1. Bates Manufacturing Company
Description: The Bates Manufacturing Company started in 1850 in Lewiston, Maine. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Bates was one of the largest textile producers in the world. Outsourcing and foreign competition eventually closed the doors of the historic company in the 1990s.
Did you know: By 1857, the Bates Mill in Lewiston ran 36,000 spindles, employed 1,000 hands, and annually turned out 5.7 million yards of the best quality of cotton goods. At its peak, Bates was producing 60,000 bedspreads each week.
2. Bates Textiles Today
Description: In 2001, a group of former Bates employees started Maine Heritage Weavers in order to continue to produce the popular Bates bedspreads of the past. As a proud member of the Made in America movement, we’ve seen continued growth since starting the company on a couple of the old Bates looms. Today, we employ over 20 people and have 7 looms running in our new home here in Monmouth, Maine.
Did you know: Maine Heritage Weavers received the U.S Veteran-Owned Small Business Award in 2013.
3. Raw Materials & the Yarn Mill
Description: 100% cotton yarn is the base of all our blankets and bedspreads. The yarn comes to our factory on cones which we then prepare for weaving by creating section beams.
Did you know: It takes 10 pounds of yarn to make a king size Abigail Adams bedspread.
4. Creating Section Beams
Description: Section beams are basically large rolls of yarn that are created with hundreds of cones of yarn. This is the first step of getting the yarn ready for the weaving process.
Did you know: It takes 104 cones of yarn to create a single section beam that will be used to create the loops on our terry bedspreads. That is 572,000 yards of yarn!
5. Creating the Warps
Description: In order for the yarn to be ready for weaving on the looms, the section beams are created into warps. The warp is a set of lengthwise yarns that are held in tension on a frame or loom. Tension is very important in the weaving process so having strong, quality yarn is essential to making top quality Bates-style bedspreads.
Did you know: It takes 5 section beams to create a single warp that makes the loops on terry bedspreads. That is 520 cones per warp and nearly 1 million yards of yarn!
6. Designing & Weaving Bedspreads on Jacquard Looms
Description: Jacquard looms use a pattern mechanism to permit the production of large, intricate designs. The weave pattern is achieved by a series of punched cards. The process is similar to the way a player piano works. Thousands of “punch cards” are required to weave one bedspread woven on a Jacquard loom.
Did you know: “The Jacquard loom was the first machine to use punched cards to control a sequence of operations. The ability to change the pattern of the loom's weave by simply changing cards was an important conceptual precursor to the development of computer programming.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacquard_loom)
Description: Since our blankets are less intricate than our bedspreads, we use a simpler loom to weave them. These looms make it very easy to create the all over woven patterns that you observe in our 100% cotton blankets.
Did you know: It takes 10 minutes to weave a king size George Washington’s Choice Blanket.
8. Matelasse Bedspreads
Description: Matelasse bedspreads are soft, double or compound fancy-woven spreads with a quilted appearance usually woven on a Jacquard loom. Our matelasse designs include Queen Elizabeth, Abigail Adams, Heritage and Cape Cod among others.
Did you know: It takes 40 minutes to weave a king size Abigail Adams.
9. Terry Bedspreads
Description: Terry bedspreads have uncut loops on one or both sides and are also made on Jacquard looms. Our terry designs include Martha Washington's Choice, John Adams, New England Tradition, and the Spirit of America.
Did you know: It takes 30 minutes to weave a king size Martha Washington’s Choice bedspread.
Description: As bedspreads and blankets are woven, they wind onto a continuous roll. Individual bedspreads or blankets are cut from this roll in the cutting process.
Did you know: Our cutting team can cut up to 30 king size Abigail Adams bedspreads in an hour.
Description: Our stitchers work on industrial sewing machines to both hem and stitch fringe onto our bedspreads and blankets.
Did you know: We stitch close to 7000 feet of fringe on to bedspreads each month.
Description: Once our bedspreads and blankets have been stitched, they are washed and dried in our industrial-sized washer and dryers. This washing process also allows customers to receive bedspreads and blankets that are pre-shrunk when they are purchased making it very easy to throw your own textiles in your own home washer (versus getting them dry-cleaned).
Did you know: Our washers can fit up to 10 king size bedspreads. To put this in perspective, an average home washer only fits 1 king size bedspread.
13. Inspection and Folding
Description: Teams of two people work to inspect our bedspreads and blankets for defects and to package them for sale.
Did you know: We inspect over 100 blankets and bedspreads every day.
14. Packaging & Shipping
Description: Once our bedspreads and blankets have been inspected to insure top quality, they are packaged and shipped to customers and merchants around the world.
Did you know: Our bedspreads have been displayed in popular TV series such as True Blood and Boardwalk Empire, as well as other motion pictures throughout the years.