Fabric Design 101 :: Warp, Weft, Selvage & Their Influence On Colourways

Hand-woven tablecloths, napkins, table mats and table runners from KOTHEA
Hand-woven tablecloths, napkins, table mats ad table runners from KOTHEA

This short article will tell you what the warp, weft and selvage of a fabric are. Then how easily, or not, colours in each can be changed in handwoven fabrics.

The Americanism ‘101’ normally means the introductory, grounding ‘lesson/lecture’ in a subject. So most interior designers already know that:

– WEFT is the crosswise thread that inter­laces with the warp threads on a woven fabric. ie it is the thread that goes from LEFT to right. (Weft and Left rhyme so that’s how you remember it)

– WARP is group of yarns placed first on a loom in weaving. These can be 100s of metres long running throughout the entire roll of fabric that you eventually buy.  Warp runs parallel to the selvage, forming the length of the fabric. The filling threads are interlaced over and under the warp threads in a pattern or weave.

– SELVAGE is the long, outer, finished edge of both sides of a woven fabric that does not ravel because the filling yarns wrap around the warp yarns. It may also be called self-edge or selvedge.

OK, so now if we take a few steps back to the design of a simple woven fabric. KOTHEA, for example, produce handwoven linens to order, often in small quantities. How do we plan to do this? One clever trick is to keep a plain, natural or white coloured yarn in the warp and then introduce colours into the weft as needed. Why? Much of the time consuming process of setting up a loom is in setting up the yarns for the warp. Yarns for the weft can be changed relatively easily without changing the warp yarn.

Simple but great for our customers who need the exclusivity and beauty of handwoven linens and who do not want the large minimum order quantities that can come with that.

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