This is a bast fibre extracted from the Abaca plant, Musa textilis, also known as manilla hemp, an inedible species of banana native to the Philippines and grown solely in the Philippines, Equator and Costa Rica. A mature plant grows 10–30 stalks from a central root system, each one of these(...)
A Mediterranean plant, Acanthus spinosas with striking leaves and spikey purplish-white flowers that have been used for millennia in decoration. In architecture, best known as the carved ornament on the capital of the Corinthian column, which has in turn inspired woven and printed textile(...)
A manmade fibre derived from the salts of acetic acid, which has a slightly crunchy feel, drapes well and is silky in appearance.
The best acetate fabrics really do feel and handle just like silk and sometimes it is hard to tell the difference straightaway, however: silk will always feel(...)
- ACID ETCHING
A technique for creating textile surface pattern: acid is selectively applied to a woven fabric in order to dissolve certain fibres, thereby creating 'see through' or semi-sheer areas that create the pattern. Devore scarves are perhaps our most usual contact with acid etched fabrics.
A synthetic fibre that accepts and holds colours fast, and weaves into a fabric that is easy to wash, dries quickly and resists creases. Used singly or mixed in with others, acrylic textiles are suitable for any furnishings that need to be regularly machine-washed: commercially, for outside(...)
A collection of traditional visual symbols of the Asante tribe (northern Ghana, Africa). Initially printed onto traditional mourning cloths of black or russet woven cotton fabrics, to denote key characteristics of the deceased, these symbols carry philosophical meanings and abstract(...)
The indigo dyed cloths of the Nigerian Yoruba tribe. Translated, adire means tie and dye, the resist-dyeing technique found throughout the world in varying levels of complexity.
Adire cloths were always intended for everyday wear; despite following tradition and local ideas, the(...)
A traditional type of construction similar to cob made with mud bricks (which is what the word adobe originally means). These are essentially constructed from local materials – soil or clay mixed with sand, coarser organic materials such as dung and straw and water in varying proportions, and(...)
Agave sisalana is the plant used to make sisal, sometimes called sisal ‘hemp’, as hemp was for millenia the principle vegetal fibre.
Its natural habitat is in hot, desert-like climates. It grows readily across the globe from central tropical South America, Mexico, the western United(...)
1. Ageing - Naturally
We all want to age gracefully and we'd like our furnishings do so as well, becoming softer and more mellow with the rest of the house, perhaps needing to be patched up without actually wearing out.
As with clothing, it so happens that the only way to ensure that(...)
- AHIMSA SILK
Ahimsa is the Sanskrit word for the doctrine of non violence and peace subscribed to by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains, recently tagged to silk production, covering the old traditional methods and promoting a new way to produce silk whilst sparing the life of the silk worm.
In this natural(...)
Thought to derive from the Arabic, azrakh, meaning indigo, Ajrakh is an ancient resist hand block printing technique that primarily uses indigo in geometric designs on both sides of the fabric; this produces a richly coloured cloth, with no right or wrong face.
* Ajrakh is closely(...)
The studio of fashion and textile designer Gaurav Jai Gupta just outside Delhi. Gaurav trained at Chelsea College of Art and Design in London and is one of the outstanding young designers introducing us to really great contemporary Indian textiles.
Alabaster stone is a calcium rich calcite. Due to its distinctive colouring – creamy with light golden-ish brown striata – and being so soft it can easily be carved with a knife, it is the material of choice for either highly ornate/carved or very simple tombstones.
* Used to make carved(...)
A suede look-alike fabric that is extremely useful for outdoor furnishings, boats, children's areas–anywhere where cleaning and water damage is a problem. The microfibre used in manufacture is both soft and easy to maintain, it's stain-proof, machine-washable and dry-cleanable and comes in a(...)
- ALENÇON (POINT D')
See Point d'Alencon
A red pigment of the madder genus that is a key natural colour; along with black (iron filings and jaggery) blue (Iindigo) and yellow (turmeric and pomegranate) it forms the group of base pigments used individually or mixed in all traditional dying and hand printing (such as ajrakh and(...)
Describes a pattern that covers most of the ground cloth. Usually used for random patterns, e.g. rambling flowers and leaves, but equally relevant for any closely placed pattern or stylised prints.
See working with : All-over prints
- ALOE VERA
Called Kaththazhai in Tamil, this is a relatively new fibre, a few years old, processed and successfully woven by the Anakapathur Jute Weavers Association in Tamil Nadu, India, among other small-scale producers.
Woven for saris, this cloth is soft, lightweight, warm, lovely to the touch and(...)
Alpacas are a species of camelid, though more like a sheep than a camel and resembling a small Llama. They are native to the high plains of the Andes, found mostly in Peru and also in Chile.
* Alpaca fibres are not exported, only processed products are allowed to leave the country.(...)
Describes a style colloquially covering the expected way of building, decorating and furnishing a home in the Alps and by extension any mountain region–i.e. making use of local materials and respecting the indigenous and traditional ways, where craftsmanship was essential, there was no waste(...)
A silvery metal, the most abundant metallic element that can be mined from the earth; strong, flexible, impermeable, lightweight, capable of resisting corrosion and conducting heat, cost effective and recyclable, it is the second most used metal after steel and a key player in the development(...)
A fine, lightly milled and raised satin woven textile with a worsted warp and woolen weft, usually used as dress fabric.
A rich brownish yellow-gold fossilised tree resin known in jewellery, which translates well into homes. By candle, soft light and sunlight, amber looks like liquid gold. Pieces sometimes come with insects embedded–which you will either like or not. We've bought pieces of random sizes from(...)
A rabbit with a long, lustrous coat that weaves or knits into a soft cloth–light, warm and snuggly. Indigenous to Turkey and Asia Minor, angora rabbits are now farmed in India, France and Italy for their fleece. Technically hair, it is clipped as soon as it is long enough and either spun as(...)
- ANILINE DYE
Aniline is a clear, colourless oily liquid originally made by distilling indigo with potash, which as a chemical base yields many colours. Discovered in the mid 19thC it transformed the world of textile colour. It is now obtained from coal tar.
The Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing at Amber, just outside Jaipur, is a dazzling treasure trove of information, textiles and living techniques within a gem of a building. It is the result of the Braken-Singh familly’s passion for restoration, collecting and reviving traditional materials and(...)
A ruminant that looks like deer but is actually related to oxen and goats. They run fast so their hide is supple: soft enough to use for edgings and trimmings, but too soft for any durable flooring. Light brown to grey in colour, the antelope keeps its horns for life; these are made into small(...)
Textiles used in the medical world have long been treated with a special antibacterial process, now available for domestic furnishing fabrics if required by sensitive users.
Pilling, or the forming of little bobbles on a woollen surface, is always a problem with woollen clothing. The best furnishing fabrics for seating are prepared using an anti-pilling process to keep the fabric sleek and long lasting.
If there is a tendency to pill or catch, keep the cloth as(...)
Carbon fibre woven into fabric will prevent the conduction and production of static electricity–ask the question of the manufacturer if you are covering walls or screens close to electrical fields.
Most male deer, moose and elk have antlers, as do REINDEER and CARIBOU females, which fall off every spring, encouraged by the emerging new growth. Apart from some rather strange chairs, specific chandeliers, and perhaps the odd four-poster bed, antler horn is made into small accessory items:(...)
- ANTUNG SILK
A plain woven wild silk from Antung, in China, made from de-gummed tussar fibres, which produces a strong, subtly slubbed fabric with a very fine and soft texture. It is sometimes mixed with cotton or synthetic fibres. It is naturally a warm beige, is attractive in its own right, it(...)
- ANTWERP LACE
A 17thC century bobbin lace made in Antwerp, which then was mostly shipped to Spanish America. It originally featured a representation of the Annunciation; this design was lost over time, so that now the best-known Antwerp lace only includes the pots and vases that were once just a minor(...)
The French name for a needlework technique found across the world, in which one fabric is stitched over another - whether a badge onto a school blazer, a patch to cover a hole, or a complex patchwork: any applied work is technically appliqué.
Appliqué might be chosen for decorative(...)
- APPRO SAMPLES
Refers to any sample of fabric or carpet borrowed ‘on approval’. The assumption is that the sample is large enough to be of value, so that if not returned it is charged to you, or may be charged up front and credited on return. The purpose of an appro. sample is to allow you to decide its(...)
Meaning ‘in the Arab style’, this describes a form of artistic decoration consisting of elaborately beautiful surface designs of stylised intertwined flowers and foliage. Typical of early Islamic art and architectural surfaces, the harmonious geometry represents the organic rhythms and forms(...)
From the seafaring Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland, refers to the traditional warm knitwear, typically with a raised pattern in cable, diamond shapes and bobbles. It also refers to wool from the island's own sheep, which comes in the favoured bleached, natural tones or indigo dyed(...)
- AREA RUG
Any floor rug that defines a space. The shape and size of such rugs matters a million times more than their colour, weave, texture, provenance, memories or design. These evidently have their importance, but area rugs primarily set the space and are an intentional part of a design scheme,(...)
- ARGENTAN ( POINT D' )
A needle lace, thought to have been developed by Alençon lace workers in the mid 17thC and a favourite in the French court throughout the 18C. Often confused with Alencon lace . It is, however, distinguished by its fine hexagonal mesh ground, and in Argentan lace each side of every mesh was(...)
A knitting design from the plaid of the Campbell clanod Argyll in western Scotland. The overall design is of diamond or lozenge shapes, usually in two different colours, set within a solid, darker, ground. It is most commonly seen in golfing sweaters and men's socks, but can equally be(...)
A tool used in India for crewel work. It is as fine as a sewing needle with a crochet hook at the end.
See also Tambour, and Suzani.
Armoires are French wardrobes, free-standing pieces that were usually made for folded clothes and linen, i.e. with shelves rather than rails.
As with any wardrobe, they come in many sizes, depths and heights, woods, finishes and colours. There is often a central drawer for small items and(...)
- ARRAIOLOS RUG
Named after the Portuguese town that has been a rug making centre since the 17thC, producing carpets that are worked in cross - stitch using thick wool and sometimes silk into linen, jute or hemp canvases.
Early designs were traditionally worked in red, blue and yellow natural vegetal(...)
"Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible." Paul Klee
In homes, art can be the unifier, the prime mover, the focal point or the diversion; but it is always to please the eye and the senses, placed to draw you in and onwards.
ART - klosters
IMG 000047 + others ?
- ART DECO
A straighter lined, simpler, early 20th C style following on from Art Nouveau but carrying on the same new energy, innovation and invention from science, art, interior design, architecture, gardens, watches, clocks, electric light, railroad travel, vacuum cleaners, and cars.
- ART NOUVEAU
Translates as 'New Art', also called Jugendstil, meaning ‘modern style’ in Germany, 'Sezessionstil' in Austria, 'Stile Floreale' in Italy and 'Modernismo', or 'Modernista' in Spain. Mainly prevalent in the years 1890-1910 in Europe and the U.S, it sought to step away from historicism to create(...)
Or synthetic, refers to fibres that came into being after World War 2 following the ensuing scarcity of natural fibres.
These are natural fibres that have been chemically produced or altered and that stand alone as viscose, spun viscose, bemberg, cupro, among others…
Or they may(...)
- ARTIST CANVAS / ARTIST LINEN
The canvases used by artists are typically woven either from cotton or linen.
Cotton canvases are cheaper, more flexible and therefore easier to stretch tightly, so favoured by students for oil and acrylic painting, though not necessarily advisable for larger paintings.
For this purpose, simply defined as the magic that turns a flat piece of cloth into something quite different–just make it beautifully.
I love the story of Hubert de Givenchy who, when a client questioned the cost of a fascinator relative to its' few ingredients, just took it apart and said(...)
A West African tribe of Northern Ghana with a powerful, gold-rich kingdom seated in Kumasi. Known for their characteristic carved wooden ceremonial stools, a colourful history and their artistry in Kente cloth, the use of Adinkra symbols and powder glass beads.
A city in southern Russia, and also the Russian name for the karakul sheep originating from central Asia that live around the mouth of the Volga.
Their curly fleece is on the coarse side. It is distinctive and easily recognisable when used as rugs, or spun, knitted or woven into a naturally(...)
Originally from the Latin and middle French astula, astelier, astele, referring to wood craft/wood pile/splinter, it denotes an artist's or designer's studio and/or workroom/workshop.
Also called Oriental stitch, this is actually a combination of two stitches–a surface stitch and Bukharan couching. Unspun silk is used to cover the area in satin stitch, and then a plied silk thread is laid over at right angles and secured at each end, and at regular intervals with a(...)
A city in the Creuse department of France, world famous for its workshops and the particular style of wall, chair seat and floor tapestries that they have made since the 16thC, reaching a peak in the 17thC. These flat weave carpets are tapestries with a distinctive style, with soft and elegant(...)
- AUSTRIAN BLIND
There is often some confusion between Austrian blinds and festoon blinds and curtains. For the purposes of these projects, Austrian blinds are that which have some fullness in the width, causing the lower edge to fall in deep scallops. The depth of these scallops is determined by the amount of(...)
A non-governmental organisation working with communities throughout India from its base in the central Himalayas. Its first objective was technological, but since 1997 Avani has invested in making and supplying water and solar panels to rural communities. On realising that income levels of the(...)
A short, stubby tool with a rounded shank ending in a point of varying diameter, used with a hammer to punch holes in leather or suede.
See: bradawl ; punched leather
A traditional type of carpet making producing hard wearing flooring designed for intensive use, available in a variety of patterns and colours, from Axminster in Devon, England.
* Axminster and Wilton( although vary in method) are the carpet weaving techniques in which the wool for the(...)
- BACK CLOTH
Backing cloth serves to add body to fabric hangings and to protect the face materials; for upholstered items it protects the inner workings and materials from infestation and dust whilst covering the raw edges and the fixing method, providing a neat and beautifully(...)
The backing material protects and finishes the work, or gives support to a fine, antique or otherwise less stable textile. Sometimes referred to as the underlining or the back cloth, here the backing is always attached to the face cloth, but not(...)
A flattened metal thread used in embroidery and for plaited trimmings, introduced with the Mughals in the 16thC.
An old Persian spelling, spelt bagh in Vedic Sanskrit, it is a word common throughout Southern Asian languages, always with a reference to gardens; the city Baghdad translates as 'God's garden'.
God and his garden appear and are implicit in countless world textile designs and embroideries,(...)
A very fine felted fabric, always used for covering pool and card tables; it's also good for pin boards, and for fixing under table mats or the undersides of leather, stone, pottery, and glass–e.g. bowls, candle stands, pots and lamp bases, to stop them slipping on or marking the polished(...)
A canopy of richly ornamented brocades draped over an altar or shrine. The lovely translation of baldachine is "silk from Baghdad". Baldachine can be fixed in place with rings or a stitched pocket top, or made as loose panels to be slipped over the corner posts during religious(...)
- BALL GOWN
Ball gowns are special, made for glamour and perhaps for a single notable occasion. They need to look good, generous and luxuriously extravagant in time and in materials. A really beautiful gown should be re-used or displayed instead of hidden in a wardrobe; treat it as a special costume and(...)
Balusters are the supports for handrails or coping stones on exterior walls and steps. The French' balustre' is often used.
The elements of stone and metal are often redeployed to make table supports or lampstands.
The ornamental rail or coping with its supporting set of balusters. From the 17thC French word, 'balustre'.
A tropical plant with woody, usually hollow stems that is plentiful and inexpensive with over 1450 species , a versatile, fully sustainable product with an increasing global market, particularly in textiles.
* The largest bamboo forests are in India and China. In the right conditions,(...)
Not just a lovely fruit, but also an increasingly important vegetal fibre for eco-friendly and community aware textile markets. Along with bamboo, hemp, ramie, agave and kenaf, banana fibre’s potential is being discovered or re-discovered and should really come into its own in the next(...)
A controlled tie-dye technique particular to the Khatri community in Kutch and in communities in and around Jodphur, India for day-to-day scarves, marriage shawls and saris. Bandhani is also just as beautifully and skilfully executed in silks, cotton muslins, heavier homespun cottons as in(...)
A type of cloth with a matte finish, created with worsted yarn in a twill, hopsack, or broken rib weave. The woven cloth is finely textured with a slight pebbled effect and faint regular twill lines running in opposite directions. In the tailoring trade it is used for cummerbunds, and we've(...)
A traditional needle stitch worked canvas, that was fashionable in the mid 17thC, as commissioned pieces or as a personal hobby. Bargello is usually worked with tapestry wool, it doesn't particularly need a pattern and the mix of colours can be just as you like – which explains why some(...)
- BARK CLOTH
A smooth fabric made from the rough inner bark, or bast. The material is soaked and beaten until the material becomes soft and felted.
The woven cloth onto which print or decoration is added. It can be the mesh for a lace, canvas for needlepoint the woven cotton or linen for printing, or indeed anything for embroidery .
Any and every base cloth should be of the very best quality. As it very often doesn't show, there may be(...)
1. The weave of basket work is the inspiration behind basket woven textiles.
2. A woven container made for carrying, often with handles, from a variety of willows and rushes according to local environment and designated use. Basket-making is a globally occurring craft, particularly still in(...)
A simple, self-coloured weave, in which equal numbers of warp and weft threads are interlaced to form a crisscross pattern, i.e.: the first group of, say, 4 weft threads goes over and under groups of 4 warp threads for 2-3 rows, then the next group of weft threads will go over the warp threads(...)
- BAST FIBRE
Denotes fibres extracted from the phloem, the core of certain plants, for use in the textile industry. Linen, jute, hemp, ramie, bamboo, abaca, agave, aloe vera kenaf, sisal all fall into the bast fibre group.
A traditional wax resist dyeing technique, in which a pattern is created by the contrast between dyed and un-dyed areas. It is a method thought to have originated in Java, though is now a staple craft practised throughout the world, in Asia, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Japan, and thought to(...)
A fabric thought to have been named after Jean-Baptiste, an 18thC weaver from Cambrai, in northern France. Batiste is is a closely woven plain weave, usually made with cotton, occasionally more luxuriously in wool and linen,. that is fine, lightweight and soft. and is woven in the same way as(...)
A type of tape lace created in America in the late 1800s and named after the first Duke of Battenburg. Lengths of decoratively woven tapes are made ,first, then looped into the Battenburg design,held and linked with decorative stitches called bars or brides.
The time line and relationships(...)
