We love the process of weavings because it allows you so many textural possibilities, and ability to play with different types of yarns. The patterns that you see are created with the yarns and weaving structures as opposed to applying a print to the surface as you’d create through screen printing or digital printing. Rebecca believes a home should feel collected, rather than matching perfectly, and that’s one of the reasons we love mixing woven designs with printed ones. Another huge benefit of our woven fabrics is they are more durable—making them perfect for upholstery. We’ve created the collection to have versatility—with some of the designs like the Sashiko Stitch can even act as solids because the pattern is so delicate, while others, like our Cut Up Dot fabric, are reversible for more versatility.
To take the pattern from Rebecca’s sketchbook to the loom we work with a specialty weaving mill in Pennsylvania with almost 30 years of experience. Our fabrics are woven with jacquard looms that can weave complex designs. Some patterns require complicated setups while others are simpler. Once Rebecca translates her artwork into a digital file, our mill then takes that file and rescales the artwork based on the strands of yarn the pattern while require, creating the top layer. This is the layer that you will see once the product is finished. Once the design of the top layer is completed a technical designer will engineer the hidden weave structure, or bottom layer, that makes the top layer pattern possible.
Once the full weave structure has been designed the file is sent to the computerized jacquard looms. For those of you new to the concept of weaving, a fabric is made up of warp and weft threads. Warp threads run the length of the cloth. These threads are raised and lowered to create patterns and hold the fill/weft threads in place. The file tells the loom to either lift the warp end or leave it down based on each pixel in the design. After the warp is knotted in, it is pulled forward through the heddles (wired cords with loops to hold each warp end) and come up to the front of the loom where weaving will take place. The heddles are controlled by the head of the jacquard which raises them to lift each warp, creating the interlacements of the pattern. By lifting the warp yarns, space is created for the weft to pass through.
As with all of our designs, everything begins as a studio practice by Rebecca. She develops the artwork and then we review these ideas with the mill to pick the right quality and see how they can combine techniques and weave structures to get the pattern and texture we want. We’ve played with hand dyed warps, hints of metallic, shine vs. matte finish, creating a texture that looks embroidered, and more. Our first samples are always so exciting to receive as you get to see the concept come alive—and often that original artwork looks very different from what the fabric becomes. Weaving samples come as a color blanket where you get to see the available colors and the full weaving construction. We cut this color blanket into samples to review and often find unexpected moments where colors combine in interesting ways like our Gridded Ikat in Blue-pink. Once we approve some of the colors we move into production at 60-120 yards at a time. Because we produce more yardage than our digital or screen prints our woven fabrics are usually in stock for you to order and receive quickly.
We love working with a mill in the US that has so many technical capabilities and is willing to be creative with us and try new things. Our woven fabrics are excited for us because they are such a different development process and result in a sturdier fabric that is perfect for upholstery.
See all of our Art of Making posts here.