Weaving the Beauties: the Jacquard wovern fabrics of the Stoddard-Templeton Archive

Blog post by Frank Fan, student on the University’s Dress & Textile Histories Masters programme.

As florals dominate the patterns of the samples found in the Stoddard-Templeton Archive, so too do the best-known jacquard styles represent the majority of the weaves used.

Four samples can represent the popular jacquard patterns found in the archive; brocade, brocatelle, damask and tapestry-like fabrics. These fabrics can be collectively known as Jacquard fabrics, and were all woven by Jacquard loom. In the 19th century, the Jacquard loom signaled a new invention of decorative fabrics through the use of punch cards. Punch cards have dotted holes allowing threads to pass through into the loom, forming the pattern, changing the colours and creating a design.  In this way, the Jacquard loom can be viewed as an early computer.


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Brocade features an embroidered or embossed surface effect. The name was derived from the Italian brocatto, meaning ‘embossed cloth’. When examined on the back, some brocade fabrics have the threads left loose and floating, which is called continuous brocade (plate 1 and 2). In contrast, discontinuous brocade has a smoother back, in which additional yarns are only woven into the patterned areas. Brocade fabrics are made from a wide range of fibres and with a wide extent of prices and qualities. They are mostly used for upholstery, draperies and clothing fabrics.



Plate 3: Jacquard-woven fabric in brocatelle style with the floral patterns in high relief

Brocatelle is similar to brocade but has a high relief effect of patterned designs, which is prominent standing out from the background. They are used for upholstery fabrics and draperies.


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Damask is a flatter fabric than brocade with a fine weave, usually with patterns by a satin weave and background by a plain construction. Different to brocade, damask is reversible. This means the pattern weaves becoming the ground weaves on the reverse. The highlighted differences of colours make the design obvious. Damask weaves commonly are used for tablecloths, furnishing fabrics, and also for clothing.

Tapestry-like fabric

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Tapestry-like fabric has an appearance which is similar to hand-woven tapestries. These fabrics have highly patterned designs on the face; however, the back side is like a film negative, which has the identical figured patterns, but the colours are reversed. Whilst this feature is similar to damask, it is easy to distinguish the difference between the face and back in tapestry-like fabric. This type of fabric is widely used for interiors.

By looking at these different types of jacquard-woven fabrics, we can understand their popularity and application in people’s daily lives, which was also a symbol of outstanding technical developments in Britain.

Categories: Archives and Special Collections

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