Describes any material with a degree of resistance, spring, or bounce and thermal qualities used to pad out or thicken. Here are some of its common types and uses in interior furnishings:
1. Polyester wadding: broadly speaking is the easiest to use and the least expensive. It(...)
The American term for wadding.
See workroom materials.
The German word for cotton, often used on continental Europe.
Fabric woven with strongly contrasting horizontal stripes. The word comes from the French via Portuguese (bailadeira meaning 'dancing girl'), from the original Latin ballare, 'to dance'. It therefore holds an exotic association with beauty and the passion of dance.
Bayadère textile is(...)
Generations of communities have settled by and made their living from the sea, enjoying and fearing it in equal measure. Beach life and colours are deeply inspirational, whether it's flotsam and jetsam, children collecting small fish brought in on the tide, rainbow-coloured windbreaks, the(...)
- BEAUX ARTS
Translates as 'Fine Art', and meaning the classical decorative style, relating specifically to the time and feeling of the École des Beaux Arts in Paris in the late 19th/early 20th C.
There are many styles of beds, contemporary and historical reference to find or commission, and price brackets to choose from: brass, wrought iron, coloured metal, simple wood frames, heavily carved four posters, upholstered show wood, leather covered, fully upholstered, and the unusual-twigs,(...)
- BED COVER
A term covering a multitude of types, textiles, shapes and sizes of bed coverings that fit over the bedding. Bedcovers fall broadly into two groups: dust covers to protect bed linen during the daytime, and thicker covers to provide extra warmth as and when needed. Either type can be purely(...)
- BED HANGINGS
Bed hangings were originally tapestries or lengths of woven wool hung from all sides of a four-poster bed and across the top. These were both for privacy and to keep the bed warm , in times when rooms were multi purpose and homes were cold at night. These have since evolved from flat pieces of(...)
- BED LINEN
Bed linen is the generally accepted term to describe anything that goes onto a bed, i.e. over the frame and the mattress - sheets, mattress covers, pillows, duvet covers, comforters, blankets, bolster covers, mattress toppers and light bedcovers. In Europe at least, bed sheets were originally(...)
- BED VALANCE
The purpose is to cover any bed subframe which is unattractive in its own right.
* All divan bases need to be covered as they aren’t excactly exciting features on their own. Full frame beds with ends and side rails made of metal or wood are often complete in themselves, however if the(...)
The structure at the head end of the bed, which provides a barrier and protection for the head, keeping the pillow in place and making the bed feel more secure and cosy.
* Bedheads also provide a convenient back-rest to sit up against; they can be an integral part of the bed structure or(...)
Or Beduin, from the Arabic badawī– meaning 'those in the desert'; refers to the nomadic tribesmen of the Arabic, Jordanian and Syrian deserts, who are herdsmen that move with sheep, goats and camel trains. The colours and textures, shapes and forms of the Bedhouin lifestyle and textiles(...)
An alternative word for bed cover. Bedspread is a slightly old fashioned word but still often used and might be the more correct word when used to describe a fitted bedcover, one that is cut to fit the top of the bed with an attached skirt and then a shaped gusset to contain the(...)
The wax secreted by bees for structuring honeycombs, then refined and used for polish. This purely natural product should be used to feed all good wood and builds into a lovely patina. If you are in your house for the long haul, wax polishing new and old floor boards from the outset is much(...)
- BEETLE, BEETLING
A beetle is a heavy hand tool for punching or beating. Beetling is a process applied to woven linen, and to cotton fabrics made to resemble linen. It produces a hard, flat surface with a high lustre and makes the fabric less porous. The fabric is wetted and winds around an iron cylinder as it(...)
- BELLE ÉPOQUE
French for 'Beautiful Era', refers to a period of artistic and cultural refinement in France particularly, around the beginning of the 20th C and prior to WWI.
See Art Nouveau, Art deco, Edwardian
A viscose fibre, also called rayon, which falls between two stools: it is neither truly natural nor synthetic. Whilst the fibre is produced from natural plant cellulose, the method used to create useable fibres is chemical. The cellulose is dissolved in cuprammonium, and then extruded to make(...)
Also known as Banarasi and Vanarasi is the colourful and energetic spiritual capital of India, on the banks of the Ganges in Uttar Pradesh. It is the holiest of the seven sacred cities for Hindus and Jains and has played an important role in the development of Buddhism.
Silk weaving is the(...)
- BERLIN WOOL WORK
Produced commercially in Berlin in the early 19thC using wool that was for the first time coloured with aniline dies, producing characteristic strong, durable colours. These brightly coloured floral and geometric designs were worked for chair coverings, stools, cushions and for very ambitious(...)
Made to order. A bespoke item fits your personal needs–from a suit tailored to your dimensions to a chest of drawers designed and planned to accommodate your particular jewellery, collection, underwear; it could be a T-shirt, a full dressing room, an extra long chair or specially made lower or(...)
Also known as the cross grain, it refers to the 45° angle to the warp and the weft. Cutting 'on the bias', or ‘cutting on the cross' is to cut at a 45ºC angle to the grain of the fabric.
The bias is the most elastic part of the weave, so cutting and planning your project on the bias, or(...)
A decorative style (1815-1848) contemporaneous with English Regency and French Empire, which emerged in Germany, Austria, Scandinavia (known as Karl Johan style) and Northern Italy in the wake of the sieges accompanying the fall of the Napoleonic Empire. This period of economic deprivation and(...)
A technique and a material used to cover the raw edges of textiles. Strips of a decorative, self-coloured, toning or contrasting braid or fabric are stitched over an edge to protect it from fraying, as a discreet detail or as a design statement.
- BINDING POINT
In weaving, refers to the place at which a warp thread is held in place by the thread, or vice versa.
- BIRD’S EYE
A small diamond-shaped pattern created by a well-known and popular dobby weave–a self-patterned weave, where the warp and weft threads are manipulated by the Dobby machine to create small, integral, geometric patterns.
- BLACK VELVET
A drink made out of stout and champagne; also a dark brownish colour with seemingly unfathomable depth. A great colour for chic furnishings, ever sumptuous in deep pile and luxurious fibres such as velvet.
A fruit that grows in the wild, on field hedgerows. Blackberries are free and delicious; great to eat and for making a simple dye.
Blackberries are delicious raw and cooked in pies, jams, jellies and sorbets. Tradition has it that they must be picked before 26th September, but we've picked(...)
Warm snuggly throws and bedcovers, originally made from sheep's wool and pre-commercialisation, handmade in many traditional communities . Traditional blankets are very often woven in distinctive styles, and their origins can be traced back to an area and a people by their pattern, colour,(...)
- BLANKET COVER
1. Another name for the protective bedcover – one that is large enough to cover the bed and bedding – blankets/ or duvets, protect[ing] the bed when it's not in use, whether or not the bed has been made up, e.g. in a spare bedroom or when away on holiday. They are traditionally made in cotton(...)
The desire to whiten fabrics is time-honoured and, for much of the world, exposure to strong midday sunlight is the natural and cost-free way to achieve this. Where cotton is milled and prepared for printing, metres upon metres need to be daily bleached, an important factor in explaining where(...)
A style of window dressing, an alternative or addition to curtains.
Blinds come in many forms:
Slatted: these tend to be best for conservatories - inexpensive, easy to manage, can be opened or closed to let more or less light and air through; cut and made to fit any shape of window; managed(...)
- BLOCK PRINTING
A printing technique whereby patterns are transposed on fabric via carved printing blocks. It is the elevation of most basic printing technique, no different in principle to printing with the carved potatoes or lino cuts children are taught in primary school to artistry that creates the most(...)
Used to describe the currently fashionable very pale warm wood that has often been bleached to blonde, close to the hair colour. Blonde oak etc.
A technical expression for a fabric or tufted carpet that has been over-finished or over-glued on the back. It feels like cardboard; if you're unlucky enough to come across it, don't use it.
A straw, summer hat with a stiff brim and crown; it is a typical head gear for last century school uniforms ( how we hated wearing ours ! ) and closely associated with sailing and boating. Boaters typically have a striped petersham ribbon around the crown in the school or college colours.
A spool or a reel on which thread or yarn is wound, ready to use for lace making, weaving or stitching. And of the underside of machined stitching.
- BOBBIN LACE
Lace made using bobbins and worked over a lace pillow, onto which pins are pricked in the design formation. This is the most popular kind of lace, distinct from the less common needlepoint lace. England gained a worldwide reputation for the quality and fine-ness of bobbin lace produced in(...)
A type of tulle netting, a mechanised form of hand-made lace invented by Englishman John Heathcoat in 1806, and subsequently dubbed 'bobbin-net', in order to distinguish it from the hand-made 'pillow lace' made throughout Europe. On a par with hand-made lace net, this smooth, un-patterned(...)
A large, blunt, rounded or flat needle used to pull a tape, ribbon, tie, elastic, yarn or drawstring through eyelets, turned hems or pockets. The driving end is designed and fabricated to protect the fabric. Round needle bodkins have balls over what would be the point and the flat bodkins have(...)
- BODY WEAVE
Textiles and carpets were previously woven on much smaller and narrower looms than those commercially used today. The traditional 'body' width is 27"(approx. 70 cm). This is still the industry standard for stair runners, although wider widths are also woven to accommodate larger width(...)
When describing glass, or crystal, refers to an ancient artisan tradition from the Bohemian and Silesia regions (now the Czech Republic).
This high quality glass, achieved through using potash is renowned for its optical purity, refractive qualities and wide array of colours–factors that(...)
In furnishing terms refers to a long, narrow, cylindrical pillow or cushion.
There are two types of bolsters:
1. Traditionally lying across the full width of the head of a bed, either to support a softer downy head pillow, or as the only head rest and stuffed with anything from herbs to(...)
Or bombasine; a cloth made in the textile mills of Kidderminster in the 18thC, woven in a twill or corded pattern with a silk warp and wool worsted weft. It's now more commonly made of cotton and wool and when wool alone is referred to as wool bombazine.
Bombazine has a good drape and the(...)
Essentially a recycled waste material, often from antlers and horn.
* Typically hand carved by women and children of small communities around the globe, particularly in Africa and South America.
* Bone carved accessories are mostly designed for fashion but are equally good for both(...)
A textile edging is defined as a border when a plain or similar but not exactly comparable print or weave has been added onto, woven with, or printed alongside the main pattern (see printed border). A border can be subtle and inconspicuous,to make a simple and elegant finished edge or be(...)
- BORDERED CUSHION
A cushion with a textile edging either added or stitched within the finished piece.
* The simplest borders are automatically formed when a line of stitching is made within and parallel to the outside edges of a plain cushion cover.
* More complex borders are created by folding extra(...)
An adjective used to describe:
a) drawings that are technically accurate representations of all manner of flora and fauna, often annotated with the Latin names, genus and detailing. When attached to a printed fabric, it describes one that represents flora and fauna in a serious, clear and(...)
Also Botteh; the Indian name for a globally distinctive motif of Persian origin, variously described as the shape of pinecones, pears or droplets. Also known in the west as Paisley print or pattern, it appears in traditional textiles of communities living along the old trading routes.
- BOTTLE TOPS
The ultimate recycled material. The lids from bottles previously containing fizzy liquids and usually marked with a recognisable logo, can be linked together to make a contemporary 'chain mail' used for screens, as a fixed blind for privacy, or to hide an ugly view. This 'material' lets(...)
A type of weave distinguished by its looped surface, similar to towelling. The weave is made by using double wefts, one which weaves with a normal tension to create the cloth, the other loose enough to make a loop at each thread. Bouclé weave can be made on one surface only or on both, as per(...)
A romantic sounding French word that has been easily adopted worldwide, especially in the States, to describe a woman's bedroom, dressing room, or private sitting room. It is somewhere in which to be feminine, where furnishings can, and should be, that bit softer, fluffier, and frillier than(...)
- BOUND BUTTONHOLES
A true couture finish and a technique that translates well to luxury furnishings.
Buttonholes are many people's bête noire, a fear that can only overcome by so much practice that they become second nature… Well, these are even more difficult, but worth mastering. They're the ones on the(...)
From the French, meaning a bunch of flowers in every sense, whether it's an expensive, exotic arrangement from a specialist florist or a hand picked bunch from the garden. A bouquet pleases and enhances the senses, lifts the mood and is used for celebration.
* In furnishing fabrics,(...)
- BOUQUET GARNI
A bunch of herbs that work especially well together to infuse and impart balanced flavour and aroma. In cooking these usually include bay, thyme, rosemary and sage–and may be adapted to climate, location and purpose.
Here it describes the mix of herbs such as valerian, rosemary, lavender,(...)
1. An irregular slubbed yarn made usually of silk waste.
2. The knobbly, rustic fabric made from bourette yarn, dyed in natural colours or in the brights typical of silk. It’s available by the metre or as yarn to be knitted. It feels soft and comfortable and it was often used to weave(...)
From Provence, these are double-sided cotton bedcovers that are quilted by hand or machine in formal geometric or floral pattern. The inner layers are almost always white cotton or wool, and in the past would always have been recycled and locally sourced.
All white boutis are extremely(...)
- BOX CUSHION
More accurately boxed cushion, any cushion with the top and bottom held together by a border or gusset that forms the depth and the sides.
* Usually rectangular or square and usedfor seat and back cushions, say, though they can be of any shape and depth, and are often made to a template to(...)
A pointed tool–an awl– with a fine screw driver end used to start off a hole for screw fixing or drilling through.
See: bradawl; punched leather; gimlet
A flat trimming, or passementerie, used decoratively to frame or to edge fabrics, or functionally to cover the fixing methods such as the staples or tacks holding upholstered covers. Braid can be very narrow, at no more than a 3-4 millimetres wide to 8-12 centimetres wide, or more.
A heavy, densely textured woollen cloth, with a plain or twill weave and a subtly lustrous finish, woven for the garment industry and perfect for good solid interior furnishings.
Woolen broadcloth is naturally fire resistant, warm, and drapes well, making it perfect for curtains,(...)
Simply the name to describe wide width woven carpet, and the loom wide enough to weave them. Broadloom used to be and still is 12’ – 3.66 metres. Now any width, most commonly 13’6” ,15’ , 4m and 5m wide
Fabric from a wide loom- 2800 – 3000 m is just called wide width.
The most sumptuous cloth, a rich man's textile. The brocade style of weaving has a long history as a technique of tribal weavings – for example in Guatemala Maya weavers create brocades on backstrap looms.
* European production dates from around the 9th when Byzantium( Istanbul), produced(...)
A woven textile with continuous wefts, similar in appearance to brocade and its far more affordable, poor relation, being simpler to make. The silk wefts used to create the pattern are run with coarse linen ground wefts that make the body of the cloth. The silk threads stand out against the(...)
- BRODERIE ANGLAISE
Cotton lawn with a cut and applied design; an embroidery created by stitching around pierced patterns. Traditionally and still now it is almost always white.
Broderie anglaise is fresh and dainty for babies and children, for summer dresses and for nightwear. It can be easily dyed for(...)
1. Brushing brings threads that have been moved by pins or stitching into line and order, making surfaces smooth again; fringes and hanging tassels can be brushed to remove any crinkles or tangles.
* Cloth that is fluffy and deliberately raised on one or both sides has been mechanically(...)
- BRUSSELS WEAVE
Generally used to refer to loop pile carpets and bouclé in fabrics. With all Wilton weave carpets, the pile is woven into the construction as loops, and these are usually cut to create the pile. In Brussels weaves, however, the loops are left uncut. The resulting carpet is just as thick and(...)
1. A method of fastening a strap–such as used for belts and shoes, and in interiors for cushion closures and for curtain headings to loop over a pole as tabbed headings.
The buckle is fitted to one end of the strap and a central prong is left free to fit through a pierced hole in the other(...)
A plain weave cloth that can be very fine or coarse and made of cotton, linen, jute or hessian, used for stiffening pelmets, curtain headings, book binding and in cartonnage. Millinery buckram and some pelmet buckrams are impregnated with glue so that when it is wetted, the buckram softens and(...)
- BUCKS POINT
A Buckinghamshire light, fine, bobbin lace that was made in Buckinghamshire, and the surrounding counties of Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire, from 16C The style generally associated with Bucks point was established around the end of 18C.
It closely resembles the Belgian Mechlin and the(...)
A pale creamy brown colour, the colour of some un-dyed leather particularly chamois, that is used as a cleaning cloth in its natural state. Said to have been first used as a general colour name to describe a coat lining that was the same colour as un-dyed buffalo leather. At the rime this(...)
"An enchanted city that rivals the finest architecture of the Italian Renaissance."
(Fitzroy Maclean, Eastern Approaches)
Bukhara, originally meaning 'lucky place', is an elegant city in Uzbekistan, which historic centre is a Unesco world heritage site. It was a key trading point on the(...)
A twisted, un-cut fringe mostly used for the skirts of chairs and sofas; also for curtain, cushion and pelmet edgings. Bullion can be made to any depth, usually approx. 7- 30cms but commissioned to any size - the deepest we’ve used was 45cms for a deep pelmet, and weight. Being looped rather(...)
The heavy cotton interlining that is a fairly loosely woven plain or twill cloth brushed on both sides and used between curtain and linings.
See workroom materials and basic techniques
A festive decoration made up of series of flags or pennants fixed to a length of string or rope, which is hung from windows, balconies, and across streets on fiesta days all over the world, from trees and across pergolas and wires strung from anywhere and to anywhere convenient for a garden(...)
A north American term for hessian.
- BURN TEST
An extremely useful test if you are not quite sure what a fabric is. Knowing the inherent properties is important, especially if you're making something for a bedroom or a letting property. Unlike most quality tests, you can do this one yourself at home on a small test piece. Be careful. Hold(...)
- BUTTER MUSLIN
Thin loosely plain weave cotton – muslin - used traditionally for straining the last of the buttermilk from the butterfat in butter making. Muslin comes is several weights and qualities from very fine to ‘poor'. The finest will make the best furnishings; it’s always best to ask for samples of(...)
- BUTTON TUFTING
Button tufts are as old as the hills. A traditional method used to hold fillings of straw, hair, cotton, silk or wool within an outer bag, a boxed or bordered cushion.
* To button, a light twine is stitched through from the top to the bottom and back again at even intervals across the pad,(...)
- BUTTONHOLE STITCH
A specific stitch used to cover and neaten the raw edges of the cut buttonholes; there is an easier buttonhole stitch which is very similar to blanket stitch and a true buttonhole stitch which has an added twist at the top; the thread is formed into a loop as the needle returns to the(...)
