They are glove makers. That is really all they do. But they try to do it really well and they have been doing it for a long time. They do it because they think that gloves are important and because a good pair of gloves is a thing of joy. You may be surprised to learn that there are 2.5 meters (that’s 8 foot) of stitching in a pair of gloves and at Cornelia James they have spent over 70 years trying to make each stitch perfect. Some of the machinery that they use is quite old. Their gloves are die cut using a manually operated lever press made by WH Hallett & Sons of Yeovil, Somerset over 100 years ago. They’re not sentimental about it. They use it because it does the job very effectively and, when it’s not actually cutting gloves, it’s completely silent; a large and brooding presence in the cutting room. Their Singer sewing machines are of the epoch when such machines were still made in the USA and their button hole machine is a Pfaff – made in Germany and the best you could get in 1957 when it was purchased. It’s a mechanical marvel and now 60 years on just a little temperamental, as is its operator, who is Italian and passionate about perfect button holes. They are not interested in mass production or section work their team make a complete glove from start to finish so that they take ownership and so that each pair can be offered with pride. They hope never to lose sight of the fact that every glove they make is going to end up on the hand of someone who will feel that little bit better for being well gloved. They are all in favour of innovation. Some of their deeper pile fabrics are a bit of a mouthful for the Hallet press and these they send off to be laser cut to an antique pattern that has been digitally scanned. They go to great lengths to achieve the best possible result. To make great gloves you need superb fabrics. The wool that they use to make their jersey wool gloves comes off the backs of merino sheep in Australia. The merino is ‘the king of sheep’ and produces a wool that is fine, strong, durable and with great ‘recovery’, a quality it shares with leather. The wool goes to Germany to be made into yarn and then to Italy to be jersey knitted and dyed before it comes to us ‘on the roll’, ready to be cut and made up into gloves.
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