Description : Brocade is an elegant plain weave fabric which gives the appearance of having been embroidered. It generally feels both luxurious to the touch and heavy. Brocade is often made in colored silks and sometimes with gold and silver threads. Brocade usually presents floral patterns.
Fabrication : The brocade effect is achieved by introducing additional weft threads as appropriate during the weaving process. This creates a permanent fabric design on the surface, slightly embossed. Usually, this results in thread groups at the back of the fabric, called floats. Brocade can be woven in several weights, from mid to heavy weight.
Subtypes : In continuous brocade, the weft threads run from selvage to selvage. In a discontinuous brocade, the extra yarn is only woven in the patterned areas.
Dyes, color treatment and washing characteristics : Preshrinking the fabric will change its appearance, so this is not advisable. If you don't care about the original appearance and need to pre-shrink the fabric, machine wash using warm water and machine dry at a cool temperature. Fabric should normally be dry-cleaned, even when included in a finished garment.
Draping properties : The fabric is crisp, hence does not drape easily and looks somewhat heavy. Drape may be improved by running the fabric through several washing and drying cycles - however, it will lose some of its sheen. The long floats on the back may cause the fabric to snag - installing a lining will prevent this, and will likewise protect the seam finishes.
Cutting properties : Fabric should be layed out according to a nap design - that is, assuming the fabric has a privileged direction, even if no such tendency is obvious in the fabric used. Use weights or superfine pins to anchor the pattern when cutting. Try to place pins only in the seam allowances. To slow fraying, apply a fray retardant to all raw edges following cutting or overlock immediately. Mark the fabric lightly and as little as possible. The use of Taylor's tacks and thread tracing techniques is advised, although snips with the scissors, chalk and fine pins can also work well. Do not trim seams closer than 1/4 inch as the fraying tendency will lead to trouble. The use of pinking shears is advisable. The presence of large floral designs requires that the design be matched across different pieces - this requires a single thickness during cutting.
Sewing challenges : Sometimes brocade frays badly, or creeps when it is stitched. Hold the fabric taut when stitching to prevent creep and use a roller fit - this has the advantage of also preventing snags between the foot and the long floats on the wrong side of the fabric. Use a new needle, and an especially sharp one if the brocade incorporates metallic threads. The fabric may be damaged during pressing - use a medium hot, dry iron and press on the wrong side. To be safe, test press first. Avoid gathers and pleats with brocade. Seams should be pressed open and overlocked separately, even if the garment is to be lined. Do not topstitch brocade. Avoid hemming too deep, as the result will look bulky - a hem of 1-1/4 inch is plenty.
Example creations : Sleeveless bubble dress, Nayantara cropped jacket, Chinese style jacket, White coat, Princess dress, Corset, Green striped skirt, Green gold bag, Tunic, Costume, Green hat, Tea wallets,
Uses worldwide : It is used both in furniture and upholstery, but also to make dresses, suits, vests and coats, sometimes pants and handbags.
Origins and history : The term derives from the latin "broccare" meaning to stud or set with nails. This refers to the process of generating a slightly raised or embossed appearance.
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