Last Updated on April 1, 2024 by Shariful Alam

Even if you’re not a textile enthusiast, you definitely know what plain weave is. 75% of the fabrics we use or wear are made of plain weaving. Surprisingly, famous textiles like poplin, muslin, chiffon, etc are also types of plain weave construction. 

Knowingly or unknowingly, we all are dependent on plain woven fabrics in many ways. So, our team’s first target in researching types of weaving is to discover more about plain weaving. 

Today, our audience will get to know each and every fact about plain weaving and the end products! From this knowledge, you can easily find or judge fabric made by plain weaving technique with ease. 

What is Plain Weave?

This is also known as basic weave, calico weave, or tabby weave. Some historians say it is the most ancient weaving method in human civilization. 

Plain weaving works like its name, PLAIN. The ratio of float or overlapping of warp and weft yarn remains 1:1 in most types of plain weaving. Nothing special at all!

In other words, one weft yarn will go over one warp yarn Then, the same weft yarn will pass below the next warp yarn, and so on. The same thing will happen in the case of the warp yarns’ paths or lines. 

Remember that basic plain weaves only have one-ply constructions. This means every warp or weft line consists of only one yarn. Also, the difference between warp count and weft count remains very low in plain woven fabrics. For example, 40×40 or 56×42.

There’s no special requirement to perform plain weaving. In manual weaving, textile artisans always teach plain weaving first to their apprentices. The benefits and flaws of plain weaving encouraged people to invent other sustainable weavings and fabrics.

Besides, the number of cross-path points ( a point where one warp and one weft line cross each other’s paths) is visibly more in plain weave than in any other weave. So, the quality obviously remains better than several other weaving methods. 

You can find plain weaving construction featuring both natural and synthetic fibers. For example, cotton, silk, linen, polyester, spandex, etc.

Plain Weave Definition

This weave is a single-ply fabric weave construction where one warp thread floats over the first weft, goes under the next one, and so on. The same movement happens for weft threads. 

The perpendicular criss-cross pattern remains constant throughout the fabric. Plain weave construction can come either yarn-dyed or printed.

Several customization and treatments can be a part of the plain weaving process. 

The Brief History of Plain Weaving

It’s hard to define and explain every step of the evolution of plain weaving. 

The creation of basic weaving or plain weaving happened around 2700 BC. Evidence was found in Dolní Vestonice of Czech Republic. However, the human race using fabrics was visible in Egyptian regions back in 3600 BC. 

After that period, several civilizations discovered many fibers good for making fabrics. Some even started to cultivate those commercially. At that time people used fruits, flowers, and other natural elements to dye fabrics permanently. 

Looms with horizontal and vertical points were first seen In Muslim-ruled African regions, Turk and European places around, and Persian regions. It was most probably in 700 AD. 

It is believed that plain weaving was the only method back then. The method became famous when fabric or textiles became a product of trades among kingdoms and states. 

After the 11th century, Almeria was a place of trade and development in the Muslim Caliphate. That region produced imitations of Persian and Iraqi fabrics widely famous across the world. They named it attābī, which is known as taffeta fabric today. 

The attābī fabric contained cotton and silk. The weaving of attābī fabric was very simple. Countries of Europe thus got interested and adopted the method. Later on, people called that fabric type tabis or tabby in European regions.

From that moment the easy and simple weave was called tabby weave or plain weave. Artisans named it plain weave because the weaving created flat and simple fabrics with basic criss-cross patterns. 

At this age, plain weaving is a universal method of fabric production. Almost every type of yarn and blend does well with the plain weaving method. 

Plain Weaving Pattern & Construction

First, look at the pattern and binding point of the plain weave. They remain even and regular throughout the construction. 

plain weave binding points

Now, You can see the visualization of yarn floats and crisscrossing. It clarifies how the weaving is done. 

plain weave construction

Classification of Plain Weave

Plain weave is the parent weaving pattern. Several famous weaving patterns came from the concept of this tabby weave. Most of them are now known as different types of weaving. Still, some are subgroups of the plain weave. 

We’re going to talk about them now:

Regular Plain Weave

Regular plain weave is where Warp Count and Weft Count remain the same. Also, the quality, fiber, thread weight, etc. are the same in both thread lines. 

