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Frequently Asked Questions

Glossary of fabric terms

There are many ‘odd’ terms in the fabric world. Here are just a few that may have you puzzled. if you can’t find it here email us to clarify your query.

Batik
Created by a distinctive dying process. Wax and other sbstances that resist dye are applied: after dyeing the wax is washed out to leave dramatic patterns.
Boucle
Fabric with a curled or looped surface, usually of heavier weight, suitable for upholstery.
Brocade
A fine fabric originally made of silk but now produced with man-made fibres. Traditionally patterned with floral and naturalistic motifs, the rised design is woven on a Jacquard loom and distinguished by long horizontal threads along the back.
Butter muslin
A loose woven cotton.
Calico
A plain-woven cream cotton.
Canvas
A heavy woven linen and cotton mix.
Chenille
A cloth of heavily texturedcotton or synthetic having rather a fuzzy decorative pile. Seen in highly ornamental trimmings.
Chintz
Chintz’s are made from cotton finished with a shiny glaze. Can be floral or plain.
Cotton lawn
A loose woven cotton, with a finish almost as smooth as silk.
Corduroy
This hard-wearing cloth is usually made of cotton, but also of synthetic yarns, all with a ctton-backing cloth. The cotton has cut-pile ribs, or cords, running down the length of the fabric.
Damask
Cotton or silk damask is a highly traditional fabric, woven with large, abstract leaf and flower designs in contrasting matt and satin textures. Damask s also woven in wool and man-made mixtures. It is similar to brocade but is flatter and reversible.
Dupion
Used to describe forms of real or artificial silk. Both have a distinctive slubbed surface.
Gaufraged
French word for embossing or stamping a pattern on cloth by means of head rollers. Mostly done on velvet for upholstery. Avoid steam as the flattened design may disappear!
Gingham
A checked cotton faric. Gingham comes in a wide range of primary colours and check size. Usually made of pure cotton.
Grosgrain
A cloth recognised by the pronounced ribbed effect across its surface.
Holland
Medium weight cloth mae from linen or cotton. Ideal for roller blinds as the non-fraying edges can be trimmed to any size.
Ikat
Chinese silk fabric tie-dyed to create softly outlined patterns. Can also be made of cotton.
Lace
An open work fabric, usuallymade of cotton. Designs are almost infinite, from tiny repeated floral motif to large-scale designs.
Linen union
An inexpensive linen mixture.
Madras cotton
This brightly-coloured fabric is imported from India, woven with checked or stripped designs.
Morie’
A watermark effect on silk, a popular finish to man-made silk imitations.
Muslin lawn
A crisper and more finely woven version of butter muslin.
Ottoman
It has a horizontal ribbed pattern and is sitable or upholstery as it is very hard wearing. Often to be found in stripes of different colours.
Paisley
Printed of intrcate scroll or pine designs. Traditionally printed onto wool, but is effective on velvet or linen.
Plaid
A woollen cloth of check design.
Sateen
A weave usually assciated with cotton fabrics. The mercerised yarns used give the cloth a smooth, almost shiny finish.
Satin
A fabric made out of silk, cotton or synthetic fibres. It is very smooth, soft and shiny with a matte reverse side, often in lush, sometimes deepcolours. Care should be taken when using this fabric, as it tends to spot and be difficult to clean.
Shantung
Unevenly textured wild silk.
Silk
Regarded as the most luxurious of all fabrics. Coming in many forms on both sides usually with a sheen and sometimes ‘shot’ in appearance, giving theeffect that the fabric slightly changes colour and appearance according to how the light falls on it.
Tapestry
A heavy fabric made on a Jacquard loom, in imitation of hand-sewn tapestries.
Tartan
A woollen cloth woven with a partcular checked pattern of specific colours, each belonging to one of the Highland clans of Scotland.
Ticking
In a striped cotton material originally used for covering mattress’s.
Toile de jouy
A cotton or line fabric printed with scenes of French pastoral life – ‘tale of the day’
Tussah silk
A wide silk typially a natural yellowy-brown colour as it is not easily dyed. Originally Indian.
Velour
A cotton fabric (more rarely silk or wool) whose cut pile gives it a soft surface that absorbs light.
Voile
A white transucent fabric, ideally of cotton, to be used behind curtains or as a window dressing in its own right.

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