Basic Woven Structures

by Sierra Neale

There are three main categories of techniques used to produce fabric: woven, knit and non-woven. The way in which yarns interact with themselves or each other determines the category.

 Woven fabrics are made up of two sets of yarns interlacing with each other. The two sets of yarns are known as the warp and the weft. The warp is the set of yarns that run vertically along the loom and the weft are the yarns that run horizontally. Some of the basic weaves are Plain Weave, Sateen, Satin, Twill and Basket.

Thread Count

Often, you may see thread count (or TC) mentioned when looking for bedding. Thread count refers to the number of yarns in a square inch of a woven fabric. As mentioned, woven fabrics are made up of two sets of yarns interlacing with each other. The thread count of a fabric is calculated by using both the EPI (ends per inch) and PPI (picks per inch). The EPI refers to the warp yarns per inch and the PPI refers to the weft.

There is the common misconception that a higher thread count equals a better or higher quality fabric. This is not always the case as the quality of the fibers and yarn, the type of weave, the dyeing process, finishes and etc. all factor into the final hand feel and quality of the fabric. To achieve a higher thread count, it is not uncommon that a lower quality yarn is used which can lead to less durable fabrics.  At LinensNow we offer a wide variety of thread counts to meet everyone’s needs, without compromising on quality.


Plain Weave/Percale

Percale is a very finely woven plain weave commonly done in cotton for sheeting. Plain weave is the most basic weave where fabric is woven in an even one to one construction. If the yarns in the warp and weft are of the same size, they will have equal distribution on the face and reverse of the fabric. Percale sheets tend to have a smooth and crisp hand feel.

 The below diagram on the left shows an example of plain weave where the grey yarns are the warp and the black yarns are the weft. The image on the right is a hand woven sample showing this construction in use. Here the blue yarns are the warp and the orange are the weft.


Basket weaves are variations of plain weave in which two or more warp and weft yarns are grouped together. The below are examples of a 2/2 basket weave where two warp warns and two weft yarns are paired together. In the diagram on the left the grey is the warp and the black represents the weft. In the image on the right the blue is the warp and the red is the weft.


Twill weaves are characterized by diagonal alignments which are noticeable on the fabric’s surface. Warp or weft yarns float over multiple ends or picks and adjacent yarns never float over the same groups of yarns. This shifting in the structure of the weave is what causes the diagonal lines. Twill weaves have a lower number of interlacings than plain weave, making their structure more compact and durable.  Denim fabrics, which are woven in a twill weave, are known for their durability for this reason.

The below are examples of a weft face, left handed 1/3 twill. Left handed refers to the direction of the twill line., 1/3 refers to how many warp yarns the weft is floating over. These are weft faced because the weft is floating over the warp yarns and therefore has more coverage on the face of the fabric. In the diagram on the left the grey is the warp and the black represents the weft. In the image on the right the blue is the warp and the yellow is the weft.

In twill fabric the face is always the opposite of the reverse. So the reverse of the above would be a warp faced, right handed 3/1 twill.

 Satin and Sateen are two different types of weaves. The below diagrams illustrate examples satin and sateen; the grey represent the warp yarns and the black represent the weft.


Satin is a warp faced weave, meaning the warp yarns have more coverage on the face of the fabric. The warp yarns have more coverage on the face due to the uneven structure of the weave. This creates a sheen and gives the fabric’s surface a shiny and smooth appearance on the face. A satin weave is characterized by having at least four warp yarns floating over a single weft yarn as illustrated in the above diagram on the left. Satin should not be confused with sateen, as it is the opposite of sateen.

Sateen is also a durable fabric structure which is why it is often used to for sheets. Like satin it also has an uneven construction, however, in sateen the weft yarns have more coverage on the face of the fabric. This creates a subtle sheen and gives the fabric’s surface a smooth, soft hand feel.


At LinensNow we offer quality textiles priced right in all of these constructions and more.

 Plain weave /Percale

Our Reborn Percale BCI Cotton & Recycled Polyester Sheet Set  is OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified.  Not only are these sheets soft but also responsibly made with 52% BCI Cotton, 48% Recycled Polyester. To learn more about the different types of cotton, see our Cotton post.


Basket weave

The Brielle Home Ivy Stone Washed Cotton Throw Pillow. Ivy is a 100% cotton, stone washed, has a soft, textured basket weave on the face, a canvas reverse and fringe on all four sides. Ivy’s woven textured design and unique distressed green color make it a great accent pillow on its own or coordinating piece that can work with other decorative pillows and décor.

Click here to browse our decorative pillow and throw collection!


Twill weave

Valeron Palermo Tencel™ Modal Quilt made out of 100% TENCEL Modal twill fabric that is both soft and durable. This features a luxurious triangular quilting pattern and is perfect for any season. The simple yet elegant design works perfectly on its own as well as when layered.


Sateen weave

One of our new arrivals, the Brielle Home 300 Thread Count TENCEL™ Lyocell Sateen Sheets is available in five colors. The combination of its 300 thread count, sateen weave construction and TENCEL™ Lyocell fiber content make this sheet unbelievably silky soft and perfect for year round use.

Visit our Percale vs. Sateen post to learn more about the different characteristics these two types of fabrics have when it comes to choosing the best bed sheets for you.





Burnham, Dorothy K. Warp and Weft: A Textile Terminology. Toronto: Ontario, 1980. 

Emery, Irene. The Primary Structures of Fabrics: An Illustrated Classification.  London: Thames & Hudson, 2009.

Sutton, Ann, and David Cripps. The Structure of Weaving. London: Batsford, 1986.

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