Matelasse

Matelasse.  This is one of those weaves that I didn’t know was a weave at first.  And why would I?  Originally, the look of Matelasse was obtained by actually quilting the fabric in the loom.  So it LOOKS quilted.  I didn’t know it was an actual weaving technique, until I got All About Silk. So the original Matelasse was a thicker, quilted fabric, I believe most commonly seen in petticoats and waistcoats.  But with the advent of the Jacquard loom, the quilting has dropped off and it’s all done with extra crepe yarns set at different tensions.  Once off the loom, the fabric is washed, causing the crepe yarns to shrink.  This in turn causes the regular yarns to pull and pucker, giving this faux-quilted effect. 

Matelasse is one of several double weaves, meaning that two distinct layers are woven then joined with extra yarns. This is how velvet is created, joining the two weaves before cutting one layer away, which leaves the plush pile behind. In Matelasse, the second layer, shrinks and puckers, creating that quilted effect.

Because of the textured effect, Matelasse is fairly easy to work with, and allows itself to semi fitted or loosely tailored garments. Heavy tailoring is not recommended because you don’t want to risk destroying the weave with heavy pressing. And it doesn’t need heavy pressing! The nice thing about the crepe yarns is that it genuinely minimizes the amount of ironing needed for the fabric to look spectacular.