Woven Fabrics

Woven fabrics are generally made on a loom, by threading crosswise yarns, called the woof (or weft or, sometimes, filler), through stabilized lengthwise yarns, called the warp. Woven fabrics that are not made of stretch fibres are stable in both the lengthwise and crosswise directions, but stretch a little on the diagonal, or bias.

There are at least three main types of weave found in commonly available woven fabrics:
  • Plain weave - The warp and the weft are aligned so as to form a simple criss-cross pattern. Each weft thread crosses over and then under the warp threads, in sequence. The next weft thread goes under where the previous thread went over, and so on. Plain weave is also called tabby or taffeta weave. Plain weave fabrics where the warp and weft are made of threads of similar weight and the same number of threads per unit length are called balanced plain weave. A balanced plain weave fabric will have a checkerboard-like appearance. It is also called one-up-one-down weave or over and under pattern. When two or more threads are bundled together and then woven following the plain weave pattern, this is called basketweave. Plain weave fabrics include broadcloth, chambray, chiffon, organdy, organza, poplin and taffeta.
  • Satin weave - When four or more weft yarns cross a single warp yarn, or a single weft yarn crosses four or more warp yarns, this is called satin weave. This produces a more even sheen to the fabric, and more light is reflected due to the presence of fewer tucks. Hence satin weave is distinguished by its lustrous appearance. Lustrous yarns such as silk may be used to further heighten the lustrous effect, although many different fibres are commonly used. The satin family of fabrics includes the following : antique satin, baronet satin, Canton satin, charmeuse, ciré, cotton satin, crêpe-backed satin, cut velvet, double-faced satin, duchesse satin, messaline, panne satin, peau d'ange, peau de soie, sateen, satin-stripe sheers, satin-faced silk, skinner satin and slipper satin.
  • Twill weave - In twill weave, the weft thread is passed over one or more warp threads, then under two or more warp threads, with a step or offset between rows to create a diagonal pattern. Twills will generally drape well, as a result of their diagonal structure - indeed they are softer and more pliable than plain weave fabrics, and less prone to wrinkling. Furthermore, the structure allows them to be made with denser thread counts per unit length, yielding very wear-restistant variants. However, unlike plain or satin weave, twill fabrics will have a different front and back side. The diagonal line within a twill weave is called the wale. The front side of the twill fabric is the side with the most pronounced wale. It is more durable, more attractive and most often used as the fashion side of the fabric. The front side also will hide a certain amount of dirt, which is why it is used in work clothes. Twill is rarely used as a print fabric because of its texture. Two kinds of twills are even-sided twills and warp-faced twills. Examples of warp-faced twill fabric include chino, coutil, drill, denim, gabardine, cavalry twill, lining twill and fancy twill. Examples of even-sided twills are surah, serge, twill flannel, herringbone, houndstooth and tweed.
In addition to these types of weave, another special case of weave is found in ribbed fabrics. Ribbing arises when several yarns are grouped together, or one a thick yarn is used in one direction and a very fine yarn in the other. Ribbed weave fabrics are found in all three of the major types described above. Crossrib fabrics have horizontal ribs, while lengthwise rib refers to vertical ribs. Examples of ribbed fabrics include the following : antique satin, bengaline, broadcloth, Cantonese crêpe, dimity, duppioni, faille, grosgrain, Gros de Londres, Marocain, moiré faille, moiré taffeta, ottoman, petersham, pinwheel piqué, pongee, poplin, repp, shantung, taffeta, and tussah (wild silk).

Many different kinds of woven fabrics are made, depending on the fibres used and how the weft yarns are threaded through the warp yarns :
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