Weave Patterns ep.1 | Plain, Basket, Twill, and Satin

Hey Thrifty friends! It's time to learn about weave patterns. If you saw my previous post, you learned the difference between wovens, knits, and non-woven textiles, so now we're ready to dive into what makes woven fabric woven. Plus, we'll go over the four most common weave patterns!

Or you can follow along with this post on our Textile Talk series on Youtube.

Question: How does fabric weaving actually work?

Well, the structure - or "pattern" - used to weave the fabric plays a huge role in determining the overall look, feel, durability, and drape of the final product. For this reason, it is crucial to know what different weave patterns look like and how the weave will influence the way your fabric behaves when you sew or wear it.

Let's address the building blocks of these patterns, starting with the warp and weft yarns of a fabric. Warp yarns run vertically through the length of the fabric and are placed on the loom first. Weft yarns run horizontally from selvage to selvage and are threaded through the warp yarns to create the desired weave pattern. Some weave patterns are functional and others are decorative.

The most common weave patterns are plain, basket, twill and satin.

Loom Weaving

Plain weave is the most basic. This weave is also referred to as tabby, basic, or calico weave. This pattern is created by alternating a single warp thread with a single weft thread in a simple perpendicular over-under method that resembles a checkerboard. Plain weave is the tightest weave and creates a neat, even surface. It is most often used for lightweight fabrics such as muslin, chambray, quilting cotton, and flannel.

plain and basket weave examplesA common variation of plain weave is the Basket weave. Basket weave fabrics have the same general over-under pattern, but using two threads next to each other. Fabrics with a basket weave pattern will have a more pronounced texture. This also means that there is less crossover between the individual yarns, and they will shift around more than a plain weave fabric. This makes basket weave fabrics less stable, but it also makes them less resistant to tearing than plain weave fabrics.

Twill weave fabrics are characterized as having a diagonal rib texture created by a pattern using over two, under two, with rows shifting where the pattern begins. This weave structure is used to make denim. Twill weave fabrics vary dramatically in weight, and stiffness depending on the fiber and yarn thickness used. Due to more distance between the thread crossover while weaving, twill fabrics are very strong, but they are also more prone to fraying. 

twill and satin weave examplesSatin weave generally has a glossy, smooth surface and a matte back side. This is due to “float” threads within the weave structure. Float threads pass over multiple threads at once, and the greater the distance, the more shiny and lustrous a fabric will be. To be classified as a satin weave, weft threads must pass over three or more warp threads, before passing under one warp thread, and then back over the same number as before. Float threads mean that satins snag easily and are prone to fraying, but they are more difficult to rip than plain-weave or twill fabrics.


Happy Sewing!



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