The core of our production are Jacquard upholstery fabrics – but we produce fashion textiles and some accessories, too. What’s so special about these fabrics? And where does their name come from?
Jacquard upholstery fabrics: what are they?
Jacquard fabrics owe their name to Joseph-Marie Jacquard (1752-1834), who invented the Jacquard loom, a machine we’ve described in this article. What sets them apart from other fabrics is their pattern: it’s extremely complex, rich in details and woven into the warp.
Thanks to Jacquard’s invention, we can therefore create colourful designs while weaving the fabric itself, and they can show any kind of subject: geometrical, floral, abstract and with all sorts of animals and animal skins.
Before this machine came on the scene, all textured fabrics – i.e. created by intertwining threads, rather than by printing – were made by hand. This procedure was very complex and burdensome and involved two people: a weaver manually operated the loom; an apprentice pulled the weave threads, as we explained in this post. So now, when we make our handmade velvets, there’s only one weaver working on each loom, she doesn’t need any assistant to create the pattern: the Jacquard machine can fulfil this task on its own, whereas she weaves and cuts the velvet.
On the other hand, at the beginning of the 19th century, apprentices were still necessary in weaving mills, and Jacquard himself, as a child, seems to have carried out this demanding task.
The Jacquard machine
As a consequence, producing an intricate design on any fabric took an incredibly long time. Indeed, Jacquard created his loom while trying to make textile production easier.
The properties of Jacquard fabrics
There are many kinds of Jacquard fabrics, as you can see in our catalogue, where you can find brocatelles, damasks, lampases, satins and various velvets. Each of them has its own peculiar features, but this is not a problem for the Jacquard machine, which is rightly considered the first computer. Indeed, it can be set so as to produce different kinds of fabrics, by automatically moving the threads that an apprentice once lifted by hand. That’s why modern mechanical looms use it, too, although in an electronic and undoubtedly smarter version than that of 1804.
Punched cards on the Jacquard machine. Photo by Sara Furlanetto