Plain weave fabric is the plainest of fabric weaves. It is the simplest of the three basic textile weaves, which include plain, satin, and twill. Plain weaves are also known as calico waeve, linen weave, tabby weave, basic weave or taffeta weave. Straightforward in its makeup, it has the warp and weft threads passing over and under each other. This tutorial will discuss the types of plain weave fabrics as well as its variations and alternatives.
Plain Weave Tutorial
What is Plain Weave?
Plain weave, which is also known as tabby weave, is one of the most basic and common types of textile weave. It's characterized by a simple pattern where the warp and weft threads alternately cross over and under each other.
The weft thread is the horizontal and the warp is the vertical thread.
Balanced plain weave means the warp and weft threads are the same size, the same number of ends per inch as well as the same number of picks that are woven together. The balanced plain weave has a chequered board appearance and is sometimes known as one up one down or over-under weave.
Features of Plain Weave
Here's a closer look at the plain weaves key features:
- Simple Structure: Each weft thread crosses the warp threads by going over one, then under the next, and so on. The following weft thread does the opposite.
- Uniform Texture: This results in a strong, tight weave with a uniform texture.
- Same Front and Back: Plain weave fabrics usually don't have a distinct front or back side.
- Versatility: Many everyday fabrics, like cotton, muslin, canvas and taffeta, are made with plain weave.
- Durability: While simple, this weave structure offers good durability and stability.
- Not Stretchy: Plain weave fabrics generally don't stretch much compared to knitted fabrics or those with more complex weave structures.
- Uses: It's widely used for shirts, dresses, lining material, and household textiles like bed linens and towels as well as upholstery.
14 Types of Plain Weave Fabrics
There are many different types of fabrics that use plain weave techniques. Here are examples of plain weave fabric:
This plain weave fabric may be loosely or tightly woven. Buckram is stiff and coarse and often used inside the rim of baseball caps.
This plain weave fabric has a similar look to denim because the warp threads are dyed indigo while the weft threads are left without dye. Chambray fabric looks like light denim and is used to make workwear, shirts, and pants.
Cambric is a finely woven, plain-weave fabric. It is flattened and rolled at a high temperature to give it a very smooth finish. Cambric was first made in Cambric, France, from fine linen.
Airy and thin, chiffon is a plain weave fabric. It can be made from different types of textiles. Synthetics like nylon, rayon, and polyester, and natural threads like silk, are woven into chiffon, resulting in a wide variation of cost. Read what is chiffon and sewing chiffon.
Cheesecloth is another loosely woven cotton fabric. It is often used for the process of making cheese. During the cheese-making process, the liquid from the cheese strains through the cheesecloth, leaving the yummy cheese behind. Cheesecloth can be used to make light and cool clothing for Summer. Read what is cheesecloth.
Crepe has a rough structure due to the twisted or crimped yarn in the weave. There are different twists and crimps used to produce different kinds of crepe. Crepe can be made from natural fabrics, for example, silk, or polyester and man-made fibers.
Flannel is a loosely woven fabric that is often brushed on one side. This brushing is called ‘napping’ and raises the fine fibers of the fabric to make it softer. Flannel is very popular for baby bedding and pajamas.
Georgette is a plain weave fabric, but it has a crinkled effect. There are twists in the weave that cause the surface to pucker and create a crinkled finish.
Organdy is a fine, plain weave fabric. It is a lightweight fabric and is often used to line evening wear and bridal gowns, as well as collars and cuffs. It has a slight stiffness.
Organza is a lightweight, sheer fabric that was originally made from silk. Now, it can be made from synthetics, mainly polyester and nylon. Organza is usually considered expensive due to the weaving process, which creates the twisted fibers.
The warp yarns of poplin are finer than the weft yarns. This is a lightweight fabric with a soft, airy drape quality.
Taffeta uses the plain weave technique, but the threads are twisted as they go over and under to create the plain weave. This twist creates the fabric’s stiff texture.
Velvet is made on a special loom, where two pieces of fabric are created. The weave structure produces an extra set of warp threads that are sheared to create a soft pile or feel to the velvet. Velvet always feels very luxurious. Read about sewing velvet and the types of velvet.
The Popularity of Plain Weave Fabrics
Most plain weaves are popular fabrics, and it is estimated that 80% of fabrics are plain weave. It is popular because it can accept variations of color and texture and is generally a reasonably priced fabric.
Dyed patterns like batik and tie-dye are well received by plain weave fabrics. Specialty finishes like the nap of flannel or the parchment of organdy work well on plain weave. Embossed fabrics like taffeta use a plain weave fabric. Sheer fabrics used for scarves and bridal veils are made of plain weave fabric, and the light weave allows soft colors to shine through.
These properties of plain weave pattern fabric make it so popular in the fabric industry:
|Sides||No distinct right or wrong side; both sides typically look the same.|
|Fraying||Less prone to fraying compared to other fabrics.|
|Stretch||No stretch in length or width; some stretch on the cross grain.|
|Absorbency||Less absorbent than other fabrics.|
|Creasing||Tends to crease easily.|
|Versatility & Flexibility||Highly versatile and flexible in application.|
|Durability||Strong and hard-wearing, suitable for regular use.|
|Weight Range||Ranges from heavyweight to sheer, lightweight fabrics.|
|Popular Uses||Commonly used for shirts, suits, blouses, dresses, and other garments requiring minimal stretch.|
Variations of Plain Weave
There are variations of plain weave fabrics. These variations are known as:
To create a rib weave, the filling yarns are larger in diameter than the warp yarns. This means fewer yarns per centimeter are visible on the surface of the fabric.
Matt Weave or Basket Weave
Basketweave is a variation of the plain weave. Two or more threads are put together and woven like one thread between the warp and the weft. In the construction of these weaves, the filling yarn or the weft goes alternately under and over the warp yarns.
Irregular Basket Weave
This is created through an irregular combination of warp and weft ribs.
Handweaving on specially designed looms has been handed down, and the tradition is still followed today, although machines and factory-made fabrics have taken over the handmade industry.
Handweaving can be a very satisfying hobby from making your own simple loom to weaving a mat of your own design. The principle of keeping the warp threads stable and weaving the weft threads in and out or over and under produces the piece of weaving you are trying to make by hand.
Alternatives to Plain Weave
The main 2 alternatives to a plain weave are twill weave and satin weave
- Twill weave has a series of diagonal ribs, which give it a sturdy and unique look. Denim is an example of a fabric that has a twill weave. If you look closely at your jeans, you will see a diagonal pattern. Read what is twill fabric.
- Satin weave has four plus weft fibers that pass over a single weft.
Plain Weave - In Conclusion
In summary, a plain weave is a common textile weave with a simple interlacing pattern. It is durable, popular, and has a wide range of applications due to its minimal fraying and uniform texture with no right or wrong side. Now you have learned what is a plain weave, you can look for all its variations.