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Jacquard Fabrics

Jacquard Fabric Fabrics are manufactured through weaving process. Certain fabrics have special characteristics brought through different types of fabric weaves. One of these weaves is the jacquard which produces jacquard fabric. It is a fabric woven on a special loom called the jacquard loom. This loom allows individual control on interlacing of up to several hundred warp threads that can give birth to innumerable unique patterns.

What is Jacquard Fabric
Jacquard fabrics have complex patterns on them. These fabrics are made on the jacquard loom. Jacquard fabrics have floats and luster. They are more stable and stretchy than the fabrics made through basic weaves. Some of the examples of jacquard fabric include matelasse fabric, satin fabrics, brocade fabric, damask fabric etc. Jacquard fabrics are mainly used for upholstery and as drapery fabrics.

The Origin of Jacquard Loom
Jacquard Punch Card  Mechanical LoomThe Jacquard Loom was invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1801 which explains why this loom is called Jacquard loom. This was a mechanical loom and was controlled by punchcards having punched holes. Many rows of holes were punched on each card. Each row of the punch cards corresponded to one row of the design. A number of such cards composed the design of the textile that were arranged in a continuous string. These mechanical Jacquards were often small and were able to control independently only a few warp ends. Therefore it needed many repeats across the loom width. Then came the larger capacity machines that allowed comparatively greater control and needed fewer repeats. Multiple machines were also used to reduce the required number of repeats. In this way, it got possible to weave larger designs across the loom width.

The Invention of Electronic Jacquard Loom
Computerized Electronic Jacquard LoomIt took about two centuries to introduce the electronic jacquard looms. The first electronic Jacquard was launched at ITMA, Milan in 1983 by Bonas Machine Company Ltd. This was initially a small machine but had greater capacity where single end warp control extended to more than 10,000 warp ends. It eliminated the need for repeats and symmetrical designs. Now almost infinite versatility could be produced in the patterns of the jacquard fabrics. It was a computer-controlled machine and thus it significantly reduced the time wasted in changing punched paper designs. Now smaller batch sizes of jacquard fabrics were possible to be made. However, electronic Jacquards are costly. They are not viable for a factory weaving large batch sizes, and smaller designs. These larger machines are apt for a factory that produces jacquard fabric with great versatility having specialized designs. They are, in fact, great for manufacturing jacquard clothing and jacquard linen such as jacquard duvet covers or damask sofa throws.

Jacquard Weaving
Jacquard WeavingJacquard weaving uses all types of fibers and blends of fibers and is capable of creating complex patterns on fabrics. For making these complex patterns, the jacquard loom can be programmed to raise each warp thread independently of the others. In this way, jacquard weaving gives highest warp yarn control. In fact, the invention of Jacquard loom and jacquard weaving made possible the automatic production of innumerable varieties of pattern weaving.

With mechanical jacquard loom, the weaving process is much labor intensive. The heddles with warp ends to be pulled up have to be manually selected by an operator, who assists the main weaver. In earlier times, it was known as a drawloom which is a very slow process and placed limitations on the complexity of patterns.

As mentioned earlier, the mechanical jacquard loom works on the basis of punched cards strung together. Every hole in the card corresponds to a "Bolus" hook. This hook can either be up or down raising or lowering the harness. In this way, it carries and guides the warp thread in a manner that the weft yarn either lies above or below it. The sequence of raised and lowered threads only creates the pattern. Each hook can be joined through the harness to a number of threads. This allows more than one repeat of a pattern. A loom having a 400 hook head might have four threads joined to each hook. Thus, it will result in a fabric which is 1600 warp ends wide with four repeats of the weave going across.

Computerized Jacquard Weaving
The modern computer controlled jacquard looms don't have punched cards, and can have thousands of hooks. The threading of a Jacquard loom is very labor intensive process. As such, many looms are threaded for only once. Subsequent warps are tied in to the existing warp using a knotting robot that ties every new thread on individually. It can take several days for the the process of re-threading even for a small loom having only a few thousand warp ends. In this context, it can be said that the term "Jacquard" is not confined to any particular loom but refers to the added control mechanism that automates the patterning of a fabric.

Types of Jacquard Fabrics
Jacquard ClothingApart from the woven fabric made with the help of jacquard loom, jacquard fabric also refers to a rib-based, double jersey weft-knit fabric on which a figure or design appears in a different color or texture. Jacquard fabrics are further sub-divided into flat-jacquard and blister fabrics. The flat jacquard patterns have equal number of loops in each wale of the pattern knitting. It is not so with blister fabrics. Commonly found jacquard fabrics are brocade, damask and tapestries etc.

Brocade fabric : It is a patterned fabric woven with the help of multi-colored threads. It shows a raised pattern in relief against the background and may or may not use metallic threads as part of the pattern. It is usually a heavier fabric mostly used in upholstery and decorative clothing.

Damask fabric : Although it looks like brocade but is much finer and sheer than it. It is also a patterned fabric woven mostly with single color. The fibers that are generally used for making such fabric include silk fiber, linen fiber, cotton fiber, rayon fiber or blends of other synthetic fibers.

Matelasse fabric : This fabric made with Jacquard weave has a quilted effect. It is generally made with silk, cotton, rayon or wool fiber. It can be made a little stretchy but that depends on the weave.