Jacquard fabric and loom: the greatest invention in the textile world

by Edoardo Cavazzoli

What is the Jacquard loom?

What is this magnificent invention? The loom named after its inventor, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, is a device that is applied to any loom. The revolutionary feature of this invention is the possibility of creating complex geometric and multicolored designs at a much higher speed than before. All this happens thanks to this invention that allows you to automatically move the individual warp threads. The Jacquard loom makes it possible to process even very difficult fabrics thanks to the work of a single weaver. Undoubtedly, the Jacquard loom was an epoch-making change, we can safely say it was the greatest revolution ever in the world of textile industry, for this reason it is worth knowing more about its history.

The history of the Jacquard machine

The Jacquard loom was officially born in 1801, drastically changing the world of weaving. At that time the technology and tools available were very limited, and much more difficult to operate than today. Looms were set in motion by people's hands. In fact, for each loom there was a helper who worked together with the weaver. His job was to move knobs that raised the healds so that the weft threads could pass through them. The name of these looms was pull looms or heald looms. This method was extremely slow, only a few inches of fabric were made per day. Therefore, Jacquard decided to create a new machine that would be more practical and faster. 

The invention is based on five important innovations:

1) use of needles and a perforated paper that inside contains the design; 2) cardboards bound together instead of continuous paper; 3) a mechanical cylinder on top of the frame; 4) a ribbon formed by perforated cardboards; 5) a drag chain that advances the perforated boxes.

At first, his invention was not approved by the weavers, who feared for their work. There was even in France the revolt of the Canuts, just as a protest to this textile revolution. The first version of this loom was made in the second half of the fifteenth century by John the Calabrese. He was invited to court by Louis XI. However, the loom did not spread because of the great fears of French weavers, who feared losing their jobs. The weavers boycotted the loom, which was soon forgotten. Today a version of this loom can be found in the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Paris. Jacquard studied this idea again and improved it. The Jacquard loom therefore speeded up all weaving operations. Moreover, this invention allowed the use of a wide range of designs and decorations. After more than two hundred years, this loom idea is still at the heart of the textile world, even today complex designs on fabrics are made this way.

jacquard loom

Jacquard Fabric

Jacquard fabric, which is obtained from the Jacquard loom, is still very popular, although today it is made with electronic machines. It is a fabric characterized by precious designs and noble fibers, which gives rise to bright and brilliant colors. Jacquard fabrics never lose their value, because the design never fades. In fact, the design of the fabric is not drawn or printed on the fabric, but is created through the interweaving of two components, namely the warp and weft. In this way, the design is incorporated and not embroidered, giving way to multicolored patterns. This workmanship is very difficult to achieve and is very valuable. Due to its uniqueness, it is still in high demand.


We have seen together this extraordinary revolution, which deserves to be told. An invention with such a great scope, that even today after two hundred years it is still used. Without the Jacquard loom, there would not have been the speed of execution of today. In addition, this loom made possible the composition of geometric and complicated designs, impossible to achieve otherwise on fabrics.

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