Woven fabrics are fabrics that are produced by weaving. Apart from weaving, fabrics can also be made by knitting, bonding, tufting, or felting. Conventional fabrics are either knitted or woven. For this article, we'll be shifting our focus to woven fabrics. Read on to learn more about the types of woven fabrics, history, and what they are used for.
What is Woven Fabric?
Definition of Woven Fabric
Woven fabrics are textiles made by a process where two or more sets of yarn or threads interlace at right angles using a machine called a loom. Simply put, woven fabric is any textile formed by weaving.
Weaving is the commonest method of producing textiles. It involves interlacing two or more yarns or threads placed horizontally and vertically into one another. The yarn placed horizontally is called the weft yarn, while the vertically placed yarn is called a warp yarn.
Unless the yarn used is elastic, woven fabrics have the tendency of fraying at the edges, and this is prevented by employing a method called a selvedge. This ensures the weft yarn wraps around the warp yarn, making the fabric more durable. Simple weaving is done on a Shuttle Loom, while more complicated, complex weaving is done on a Jacquard Loom.
Are There Non-woven Fabrics?
The simple answer to this is yes. There are textile processes that do not involve interlacing weft or warp yarn or threads. Non-woven fabrics are bonded by mechanically, chemically, or thermally entangling fibers through felting, either wet or dry.
They are not woven or knitted and do not require turning fibers into yarn or threads. Most times, non-woven fabrics give distinct features such as resilience, strength, or sterility. Non-woven fabrics are used in carpet backing, packaging products, cosmetic wipes, baby diapers, tea bag paper, and face cloths.
History of The Types of Woven Fabrics
The Latin word ‘texere’ literally means to ‘weave,’ and that is where the word textile originates from. It is believed weaving goes way back to the Neolithic period, around 9000 – 4000 BC. Weaving was a skill the Neolithic people practiced with fervor as it greatly connected families. Others say it all began around 3400 BC with the development of spinning and weaving in Ancient Egypt.
Regardless, the art was, over the years, perfected and propelled from being a means of women contributing to household expenses to a highly specialized process that requires considerable skill. The Middle Ages witnessed a consistent supply chain of dyers, weavers, spinners, and tailors who wanted to be part of the lucrative boom the textile and weaving industry was enjoying across Europe.
Silk processed in China, and the spinning wheel, believed to originate from India, was imported into Europe. This replaced hand spinning and made weaving easier and more efficient. The Industrial Revolution introduced a great number of machines, bleaches, and dyes into the textile industry, which in turn made the industry enjoy substantial growth and advancement.
Types of Woven Fabrics
Fiber and yarn used for weaving woven materials are not only obtained from silk and cotton. There are also mixed fibers and synthetic fibers, which are made by spinning chemicals and petroleum products into fibers or threads.
Depending on the end use, woven fabrics are produced with distinct widths and may be snug or elastic. The difference in the production of fabrics ensures each has a specific property which makes it distinct and easier to decide which is more suitable for a specific purpose. Below are some popular types of woven fabrics.
This cotton fabric has a natural mesh and is made using a cross-stitch embroidery method. It is an open and even-weave fabric that makes cross-stitching easy without the use of embroidery hoops and is naturally stiff. Aida fabric is made with varying space and holes inserted between the weft and warp.
The fabric comes in different traditional colors like white, ecru, black, brown, tan, grey, and it is also in brighter colors. Since the fabric tends to fray, it often needs hemming with suggested hand-washing methods to protect its appearance.
This woven fabric is named after a British clothing company founded in 1888. They were the first manufacturers of this type of fabric. Aertex is not tightly woven, lightweight, and is mostly used to make underwear and shirts, although the fabric is also ideal for making breathable costumes, gym clothes, swimming suits, and sportswear.
The fabric is made from cotton fiber and manufactured with tiny holes to maximize comfort and its suitability for any weather - especially the hot, humid ones that feel suffocating.
Buckram fabric, known as ‘bokeram’ in the Middle Ages, is made from stiff cotton and sometimes from linen and horsehair. The fabric is immersed in glue and left to dry. It is then made wet and molded into firm fabrics.
