loom Thailand

Hand Weaving of Cotton Fabrics in Thailand

All of the fabrics that we use for our products are handmade in Thailand. This means they are woven by hand in villages where weaving is still practiced.

Once weaving as a craft for the production of clothes was prevalent in the whole of Thailand. These days most Thai people buy their clothes in retail chains and on the markets and they are mostly made in India and China from polyester yarns. There's just a few areas left where the tradition is kept alive, mostly by older women who weave on their front porch, in between farming and taking care of their families.

cotton growing thailandThai cotton buds growing on a farm in a community

The cotton used is grown locally or otherwise nearby the village. Before cotton can be used for weaving, it must first be spun. Spinning twists the fibers around each other, entangling them and thus making a thread and holding the fibers together. Spinning offers choices of making thin or thick yarn and tight or loose yarn.

hand spinning of cotton

When it comes to spinning cotton there are two choices: hand spinning or machine spinning. Hand spinning produces a uneven yarn that adds to the uniqueness and the feel of the fabric. Hand spinning is a craft that takes time to learn and is also much slower than machine spinning. These days there are fewer and fewer craftspeople skilled in the craft of hand spinning.

machine spun cotton is equal in thickness

Machine spinning is done at a factory where cotton farmers bring their harvested cotton. In our shop we offer products made from fabrics that come both hand spun and machine spun yarn as well as a combination of the two. One thing that is commonly done is that the warp threads (the standing ones) are machine spun cotton and the weft threads (the threads which are woven) hand spun cotton. The reason is that hand spun cotton is very uneven in thickness and pulling the comb through the threads can be difficult. Since the weft threads are mostly thicker it still means that most of the yarn is hand spun. That said, there are some fabrics in our store that are hand spun in both directions, they can be distinguished by their rough and natural look. For instance this cushion here.
the uneven thread of hand spun cotton yarn can be easily seen here
There are many ways to create patterns by weaving and one of the advantages of hand weaving is that the variety of patterns can be much wider than weaving by machine, as machine weaving always requires minimum order of hundreds of meters while hand woven fabrics can be made from up to 10 meters.

hand loomhand loom typically used in Thailand 

By varying the color of the warp or weft striped designs can be made, while varying both the warp and the weft checkers can be made. Another way of making patterns is varying the way the weft threads are going over and under the warp threads, skipping threads will make visible small patterns without using colors.

Hand woven cotton is thick and luxurious and unique in its texture and feel. The appreciation of the products are sometimes held back by out-dated designs and lack of marketing. We see it as our mission to promote the natural production of fabrics in Thailand and support communities and crafts.