Last Updated on March 25, 2024 by Shariful Alam

You see some fashion designers add sheer layers around exotic designer clothes. In backpacks, you can see some stretchable side pockets that are see-through and semi-transparent. Some parents use mosquito nets to protect their babies from bugs.

All of those three scenarios have one thing in common. Yes, fabrics made of Leno Weave. Leno weaving is an unorthodox weaving that creates sheer, breathable, lightweight, and open fabrics. 

By now, you’ve understood where the conversation is going. We, the Muslin Dhaka team have opted to dig deep into everything about leno weave and fabrics. So, take a deep breath. Because the discussion isn’t ending soon. 

What is Leno Weave?

Leno weave is an open construction pattern. The sheer structure is the key aspect of leno weaving. 

From a distance, it might look like all the yarns are twisted together to make leno weave fabrics. But the truth is only the warp yarns get twisted to create the backbone of the fabrics. Weft yarns work as filling yarns to cover up the gaps. 

Even after using the filling yarns, you can see large air pockets exist in the fabric. The gaps make the fabric look very thin and transparent. 

Gauze weaves are customizable according to factory demands. But the primary steps remain the same. Surprisingly, different types of yarns can be used for leno weaving. But for sheer appearance, only fine and smooth fibers like cotton, silk, etc. are the most popular options for leno fabric. 

Commercial NameLeno Weave
Other NamesOpen weave, gauze weave, Cross weave, Twisted weave, etc.
OriginEither ancient Egypt or France
Fabrics Produced from the WeaveLeno gauze, Mull, lace, Net, and Marquisette
Key StructureMultiple warp yarns are twisted against single-weft yarns to lock the filling yarns and create sheer textiles
Mainly Known forOpen weave and sheer outlook
Popular UsesMedical, healthcare, dressmaking, home decor, filtration, etc.

 

Leno Weave Definition

Leno weave is a pattern where warp yarns stay in groups (mostly in groups of two yarns). Each group of warp yarns are twisted to create a loop similar to the number 8 or infinity sign. The loops become the passage of weft yarns. When the yarns are pulled from all sides to finish, twisted warp groups lock weft yarns in exact positions and make a stable fabric sheet.

The Brief History of Leno Weave

The history of leno weave takes us back to the ancient times when plain weave and linen covered up the whole concept of clothing and textiles. 

Not the most reliable, but some sources say that ancient Egyptian culture invented the concept of leno weave. Although the term “Leno” is a French word. It means something like twisted yarn or line. 

Back in those days, textile artisans tried to make veils and transparent fabric using the plain weave technique. But it ultimately failed as the weaving method wasn’t open. And using less yarn for weaving could make yarn piling very quickly. 

Thus a new type of weaving was invented. In that method, warp yarns were kept in pairs. The warp pairs maintained distance from each other. Twisting the yarns would create holes that would work as the passage for weft yarns. After tightening the weaving, artisans found something that we call sheer (transparent) fabric now. 

Soon after the invention, several other lands and cultures adapted leno weaving. Among them, Japan made its own type of leno weave called Karamiori. It was back in the Nara period. Till now, the karamiori method fabrics are popular among Japanese people. 

Nearly at the end of the 19th century, European regions also reinvented the leno fabrics. The popularity of leno fabrics became global when Eupore was the center of fabric production. 

At first, leno was a time-consuming process. But the creation of advanced looming systems made gauze weaving easier than ever. Several places apart from Eupore started to produce leno fabrics after the Industrial Revolution. 

Now, factories use various matters and patterns to create leno fabrics. Those fabrics are used mainly for fashion and home decor purposes. 

Leno Weave Pattern & Construction in Details

If you don’t understand how warp yarns are twisted in pairs to make locking loops for weft, see this image below. 

basic leno weave

Because of this, the float of this weave construction seems something like this:

leno float

Classification of Leno Weave

There are more than 10 types of leno weave based on the number of twisted warp yarns in a unit, regional customizations, types of patterns, etc. So, we’re showing the most common ones only: 

Single Leno

In the single leno method, one weft yarn stays against two twisted warp yarns. It is the most common and traditional method of leno weaving. 

Double Leno

The only difference between single leno and double leno is you’ll find two weft yarns existing with a group of warp yarns. 

Tube Leno

It is an unorthodox type of leno weave. Here, the weaving gives the fabric a tubular form without any seams or visible joints. 

Cross Leno

Cross leno technique looks almost like any other single or double leno method. But the crossing or locking of the yarns stays in the cross (X) position rather than the plus position (+). 

Gauze Leno

In gauze leno, several leno structures are placed and combined. It is to make such fabrics that would be slightly fluffy, soft, and completely breathable. 

Marquisette Leno

This type of leno slightly compromises the classic open weave concept. The joints are tighter. And they are close to each other. 

