Monday, March 28, 2011

The Making of a Beret

This pictorial explanation of the making of the beret, I found on the web site of Beatex/Pierre Laulhere (France's oldest beret manufacturer since 1840). It gives a good outline of the manufacturing of the beret, in a few words and so many pictures:

The making of a beret: Berets are not cut out of a sheet of cloth and then shaped. They are actually knitted one at a time on knitting looms.
Traditionally, berets were closed by hand, stitch by stitch. Béatex now has machines which do the same job directly on the knitting loom.
WoolKnitting machine
Unrefined meshed knitted headgear re-meshed
Fullingfelt headware
This round piece of knitting is then felted i.e. mechanically worked in a water solution by milling machines (the shepherds used to use a washing mill). The wool, and the beret’s diameter, shrinks as the knitting becomes thicker.Once turned into felt, the berets are dyed in large vats then individually dried on round moulds which determine their final size.
Tinted headwareTank
Scratching, trimingScratched headgear
The beret is first combed (originally with thistles) then shorn to discard unwanted strands. It is this combing/shearing operation which gives berets their special feel and texture.The beret may then be lined, embroidered or flocked and fitted with a leather headband, a badge or ribbon, etc. All of these are finishing touches.
Finished headgearFashioning

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