcloth came in different qualities, ranging from coarse to super-fine. Devonshire long ells were harder wearing.
A process known as piece dyeing was used to add colour to the cloths after they had been woven:
- Broadcloth was dyed locally. Special techniques enabled the makers to create a white or striped edge that became popular with Indigenous Peoples.
- Long ells were usually dyed and finished in London.
From the 1700s most tradecloth was exported after it had been dyed.