Amazing Damask Fabric: From History to Modern Uses

by | May 7, 2024

Beautiful, decorative, and versatile. Those are the three words I will choose to define damask fabric. Damask was once considered a luxury fabric because it was very hard to weave. 

With technological advancements, it has become one of the common decorative fabrics in modern times. However, luxury damask fabrics are still produced and loved by many.

We are Team Muslin Dhaka. We are a group of fashion lovers & fabric experts sharing helpful information about fashion and fabric. With our 37 years of cumulative experience, we are sharing our wisdom about damask fabric to satisfy you.

So, let’s jump on the main part!

What is Damask Fabric?

This fabric is an ornamental fabric woven in a jacquard loom. Different types of materials can be used to weave damask. But traditionally, silk is the signature material for damask fabric.

Damask is reversible. That means it does not have any right or wrong side. The designs that are woven in the damask are part of the fabric. They are not embodied or printed separately.

The basic weave of Damask fabric can be plaintwillor satin weave. The designs are created with sateen weave.

Let’s go through a quick highlight, so you get a quick understanding of the fabric.

At a Glance : 

Industrial NameDamask Fabric
OriginChina
Other NamesSilk damask, wool damask, cotton damask, twill damask.
ConstructionConstructed with two types of weaving. Basic weaving creates fabric while sateen weave creates design.
WeightDepends on the material or fabric.
It can be between 150-350 GSM.
ColorDepends on the fabric and materials.
AirflowModerately breathable. Usually depends on the fabric.
Moisture AbsorbanceModerate.
WeavingPlain, twill, or satin.
StretchUsually, no.
Heat InsulationDepends on the material. Silk insulates less while wool naturally insulates more.
Shrinkage RatioCotton ones can shrink a bit.
UsageClothing, accessories, decoration, and upholstery.

A Brief History of Damask Fabric

First thing first, keep in mind that damask is basically a weaving technique. It is a technique of creating patterns and designs in the fabric. The fabric made of damask weaving ( updated from traditional weaving) is known as damask fabric. 

Now, let’s dive into history.

Origin

The name damask fabric is found in the history around the 1400s in France. But the name came from the Syrian city of Damascus. It was an important part of the Silk Road.

For a long time, China produced the fabric and supplied it around the world. The Silk Road and different ports were used to trade the fabric. Damascus was the major port for shipping the fabric.

 History of Damask Fabric

Ancient history

But the history of the name is not certainly the history of the fabric, right? The first trace of similar fabric was found about 2400 years ago in China. However, experts predict the technique is more likely to be at least another thousand years older.

Middle-age

Damask fabric was first imported in Europe in the early Middle Ages. Even then, the production of the fabric was tiringly slow. With its slow process and unique beauty, it was one of the most expensive fabrics at that time.

Modern age

After the Industrial Revolution, several factors changed the availability and cost of damask fabric. Firstly, the invention of the jacquard loom made it possible to automate the damask weaving process. So, mass production became possible. 

Computerized jacquard looms can create fabric with very complicated patterns and designs.  The process also takes a very short time. As the production increased, the price dropped significantly.

Different synthetic materials also became available everywhere. People invented different types and quality of damask with cheaper materials. 

So, overall, this fabrics become reachable for all classes of people. 

How is Damask Fabric fabric made?

Let’s discuss the procedures of making damask fabric below.

Materials

Silk is mainly used to make traditional luxury damask fabric. Silk damask is smooth, soft, and beautiful.

At first, silk was the only material for the fabric. However, after the Industrial Revolution, people started using cotton, linen, and wool to create the fabric.

Synthetic fibers like rayon and polyester are also used to make this fabric. Synthetic damask is more common & cheaper.

Weaving

Damask fabric is made by combining two types of weavingPlain weave, satin weave, or twill weave is used to make the fabric. While sateen weave creates the aesthetic designs. 

  • Handloom: Creating damask with handloom is very slow and complicated. Today, handmade damask fabric is quite rare. It is considered luxury & expensive.
  • Jacquard loom: In jacquard loom, damask fabric is made with computerized automatic weaving. The process allows us to make more accurate and complicated designs very easily.

How is Damask Fabric fabric made?

Finishing

After finishing the weaving, the fabric is cut and processed for quality check. After passing the step, the fabric is ready to sell.

Types of Damask 

There are more than a dozen types of damask fabric. Let’s talk about the common types below.

Silk Damask

Also known as ‘true damask,’ silk damask is the most beautiful and quality variant of the fabric. Silk damask is more sustainable. It comes with unique features, aesthetics, and beauty. Looking for the best type of damask fabric? Go for silk ones, without a doubt.

Wool Damask

Wool damask is also sustainablebut it’s not as beautiful as silk ones. It is thick and works great for making sweaters, coats, and jackets.

Cotton Damask

Among the natural damask, cotton ones are less sustainable. Nowadays, cotton damask is quite common. It suits more for upholstery, and household fabric like table cloth, furniture covers, etc.

Synthetic Damask

Synthetic damask is made from polyester, rayon, and other synthetic fibers. They look nice and last long with little care. However, they are not the best for the environment.

Twill Damask

Twill damask fabric is made with twill weave. It is quite different from regular damask. It’s more compact, durable, and less breathable.

Characteristics of Damask Fabric

The features and characteristics of damask fabric vary slightly depending on the material and weaving. Generally, silk is soft and delicate, while cotton and wool damask are thick and a bit rigid. 

To give you a better idea of the fabric, we collected one cotton damask sample. We did several experiments with the fabric and shared the results with you. 

Let’s discuss the basic characteristics of damask below.

