Fabric weaves, and weaving conjures up all sorts of interesting ideas, intrigue, and even mystery. Weave a web of spy stories or weave your way through a maze. Weaving is a fascinating art form using threads. Tapestries weave stories of long ago and some famous woven tapestries grace the walls of ancient churches and museums. The weaving of fabric is part of our history and it was the industrial revolution that modernized this craft. Our modern fabric weaves are varied in pattern, style, thickness, durability, and even the way they drape. Knowing about fabric weaves can make the world of difference to an item you are sewing.
Fabric Weaves - Basic Types
Plain Fabric weaves
This is the simple basic weave using warp and weft threads interlacing in an over and under pattern. Plain weave is a strong weave that is durable, producing fine, good quality fabrics. It is sometimes known as tabby weave or linen weave. (Read more about the plain weave.)
There are some variations of the plain weave and these can be identified by the different ways the threads are woven and the number of threads in the thread count. Percale, for example, is a plain weave fabric, but the thread count is high making this a very smooth fabric. Poplin is a plain weave fabric using two threads and one warp thread of the same color.
The ripstop weave is a variation of the plain weave. In the ripstop weave, an extra thread is included to reinforce the fabric and make it stronger. Hopsack is another variation of plain weave and made with two or more threads in the warp and the weft. Almost half the woven fabrics adhere to the simple basic weave including most of the different kinds of cotton. Muslin, rayon, chiffon, organza, crepe, voile, and even some wools are all made using the plain weave concept.
Twill Fabric Weaves
The twill weave effect is made by weaving one or more warp fibers over and under one or more weft fibers. The weave pattern is over and under two or more fibers alternately. (Read more about twill weave.)
The twill weave is strong and soft with a really great drape effect. The weave creates a diagonal ribbed pattern. Denim is the most well-known twill fabric.
Other twill fabrics to mention are velvet, flannel, jersey, and gaberdine. Variations to twill are created by different widths of the twill and different directions. There is diagonal twill with a more pronounce diagonal weave and twilled hopsack with the twill running left and right. Cavalry twill is a broader twill and whipcord is another broader variety of twill. Pinhead is noticable for the one light and one dark warp thread and the solid dark only weft threads. Barleycorn and pepper and salt are other variations of twill with contrasts in the warp and weft threads.
Satin Fabric Weaves
The satin weave has a very smooth, shiny surface due to the effect of the weft threads that seem to float over the warp yarn. The fibers used to create this fabric are known as filament fibers and include silk or nylon. The fabric produced from this weave is smooth and flexible. The disadvantage of this fabric weave is that it catches on other objects and it is not as strong as other many other fabrics.
Fabric Weaves - Other Variations
There are many other variations of fabric weaves. Here are 16 more!
Basket Fabric Weaves
Basket weave is made by crossing two or more warp fibers alternately with two or more weft fibers. This pattern makes a matt weave that is flexible, but not very durable. Basket weave may shrink in the wash and is difficult to sew.
Bedford Cord Weave
The weave of this fabric is characterized by its lengthwise ridges. There are sunken lines between the ridges. This weave is a combination of plain weave and whipcord which is a twill weave.
Chequered Fabric Weaves
The chequered weave creates beautiful checks on the fabric. There are several variations of the chequered weave. Block check looks like a series of blocks in light and dark shades of the yarn used. Diamond weave, as the name suggests, is a twill weave with the right and left twills looking like a diamond pattern. Two and two glen stripe has a one on one base and a two and two stripe. Other variations of the thread counts and weave are known as ‘three and three’ and Shepherd’s check. Glenurquhart check has a twill weave with light and dark warp threads. There is a dog’s tooth check and even a gun club check. Many variations of plaid, tartan and checks are created with this weave.
Crepe Fabric Weaves
Crepe weave is a variety of weave that has a broken irregular pattern. This is created by using twisted yarn and a pattern that looks like raised pebbles. Crepe weave creates crepe fabrics that are popular for clothing and evening wear.
Dobby Fabric Weaves
The dobby weave uses a special machine to create its unique pattern. The machine raises some of the warp threads and depresses some of the weft threads. This often creates a fabric that looks like it has little dots embroidered on the surface.
Double Cloth Fabric Weaves
As the name suggests, a double cloth weave is two fabrics put together with an extra set of yarns. Sometimes they are separated. This is how velvet is created.
Herringbone Fabric Weaves
Herringbone weave resembles a broken twill weave. It produces a zigzag pattern. Herringbone weave is also known as feather twill or arrowhead. Tweed is a herringbone twill weave.
Jacquard Fabric Weaves
Jacquard weave needs a special loom to produce the beautiful designs known as jacquard. The fabric is strong, lustrous and looks luxurious. The designs are woven into the fabric and may be floral, geometric or abstract. This fabric is named after Joseph Marie Jacquard who invented the Jacquard loom. Brocade, damask, Brocatelle, and Matelasse are all fabrics made with the jacquard weave.
Leno Fabric Weaves
This weave is also known as gauze weave. The warp threads do not lie parallel to each other. They are wrapped around consecutive weft fibers to create a sheer, open weave pattern. Net and tulle belong to this category of weave.
Oxford Fabric Weaves
This weave produces a very soft cloth. Two thin warp yarns are woven to a very soft, but thicker yarn in the weft direction. A fine soft fabric, similar to pinpoint is created. Oxford cloth and shirting are two varieties of this fabric.
Pile Fabtric Weaves
Pile weave has cut or uncut loops of threads on the surface of the fabric. The loops create a pile that is soft and absorbent. The pile can be on the front or the back of the fabric. Fabrics like velvet, corduroy or velveteen make use of the pile weave.
Rib Fabric Weaves
Rib weave is a variation of plain weave. The warp or the weft thread is raised during the weaving because it is thicker. It is usually the weft yarn that is raised and this creates a ribbed effect on the fabric. Broadcloth, grosgrain and Faille are variations of rib weave.
Sateen Fabric Weaves
Sateen weave is not as lustrous as satin weave, but it is more hard wearing. The weave uses short staple yarns like cotton.
Striped Fabric Weaves
A striped weave fabric has different stripe patterns in the weave. Pinstripe for example is a fine single striped thread that weaves its way through the fabric. Eton stripe is a particular variation of the stripe using light and dark warp and weft threads. This weave is also known as a hairline weave.
Tapestry Fabric Weaves
Complex designs using different colors make up the tapestry weave. It can be made on the Jacquard loom and taperstry weave makes beautiful wall hangings and rugs.
Waffle Fabric Weaves
The patterns on this weave give it the name waffle weave. It is also known as honeycomb weave. The warp and weft threads are interlaced and ‘floated’ on the fabric in a way that produces a pattern of square ridges and hollowed out squares.
Fabric Weaves - In Conclusion
There are so many different ways to weave a yarn. It is no wonder that the term ‘spin a yarn’ has come to mean telling a long story. It doesn’t matter if you are spinning a yarn and telling a story, or just making a piece of interesting fabric, the outcome is going to be something to talk about. Fabric weaves are interesting and full of variety.