Double damask is a fabric from another era. To maximise the production benefits of modern weaving looms a higher warp thread count is normally used than weft thread count. This allows more cloth, of a given weight, to be produced for less weft picks.
Double damask is different from ordinary damask in that it has a lower warp thread count than weft thread count; this allows a dense high thread count fabric to be produced, as the weft yarns are beat up tight in the fabric. However, it is a much more expensive way of weaving because it takes longer to weave a given length of fabric. Also, to allow this dense packing of yarn a looser twill weave is used than in ordinary damask.
Apart from the higher thread count there are certain designs which are exclusive to double damask, because the higher number of yarns allows finer definition and some designs, such as Fine Scroll, because of its fine detail require the high thread count of double damask to bring out the best in it.
So to summarise the differences, double damask uses finer more high quality weft yarn, it has a higher weight per unit area, it has more weft picks than warp ends per inch, it is a different weave, it is a more expensive weaving process because you get less fabric per hour because of the extra picks, and often the loom has to be run slower to avoid damaging the yarns because of the tight beat up. On top of this its designs can be more intricate because of the higher definition allowed with the greater thread count. It will also last longer as the finer higher quality yarns allow more launderings, and hence a longer life.
In the past when there were many Irish linen companies, and there was over-capacity of production in the industry. Some unscrupulous weavers, in order to use the name double damask, produced a lower quality fabric by lowering the thread count. They wished to use the name, because a proper well made double damask was associated with quality, and could achieve a premium price in the market.
As stated earlier, to allow the dense packing of yarn, a looser twill weave is used when weaving double damask than in ordinary damask. This requires a high thread count to stabilise the fabric. With a low thread count this was not the case.
These poorly made fabrics were sub standard, and normal damask was in many instances a better buy. This forced the hand of the Irish Linen Guild and they brought in a minimum thread count for double damask.
Those days are long gone, and today, Thomas Ferguson double damasks are most defintely a high quality, premium product, woven from superior quality yarns to normal damask. Giving a higher definition design capability, a longer life. Most of all an overall higher quality product, a best in the world, that will be another small thing to surround yourself with that will help enrich your general quality of life.
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