Appearance

Damask fabric comes with beautiful flowers, leaves, patterns, and designs. Although the design is part of the fabric, it blends perfectly. The color of the fabric and the design plays a major role in how nice a damask fabric will look. Silk Damask looks naturally more elegant. 

Softness

Except for the silk damask and some artificial ones, it is a bit rigid and not that soft. It is thick and a bit stiff. This is why most damask fabric is suitable for accessories and clothes like coats, handbags, hats, etc.

Yarn quality

The quality of the fabric depends a lot on the quality of the yarn. Our sample had great quality cotton yarn.

Breathability

Regular damask is made with plain or satin weave. That’s why they are quite breathable, even with a medium to high thickness. However, the twill damask has low breathability.

Heat absorption

The heat absorption of this fabric depends a lot on the materials. Silk and cotton absorb medium heat. At the same time, wool is more likely to absorb heat and retain warmth.

Stretch

Some of the artificial damasks may have a bit of stretch. But regular natural damask does not stretch. We tried to pull our sample and observed no stretch. This is natural for cotton damask.

Water absorption

Again, water absorption depends on the material. Cotton damask has the most absorbability. Silk and wool are naturally less absorbent.

Transparency

Generally, damask fabric is non-transparent. It does not have any sheer character. However, because of silk damasks delicate nature, it does pass more light than others. 

Shrinkage

Cotton damask can shrink 2-3 percent with time. Other types of damask are less likely to shrink with proper care.

Durability

The damask fabric has excellent durability. Its compact weave creates strong bonds which makes the fabric long-lasting. With extra care, you can expect quality damask fabric for more than a decade.

We tasted our sample with a simple knife stroke test. After several light knife strokes, there was no sign of cut or scratch.

Color retention

This fabric usually holds the color very well. Again, it depends more on the material, dye, or construction.

Damask Fabric

Damask Fabric and Sustainability

At first glance, it’s hard to determine the environmental impact of damask fabric. This is because it’s more of a weaving than fabric. However, if we consider each factor, the fabric is moderately sustainable. But it can gain high sustainability if we use it consciously.

This fabric has quite a high durability. Using the fabric for a long time makes it more sustainable for the environmentSilk and linen are generally the better options. Cotton is not that sustainable as it requires a lot of water. But overall, any natural damask is safer for the environment than synthetic damask fabric.

The actual environmental impact of a fabric is far more complicated. We need to consider fertilizer usage, chemical use, production processes, waste management, and many other factors. But a quick hack is to get certified organic damask fabric. Organic fabrics are made in the most sustainable ways.

Uses of Damask Fabric

Damask excels in versatility. Let’s find out the uses of damask fabric : 

  • Clothes: The fashion industry loves the ornamental characteristics of damask. Jackets, coats, uniforms, and wedding dresses are made of this awesome fabric. As it is thick, a bit stiff, it is not ideal for many types of cloth. Making heavier clothing items is good with Damask.
  • Upholstery: These fabrics are used as furniture covers, table linen, podding and other upholstery items.
  • Home decor: Damask fabric works perfectly as home decor items such as curtains, tablecloths, and wall hangings. 
  • Accessories: Its unique beauty and thickness make it a good pick for different accessories. Earrings, handbags, hats, and shoes are made with damask fabric.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Damask Fabric

Let’s glide through the pros and cons of damask fabric below.

Advantages

  • Nice designs.
  • Have plenty of designs & patterns.
  • Smooth texture.
  • Quite durable.
  • Versatile for many uses.
  • Easy maintenance.

Disadvantages

  • Prone to abrasion.
  • Thick and stiff.
  • Not suitable for regular clothes
  • Hard to work with or DIY.

Damask Fabric vs Brocade Fabric

Damask and brocade fabric look kind of alike. But they have some major differences. The Damask is plain and feels nice to touch. Brocade is a rougher texture. 

The design of the damask is woven into the fabric. On the other hand, brocade fabric has embodied and bit-raised designs. Brocade is considered more luxurious than damask.

How to Care for Damask Fabric?

It’s not difficult to care about Damask. It is a durable fabric that is less prone to damage. Here are some expert tips for you :

  1. Damask fabric can be machine-washed. 
  2. Use warm to normal temperature water. 
  3. Do not use hard detergent. 
  4. Hot water might cause unwanted shrinkage.
  5. Do not dry the damask under the sun directly. It might harm the color. Especially makes the white color yellowish.

Note: There are different types of damask. Follow the user manual for maintaining the fabric.

Damask Fabric by the Yard

Damask Fabric by the Yard

You can find damask by the yard at different prices. Affordable to luxury! 

For the standard quality Damask, you need to pay 10 to 50 USD. Below the cheaper option might not be viable for you. Luxury damask price is much higher.

Where Can You Buy Damask Fabric?

Damask fabric is available both online and offline. If You love touch and feel before buying, you can visit a famous fabric shop nearby. If you are like me and love to order online, Joann, Etsy & Amazon are the best options. Etsy is famous for luxury Damask fabric & DIY projects. LunarableFabric Gift LA, and FREER Nomad are the best damask brands. You can order them from Amazon.

FAQ

Is Damask still in style?

Yes, damask is very trendy in the fashion industry with its timeless beauty. It’s less likely to go out of style anytime soon.

What is the difference between damask and jacquard?

Damask fabric is made in jacquard loom. Damask is the result of weaving while jacquard loom is the device of weaving. Other fabrics like brocade can be made in jacquard loom.

Does damask shrink?

Generally, damask fabric is less prone to shrinking. However, if you use too hot water to wash, you may experience shrinkage.

Conclusion

Damask fabric may not be as classy as it was once. But still, it shines with its simplistic beauty. If you are looking to buy a durable ornamental fabric that will last for years, damask is one of the top-tier options. 

Check the best damask on Etsy!

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!

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