Damask vs Brocade: What's the Difference?

written by Melissa Wolck

Hey guys! Welcome back. In today’s This vs. That blog we will look at the differences between Damask and Brocade fabrics. The terms are often used interchangeably. In fact, the word Damask is commonly used to describe an elaborate floral pattern woven into a damask fabric, but it is actually referring to the fabric not the pattern.

That's just it. Damasks and brocades are not patterns but are two different types of fabric. Although they are both woven using a jacquard loom, they are constructed differently. Let’s take a closer look!

The image above shows a traditional Damask fabric. Typically, damasks are woven using a single color yarn and a combination of weaving techniques commonly including satin and sateen. These two weaving methods create a tone on tone pattern that is produced by the contrast of matte and lustrous surfaces.

As you can see in the image above, if you flip the fabric over and look at the back, the exact reverse of the pattern appears. 

The fabric on the left, gives you an example of a two toned damask fabric with a floral pattern, and on the right, a contemporary damask with a geometric design.

Now, let’s take a look at some Brocade fabrics.

As I mentioned, a brocade fabric is also woven on a jacquard loom. In contrast to a traditional damask fabric, brocades are woven using a variety of different colored yarns creating multicolored patterns. Characteristically, these patterns are only visible on the face of the fabric. Supplementary weft (and sometimes) warp yarns are woven against a simple (usually) ground. The supplementary yarns float on the back of the fabric and are only brought to the surface to create the pattern, producing an almost raised effect.  Take a look at the images below. 

See what I mean about the colored floral patterns showing on the face of the fabric, but not on the back?

Brocades tend to fray or pick easily due to these floating yarns. Often times, the manufacturer will back the fabric to help prevent this issue as shown here.

So there you have it, a high level overview of the differences between damask and brocade fabrics. I hope that this helps clear things up. It is a bit confusing, and that is why we lump them all into the jacquard category. 

Let us know if you have any questions or blog topics you would like to see added to our site. We love to be your number one resource for all things fabric! 

To place an order for memos samples or yardage, please give us a call at 866-755-5000 or visit us at greenhousefabrics.com.