How are Fully Fashioned Stockings Made?

How are Fully Fashioned Stockings Made?

Fully Fashioned Stockings: Behind the Seams

This week I’m taking you behind the seams at our Fully Fashioned Stocking factory in Derbyshire, where our Fully Fashioned and RHT nylons are made.

If you're new to retro style hosiery, or hosiery of any kind, then the terminology can be confusing - but help is at hand!

Check out our guide to hosiery and all will be revealed.

Fully Fashioned Stockings made on Reading Knitting Machines

Fully Fashioned Stockings being made on a vintage Reading 100 machine
Fully Fashioned Stockings in production on a Reading 100 machine
Seam sewing machine for fully fashioned stockings

Although I had been a fan of seamed stockings for a few years before I discovered fully fashioned stockings, I didn’t know the difference between the modern version knitted on circular knit machines and genuine fully fashioned stockings. And I certainly didn’t have much time for the big price difference.

In the mid 1990s, I worked at fetish boutique Skin Two in Ladbroke Grove (only a mile or so away from our What Katie Did boutique) and it was there that I was introduced to fully fashioned stockings. We used to import Sweet Caroline stockings made by Magnolia Mills in the USA which seemed very exotic at the time!

After leaving Skin Two and losing my staff discount real fully fashioned stockings returned to being unaffordable to me, so I decided to set up a little stocking website. This allowed me to access wholesale rates and sell a few on the side. The rest, as they say, is history.

Fully Fashioned Stockings being made in England today
Fully Fashioned Stockings being steamed on a leg form
Fully Fashioned Stockings being checked before being packed

What Makes the Seam So Special?

Fully fashioned stockings really are special, as there are no short cuts when it comes to making them. They have to be made on Reading knitting machines and are knitted flat with the seam being an integral part to the stocking in holding it all together.

The machines are over 57ft in length and weigh 17 tonnes. While modern circular knit machines are cylindrical and pour out stockings endlessly, the Reading machines can only make 30 pairs at a time, each on its own head, which each contains 500 needles (so in totally there are 15,000 needles!)

I often get asked why the remaining machines aren’t exported to somewhere cheaper to manufacture. With the combination of the size, weight and skills needed in moving and setting up the machines, the other side of the world would be impossible. The remaining working machines often have to have parts especially engineered to fix them as there are now very few spares (our factory has two old machines for spares, but some new parts do still need to be fabricated from scratch).

The Finishing Touch

Of course, this is only the first part of the production process. Once the stockings have been knitted they need to be ironed flat, tumble dried for shrinkage before being sewn which is where the seam comes in. Each and every seam is actually sewn by hand on a special type of overlocker. Then they go off to the dye house before being steamed, checked and packed.

Curve Fully Fashioned Stockings?

Curve Size Fully Fashioned Stockings

Several of you asked the possibility of us making a Curve Size Fully Fashioned Stocking: as ff nylons are made from non stretch nylon sizing is far more critical than for our Glamour Seams.

Katie gives you the bad news...

Service Weight Fully Fashioned Stockings?

Thicker Fully Fashioned Stockings

You also asked about the possibility of thicker fully fashioned stockings - and there is a little light on the horizon when it comes to these (plus something to keep you going in the mean time!)

Shop Fully Fashioned Stockings

fully fashioned stockings

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