Stitched or bound openings cut into the main fabric, to take buttons, toggles, or ties.
An upholstery technique that uses twine or threads to hold several layers of materials together. Buttons at either side help to prevent the threads cutting through the fabrics and sinking back into the upholstery. On the face side, decorative buttons are used and on the underside, flat and(...)
Buttons are fitted through eyelets, buttonholes, loops, cords and rouleaux, for closure and for decoration and come in all shapes and sizes. The range of designs and colours offer really fun options and broad design scope. Buttons can also be purely decorative, beneath the pleats or goblets of(...)
In ancient texts, this often refers to a 'white, fine linen', a fabric used to wrap Egyptian mummies to take them and their valued possessions onwards into the next world.
It also refers to the transparent, rainbow-shimmering filaments produced by the Pinna nobilis, the pen shell mollusc,(...)
A small hut in tropical countries with a thatched roof, sited close to water. The name has been taken to describe a portable dressing tent taken to the seaside.
- CABBAGE ROSE
A round full-petalled flower head, perfect copy for printing designs, especially suited to looser, contemporary styles.
- CABLE KNIT
A design that comes from the Aran tradition of knitting fishermen's sweaters and jumpers, in which each pattern created is a reflection of a reality–the twisted cable stitches resemble the ropes and cables on which a sea fisherman’s life and livelihood depends.
The patterns are made by(...)
The curved, elegant furniture leg typical of the Queen Anne period.
A distinguishing mark or seal; a term of distinction when applied to workmanship.
- CADMIUM YELLOW
One of the prime paint colours. It is produced by heating cadmium sulphide (found with zinc ore) with a hydrogen gas until it forms a powder. The shade can range from a cold lemon to a warm orange.
A luxurious silk originally produced in the Languedoc region of France, named after the river Cady, which flows from Cannigou to Villefranche-de-Conflent. Generally produced in 2-ply and occasionally in 3-ply, it is a couture textile that can be used in interiors...
A process at the end of cotton cloth manufacture that produces a smooth surface texture with a slight sheen. The woven cloth is pulled through very hot rollers that polish its surface. Until the middle of the 20thC, and certainly for formal wear, most shirt collars were made separately and(...)
- CALF SKIN
The hide of a calf made into a very soft leather. The small hides are used for gloves, cushions and lampshades, or when joined into larger pieces for curtains and domestic upholstery.
A coarse, plain weave cotton in cream or white with natural flecks. Named after the Indian town Calicut, where it was first produced. It is available in many widths and weights for a variety of uses–especially for inexpensive curtains, loose covers, bed drapes and garden awnings. To ensure the(...)
A general term for early printed fabrics with calico as the base cloth from India. The 17thC East India Companies brought these textiles back from the East Indian Coromandel Coast. They were lightweight, colourful and did not shrink or bleed when washed, thanks to printing and dyeing(...)
A monochromatic pattern, where the design is built up using two to three tones of the same colour as the ground cloth. Cameo and chiaroscuro are closely related techniques. grisaille is the term for layers of grey and cirage for yellows.
- CAMBRIAN TWEED
A rough tweed made from the wool of sheep from the mid-Welsh uplands. Sometimes dyed, but often left in their natural colourings and woven in plain weave, twill or hopsack for hardwearing clothes and bedcovers. The coarsest fibres are used for floor rugs.
A fabric that takes it’s name from Cambrai, a French town equidistant from Brussels and Paris, renowned for both weaving and lace making since the end of the 16thC. Made from linen or cotton, a closely woven plain weave white fabric finished on one side by calendering to create its distinctive(...)
- CAMEL BAGS
These are bags used by nomadic tribes and desert travellers in many different shapes and sizes to carry anything from water bottles to a complete tent. Camel bags are joyous multi-coloured textiles that, when we find them for sale, usually alongside rugs, we snap up to use for cushions and(...)
- CAMEL HAIR
Used for textiles, camel hair fibres are available in two qualities: the finer, inner down taken from the underside of the camel is used for home furnishings and textiles ,; the coarse outer hair which can be up to 37 cm (14.5”) long and drops during the moulting season over a period of 6-8(...)
The six extant members of the camelid group are the Bactrian camel, Arabian camel or dromedary, llama, alpaca, vicuna and guanaco, all of whom produce hair or fleece of more of less coarseness for clothing and furnishings.
The two Afro- Asian Camelus, the dromedary and the Bacterian camel,(...)
Cameline cloth of twill or basket woven camel hair was produced in Asia during the Middle Ages and made into outer garments–cloaks and capes, for export to Europe. The French made a similar cloth from goat hair with cotton or wool, known to be of lesser quality, goat hair being coarser than(...)
From the Arabic word khamlet, meaning woollen plush, it refers to a medieval Asian fabric of camel hair mixed with angora wool, of superior quality to the contemporaneous cameline. In Europe, where camel hair was not readily available, a similar textile was made using silk and wool.
- CAMPAIGN FURNITURE
Furniture made especially to be portable, for those working and living and moving around in another environment, such as in shipping, missionary and military families, to take on 'campaign' with them.
Campaign furniture will always pack down flat and quickly. It is well made and(...)
A highly pungent wood that deters moths; a piece of the wood–a shaving, a ball or essence drops–is an important element in herbal bags for wardrobes or drawers.
A many-branched candlestick or a stand that holds more than one candle–usually placed at the centre of the table, on side tables. Hung on the wall. they tend to be called sconces.
The first hanging light fitting, holding candles in a decorative framework, the pre-runner to the chandelier. All early antique chandeliers and most of those made before the early - mid 20C were originally made for candle light and have been adapted for electric light .
Candelier light is(...)
A weave that looks like rows of cigars. Both sides of the cloth have prominent ribs, rounded with definite grooves between. The weft threads are covered by numerous flushing warps.
A technique similar to that of cannele: against a canvas foundation, two warps, including a flushing warp, go over the main weft, producing a small and regular geometrical ribbed pattern. A weave also know as repp.
This technique is typically used to make a stronger cloth of any fibre; it(...)
An ornamental cloth hung above a throne or a bed, originally made of fabric held up by poles or draped softly between posts at the four corners of a bed (see baldachine, tester). Canopy now encompasses a much broader meaning, including any type of overhead covering.
Whilst bed canopies are(...)
A cloth that can be made of linen, hemp or cotton that has been coarsely or evenly woven. It is available in many varieties for many purposes, as unbleached, coarse cotton or more finely woven and dyed in strong colours, always as a base cloth for furnishings, arts and crafts.
Types of canvas(...)
An architectural feature, the highest member of a post or column, the one that both tops it off and spreads to support the load above. Capitals are always wider at the top than the bottom and visually important; even the simplest carry some kind of shaping and carved motif . Many are highly(...)
Capsicum are peppers - native to the Americas, cultivated world wired for culinary and medicinal purpose, of which the spiciest are chillies.
Also the name of a great little shop close to the centre of Amsterdam on the bridge at Oude Hoogstraat 1 that sell embroidered kurta and khaki(...)
A large welcoming place offering accommodation, protection, food and water, supplies and care to travellers, pilgrims and merchants and their animals, located along the trading routes from East to West; they were the reward for a hard day’s travelling. These oases of rest always grew up where(...)
The process prior to weaving, in which naturally unruly fibres are pulled though a comb to clean and straighten them, to align them neatly together, and to catch and remove very short lengths. After carding, all fibres are soft and ordered and ready to be spun.
Wool, even of the best(...)
Also known as the artichoke thistle, Cynara cardunculus is native to the western and central Mediterranean regions. The flower buds–artichokes–can be eaten braised, as can the stems. Artichoke oil pressed from the seeds is similar to sunflower oil in composition and in use.
Describes any colour scheme, textile design or general inspiration capturing the ever-blue skies, golden sands, palm trees, exotic flora and fauna, music, life and vibrancy of the Caribbean islands
A wild cousin of the reindeer found in North America.
A soft textile flooring that is wall-to-wall and secured down–unlike rugs, though many rugs, in particular Oriental or Persian rugs, are often referred to as carpets. When we say ‘to carpet the floor’ we mean to make it soft, not necessarily to cover it wall to wall.
Carpets came about(...)
- CARPET BAG
Bags made from carpeting material, usually from Oriental floor rugs. Camel bags are sometimes also referred to as carpet bags, as it is a term used for any bag made from woven carpet-type material to make luggage bags, overnight cases, shoppers or hand held bags.
- CARPET RUNNER
A length of carpet in widths suited to corridors and stair runs.
All flooring, whether made by hand or machine, used to be woven on narrow looms of approx. 70 cm in width, which were then seamed to make larger carpeting. On on its own or with a border these becomes a central runner for(...)
- CARRICKMACROSS LACE
An early Irish embroidered needle lace, almost a crochet, typically worked with loops and relatively thick yarns.
Handmade lace has been made in Carrickmacross since the1820s, the lace style inspired by Italian lace of the time. The technique is similar to applique, or cut work .
- CART COVER
Made in hand woven hemp, linen or jute, usually with typical woven stripes in indigo, madder or saffron by rural agricultural communities. Cart covers are about 2.5m square and make good tablecloths, curtaining and sofa covers–any damaged ones can be cut up for cushions. Ours come from middle(...)
The French inspired craft of covering cardboard with fabric using traditional book binding techniques, materials and tools to make boxes, trays, files, folders etc. Fabric can be applied with a light PVA glue or hand stitched.
I first found a cartonnage tray and a tiny box with drawers in(...)
An elliptical or oval shape with a horizontal line at the bottom found inscribed on Egyptian tombs encircling the King or Queen's name and pertinent symbols. In French a cartouche is a paper powder cartridge, thus named due to the similarity in shape.
In architecture it describes an oval(...)
The most common window style by far: windows open inwards or outwards from hinges set into either both or only one side of the frame.
Casement windows are extremely versatile and practical–they may be set close to the outer edge or right into the inner edge of the wall, into deep thick(...)
Known as pashmina in Kashmir, it refers to a textile made from the fine, soft, very light and warm hair combed from the underbellies of the Hyrcus goats living at high altitudes in the Himalayas–in Kashmir and Tibet–taken in late spring when they moult naturally. The average goat produces just(...)
Cassis is both a place and a drink: the place a French commune just east of Marseilles. And the drink, a liqueur more correctly Crème de Cassis is a sweet deeply red licquer made from blackcurrants. It would be neat if Crème de Cassis was made in Cassis, and the former incarnation ‘ratafia de(...)
The cassock ( or soutane) is the general term for the long, ankle length clerical gown worn by the priests of primarily the Catholic, Anglican, and Eastern Orthodox churches, a more elaborate version of the habit worn by the monastics
The word derives fropm the French casaque, meaning long(...)
- CAST IRON
An extremely durable and very heavy iron with a high carbon content, which renders it unsuitable for manipulating and therefore needs to be cast. It is used for big baths, doorknockers, fire backs, some finials and other ironmongery.
Any design formed to resemble the roof line of a castle–with turrets and battlements–but mostly an even up and down line resembling battlements.
Originally a large building fortified against attack. Conceptually, it represents the essence of building and of home: a safe haven created with thick solid walls, made comfortable with big fires and thick textiles.
At its best, 'castle' combines the serious business of building from the(...)
Every home needs cathedral spaces and womb spaces –open entertaining space and small family space. The cathedral, or entertaining space can be an area intentionally kept clear or with easy-to-move furnishings: a large hall or salon, a garden room, sitting room or drawing room. Here the(...)
- CAVALRY TWILL
Or tricotine. A strong cotton or wool worsted fabric made for heavyweight trousers but good in interiors for heavy, plain coloured curtains and robust upholstery. The triple twill weave makes it feel serious and workmanlike. Good for studies, libraries and dens.
- CEILING HEIGHT
Effectively the height of the walls of a room; critical in establishing the mood of a room- establishing the concept of 'cathedral and castle '.
Low ceilings endow a feeling of intimacy and very often of expectation–as they almost always come with a darkened room, a den of some sort. If you(...)
The joyous commemoration of an event.
In life, much work, many of the memorable events and the best photos stem from Occasion and Celebration. Furnishings play a great part in these events–from simple bunting in the streets to full-blown refurbishment deadlines for a special birthday, a(...)
- CELTIC CROSS
A Latin cross with four equal arms, and a solid ring at the centre.
Ceplokan , or Ceplok describes a category of patterns use in Indonesian batik: geometric forms and motifs of circles, squares, rectangles, ovals,, stars, and of animals. Each of the traditional motifs has a descriptive or designated name attached to it, usually that of the originator or the(...)
Cepuk cloths or hangings are one of the traditional ceremonial textiles from Bali and Indonesia. Cepuk is a weft ikat cloth made of cotton and coloured with natural dyes. Old, damaged and fragmented pieces make into lovely cushions or patched cushions
- CHAIN STITCH
A looped embroidery stitch used in crewel work that can be worked with a needle or a hook, held by hand or, for larger pieces, over a frame .
The thread is brought up at the beginning of the stitch and taken back down through the same hole, leaving a small loop on the surface. The(...)
- CHAIR SEATS
Chair seats are either upholstered–padded or sprung, drop-in or overstuffed, or left as plain wood, cane-worked or stretched fabric. Seat pads–squabs–sit upon hard surfaces to make life more comfortable.
The lasting chair styles are the ones that work–both in terms of looks and comfort.(...)
- CHAISE LONGUE
A sofa, or day bed, for lounging, with one arm to lean against that extends along part of the back. Deeply upholstered and often buttoned, comfortable enough without the need for separate cushions. Often chosen for bedrooms, boudoirs and large bathrooms, and feminine in interpretation.
A lightweight, plain weave fabric with a lightly brushed surface. Usually made of wool, can be cotton or rayon and can be printed.
A smooth lightweight, hardwearing, tightly woven plain weave fabric with a white weft through a coloured warp.
Though it is very often in mid–pale blue to resemble lightweight denim (hence the term 'blue collar', and also 'prison blues' in the States), it comes in any colour. It is a useful(...)
A soft suede leather from the chamois goat antelope from Europe and south-west Asia. Used as a cleaning cloth, especially to clean and polish glass and high gloss paintwork, it is now also made form sheep and goat skin.
A hanging ceiling light fitting holding candles or electric candle style bulbs–at least three, that can be as big and elaborate as maney can buy. In normal circumstances however, numbers are limited by size and space so something between 6 and 12 fittings is the most usual. Some are designed(...)
A merchant dealing in one specific product. Now commonly used only for sellers of candles and boat fittings. Ships' chandlers sell all manner of useful hooks, eyes, bars and clasps, cleats and ropes along with sailcloth and canvas, even deckchair and windbreak fabric.
- CHANTILLY LACE
An elaborate hand stitched bobbin lace, specific to the village Chantilly in France, floral and designed onto a hexagonal mesh ground, outlined with heavy silk thread.
- CHAPA SILK
Silk woven from the fibres of wild silk worms; the slubbed and unevenly spun yarns make a coarse weave, which, in its natural coloured state with the impurities left in, shows an array of tones from off white to brown. Chapa silk comes bleached and in colours from across the spectrum.
The Charka is a portable, hand cranked spinning wheel in varying sizes so that it can be worked on the floor or from a table top and which packs down efficiently so is easily transportable. Famously used by Mahatma Gandhi in his mission to free the country from over priced foreign goods, the(...)
A very fine satin silk, cotton or viscose woven fabric with a sheen on the right side and matte finish on the back; the very soft flowing drape makes the fabric especially suited to lingerie, and cut on the cross, or bias, it clings to the body. It is a difficult fabric to work as it is(...)
A soft silk or acetate fabric mostly used for ties, woven with alternate matte and satin finish stripes within a diagonal rib. Ties are always cut on the bias with a supported interfacing, so that they knot and hang well.
Chateau translates directly as castle, but in France the word describes any house or estate in the country of any substance, other than fortified castles - these are chateau fort. In English language and understanding Chateaux are the manor houses, stately homes, and palaces, the country(...)
A woven or printed design made up of squares of alternating colours. Checked fabrics can appear modern, yet are as old as the hills, or at least as old as the weaving of wool from sheep grazing there. Home weavers are endlessly inventive, looking for new ideas; once they created stripes from(...)
A fine, open weave cotton muslin used for wrapping cheeses to keep them clean whilst allowing air circulation in moist and even dank conditions. The fabric becomes slightly crinkled when not stretched, and like all muslin is very responsive to humidity.
Inexpensive and attractive, it is(...)
From the French word for caterpillar, refers to either a furry yarn used in woven textiles and embroidery. In the 18thC, chenille yarn was made from a gauze woven on a Leno loom, which was then cut into strips.
The yarn is now made by twisting very short lengths of thread between two long(...)
Patterned with squares in monotone, dual tone, multicoloured or multi textured, or with directional change to indicate the strength of grain or character of the pattern.
From the second order of angels, often depicted as a chubby small child, and very often in carvings and moulded accessories. As decorative accessories and as printed motifs cherubs do go in and out of fashion a bit, so if you’re a fan of cherubs, there will be times when you can pick up(...)
A standard design name for a particular sofa–or chair–with low sides and back of the same height, distinctively rounded. The seats are sprung and may also be buttoned, as may the inside of the arms and back.
The chesterfield is self-sufficient, requiring no loose cushions, as the upholstery(...)
A white-faced black sheep, from the Cheviot hills between England and Scotland, giving a rough wool fleece. Cloth woven or knitted from Cheviot yarn is rustic in appearance, uneven in texture and comfortable rather than elegant. Good for blankets and loose fitting garments.
A 'V' shape. A broken twill weave produces a chevron effect, creating V shapes across the width of the fabric.
An artist's term for the distribution of light and shade in a painting, also the term for a monochromatic work, such as grisellie and cir age.
A transparent and sheer fabric made with twisted yarns, it is very strong despite its translucent appearance. The first word that comes to mind is diaphanous, and it reminds me of the sheer, floral printed tea dresses of the 1920's–full skirted or heavily beaded for elegantly swinging, swaying(...)
A hairstyle that consists of a large, soft knot at the back or top of the head. I've used the term for similar looking, full, silky knots on the front of cushions, or pelmets....
A type of embroidery from Lucknow, the city of the Persian-loving Nawabs, and the Constantinople of India, where cultures meet. A centre of Hindu and Urdu literature, Lucknow has always been a multicultural city with beautiful gardens, poetry, music and fine cuisine. It is the centre for(...)
For 8, 000 years Europe has taken inspiration from Chinese textile, printing and ceramics design, through the Silk Route trade linking China with east, south and west Asia, north and east Africa and Europe. With one of the oldest civilizations in the world, the culture and art of this vast(...)
