Fabric 101: What is Jacquard Fabric?

Behind the Design

Leopard Jacquard SuitLeopard Jacquard Suit

Every fabric has a story, and jacquard offers one that not only shapes our ensembles but the history of textile weaving, too. The luxurious material traces its roots to the early brocade weaves of the Byzantine empire and continues to make an impression as an essential wardrobe staple today. Discover how this timeless fabric came into being, what defines a jacquard weave, and the many benefits of the iconic textile. 

Zebra Jacquard Knit Dress

Zebra Jacquard Knit V-Neck Cardigan

The Origins of Jacquard

In the early days of weaving fabric, the process required two people to work a large, heavy loom. While brocade fabrics were rich and intricate, weaving was extremely slow and time-consuming labor. Numerous inventors worked to create a more efficient process, but it wasn't until 1801 that a former loom worker named Joseph Marie Jacquard created a simple and elegant solution.

Jacquard proposed a system of punch cards that would program the pattern of a weave, instead of having a worker move the machine. In 1804, the Jacquard loom debuted as the first programmable machine in the world. Not only did the invention alter the future of weaving, but Jacquard's punch cards are credited with influencing everything from binary code to the invention of the computer.

What is Jacquard Fabric?

While the original punch card loom has now been replaced by computer systems, the unique fabric created by Jacquard still bears his name. Jacquard fabric refers to any type of pattern that is woven directly into the material, rather than embroidered, printed, or stamped onto the fabric. Jacquard can be any type of weave and can be crafted from any type of yarn. 

Unlike printed and stamped designs, jacquard weaves will have a reverse pattern that is visible on the inside of a garment. This negative of the design offers a unique aesthetic appeal, allowing some pieces to be worn as reversible clothing. 

Jacquard vs Jacquard Knit Fabric

While a jacquard pattern can be made from any type of yarn, jacquard knit refers specifically to a jacquard pattern created on a knitting machine. The fabric can be either single or double knit and features a distinct pattern on the face. Single knit jacquard fabrics include a unique look on the reverse, where unused yarns "float" over the other threads to continue the pattern further down the weave.

Jacquard knit patterns range from intricate designs reminiscent of traditional brocade to simple and understated motifs. The thicker knit fabric offers all the benefits of classic knitwear, creating a warm and structured textile with ample stretch and shape. Jacquard knit fabric is perfect for sweaters, creating comfortable garments with distinct and long-lasting style. 

Benefits of Jacquard

Stylish and durable, jacquard fabric blends the elegance of classic weaving with the quality of modern knitwear. Jacquard clothing is durable and strong, with a structured and wrinkle-resistant feel that is perfect for everyday wear. Unlike printed and stamped designs, the woven pattern won't fade or wear off of your garments. The exceptional quality is perfect for wardrobe staples like classic dresses, with a flattering fit and unique aesthetic that retains its luxurious feel. 

Each piece in your wardrobe should be crafted for wear and style, with a timeless quality that stands up to a full lifestyle. At St. John Knits, we design our garments with the finest materials and intricate techniques to create empowering pieces for the modern woman. Our collection of jacquard designs brings the classic pattern technique to our signature textiles to create refined wardrobe essentials.