Last Updated on March 24, 2024 by Shariful Alam

At first, many might think that basket weave is a method of crafting accessories and home decor. But actually, the term has several meanings. In the textile industry, basketweave is a special type of plain weave that features more than one fiber in either warp or weft (or both) lines.

Basket weave is one of the top fabric weaving patterns in the world. We, the Muslin Dhaka team, figured out several facts and characteristics of the popular weaving. Today, we’ll be putting light on our experience regarding basket weave and basket weave fabrics.

So, let’s move on to our discussion.

What is Basket Weave?

You must’ve seen fruit baskets made of straws. Think of their pattern carefully. Doesn’t the same pattern remind you of some fabric that you use? For example, oxford shirting fabric?

Yes, basket weave, also known as panama or hopsack, is a primary type of fabric weaving. This creates textures and outlooks similar to handmade crafts with straws or branches. You can also compare basket weaving with chess boards or checkerboards.

Commercial NameBasket Weave
Other NamesBasketweave, Matt, Hopsack, & Panama
OriginNot clearly defined (after 5th century)
Fabrics Produced from the WeaveOxford, Monk’s Cloth, Canvas, etc.
Key StructureMultiple yarns twisted to make a single warp/weft yarn
Mainly Known forResistance to wear and tear
Popular UsesFashion, Bedding, and Upholster

Some people say that basket weave is an innovative type of plain weave. And some others think that this weaving is totally different from plain weave. Honestly speaking, both statements are correct. Here’s how.

Like the plain weave pattern, warp and weft threads overlap each other in a fixed pattern in basketweave. One warp line goes over the first weft line, then goes under the second weft line, and so on. The same method is applicable in the matter of weft lines.

But basketweave fabrics have different outlooks. You can find multiple plies on the warp or weft threads. This single unique feature makes a whole new different type of textile than any plain woven fabric (for example, muslin, poplin, calico, etc.).

Basket Weave Definition

Basket weave is a type of weave where two or more similar types of yarns are twisted together to make one warp or weft yarn. The pattern or overlapping of the yarns remains almost the same throughout the fabric sheet.

Sometimes, the basket weave construction can have multiple yarns twisted into a single thick yarn in both warp and weft lines.

The number of yarns twisted into one yarn is called ply. For example, a 2-ply (weft) basketweave oxford sheet can have the following construction:

40*20/2(number of ply in the weft)/100*44

The Brief History of Basket Weave

The history of ACTUAL basket weave takes us back to an era when the human race just started to innovate ideas and objects that would offer them efficiency. Our ancestors used grass or dried branches to weave stuff like pots, bags, hats, matt, etc. required for better living.

However, people used this weaving technique in making fabrics from the 5th century. Something called Monks cloth (which is also a type of cotton fabric now) had basketweave construction. By the name, you can understand that monks’ cloth fabric was specially made for preachers (who spread the name of religious deities). Back then, linen was the primary material for making clothes.

Soon after, the durability and draping quality of the fabric became so famous that some textile artisans made sailcloth using the basketweave technique.

The use of this weaving in clothing fabric was officially started by the creation of shirting oxford fabric. A couple of centuries ago, a European company made oxford fabric mainly for formal shirts and dresses. It didn’t take time for the oxford fabric to grab the market.  Because it was more durable and good-looking than many plain weave fabrics.

Now, manufacturers use basket weave mainly for shirting and canvas fabrics. They use fibers like cotton, nylon, polyester, etc. to have perfect basketweave patterns.

Basket Weave Pattern & Construction in Detail

Now, here is the basic pattern of basket weave

basket weave composition

After that, you can see below why the name and construction resemble a basket or straw hat.

basket weave basic struture

To make sure you understand the float, here is another angle of view.

Basket weave

Types of Basket Weave

There are mainly two types of basket weave in fabrics. One is called the regular pattern and another is the irregular pattern. Apart from them, there is a different basket weave known as the fancy pattern. It is not common in fabrics though.

