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What Is Jacquard? The Art of Patterned Weaving

two jacquard fabrics white and blue

Blog on Baudekin Studio

by Elena Tran

July 27, 2020

We often think of jacquard as a pattern woven on silk. What is jacquard? The term jacquard actually refers to the automated weaving or knitting process and the type of woven or knitted patterned fabric produced as a result. (Clive Hallett) If any of you still remember the early computer days, you will recall the paper punch cards we used for programming. It is historically accepted that jacquard looms were the predecessors of modern-day computers.

The history of jacquard weaving begins in the nineteenth century when French inventor Joseph-Marie Jacquard first patented this form of weaving using the perforated paper punch cards with binary codes (hole, no-hole) in 1804. He wasn’t the first one to invent the punch card system, though. The first punch-card loom was invented by the eighteenth-century weaver Basile Bouchon in 1725. He adopted the punch paper roll technology used in automated organs to weaving.

In 1728, Bouchon’s assistant, Jean-Baptiste Falcon, improved on his master’s technology by replacing the paper rolls with punch cards attached to each other. But Bouchon and Falcon’s loom was semi-automated and they still needed assistants to operate it. (history-computer.com) Jacquard was more successful at inventing his loom because now it was fully automated and the demand for his invention sored.

During the research for this article, I was reading about traditional weaving on a loom and I realized how time-consuming setting up process is. It must have been very progressive to invent something that will speed up this process. Prior to jacquard loom, making intricate patterns on the fabric was extremely time consuming and therefore, very expensive. This type of fabric was only available to the wealthiest customers. After the invention of the jacquard loom, the elaborate patterns could be mass-produced in any quantities at a fraction of the time. (Science and Industry Museum) This is a typical example of the effects of the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century which affected almost every industry.

When you look closer at jacquard fabric, you will notice how beautiful the embroidery-like weaving is. It takes amazing skill and talent to produce such stunning patterns. As the light reflects off the silk threads, the fabric literally transforms assuring time and again that jacquard weaving will always be in high demand in the fashion industry.

pink silk jacquard fabric

When sewing with jacquard fabrics, you need to remember about the pattern repeat and allow for the nap when placing your pattern pieces. Make sure that the layout of all the pattern pieces is in the same direction and that you match the fabric pattern of individual pattern pieces. There is nothing worse than discovering that the roses on your bodice are upside down.

If you want to learn more about jacquard weaving, watch this video from Victoria and Albert Museum (How was it Made? Jacquard weaving)



Clive Hallett, Amanda Johnston. Fabric for Fashion: the Complete Guide. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd., 2014.

history-computer.com. https://history-computer.com/Dreamers/Bouchon.html. n.d.

How was it Made? Jacquard weaving. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6NgMNvK52A>.

Science and Industry Museum. https://www.scienceandindustrymuseum.org.uk/objects-and-stories/jacquard-loom. 25 June 2019.

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