Woollen brocaded damask, tapizado’s,*0,

fine bed satin and satin flowers, by Augusta Uhlenbeck (Fr). 


Note1: The small numbers in red refer to the notes at the end of this article.

In a great part of the eighteenth century well-to-do Dutch men wear a so-called “hemdrok”, a kind of jacket/skirt with long sleeves, decorated with silver buttons. These, probably very expensive, jackets were handled with care and a lot of them are still in a very good condition in some Dutch museums, one in a Belgium Museum and also in some private collections.

They were made from fine-combed wool in warp and weft, woven on a draw loom in a satin 5 warp and weft effect, a damask structure. Supplementary wefts were used for the brocade effects “ à liage repris” tied in twill 5. After the weaving process the fabric was finished by a coating and obtained a durable shining, glimmering effect and thanks to this process they became also the luxury jackets, water proof, and dirt repellent.

Fig.1. By courtesy "het Zeeuwmuseum" Middelburg, Nl. N° M 96-029a

Fig. 2. By courtesy “Mrs Nelly Sonneveld- Riper”, Dordrecht NL

How this coating was applied is not exactly known. At present 3 possible processes are envisaged but much more research is needed to find out which one was actually used. *1

a)Dutch sources speakabout beeswax. A pressing mill -called in those days a calendaring mill- was used and by pressing and heating the shining effect saw the light for centuries. It resists even to dry cleaning. The shining effect will come back after polishing the fabric with a heavy weight and in a smooth way.
b).English sources mention the use of Arabic Gum.
c). American sources (the Skaers) speak about a finishing with zinc oxide. This method gives a shiny white film. It is said that an analysis of a fabric treated by the Arabic gum is held by the library of the Winterthur Museum (USA)

The design; a central luxury flowered motif decorated with leaves, small branches, colourful flat rosettes, baskets filed with fruits surrounded by a lace ribbon decorated with small stylish flowers. This pattern of ribbons (Style Louis XV) was apparently an item in high demand in the Netherlands, and made in a large variety of colours: yellow, black, blue, green, rose etc. The design is made in a mirror effect. The half of the pattern is used in the length and by cut and copy  it the whole design is obtained On the rear side of the jacket you recognize the perfect mirror effect.

Figure 3. By courtesy “Het Zeeuwsmusem” Middelburg. NL.  N° M 96-029b

The use of a pattern composed in a mirror effect gave the possibility to become, without any technical problem; large patterns for the small draw harnesses at that time. The maximum number of cords used by the Dutch silk weavers was 600 during the middle of the 18th C (Tafels der vervallen *3) and 800 (Jean Paulet) in the last quarter of the 18th C. in France. The draw looms for the woollen fabrics did they have the same number of cords? The pattern is made in mirror effect and not the woven structure! With other words: the damask is not a mirror effect but the design is.

Fig 4 Frontside of the brocaded part: orange variant (private collection)

Fig. 4 Front side of the brocaded part: orange variant (Private collection.)

Damask is classified under “simple woven construction” You need one warp and one weft. Brocaded damask à liage repris (geleende ketting, chaîne empruntée, loaned warp).  One warp does 2 things.

a) Participating at the damask ground and
b) the warp binds the supplementary brocaded weft. A minimum of 2 wefts is needed:  1 ground weft and 1 brocaded weft.
c) the brocaded damask without supplementary warp needed 1 warp and 2 wefts.

Take care of the length of these floats in your design!

Analyses of the orange fabric of fig.4:
One warp (orange)One ground weft (yellow) plus X supplementary brocaded wefts.For every different colour a supplementary brocaded weft is used. (3 colours are visible on this small sample.

Looking at the front:
The orange ground is bind in a satin 5-warp effect.

The yellow pattern is bind in a satin 5-weft effect
The other colours are bind in twill 5 weft effect (1/4)

Fig. 5 Rear side of the brocaded part: orange variant. (Private collection.)

Looking at the rear side of this sample, the supplementary blue brocaded weft needed to obtain the blue flower floats in the centre and at the borders The yellow weft is visible at the rear side but will be covered at the front by the brocaded weft, which will be bound, by the main warp “à liage repris” in a weft twill .

Density: Warp: 25 threads/cm counted after 200 years (That was more during the weaving process, about 30 threads/cm ?)
Weft:  20 threads/cm counted after … + the brocaded wefts
The warp is combed wool 2 ply S.
The weft is wool (combed?) 1 ply Z.
The brocaded wefts wool, probably combed, 2 ply Z.

