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Exploring the artistry of woven fabrics

Our top tips for working wonderful weaves into your home…
Exploring the artistry of woven fabrics

The true heroes of the textile industry, woven fabrics are both strong and versatile, making them highly adaptable to a vast array of purposes. From lightweight cotton fabric to durable twill weave fabrics, to elaborate designs showcasing intricate patterns and textures, woven fabrics can cater to many different needs in the realms of fashion and interiors.

 

Here, we delve into the world of woven fabrics to showcase the artistry and adaptability of these much-loved textiles, exploring their many colourful and textural iterations and offering advice on how to work them into interior schemes. Plus a few tips to ensure their longevity…

 

               

Understanding woven fabrics

 

A woven fabric is a type of textile made by interlacing two sets of yarn or threads – known as the warp yarn and the weft yarn – at right angles to each other. The two threads create a structured, grid-like pattern that gives woven fabrics their inherent strength and durability. Unlike knit fabrics, which have a looped structure that gives them stretch, woven fabrics tend to be much more rigid, so while a knit fabric may be brilliant for clothing, it wouldn’t be as suited to, say, upholstery as woven fabrics are.

 

Woven fabrics are typically produced on looms and can vary in appearance depending on the choice of fibres and the weaving technique employed, meaning that there are many different types of woven fabrics. They are a staple of the fashion industry – think of the universal popularity of cotton fabric, and particularly denim fabric, for example – and woven fabrics are also used in industrial contexts, from protective equipment for firefighters to seatbelts for cars and aeroplanes. In the home, the scope of woven fabrics is vast: they are used for everything from accessories such as cushions and headboards to curtains and upholstery. Pictured here is Sashay in Teal from our new Tango Weaves II collection, a durable woven fabric that showcases a sophisticated abstract geometric pattern, perfect for a subtly contemporary window treatment, and equally fabulous for upholstery.

 

 

Woven fabric examples

Classic elegance: monochromatic weaves

 Linwood | Freya | Granite

 

The beauty of monochromatic woven fabrics is that they will sit effortlessly in almost any interior, teaming just as well with a palette of neutrals as they will with a more colourful scheme. And don’t be deceived into thinking that a monochromatic woven fabric is going to be dull: the palette may be restrained but it is the nature of the weave itself that will bring character to the piece, from a nubbly tweed – ideal for upholstering a favourite armchair you want to curl up in with a book – to lightweight fabric woven to exude a sense of airiness, such as a breezy linen or an open weave cotton fabric. Shown here is Freya in Granite, a classic tweed-style fabric that brings lovely texture to the 1950s style sofa. The fabric is made from a wool blend that makes it incredibly robust, ensuring that it can withstand the wear and tear of a busy household whilst creating a smart, subtly tailored feel.

 

 

Vibrant expressions: bold colour combinations

Linwood | Tango Weaves 

When it comes to selecting woven fabrics, your choice of colours really can affect the feel of a space, in turn influencing your mood. Vibrant hues are particularly effective: a pop of yellow, for example, can bring an uplifting feel to a room, while woven fabrics in lively green hues nod to the natural world and lend a sense of optimism to a scheme. Bold blues are good for creating energy and confidence, or, for a sense of drama, try a punchy red – it is fantastic for creating a sense of energy, making it a good choice for sociable spaces. If you are nervous about using bold colours in a scheme, start small: cushions in different types of woven fabrics in vibrant hues may be all the room needs, as well as a few choice accessories such as lampshades or plant pots in similar hues. A small piece of furniture such as an occasional chair, a bench or a footstool is another good way to introduce a punchy weave, and again you can tie it in with accessories throughout the space. Here, a neat side chair is covered in Bolero in Parakeet which, like the cushions, is from our Tango Weaves collection. Each design has a distinctively contemporary edge, perfect for bringing modern glamour and texture to a space.

 

Nature's palette: earthy tones and natural fibres

Linwood | Orta 

Woven fabrics in earthy tones are wonderful for creating a grounded feel and a sense of calm within a home. Natural fibres are the perfect choice, complementing earthy hues whilst adding all-important texture to the space. Linen is one of the most sustainable types of woven fabrics, as it is made from the hardy flax plant which can grow in poor soil and requires little more than rainwater to thrive. Linen woven fabrics are also hardwearing, naturally breathable and entirely biodegradable, making them an ideal choice for eco-conscious homes that don’t want to compromise on style. Our Elba range in pure linen includes a palette of rich, earthy neutrals, and we also offer a number of textural woven fabrics that combine linen with manmade fibres for added strength and durability: Orta is a tumbled, heavyweight linen blend weave that comes in 16 soft, muted shades and features natural linen slubs for added character, while our Serrano collection includes a textural plain weave fabric called Collodi, a linen-blend design that comes in three versatile neutrals.

 

 

Timeless patterns: stripes, checks and herringbone

 

Linwood | Ollaberry/Roxburgh | Bressay Stripe | Duart

 

You really can’t go wrong with a woven fabric in a classic stripe. Bringing a sense of tailoring to a room, striped woven fabrics are an enduring favourite, teaming effortlessly with all manner of designs, from textural plain weave fabrics to bold prints. A tone-on-tone stripe is a particularly useful way to bring structure to a piece of upholstery without overpowering it, this Bressay Stripe in Duart being a case in point. The stripe lends a pulled-together look to the simple armchair, while the soft, neutral shades make it a highly adaptable piece. The fabric is made from pure Shetland wool, a cosy option that is also incredibly durable.