Regular Pattern

In a regular pattern, the same number of threads are used to make one warp or weft line.

Also, the overlapping of both ends and picks remains the same type. That’s why you can see chessboard-like checked patterns from the regular basket weave technique.

You can point out the formula like (A*X)*(A*X) where A is the number of threads and X is the number of ply. In other words, Warp = Weft.

Irregular Pattern

In an irregular pattern, things are totally different. The number of threads attached together to make one line is different for warp and weft proportions.

Any of the warp or weft can be more floating or overlapping against another proportion. It is more common in clothing fabrics. Suppose,  one clothing fabric yarns have a 3:1 (warp:weft) floating ratio. If the warp yarns are black and the weft yarns are white, you will see a different color after weaving, which is grey or faded black.

Rather than producing square-checked patterns, irregular basketweave makes uneven patterns. Sometimes, it can create a whole new color shade. Because of this, irregular patterns become more handy in shirting textiles.

The formula of this irregular type is (A*X)*(B*Y). Both Warp(A) and Weft(B) can have different numbers of ply (X & Y) and thread counts.

Fancy Pattern

Fancy patterns are not something that you see often. Some factories make exotic YD (Yarn-dyed) fabrics. It is to make designed fabrics without printing. They use yarns of various colors to create a new design. These colors or shades are more sustainable than prints.

Basket Weave Fabric Examples

There are not too many fabrics featuring basket weave construction. Among them, let’s talk about the most common ones.

Oxford Fabric

If you wear shirts, you must be aware of oxford fabrics. The cotton oxford fabric is a soft shirting item with a unique texture.

You can find the weaving a bit loose. This is great for breathability. Alongside, the threads are thick (can have more than 1 ply) for durability. Still, oxford fabrics are very comfortable and smooth.

You will find oxford fabric resistant to water or moisture. Some oxford fabrics also insulate heat better.

Cotton oxford fabric is one of the trending materials to make the best casual shirts for men. Women’s fashion industry also considers oxford fabric as a very efficient and user-friendly fabric option.

Canvas Fabric

Although the history of canvas fabric didn’t start with basket weave. But it has been quite some time since textile artisans made canvas fabric using basket weaving.

We already said that the basketweave method was used in making sail cloths. If you dig down into the history, you can see that canvas fabric is a good material for making boat sails. So, historians assume that people made canvas using basketweave because the traditional canvas (painting) is thin and light.

Back to present, canvas fabric is a top choice for painting, crafting, making accessories, and designing interiors.

Cotton or cotton blend canvas fabrics are very durable. They resist wear and tear more than other plain weave fabrics.

Monk’s Cloth Fabric

Monk’s cloth is a very old type of cotton fabric. During the medieval era, priests and preachers used a cheap and durable fabric made of basket weave. It is known as monk’s cloth now.

Nowadays, this basket weave fabric is suitable for crafting, home decor, and bedding items. Because this cotton fabric is heavy and coarse. These characteristics are well-suited for regular-use items.

Basket Weave Fabric End Uses

If we observe the nature of cotton basketweave fabrics can understand that those are good for bedding, crafting, and clothing. Here are the major uses below.

  • Clothing

Oxford fabric is the only type of basket weave production that became popular for clothing. The comfort and longevity of the fabric are the key factors why fashion  companies use oxford fabric or some other basket weave textiles.

  • Bedding

Some basket weave fabrics tend to insulate both heat and air. Thus, users find basketweave bedding good for sleeping with. Also, using those fabrics regularly won’t decrease the items’ lifespan at all.

  • Crafting & DIY

Monk’s cloth or canvas fabric is good for crafting, printing, and embroidery. Even if they come in a reasonable price range. Using these fabrics for artistic items proves your rich taste.

  • Upholstery

Basket weave cotton or linen fabrics are good for making furniture covers. As those textiles resist wear and tear, people use them anywhere without fear. Basket woven fabrics are easy to clean also.