A silk taffeta with a misty pattern as the result of using warp yarns that were printed before weaving. Silk chiné was developed principally in Lyon, in France, and became highly popular in the 18thC French court and beyond; in England it was referred to as warp printed taffeta. It was(...)
Firm cotton fabric of twill plain weave, woven from combed mercerised yarns–used for summer clothing and eminently suitable for upholstery and loose covers in hard wearing rooms.
An 18th C decorative style inspired by Chinese styles, techniques and artefacts such as spears, chinaware and lacquer ware, which figured prominently in the Regency style.
At this time, the trend for all things Chinese became so popular that imported goods failed to meet the demand of(...)
Originally a cotton fabric decorated with Indian and Chinese traditional designs using flowers and birds, and with a characteristic sheen that repels dirt. Now mostly used to describe any patterned or plain glazed fabric.
The term derives from Hindi and referred to shiny CALICO cloth from(...)
The saturation of a colour; the attribute that allows us to differentiate between a heavily saturated colour such as pure red (deep) and a lightly saturated one - soft pink(pale).
The scale of colours–say from light pink to dark red; also as characterised by colour.
Or chromium; a hard, grey metallic element used in steel alloy and in electroplating for corrosion resistance and to harden the surface. Used in tanning. Plumbing fittings, both sub surface and for appearance above surface, are in polished, brushed or matt chrome.
Both chutka and thulma are handwoven lengths of cloth from the Bhutai people of the Chindwara district in the Himalayas–one of the artisan communities working with Avani. The lengths are woven on narrow looms, which are fine for throws and cushions, and sewn together to make widths for(...)
A monochromatic colour scheme overlaid in tones of yellows only. Similar to grisaille, bruneil and vermeil.
The boundary of a curved geometric figure, especially a circle. Found by using Pi or tau
A heated wax finish that makes a fabric surface smooth and leaves it with a slight sheen.
- CISELÉ VELVET
A luxurious type of velvet with a sculpted surface created by employing both uncut loop pile and tufted cut pile to create the pattern. The different textures and heights of the pile allow the fibres to reflect light back from all angles, so that the surface changes constantly with the quality(...)
The essential oil taken from the blue-green, lemon scented leaves of the tropical Asian grass family Cymbopogon–and also bamboo A natural, non-toxic insecticide, just a few drops of oil in the herbal wardrobe bags or spotted onto any little-used areas will do the job. Apparently it is also(...)
A type of housing construction in which horizontally overlapping long, thin boards with one the lower side thicker than the top are used to cover outer walls, thus defying wind and rain. The boards are often in cedar, which ages to a silver grey, or in soft wood typically painted in off-white,(...)
A fastening, anything that holds two things together in one place, for example, a hook or a catch. For interiors, clasps from all walks of life can make an appearance from gate hooks that hold screens back to walls, to broaches, cuff links and earrings that close or decorate accessories.
- CLASSICAL ORDERS
The Classical architectural orders were first developed by the ancient Greeks,who had three –Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. The Romans added a further two – Tuscan at the lower end and Composite at the higher.
These crop up time and again in buildings, prints and discussions relating to scale(...)
A fitting with two prongs used for securing cords, ropes or strings, which are wound around in a figure-of-eight rhythm to secure; available from furnishings wholesalers or ships' chandlers.
From the French cloisonner, to divide into compartments, the Latin claudere, to close, closely related to cloister. It is a decorative technique worked on metal–the design is formed by wire and the shape filled in with coloured enamels. Cloisonné jewellery used as clasps or buttons looks very(...)
A fabric with an irregularly raised or embossed surface, featuring symmetrical and asymmetrical gauffrage or relief patterns. This fabric can be made with natural cotton silk, or synthetic yarns. The characteristic surface created by specific weaves, or through mechanical or chemical finishing.
A general and descriptive word for any fabric made from fibres by weaving, knitting, felting or needlework any fibre, which is the basis for further work and embellishment. It can also be referred to as material or textile. Related terms are: a cloth cap, a dish cloth, a tea cloth, a table(...)
- CLOTH OF GOLD
A fabric woven from silk threads with gold interspersed, and term of luxury
The 'Field of Cloth of Gold' has its origins in two meetings of the Kings of France and England in 1396 and later in 1520 on the same site near Ardres, Northern France. The sheer luxury and richness of the(...)
The dried unopened buds of the Syzygium aromaticum, a sub tropical evergreen myrtle which is a pungent and fragrant spice. Use in wardrobe and bath bags for its aromatic quality and as wonderful smelling moth deterrent - certainly in comparison with the chemically produced options.
A deep greenish blue containing cobalt aluminate, which comes from silver ore.
- COCKLE SHELL
The shell of the cockle which is the common name for a group of small edible saltwater shellfish - clams. Cockles bury themselves into the sand, opening up to feed from the plankton in the water ; they can be collected for food at low tide.
Cockle shells in many sizes and in broken shards(...)
The beautiful soft, just off white of the coconut flesh is often used to inspire the right white and to describe paint, fabric and threads which we’d like to think match it.
The outer shell too, is inspirational with it's earthiness and subtle variations of texture and tone.
- COCONUT MATTING
- COCONUT SHELL
The hard outer shell of coconuts is used to make buttons, belt buckles and other small closures; left in their natural state, polished or with a ceramic-like finish the uneven surface grins through the finish, keeping its feet on the ground as a simple, natural, reclaimed, and re-used(...)
Roasted cocoa beans look and smell enticing; the colour of coffee, from café au lait to chocolate to café noir is warm and welcoming.
In our workrooms we use coffee in grain form and liquid coffee/chicory essence to dye cloth and trimmings. It imparts a slightly pinky, aged tone with a(...)
- COFFEE SACKS
Jute and hessian sacks transport coffee beans all over the world. These are stamped with a pictorial or written reference to the place and sometimes the farm of origin. Inexpensive and readily available, the softer and more tightly woven sacks make up into interesting furnishings–bags,(...)
La Manufacture Cogolin is a French rug and carpet making workshop founded in 1924, which specialises in high-quality hand-weaving techniques and innovative designs in silk, cotton, raffia, linen and wool, with distinctive material, colour and texture combinations. It was particularly active(...)
An extremely hardwearing and very strong fibre derived from the husk of the coconut, the fruit of the coconut palm, Cocos nucifera.
Each palm tree produces a continuous, yearly crop of 50-100 fruits. Their shells are crushed to extract the coir, which is the fibrous outer part of the(...)
- COLLAR LINEN
A woven interfacing support for coat and jacket collars.
An architectural and furnishing style from the late 15th-20thC when European nation states settled in and thereby colonised other countries. The British, French, Dutch, Swedish and Danish empires brought their own styles and experiences into contact with local materials and labour. In the UK(...)
The original musical meaning, denoting an elaborate melody, is transferred to apply to the rhythm and musicality of colours, the symphony of tones, hues and tints, shadow and light that delight the eye.
Colour is the result of light reflecting off a solid substance; colours brighten in sunlight and fade away in shadow. How light works is a question that has kept physicians on their toes for centuries but for our purposes it’s about how we use colour and what can work with what, the effect of(...)
- COLOUR FAST
Describes any fabric that has been dyed, laundered and/or treated so that the colours won't run when wet. All fabrics labelled washable are colour fast up to the temperature advised on the label.
- COLOUR WASH
Brushed paint forming a thin layer over the previous coat - the new layer is uneven, so the effect created is tonal, the brush marks are left to show.
From white washing, when lime was painted - brushed over - the adobe, cob or lime plaster beneath, both to cover and to put off bugs and(...)
Colours are identifiers and locators–personal, national and representational–when used as flags, ties, badges, medals, team and racing colours, uniforms, logos and stripes. They can be internationally recognisable: the yellow shirt of the Tour de France, Oxford Blues. Colours are even present(...)
In interior furnishings, describes the mixing of more than one type of fabric: checks in combination with chintz, stripes and checks, patterns and weaves, antique and new patchworks, etc.
Combination print and weave collections are often designed by the fabric houses. These work well together(...)
1. A process, together with carding to straighten fibres before spinning.
2. Keep a very sift comb and another wide toothed comb in your workroom and / or your working kit to keep trimmings, fringes and tassels in line especially after fitting, once the protective covering or chain stitch(...)
It should go without saying that comfort is the uppermost aim and ideal for all design process. If a home isn't comfortable, the consequent unhappiness will spread like ripples. There must be comfortable sofas and rooms, beds and bedrooms, personal space and easy living spaces, where the most(...)
Complementary colours are those that sit opposite each other on the colour wheel. In creating colour schemes, these seemingly opposing elements are required for the tension that makes the picture complete. Like yin and yang, masculine and feminine, opposites are complementary and as vital for(...)
- COMPOSITE ORDER
One of the five Classical orders, and along with Tuscan added by the Romans to the original Greek Doric, Ionic and Corinthian.
The Composite column was developed to sit at the top end of the scale along with the simple Tuscan order at the bottom end. The column is slender and fluted,(...)
The process of creation: the order, rhythm and discipline by which anything that is made is made. In textile making the construction of a piece of cloth depends on the twin building blocks of warp and weft to create the weave.
Essentially, the theory of knowledge and specifically how people learn; that human beings generate their own knowledge, meaning and therefore further ideas from their experiences and interactions.....
As we all know, contrast is something different, unusual, sometimes the opposite of what we expect. In furnishings, contrast creates the all-important tension that brings life and energy.
* Just a tiny line of orange across its partner yellow or a splash of turquoise against its close(...)
- COPPER WIRE
In embroidery and with beading, copper wire adds a lustre as it is an element that catches the light unexpectedly; copper wire can also be knitted to make an edging or a collar.
A thin rope made of the twisted strands of any fibre; also woven or twisted strands of silk used to make ties, to hold cushions and seat covers to the chair and stool legs, and as detailed edging around loose and upholstered furnishing.
To cord something is to apply the cord around the edge(...)
- CORDED QUILTING
See Italian Qulting and Trapunto.
A strong cotton fabric woven to form vertical ribs by floating extra yarn across, which is then cut to make the pile. Use for traditional upholstery. Press on a velvet pin board whilst still damp. As ribs may be woven from a very fine needlecord to wide jumbo cord, the fabric is versatile and(...)
One of the five Classical orders; the third chronologically, the Corinthian column is slender and fluted, topped with a deep capital carved with four scrolls and four rows of outward looking acanthus leaves
A machine chain stitched embroidery, named after the inventor, which is worked over very sheer voiles.
The Italian word for ledge, describing any horizontal decorative moulding that defines the top of any architectural feature – especially doors, windows, walls and buildings. External cornices were designed to throw rainwater free of the walls, and in some architectural styles the cornice and(...)
Translates from the Latin cornu copiae as the Horn of Plenty. A symbol of great abundance and nourishment, depicted in printing and painting as a horn overflowing with fruit, vegetables and flowers. From classical antiquity, and seen throughout western art, today it is closely associated with(...)
In bed design, any round, oval or crescent shape smaller than a half tester, which sits on or just below the ceiling, over the centre, or the head end of the bed.
Floor length fabric drapes are hooked or pinned from the inside of the corona so that they drape around the bed.- to the head(...)
A crown-like structure that holds draperies above the centre of the bed, to fall to each corner, usually caught to the top of each corner post, where they are bunched up, tied up or left to hang loose.
If the drapes hanging from a small central coronet are too heavy they will drag on the(...)
A small bunch of flowers pinned to a dress or jacket collar to signify celebration–use to decorate cushions and lampshades, pelmets and beds.
Clothes of any period or nationality, day wear and evening wear, couture or homespun. Costume is endlessly inspirational; look at any dress: you will find at least one new idea from the colours, materials and techniques.
A small dwelling, originally built to be close to the workplace, often by the employers, sometimes by the occupants with the help of friends and family. The homes of fishermen, miners, mill workers, farmhands, woodsmen and crofters, are all cottages in essence even when they don’t exactly(...)
A vegetal fibre, by far and away the world's most versatile and important textile fibre–it has made and broken nations and caused not a few political furores. Cotton is thought to have originally spread from the Indus and Bengal regions to Persia, the Arab world and onwards into Europe;(...)
- COTTON - EGYPTIAN
See Egyptian cotton.
- COTTON DUCK
An off-white, tightly woven canvas that comes in various and useful widths and weights, which can be bleached, dyed, painted on and generally made into any type of interior furnishings. Wholesalers of sailing or art suppliers keep it in stock: it's inexpensive and often the answer to an(...)
- COTTON FELT
A misnomer really as cotton can’t be felted in the true sense of the word.
In upholstery terms, cotton felt is a narrow width roll of uncompressed carded cotton, or cotton and wool mix, approx. 25mm thick and sandwiched between thin paper layers.
Cotton felt is only used in traditional(...)
- COTTON FLEECE
Any cotton fabric that has been brushed on one or both sides to bring up the pile, giving it insulating properties and a soft finish.
Bump, the heavy cotton interlining used between curtain and linings, is a type of cotton fleece. The cloth is a fairly loosely woven plain or twill, which is(...)
- COTTON MUSLIN
- COTTON SHANTUNG
The cotton version of silk shantung, a plain weave with slubbed yarns resembling the uneven wild silk shantung. Soft and with an easy drape, it lacks in sheen but is a good substitute at windows as it is more colour fast than silks.
- COTTON- SWISS
See Swiss cotton.
See brushed cotton.
Another word for sofa, or settee–a seating arrangement with upholstered back and arms for more than one person.
An embroidery technique that can be used either to create an outline or to fill in.
For outline couching one or more lengths of yarn or thread are laid across the work following the outline, these are held in place with small stitches made across the threads at regular intervals to secure(...)
An alternative word for bedcover, bedspread or coverlet .
- COUNTRY HOUSE
A country house’s main distinction–whatever its size–is that it derives its income from its land, whereas city houses provide accommodation for those whose income and work comes from an outside source, whether that is from city business or from the country estate.
Large country houses and(...)
A trademark of Courtaulds for their new acrylic fabric used for bedcovers, carpets, blankets. It is both crease resistant and moth proof.
A very tightly woven fabric used for corsets – the weave is tight enough to prevent boning breaking through. In the same manner it can be used to make fixed panelled linings for lampshade covers. The density of the cloth will block more light than a finer crepe lining, but in some cases the(...)
Every haute couture house also markets prêt-à-porter collections, which, being less quality and technical expertise and not bespoke, are often called couture in deference to the bespoke nature of haute couture.
Haute Couture is monitored by the Chambre syndical de la haute couture - the(...)
From the French couvrir, to cover, and lit, for bed. A lightweight cotton bedcover that can be woven, quilted or patch worked–an alternative word , but more targeted, for bedcover, bedspread, counterpane. Something we see in the period plays, films and television dramas echoing circa 18th(...)
A twill weave in cotton, wool or worsted, used for top coats and especially for hunting and shooting wear. It’s often teflon coated for highly effective waterproofing, and in the lighter weight used for suiting and raincoats.
The warp and weft are often in slightly different tones that give(...)
Treated and turned into leather, cowhide is used for everything from shoes to car interiors, and including big upholstery items, curtains and accessories. Different surface finishes and varying depths make it a very versatile material;
Single cow skins make good sized and hardwearing floor(...)
Refers to a black band worn around the upper arm as a sign of mourning. Also an Anglicised version of crêpe.
Adjective–craquelé. A finishing technique that in painted decoration creates fine lines in the surface of paint to mimic age. In textiles, the surface of cloth goes through a crimping process that can either simulate age or tree bark.
From the Russian, krashenina, meaning ‘dyed coarse linen’– crash is a plain weave made in various weights and used primarily for book binding, also for flat towelling and roller or roman blinds.
Low cost, ready availability and bright colouring made linen crash popular for home made(...)
- CREASE RESISTANT
Fabrics that are either treated with a chemical finish or are woven with a fibre that is naturally springy–such as wool.
A style of shaped edging inspired by the scalloped margins of leaves.
The openings in the top of a battlement wall, originally to allow archers to take arm. Use as inspiration for the edgings of blinds and any other appropriate furnishings.
A fabric woven with a fine ridged, crinkly surface, giving it a slight stretch. There are two crepe origins from Chinese silk - Canton and Oriental. The canton is soft from which comes crepe de chine and the Oriental, is the harder. They vary in weight depending on the yarn ply and density of(...)
- CRÊPE DE CHINE
A soft, sheer plain weave crêpe, originally in silk , but also now in wool or polyester with a soft hand, lustrous finish and which is washable–used for bed hangings, cushions, lampshades and dressing tables.
Crepe de chine – Chinese crepe - is the softest and lightest of the Canton and(...)
- CRÊPE GEORGETTE
Similar to georgette, with a crêpe surface: sheer, with a dull finish.
A gossamer-like silk organdy with a loose weave, used extensively in textile restoration. The ultrafine material is carefully laid over delicate works to prevent further wear on fine furnishings–unnoticeable until you get very close. We've used it over delicate wall hangings and very early,(...)
A gauze - like cloth with a wrinkled surface created by alternating the S and Z shapes as the weft interlocks with the warp. The surface appearance varies with the tightness of the weave and the yarn used, varying from slightly puckered and crinkled to a soft mossy texture. There are many(...)
The shape of the first, waxing, and last quarter, waning, of the phases of the moon. It is a motif used extensively in print, weaves and craftsmanship.
Figuring in traditional artistry throughout the world, in Hindu and Christian iconography for example, it is particularly associated with(...)
A light to medium weight cotton that is always floral printed, with light or definite coloured backgrounds. So named after the small Normandy village of Creton, which was renowned for its textile industry in the 16thC, cretonne reminds me of rural French hotels and furniture, and of rural(...)
- CREWEL WORK
An ancient embroidery technique that creates a continuous chain stitch on the top with small straight stitches beneath, and is typically embroidered in silk or wool onto cotton or wool. It can be worked with the thread on top of the work using crewel needles, or in The Persian manner with a(...)
- CRICKET WHITES
The traditional appellation for the clothes worn by cricketers. The clothes are, in the event, a mixture of off-whites with some identifying club stripes or marks, and an inspiration for white schemes, where textures and tones are more sympathetic than a single colour or material. The ideal of(...)
Trade mark for a synthetic, crease resistant material similar to Terylene–popular in the late sixties and early seventies, which still turns up in vintage textile collections. The interest and the popularity, apart form the crease free finish, was that crimple clothes when washed were almost(...)