Mock Leno

It is the most unique type of leno or open weave method. Surprisingly, mock leno doesn’t follow the real leno technique. Instead, different weaving patterns are used. And the outcome looks almost like a replica of plain leno weave. 

Leno Weave Fabric Examples

Almost any sheer fabric can be made of the leno weaving method. Let’s mention some of the famous ones that you must know. 

Gauze

Gauze is a medical fabric with very soft yarns. Although some say traditional gauze fabrics are made of gauze weaving. But nowadays, people say that gauze weave, leno weave, and cross weave are almost the same. 

Gauze fabric uses natural fibers like cotton. This fabric is very soft and blocks germs from infecting affected areas. 

Gauze fabrics have a very low GSM count; the weight remains below 70 GSM most of the time. This variant is used only for medical purposes. 

Marquisette

Marquisette fabric is well-known for smooth and comfy scarves, drapes, etc. 

Marquisette fabrics weigh around 80 GSM or more. Unlike gauze, this textile contains fibers like cotton, silk, nylon, and polyester.

You will see several Western fashion houses using marquisette fabrics for exotic and bold dressing. There is a different section in modern fashion called marquisette dressing

Mull

This fabric is a good option for a dress under layering. It’s not completely transparent. But it can be breathable and soft. 

Leno mull cloth is also good for toiling purposes. You’ll get cotton, viscose, and silk mull fabrics in the market. 

Lace

Lace fabrics have leno weave variants. Nowadays, lacing is totally another part of fabric construction. 

Net

Mosquito nets are the best examples of leno net fabrics. Synthetic materials are the main fibers of net fabrics. 

The weaving in the net fabric is dense but open enough for complete breathability. Sometimes, manufacturers make thicker net fabrics for filtration tasks. 

What is Leno Weave Used for

By now, you’ve understood who uses Leno fabrics most. Yet, we’re pointing out the key uses of leno weave fabrics. 

  • Dressing

In our discussion on types of tops, we already told you that there’s trendy clothing named sheer tops. As you know now, sheer fabrics mainly originate from leno weaves. The bold statement comes from the see-through look and elegant finish of leno weave. 

  • Medical utilities

Whenever you get some cuts, bruises, or burns, doctors will cover those injuries with soft gauze fabrics. The soft touch of the fabric not only soothes your pain but also protects you from germs and bacteria. The open construction leno weave gives to the fabric is also very good at producing optimal breathability.

  • Dress layering

Leno weave fabric also comes in handy in elegant fashion choices. You would find some tops having sheer fabric attached to arms or chest areas to give fleece. Placing colorful sheer fabric over any other cotton fabric creates a vibrant fashion.

  • Handy Bags

Many shops provide nylon net bags to carry fruits and vegetables that are made of leno weaving too. Besides, backpacks have leno weave mesh pockets. These pockets consist of cotton and spandex fibers to firmly place goods in place. 

  • Insect protection

Many factories produce soft net fabrics from leno weaving for insect protection. Mosquito nets are a very common example of it. Besides, some shopkeepers cover raw food items with these nets to get rid of flies. 

  • Filtration

A little bit of tight and dense leno weaving creates filter cloths. These sheets can filtrate unwanted particles from liquids. The use of filtration fabrics is a common scenario in labs, kitchens, and factories. 

  • Home Decor

Surprisingly, the use of leno fabrics in home decor is more than in medical and healthcare items. Curtails, veils, tablecloths, etc. are leno patterns. As you can customize leno weave and make woven designs, the concept has become well-accepted. 

Plain weave sheets can be strong and versatile. But the sheerness and drape open weave produce can enhance the beauty of home interiors. 

Characteristics of Leno Weave Fabric

After using some common gauze or leno fabrics, we discovered these key characteristics of leno fabric:

Texture

The finish of leno weave can be either smooth or uneven. The smoothness increases if the density is high. But too much open construction always feels uneven no matter how soft the fibers are. However, the mesh finish can never be a drawback to users. 

Outlook

Leno weave sheets can come in different patterns and colors. Some even come with the natural tone of the yarns. 

But if the sheerness of the fabric is more than usual, it is hard to understand the actual color or weaving pattern of the fabric. 

Softness

No doubt that leno fabric is one of the softest fabric variants in the market. In some cases, leno weave can be softer than voile fabric weaving. 

Even if the texture of the finishing remains uneven, you won’t feel it when a leno gauze covers your wounds. Sensitive skin can get relief from the touch of leno weave. You can even rub your skin with leno sheets without getting hurt.

Thickness

Leno weave doesn’t create any thick fabric. Unless the fabric has several plies or fiberglass materials. 

The method naturally creates thin fabric. There’s no need to calender or bleach to purify and thin fabrics. 

Weight

We already said that no leno weave end product can weigh more than 100 GSM on average. 

But there are some exceptions. The fabrics made for industrial uses and outdoor shedding can be heavier than usual ones. 

