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The Jacquard loom, invented in France by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1804, creates a figured weave by using endless belts of pattern cards punched with holes and arranged in repeated patterns. The use of replaceable punched cards to control a sequence of operations is considered an important step in the history of computing hardware.
Jacquard ribbon, belonging to the domain known as “narrow fabrics,” have a high quality and attractive appearance make it ideal for decorative accents. Ribbons dominated fashion during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and reached a pinnacle as part of women’s finery in the nineteenth century. The town of Saint-Etienne - near Lyon, internationally renowned for its silk industry - is considered the world capital of ribbon. The Saint-Etienne Museum of Art and Industry is the home to the most important collection of jacquard ribbons in the world.
Brocade, damask, and jacquard ribbons are made using jacquard looms. Brocade is unique in that both sides exhibit the same pattern, just with inverse colors. The tapestry effect created by the jacquard loom can be tone on tone or of many colors with elaborate designs, usually florals, geometrics and ethnic patterns. Sometimes the tapestry effect is enhanced as the loom can weave in “pillows” of wool in the back to create a highly raised effect.
Ribbons with picot edges - small loops on either side - and ruffled edges can only be woven on jacquard looms. Rococo is another specialty trimming made with a jacquard loom. Appearing like a daisy chain of small flowers, it is woven of previously woven faveurs - very narrow ribbons.