Glossary

ACRYLIC
The general name of man-made fibers (polyester) derived from polymers of acrylic acid or acrylates. 

APPLIQUÉ
A cut-out decoration fastened to a larger piece of fabric. Often used when making large scale monograms.

BED SKIRT
Fabric that falls from the top of the box spring to the floor, hiding the box spring.  Often made in a gathered or tailored style.  Also called a dust ruffle. 

BLANKET COVER
A top of the bed treatment used to hide and/or protect the blanket underneath it. Does not go all the way to the floor and is not made with a pillow tuck. Sometimes called a coverlet but often not as decorative and lighter in weight than a traditonal coverlet. 

CASHMERE
A fine, soft, downy wool from the undercoat of the Cashmere goat. The finest Kashmir throws and blankets are made from the hair of the Kashmir goat.  The ultimate in silky and soft; and strong. 

COMFORTER
A bed covering for warmth that is quilted using various materials, including down, cotton, wool and silk. Does not cover the pillows or go to the floor.  Often referred to as a duvet, especially in Europe.  Normally made with box or channel stitching.  Most often protected inside a comforter or duvet cover. Comforters trap warm air, creating a layer of insulation. 

COVERLET
A top of the bed treatment used instead of a bedspread or blanket. Coverlets are commonly layered with a duvet.  Does not go all the way to the floor and is not made with a pillow tuck. Sometimes called blanket covers, although usually more formal and sometimes heavier than a blanket cover. Matelasse fabrics are common.

DAMASK
A lustrous, patterned fabric originally woven in the Middle Ages using Byzantine methods, now woven on Jacquard looms (looms that create a woven pattern in the fabric). Often woven in floral or geometric patterns of cotton, silk, wool, or linen, or combinations of these fibers.

DOWN
Down clusters are harvested from ducks and geese (as they are destined for the table-- birds are NOT raised for down production and are a by-product of the food industry) and are used to fill duvets and pillows. Fowl that are raised in colder climates produce higher quality down that insulates better.

DUVET
A warm bed covering originating in rural Europe that was traditionally filled with down and/or feathers. Sometimes made using other materials, including silk, wool and cotton.  Does not cover the pillows or go to the floor.  Most often protected inside a duvet cover. This term is sometimes used interchageably with Comforter. Couette in French.

DUVET COVER (COMFORTER COVER) An outer fabric cover that encases and protects a duvet (comforter) and can adds style, color and texture to bedroom decor. The cover works best when sized the same or slightly smaller than the comforter or duvet it protects. A covered and protected duvet requires requires infrequent (if ever!) cleaning. 

EGYPTIAN COTTON
A general classification for the species of strong, lustrous, long-staple cotton produced in the Nile River Valley in Egypt. Considered the very finest cotton grown in the world, along with Giza cotton.

EMBROIDERY
The art or process of forming decorative designs with hand or machine needlework. Differs from lace in that embroidery requires a ground fabric to work on and is often done with colored threads.

EURO SHAM
A covering for a square pillow, usually 26” square, used decoratively for added pattern and texture, and practically as a comfortable substitute for a padded headboard. Sometimes called a Continental sham. The word sham implies a flange around all four sides of the pillow cover.

FILL-POWER (LOFT)
The most frequently used measure of down (duck or goose) quality and loft. The rating is a measure of the volume one ounce of down will fill in a laboratory test, expressed in cubic inches. It also indicates the down’s ability to regain loft after being compressed. The higher the fill power, the greater the ability for the down to "trap" air and thus the warmer and loftier the duvet, and cushiness of the pillow. 

FINISHINGThe treatment of fabric after being removed from the loom. Finishing processes include brushing, dyeing, glazing, sizing, softening, and stiffening. These steps are accomplished by exacting combinations of heat, water and steam and is the final step determining fabric quality.

FLANNEL
Cotton sheeting or twill, brushed or napped on one or both sides, giving the fabric a chamois-soft feel. The process is accomplished with steel brushes. Flannel is not measured in thread count but reather in terms of gram weight.

