What is Jacquard Fabric?

Introduction

If you take a look around your home, and wardrobe, the chances are Jacquard fabric will feature somewhere.

Popular for formal evening wear and men’s suits, as well as homewares like furniture upholstery, duvet covers and drapes, Jacquard fabric has been around for almost 220 years.

But what do you know about it? Read on to find out more!

What is Jacquard Fabric?

Jacquard fabric is a type of cloth which features an ornate and intricate pattern that has been woven, as opposed to printed, on the surface.

This style of fabric was invented in 1804 by an innovative French textile artisan called Joseph-Marie Jacquard. As it was him who developed a special mechanical loom that allowed the weaver to entwine the pattern into the warp – this new type of fabric was named in honor of him.

An adaptable fabric, it can be made to lightweight or heavier styles of fabric. So it can be used just as easily for spring and summer clothing as it can for fall or winter wear. As well as more formal apparel too.

Technically speaking, only fabrics that are woven on Jacquard looms can be regarded as genuine examples of this type of fabric. Although in reality, any fabric that features woven patterns tends to get grouped with it.

The Origins of Jacquard Fabric?

Before the Jacquard loom was invented, the process for weaving intricate fabrics like damask and brocade was very time consuming. Subsequently they were very expensive to produce and thus only made for the elite.

Whilst other types of weaving machines existed, Jacquard used these as templates to design a special mechanical process that connected directly to existing looms.

With this key point of difference, textile manufacturers could ‘program’ the looms to produce specific patterns via a series of punched paper cards.

Pretty much overnight, the Jacquard loom slashed the cost and time of production for this style of woven fabrics. As a result the likes of brocade, damask and other types of deluxe textiles became accessible to the masses for the very first time.

How is Jacquard Fabric made?

Around the world modern textile manufactures produce Jacquard fabric via a Jacquard loom. The weaving process for the fabric generally takes the following steps.

  1. You can use a variety of different fibers to make the Jacquard fabric. Once you have decided which one you want to use you will have to source it accordingly.
  2. When you have sourced your chosen fiber, you will then need to spin it into yarn. You will be able to do this in a range of thickness options, which you can also dye too.
  3. Once they have the desired yarn type, the textile manufacturers select the programs for their Jacquard looms. There are thousands of weave patterns to choose from, and once chosen, the computerized Jacquard loom will be set to weave the yarn into that pattern.
  4. Jacquard looms feed the yarn into the weaving machine, which then arranges the yarn into an intricate web that produces the desired pattern.
  5. Once complete the fabric is sometimes dyed or treated with chemical substances that add enhanced strength, heat resistance or durability.

Benefits of Jacquard Fabric?

Jacquard fabric is blessed with a number of benefits.

A durable and stable fabric that is perfect for everyday wear, it is also strong and resilient too, so clothes or homewares made of this type of material should last you quite a while.

This type of fabric also tends to be both wear and wrinkle resistant, as well as pleasant to the touch. So it won’t chaff your skin or cause it any other irritation.

As it features decorative aesthetics the woven patterns are beautiful to look at, and unlike with printed or stamped designs, they won’t fade or wear over time.

Where is Jacquard Fabric Produced?

Generally the most popular types of textile fibers for Jacquard are cotton, silk, and wool.

Of the three, India is the world’s biggest manufacturer of cotton fiber. Whilst China is the biggest producer of silk and finished cotton garments.

In terms of wool production, Australia garners more of it than any other country, although they typically send their raw fibers or yarn to China for finishing.

So it’s fair to say overall that Jacquard fabric is predominantly produced in China.

How much does Jacquard fabric cost?

As a consequence of its invention, Jacquard loom dramatically reduced the production cost of complex woven fabrics.

In today’s textile market, Jacquard fabric is only slightly more expensive than other similar woven fabrics.

The price of Jacquard fabric depends very much on which country you are in, and increases depending on the level of complexity that was required to make it.

What different types of Jacquard fabric are there?

As Jacquard is a type of weave, essentially any type of fabric woven with a Jacquard loom can be referred to as Jacquard fabric.

Some of the most common ones include:

  1. Brocade

Originally woven with silk, textile producers now manufacture brocade fabric in synthetic, cotton, and even wool. A simple brocade usually features two colors of yarn, though some have as many as five.

  1. Brocatelle

Although it is similar to brocade, Brocatelle can only be made using a Jacquard loom. Commonly featuring patterns that are more intricate, they tend to also have more distinctive, puffed and raised surfaces.

  1. Damask

Unlike the previous two, damask is reversible. It also tends to feature just one warp yarn and one weft yarn.

  1. Matelassé

Most often used in the manufacture of coverlets and pillow shams, matelassé fabric is notable for its raised patterns.

  1. Cotton jacquard

Fabrics that are cotton jacquard tend to be less complex in design and are among the cheaper textiles made with Jacquard looms.

