Last week, we talked about pique and how it is a tie-down weave. Matelasse is very similar, but without the tie-downs, so that means you have 2 more shafts available for the pattern warp. Historically, matelasse was a quilted cloth with wadding picks in a double cloth.
As with pique, the designing is done in the lower cloth, with the top cloth comprised usually of plain weave (it gives the most effective dimensional results) on 2 shafts. As before, the top layer is usually of non-shrinking yarns, and the bottom layer with shrinking yarns.
As with pique, there is a 6-pick lifting sequence as follows :
Picks 1 and 2 weave plain on the top layer with the non-shrinking yarn.
Pick 3 raises shafts 1 and 2 and weaves plain on the bottom layer with the shrinking yarn.
Picks 4 and 5 are weaving plain with non-shrinking weft on the top layer again, but with the addition of the patterning on the bottom layer.
And pick 6 weaves the bottom layer with shrinking yarn in plain weave whilst lifting the top layer out of the way.
As you can see, pique and matelasse are very similar in construction, but pique has the little indentations caused by the tieing down of the back cloth.
This image is of matelasse using 24 shafts (18 shafts used for patterning, 6 for plain weave top cloth). You can see the crinkling of the top cloth caused by the plain weave structure being forced into convolutions by the pattern woven into the bottom cloth which has then shrunk during finishing. The top cloth is cotton, the bottom wool.
You can try lots of variations with the thickness and sett of the two yarns, and of course, the choice of pattern in the bottom cloth.
As with pique, you can put in a wadding weft, so making your pick sequence 8 picks. After the first two picks, you raise shafts 1 & 2 and insert a thick weft. This weft won’t be seen as it remains between the two layers. Then you continue with picks 3, 4 and 5 of the original sequence. Then after pick 5, raise shafts 1 & 2 again, and insert another thick weft. You will need to have a floating selvedge or cut specific lengths of the wadding weft as it will undo itself if you try to do a continuous weft. Then you finish off the sequence with the original pick 6 (now pick 8).
When the wadding is used, it makes a soft, spongy, durable fabric which would be very useful where you want an interesting textured surface, but also softness and extra warmth, quite possibly for a cushion used for someone who needs extra padding on their seat.
Next week we’ll be taking a look at stitched double cloth.