FLAX - LINEN
An organic fiber used to weave the fabric linen.  It is the oldest textile fiber known and is  prized for its ecological cultivation, thermo-regulating qualities, and durability. Linen is a particulary good bedding choice for sleeping in warmer climates. Most linen fabrics are stiff and require many washings to achieve their ultimate comfort.  

HEMSTITCHING
A small decorative stitch, traditionally used along a border or hem. Single-needle hemstiching (Punto Parigi) is fine and double-needle hemstitching has a larger open pattern.

JACQUARD
A sophisticated style of textile in which elaborate, intricate patterns are woven into the fabric. The Jacquard loom was invented in France in the early 19th century by Joseph Marie Jacquard.  Common patterns are brocade, tapestry, and damask.

LINEN - FLAX
A fabric or textile woven with the flax fiber. Celebrated for thousands of years and known for its breathability, temperature regulation, and durability.  Becomes softer and more lustrous over time. Linen bedding is a top choice for warm weather sleeping.

MATELASSE
A French word meaning cushioned or padded.  The quilted character and raised patterns are woven into the fabric on a Jacquard or dobby loom. Commonly used for coverlets and shams. 

PERCALE
A fine, closely woven cotton fabric. Commonly called a plain weave, the yarn is interlaced the same as the strings of a tennis racquet, with a regular over-and-under pattern. Has a cool and crisp feel as opposed to the silky, shiny look of a sateen.  Percale is the simplest of the three basic weaves, along with twill and satin.

PIECE DYED
A process of dyeing fabric after it’s woven and removed from the loom.

PIQUE
A durable fabric, usually made of cotton, rayon, or silk and usually woven with narrow stripes or a small geometric pattern.

PLISSE
A cotton fabric with a puckered or crinkled stripe effect. Also called seersucker.

POLYESTER
A manufactured or man-made fiber usually used for easy care and wash-and-wear fabrics. 

RAYON
A general term for fibers composed of regenerated cellulose derived from trees, cotton, and woody plants. Characterized by its silky feel.

SATEEN (or SATIN)
A smooth, lustrous and soft cotton fabric. A sateen weave is not as tightly intermeshed as a plain or percale weave. The soft, smooth surface is created by an under-one, over-three (or more) pattern.
 

SEERSUCKER
A cotton fabric with permanently woven crinkle stripes in the direction of the warp, produced by weaving the ground ends under ordinary tension, while the crinkle ends are woven slack. Does not need ironing.

SHAM
A decorative covering for a pillow, usually with a closed end and often with a flange.

SILK
Organic fiber produced by the silkworm (a type of caterpillar), to construct their cocoons. Woven into fabric since ancient times, silk is noted for its resiliency, elasticity, strength and beauty.

SPINNING
The process of making yarn or thread from plant (i.e. cotton, flax, wood) or animal (i.e. wool, silk) fiber. The yarn or thread is then woven into fabric.

TERRY CLOTH
A cotton fabric with loop pile on one or both sides, covering the entire surface. Mostly used in towels and bathrobes.

THREAD COUNT
The number of threads, running both ways (in the WARP and WEFT) in a square inch of fabric. Threads can be single-ply, double-ply, or even four-ply. Quality of threads and finishing must also be considered when evaluating the quality of a fabric. 

TWILL WEAVE
One of three basic weaves characterized by a diagonal rib, or twill line, generally running upward from left to right. The filling threads pass over one and under two or more warp threads to give an appearance of a diagonal line. Twill weaves are used to produce a strong, durable, firm fabric.

WARP
The set of yarn found in every fabric woven on the loom and running lengthwise, parallel to the selvage, and interwoven with the weft.

WEFT
The set of yarn which runs from selvage to selvage at right angles to the warp. Remember, “weft to right” or horizontal. 

WOOL
The soft undercoat of domesticated sheep. Wool can be woven, knitted, or felted.  Hypoallergenic, insulating and temperature regulating.

YARN
A continuous strand of textile fibers.  Yarn is the basic material which is made into fabric, thread, twine, or cable. There are two basic classes: spun yarn or continuous filament yarn.

YARN DYEING
Dyeing of yarn before weaving or knitting.