  1. Silk jacquard

Arguably the most deluxe style of jacquard fabric, silk jacquard is most often used to make the most complex brocade patterns or tapestries.

  1. Wool jacquard

Generally less fine than silk, wool is regularly adopted in the production of jacquard tapestries. It is also used to make winter apparel like sweaters and gloves.

How is Jacquard fabric used?

Today Jacquard fabric is used in a few different ways throughout your home and wardrobe.

One of the most common uses for Jacquard fabric is to make homewares like drapes and curtains. It is also regularly incorporated in duvet covers as well.

Other non-clothing uses of Jacquard include pillow covers and certain types of upholstery and high end ornamental furniture.

In terms of clothing some manufacturers use jacquard in the production of men suits or formal women’s dresses. You can also find Jacquard in blouses and more informal dresses too, as well as warm winter clothing like gloves and sweaters.

Jacquard fabric properties?

Typically Jacquard clothing is renowned for being durable and strong. It also has a rather structured and wrinkle-resistant feel, which makes it appropriate for everyday wear.

On the whole Jacquard weave tends to be very textured and complex. It is also similar in color to woven fabrics. Especially in the way the pattern is entwined into the fabric, as opposed to being printed on.

These patterns usually take the form of floral or swirling designs and can incorporate many different colours. Unlike designs that are printed and stamped on, the woven pattern won’t erase, or wear off in any way.

Is Jacquard like cotton?

Jacquard fabric is often manufactured of cotton, though this is not the only fiber that it can be made with.

As compared to other fabrics that are used to make Jacquard fabric, those made of cotton are usually less intricate in their design.

They also tend to be some of the cheaper textiles to use with the looms too.

Is Jacquard material soft?

The relative softness of Jacquard fabric depends very much on the material that is used.

The likes of cotton, linen, wool, and blend are all fairly soft, so Jacquard fabric clothing made of these materials – including shirts, blouses, tops, skirts and pants – can all be considered soft to wear on your skin.

Is Jacquard material thick?

In general Jacquard material is more intricate than other types of weave. They also tend to be thicker and stronger too. Although this very much depends on what fibers have been used to create the fabric.

That said Jacquard fabric can also be made to any specification you require. So it can be as thick or thin as you require.

Can you wear Jacquard in the summer?

A very versatile material, you can definitely wear Jacquard fabric in the summer months, as well as the winter too.

Typically clothing or homeware products that are made with the warmer weather in mind are manufactured from materials like cotton, so they are much more conducive to this season than other fabrics like wool.

Is Jacquard water resistant?

The more sturdier Jacquards materials can be hand or machine washed at temperatures of 30°С. Although it is advisable to avoid using bleaching agents, and you should not wring this fabric either.

When Jacquard fabric is incorporated into outdoor products, they tend not to be waterproof, but instead are water repellent.

Does Jacquard shrink?

Unfortunately Jacquard fabric can shrink.

In particular because of the raised yarn of Jacquard this could easily be compromised by shrinking if you wash it with aggressive or harsh cleansers.

It can also experience color bleeding or distortion too. To avoid this happening, try preconditioning the fabric and adopt less-abrasive methods to clean it.

Is Jacquard woven or knitted?

The large majority of Jacquard fabric is woven on a special loom, which is characterized by intricate designs, that have tapestry effects or large design repetition.

That said it can also be knitted too, in either a single or double kit fabric that can be made with any type of yarn.

How to clean Jacquard fabric

The sturdiest of Jacquard fabrics can be machine washed at temperatures of 30 °С. However you may prefer to wash them in a sink or bucket, by hand, in either cold or lukewarm water.

Avoid using bleaching agents at all costs as doing so can end up shrinking or seriously damaging the fabric.

How to care for Jacquard fabric?

Once the Jacquard fabric has been washed do not wring it out as this could be very detrimental to it.

Instead, the best thing to do is hang it up to dry. If you do not have enough space to do this, try putting it on a clothes horse, or lay it flat on a table.

It is also important to keep it well away from direct sunlight.

Can Jacquard fabric be used as home decoration fabric?

For many years Jacquard fabric has been widely used as a home decoration fabric, and even today it still remains very popular around the world.

Most typically found in drapes, curtains, upholstery, and duvet covers, it can add a touch of style and elegance to any room in your home.

Does jacquard fabric impact the environment?

The impact of the production of Jacquard fabric on the environment depends very much on what type of textile fibers it is made with.

For example, cotton is sustainable, biodegradable and made from organic processes. So it is very good for the environment.

However synthetic fibers like polyester or rayon are toxic, and very dangerous to produce.

Conclusion

Given its popularity for clothing and homewares there seems to be a lot of mileage left in Jacquard fabric.

However, as we adopt a more environmentally friendly and eco-conscious perspective on the way we manufacture these types of products, perhaps in the future certain types of fibers will no longer be used to make it.

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