What is Damask Fabric? What is it used for?

A post about the unique characteristics of damask, its historical significance, and its modern applications in fashion and interior design.

DAMASK is a heavy-weight woven fabric with shiny jacquard patterns woven into it. The fabric is woven with a combination of sateen and satin weaves – the pattern will be woven in the satin weave and the ground fabric will be woven in sateen weave or twill weave.

It is a lustrous fabric with a shine on both sides. Usually damask is a reversible fabric with the same pattern on both sides. But the colors will be different – it will be a complimentary image. The patterns are mostly floral and geometrical.

damask fabric

The picture above is the curtain in my house made of damask. As you can see both the sides look amost the same – almost like a mirror image.

Many intricate patterns (usually floral) are woven into the fabric. The contrast of the satin or twill ground and the satin/plain woven designs as well as the light refelcting on the thread of the patterns make the designs stand out. 

damask fabric

It is supposed to have originated in Syria,a country in the Middle east. The name is derived from Damascus (Capital city of Syria) where it is said to have been first made. It is popularly used to make furniture upholstery, draperies and to make table covers, napkins, etc.

What does damask fabric look like? Do you really have Damask fabric?

Damask is a lustrous fabric, usually with beautiful patterns on it. It has a smooth and shiny finish which is very attractive but not in your face.

How is Damask and Brocade different?

Damask is often confused with Brocade fabric. It can look very similar to brocade fabric which has a similar weave.
But the brocade has raised patterns whereas the damask fabric is flat. The patterns are an integral part of its weave.
Damask is reversible but brocade may have the fibers jutting out on the back and patterns on the surface are raised. 

You can learn more about Brocade fabric here.

Damask as a Pattern

You may also hear of damask as a pattern – it is used to refer to a middle eastern intricate pattern.

damask pattern

It will be referred to as a Damask print or Damask pattern; but if you just see just damask written on a clothing, for eg., “Damask pants”, double-check to ensure it is the fabric and not the print.

In the printed version of damask, the patterns are just on the surface, printed and in the damask fabric, the patterns are a part of the fabric weave.

Different types of Damask fabric

You can get damask in different types of fibers – cotton damask, silk damask are the favorites because they are made of natural fibers but damask fabric made of synthetic fibers are also very popular because they are very inexpensive and have great durability.

Linen damask is another type of damask. Damassin is a damask with gold and metallic weft thread.

Japanese museums have many specimens of embroidered silk damasks. Donsu and Rinsu are satin damasks of Japanese origin.

Another feature is the relative thickness of the fabric – it is a medium-weight fabric that is suitable for making curtains, furniture upholstery, home decor. Because of the thickness, it is not the most drapey fabric but it is great when used to make jackets and pants.

What is damask fabric used for?

It is a beautiful fabric for all upholstery works. Works great as curtains. You can also make gowns and pants and even a skirt with it.

Related posts : Fabric Glossary

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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.