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Student Success

Jacquard Weaving Course Combines Artistry, Computer-aided Design

Two people adjust a tall green jacquard loom. Both wear safety glasses. Threads from the loom reach up to the ceiling and out of frame.

By Mary Giuffrida

Before textile design (TD) students begin the planning, designing and building of their capstone collections, they first spend their fall semester in FTD 475 (Jacquard Woven Fabric Design: Concept, Structure and End Use). 

Combining artistry and industry

Here, the designers study Jacquard weaving, which is done on a specialized loom and incorporates the design into the fabric by weaving the yarns together rather than printing or dyeing it onto a textile. The designers create digital design patterns through specialized softwares that communicate to the loom which threads to pick up. The Jacquard machines have the unique ability to pick up single threads at a time, creating the complex designs that characterize Jacquard weaving. 

The designers are then challenged to create an original fabric collection using the skills they’ve built over the course of the semester. Along the way, they gain hands-on experience with computer-aided design (CAD) softwares, color and design trends, and complex weave structures. The designers spend the semester cultivating the skills necessary to create Jacquard designs ranging from fiber art and wall hangings to airbags and medical devices.

Jaymie Googins works on a computer with CAD software visible on the screen. A textile sample on the desk in green and white reflects some of the same patterns visible in the computer screen.
Jaymie Googins works on the CAD file for her final project, a rug. You can see the woven sample she’s working on improving on her desk.

“This class has really pushed us deeper into the software, and into being more self-sufficient when it comes to the design software,” TD student Alaina Withers says. “Getting a good grasp of the software really prepares you for the capstone collection design process. We’re learning software now and becoming self-sufficient with it so we can create by ourselves next semester.”

From inspiration to final product

The class builds upon the weaving skills designers have developed throughout their time at the Wilson College of Textiles and encourages them to explore their own inspirations and artistry.

“The first year is all about color and concept, so you’ve formed that foundation of really starting your projects the right way,” Withers explains. 

Having a strong foundation means the designers have the freedom to stretch the limits of what they can do, and dive into the people and places who influence them the most.

Chloe Belton works on a computer, and the CAD program being used is visible on the screen. Other people in the computer lab are visible in the background.
Chloe Belton at work on a new version of her Jacquard woven designs.

One student, Chloe Belton, created her final project by blending together fashion photography photos she had taken while studying abroad in Florence, Italy and turning them into woven art pieces. 

“I’m currently interested in working with portraits, and I wanted to take it a step further than just doing portraits,” Belton explains. “I wanted to distort them in a certain way, so I’m starting to blend two photos together in either stripes or a grid.”

For Belton, the technical skills she has learned in the course are helping her to translate her vision from one medium to another, expressing a whole new set of emotions.

Final FTD 475 student projects. Click image thumbnail to expand.

“I like seeing my thoughts come to life with weaving,”  Belton says. “That textural aspect of feeling something, feeling a photo. The hard part is finding the right weaves. Right now I’m struggling with losing a lot of detail in my photos.” 

Each student found inspiration for their collections in unique people, places and experiences from their own lives.

“I was inspired a lot by my childhood home and the things that were surrounding it, so I have a lot of walnut trees and cows and deer incorporated in my designs, just like animals and plants and things that take me back there,” Jaymie Googins says. 

“I’m inspired a lot by different cities that I went to while studying abroad. So I have a bunch of pictures, I’m focusing on buildings and architecture,” Andrea Hunnicut says. 

A close-up image shows a hand drawing a red and blue illustration on a tablet with a stylus. The other hand is gripping the tablet to keep it steady.
Andrea Hunnicut illustrates a pattern that she’ll translate into weave structures using CAD software.

She was able to take photos from her travels, translate them into illustrated designs, and turn those illustrated designs into weave files which became her final fabric samples. 

The designers’ hard work culminates in a collection of samples or a final product that are both technically innovative and visually striking. Some of the students will carry these collections into the emerging designers showcase, using them as a launching pad for their senior capstone.

“Experimentation is one thing that this class has really allowed me to do, and I feel like that’s so important trying to go outside the box,” Belton says. “I feel like there’s so many possibilities and this class has allowed me to explore that.”