Webbing Construction 101
Within the weaving industry at large, webbing falls under the heading of “Narrow Fabrics.” Included within this group along with webbing are ribbons, tapes and belting. Webbing is actually two separately woven layers which are bound together in various ways. It is the heaviest form of narrow fabrics, ranging from light straps to monster slings used in heavy lifting.
The following is a partial list of the most commonly used terms in webbing and production.
Back: Usually refers to the underside as the fabric comes off the loom. In patterned webbing, it also refers to the side opposite the primary pattern.
Binders: Yarn which is woven between the front and back to hold the two together, as in flat webbing.
Catch Cord: A yarn which binds the “knitted” needle edge of webbing woven on a needle loom. The catch cord prevents the fill yarn from unraveling at a cut end.
Denier: In general this refers to the size of a yarn. Specifically it is a measure of weight for multifilament yarns. One denier is equal to 1 gram per 9,000 meters.
End: A single yarn or two or more yarns drawn together as one strand.
Fill (weft): The yarn which runs from edge to edge in the webbing. It is carried by a needle or shuttle. Some advanced looms can weave patterns with multiple, colored yarn fills.
Float: Refers to yarn which is not weaving around the fill. In colored patterned webbing, yarn which is not visible on the face is floating in the center. Sometimes floating yarn is used to create patterns on the face.
Front: Usually refers to the top side as the fabric comes off the loom. In patterned webbing it also refers to the side with the primary pattern.
Jacquard: Refers both to a loom and the fabric produced on such a loom. Jacquard looms are able to control the movement of each yarn independently. Originally controlled by an endless belt of punch cards, today’s modern looms use computer-controlled magnets.
Ladder Pattern: A distinctive pattern produced in the webbing when alternate ends are different colors.
Needle Loom: A loom in which the fill yarn is carried back and forth by a “needle” which is usually curved. Because the fill yarn is carried from one edge it must be bound to itself on the other, called the needle edge. Complex colored patterns are woven on needle looms.
Pick: This term refers to one pass of the needle or shuttle through the webbing. On the face of a webbing each crosswise or weave is one pick.
Ply: Each woven layer of fabric. Webbing is usually two plies.
Selvage: The non-raveling edges of fabric. In patterned webbing, it is the area on each side of the colored pattern area.
Shuttle Loom: A loom on which a spool of fill yarn is carried from edge to edge in a shuttle. The fill yarn forms a continuous “spiral” along the webbing. Normally only ladder type patterns can be produced.
Warp: The yarns running lengthwise in webbing. Normally these are the yarns which are manipulated to produce a pattern.
Two General Types of Webbing
Tubular: The two plies or sides are attached only at the edges. This is the “softest,” most flexible type of webbing. It is commonly used in climbing slings and runners, sandal straps, tie-down hoopie, rescue anchors, harnesses, etc.
Flat: Flat webbing is actually a tubular webbing with the two sides bound together in one of two general fashions. Binders are smaller yarns which are woven through the webbing from aside holding them together. The second method is called front-to-back weaving. This is used in patterned webbing where the yarns which form the pattern actually pass from front to back. This produces the pattern in “negative” on the back side. Flat webbing is usually stiffer than tubular but works well in conjunction with various types of hardware such as buckles, loops and slides. Front-to-back webbing is the thinnest type of colored patterned webbing and is particularly suitable for straps, attachment loops, and surface applications.