Irregular Plain Weave

In irregular weaves, warp and weft lines have different types of yarns. But the rest of the process remains the same. 

Rib Weave

Rib weave is very similar to plain weave. But some of the warps are raised after regular intervals creating a series of lines across the fabric.

The thickness and weight of yarn also differ from regular plain weaving. Rib weave constructions have thicker yarns like wool to create special textiles. 

Matt or Basket Weave

This weaving pattern creates 2×2 or 3×3  construction. Here, 2 or more weft yarns stay against the same number of warp yarns. Basket weave is sometimes known as a different type of weaving than tabby. It also has some subcategories. 

Novelty Weave

Recently, textile experts have created a different type of plain weaving called novelty weave. This method is good for making decoration textiles. Novelty weave actually combines some unique methods with plain construction to make the end product look fancy. 

 

Plain Woven Fabric Examples

Currently, there are more than 30 types of recognized plain weave fabrics. It’s tough to tell you about them all in one discussion. We wrote a detailed article on plain weave fabrics you loved to know that covers main fabrics examples!

But for now, here are the key examples 👍

Muslin, chambray, Poplin, organdy, Taffeta, Voile, Georgette, cheesecloth, velvet, flannel, buckram, crepe, chiffon, batiste, Canvas, calico, khadi, etc.

Cotton Plain Woven Fabric End Uses

Plain weave fabrics consisting of cotton have versatile uses. We can show the exact uses of leno fabric or basketweave fabric. But in the case of tabby or plain, it’s not quite possible. 

Still, we figured out the most common uses of cotton plain fabrics in our current world. 

Shirting & Dressing

Some surveys say that more than 50% of the cotton plain weave fabric is bought by fashion industries. 

Whether it’s poplin or muslin, the dress is bound to be a better choice for anyone. Most importantly, you can make any type of tops or shirts using a plain woven fabric. 

Undergarments

Plain weave fabrics have smooth and soft finishes. The fibers of cotton also make the fabrics gentle towards sensitive skin. 

Undergarments made of plain woven fabric are good for private parts. Most plain weave fabrics are breathable and moisture-absorbent. They also dry pretty fast. So, wearing plain cotton undergarments is comfortable. 

Luxury Items

Plain weave fabrics like luxury dhaka muslin can be a statement of your choice. 

For example, a genuine muslin shirt from a reputed brand like D&G can cost you more than 1500 USD easily. The finishing and texture of luxury cotton fabrics can be recognized from a distance. 

Bedding

Cotton or Muslin bedding items are the safest things to use for your family. The construction of plain woven cotton fabric can block dust and allergens to keep users protected. 

Also, the softness makes sleepers rest comfortably. Even a hot sleeper can stay dry and cozy inside a plain woven muslin blanket

Home Decor

You should know that plain woven fabric can hold dyes and prints for a long time normally. Also, this comes in various weights and thicknesses depending on the fiber quality. 

That’s why plain weaving can change the outlook of any dull interior. Vibrant or simple, plain woven fabrics are always top picks. 

Upholstery

The simple weaving construction is easy to care. Also, using usual detergents is enough to remove stains from cotton plain woven fabrics. 

For this reason, you better use this type of fabric to cover up your fancy furniture and household items. 

Crafts & DIY

Every local textile shop sells cotton plain weave fabrics. Some of those fabrics come in a very reasonable price range.  Small or starter craft sellers can easily purchase these fabrics to create catchy items for their customers. 

Cleaning Purposes

Some plain woven fabrics are good for heavy-duty work. The chances of wear and tear are also low. You can use these fabrics to clean dust and moisture from hard surfaces. A few cotton fabrics also have open fibers that absorb dust and small particles from objects. These materials are the right options for maintenance duty. 

Healthcare & Beauty

You can see gauze or cotton strips for waxing and skincare. Bedsheets for patients & newborns are also made of plain weaving construction. Plain weave can retain body temperature properly. 

Characteristics of Plain Weave Fabrics

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

Texture

Plain weave has a smooth texture most of the time. However, a few special finishing processes can change the texture of a plain woven fabric. 

It is tough to differentiate the warp and weft yarns of a plain weave fabric by just touching. The reason is several binding points in the fabric. It makes a fabric feel very even. 

