Manufacturing a Pair of Socks
Ever wondered how a pair of socks are made? A step by step guide to how these garments are manufactured in the modern era. Thanks to H.J Halls of Hinckley.
The design office uses computer software to create new designs, colour schemes and patterns for the company's socks.
The socks are knitted on Bentley Komet, Lonati, and Busi circular machines.
Strings of socks
The socks are either knitted as individual socks or as a string of socks joined by a small number of fine threads.
A separating machine is used to break up strings of socks. The socks are placed on an upright hollow pole and then sucked down the centre of the pole into the machine. The process turns the socks inside out and breaks the thin threads holding the socks together.
Linking the toe
The toe end of the sock is lined up and placed onto needles on the linking machine. The machine passed a thread through the loops of the sock to join the toe and the excess fabric is trimmed off.
An alternative way of forming the toe of the sock is to seam it. Unlike linking, this much faster method does not pick up every individual stitch. The stitches are oversewn to close the toe.
Once the toe has been formed, the sock is once again turn so that it is the right way. This again uses a hollow pipe onto which the sock is fed and air draws the sock in.
To reach the sock's final colour it is dyed in a dyeing machine. Once the machine has been loaded with socks it then fills with a dye and acts like a domestic washing machine. The drum turns and gradually dyes the socks. The surplus dye drains away at the end of the process and the socks are removed.
The socks are still wet after leaving the dyeing machine. Large drying machines are used to dry the socks prior to the next stage.
Shaping with steam
To straighten the socks out and shape them prior to packaging, socks made from natural fibres, such as wool, are placed on boards. The boards are then placed into a chamber and steamed.
Shaping with heat
Socks knitted with manmade fibres are placed onto boards and exposed to a higher temperature of around 130 degrees centigrade. The temperature softens the fibre and the sock takes on the shape of the board.
Pairing and folding
The company has number of different ways of pairing their socks. The most hi-tech way uses a machine that pairs and folds the socks. Individual socks are placed onto a conveyor belt and the machine scans the shape of the sock. The machine calculates which of the other socks on the belt is the best match in terms of shape and size. It then lifts one of the pair and places it on top of the other. A piece of sticky tape is inserted to hold the pair together and finally they are folded.
Pairing and folding
Pairing is also undertaken by hand.
Finished socks are packed according the customer's requirements. This packer folds the socks onto a plastic hanger and inserts them into the card sleeve.