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How Our Pocket Squares Are Made

Augustus Hare pocket squares start their lives in Macclesfield, the historic home of the British silk industry.

It is here that the silk, and other cloths we use such as cotton, linen and modal, are woven into the ground fabric.  This is simply a plain coloured fabric with a texture amenable to being printed on.  Confusingly, the ground colour of the fabric at this stage is not necessarily the ground colour at the end of the process.

 

Solid colour dyed silk ready to be printed.

All Augustus Hare pocket squares are hand screen printed, using a process known as ‘dye and discharge’ printing.  This is a time honoured way of printing onto silk, but is one that is laborious and painstaking, and sadly also disappearing in favour of cheaper digital printing.  The benefits of this process are that the dyes penetrate throughout the cloth, whereas digital can produce an unsightly white underside.  In addition, it creates a softer and more matte texture and look than digital is able to.

 

The hand screen printing of pocket squares

After the cloth has been dyed a solid colour for printing, there are 5 key steps:

1) The cloth, laid on a table, has a chalk-type powder rubbed into it.  This makes sure that the fabric is clean, colourfast, and removes creases and other imperfections in the dye.

2) A screen is laid on top of the fabric and printed through.  You have to have a different screen with different elements of the pattern for each different colour used.

3) Then the fabric is heavily steamed.  This process is the most crucial.  It is the reaction with the hot steam that causes the dye to react with both the chalk and the colour of the ground silk.  The colours change completely at this point and become the colours that you see in the final product.

4) The fabric is then washed and dried.

5) Finally it is finished – this varies from cloth to cloth, but typically we finish our products to produce a softer handle.

The amount of dye, chalk, steaming, temperature and how it dries all effect the hue and resonance of the colours.  This is the ultimate hand process, and is very difficult to replicate the same colour on two production runs.  It is the antithesis of modern mass production.

Pocket Square cloth drying, having been steamed

The next step is the hand rolling of the edges.  This is all done by hand in England.  Hand rolled edges have a wonderful structure to them and helps the square have a tactile look as it rests in your breast pocket.

 

We are lucky that the mill we work with has archives for inspiration dating back 3 centuries.