A loosely woven, stiff cotton fabric similar to cheesecloth, used for interfacing and for stiffening. Originally made of horsehair and linen, crinoline was used as an underskirt with wooden hoops stitched in, to hold long skirts out around it, creating the signature shaped skirts and dresses(...)
A technique for creating a wool or cotton fabric. A cross between knitting and lace making, crochet uses a hooked tool to loop and interlace knitting wool, embroidery or lace making threads. Hand knitted and crochet are difficult to manage en masse, so are usually worked for small items, such(...)
There are a few easy definitions for cross, which holds quite diverse meanings.
1. To cut on the cross, the bias, is to cut at 45o to the grain of the textile.
By cutting on the cross, the 'straight of grain' is transferred from the strict, formal warp thread to the very flexible and(...)
- CROSS STITCH
A needlepoint and embroidery stitch formed by making two stitches of equal length that cross each other at right angles in the centre. These can be formed within a needlepoint canvas, counted stitch work or in less organised surface embroidery.
- CROSS WEAVE
Another name for twill weave–the surface runs diagonally across the fabric, but not necessarily at 45 degrees.
- CRUSHED VELVET
Velvet that as been squashed - stamped or rolled to force the pile in different directions: this means the surface of crushed velvet is always uneven, and the light reflects off it at all angles; there is no special nap. Crushed velvet has all of the qualities of non crushed velvet, just(...)
A wide, usually pleated sash worn around the waist traditionally for male formal, and celebration dress, for which the fabrics most often used for cummerbunds are barathea, grosgrain or satin.
As a fashion, interiors and cultural item the idea of cummerbund can cross all boundaries and(...)
In architecture refers to a small dome-like construction on the top of a building, or crowning another dome, used as a look out, or to admit light and air, whilst keeping out rain.
Cupro is a relatively new fabric, similar to Tencel, derived from the residue of cotton fibres:
a) similar to rayon in feel, but with the breathing and temperature regulating qualities of cotton
b) as a silk substitute, cupro has the ability to drape beautifully with the bonus that it(...)
Fabric drapes for windows or beds that play a key role in the sound and decoration of a room.
Curtains may be made from a vast choice of lightweight to heavy weight fabrics. Plain coloured curtains and sheers can take fullness of up to three times the width of the window, whilst curtaining(...)
- CURTAIN RODS / POLES
Drapery rods in the US
The pole from which a curtain is hung.
There are many kinds of curtain poles, in many styles and materials. The most common type is straight and made of wood or metal. Curved or bent poles are available for recessed and rounded windows, and will need to be made to(...)
Or pillows in the U.S.
A pad or bag filled with soft stuffing, used as a comfortable support, generally for back, head or for seating; it is a most essential home accessory for comfort and decoration.
Cushions can be bought in many standard shapes and sizes and made in any shape or size;(...)
The cut refers to either and both :
1. the cut length of fabric is the total amount you need for your complete project and which is cut by the seller from a full or part roll of their stock. This cut is the total of all the cuts needed to make the work (b)
2. each cut length of curtain(...)
- CUT WORK
1. A lace type
2. Any design made by cutting into the fabric - such as piercing, picot edging...
1. A cutting is a small piece of fabric - a sample really, but usually just a sliver, usually smaller than we'd expect a sample to be- just enough to see the texture and colour - but always taken from the intended purchase piece, or the piece available.
2. A cutting can also be the stock(...)
- CUTTING ON THE CROSS / BIAS
1. The cross, or the bias is the line at 45 degrees to the horizontal grain.
2. Cutting and planning your project on the cross, or the bias, increases its stretch and softens the drape. Cross cut fabric has the ability to form itself easily to any shape;lightly pre - stretched piping or(...)
- CUTTING ROOM
The cutting room is very often the workroom as well, and the table dual purpose but when space is available then an area reserved for cutting is preferable.
1. A large table the width of the fabric or a little more, with or without a measuring guide set into the side, for(...)
A closure made of two D-shaped rings, whereby a length of material loops through one ring and then reverses back through the other ring. It can be used to hold one end of a strap or a length of material to another, or in pairs to hold a belt or strapping fast.
Dacron is the trade name for a terylene product that in the UK, it refers to polyester wadding used to cover foam and soften harder under materials, especially for upholstery and seat cushions. This is called batting in the USA.
The lower part of a room wall, especially when denoted either by full panelling or a planted rail - which being at the top of the dado area is known as the dado rail, or chair rail. Traditional panelled walls show the division of the dado area at approx. one third of the room height. However,(...)
This most exquisite of textiles is named after one of the world's most beautiful cities, Damascus. The technique originated in Eastern Asia, and found its way to Europe through the Silk Route, where production was established by the 15thC. It is traditionally associated with medieval(...)
- DAMASK ROSE
Refers to the 16thC Rosa damascena and any fragrant rose that is used to make the Attar of Roses perfume.
DNA analysis has recently established that the damask rose evolved as the natural double-crossing of three species: the early Rosa gallica with the musk rose Rosa moschata and then with(...)
Refers to a mercerized cotton or plain yarn weave that is matte and shiny, tone-on-tone white, and mostly used for household linen. It 's woven in cotton or linen in imitation of the matte and shiny quality typical of Damask that has been very popular since the(...)
The deep purple-red coloured skin of the classic Victoria plum, or even the damson : great for winter rooms, studies and library walls, and to hang almost any oil paintings against.
Damson is on the blue side of red, along with aubergine and works particularly well with gilding and with(...)
A stitch used primarily for mending. The tiny stitches are in neat rows of crossings and inter-weavings covering a hole or tear - replicating the original weave as closely as possible
Also an important lace making stitch to create pattern between the open holes(...)
A wooden former that resembles a mushroom. The work to be mended stretched or tied over the rounded top and the 'stalk' is held in one hand while the darning stitches are worked with the other.
Darning mushrooms, make effective hold backs for light weight curtains and bed corona(...)
- DARTINGTON GLASS
A glasswork company founded in 1967 in Torrington, Devon, England, by the Dartington Hall Trust as a solution to rising unemployment in the region. The glass-blowers were tutored in the art of crystal making by an imported team of Swedish, and later European artisans, producing globally(...)
- DAY BED
Day beds, designed for afternoon naps, and as the single bed in a man's dressing room, almost always with one long side against the wall. There are generally two ends- the head and the foot that are the same height. When not in use they act as sofas, so tend to have loose bolsters and(...)
We refer to daylight a great deal; the effect of daylight within each room and on the textiles and furnishings within is profound.
* No two rooms receive natural light in the same way or to the same degree, and to boot this light changes by the hour, and by the season.
* Light can come(...)
A dressing method for woven fabric that gives firmness and sheen, and a process preventing cloth from shrinking whilst being made up .
Woven fabric–usually a plain weave–is passed through perforated rollers that blow steam through, then the cloth is allowed to cool naturally. The piece is(...)
A finishing process where the cloth is dressed to add firmness and sheen, a process that also pre-shrinks the fabric.
Woven fabric - usually plain woven - is usually taken through perforated rollers which blow steam through, then allowed to cool naturally. The piece is then reversed so that(...)
The fibre extraction process, this is virtually the same for all vegetal fibres. Given that within this umbrella each region and raw material may require different processes, it happens broadly like this :
1. The leaves are beaten and crushed by rotating wheels with blunt knives to separate(...)
- DEER SKIN
A rough looking skin - as might be expected, in browns and off-white, used for floor mats, as skins over cold concrete or outside bench seating, for upholstered seats and in cushions.
Looks quite good with quirky chairs made from antlers, in a deconstructed, Vogue-fashion shoot sort of(...)
Meaning ' of wool' and sometimes used to describe a soft almost crepe effect woven wool.
- DELFT WARE
Tin glazed, handmade earthenware pottery from Delft in the south-western Netherlands–typically blue on white, very often with the earthenware showing through as a pinkish tint. Motifs and pictorial references of rural Holland were, and still are, hand painted in tile corners to create a full(...)
The unit of measure for fibres, accounting for the mass in grams per 9000 meters of strand. One denier is generally thought to be the weight of a single strand of silk. Now it is used to denote the thickness of stockings and tights: the lower number means a finer material.
A rugged and hard-wearing indigo dyed cotton twill fabric originally woven in Nîmes, France by the André family. The name denim is directly from de Nîmes, meaning ‘from Nîmes’.
When Christopher Columbus set out to circumnavigate the world, his ship the Santa Maria had sails made of Serge de(...)
Refers to small, square or rectangular blocks, which are spaced to form a row, similar to castellation. They constitute an ornamental finish for wooden and stone mouldings, are often used as a room cornice detail and referenced in textile and border design.
1. Design can be a difficult term to keep under control. As the umbrella and instigator for the whole process of creating and the driver for every practical decision along the way, good design is vital for good function and for good looks, for an uplifting experience. However, when design is(...)
An acid etching process whereby fabric is removed by carefully applying acid to the surface–either to create the pattern or to remove a set of acid-reactive yarns. It is often used to reduce and remove the pile of velvet, leaving a translucent, semi-sheer ground cloth that forms a background(...)
A thick, flat, woven covering made in cotton, wool, jute or silk woven in various parts of India and Pakistan on either a vertical or a horizontal loom. They traditionally serve as portable floor coverings, as meditation rugs, and sometimes as tablecloths. They are now made in almost any size(...)
The distance from one side of a circle to another passing through the centre. The measurement of the diameter can be used to work out the circumference, using pi or tau.
The shape of a square on its point, or an elongated square; often used for patchwork, and as a pleasing edging shape for the base of blinds, loose covers and pelmets and as curtain edgings.
Diamond-shaped crystal beads and drops are lovely for adding a bit of decorative glitter to(...)
A light strong cotton fabric made with double thread, often in stripes or in squares, but can be plain and over printed–usually with very small motif prints.
A surface finish which has small indentations–not as many as for an orange peel texture, and deeper than for sandblasting.
A full skirt gathered at the waist , typical of the full, billowy, celebration of fullness epitomised Christian Diors "New Look" in 1947, when dirndl skirts were worn with high heels and short cropped jackets.
The dirndl skirt may be gathered into tight pleats, or into waistband, it might(...)
The dye residue remaining after printing that with chemical needs to be disposed of responsibly.
A light weight paint made of pigment mixed into size, water and chalk–usually for lime plaster finished walls and ceiling, but also for floors and any wood where a light, matte, quickly ageing or even dusty finish is required.
Distemper allows the wall beneath to breathe and is highly(...)
- DOBBY WEAVE
Small self patterns that give light relief to plain woven cloths, which can be anything from a dot to a 'pheasants eye', a lozenge or a raised diamond. The dobby machine was an early invention and attachment to the power loom that made these weave variations possible and economic.
When a fabric is described as a 'document' print or weave it means that it has been copied fairly faithfully from an old sample, pattern or sketch found in a museum, a historic building or a textile manufacturer's archive.
Scraps of materials and papers found in restoration projects provide(...)
- DOE SKIN
1. Female deer skin, very often a by-product, used for upholstery or floor rugs.
2. Fabric that is made to resemble and feel as soft and fine as real doeskin and used for upholstery, window seats and curtains. Like faux suede, it doesn't need to be lined, is relatively lightweight for its(...)
A fine, lightweight plain-woven cotton fleece used particularly for interlining. Being lightweight it is suited to silks and other soft drape fabrics for pelmets, especially swags and tails, where it adds body without bulking up the shapes.
- DONEGAL TWEED
From the eponymous Irish county, woven cloth with mixed country coloured fibres creating a mottled effect. Donegal tweed is traditionally quite coarse and very hardwearing, used for hunting jackets and outdoor wear. Finer weaves with lighter patterns are also woven to make really lovely,(...)
- DOOR MATS
Woven or tufted mats with the sole purpose of catching dirt at the entrance to the building; can be woven from wool, straw, any vegetal fibre or plastic, tufted from coir or a heavy duty fibre. They need to be deep enough to hold mud as it arrives in the house.
Chronologically the first of the three Classical orders * devised by the Greeks, it is the base column, the 'masculine' one that stands at ground level, initially straight from the pavement without a plinth beneath it. The heavy fluted column of twenty parallel grooves is topped by the(...)
A window, or door that has been set into a sloping roof to provide light and/or access to roof spaces and rooms within the roof area. Distinguished by protruding cheeks and often, but not always, a gabled roof.
Dormer windows are more exposed to the elements than most other windows, so it(...)
Dot and spot patterns can be randomly or regularly placed, overlapping or spaced, and are one of the earlier forms of decoration for both woven and printed materials. A fall-back in any design scheme, spots and dots as linings, underskirts or an odd chair bring an extra dimension and can be(...)
- DOUBLE CLOTH
A two-layered fabric woven so that neither side is less important than the other, in effect creating two right sides; also called double-faced or two-faced, as both sides are equally convincing–which might be from where the expression originates.
The loom is set up with two or more(...)
- DOUBLE CRÊPE
A crepe weave made with 2 ply yarn of silk, or wool. The result is a soft, close woven fabric with a good sheen and drape; the crepe weave is not so obvious but the twists still reflect light in all directions so it has inherent life and movement
- DOUBLE FACED
Double faced cloth is any fabric that has been woven with two equally important faces, or sides.
* These are reversible cloths in that they can be used and admired equally well from both sides, but unlike a tweed for example with automatic reversibility, these are designed and woven as two(...)
- DOUBLE RUNNING STITCH
This stitch is used in many cultures for embroidered works, and consists of neat running stitches that are worked from both sides of the fabric, along the same line to form a continuous and secure stitch line. It can be invisible, for seams, or visible as topstitching.
Or DUPION/ DUPPION/ DUPIONI/ DOUPPIONI
Doupion... came into the English language from the French doupion, itself from the Italian doppione (in modern Italian dupioni), doppo meaning ‘two’, in reference to the double silk cocoons filaments used in weaving the fabric.
The soft, fine, fluffy feathers that are either the first covering of a baby bird or the insulating layer of an adult bird.
Down is the magic ingredient in fillings. The softest and most comfortable pillows are made of pure down. Grannies eiderdowns that were as light as a feather and kept(...)
The drape, or the hand of a fabric describes the way it will hang, its reaction to gravity and how it falls, and therefore its suitability for purpose.
A stiff, uncompromising fabric will have poor drape and will hang awkwardly. If a fabric drapes well in the hand, you'll know it has the(...)
The technique of folding, pleating, gathering–draping–fabric to make curtains, pelmets, bed hangings, and loose covers; anything softer and more flowing than strict tailoring. Drapery is both the technique so used to make the pattern, and the finished elegant and elevated result.
- DRAPERY RODS / POLES
Curtain rods in the UK
The fitting from which drapes are hung.
There are many kinds of poles, in many styles and materials. The most common type is straight and made of wood or metal. Curved or bent poles are available for recessed and rounded windows, and will need to be made to(...)
Fabric dressing for windows or beds that play a key role in the sound and decoration of a room.
Drapes (curtains) may be made from a vast choice of lightweight to heavy weight fabrics. Plain coloured drapes and see through ones can take fullness of up to three times the width of the(...)
- DRAWING ROOM
Literally, the 'withdrawing' room–the room to retire to that is peaceful, elegant and chic and for adults. All the best quality furniture, lighting and possessions will be in the drawing room. Most large houses still retain the idea, the name, the space and for some the associated formality.
- DRAWN THREAD WORK
Most usually seen decorating and defining table and bed linen borders, drawn thread work is the simplest form of drawn work, which is the earliest technique of openwork embroidery and the foundation of lace making. It involves first removing warp or weft threads of plain woven fabric, then(...)
- DRAWN WORK
An open work embroidery.
- DRESDEN POINT LACE
A linen lace with a mesh design, created with drawn threads and embroidery, from the beautiful city of Dresden in Germany.
- DRESSING ROOM
Traditionally the dressing room in stately homes and grand house was attached to the master bedroom and for the man of the house. Women had their own rooms, boudoirs.
A dressing room typically contained storage for clothes, both hanging and folded, shoes, and a single bed, a day bed for(...)
- DRESSING TABLE
A pretty, feminine piece of furniture, a personal chest or table with drawers, a mirror and a stool or chair in front to sit on. Designed for girls and ladies when literally dressing up to go out, it's always positioned in good light in the bedroom, bathroom or dressing room.
One of those very durable functional fabrics that was designed for and made into uniforms and protective clothing, which also has excellent possibilities for inexpensive interior furnishings.
Off the shelf, the hardwearing, twill woven cotton fabric comes in typical workmanlike limited,(...)
1. From the 16thC French for useless fabric, a coarse fabric used for protective floor covering
2. Also a type of small, floral print Jacquard weave once used to make waistcoats for men. Silk yarns in floral print or geometrical motif are woven into a contrasted background.
Optional spelling of droguet.
- DUCHESSE SATIN
The most luxurious, tightly woven silk satin fabric. Its high sheen and intensity of colour, even in whites and neutrals, make it the most common choice for couture garments: wedding, evening dresses and jackets. Great care is needed with pinning and stitching, as the surface is easily caught(...)
Or cotton duck.
A plain weave cotton fabric in varying weights, from very light to very heavy, and used for tents, clothing, upholstery, walling, drapes, linings and pattern templates.
* Usually in natural colour, in varying widths up to 3.60 m wide.
* Inexpensive and a stand-by for(...)
Or duffel. A heavy woollen fabric, named after the Belgian town of Duffel, where the thick and robust outdoor fabric was first made in the 17thC.
Duffle coats for winter weather are junior school classics. They are easy to put on and off, have a pull over hood and the distinctive toggles(...)
A brownish-grey colour. Dun coloured clothes are hardwearing and outdoor friendly, in a colour that doesn't show the dirt.
As children we heard it as 'dung coloured', which is probably about right. A good colour to have for chair covers and throws in family and other hardwearing outdoor,(...)
A coarse cotton twill weave designed for work clothes, which has also given it's name to workwear–specifically to an over-garment of baggy trousers with bib and braces attached.
Dungarees are practical playwear for children and from time to time a fashion must-have.
Dungaree as a textile(...)
Another spelling of doupion
The weave, yarn, rub tests/ martindale test and the design purpose all provide sound, useful indications as to a textile’s durability, but the major factors will be its specific use and the impact of your lifestyle–whether a daily hammering by a tribe of children or rarely used in a bedroom(...)
The darker part of twilight full of the soft diffused light after sunset, before the light finally goes. Used to describe the hues of soft, moody colours reminiscent of this time of day.
