The core of our production are Jacquard upholstery fabrics – but we produce fashion textiles and some accessories too. What are the characteristics of these fabrics? And what are the types to choose 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 that we described HERE. What sets them apart from other fabrics is their pattern, extremely complex and rich in details, woven into the warp itself, not printed or embroidered.
Thanks to Jacquard’s invention, we can therefore create these designs in a simpler and faster way, opening the doors to infinite subjects in many colors: geometrical, floral, animal, abstract…
Before this machine came on the scene, all the operations to produce textured fabrics – i.e., created by intertwining threads, rather than by printing – had to be carried out completely by hand. These procedures were very complex and burdensome and involved two people: a weaver who manually operated the loom and an apprentice, usually a child, who pulled the weave threads, as we explained HERE.
Hence, producing an elaborate design on any fabric took an incredibly long time. Indeed, Jacquard created his loom while trying to make textile production easier.
So now, when we make our handmade velvets, usually there’s only one weaver working on each loom, weaving and cutting the velvet. Although this is a complex process, it does not require any assistant to reproduce the design: the Jacquard machine can fulfill this task on its own.
Types of Fine Jacquard Fabrics
There are various types of Jacquard fabrics, as you can see in our catalogue, produced on modern looms, as well as handmade on antique Jacquard looms, like the precious velvets we produce in our Venice historical headquarters. Let’s take a look at our brocatelles, damasks, lampases, satins and various velvets, each with its own unique features.
Brocatelles are fine fabrics in which elaborate designs in relief are created by the juxtaposition between rigid wefts, usually made of hemp or linen, and lighter warps made of silk. Lighter than brocades and lampases, they have been used since the 16th century in luxury upholstery.
Lampases are precious fabric often enriched with gold or silver threads. Their three-dimensional effect designs stand out clearly from the background. They’re mainly used in furnishing (upholstery, curtains, luxury wallpaper).
Damasks are gorgeous light, silky, soft fabrics with an iridescent brightness. The designs are very rich in details and stand out shiny on the dull background, or vice versa, thanks to the different way light reflects on the yarn. Although they aren’t reversible fabrics, their pattern is visible both on the front and the reverse side, but shiny and dull parts are opposite, just like in a photo’s negative. They were used mainly for upholstering of noble palaces like Versailles and sacred vestments, also enriched with gold and silver thread decorations.
Satins are precious silk fabrics, glossy, incredibly smooth and light to the touch. What makes them so shiny is their weave, i.e., how the warp and weft intertwine with one another, also used to make woven fabrics such as damask and lampas. Satins have a dull reverse and no decorative motifs.
Velvets are fabrics of ancient origins, with a characteristic thick pile that gives them a unique softness and vibrant colors. Their particular processing allows for obtaining both a cut, smooth and very shiny pile and a curly one, made up of tiny loops. Venice, since the 14th century, was one of the main manufacturing centers for velvet, used for residences’ upholstery, curtains, and luxury wallpaper and clothes of the most privileged social classes.