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Getting to know fabric and the many uses in the home.

Our homes and closets consist of many types of fabric. Through centuries fabrics have been used for interior design, clothes, and so much more.

Fabric Glossary


This fabric is a plain-weave pattern of similar threads in both directions. When using extremely fine threads, you produce a smooth taffeta weave. When using thicker threads, you create a more textured basket weave.


This heavy fabric features a raised design interwoven using the Jacquard method. Typically, richly ornamented, and the raised pattern contrasts in colors and surface with the background.


This fabric is a coarse, cotton fabric in a plain weave often used for awnings, casual furniture upholstery, or slipcovers, and in just about any other application where coarse, heavy-duty material is appropriate.

Variations of canvas include duck cloth and sailcloth.


This fabric is gossamer light, sheer, plain-weave fabric that was originally silk, but today may also be wool or synthetic.


A general term for finely woven cotton cloth with a lustrous, shiny, bright surface, usually imprinted with a design. It became common once that " chintzy " denoted "cheap." That is not always the case, though. Chintz fabrics were used in some of the most luxurious European castles and manor houses and can be elegant and expensive.

Chintz is made from cotton fabric subjected to a chemical treatment called glazing. This treatment, designed to make the fabric more resistant to dirt, also gives it a characteristic crispness, stiffness, and shininess. Chintz is often imprinted with a design but may be solid-colored too. They are used widely in upholstery, draperies, pillow covers, and slipcovers.


Typically made of cotton, a pile weave in which alternating loops of thread are sheared, producing a deep pattern of ridges and rows.


Firm fabric with a raised pattern woven in. Similar to brocade, but lighter in weight and reversible.


It's no stranger to you—look at your jeans. Realize that denim doesn't have to be blue. It's a coarse cotton cloth, usually woven using different-colored threads in a twill pattern—a casual fabric used as an informal upholstery fabric.


The traditional material for men's hats was produced not by weaving but by matting together woolen fibers through heat and pressure. The finished fabric is soft and smooth. They are used as an inexpensive upholstery material.


This fabric is a hard-finished wool fabric woven in a tight twill, diagonal pattern. Firm and durable, it is excellent for upholstery.


This fabric is a plain-weave fabric with widely spaced yarns. If stiffened for use as casement curtains.


Lightweight cotton fabric is woven of two different-colored yarns to produce a small pattern of squares, checks, or stripes. You probably use gingham in your clothing. You can also use it in draperies, bedspreads, and trimmings.


A type of machine-weaving method that permits the introduction of different patterns and designs within the weave itself. Fabrics produced this way are also referred to as "Jacquards."


The chemical treatment of cotton fibers stiffens them and adds luster.


This fabric is a cotton fabric in which uncolored threads are weaved in a tight, plain pattern. Organdy is extremely fine lightweight threads—a diaphanous fabric often used as a translucent drapery material. Percale is slightly heavier threads —a name you have often cherished in better sheets and pillowcases. Muslin is a normal grade of cotton thread.

A bit stiff and rough to the touch, you probably won't select muslin as the finished material for upholstery.


A cotton fabric looks similar to glazed chintz because it has a glossy look—the gloss results from the satin weave, producing a smooth front surface while leaving the back dull.


A type of weave in which the face of the fabric is shiny and smooth. Traditionally made of silk, today made with synthetic fibers. When using fine cotton threads, sateen is produced. Serge, best known as the fabric in the "blue serge suit," is a tightly woven version of gabardine, featuring a rugged, almost shiny surface. Extremely tough, it's a good fabric for a formal look in upholstery.


This weave involves similar threads in both directions, producing a slight sheen on both surfaces.


This fabric is known in the form of terry towels or bathrobes. It's a cotton fabric with a loose pile weave that features uncut loops of yarn, producing a rough, highly textured surface.

Because of its high absorbency, this material is used as upholstery material in a bathroom, bath house, or similar wet areas. However, it dirties easily, stretches, snags easily, and is not a long-lasting material.


The striped cotton fabric you see in old-fashioned pillows and mattresses. The stripes may be woven or printed. While not a usual material for finished upholstery, it is sometimes used successfully in some modern casual settings. More often, it will cover the unfinished piece, and you will have your selected fabric upholstered over it.


This woolen fabric features a slightly fuzzy yarn and coarse weave that produces a multicolored, textured surface. Initially, a hand-spun fabric made along the river Tweed in Scotland, tweeds are machine-made today, but the best still come from Scotland. Rugged, durable, and attractive, tweed fabrics will be among your meaningful choices in upholstery.


A pattern of weaving that produces a diagonal pattern in the fabric. Denim and serge are both twill fabrics. If the design is systematically reversed, you make a herringbone pattern.


Pile velvet is a tightly woven pile weave fabric that produces a soft, smooth surface. Cut velvet is when the flat surface of the pile is carved to create a design effect.


This fabric is a thin, delicate, diaphanous fabric featuring a plain weave in which the same thread is in both directions.

It can be made of any lightweight thread, including silk, cotton, wool, and many synthetics, and used for translucent casement curtains.

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