FAQs

If the item is in stock we will endeavour to dispatch as soon as possible. Normally within 3-10 days, depending on the time of the year and volume of work. If items are required to be fast tracked for a special gift or occasion we will always do our best to help. This may sometimes require a small extra charge. Please contact us with details.

We do not use the cheapest means to ship your goods as these have proved to be very unreliable in the past. People often require linens to arrive as a gift for a wedding, or a tablecloth for a special event. It cannot be late, lost or damaged, and we use tried and tested methods of shipping, which work best from our area, and which limit these unwanted problems.

On our delivery information we state delivery will normally take place within 28 days from receipt of your order. This is in part to allow for periods of annual closure, or very busy periods. These normally occur:

Easter - One Week
July - Two Weeks
September - One Week
Christmas - Two Weeks
We usually try to be faster than this, and outside the close down periods listed we usually are much quicker. If we are out of stock in any particular item we will contact you to see if you wish to cancel or wait.

Sometimes we need to ask for patience. Thomas Ferguson is a small craft weaver, and on occasions we may be lucky enough to get a glut of orders which may fill up our capacity in cutting or sewing, etc.

Please be assured despite how it might appear at times we are always trying our best for our customers.

If you are having trouble making a credit card payment in the Thomas Ferguson online shop, and you believe there is no problems with your credit card, the problem is still most likely with your own card provider.

If you are making an overseas payment and this is not usual for you to do with your card your provider will most likely reject the payment thinking it may be fraudulent. We see this very frequently.

All that is usually required is a quick telephone call to your credit card provider to warn them that you are making an overseas payment and that it is genuine.

All Thomas Ferguson online shop transactions are handled by Secure Trading. SecureTrading is the UK's leading independent Internet payment service provider.

Secure Trading systems are at physically secure locations, and use high levels of encryption to ensure the safety of your transaction information. Thomas Ferguson does not receive your credit card information, this is handled by Secure Trading.

Thomas Ferguson sends out an acknowledgement for every order placed in the online shop.

If you did not receive an acknowledgement please check your spam folder, or junk mail folder.

Thomas Ferguson does not usually supply their linens pressed and ready to use, because it is creased by folding it to fit in the gift box, or pack. Usually only the presentation face of the linen is smoothed.

However, a few customers, from time to time, do ask for the tablecloths to be supplied ironed and ready to use. If this is required it can be done for most, but not all, tablecloths by contacting our sales team.

A pressed/ironed tablecloth is supplied rolled on a tube. It will not be in any gift boxes or packs. It is really only suitable for your own use. Depending on the size this will approximately cost an extra £40.00 (US $50).

Thomas Ferguson is involved in the design, weaving, cutting, stitching, finishing and packaging of Irish linen articles. Over 95% of all items sold are made, or have work done on them, in our premises, and 100% of all our damask linens. They are mostly luxury linens and are made in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. Woven in the Thomas Ferguson factory Banbridge, County Down.

A few items such as our Ref.009 range of table linen we can no longer get made in Ireland, because of the complex hand stitching, so this is designed by us and made overseas. Also, on on occasions due to over capacity we need to sub-contract some of our weaving of plain fabrics.

However, to keep control of the quality, and because of the very small batch sizes and bespoke nature of our business we very much try to keep as much of the production under our control as possible.

We run tours to show members of the public how modern day Irish linen is woven, you are welcome to come and see, or you can take a virtual tour.

Linen damask is a figured fabric made from one warp and one weft in which, generally, warp-satin and weft-sateen weaves interchange. Twill or binding weaves are sometimes introduced.

Pure Linen Damask is the name given to products woven from pure flax yarns in a special manner so that subtle patterns are visible even in an all white cloth, woven from all white yarns. This process requires threads to be woven in contrasting directions, which creates a pattern that is visible when viewed at certain angles. Across large surfaces, damask fabrics are most extraordinary, as shifting light sources continually reveal new designs to the eye in hide and seek fashion.

Thomas Ferguson's often large complex designs are produced on looms with Jacquard attachments to give even more control of the warp and weft yarns during weaving.

Double damask is a fabric from another era. To maximise the production benefits of modern weaving looms a higher warp thread count is normally used than weft thread count. This allows more cloth, of a given weight, to be produced for less weft picks.

Double damask is different from ordinary damask in that it has a lower warp thread count than weft thread count; this allows a dense high thread count fabric to be produced, as the weft yarns are beat up tight in the fabric. However, it is a much more expensive way of weaving because it takes longer to weave a given length of fabric. Also, to allow this dense packing of yarn a looser twill weave is used than in ordinary damask.

Apart from the higher thread count there are certain designs which are exclusive to double damask, because the higher number of yarns allows finer definition and some designs, such as Fine Scroll, because of its fine detail require the high thread count of double damask to bring out the best in it.

So to summarise the differences, double damask uses finer more high quality weft yarn, it has a higher weight per unit area, it has more weft picks than warp ends per inch, it is a different weave, it is a more expensive weaving process because you get less fabric per hour because of the extra picks, and often the loom has to be run slower to avoid damaging the yarns because of the tight beat up. On top of this its designs can be more intricate because of the higher definition allowed with the greater thread count. It will also last longer as the finer higher quality yarns allow more launderings, and hence a longer life.

