Saturday, March 5, 2011

Beginners Guide for Weaving Designers

After the beiefing meeting where the work that is required is established, and after initial ideas have been collected, one of the first things that a weave designer will do is to establish a colour palette. This colour palette may change as a design work develops but such changes are normally minimal. A colour palette will usually consist of groups of colours, chosen with regard to trends and predicted directions. The way these colours work together will be important. A degree of flexibility is usually desirable as economic constraints will normally demand that stocks of yarn (both for sampling and production) are kept to a minimum.

Once an initial colour palette has been decided upon, suitable yarns are then selected. These will normally be selected from ranges offered by yarn producers and frequently from the colours in which the yarn producers have decided to run their ranges; sometimes however, colours will have to specially dyed.

From their initial paperwork, weave designers will usually take their design ideas and develop them on the loom. Sample warps will be made up and different weave, colour and yarn combinations tried. Shape and pattern are important but these might well evolve more with weaves used. The way woven designs repeat is determined by the way the yarns are threaded up and the way these threads are lifted. This is very integral part of the weave design process, and a good understanding of fabric structures is vital to allow the weave designer  to be as creative as possible with in the constraints set by the type of loom that is being used and its patterning capabilities. Sample blankets or section blankets as they are also known, consist of different sections across a wrap. These sections may vary in colour, yarn type / and or weave. Initial sample wraps will often have several wrap sections with different drafts, and different wrap patterns and yarns. Different lifting plans ( which, along with the way the loom is threaded, determine the weave) will be tried out as well as true designs where the planned wrap will be woven with the intended weft, there will be many areas where crossings occur. These are sections where wrap and weft patterns combine more by chance than by design. Areas of interest will be developed and hopefully an initial sample blanket will provide plenty of ideas for subsequent development. Having considered initial ideas, further sample blankets will be developed; these will show full repeats of the proposed fabric designs and will often have sections in alternative colourways.

Some weave designers will work on computer aided design (CAD) systems, using these to try out ideas before the weaving stage. Many of the sophisticated weave CAD systems currently available, as well as showing representations of what the fabric will look like, also have facilities to show proposed weave designs on garments and other products. However in practice it is still usual to weave actual fabric samples of those ideas which best meet the brief. The way fabric feels, it handle, is still a very important factor in fabric selection.
With a selection of ideas chosen, the making particulars or fabric specifications will be recorded so that these designs may be produced again. The yarns and colours used, the draft (the way the loom is threaded) weave, lifting plan (the way the wrap threads are raised), wrapping and picking plans (colour and yarn arrangements in the wrap and weft directions) all need to be recorded, as do as any subsequent process such as applying a fire retardant finish or raising.

Throughout the weave design process, the designer is constantly having to make decisions, on colour, yarn, weave, size of repeat, etc. These decisions are made from a knowledge base that includes intended selling prices, customer preferences the range as whole, co-ordination requirements, performance requirements and so on.
Once the design ideas are developed through into fabrics, these will usually then be presented in house to the sales team, and then to customers.

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