The creators of a digital loom called Weft (which, in weaving lingo, refers to an article of woven fabric or a filling thread) are hoping to transform the woven fabrics industry. Offering custom wovens (as opposed to surface-printed fabrics, which are largely available), Weft is the first online platform of its kind that shares direct access to manufacturing for custom orders as low as three yards.
Created by Brooks Hagan, RISD associate professor of textiles, and Steve Marschner, Cornell professor of computer science, with research support from the National Science Foundation and a Small Business Innovation Research grant, the tool allows users to select their own color, weaves and quality as well as set the repeat size.
The goal? To give independent designers freedom to create fabrics for smaller projects. Users are invited to upload their own designs or photographs, or customize the designs existing on Weft’s site. They can also purchase limited-edition textile designs by artists including Stephanie Pender, Kevin Zucker, Julia Dault, John Caserta and Julian Kreimer.
“In choosing artists to collaborate with, we opted for people working in a variety of fields to demonstrate that creative people from many backgrounds can effectively use the software,” Hagan says.
An online shop also offers woven jacquard fabrics made in the U.S., including many of which that are open-source and customizable. They are designed to be used for an array of projects, including upholstery, drapery and apparel.
Weft fulfills custom fabric orders via its network of partner mills and turnaround time is as little as three weeks.