In the past when there were many Irish linen companies, and there was over-capacity of production in the industry. Some unscrupulous weavers, in order to use the name double damask, produced a lower quality fabric by lowering the thread count. They wished to use the name, because a proper well made double damask was associated with quality, and could achieve a premium price in the market.

As stated earlier, to allow the dense packing of yarn, a looser twill weave is used when weaving double damask than in ordinary damask. This requires a high thread count to stabilise the fabric. With a low thread count this was not the case.

These poorly made fabrics were sub standard, and normal damask was in many instances a better buy. This forced the hand of the Irish Linen Guild and they brought in a minimum thread count for double damask.

Those days are long gone, and today, Thomas Ferguson double damasks are most defintely a high quality, premium product, woven from superior quality yarns to normal damask. Giving a higher definition design capability, a longer life. Most of all an overall higher quality product, a best in the world, that will be another small thing to surround yourself with that will help enrich your general quality of life.

My heart leaps up when I behold a rainbow in the sky
William Wordsworth

Even though flax has a high tensile strength the weaving effeciency for flax is very low. Few other fibres are as difficult to weave as flax. It is said the effeciency of flax is 20% lower than that for cotton weaving.

To weave flax it is important the ambient conditions are best suited. The weaving area should be air conditioned so that the relative humidity is at least 75% (21 degrees centigrade), anything lower reduces weaving effeciency.

It is also important to keep the dust produced from the yarns rubbing against each other and the machinery to a minimum. This can reduce weaving effeciency and reduce the quality of the fabric.

There are many shades of white.

Traditionally Thomas Ferguson damask linen was ivory white. This was its unique shade, and showed the linen had not been over processed.

Ferguson white has been traditionally ivory white, and this is what Thomas Ferguson referred to as white.

In more recent years plain linen has been added to the range and due to demand from some sectors of the market a bright optical white was added to the collection. This better suited bed linen, and some other items. However, now it is also used for table linen as well.

Generally speaking if you buy Ferguson table linen you will get ivory white; if you buy bed linen you will get optical bright white. If you require different than this you should specify.

Men's and, to a lesser degree, ladies' handkerchiefs, are produced with a border running round the four sides. The border may be composed of cords or tapes or a combination of both. Cords are made up of a heavy 3-ply cotton which stands out from the ground linen yarns. Tapes are made up of a 2-ply cotton with 3-ply binders at either side to define them.

When bordered linen handkerchiefs are bleached in the piece, we have an all-white cloth, but the Cords and Tapes, made from heavier yarn than the ground linen yarns, stand out in relief.

by S. C. LUTTON

Thomas Ferguson can supply fabrics for a range of end uses. The majority of our fabrics are linen or linen blends. We are able to keep minimum orders sizes, for stock items, to 5 metre, and our minimum custom dye run of 60 metres. We can also supply larger orders up to thousands of metres.

Our minimum weaving order for specialist fabrics is 30 metres. However, on a one-off basis we will weave down to 12 metres for a sample order.
Please remember Thomas Ferguson is a weaver and wholesaler and that any order for a fabric under 250m length is considered a small order, so if you wish to take advantage of the most favourable prices please try to keep orders above 250 metres.

Thomas Ferguson can weave custom fabrics for most end-uses, but below are some examples of Thomas Ferguson fabrics more common end-uses:

1. Apparel linens (plain fabrics), Jacquard damasks, etc.
2. Theatrical costumes (not supplied flameproofed as standard)
3. Upholstery (rub tested) (not supplied flameproofed)
4. Curtains (not supplied flameproofed as standard)
5. Loose Covers (not supplied flameproofed as standard)
6. Bed linen up to 3 metres wide, white and ecru.
7. Table linen (plain linens and damask, up to 3 metres wide)
8. Printing fabrics
9. Huckaback towelling fabric
10. Fabrics for ecclesiastical linens (mainly white Irish linen)
11. Handkerchief fabric (plain)
12. Irish linen wedding dress fabric
13. Kitchen towels, glass towels, tea towels

Whilst Thomas Ferguson is first and foremost a weaver they do supply a cutting/sewing service to their fabric buying customers to make up finished items.

How can you call your tea towels 100% linen when the coloured stripe is cotton?

Traditionally the coloured stripe on Irish linen tea towels has been cotton for many years. The UK Textile Products (Labelling and Fibre Composition) Regulations 2012 state that the following fibres shall be ignored in determing fibre composition of a textile product (Article 20 of the EU Regulations):

- Fibres which are intended to produce a decorative effect, and which are visible and distinct, provided they do not exceed 7% of the weight of the product.

As many of our customers know you should avoid detergents which contain Optical Brightening Agents (O.B.A.) as they will cause colours to alter slightly, every wash, and will detract from the appearance of the subtle white linen damask pattern. O.B.A. is particularly rious to natural unbleached linens, and may well change it's natural ecru colour to white over time. OBA free detergent is not easy to find in most stores, for one option for UK customers click here.

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