Types of Wool fabricsPrint
Wool fabrics will stand up to years of everyday family wear and tear and still bounce back. They will maintain a clean and as new appearance for much longer than other fibre type fabrics.
Upholstery is more exposed to greasy soiling because of the frequent handling it receives, especially on the arms of chairs. Wool’s ability to resist soiling and shed soil during cleaning allows wool fabrics to retain their appearance when others become matted and dirty.
Wool’s inherent resistance to flame and heat make it one of the safest of all upholstery fibres. And wool can readily absorb and dissipate the body’s perspiration, preventing the build-up of heat and dampness. Wool is the natural choice for soft furnishings because of its comfort and warmth, long-life performance ratings and safety factors.
More than any other fabric on earth - wool combines luxury and fabric performance due to its appearance retention, tactile properties, drape, elasticity and wrinkle resistance.
Wool pile upholstery fabrics are, in the majority of cases, woven.
Wool velours or velvets are generally used in public transport such as trains and long distance coaches or in theatres, cinemas and restaurants. The upright, resilient pile of from 2mm to 6mm (one twelfth to one quarter of an inch) gives excellent appearance retention, in the same way as a wool carpet pile does. The pile can be cut or loop, or a combination of the two. The terms moquette, fries, or epingle are sometime used to describe loop pile cloths.
Face yarns are always spun and the backing yarns are generally cotton or cotton/polyester.
The pile is created from warp threads fed either from a specially prepared roll or beam or from individual spools of yarn mounted in a creel behind the loom.
There are two basic techniques of manufacture - single plush and double plush. In single plush, one fabric is created and it is possible to have loop pile, cut pile or a combination of the two. In double plush, two cloths are woven face-to-face and slit as they leave the loom. Only cut pile is possible.
A high-speed method of pile fabric production is via a warp pile knitting technique. The pile yarns are well anchored by the equivalent of a W interlacing and back coating is not required. Single and double raschel knitting machines exist. Double bar raschel allows two fabrics to be knitted face to face and slit.
Double bar raschel knitted fabrics have the natural stretch properties of knitted structures and this makes the cloths very suitable for highly contoured or moulded seating such as in automobiles.
There is an almost unlimited range of performance proven wool fabrics from which to make your choice.
Smooth and strong, fineness and strength with a smooth appearance.
Yarn spun by the worsted process has a characteristic smooth and even appearance. This is achieved by using fibres of a reasonably uniform length and fineness which the various manufacturing processes lay in a parallel fibre arrangement. Worsteds are mainly used where a smooth finish is required.
Luxuriously thick and bulky, woollen yarns are usually made from shorter wool fibres of varying lengths.
During the manufacturing processes the fibres are thoroughly intermingled which results in a bulky yarn with a fuzzy or rough appearance. Woollen spun yarns, and the cloths made from them, appear full handling and bulky.
Flat Woven Fabrics
Constructed from two sets of threads that cross at right angles, the threads that extend throughout the length of the fabric are termed warp threads and those which cross the width are termed weft threads.
To form fabrics, warp threads are lifted or lowered according to a predetermined pattern and weft threads pass through the opening or ‘shed’ so formed. As the shed closes prior to forming the next predetermined order of interlacing, the last weft thread which was inserted is pushed up close to the previous weft thread in order to form a compact fabric.
The frequency of interlacing and the short distance which one thread ‘floats’ over another, plain weave can produce the strongest fabric with the maximum resistance to abrasion.
Many fabrics are based on a two-and-two interlacing, usually in the form of a diagonal or twill but variations such as herringbones and diamonds. Here the warp ends float over two weft picks or vice-versa. Thus the floats are potentially more exposed to wear. However to make the fabric firm enough, twill designs are usually made with more threads per 10 centimetres than plain weave.
Sateen designs are unbalanced and will be either warp-faced or weft-faced depending on which threads predominate on the face of the cloth. Generally sateens will be produced from finer yarns, often worsted, and the threads will be more closely set than for twills or plain-weaves.
Generally woven on ‘dobby’ looms where the pattern is achieved by raising and lowering those threads drawn on the same head shaft. By drawing the threads on alternate groups of shafts, two cloths, usually in plain weave, can be produced, one above the other, and these can be made to interlace in blocks creating a complex pattern.
The frequency with which the layers alternate from face to the back of the cloth affects the firmness of the fabric. Since, physically, the two single cloths cannot be set as tightly as a single plain weave; the abrasion resistance of the surface of a double cloth will not be so high. Frequent crossing of the two parts of the fabric helps to counteract this.
Jacquard weaving involves a system of weaving using punch cards, a precursor of the early computer. These days the pattern, or punch cards are compact, often cut by computers. Most wool jacquard fabrics for upholstery are woven from the same yarns in warp and weft. The same considerations of wear performance apply to jacquard designs as to dobby weaves.
Long floats and loosely woven cloths will not perform in heavy-duty installations such as concert halls. So, although the overall pattern of a jacquard fabric may be very complex and on a large scale, the weave elements from which it is assembled are often very basic.
In aircraft upholstery, where an individual corporate identity or logo may be required, jacquard designs are popular.
Until the mid-1980s, wool jacquard designs were seen less often but there has since been a resurgence of interest in them for contract upholstery fabrics due to the design and colour options they offer in current styling trends.