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Mastering Color Theory in Jacquard Weaving: A Kaleidoscope of Creativity


In this post, we will dive a little deeper into utilizing color theory when weaving a design. As was stated in a previous post, the warp and weft threads work together to structurally integrate your artwork into the fabric using weave patterns. This structural integration determines the color output, and understanding this will help you design a successful woven product.

Crafting Vibrant Hues and Shades: The Art of Jacquard Weaving

Our jacquard weave patterns are created by 6 colors of warp yarns (black, white, green, yellow, blue and red) that mix with 2 colors of weft thread (black and white). One might assume, there are not many color possibilities with so few colors being integrated into the weave pattern. However, the reality is that there is quite an extensive amount of colors, hues, and shades that can be achieved.

Let’s start with a basic light blue hue as an example of how color theory comes into play when transforming a weave structure. To achieve a straightforward light blue, we will evenly interlace the blue and white warp yarns with white and black weft yarns (Image 1). Now, if we want to change this light blue to have a purple tint, we need to utilize color theory since there is no purple yarn in our mix of warp or weft yarns. To achieve a light bluish purple hue, we will need to bring up an additional red warp thread alongside the blue and white warp threads (Image 2). To further the transformation of color, we can make it a shade darker by adding a black warp thread, removing the interlacing white weft yarn, and only using the black interlacing weft yarn (Image 3).

weave structure

This example demonstrates just how important color theory is in creating our palette of weave patterns that yield a broad range of colors, hues and shades. For the weave technician, there is a delicate balance of adding and removing color warp and weft yarns from a weave structure much like an artist does when creating a distinct color with additions of paint on a palette. However, there is an added challenge for the weave technician. Not only does the weave technician work to achieve a certain color, but they also need to make sure every single warp and weft yarn is doing its job within the structure of that weave pattern.

Unveiling the Secrets of Color Theory in Weaving

In our example of the light bluish purple hue, the weave structure is only utilizing the white, blue and red warp yarns along with the white and black weft yarns. What happens to the black, yellow and green warp yarns? If nothing was done with them, it would be an ineffective weave structure because three warp yarns would be left hanging and not getting woven into the structure of the cloth. Instead the weave technician has to hide the remaining unused yarns on the backside of the weave pattern. Essentially, the colors not woven on the face will be pulled to the back of the weave pattern. This can be especially fun because an unintentional reversible colorway is being woven on the backside of the cloth. Our customers are often delightfully surprised with this effect, and sometimes design their artwork with the reverse side in mind.


Ultimately, the same color theory rules that apply in painting and printed artwork are applied to the woven fabric artwork. Instead of drops of paint color, the weave pattern is being influenced by colors of yarn being woven into its face structure. Weaving challenges the designer to think within the realm of structural color mixing, in effect making color theory an integral part of the woven design’s success.

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