The most popular damask at Bright Settings – Gabrielle, in the Linen Ivory color.

The term “damask” is used to describe a multitude of textile products. Prior to researching textiles I had always associated damask as a type of furniture upholstery. However, damask is a high-end textile that is used in the manufacturing of many products. Among the most popular are damask tablecloths, napkins, drapes, and even outerwear. Because of the high thread count used in damask fabric, products created with this weave are both fine and durable, making it a perfect choice for interior decorating products that must stand up to domestic wear while still looking classy.

A 1,000 Year Old Asian Weaving Technique

To “damask” refers to a particular weaving technique that began in Asia nearly a thousand years ago. In the 12th century, when textiles from the Far East began to make their way into Europe, damask fabric (made from fine silk) was considered a luxury item. The amount of labor involved in producing the textile coupled with the extremely high price of the silk medium made damask products a symbol of elegance. In fact, damask is still considered a luxury item to this very day. During the 12th century, the city of Damascus became a major hub for the import and export of textiles from the East. This is how damask fabric got its name.

Multicolored and Reversible

Damask is a reversible fabric. It is well known by the multicolored patterns that adorn a soft dense background. These patterns are usually geometric or organic. Floral designs are a common theme with damask textiles. Originally damask was only made with silk or, sometimes, satin. The organic materials used in its productions account for the sheer nature of the fabric, making it very desirable for consumers of luxury. However, modern technology has made the production of damask a bit simpler and, therefore, more attainable.

The Jacquard Loom Allowed Mass-Production of Damask Fabrics

The first automated weaving technology came about in the early 1900’s. The Jacquard loom allowed for the production of high thread-count textiles without the extreme labor intensity that was required to manufacture damask in the past. The Jacquard loom worked by using punch cards to position the fabric for various weaving patterns. These punch cards were used in much the same way as the earliest computers by allowing for automated data processing. As computers developed in complexity, so did the Jacquard weaving process. Today there is software that allows manufacturers to design a virtual pattern that is then translated by the automated loom. This process allows for the mass-production of damask fabric that, in turn, makes damask available to artists and textile manufacturers by the bolt. Furthermore, it is also possible to find damask created from different mediums. While traditional damask is made from silk, modern damask is made from a variety of organic and synthetic fibers. Damask made from linen, cotton, or synthetic blends tend to be much less expensive than their silk counterparts. Moreover, synthetic damask tends to be stronger and more long-lasting than silk damask. However, if you want your fabric to maintain its sheer texture, silk or satin will probably be your best bet.

Damask Fabrics Make Popular Tablecloths and Napkins

One of the more popular uses of damask fabric is the production of table coverings and napkins. Because of its luxurious appearance and texture, damask is a good way to increase the ambience of a dining room. One look that is very popular is to cover your table with a solid-colored fabric tablecloth that hangs down to the floor. By draping a damask cloth overtop of the plain cloth you should be able to create a very snappy contrast. With all of the patterns and colors available with damask fabric you ought to find a combination that really stands out. Complete the look by adding matching damask napkins to the dining setup. Add a simple centerpiece and you can create an extremely elegant table setting. Remember, damask textiles come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. If you are planning to purchase damask table coverings, napkins, curtains, or even clothing you may want to obtain a sample of the particular fabric you are interested in. Many online distributors provide samples of the various fabrics they sell. So, take the time to look over several different patterns before buying by the bolt or purchasing damask products.