Why is there colour variation between dye batches?

Colour variation between dye batches

To show how big and issue dye batch variation is to the industry you only need to carry out a Google search on the subject.

John England feels there is too much acceptance of this in the industry as an unfortunate characteristic. Improved practices, and greater diligence and concentration by both management and operator is paramount to reducing the problem..

John England is not a dyer themselves so does not have full control of the dyeing process. Unfortunately we rely on third-party dyers to provide us with a service.


A wide range of on-trend colours

John England customers want to buy on-trend colours. They also like to avoid colours that everyone else has. To enable the company to satisfy this demand John England must hold a wide range of on-trend unique colours.


How John England makes it work

To make this stock holding affordable John England must dye small batches of 150-300 metres. Dyeing in small batches is much more expensive, and problematic. This obviously creates the problem of variation between batches. It is much more difficult to control dyeing in small batches, and between small batches.

Fabrics made from natural fibres can often have more of a problem. There can be natural variations in the fibres, yarns and fabric themselves.

Recognising the market they are in, some top end manufacturers make a feature out of this small batch manufacturing variation. This is because it is an indicator, to the cognoscenti, that you are using bespoke made fabrics, dyed in expensive small batches.

As mentioned previously John England does not accept this argument. It is a management problem.


Possible Solutions

One of the easiest ways to minimise this problem is to produce large batches to cover your projected production for a given period of time. This however does involve a stock holding. Most of John England customers work in the higher end or bespoke fashion market and do not always want to do this. However, larger batches are often easier to deal with technically and can keep variation to a minimum.

One way John England manages this situation is by issuing every batch with a batch number (FE????). Customers if they are aware of this number can quote it when requesting top-ups. If there is any of this batch still in stock for their repeat order they can minimise dye batch variation. This is especially a problem if the repeat order is to be used with the previous order. Possibly as extra curtains, cushions, or to repair upholstery.

Quality control is important when managing the problem of dye batch variation. Samples must be requested for approval before the bulk is dyed. These are rejected if not up to standard.


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