The Art of Making: Weaving

Posted by Nellie Laskow

Pattern isn’t just about the surface, but can be developed through the structure. We partner with a local mill in Pennsylvania to produce jacquard woven designs. Fresh colors in cottons and linens weave together to create patterns that feel as dynamic as they look. 

We love the process of weaving because it allows for so many textural possibilities, and ability to play with different types of yarn. The patterns that you see are created using the yarn and weaving structures as opposed to applying a print to the surface. 

Photographer: Tory Williams
Blocks in Pink Dusk

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, a space is created for the weft to pass through. 

Yarns for Warp
Threading the Warp
Tying the Warp
Photographer: Tory Williams
Warp preparation for Market Stripe

As with all of our designs, everything emerges from Rebecca’s studio practice. 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. 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 will 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. To get the look we want, we experiment with a wide variety of materials and techniques; we’ve played with hand dyed warps, hints of metallic, shine vs. matte finish, creating texture that looks embroidered, and more. 

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, a space is created for the weft to pass through. 

Photographer: Tory Williams
Marble Geode Weaving on a Hand Dyed Warp

Our first samples are always so exciting to receive, as you get to see the concept come alive. 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 (such as our Gridded Ikat in Blue-Pink). Once we approve color choices 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 exciting for us because they are such a different development process and result in a sturdier fabric that is perfect for upholstery.  

Photographer: Tory Williams
Sashiko Wave Fabric

Rebecca believes a home should feel collected, rather than perfectly designed or matched, and that’s one of the reasons we love mixing woven designs with printed ones.  Another huge benefit of our woven fabrics is that they are more durable, making them perfect for upholstery. The woven patterns bring new layers to our collection of textiles; some can act as solids because the pattern is so delicate, others are reversible, and some are show-stopping patterns in their own right.

See more about how we produce our products on our The Art of Making series on The Fold.