Warp & Weft

WhenTalking about 'Warp & Weft' in the second installment of our Fabric Form Friday series.

When looking closer at textile structures, the very basic and first made fabrics were made by felting fibres. The application of pressure, friction, heat and moisture in various combinations interlocks the fibres together without being able to reverse the process. This is generally done with wool due to its microscopic scales that hook together better than smoother fibres like cotton.

In other textile forms you will see a network of yarn being formed into a structure by performing a uniform method and pattern. These structures are formed from single and double elements which in theory can be unravelled or reversed. Single element structures are those using one continuous yarn, for example, knitting, and crochet (We will return to these briefly at the end of the Form series).

Double element structures are those formed with two yarns that cross paths, interlacing at 90 degrees to each other to form a woven textile made on a loom. Both looms and weave structures come in endless variations making up the vast array of fabrics we encounter today. Note that there are structures using two single elements, not to be confused with a double element structure, but we don't want to confuse things too much so we will leave these out.

The most basic double element structure is a 'Plain' or 'Tabby' weave. This is formed using warp yarns (vertical) as the backbone of any woven fabric, followed by the weft yarns (horizontal) which weave in and out, 'under one warp, over one warp' left to right, evenly and continuously before turning back, right to left and forming the selvedge edge to either side. A little trick to remember which one is which is to remember the phrase 'weft goes left'.

The selvedge (weft edge) of a fabric is stable and will not fray unless cut, unlike the warp edge. Sometimes it is woven using finer yarn which after a fabric is washed can appear tight, and restrictive of the main body of fabric, and therefore is often cut away.