- DUST COVER
A slip cover–loose cover–made from an inexpensive cotton or calico in an unfitted form, to easily slip over bedheads, chairs, sofas, beds, pianos and tables when the rooms are not in use.
Also called housekeeper's covers because they were made up within the household staff workrooms of(...)
- DUST SHEET
A large cotton or mixed fibre sheet used to cover furniture, to protect the wood or upholstery against dust; most often used during refurbishment and re-decorating projects to keep gritty dust, dirt, paint and other detritus from damaging walls, floors, cupboards and all furnishings.
A bed covering originating from Scandinavia, which in the last few decades has pretty much taken over from the traditional sheet and blanket bedding arrangement.
Duvets consist of two layers of fabric filled with lightweight stuffing held in place with a grid of stitched lines. They are(...)
The colour applied to a fabric to change its colour. The colour of a fabric.
Natural v. chemical dyes
* Natural dyes tell stories, of colour and of people of landscape and of the nature and joy of work. Textiles made with natural dyes have the same stories. From Cosi...
- DYE BATH
Refers to the container filled with DYE solution in which fabrics are immersed to take up the colour.
Typically the dye bath is kitted out with two rollers on either end that carefully control the rate, time and tension at which the fabric is pulled through the dye bath. Fabric dyed in the(...)
Refers to wool yarn dyed on the skein, before it’s woven or knitted, and the fabric made from pre-dyed yarn.
It also means fast and fixed, and is also used to describe someone with immovable ideas and ideologies or a method of doing something that appears to be hard and fast.
In Architecture, early English refers to the emerging GOTHIC style of 12th and 13thC buildings.
The adjective tends to refer to the first known works or style of a designer; it is also used when information about exact dates and timing is incomplete or unknown.
The early American settlers were non-conformist puritans with an ethic of simplicity, craftsmanship and integrity–all virtues that today we call sustainability. They employed good quality materials–linen, cotton and wool, wood and leather–and everything was made to last. Their designs and(...)
- EASE / EASEMENT
To reconcile the joining of two pieces of fabric when one is larger, or would prefer to take up more space than the other.
1. Dealing with uneven pattern repeats
There are times when the pattern repeat of a print or weave is not exactly the same at one end of length of fabric as it is(...)
An adjective meaning something is related to the Church. Many of the early textiles in museums, which educate our perspective on traditional craftsmanship, were made for the ecclesiastical world.
Textiles are fragile, therefore only the best survive. Weavings and embroideries that have been(...)
The close interaction between the community and its local environment, which is often talked about is less often understood or managed. In the past this was mostly understood, and whilst no one wishes to travel backwards, progress will surely be best made when we make good use of the resources(...)
A shade of white, more towards oyster then cream and usually matte. As a background colour within interior design, whether it's the stone work, the flooring or the sofa cover ecru is a good background colour for accommodating all others.
As a textile colour it comes into its own in a chic(...)
Edgings are there to trim to neaten and also to decorate–edgings can be patterned, plain, striking or practically invisible and made with fabric - a border, binding or frill; passementerie - such as fringing or flat braid, lace, leather or linen trim; or created - by embroidery, piercing(...)
A historical period following the death of Queen Victoria, spanning the reign of her son King Edward VII of England (1901-1910).
The style of this era elaborated upon Art Nouveau (1890-1914), and drew upon continental Europe–in particular the golden age of the French Belle Époque–and(...)
Relating to Egypt. The culture of Ancient Egypt has been hugely influential–forming the building blocks of countless subsequent art forms, architectural style and textiles.
The ancient Egyptians were the first to use stone for building instead of wood, as this was what was available. We(...)
- EGYPTIAN COTTON
Refers to the Gossypium barbadense cotton species grown in Egypt. The combination of perfect climatic conditions and 5,000 years of hard work and experience has secured Egyptian cotton cloth’s international reputation for quality. The fine and longest of fibres are spun into smooth threads and(...)
A winter bedcover laid over sheets and blankets, which is the forerunner to our modern comforters and duvets. Granny’s homes always had the best eiderdowns, and always a paper or fabric-lined chest/ottoman at the end of the bed in which they were stored during the summer months.
- ELEPHANT CORD
Also Jumbo cord; the thickest, widest corduroy fabric, available in many colours, soft, strong, sound deadening; perfect for walling, sofas, chairs, stools and curtains in dens, children's and family rooms.
Relating to the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603). Queen Elizabeth’s' reign, the last Tudor monarch, is considered to have been a British Golden Era. In 45 years she created the Royal Navy, turning England from a small island under threat from France and Spain into a 16thC force to be reckoned(...)
A process whereby a design is moulded or carved onto a surface, so that the design stands higher than the ground, bringing the pattern into relief. A range of embossing techniques are used in the production of textiles. For example leather panels may be embossed by stamping and then painted(...)
An umbrella term covering the decoration of fabric with surface needlework in any style and manner. Across cultures, class and generations globally, every tribe and community has their own typical embroidery technique and style, distinguishing one village from another, and to reveal(...)
- EMBROIDERY FRAME
A frame to hold the work taut whilst it is being stitched; a tightening device made of two concentric wooden rings that fit snugly within one another, the fabric is placed between them and secured in place by tightening the rings. The outer one has a screw mechanism, causing it to close(...)
A process in which glass covered rollers abrase and raise the face of cloth, producing a soft, suede-like appearance and feel. The cloth needs to be fairly substantial to take this treatment, so it is usually an upholstery or at least medium curtain weight of tightly woven cotton.
A French historical period (1803-1821) and style following on from the Directoire, influenced by Napoleon I and the building of the Napoleonic empire, seeking deliberate visual associations with the Greek and Roman empires and drawing upon Egyptian expeditions and excavations; it is considered(...)
- END ON END
Also known a fil-à-fil, its French name, it is essentially a plain weave in two colours. Traditionally, one of the colours was white, which has the effect of diluting the other.
The result is a half tone of the darker colour. Where white is not used it is usually replaced with a lighter(...)
Another word for Eri silk. Originally, both words were used to describe silk woven with cotton, for clothing. These silks are often marketed under the overall bracket of Ahimsa, meaning peace.
In weaving, refers to individual warp ends.
In general furnishings discussion though, the term ends can apply to the end of the fabric, the ends of the thread, or the ends of roll.
The warp ends show up on cuts - they reveal the key colour or colours that have gone into the weave. The(...)
In textiles, a process whereby a design is cut into the surface of the printing applicator. All printing and surface decoration–other than digital printing–is done with an engraved block, roller or screen. The quality of the engraving determines the fine-ness, the calibre and the precision of(...)
The 18thC western philosophical movement stressing the importance of reason over tradition to advance knowledge and to prefer intellectual debate. It marked a new beginning in the scholarly and popular conception of the individual's relationship to God and the world around him, interacting(...)
Perhaps the most hardwearing fabric, tightly woven with the wefts creating a loop between each warp thread, visible on the face and adding depth.
It is similar to some velvet weaves, but in this case the loops are left uncut. cotton, linen or wool can be used in any combination, for(...)
- ERI SILK
Eri meaning castor in Assamese, refers to silk made predominantly in Assam, northwest India, from the samia cynthia ricini silkworm that feeds on the leaves of castor oil plant and tapioca, meaning a double crop for the farmer. This silk is also called Endi, or Errendi in other parts of India,(...)
Another word for Eri silk.
A process in which acid is used either to create pattern–to cut a design into wood, glass or textile using acid–or to take a material away to leave the design. Fabric might be woven with two materials, one that will respond to a pen dipped in acid and one that will remain unaffected.
French for star, from the Latin stella. Étoile and Rêverie are the names of our pretty hand worked linen and organdie lampshades.
The Etruscans were an early civilization pre-dating the Romans from Etruria, now Tuscany, in central Italy. The Tusci or the Etrusci mined copper and iron, they were wealthy and bore a strong cultural influence in the region. Although no religious or philosophical texts survive, they are(...)
The Ewe (pronounced ehw-ay) peoples of the Volta delta (Ghana, Togo and Benin) weave a cloth called Kente, closely related to the famous Asante tribe Kente cloth. Both are woven on similar narrow-strip looms, then joined to make larger pieces worn as traditional and ceremonial clothing, which(...)
A process in which a mass of material such as nylon or polyester is squeezed through a nozzle, coming out as long filaments. These can be as long and as accurately dimensioned and tensioned as the programme and technology allow–which is their strength, as they are aesthetically weak.
In design, to 'get your eye in' is to become aware: to look, to educate the eye and to read and research what is current, where trends have come from, where they are going, what sort of things will last and what will become fads. Spend time visiting museums, galleries and exhibitions, rural,(...)
Eyelets provide a quick way to make closures for cushions and covers, and for curtain headings can be the easiest to make and to use. Any fabrics that won't fray can be punched and left raw–especially wool melton, felt, leather, suede and faux suede.
Large eyelets that thread over curtain(...)
The cloth, textile, material from which we make clothes and home furnishings; to a large extent and for our purposes these terms are interchangeable although each on it’s own has a wider meaning and usage.
* The fabric of something is it’s essence; from the fabric and the fabrication method(...)
- FABRIC ASSESSMENT
To assess the quality of a fabric and its fit for purpose we use our own common sense and our own particular criteria. By noticing how a fabric feels, looks, drapes and handles we can decide whether and then how to use it. We want to know something of the fibre content, the weave, the width(...)
The uppermost or most important surface; the face of the cloth designates the right side, the one that will be seen after the making process. Some cloths are double faced, with two equally valid sides, or faces. Some have only one viable face, say with suede, velvet or a bouclé weave.
A facet is a side – the side of a stone for example, or an element of consideration.
In stone, and any hard material a facet is a cut side, one that has been made with the sole purpose of reflecting light. A multi-faceted stone, such as the Swarovski crystals we use for beading, are sparkly(...)
An extra layer of fabric that is used for either:
a)support and concealment, or in some cases, both
b) to strengthen a soft fabric and to conceal raw edges with the minimum visual impact.
In brief: the facing is cut to exactly the same dimensions as the piece to be faced, and usually(...)
Fading of course occurs naturally to any fabric by direct sunlight, and to vegetal fibres by wear. We need to decide as early as the fabric select process whether to accept fading, to welcome it, or to stave it off.
* In accepting it we choose to embrace the process of aging, allowing our(...)
Taken from the original meaning of 'bundles of wood', it refers to:
a) a decorative herringbone stitch used to join two separate pieces together side by side.
b) a closure that at its most basic is made up of bundles of thread tied together.
A look similar to faggoting can be achieved(...)
Faille is a luxury fabric from the couture world, that is nevertheless strong enough and resilient enough for furnishings. The weaving technique produces a fabric with a fine horizontal rib ( formed by a tight, thin warp with a looser, coarser weft) that gives it the particular stiffness, body(...)
- FAIR ISLE
Named after the Shetland Island that made the work famous, 'Fair Isle' is a celebrated knitting design formed by the complex interweaving of colours that run behind the work. The wool is traditionally sourced, spun, dyed and hand-knitted using local vegetation and labour.
It’s not something(...)
- FAKE FUR
Or faux fur, a synthetic, man made fabric that imitates the colour and pile of real animal fur, carrying the idea with only a visual reference to the animal.
Any form of paper, tissue or metal blade that circulates air with the sole purpose of cooling the immediate environment is a fan. Tropical and hot countries that are not architecturally cooled have them fitted into each room; in less hot countries, fans tend to be free standing for summer use(...)
- FAN EDGING
Fan-shaped, or fan-hemmed edgings are made so that they form a semi-circular shape along one or two of their sides. Each fan is often, but not always, worked so that the lines radiate from the centre outwards to create a semi-circle reminiscent of a cooling hand held fan.
- FAN PLEATING
Fan-shaped pleats are made so that they emanate from the centre, creating a semi-circular fan shape, showing clear pleated, folded or stitched lines to show how the pleats are folded back.
When we describe something as a fantasy it's not something unreal or impossible, but when imaginative design and creative input brought into a project have created fantasy–something out of nothing, the mundane elevated to the exceptional.
Fantasy can of course be surreal, but in(...)
In architecture the flat section of a cornice or moulding, across the bottom of an entablature, the front of a cornice or a frieze that runs just below a roof edge, and the flat section of a window or door architrave surround.
Fascias that form part of the window joinery provide a useful(...)
A general term for animals, as depicted in print and art, literature and poetry. It is commonly used in combination with flora, as ‘flora and fauna’, to describe naturalistic designs.
- FAUNA STYLE
A term used to describe all fabrics inspired by animals: animal fur motifs, sketches of animals in the wild.
An early 20thC, French art movement characterised by bold, surprising and sometimes shocking colours. For the first time, the Fauves (from French, meaning 'wild beasts') chose to focus their painting on the expressive potential of colours–defying the accepted representational depictions of the(...)
- FAUX SUEDE
A synthetic fabric designed to look like suede that is very useful in areas of hard wear, where the look of suede–soft, matte and lightly textured–is desirable, but the real thing just isn't practical. It’s heavily used for commercial seating and walling because it is virtually bomb proof. It(...)
A light, greyish brown colour, named after the eponymous baby deer. Fawn is, at this moment, quite a dated colour name, having been somewhat usurped by all manner and names for colours around taupe.
It suggests a soft, warm, natural colour and is associated with comforting textures; it is(...)
The function of feathers and down, the outer covering of birds, is to insulate and protect; chicken, duck or geese feathers are commonly used in soft furnishings.
The feather has a central quill with soft fibres radiating from it; tiny feathers are called down, these are soft, fluffy and(...)
- FEATHER BED
'Feather bedding', taken from the idea of nest and how birds feather the insides of their nests, is a comparison we use to describe our own desire to make a nice comfortable, safe, secure nest with all possible comforts.
A mattress or mattress topper filled with fine feathers, down or a(...)
- FEATHER STITCH
A decorative stitch based on, and very similar to, herringbone stitch, but much prettier. It can be used on the surface to decorate an edge or a border or along two edges to bring two pieces together.
A non-woven cloth traditionally made from the short wool staple, those fibres that are unsuitable for weaving. These are exposed to moisture and heat until that have shrunk into a matted, felted cloth. These two mediums effectively agitate the tiny scales on the outside of each fibre so that(...)
- FELT EMBROIDERY
Embroidery on felted wool is a colourful and a tribal folk art that we see across Asia.
The ( mostly) brightly coloured woollen yarns are worked into felt garments especially cummerbunds and boots, belts and waistcoats to display the usual tribal language of recognition, celebration,(...)
- FELT RUGS
Felt rugs have been part and parcel of home insulation and protection from ancient times. As textiles are quickly degradable it’s difficult to be sure where and when anything began, but it’s safe to say that whatever nomadic communities are doing now they have probably been doing for a very(...)
When two pieces of metal or wood are joined, any ring of metal that is sleeved over to create both the join and an effect is a ferrule. It’s also a protective ring or cap that may be more or less visible.
Walking stick ends are effectively ferrules that are primarily there for protection,(...)
A verb meaning to hang like garlands; an adjective to describe draped cords, fabric loops, floral ropes always used for decoration; printed designs with draped floral or greenery arrangement
Cords and tassels might be draped across the top of fixed curtains or across the(...)
- FIBONACCI SEQUENCE
An infinite scale of numbers in which each number is the sum of the last two: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34... The Fibonacci scale, or series, was found by and named after the Florentine mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci, probably in the later half of the 12thC. It is used extensively in(...)
A natural, synthetic or artificial material that can be made into yarn or thread, the cornerstone of all textile manufacture.
Most fibres are included elsewhere. They include: agave, alpaca, angora, bamboo, camel, cashmere, coir, cotton goat, guanaco, hemp, jute, kenaf, linen, llama, mohair(...)
- FIG LEAF
The leaf of the fig tree–supposedly the embarrassed Adam’s first piece of clothing–is used extensively in decoration, printing and sculpture. Its shape and the colour are inspiring and useful–in a similar way to vine leaves.
A bit of a catch-all term to describe a fabric patterned or marked with a design; used for self-patterned and often geometric dobby or jacquard woven cloth with no named design. Damassé, diamond weaves, etc. are included in this category, as are stamped and embossed materials such as leather.
An alternative spelling for filigree.
A single strand of synthetically extruded or naturally occuring fibre, from which yarn, thread, woven and knitted textiles are made.
* Cultured silk is a filament fibre as it’s unreeled in a single length from the cocoon of the silk worm.
* Nylon and rayon are extruded filaments.
Filigree work is essentially pattern made with the deliberate intention to create open spaces – these ‘ negative‘ spaces are as well considered and as essential to the design as the ‘positive’ spaces.
* All filigree work is light and airy, simply because you can still see through even the(...)
Filler is added fibre to increase the weight or the size such as:
* an extra weft thread to create a ridge.
* a warp or a weft that is later removed to open up the weave.
* an added substance to increase weight and size–such as a glue-type of solution used to fill cracks or holes and(...)
Or filet, a narrow strip of material. Filets always become an essential part of any design they are involved with. They effectively outline the form they are following or create the form they make.
In architecture, filets are used to cover gaps, to bridge shaped mouldings or to provide(...)
1. A term for the number of warps within the construction–per centimeter or between selvedges
2. The filling of a cushion or window seat or other pad. The filling is chosen to make the cushion pad harder or softer, heavy or light, thick or thin, sumptuous or monastic.
The result is(...)
A very thin translucent layer–fine, open weave gauzy fabric–laid over and made up as one with a heavier material behind.
Finials are caps and ends to poles and posts. Garden posts, gate posts, bed posts and stair posts are all topped with a finial of one sort or another. Curtain poles are finished at each end with some sort of finial.
Balls are popular and unobtrusive, but there are as many finial designs and(...)
Whilst the make up of any cloth is determined in equal measure by the inherent characteristics of the fibres, the density and method of weave or the print, it’s the finish of the cloth that most determines how a fabric will look and feel, and to what use it can be put.
A glazed cotton for(...)
Finishing covers all the processes, mechanical and chemical, that a fabric will go through to obtain it’s own unique qualities between the loom and the shop, or worktable.
Since the finish of the cloth is so vitally important all weavers will take as much care with the finish as with every(...)
The rules and regulations for fire proof / resistant fabrics depends entirely upon current legislation and where they'll be used. Domestic, commercial, residential, private lettings and hotels all have different criteria and standards to meet, it is always important to check the current(...)
- FISHING - FISHERMEN
Inspiration or motifs associated with anything to do with catching fish: the colours, textures and shapes of fishing boats, fishing nets, rods, flies, rivers, sweaters, oilskins and waterproofs, and then of course the fish themselves.