Outlook

The outlook of plain weave fabric can be either glossy or plain depending on the yarn quality and density. 

Some plain weave fabrics can also be sheer. For example, voile clothes. 

Another interesting thing about plain woven fabrics is no fabric has a front and bottom side. Both sides of the fabric look or work the same. 

Softness

This type of construction is soft. But the range of softness is wide. For example, poplin and muslin both are plain woven fabrics. But muslin features more softness than poplin. 

Thread count matters a lot in this matter. Lower thread count in tabby weave construction results in a bit coarser textile. 

Thickness

Plain fabric thickness ranges between low to medium. 

Let’s consider canvas and georgette fabric. Canvas fabric consists of thicker yarns causing the sheet to be rigid and thick. But the cotton georgette variant is a very thin fabric. 

Weight

Plain weave is lighter than twill or basket weave in most cases. The average weight of regular plain fabrics is between 80-180 GSM. Some exceptions are work and industrial fabrics like canvas. 

Breathability

The range of breathability of plain weave fabrics is mid to high. The construction has a lot of yarn intersections. So, the amount of pockets is also more than other primary weaves. 

But if the weaving stays dense and tight, the breathability decreases. 

Longevity

Plain weave is durable. But it’s not as durable as Twill Weave. 

However, the plain weave has some issues like shrinking, wrinkling, creasing, etc. 

Transparency

Plain weave isn’t always transparent. However, it is possible to make sheer fabrics using this weaving techniques. All you need to do is make the weaving a bit loose. And use thinner yarns. 

Moisture Absorbance

Plain weave absorbs moisture at a decent speed. It takes less than 10 seconds for a plain shirting fabric to soak water completely. 

Fabric Issues

The weaving technique itself is the reason for wrinkling and shrinking. 

You can see plain weave fabrics have 3-8% shrinkage on average. And the wrinkling chance is high on loose plain weaves. Apart from that, you won’t see pilling or fraying issues in this weaving. 

Maintenance

Maintaining plain weave fabric is simple. But you need to make sure that you’re not using very hot water or hard detergent. 

Features of Plain Weaving Construction

From the characteristics, you must know what benefits you get from a plain weaving construction. Still, we’re pointing them out to make things easy. 

  • Soft enough
  • Various types of finishes
  • Versatile uses
  • Normal maintenance
  • Good color retention
  • Treats skin well
  • Durable
  • Better heat regulation
  • Mostly cost-efficient
  • Compatible with other fabric types

Setbacks

  • High chance of wrinkling
  • Some fabrics can shrink up to 7-10%

Plain VS Twill Weave

The construction and primary patterns to make plain and twill weaves are completely different. However, we aren’t comparing the constructions today. 

You can learn more about twill weave from another article. Let’s talk about the differences in characteristics between these two basic weaves. 

Plain Weave

  • Lots of interlacing
  • Yarn float remains very low
  • Moderate yarn density
  • Breathable 
  • Lightweight to heavy
  • Versatile
  • Various types of fabric (poplin, muslin, voile, chambray, etc.)
  • No Wrong side

Twill Weave

  • Fewer interlacing
  • Yarn float remains high
  • Higher yarn density
  • Less breathable
  • Mid to heavy
  • Less versatile
  • A few types of fabric (denim, gabardine, etc.)
  • Front side and wrong side exist

FAQ

What does a plain weave look like?

Generally, a plain weave looks like a perpendicular crisscross pattern. But using different colors in warp and weft can create very small checkered patterns throughout the fabric. 

Does plain weave fray?

Plain weave fray. But it frays less than some other common weaves. However, this weave can shrink or wrinkle if the weaving is loose. 

What loom would be best for weaving plain fabric?

Rigid heddle looms would be a good choice for small textile producers to make plain weaves. One can also use table looms for greater production. 

What is plain weave fabric? How to know? 

Plain weave fabric is where warp and weft count almost remain the same. Each line contains a single yarn. All the warp and weft yarns go over each other in a regular pattern. 

Summary

Most of the textile sectors depend on plain woven fabrics. The main reason is obviously versatility. Whether it’s thin comfy fabric or thick industrial sheet, one can produce accordingly using the plain weave technique. 

We blieve you love to know plain weave & fabrics. If you want more, we suggest reading our unique article on Satin 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!