We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Plainweave?

By Henry Gaudet
Updated Feb 19, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Plainweave, also known as tabby, calico or over under weaving, is one of the simplest and most common method of manufacturing textiles, producing a flat, durable fabric. Threads interlace alternately, going over and under one another, and close inspection of plain woven fabric will reveal a distinctive checkerboard pattern. Variations of plainweave include rib weave and basket weave.

Creating plainweave fabric, whether on a hand loom or in a giant textile mill, involves interlacing perpendicular threads. Parallel threads called warp are held taut by the loom. A weft thread is woven through this warp, passing over the first, then under the second, over the third and so forth. This process continues back and forth, row after row, until the fabric is complete. The result is a strong, smooth, snag-resistant cloth.

Altering the tension on the threads can produce a tighter or looser weave, which can affect the texture of the fabric. In some fabrics, such as seersucker, warp threads are held at different tensions, with some held tight and others slack, resulting in a unique, blistered texture.

The size of the thread will also affect the texture of the cloth. Weaving heavy threads will naturally produce heavier, more durable cloth, and thin threads make a much lighter, more breathable fabric. Manufacturers can combine tension and thread diameter to create fabrics suitable for any purpose, from fashion to upholstery and decorating.

Typically, the same single thread is used for an entire plainweave fabric. For instance, taffeta, canvas, crepe, muslin and chiffon are all plainweave fabrics made in this way. It is, however, possible to create cloth with threads of different diameters or using threads in bundles, resulting in different fabrics with different textures and appearances.

Rib weave is a variation on plainweave using threads of two different sizes. Warp threads selected are thinner than the weft. Threads are woven together just like any other plainweave fabric, but instead of the typical checkerboard pattern, the thicker weft dominates, and a series of parallel lines takes shape.

Basket weave is another variation on the standard plainweave. Instead of working with one thread at a time, threads are bundled into groups of twos, threes or even more. Bundled weft threads are woven through bundled warp threads, giving the fabric a heavier texture, with a wicker basket appearance. Threads of different color or thickness might also be selected, making the wicker pattern even more distinct.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Related Articles

Discussion Comments
By JessicaLynn — On Oct 27, 2011

@JaneAir - That makes a lot of sense. Plainweave fabric is very popular for other crafts too!

For instance, a lot of people prefer plainweave fabric to embroidery projects. It's very sturdy and holds up quite well.

However, it doesn't work well for embroidery types that require you to count the the threads in the fabric to make stitches. In most plainweave, you can't detect the individual threads running through the fabric like you can on other types of embroidery fabric.

By JaneAir — On Oct 26, 2011

My mom is really into sewing and pretty much always has been. She really favors plainweave fabrics for all of her sewing projects. She says that plainweave fabric is much easier to sew with than certain other types of fabric.

For instance, knit fabric has a tendency to stretch and curl. This can make it really difficult to sew something out of it! You have to keep your tension on the fabric the same as you're guiding the fabric through the sewing machine. Pulling it too much can result in a seam that is sewn too loosely.

However, you don't have those problems with plainweave fabric. It's not stretchy, and it doesn't curl. My mom always recommends this kind of fabric to sewing beginners.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.