Netting generally is any fabric woven as a square mesh that is knotted at each corner for stability. The beauty and longevity of this material is that it can be easily mended, invisibly and in as small a section as required.
The image of fishermen sitting close to the shore mending their(...)
- FIT - FITTING - FIXING
This family of words is very closely related, with differences between them at times so subtle as to be negligible; it is, however, worth briefly listing them for the purposes of this text and clarification.
The process and the accuracy of manipulating material to form along(...)
A brushed, soft cotton fabric designed to imitate flannel–woven with soft cotton fibre and lightly brushed. A cosy fabric for children's bedding and, in small prints or checks, for lining curtains.
A flange is an external rim added for strength and to provide a fixing position.
Here it’s used to describe a cord which has a flat piece of tape attached along the length, enabling it to be stitched into a seam like a piping cord.
A beautiful, soft, carded, woven wool that is used extensively on Saville Row and by tailors everywhere for men and women's suits. With all the ecological high tech and inherent qualities of wool, flannel is extra special – it is soft enough to drape well, retain its shape and it will(...)
- FLAT IRON
A solid, pressing iron that came after the sadiron, made of cast iron with a flat triangular shaped plate. Once fully heated – over hot coals or the range – it would be used to press household linen and clothing, always over a damp muslin cloth. The steam had the same effect as a modern steam(...)
- FLAT WEAVE
Any woven fabric that has little or no pile or depth. In flooring it refers to any woven floor covering or rug that’s constructed more like cloth- woven, rather than with a tufted, knotted, velvet or looped pile.
Dhurries, kelims, felted, needle work, crewel, ari, arraiolos floor rugs are(...)
An imperfection created during the printing or weaving process. Hand woven material will always have some error or imperfection, as will hand printed fabrics. Machine woven fabrics less so, but thread does break and screens get old–contributing to the potential for flaws. So flaws are(...)
A blue-flowered plant, Linum usitatissimum, cropped for seeds (linseed) that are pressed into oil and for the stems which provide fibre for linen. It is the most important crop in the bast fibre group.
Flax has been grown for millennia and linen is the earliest known textile, small pieces(...)
The soft greyish–yellow colour of flax, often related to soft blonde hair- 'flaxen haired'
A great upholstery, wall paint or paper colour.....
1. A sheep or goat's skin with the fur attached.
2. A floor rug in the shape of the skin, or trimmed in squares or rectangles and joined to make a larger piece.
3. The shorn coat of a sheep or goat or camelid - the crop of staple fibres that are processed into yarn.
A term sometimes used to describe a fabric surface finish that has been brushed - usually to wool or cotton, fibres that will raise easily.
- FLEUR DE LYS
A historic design present in various cultures and traced back to Mesopotamia that was used extensively in European heraldry, with strong religious connotation and famously adopted as the symbol of French monarchy.
It depicts a stylised flower made up of three distinct petals, commonly held(...)
- FLOAT / FLUSH
The float, or flush, refers to the length of warp or weft yarn that remains unbound in the weaving process. For example, when weaving a weft satin, the weft thread, which is straddling two or more warp threads, is termed the 'float'.
The waste from cotton and wool from the mills and after stuffing mattresses. A small tuft of wool hair or cotton is known as a flock (Latin floccus), giving its name to a type of wallpaper covering, in which the surface is 'flocked', i.e. covered with tiny lengths of wool or cotton to create a(...)
A general term for floral motifs and drawings as depicted in print and art, literature and poetry. Commonly used with Fauna as ‘flora and fauna’ to describe naturalistic design
A small flower head, usually complete in itself but belonging to a bigger picture; several florets make up a large flower, such as elderflower, hydrangea, cow parsley…
1. The mass of fine silky fibres from the cotton boll or similar plant.
2. The raw and untwisted thread made from the silk worm's cocoon; over one thousand metres can be reeled from a single cocoon.
3. Silk threads used in passementerie and embroidery.
Silky soft texture, reminiscent of the luxurious lustre from silk floss.
- FLOTSAM AND JETSAM
Bits and pieces washed up by the sea, like driftwood, but including all sorts of other things and not always what you might want to have or see; anything 'washed up'.
Our flotsam and jetsam is all the bits and pieces left over after cuttings an trimming, which we might or might not be able(...)
In couture, the flounce is a frill or fullness attached to the main fabric by the top edge only: the fullness falls away in gathers or in spirals, depending how it was cut.
'Flouncing around' describes someone behaving in a defiant, slightly arrogant manner.
A flounce should have(...)
- FLOUR SACKS
In middle Europe, for generations and until fairly recently, fabric sacks were used to carry flour from the mill to the wholesaler or end user. Traditionally made from hemp, and occasionally linen, they are typically woven with one or more vertical stripes in tones of blue, red or sand, and(...)
Flowers are everywhere, in life as in printed and woven patterns. They can be small, tight motifs, in rows of buds, all-over in rambling mode, stylized and formal, in bunches, in cornucopia or trailing, supported by geometric patterns or random foliage.
Naturalistic designs, from simple(...)
Absolutely flat - when one surface lies as close to and smoothly as possible against another, so that meeting points appear to be and are to the hand, seamless. Such as we see in the best marquetry and inlay, work that involves a high degree of accuracy in measuring and cutting. For our(...)
- FOLDING SCREEN
A piece of furniture comprising 2-6 panels that is self – standing, folded in zig zag formation when in use, folding flat back on themselves for storage or when not in use.
* Screens can be used as room dividers, window coverings, to hide whatever you might want to cover up, to add scale(...)
- FOLK ART
Folk art is the art of the people, created for utilitarian and decorative purposes, as opposed to fine art which is created for aesthetic purpose, or to make a philosophical, political or timely statement.
The approach is naive and often highly coloured, undeterred by fashion and it's done(...)
- FOLK WEAVE
Refers to fabric woven by small self-sufficient communities, where the material is grown, shorn, spun, woven and made up within a few miles of home. This could be any type of fabric with a loose weave that looks 'home spun', like the loosely woven, hand-made fabrics that country-folk might(...)
- FOOD SACKS
Sacks that carry coffee, flour, hops and grain are often made from jute or hessian, and stamped with the logo of the farmer or co-operative. These sacks are only used once, making the trip from farm to wholesaler, and although they may have some damage, usually have far more life left in them.(...)
A stool placed at the end of a chair, or in front of a sofa; unless for medical reasons, it is commonly no higher than the chair seat, allowing one's feet to be raised so that the lower legs are level with the upper.
* Probably originally designed to help the gout ridden, footstools are(...)
- FORTUNY (MARIANO)
Mariano Fortuny was a Spanish born 20thC Venetian designer who invented groundbreaking printing techniques that remain secret up to this very day. His creations look as if they are hand-painted and worn out by the passing of time. His cottons, silks, lamés, velvets and brocades are(...)
- FRAME, FRAMEWORK
Describes a surrounding and a support, which can be one or the other, or both.
1. Much needlework is worked on a square or rectangle of wood, whether it's a large fixed frame for quilts and rugs or a small hand held embroidery frame or tambour. The frame holds the canvas or(...)
For this purpose, a method of wall painting using earth colours and natural bindings- egg and milk, the technique used in cave paintings and the earliest artistic depictions. Ancient fresco art is found all over the world, in every culture, and more comes to light with successive exploration(...)
An Italian bedding company, first established in Grenoble in 1860 that is now based in Monza, Italy.
Frette are synonymous with high quality cotton bedlinen, table linen and home wear - when hotels offer beds with Frette linen they advertise the fact. The simplicity of the design and the(...)
1. In architecture the frieze is the decorative section of a wall, between the top of any wall panel or mouldings and the ceiling or cornice/crown mouldings.
2. It also describes any decorative panels and wallpaper borders that are specifically designed to be fitted into the frieze(...)
A length of material that is gathered in varying degrees of fullness, usually to edge accessories–cushions, throws, tablecloths, dressing table covers and bed covers. A deeper frill fixed to a straight band makes an informal pelmet, bed valance or curtain hem.
Frills can be made from(...)
A decorative edging made of strands of material fixed along one edge only. The collective term is passementerie, or just trimmings.
* Fringes can be cut, shaped, looped, bullion twists in linen, wool, silk, cotton or floss–silk thread, long, short, fan topped, straight topped, elaborate or(...)
Technically, over adornments to the point of frivolity. Yet frippery creates a light-hearted, temporal attitude that might well add the je ne sais quoi that is so often missing in too-perfect design schemes and too-matching colour schemes.
Feathers, trimmings, tiebacks, or just a new take(...)
A decorative closure of looped braid or cord once used in military uniform, and now in fashion and in interior furnishings for cushions, screens and for formal braided edgings.
- FROM THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR
The bits and pieces, flotsam and jetsam of workroom life are collected and sorted to reappear on, in, or as other projects.
We have constantly new 'from the cutting room floor' projects, some are small complete projects, some are decoration ideas for off-cuts, others are completely new(...)
Fuming is a greying of wood, a colouration technique that is generally but not exclusive reserved for oak. The treatment is such that the natural wood colour is deepened until it reaches the same grey as would be achieved either naturally over time, or by dipping planks into baths of lye.(...)
Animal origin fur is an emotive subject, for there has undoubtedly been wanton cruelty in the past. Yet the fact is that nothing replaces its insulating properties for the same weight, and furthermore needs must - fur remains the only clothing and insulation option for many of the nomadic and(...)
A hardwearing fabric with a large percentage of cotton woven with linen or wool, often in basket or other heavy duty weave. It's quite rustic looking and makes for really good, heavy, country curtains and upholstery.
It looks good in plain colours, relying on the weave for interest, but it(...)
Early 20thC predominantly Italian art and cultural movement, seeking to convey the contemporary societal changes (industrialisation, mechanisation, social change, the rate of change), spanning all the visual arts, and promoting innovation over the past in subject matter and technique.
A fabric of cotton or wool worsted in a typical twill weave, which can be piece dyed or yarn dyed.
In the Middle Ages, a 'gaberdine' was an outer garment, a coat of sorts. In 1856, Thomas Burberry (founder of the British brand Burberry) patented a sturdy, waterproof, tightly woven cotton(...)
- GAIA THEORY
A scientific theory developed by James Lovelock in the 1960's, suggesting that the earth and everything on it belong to natural cycles that work in balance: one thing affects another–karma. Gaia or Gaea was the Greek goddess of the earth.
The textile industry employs almost 20% of the(...)
- GALON (GALLON)
From the French, a flat trimming of any width, woven, braided or embroidered, used for binding, edging and sometimes for official uniforms; passementerie,
The process of covering another metal–such as steel or iron–with a fine layer of zinc. Very inexpensive, it can look really good indoors; outdoors, it doesn't rust making it appropriate for galvanised poles and hinges; it is also used for scaffolding sections, which in turn can be re-deployed(...)
Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)–Mahatma means Great Soul–was India's political and spiritual leader, a law scholar trained at the Inner Temple in in London and a nationalist who led the country to independence from British-ruled India. Through his philosophy of nonviolent civil disobedience, he(...)
- GARDEN FABRICS
1. Printed or woven fabrics that represent something of the best that gardens have to offer in their design–the flowers or the structure, the filigree work of a garden seat, the history or the future
2. Fabrics that look good in the garden–in tents, under awnings, gazebos, on the grass,(...)
1. Wreaths or swags of flowers often used in textile design, portraying a floral exuberance
2. Swags of real or silk roses and flowers to decorate pelmets, tables and chairs for festivities.
3. Closely associated with the painting and decorative images of the Gustavian style, gentle(...)
In food terminology, and as applicable to furnishings, refers to decoration that contributes just that little bit extra to the main dish, or the room. With just a hint of texture, colour and shape, creation is elevated to another dimension
Garnish 'brings the magic’: it should be well(...)
- GARTER STITCH
The most basic knitting stitch pattern, which involves knitting every stitch of every row, producing a flat, reversible fabric with the characteristic knobbly side of we expect of simple knitwear.
The informal 'pleats', or frills designed to give a fabric more fullness. Gathers may be made using especially designed tapes or elastic, making it easier to manufacture sheer and plain curtains. The thinner the fabric, the greater the initial width needed to gather up into a beautifully full(...)
The world “gaudy” or "gaudie" comes from the famous song "Gaudeamus Igitur" which is heard in the graduation ceremonies of most European universities.
It begins: "Gaudeamus igitur, juvenes dun sumus…" which best translates to English like: “Let's rejoice therefore, while we are young!” Its(...)
A finishing technique that is often applied to fabrics with a deep pile, such as velvet, but can also work with a heavily woven linen or cotton.
In this process, the fabric is placed between two heated cylinders, one of which is engraved with a pattern. Under heat and pressure the design is(...)
An open plain weave worked on a leno loom, creating a fabric with a net-like structure. The warp yarns are twisted in pairs between the weft and the filler to produce a stable open worked cloth: as two or more warps cross over each other, interlacing and holding each weft thread firmly, the(...)
- GEE'S BEND QUILTS
American quilting is legendry and no less is the work of Gees bend, which was brought to prominence through an exhibition which toured America in the early 2000’s and then again at the Smithsonian in 2006. Gees Bend is small, rural, cotton planting community nestled ion a curve in the(...)
A German adjective defying satisfactory translation, yet most perfectly describing what most of us attempt to achieve with our homes: comfortable, welcoming, relaxing, homely all come close if used all together–home as the best refuge, our sanctuary.
- GENOA VELVET
The Genoese, from Genoa in Northen Italy, have been making velvet since the 14thC. Genoa velvet is gauffraged–in which large patterns are embossed by press-relief printing the velvet fabric with inscribed copper cylinders, crushing the velvet in very lovely patterning.
The fabric which(...)
- GENOESE LACE
A bobbin lace dating from the 16th C when Venice and Milan were the other Italian lace making centres. Genoese lace is recognisable by the wheat-ears that usually form part of the overall design. Genoese lace inspired Maltese lace
It would be pedantic say that all form of pattern and repeatnis geometric - what is usually understood when the term is applied to pattern is one which is self contained and repeats at a regular recognisable interval.
In terms of furnishings the expression is to suggest that more formal(...)
A sheer, crêpe fabric that is heavier than chiffon, made of silk or wool, invented by renowned French dressmaker Georgette de la Plante, a 20thC contemporary of Coco Chanel. The crinkly surface is woven into the weave and it is more or less transparent depending on the fibre content and(...)
A historical period spanning the reign of four consecutive English Kings called George (1740-1830), the English Renaissance that witnessed an increase in education, global trade and travel, and the meteoric rise of the merchant class, whose demand for homes, furniture, furnishings, * travel(...)
Refers to textiles used in industrial and commercial products, originally as soil filters, with growing commercial appeal and usage - from stabilising embankments to fabric based components in the motor and electronic industries.
These are mostly synthetic, although research into vegetable(...)
- GHILLIE (GILLIE)
A Scottish countryman, particularly responsible for the care and upkeep of the lands and stock on hunting and fishing grounds. Wet and windy, highland and sea mist and fog–inclement weather *in general has given us great quality hardwearing, warm clothing textiles from local highland wool. Any(...)
The technique of applying gold leaf or powder to a surface (wood, stone, metal) for decorative purposes. Water or oil can be used as a medium to transfer the gold from leaf to surface–water gilding produces a softer look. A gilded object is described as being gilt.
Gilded surfaces reflect(...)
A small T-shaped hand tool with a wooden handle and a metal shank at right angles finishing in a fine spiral, used for boring holes into wood. Along with the similar bradawl, and awl, it is essential for the workroom and fitting tool kits, and especially useful as a starting point for screw(...)
The narrow braid used to cover the nails or staples in upholstery. Gimp should be firm enough to cope with the discrepancies and malleable enough to fit easily around curves and tight angles.
All sorts of gimp are made, in a variety of weaves and colours; the most useful are those that will(...)
In 1765, Massachusetts (United States) was the setting for an invention that was to change the world forever: Eli Whitney’s cotton gin (gin being short for engine).
His simple enough idea was to remove, by machine, the seeds and other impurities that attached themselves to the cotton lint.(...)
To 'ginger' something up a bit is to add a bit of spice–energy, heat, tension, life. A spice, the root of the ginger plant is mildly hot and used as a 'lift' in many sweet and savoury dishes from the Mediterranean, throughout Asia and the tropics.
As a colour, the warm, golden tones of raw(...)
A plain weave fabric, with equal width stripes of white plus one other colour in both warp and weft threads that produces blocks of checks; these will be one dark, one light and one mixed – half tone. Gingham and Vichy are the same weave.
The word gingham usually refers to a fresh summery(...)
An old fashioned word for a wide belt or sash, even a corset or a very deep skirt top–if you find a lovely antique piece, use it to wrap around a cushion or to make a curtain tie back.
The passementerie term for any flat decorative trimming – those that can be woven with any level of simplicity or decorative design and in any material.
Your best clothes, bought and worn for happy social occasions and celebrations. Recycle glad rags and ball gowns into brilliant cushions and lampshades, making the most of any trimmings, lovely buttons, lace, frills and flounces.
Glass has been made for at least 5500 years. It can be traced back to Mesopotamia, though it was a very slow road from its beginning to creating window glass and flat panes, jam jars and tree baubles in the mid 19thC.
In the last century the use and possibilities for glass has transformed(...)
To cover with a glaze or similar finish in order to create a smooth, impervious, glossy and shiny surface–as in china, pottery, walls, and textiles. Referring here to a finishing process that gives the face fabric a buffed and shiny surface. The fabric is first chemically treated with a dilute(...)
- GLEN CHECK
Also known as Glen Urquhart. A black, grey or brown and white woollen twill plaid originating in the Scottish Glen Urquhart valley in the 19thC, developed under the patronage of Caroline Countess of Seafield. Many variations exist, but the typical pattern is of an irregularly repeated check(...)
- GLOBAL TEXTILES
The world has always benefitted from trade and the exchange of ideas, from the earliest silk routes between northern Africa, the Mediterranean, through Asia and India to China.
Take a carpet from Anatolia, an embroidered crewel work from Kashmir, a suzani from Uzbekistan, a chintz from the(...)
If you can find antique gloves, they are often beautifully made with tiny hand stitches and might be embroidered or have rows of rouleaux buttons. Even if they are torn or damaged, these can be carefully appliquéd onto another textile to become a cushion, a wall hanging or an occasional sofa(...)
