Jacquard is a type of fabric in which the colors and patterns are incorporated into the weave of the fabric itself, rather than being dyed or printed on. The term “Jacquard” does not refer to a particular pattern, but to the loom it was woven on, named for after inventor, Joseph Marie Jacquard. Weaved from a variety of different materials, jacquard is available in a variety of styles, colors, and textures. Fabrics made of jacquard can be used for many purposes and come in a variety of weights and compositions. Spring and summer apparel are made from lightweight jacquard fabrics, while winter apparel is made from heavy jacquard fabrics.
In the past, weaving patterns directly into fabric was a difficult, labor-intensive task; done by hand by skilled weavers, these fabrics were costly to produce, and as such, only the richest could afford to purchase them. As a symbol of status and wealth, brocades were purchased by royals and nobles for use in ballgowns and palace furnishings.
In most cases, fabrics were quickly woven from a single type of thread, like cotton or flax, in its natural shade. Using a common loom, professional weavers would string the long threads that run up and down the fabric across the device, then pass threads through them horizontally though the loom made the weaving process easier, it was still a long, laborious process that was done by hand, which made all fabric not just brocade costly. Fabrics were dyed or printed with patterns once they were completed or, for more expensive fabrics, dyed and printed. For most people, fabric was purchased sparingly and used functionally, with little in the way of design.
The Invention of Jacquard
In 1786, the industrial power loom was invented. This made cloth more affordable than ever, and it opened up the world of fashion and design to the middle classes. Since the first industrial looms could only mass-produce plain, single-thread fabrics, brocades remained the exclusive property of the wealthy for the remainder of the 18th century.
Jacquard introduced brocade to the masses, and it quickly became a symbol of status for the middle and upper classes. They largely used the new fabric as furniture coverings, drapes, and other ornamental items on display every day, and it showed off the household's social standing. Although it has lost its association with social subtext and can be used in a variety of ways, jacquard remains popular for furniture, linens, and home décor.
In 1804, French weaver Joseph Marie Jacquard invented his namesake loom, which used punch cards to regulate weaving. The Jacquard Mechanism, Jacquard Attachment, or Jacquard System was inspired by the newly invented player pianos, which played long pieces of music with rolls of punched-out paper. Jacquard transformed designs into punch cards that automated the loom's movement, allowing multiple colored threads to be weaved into predesigned patterns without having to involve humans.
Jacquard and its loom have become synonymous with all multi-thread woven fabrics that every individual type — yes, even brocade — is now known as a type of Jacquard fabric. Generally, the term "brocade" refers to a heavier woven fabric with a raised pattern, giving the fabric a luxurious, dramatic appearance. Fabrics made of damask jacquard typically contain an elaborate pattern woven into cotton, linen, or silk. Only one color is used in Damask, but the threads are of a different fineness, which produces a subtle iridescence.
Jacquard fabrics are known for their durability and resistance to fading, which is another great reason to consider this type of fabric for furniture, curtains, or other places in your home where there’s a lot of light. Because every individual thread is solution-dyed, they are more color-fast than printed fabrics, which have been selectively dyed, and can be rubbed off over time with repeated usage.
Cotton, silk, and synthetic fibers are the most common textile fibers used to make jacquard. In some cases, textile manufacturers may also use wool to make jacquard fabric, but wool yarn is usually reserved for tapestries. While the largest producer of raw cotton fibers is India, the largest producer of finished cotton garments is China. China produces the most synthetic fibers, and it is also the world leader in silk production. On the other hand, Australia produces more wool than any other country. However, most Australian wool producers send their raw fibers or yarn to China for finishing. Due to this, the majority of jacquard fabrics originate from China.
Benefits of Jacquard
The jacquard fabric combines the elegance of classic weaving with the quality of modern knitwear. Jacquard clothing is durable and strong, with a structured and wrinkle-resistant feel that is perfect for everyday wear. Contrary to printed and stamped patterns, woven patterns will not fade or wear off over time. For wardrobe staples like bathrobes, the exceptional quality offers a unique aesthetic that retains its luxurious look.
The advantages of jacquard materials are largely determined by their composition. However, there are some characteristics that they all share. Most jacquard weave materials have floats on the back. Plus, they are:
- Durable and stable,
- Strong and resilient,
- Wear and wrinkle-resistant,
- Pleasant to the touch,
- Filled with decorative aesthetics.
With popular designs and patterns, there is no denying that jacquard is a beautiful fabric. Jacquards are perfect for those who want to stand out and for fashion designers that want to explore their skills.
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