Brocade
Encyclopedia
Brocade is a class of richly decorative shuttle-woven
Shuttle (weaving)
A shuttle is a tool designed to neatly and compactly store weft yarn while weaving. Shuttles are thrown or passed back and forth through the shed, between the yarn threads of the warp in order to weave in the weft....

 fabric
Fabric
A fabric is a textile material, short for "textile fabric".Fabric may also refer to:*Fabric , the spatial and geometric configuration of elements within a rock*Fabric , a nightclub in London, England...

s, often made in colored silk
Silk
Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity...

s and with or without gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

 and silver
Silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

 threads. The name, related to the same root as the word "broccoli," comes from Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 broccato meaning "embossed cloth," originally past participle of the verb
Verb
A verb, from the Latin verbum meaning word, is a word that in syntax conveys an action , or a state of being . In the usual description of English, the basic form, with or without the particle to, is the infinitive...

 broccare "to stud, set with nails," from brocco, "small nail," from Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 broccus, "projecting, pointed."

Brocade is typically woven on a draw loom
Loom
A loom is a device used to weave cloth. The basic purpose of any loom is to hold the warp threads under tension to facilitate the interweaving of the weft threads...

. It is a supplementary weft
Weft
In weaving, weft or woof is the yarn which is drawn through the warp yarns to create cloth. In North America, it is sometimes referred to as the "fill" or the "filling yarn"....

 technique, that is, the ornamental brocading is produced by a supplementary, non-structural, weft in addition to the standard weft that holds the warp
Warp (weaving)
In weaving cloth, the warp is the set of lengthwise yarns that are held in tension on a frame or loom. The yarn that is inserted over-and-under the warp threads is called the weft, woof, or filler. Each individual warp thread in a fabric is called a warp end or end. Warp means "that which is thrown...

 threads together. The purpose of this is to give the appearance that the weave actually was embroidered on.

Ornamental features in brocade are emphasized and wrought as additions to the main fabric, sometimes stiffening it, though more frequently producing on its face the effect of low relief. In some, but not all, brocades, these additions present a distinctive appearance on the back of the material where the supplementary weft or floating threads of the brocaded or broached parts hang in loose groups or are clipped away. When the weft is floating on the back, this is known as a continuous brocade; the supplementary weft runs from selvage
Selvage
The selvage or selvedge is the term for the self-finished edges of fabric. The selvages keep the fabric from unraveling or fraying. The selvages are a result of how the fabric is created...

 to selvage. The yarns are cut away in cutwork
Cutwork
Cutwork or cut work is a needlework technique in which portions of a textile are cut away and the resulting "hole" is reinforced and filled with embroidery or needle lace.Cutwork is a related to drawn thread work...

 and broch√©. Also, a discontinuous brocade is where the supplementary yarn is only woven in the patterned areas.

Further reading

  • Brocade paper (fragment), originally belonging to a sample book of J.M. Munck, Augsburg 1751 treasure 5 National Library of The Netherlands
  • Marypaul Yates. Fabrics A Guide for Interior Designers and Architects. W. W. Norton & Co.
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