“Which way does the stripe run?” One of the most frequently asked questions we receive both in our showrooms, and over the phone. It is a question that can be easily confused, especially when interpreting fabric specifications from a small sample and how that translates to a roll of fabric.
Warp vs Weft – Which way does the stripe run?
It is a critical question that if understood and answered early in the process, will simplify your dealings with customers and ensure you have the practical knowledge to make quick, confident decisions on fabrics.
How can we understand the pattern direction in relation to a roll of fabric? It is a simple question, but answering it often clouded with doubt.
Firstly, we need to understand basic fabric construction, and then, how the pattern repeat measurements of the design translate to the roll of fabric. This provides the basis to understand the pattern orientation during manufacture and how to simply communicate this to your clients.
1. The foundation of fabric construction
In this recent presentation (Designing and weaving a patterned upholstery) we mention yarn direction, the below diagram represents the two directions in a piece of fabric.
Warp is the long yarn that runs vertically up and down the roll of fabric, this governs the vertical pattern repeat. Regardless of fabric width.
Weft is the yarn that passes horizontally across the fabric roll, generally is it shorter and governs the horizontal pattern repeat. Regardless of fabric width.
2. Specified pattern repeat
As mentioned above there are two types of pattern repeat – Horizontal or Vertical.
The horizontal pattern repeat is a measurement of the design repeating ACROSS the roll of fabric in the Weft direction.
Vertical repeat is always a measurement in the Warp direction, or UP the roll of fabric.
3. Applying this knowledge to a roll of fabric and finished product
Keeping the above fundamental attributes in your mind, you actually have the knowledge now to work out the question of stripe direction for yourself.
You may find sketching a diagram helpful, with the roll across the top, and fabric dropping down, as shown below. So, for example our South Beach Stripe has a horizontal pattern repeat of 70cm.
Mark the repeats on your sketch. Using our fabric South Beach Stripe as an example, horizontal repeat marks go across the roll on your sketch, in actual fact every 70 cm. Then take those marks and expand them up the roll - visually showing the horizontal pattern repeat of the stripe running up the roll of fabric.
From here you can communicate that the South Beach stripe runs up the roll.
Using the same logic process, if it was a vertical pattern repeat, the stripe would have run from ‘selvage to selvage’ or ‘side-to-side’
4. How does this translate into manufacturing?
Standard width drapery - Hung in drops and joined at the selvages – stripes typically up the roll for a vertical visual effect from floor to ceiling. Though some weaves run the stripe from selvedge to selvedge with a vertical repeat to present a horizontal stripe at the window.
Wide width drapery - 280-330cm wide fabric rolls that can be turned 90 degrees and run the length of a wall providing no joins, and an end to end seamless curtain product. Makes it simple to manufacture. A wide width fabric with a vertical pattern repeat (horizontal stripes) would end up having vertical stripes ones manufactured in this way.
Upholstery - Fabric can be used either way depending on stripe direction and frame construction. Often stripes are woven on upholstery fabric rolls from selvedge to selvedge, a vertical pattern repeat or across the roll so that you can turn the roll and run it the length of a long sofa without joins.