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What is a jacquard fabric
Jacquard is one of the most popular fabrics in the world. The material has become synonymous with luxury and finesse, given its association with brocades. Throughout history, jacquard has been associated with the upper echelons of society, being used extensively in tapestries as well as the clothing of the wealthy elites. The gowns of the ladies, adorned with golden thread and elaborate corsets, bodices, puff sleeves and flowy skirts, used rich fabrics such as silk, velvet and satin and were often weaved in the jacquard pattern.
Things have changed since then, and nowadays, jacquard fabrics are no longer solely the domain of the wealthy. However, they have remained a staple for those looking to add a bit of subdued elegance to their clothing or furnishings. So, what exactly is jacquard fabric, and what are its uses?
The principles of jacquard
To find an answer to what is a jacquard fabric, you must take a little trip back in history because this style is absolutely nothing new. Jacquard doesn’t refer to a particular material but to a complex weaving pattern. Jacquard is indeed quite complicated, and until the early 19th century, any jacquard piece took a long while to complete. However, after Joseph Marie Jacquard patented the first loom in 1804, the creation of jacquard became less painstaking. Not only did it make shedding much easier, but the invention of the loom also enabled the emergence of unlimited varieties of patterns.
This means that jacquard has become more unique, as there are currently way more variations in the weave than ever before. The traditional way of creating jacquard involved looms that were manually adjusted. The process was so labor-intensive that there was a second person, usually a draw boy, that had to handle the heddles with warp ends that had to be pulled up.
The specialized loom is indeed no loom, but a device that can be adapted to dobby looms, allowing the machine to create intricate patterns. The original device used punched cards to make the fabric. Nowadays, they have been replaced by computers. Much like in any other industry, technology dictates progress and enables the procedures to change. There’s also a difference in fabrics. While the traditional brocades and damasks weaved in the jacquard fashion were made out of silk, wool, cotton, linen and sometimes even gold or silver threads, in recent years, this category has expanded to include synthetic fabrics as well.
When you think of jacquard, richly embroidered fabrics most likely come to your mind. This could lead you to believe that the design is overall not at all versatile and can only be used in the modern world in ceremonial clothing requiring elaborate designs. However, that’s not true. Believe it or not, jacquard can be used in many different ways.
The use in clothing pieces is likely the most obvious, with many dresses, trousers and tops being weaved using jacquard shedding. But many household items can use jacquard as well. Drapes, curtains, pillows and duvet covers, and, if you want to take it a step further and are a lover of vintage fashion, covers for chairs and armchairs. However, the style may feel dated for some.
If you need help discerning between jacquard and other patterns, your best bet is to look for complexity. Jacquard also looks complex, often involving intricate designs with natural or geometric motifs. Even on darker fabrics, the pattern is also generally quite convoluted. The weaving pattern also provides the fabric with a glossy, luxurious feel, regardless of the textiles from which it was manufactured. Nowadays, the weave has begun to be primarily associated with drapes, but duvets are also relatively easy to find.
The thickness and texturing of jacquard makes it the ideal option for upholstery. The intricate design doesn’t only serve an aesthetic purpose. It also provides items made in the jacquard style with better structural integrity than other items. This means they’ll hold up for longer, so you don’t have to worry about the additional cost of replacing them all the time.
Many jacquards are often reversible, with a negative pattern found on the back. If you like the look of the item, you’re in luck, which means you can get two pieces in one. The advantage of jacquard is that the design of the pieces is woven in the fabric, not printed or embroidered at the top, making it more resistant to fading or unraveling. Because of this, jacquard is usually a favorite for formal clothing. The sari, a traditional garment from India, is often made from silk that has been woven using the jacquard pattern. Formal coats, jackets, waistcoats and suits also use the jacquard pattern. Because of the style of the weaving, any piece made using jacquard will look luxurious, regardless of the fabric it’s made of.
However, don’t believe everything made in the jacquard way is automatically brightly colored, flashy or ostentatious. There are many different items you can find that are quietly elegant. They can be tops, skirts, jeans, and upholstery items coming in shades such as beige, ecru or gray. They will all be slightly elevated from the other weaving patterns, as the overall design will be visibly more intricate.
The bottom line
Jacquard has come a long way since its origins in Ancient China and the Byzantine Empire. Nowadays, the countries that are chiefly involved in creating jacquard fabrics include China, India and Australia. The former two are the largest producers of cotton and wool, respectively, two of the materials most commonly used to create this pattern. Meanwhile, China is the world’s largest silk and synthetic fabric producer. China is the largest producer of finished garments and items created using jacquard looms. As a result, much of the raw materials are shipped overseas for processing and weaving.
Many famous fashion designers currently use jacquard in their designs so that you can see it quite a lot on the runway. The jacquard structure allows for the creation of beautiful pieces using silk and organza, making for voluminous clothes that retain a transparent effect.
There are few things that innovated the world of design as much as the jacquard loom. This versatile fabric continues to amaze the world, just as it has done for centuries.