In the study of textiles, structure refers to the method by which a group of elements are linked, looped, intertwined, and combined to form a cloth or fabric. Produced on looms, woven structures feature warp yarns strung on the loom and weft yarns that cross and interlace with the warp. Stripes, formed by contrasting colors of warp yarns, and bands, formed the same way with weft yarns, illustrate the simplest kind of patterning. Other patterning can be produced as the cloth is woven by varying the thickness or spin direction of warp and weft threads. In addition to woven textiles, many non-woven textile structures exist, produced by methods including interlacing threads manually, or creating loops or knots.
The following descriptions of basic fabric structures include distinguishing characteristics for identification and are illustrated with examples from the Henry’s collection. Check the Textile Bibliography for references that include more technical definitions.