May 8th, 2017

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Herringbone is a V-shaped zig zag pattern that is usually made from tweed/twill fabric. The herringbone pattern dates back to the Roman Empire, where it was used in road paving systems, and in the textiles and jewellery of ancient Egyptian elite. Its name quite literally derives from the bones of a herring fish, which it closely resembles.

The herringbone pattern can be woven into all fabrics or fibre combinations using a twill weave, though wool is the fabric that is most commonly used. The herringbone pattern is made by cutting and reversing alternate vertical sections of a broken twill weave. The twill diagonals are arranged into vertical columns and are staggered along the vertical line at the point where they reverse.

This produces a characteristic vertical ‘break’ or ‘cut’ in the fabric. There are two main ways in which a herringbone pattern may be produced in a woven fabric. The first is by weaving the fabric in a herringbone weave structure. The second is by using special drafting arrangements when setting up the warp for weaving; the fabric is then woven in twill weave or combination of different twill weaves, and the drafting arrangement automatically changes the direction of the twill line at regular intervals to form the herringbone pattern. Herringbone-patterned fabric is used in everything from suits which were made here at Sunny Bank Mills and in some of the cloth here in the Archive collection;  to daywear to homewares.

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