Weave Structures

I am working on a research paper which discusses Medieval Textiles. I have a 13 page outline of notes prepared and am beginning to draft the paper. I believe I will be taking a post out of Tien Chu's blog and am considering blogging this paper. The intent of this method is to write longer items, papers/books, by working in chunks, or one blog post at a time. Assuming I continue in this manner, here is my first chunk, which is not at all the introduction to the paper. Please feel free to give me feedback by commenting on this post.


Weave structures can be categorized in a number of ways. The first aspect weavers often discuss is whether or not the cloth is balanced. Balanced cloth is defined by an equal number of ends per inch (or centimeter) and wefts per inch (herein referred to as picks per inch). Balanced cloth shows the skill of a weaver to control the beat of the weft. Balanced cloth is effect when drape is not a factor. However there are a number of reasons when balancing warp and weft is not desirable. Items that are intended to create drapable clothing, should be woven with slight higher ends per inch than picks per inch. This warp dominance produce a better drape in the cloth. Fabric with an end use that needs to be more stiff, such as, a rugged placemat or book cover, should be woven with higher picks per inch than ends per inch.
Cloth can also be woven as warp faced or weft faced. Warp faced cloth is woven in such a way that the warp threads are the only threads visible in the final cloth. Weft faced cloth is woven such that the weft is the only thread that shows in the final cloth. Tapestries, which are weft faced, are common in medieval textiles.
The weave structure itself plays an important role in the final cloth and will be the main focus of this paper. There are three main structures, which will be introduced here. Each structure can be modified in a number of ways to create a wide variety of textiles. The main structures seen in medieval textiles and studied by modern weavers are tabby (or plain weave), twill, and satin. Structures are normally discussed in terms of their interlacement. A cloth’s interlacement is merely the pattern of how many warp threads a weft travels under and then over or vice versa. It is essentially how the warp and weft interact with each other to create the woven cloth.
Tabby, or plain weave is the simplest of all weave structures. It is simple because the weft passes over one warp thread then under another. You only need a mechanism that creates 2 sheds. The earliest looms had a natural shed, that is the way the loom was warped every other thread was lifte above it’s neighbor.These looms also had a mechanism, normally a heddle rod, which lifted the second set of threads up to create the second shed.
Twill is generally defined as a regular interlacement in which the weft passes over or under at least two warp threads. This interlacement must move in a regular interval and direction (either left or right), which produces the distinct diagonal line associated with a twill cloth. Twills are commonly found in medieval textiles.
A satin interlacement is similar to twill, but with an irregular pattern. Satin weaves move using a regular satin (or move) number, but the direction is inconsistent. This structure was developed to allow the quality of the thread to be the dominant visual element rather than the move sequence being the dominant visual element. Satin is commonly used for silk and is believed to have been developed when silk came into common use, to allow the shine of the silk to be the main visual element of the cloth.