Materials Options for Towels

Warping & Sizing

Warp is longitudinal threads in a piece of woven material that are tightly stretched or warped on a beam. Latitudinal threads called weft or filler are passed under and over the warp to form the fabric. The large spools of just-spun cotton are ready to be warped or wound on a beam that will be inserted into the loom for weaving. If the yarn is purchased, the 7.5 lb (3.4 kg) spools are readied for warping. A warping beam is then warped in which threads are anchored and wrapped to a large beam in hundreds of parallel rows. Different towel widths require different numbers of warp threads.

8 These huge beams, full of wrapped warp threads, are placed into a rack that holds up to 12 beams and sized in preparation for weaving. The threads must be sized or stiffened to make the piece easier to weave. PVA starch, urea, and wax are rolled onto and pressed into the yarn. The threads are then run over drying cans—Teflon-coated cans with steam heat emanating from with-in. This helps to dry the warp threads quickly. (1,000 warp ends are pulled over nine cans to dry.) These beams, with coated threads, are now sent to the looms.


The beams are picked up by a pallet jack or hydraulic lift truck and transported to looms. These looms vary in width but may be as narrow as 85 in (216 cm) or as wide as 153 in (389 cm). (Not surprisingly, the wider the loom, the slower the weaving as it takes longer for weft threads to cross the warp.) The beams are lifted onto the looms mechanically with a warp jack, which can bear the weight and size of the beam.

Towels are woven on dobby looms, meaning each loom has two sets or warp and thus two warp beams—one warp is called the ground warp and forms the body of the towel and the other is called the pile warp and it produces the terry pile or loop. Each set of warp threads is carefully fed through a set of metal eyes and is attached to a harness. (Harnesses are separate, parallel frames that can change in their vertical relationships to one another.) These harnesses mechanically raise and lower these warp threads so that the weft or filler can be passed between them. The intersection of the warp and weft is woven fabric.

Dyeing & Printing


Once the toweling is made (it is one long terry cloth roll and has no beginning or end), it is wound on an off-loom take-up reel. It is then transported to bleaching as huge rolls of fabric and put into a water bath with bleaching chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide, caustic defoamers, and other proprietary ingredients. All toweling must be dyed pure white before it is dyed any color. The wet toweling laden with chemicals is then subjected to tremendously high temperatures. The heat makes the chemicals react, bleaching the towel. The roll is then washed at least once and as many as three times in a large washer to get all chemicals out of the toweling. The toweling is dried, and if it is to remain white toweling, it is ready to be cut at the top and bottom, lock-stitched sewn, and have a label attached (all of this is done with one machine).

If it is to be dyed, the large, dried uncut rolls are taken to large vats of chemical dyes, which have proven over time to provide colorfast toweling after extensive residential laundering. After being immersed in the vat, the toweling is removed and pressed between two heavy rollers which forces the dye down into the toweling. A thorough steaming sets the color. The toweling is again steam-dried, fluffed in the drying process, and then the dyed towels are ready for cutting, hemming, and

Cutting, Sewing and Packing

Final visual inspection of the cut and hemmed towels occurs and they are handfolded and conveyed to packaging, where automatic packaging equipment forms a bag around the towels and UPC labels are attached to the bags. These packaged towels are sent to the stock room, awaiting transport out of the plant.