Buckram fabric is used for making book covers, bookbinding, hats, curtain designs, and so on due to its durability and strength. The glue ensures the fabric is stiff, rigid, and lasts long.
Compared to other types of woven fabrics, Cambric fabric is woven in a slightly different manner. The fabric is made by tightly weaving raw unprocessed fiber that is neither bleached nor dyed, giving it a glossy smooth appearance. It is a lightweight, plainly woven fabric made from 100% cotton or linen.
The fabric was first manufactured in France by a native weaver known by the name Jean Baptiste Chambray. The tightly woven fiber ensures the fabric is stiff and smooth. Cambric fabric is perfect for making tops, dresses, gowns, shirts, embroidery, and lace works.
Casement fabric is made of varying fibers that are lightweight and sheer. They could be synthetic or natural. It is woven with thick, closely packed warp and is chiefly used for curtains, table linen, and draperies. The structure of weaving for Casement fiber is either plain or figured, and it comes in white, cream, and ivory colors.
Cheesecloth fabric is a plain, loosely woven cotton fabric with an open weave and crepe texture. It comes in a variety of grades depending on what it is being used for. Its gauze-like texture makes it suitable for food products such as cheese making, straining sauce, and draining liquid from food, as its name implies.
It is not only used for making cheese or food. Cheesecloth fabric is also used for making garments due to its soft, lint-free, and absorbing quality. It can also be used for draping, pressing cloths, polishing cloths as well as making scary Halloween costumes.
Originally made in nineteenth-century France, Chiffon fabric was made from silk and was considered to be for women of upper class and status who could afford the expensive and highly demanded fabric. The term is now used to describe a wide range of varying sheer, transparent, and lightly woven fabrics that all possess the same quality.
The soft woven fabric is made by weaving yarns in the shape of an S into yarns in the shape of a Z, which gives it its textured look. Although it is still one of the most expensive types of woven fabrics, Chiffon is now used to make wedding dresses, bows, ribbons, saris, and so on.
Previously known as Dungaree, Denim is arguably one of the most popular types of woven fabrics or woven cloth. It was first made by Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss, founder of Levi’s Jeans.
The fabric is made with 100% firm cotton twill yarn, which is stretchy and is either indigo, grey, or off-white. The soft durable texture of the denim is achieved because of the undiluted cotton used in making the fabric.
Flannel is also one of the more popular types of woven fabrics. It is also known as Flannelle or Flannel, has been in use as far back as the seventeen century and was first recognized in Nimes, France. The woven material was incredibly popular in Europe, and it is made with varying soft fibers obtained from cotton, wool, or synthetic source.
The texture is soft and brushed. It is used to make garments like plaid flannel shirts, accessories like bags, purses, belts, and even home-wares such as bedsheets. Sometimes Spandex is added to the spun cotton to give the fabric elasticity and ability to stretch.
Muslin is made from original cotton and is simply and plain woven without frill or fuss. The fabric was first manufactured in Mosul, Iraq, and derives its name from the same place. It was extremely popular in East India and was made from cotton grown beside the river.
By the eighteenth century, its fame had spread to France and subsequently the rest of the West. Muslin fabric is extremely thin, fragile, and translucent. They are used for making sarees, lining for quilts, background for sets, cooking, and even used as muslin gauze.
Taffeta, as it is known today, was first produced in France and Italy, and eventually in Asia. The crisp, smooth, and plain woven fabric is made from silk, acetate, and polyester. Piece-dyed taffeta and yarn-dyed taffeta are the two available types of fabric, with the former being a soft and delicate version and the latter much stiffer.
Taffeta fabric is used in making wedding dresses, ball gowns, curtains, wall coverings, corsets, and lining for garments.
Types of Woven Fabrics - In Conclusion
Woven fabrics are undoubtedly versatile and have managed to not only thrive but adapt to the changes over centuries. The available variety of woven fabrics makes it a preferred choice as it can be used for more than one purpose.
While some weaves are light and easy to wear, some woven fabrics, like denim, are strong and can handle a lot of wear and tear. Although it is near impossible to list all the different types of woven fabrics, it is important to choose the right fabric suitable for its end-use.
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