Finishing is anything that is done to the fabric once it is woven. When the fabric comes off the loom it is called 'loomstate' or sometimes 'grey cloth' and it is usually quite stiff and taught. As soon as it is washed or steamed the fibres start to relax and it starts to feel like proper cloth.
A few weeks ago we went up to visit one of the Finishers that we use. They do anything and everything from washing and scouring to pressing and steaming, coating and cropping to milling and dying.
I loved the 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' feel of all the machines, with all their buttons and levers. Lots of fantastic sounds and smells as well as the bolts of fabric run through all the processes.
And I also loved the gigantic scale of everything - this is a huge vat of liquid soap which is kept warm at all times to keep the soap from solidifying. A really fascinating day out!