What Is Dobby Fabric?

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Many men's dress shirts are made from dobby fabric.
Many men's dress shirts are made from dobby fabric. (Image: serkanozalp/iStock/Getty Images)

Dobby fabric is created on a special loom that draws up certain warp threads -- which are the lengthwise threads in a woven design. The raised threads produce small geometric patterns that repeat throughout the fabric. Preindustrial hand looms once needed a "dobby boy" to sit on top and raise the threads while the loom operated. This made dobby fabric an expensive, high-end fabric until the invention of automated looms.

Fashion and Function

While many may not have heard of dobby fabric, it is a frequently used weave. When woven with fine yarns, it produces a thin, slightly patterned cloth that is often used in dress shirts. Thick or fluffy yarns produce textured cloth used for heavier clothing or home furnishings. Dobby fabric can be made of many fibers, including cotton, rayon or silk.

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