 

 

Checks and plaids

Linwood | Beachcomber | Stroma

The terms checks and plaids are often interchanged but in fact they are distinctly different: checks are formed from two colours and feature the same stripe pattern in the warp and the weft threads, while plaids feature more than two colours and more variety in their layouts. Sometimes the warp and the weft threads of a plaid don’t feature the same pattern, and so they are not symmetrical. And if you are wondering where tartans come in, these are types of plaid associated with specific colourways for different Scottish clans. The appeal of both checks and plaids no doubt lies in the way in which they can bring a sense of familiarity to a scheme, making them a choice that designers return to again and again. Witness how this Beachcomber wool plaid in Stroma brings warmth to a simple armchair, with its tactile feel and palette of natural colours.

 

 

Herringbone elegance

Linwood | Fable Weaves | Zeus | Delft

 

Just as herringbone is favoured by fashion designers for bringing sophistication to tailored pieces, so it is beloved in the interiors world for lending a chic touch to a room. The neat geometric zig zag pattern is highly versatile: it can be used to subtly enliven a scheme, for example, or it can serve to temper an exuberant print. The scale of the herringbone will usually inform its role in a room: a small-scale herringbone can be incredibly subtle, almost reading as a plain-woven fabric from a distance, while a large-scale version is invariably punchier. Here, the distinctive pattern of our Zeus herringbone woven fabric in Delft helps to break up the large expanse of the sofa whilst giving it a lively, dynamic touch.

 

 

Innovative textures: twills, satins, and jacquards

The allure of twill weaves

 

Linwood | Serrano | Livorno | Portland

 

A twill weave is a distinctive type of woven fabric characterised by its diagonal rib pattern, which is created by an offset in the warp threads. Twill woven fabric is renowned for its durability and it hides stains well, making it popular in both fashion – the best known twill weave being denim – and home decor. Twill woven fabric tends to be a very forgiving choice for upholstery, as it is not only incredibly durable, but it also doesn’t wrinkle or crease. This Livorno design is a robust twill weave in a linen mix, which lends itself well to upholstery or heavy curtaining. It comes in Portland, a go-with-anything neutral.

 

 

Luxurious satin finishes

 

Linwood | Miletto | Sea Mist

 

A woven fabric in a satin finish is guaranteed to bring a touch of old-school glamour to a scheme. Perhaps the most beloved of satin weaves is the damask, a symmetrical, mirror-image foliate design where the monochrome pattern is picked out with different warp and weft threads. The organic patterns reference nature while the mix of matt and shiny threads is supremely elegant. Our Miletto damask is woven from a linen and viscose yarns to create a design that is at once contemporary yet timeless. A beautiful fabric for showcasing upholstery, it also looks fabulous made into curtains and cushions – and we love to see it teamed with contrasting textures such as tactile wools or plush velvets.

 

 

Artistry in jacquard weaves

Linwood | Odyssey | Pisqu | Indigo

 

Jacquard is another type of timeless weave that lends understated elegance to a room scheme. The name comes from the special loom used to create these fabrics, invented by French textile artisan Joseph-Marie Jacquard in 1804; rather like damasks, it creates raised motifs that give these textiles their inherent elegance. This glorious Pisqu design is a jacquard velvet, a rich, tactile fabric inspired by a Peruvian appliqué textile. As demonstrated here, it lends itself beautifully to upholstery and is equally wonderful for thick, indulgent curtains.

 

 

Care and maintenance tips for woven fabrics

Linwood | Hartland

 

The joy of most types of woven fabrics is that they are incredibly durable, meaning that with a little care and attention, they will last for years to come. It is important to always check the care label of your woven fabric carefully: some are machine washable at a low temperature while many, such as our Hartland textural weaves pictured, are dry clean only, meaning that it is best to avoid spot cleaning as this could permanently damage the fabric. Some types of woven fabrics are inherently stain resistant or they come with a stain repellent finish, making it possible to mop up spills using a soft, lint-free cloth or paper towel. Leave it on the spot until as much liquid is absorbed as possible, but if the stain remains visible, we advise approaching an expert. As with any fabric, woven fabrics benefit from regular maintenance to avoid them becoming dull and lack-lustre: use the upholstery brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to remove dust from curtains as well as upholstery pieces such as sofas, armchairs and headboards, and regularly plump cushions to remove dust and redistribute the fillings. From time to time, it is advisable to undertake a professional deep clean of your woven fabrics, and when you do this, remember to have all the pieces in the same fabric cleaned in one go, to ensure a consistent colour balance.

 

We hope we have shown that the possibilities of woven fabrics within the home really are endless, offering the chance to bring personality and character to a scheme. From the timelessness of stripes, checks and herringbones to the elegance of complex weaves such as jacquards and satin, to the punchiness of colourful woven fabrics, the choices are vast, ensuring there is a woven fabric for every aesthetic. And not forgetting the stalwarts such as sturdy twills, versatile monochrome weaves and natural fibre weaves in earthy tones – effortless designs that are perfect for creating calming interiors or for tempering bolder choices within a dynamic scheme. Choose your woven fabrics well – and show them a little care along the way – and you will be enjoying them for years to come.