How the fabric was woven and on which draw loom?
The draw loom had to be equipped with a minimum of 10 shafts (2 x 5). One set of shafts (‘kam’ in Dutch, corps in French) for the satin 5 binding and a second set of 5 shafts for the twill 5 binding.
If you have more shafts, 15 for example, you can spread the satin 5 over 10 shafts. That will give less abrasion of the warp threads.

Figure 6 the technical design for the way to do it.

If you have less shafts you can make a variant of the structure. You will always have a brocaded damask but not a brocaded damask “ à liage repris” which is minus 5 shafts.

These structures are known in the Norwich sample books in the collection of the Winterthur Museum (Delaware USA) under the name Tapizado’s (Tapizadoes). This word has a Brazilian origin and means fabrics for furnishing, tapestries! The question is (see *1, *2 and *3) why a Portuguese word is used for this brocading damask structure? The tapizado’s are not used in the Dutch men wardrobe. (as far as seen)

Fig. 7. Tapizado’s

And then there are "Fine bed satin" and    “satins à fleurs ordinaries “

The fine bed satin and the satin à fleurs dated around the 4th part of the 18th C.  shown in the sample books at the Winterthur museum *1 are both satin 5 damask finished by a glimmering, shining coating. The difference between these 2 qualities could be that “the satins à fleurs” (French in the text) has smaller flowering patterns then the “bed satin”.                             

The “satin à fleur “and “the bed satin” are both woollen damasks. Woven with one warp and weft in a satin 5 warp and weft effect.  In the sample books from Norwich (G.B) the word damask is not mentioned for this quality of fabrics, however that does not mean that it isn’t a damask! It learns us once again that we had to be careful with fabric names used in sample books. *4

In the “Jan Lont Museum” (Hyppolytushoef NL) a “hemdrok” is shown with an overwhelming natural (super) floral /fruit pattern (first part 18th C. ) woven in a woollen satin 5 damask structure with a blue warp and white weft *5

The jacket has a light soft shining  effect obtained by polishing the fabric after cleaning by the dry cleaner with a have heavy but smooth (glass) matter.

Fig. 8 by courtesy: Jan Lont museum Hippolytushoef (NL)

The exotic floral/fruit pattern has no mirror effect, but the fabric has a light glimmering effect. An other question: were this jackets  really wear by women. Or do we think that now, because the buttonholes are at the right and at the left. *6

The satin 5 damask on the draw loom. figure 9

The warp découpure (unit) of 2 is shown as an example. It can be higher 3 or 4 … Woollen brocaded  damask, tapiazado’s, fine bed satin and satin flowers. One again: try it out on your draw –or jaquard loom ( consult the weave gamuts)

*0 In the Norwich sample books (Winterthur Museum, USA), there is one brocaded woollen damask hidden on a page full of tapizado’s. see also *1

*1 If the use of images is hindered by copyright and money claims, it is not unlikely that textile developments are seen in local isolation rather than being part of a universal evolution. The textile world might think that a technique was developed in Norwich without knowing, for instance, that similar techniques are described in a mid 18th C. Dutch weave manuscript. Images will bring similarities in textile far quicker to light then written descriptions.

*2 The publication of Florence Montgomery Textiles in America, 1650- 1870. ISBN :978-0-393-73224-5 still for sale for a very reasonable price by an internet bookstore- is filled up with swatches from the Winterthur Museum -and other museum collections.

*3 tafels der vervallen. Netherlands 2/4 18th Century. A list of set-ups for draw looms and there woven qualities.

*4 Jean de Monségur / Mémoires du Mexique ISBN 2-906462-88-8 Edition Michel Chandeigne Paris, France, wrote in 1709 that French silk weavers send their silk samples to China to let it weave there. Much cheaper and much quicker then woven in France. The quality was less, but “à la mode”. Page 200 and further.

*5 The are beautiful images of the hemdrokken, in Overijsselse streekdrachten” Wielen Harms, ISBN 978-90-6697-191-2. Unfortunately almost every cloth, fabric is classified under the name Damask, whether it being brocaded lampas, brocade damask, lance satins etc. etc.

*6 Buttonholes at the right ( women) or to the left (men) saw probably the light during the 19th C. I thank, the Zeeuw’s museum, the Jan Lont museum, Madame Nelly Sonneveld for the use of their images, Mesdames Marjie Thompson, Agnès Alauzet and Rina Bethlehem-Braak for their help. Without their courtesy and help this small article could not shown the images of “the hemdrokken” and the calendaring mill. Note 1:

This article was published as a part of theWinter 2011 Newsletter of the International Damask Network 

by:  Augusta Uhlenbeck.   
Lauréate, Tokyo 1988
Finaliste Kyoto 1994
Médaille d'argent de la Chambre de Métiers des Yvelines.