  • Home Decor

We’ve seen that hopsack or matt weaves create a good amount of draping. You should use these fabrics as curtains if you don’t have a healthy budget for the interior. Besides, any fabric that’s good for crafting and bedding is also good for home decor.

Characteristics of Basket Weave Fabrics

Now, let’s see the basic characteristics of basket weave construction

Texture

Basket weave constructions don’t have a smooth finish. Unless they go through calendering.

You can feel the float of the warp or weft yarns as they are thicker than plain woven yarns.

Outlook

This type of fabric either has a checked pattern mini block created by using yarns of different colors.

Softness

Basket weave fabric is soft. But not like chambray or linen. Because of using thick yarns, they are most likely a bit coarse.

Thickness

Basket weave fabrics are thicker than several brushed or unbrushed clothing fabrics. You can understand it by just touching a basket weave construction.

Weight

Basket weave is heavier than plain weave. But lighter than twill denim construction. But some hopsack variants can be very heavy. For example: tenting basket weave fabric.

Breathability

Basket weave fabric doesn’t create large air pockets. So, breathability remains low most of the time.

Longevity

Although the basket weave is a bit loose. But the use of thick and multiple yarns altogether makes the weaving enough sustainable.

Maintenance

Basketweave textile absorbs moisture slowly. Yet, the yarns don’t attract or hold dirt and stains for a long time. This construction is easy to clean.

Features of Basket Weave Construction

You can ask why one should buy basketweave fabrics. Thus, we’ll now point out the benefits and setbacks you get from this type of weave.

Advantages

  • Budget-friendly

  • Durable

  • Less prone to wrinkle or shrink

  • Resists moisture

  • Good color retention

  • Drapes well

  • Easy to care

  • Can be certified Organic

Disadvantages

  • Several fraying issues

  • Not so soft

  • Zero stretch

Some Alternatives to Basket Weave

If you’re not too fond of basketweave, Try these constructions instead:

  • Plain Weave

When the search is for something smooth and lighter, nothing can beat plain weave construction. In plain weave construction, you can find several fabric variants. So, the safest game is choosing plain weave construction.

  • Dobby Weave

Dobby weave fabrics also create a textured finish. The patterned raise or float feels almost similar to a basket weave.

  • Twill Weave

In the matter of durability, twill weaving beats several other constructions. Including basketweave also. But twill weaving can be costly with complex maintenance.

Basket Weave VS Plain Weave

No matter how similar both weaving patterns are, there are some key differences. Know them to understand well.

Basket Weave

  • Weaving is loose

  • Multiple plies are mandatory

  • Prone to piling

  • Durable than most plain weave fabrics

  • Mostly moisture resistant

Plain Weave

  • Weaving is tighter

  • Multiple plies aren’t mandatory

  • Less prone to piling

  • Not durable like basket weave

  • Not moisture resistant

FAQ

What does basket weave look like?

Basket weave looks like a checkerboard with very small checks or blocks. This texture can be clearly visible when warp and weft threads have different dyes.

Is basketweave material soft?

Basketweave materials like covers, curtains, shirts, etc. are soft. But not completely. If you compare basketweave with plain weave, you can find plain woven fabric more soft in most cases.

What is a half-panama weave?

Half Panama weave looks almost like primary basketweaves. The basic half-panama weave is two warp yarns that should float over one weft yarn.

Is basket weaving a yarn eater?

A fine soft basket weaving might require more than other weaving methods. That’s why some companies labeled it as a “yarn eater” process.

Summary

After testing and using several basket weave fabrics (mostly cotton). We pleased with their features and performances. Based on that, we’ve told you everything about this sustainable weaving method.

We also suggest you buy basketweave fabrics either for clothing or upholstery.

If you want to know more about other woven fabrics, see Twill weave.

Shariful Alam

Shariful Alam

Shariful Alam Pavel, A fashion lover, passionate marketer. Love to share wisdom based on real life experience to enrich knowledge.
Founder of Muslin Dhaka, a brand, speaks the truth about royal muslin and fashion. Explore the digital fashion universe with organic cotton muslin and much more!