A heavier fabric woven with a rich raised design to create a tone-on-tone pattern. Often the pattern is a floral or ribbon design.
The word "brocade" originates from the Italian word, broccato, meaning "embossed cloth." Brocade is a class of richly decorative shuttle-woven fabrics, often made in colored silks, with or without gold and silver threads.
This fabric is traditionally popular for fall and winter. In addition, a lighter weight alternative to brocade is damask otherwise known as jacquard.
Ornamental brocade fabric is typically woven on a draw loom, a supplementary weft technique which gives the appearance the weave is actually embroidered onto the fabric. Ornamental features in brocade fabric are emphasized against the main fabric, which sometimes stiffens the fabric; however this effect more commonly creates a low relief effect.
In some brocades, these additions create a distinctive appearance on the back of the material where the supplementary weft of floating threads of the brocaded or broached parts hang in loose groups or are clipped away. When the weft is floating on the back, this is known as a continuous brocade; the supplementary weft runs from selvage to selvage. The yarns are cut away in cutwork and broché. Also, a discontinuous brocade is where the supplementary yarn is only woven in the patterned areas.
Brocade fabric tends to have a little weight to it, making it sturdy, crisp and comfortable to wear. Brocade tends to look very expensive and regal, as well as relaxed and elegant. It’s a win-win all around.