Breathability

Obviously, the key trait of leno weave is to produce breathability. On average, any fabric made of open weaving can feature 80% airflow. That’s why you see leno gauze fabric as a good choice to cover up wounds. It lets the wounded area dry quickly. Also, the fabric gets dry quickly in no time. 

Transparency

The transparency rate of leno weave is semi sheer to sheer. Even if the yarn placement is dense, the fine fibers allow the weaving to create thousands of channels to pass the light through the fabric. 

Some leno fabrics are so transparent over other fabrics that it is hard to determine their existence. 

Strength

The bonds of warp and wefts are strong enough to sustain for a long time. You can’t tear a small leno-woven sheet (except medical gauze fabric). 

Although the weave is open, the yarns won’t pile or wear out after several uses and washes. 

Heat Insulation

9 out of 10 times, leno weave fabric fails to insulate or absorb any amount of heat. It is obvious for sheer fabrics to be completely breathable and zero heat insulative. 

Wear & Tear

You can easily cut through a mull or gauze fabric with an average knife. Because the yarn density remains less than other woven fabrics. 

Maintenance

Leno weave requires traditional washing and cleaning methods. Using force or machine cycles to clean a leno fabric might damage the core construction. 

Features of Leno Weave Construction

Before wrapping up our experience with leno weave, Let’s get straight about the benefits of Leno Weave:

  • Transparent
  • Breathable
  • Safe to use for all
  • Soft
  • Good for bold and appealing fashion mainly
  • Versatile uses
  • Resistant to wrinkling (except in overheating)
  • No piling or staffing
  • Proper particle filtration
  • Less fraying

Setbacks

These drawbacks of leno weave can help you understand whether it’s right for you or not. 

  • Sheer fabric alone isn’t good for elegant clothing
  • Not as durable as plain or basketweave
  • Sensitive to heat
  • Not an option for future printing
  • Leno fabrics for fashion aren’t budget-friendly

How to Care Leno Weave Fabrics

No matter how strong leno weave is, you need to handle open weave fabrics carefully. So, we should give you some pro tips to maintain leno weave clothes. 

  • It’s better to manually wash leno or gauze weave instead of machine wash
  • Use a mild soap mixture to clean the fabric
  • Remember overheating damages leno construction
  • Don’t rub the fabric too hard, wait for the soap to dissolve
  • Rinsing properly is the key to cleaning this type of textile
  • Dry them under shades, not under direct sunlight
  • It’s not necessary to iron sheer fabrics, 

Some Alternatives to Leno Weave

There are not too many alternatives to leno woven fabrics. Despite this, we’ve researched and found some fabrics, not any specific weaving method. You can check their details to know more. And just so you know, most of the alternatives in the market are plain weave constructions.

Dotted Swiss

Dotted Swiss fabric is a veteran option. Both rise and fall of this semi-sheer fabric happened in the middle of the 20th century. It’s because of the wrinkling tendency the fabric has become a less popular choice. 

Yet, you can try this plain-woven fabric instead of leno fabrics. The dotted texture with colorful sheerness might catch your eye. 

Organza

Organza fabric can be a good choice if you don’t have issues with synthetic fibers. The fabric is durable, transparent, and breathable. 

But remember, the fabric won’t be as comfortable as organic fiber clothes. 

Organdy and organza are almost the same. Organdy have natural, safer yarns

Voile

Voile is the most popular option you can use to replace leno weave fabrics. 100% cotton voile makes good clothes for styling. 

A key feature of voile fabric is the high thread count. The fine and pure cotton yarns ensure rich quality for users’ comfort. 

FAQ

What is the difference between gauze and leno weave?

Gauze and leno fabrics look almost the same. Leno looms can create both of the constructions. However, the actual gauze fabric is somewhat different and softer than modern leno weave end products. 

What is the price of a leno fabric roll?

Leno weave has varieties depending on the material, thickness, density, design, etc. Recently our research says 1 bolt of cotton fabric (obviously leno-woven) can cost someone around 200-389$ depending on the quality and construction.

What type of gauze do hospitals use?

Hospitals use cotton gauze fabric. Cotton gauze fabric with a finer mesh outlook works great on wounds. However, there are some other types of gauze fabric available for different purposes like cleaning, layering, etc. 

What is another name of leno weave fabric?

Some call leno weave a type of gauze weave because they look so similar. A few factories also label leno as cross weave because nowadays cross (X-shape) leno fabrics have become very popular among users. 

Summary

It is true that leno weaving is a bit complex. Manual leno takes more time than hand looming plain fabrics. Still, the unique features are what make this tough weaving so famous. 

Today, we’ve told you every possible detail about leno weave and its end products or fabrics. You can now easily make your decision whether to go for this construction or not.
If you want to know more about weaving, then don’t go anywhere, Just read Twill weave, Satin Weave & Basket 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!