A domesticated ruminant mammal, sure footed and happy living in difficult areas such as mountains and deserts. They are herded for their milk (therefore cheese and yoghurt,) meat, and for their hair, which is either shorn or collected from the spring moult.
The quality of goat hair improves(...)
- GOAT'S HAIR
The soft hair of the Hyrcus goat's underbelly is used for cashmere. The coarse longer hair is clipped and used for hardwearing carpets and brushes. Goat hair is extremely durable underfoot, its coarseness tempered by the other wools with which it is woven.
Goatskins have been used since ancient times as wineskins, for warm clothing, saddlebags, sleeping covers and mats. The long, fine, warm hair is good underfoot, easy to clean and can be used in bathrooms and bedrooms.
La Manufacture Royale des Gobelins (The Gobelins Royal Manufactory) represents some of the highest quality French carpet weaving and tapestry, producing fine contemporary pieces and restoring antiques. Started by the Gobelin family in the 15thC, they soon fell under royal patronage; the French(...)
A yellow precious metal, gold was once the measure of our national wealth, the currency benchmark. It is a solid most reflective metal, and though it should be used sparingly, as in gilding, it should nevertheless be used. Gold leaf is a hammered, flattened form, gold foil a finer type of gold(...)
- GOLDEN MEAN
In philosophy an ancient classical notion of the ideal middle position between the two extremes of excess and deficiency; for the Greek culture for example, this was connected to notions of beauty as symmetry, proportion and harmony–moderation. Chinese and Buddhist philosophy also speak of the(...)
- GOLDEN RATIO
See golden section.
- GOLDEN RULE
The critical means to success.
- GOLDEN SECTION
A mathematical proportion that is considered to be particularly pleasing to the eye, where "the smaller is to the larger as the larger is to the sum of the two”. The quick, off-the-cuff calculation is 5:8 or 1:1.6
This principle echoes spirals and most natural formations, and much of(...)
This sport's history, clothing and greens provide material and inspiration for selective and sometimes humorous printed textiles designs, of which the Argyll pattern is one and the golfers of the prestigious club of St Andrews another..
Gores are triangular or cone-shaped pieces of fabric that to make up, or are inserted into a project to change its shape. These add fullness at the lower edge rather than at the top.
An umbrella, for example is made solely of a select number and proportion of gores.
Godets and gores are(...)
A sheer, light, gauze-like fabric so called because the fibres are as fine as the gossamer of a spider's web. Woven from any fine fibre, cotton, silk, linen or polyester and used for fixed sheers, under curtains, bed drapes, fluffy cushions and fine quality mosquito netting.
- GOSSYPIUM BARBADENSE
A species of cotton that produces a very long staple, or fibre and which is used woven into the very finest of cloths. It is known as sea silk when grown in the West Indies, Egyptian cotton when from Egypt and pima when from the United States.
A European 12th-16thC architectural style, which arose around Paris following on from the Romanesque style, based on the pointed arch–an innovative engineering solution to achieve greater height and feeling of space.
Common features include the stone ribbed vault (a feat of weight(...)
Yarn from the fleece of the northern European Gotland sheep, which comes in four shades ranging from off-white to silver to grey to charcoal, and which is used for light aran to double knitting.
Pigment bound with glue to make an opaque watercolour medium. The lighter colours are toned through the addition of white.
A silk fabric originally from India, woven with vertical stripes of different widths; it may be monochromatic or fully coloured, and is often used for seat covers, or wall hangings in place of tapestry due to its vibrant colouring
The grain of a fabric follows the warp and weft threads, where the lengthways grain/thread runs parallel to the selvedge and the crossways grain/thread runs across the width.
* All fabric should be cut following the grain, i.e. on the 'straight of grain', unless directed otherwise.
- GRAIN SACKS
Grain sacks made of jute and hessian carry our goods from one side of the world to the other. They are totally biodegradable and durable, so that they often have second and third lives as gardening and building sacks, before being used as compost and ultimately returning to the earth. Many are(...)
A soft form of carbon that comes in varying densities, and is commonly used as the dark grey lead in our pencils. In furnishings, it denotes a colour that is the softer, and often more acceptable face of black.
- GRASS CLOTH
A wall covering made of natural fibres and glued to a paper or fabric backing, typically hand woven in East Asia. Its textured, uneven lines give a natural, architectural interest in both rustic and urban settings. The many qualities and colours offer plenty of choice for use in any room:(...)
- GREASY WOOL
Most usually called oiled wool, it is any wool that has been allowed to retain its natural lanolin, spun to knit or weave waterproof, outdoor clothing, especially used for knitting jumpers and coats for crofters, islander fishermen and shepherds.
Classical design patterns which combine the rules and proportions or illustrate ancient Greek and Roman architecture.
An art period in which most Roman art was influenced by the ancient Greeks' style, leading to a 500 year overlap of Roman realism and Greek idealism. Aside from the(...)
A colour between beige and grey, tagged to the fashion designer Georgio Armani and very useful in furnishings, describing the colour of pretty much every type of stone and pebble.
From the French for pomegranate that describes the motif typical of Renaissance fabrics.
A type of leno weave made on Jacquard looms, producing a light, fine, open silk fabric with a gauze-like feel, now also available in cotton and rayon. It is a dressmaking textile that was originally produced in Italy, which is why the different grenadine weaving patterns have Italian(...)
A woven cloth prepared as a base for printing or dyeing. The quality and weight of the greycloth is very important–however much you love the print, if it is made for light use and you want it for upholstery, it's not for you. The calibre of grey cloth also affects how the print is received–for(...)
All design starts with a grid, it is the basis on which shapes and forms are governed, placed, manipulated and distorted–always with reference to the scope and scale of the original framework. The grid is rarely obvious at first sight but it informs the project and holds it, allowing(...)
Gryphon or Griffin. In mythology, a winged animal with an eagle's head and a lion's body.
A technique of painting in grey monochrome applied to paintings, for murals or painted on textiles, where they sometimes emulate relief as trompe l'oeils. I've seen grisaille panels pinned to the walls like tapestries in France, Italy, Holland and Swedenand they have always looked perfect, ,(...)
- GROS DE TOURS
A lightly ribbed silk fabric similar to taffeta but coarser. Originally made in the city of Tours, France, hence it’s name. It's a finely woven grosgrain, a faille, with a two or three ply warp interlaced with tram filling. It is mostly used as wall or bed hangings and seat covers.
From the French, meaning 'coarse grain', a heavily ribbed ribbon or fabric where the weft is heavier than the warp, woven from silk, cotton or rayon in a wide range of colours. Grosgrain is used for trimmings, as stabilising tape, and hatband stripes are made of grosgrain ribbon.
The stable background colour that supports the pattern. We say 'on a white ground, or on a blue ground'. Whatever the design colours are, however complex or simple, the ground colour determines how we think of them.
The colour of the base cloth also affects how the printed pattern is(...)
- GROUND CLOTH
The woven cloth that either supports more complex over weaves, or provides the base for printing colour and pattern. The quality of the ground cloth determines the quality of the result.
1. As the base cloth for printing it is the grey cloth. In printing, a same print method of applying(...)
- GUARD HAIR
Guard hair is the name for the outer layer of coarser, longer hairs of the mountain goat, the yak, some camelids and other mammals inhabiting extreme climates. The undercoat that does the real work in providing a soft, fine, dense coat right next to the skin, is the one that is highly prized(...)
Knitted woollen sweater of the island’s fisherman dating from the 15thC, when Guernsey was allowed to import wool from England and to export the made up goods to Norway and Span.
Knitted by the womenfolk for their sea faring husbands, sons and fathers, their ingenious formula has led to the(...)
A self-supporting lace in which the designs are connected and linked together rather than with a self made or underlying mesh.
The Gunny sack is an inexpensive hessian–or burlap–bag made of jute, kenaf, hemp or sisal, this is used to transport grain, potatoes and grains. These flour sacks, grain sacks, coffee sacks, are re-used again and again perhaps as sandbags, on farms and in the building yard until they have worn(...)
- GUNTA STOLZ
A German textile artist (1897-1983), and the only significant female ‘master ‘who played an important role in the development of the Bauhaus movement. Her responsibility for the weaving, encouraged her to create graphic pieces that have become timeless and perhaps look even more contemporary(...)
An inset piece of material used to create, expand, or strengthen a construction, or which can be introduced as a design feature. Under the arm of Guernsey sweaters, and in furnishings a useful element to facilitate the fitting and removal for laundering of loose covers, bolsters and some(...)
A truly classic historical period style, along with the Gerogian, Neoclassical, Louis XV, Louis XVI, and to some extent the Biedermeir styles. These all appeared at around the same times, are still very much in demand and work well together.
The cultured and European-looking Swedish monarch(...)
- GYPSY STYLE
Gypsies are a free-spirited, musical people who live largely on their wits, and Gypsy style would echo this with movement, colour and an exuberance born of freedom, travel and a traditional close-knit community.
The goods and wares for sewing, all the small stuff–buttons, interfacings, threads, linings, cords, ribbons, etc., that are essential to make up and support fabric. You can find haberdashery counters at department stores, or in specialist haberdasheries.
Sometimes called China silk, although it is not exclusive to China and until recently what we call habotai was more commonly known as jap silk, certainly in the dressmaking world.
Hobotai is a finely woven silk with a soft hand, good drape and a gentle lustre. It looks like a fine tafetta,(...)
- HACKLING/ HECKLING
The final step in the process of preparing flax for spinning, before weaving into linen. Handfuls of flax fibres secured in clamps are manually fed into hackling frames: the flax is pulled through hackling combs of varying fine-ness that split, straighten and clean the fibres. This produces(...)
- HAIR CANVAS
Hair canvas is a woven interfacing made of coarse goat hair or sometimes horsehair combined with wool, cotton or linen; it is used in tailoring for coat and jacket collars, and in interior furnishings for stiffening and/or stabilising wools and tweeds.
Calf leather that has been tanned, prepared and dyed with the hair still on.
* It can be made soft for fine furnishings, or of a thicker and heavier weight for floor rugs.
* As flooring it is highly practical and good looking, it sits well on rough, wooden or stone country floors, the(...)
A tightly woven textile made of horsehair or camel hair, often used as the ‘canvas’ over stitched horsehair; also as the top fabric for upholstery seats, arms and backs, small stools, boxes, etc., instead of horsehair.
When a pointy pin is inappropriate or doesn’t work for the situation - hair clips and hairpins in the kit can be very useful for holding things together–just like another pair of hands.
- HALF HITCH
A knot used in lace making, where you wrap the end of a cord around itself and pull it through the loop you've just made; it's insecure on it's own but useful for holding ends together when you're pulling cords through wide curtain headings or fraying long lengths. It is sometimes called(...)
- HALF LIGHT
The light at dawn and dusk that casts all colours with a softer hue. A design concept and inspiration for colour schemes. Also a way and time of day to see, to look at colour.
Newly printed cloth washing starts early in the morning, just as dawn breaks and continues all(...)
- HALF MOON
Crescent and half moon shapes appear in many interior furnishings as a decorative motif, on closures or edgings for curtains, cloths, cushions and bedcovers.
In Ottoman embroider and weaving
The crescent and the rose:
- HALF TESTER
Half testers are often used to make a bedroom more elegant and the bed more important in the room – as beds used to be.
A full tester covers the whole bed area, generally within four posts, or at least four curtains – one at each corner. A half tester is the over-bed canopy held by two(...)
The line for hoisting or lowering a ship's sail or a flag. Along with sailcloth, this rope and attendant fittings are useful and eminently suitable for outdoor awning constructions, available from chandlers. A halyard might be used as a curtain pole, from which to hang a tapestry or bed drape…
Describes the feel of fabric, the way it drapes and creases, how heavy, smooth or rough it feels–all qualities determined by the density and design of the weave and the quality of the yarn. It’s by holding and draping fabric in your hand, by understanding the hand that you can best choose(...)
- HAND FINISHED
Used to describe a project that has been mostly machine made, but where the end details have been applied by hand–perhaps some hand topstitching or other decoration.
- HAND HEADINGS
Curtain headings that are made–planned, stiffened, worked–completely by hand to fit the track or pole exactly. Handmade curtains are bespoke and therefore made to fit, all headings are hand sewn.
This work is specialist and takes time but is not so difficult and the results are well worth(...)
- HAND TRIAL
The hand made test sample of any bespoke woven material made for your approval–showcasing depth, colour, scale and back–prior to it going into production. It is woven by hand as it is inefficient and unnecessary to set up the loom for such a small amount. (In printing this process is called a(...)
The timber of broad-leaved, deciduous trees, the slowest growing of which- those with the harshest winters, produce the most dense and therefore sturdiest wood.
Compared with the softwood of conifers, hardwoods are far more resilient, they are least prone to warp so can be riled on for the(...)
A 16thC comedy figure from the commedia dell'Arte theatre, traditionally represented wearing a red and black mask and multicoloured, diamond patterned outfit: a wonderful source of inspiration for fun interior furnishing fabrics and projects.
Describes a pleasing and consistent whole. Harmonious projects are the result of agreement and resolution: the collation of the right materials, design and techniques, a tight framework that creates structure and order while allowing freedom and narrative–the good 'feeling' of the thing,(...)
- HARRIS TWEED
An immemorial, traditional woollen cloth woven in the Outer Hebrides, off the western coast of Scotland. A traditional crofting cottage industry, it rose to fashionable prominence under the patronage of Lady Dunmore in the 19thC, soon supplying Saville Row and the world of couture, earning its(...)
A firmly stuffed cushion used for kneeling–often found in church pews, and with members designing and making covers with individual tapestry tops for their own or general use.
- HAUTE COUTURE
The ultimate aim. From the French for 'high-level sewing', it also refers to pattern cutting and stitching at the very highest of standards. As a mark of quality, genuine haute couture is entirely stitched by hand, something we aspire to achieve in our interior furnishings.
Mown grass that has been dried for fodder.
1. Dried grasses, clover or herbs can be used for stuffing straw mattresses - palliase, which are much softer than straw, though not as durable as horsehair. Inexpensive, easy to change each summer, together they have a delightful scent; as(...)
As a colour, hazel is a soft brown, leaning towards olive.
The common hazel Corylus with around 15 common species, is a deciduous tree , native to the northern hemisphere, commonly used for coppicing. The flowers appear early, before the leaves. The female catkins are small, mostly(...)
Or bed head. A panel fitted at the head of a bed to protect from draughts and sounds, as a comfortable layer between bed and wall and as a backrest when sitting upright. Headboards can be made as part of the bed frame, purpose made or free standing. The frames can really be made from anything(...)
- HEARTH STONE
The stone- heat proof material - that fills the bottom of the fireplace or chimney opening , then extends into the room.
The section that extends into the room is for protection, the size of which is governed by building regulation. This may or may not be made of the same material as that(...)
Refers to the inner core of the tree trunk that has lost its ability to transmit sap and thus undergone a change in nature, making it the densest, strongest, and sometimes more colourful of wood–it is has multiple uses, but is especially prized by furniture makers for beautiful quality(...)
A Eurasian heath found on moorland and heathland with a purple-flower; the colour of the flower. In textiles, it may refer to yarns spun from several pre-dyed fibres, and to the textile woven from this yarn. The different subtle tones or colours create a soft, muted cloth that commonly(...)
- HEAVY WEGHT
See weight. As heavy-weight fabrics contain a greater amount of raw fibres, their greater durability and denser texture makes them particularly suitable for upholstery. When used in window dressings, they drape more heavily, and create a more formal style; as door curtains heavy weight fabric(...)
A valuable object kept in the family for several generations. Many hand worked furnishings are heirlooms, made to last a lifetime - the very best of which are passed down to the next and even succeeding generations.
* Bedcovers carry special resonance as across culture the bedquilt or(...)
The finished edge of a piece of cloth that has been turned under and sewn–refers usually the lower edge, but can include the sides. Fabric is doubled under to conceal the raw edge, and the resulting fold line secured with invisible or decorative stitches.
see basic techniques
The Cannabis sativa plant grown for fibre,oil and seed, which in turn become hemp oil, fabric, paper, resin, wax, fabric, pulp and for building as boarding, insulation and construction blocks.
Though it is as old as the hills, hemp is the 'new' material and in addition to its traditional(...)
Henley is the home of the Royal Regatta held annually at the beginning of July on Henley reach.
Broadly used to describe any vibrant and striking striped fabrics that resemble the jackets and boaters worn for the famous rowing competition. Particular colour and width groupings of stripes(...)
Describes the historic European system of devising and regulating coats of arms and armorial bearings such as shields, crests, etc.
Heraldic designs are complex and meaningful and applied to all kinds of mediums: painted, woven, printed, embroidered textile ...
Describes any plant with leaves, seeds or flower with aromatic and medicinal qualities; use in the home in bath bags to soften and perfume the water, in wardrobe to perfume clothes, deter moths and fill pillows and with grasses to stuff pillows or mattresses. Floor strewing, with hay.
A highly durable and hardwearing Persian rug, produced particularly in the town Heriz on Mount Salaban, and in the Heriz region. New Heriz rugs are typically made from rough yarn on a cotton warp and are deeply piled and soft, although to my mind many 19thC rugs that carry signs of wear are(...)
A weaving pattern and a sewing stitch, so-called as it resembles the herring fish's bone structure.
1. The woven zigzag pattern is a variation on a twill weave, where the reversal of direction at regular intervals forms a series of deep V shapes: one facing down, the next up. Herringbone(...)
Hesperaloe funifera (Agavaceae), a plant related to sisal and to the Agave family. Native to northern Mexico it produces a desirable fine white fibre for paper, and paper woven textile. It is under experimentation as a suitable plant for biomass fuel.
Called burlap in the USA. A coarse, plain woven fabric made from kenaf, jute, sisal, hemp available in various weights and mostly imported from India. The name hessian seems to have come from the German state of Hessen, where the Hessian soldiers would have used the cloth as part of(...)
The skin of an animal, whether tanned or raw. For interior furnishings, it is almost always tanned, and vegetable tanning produces the softest material.
The Scottish Highlands, the mountainous part of Scotland associated with Gaelic culture; from the spectacular moorland, rivers and woodlands to the quality knitting wools and woven textiles to the world renowned plaids - tartans–of the Scottish clans worn for kilts and other highland dress,(...)
A textile piece from Sumba, which is made as a man's mantle and woven using a warp ikat.
A plain weave, firm, hardwearing cloth made from linen or cotton and stiffened with oil or shellac giving it a soft glaze.
It comes naturally unbleached or brown, but can be piece dyed to any colour.
Holland is used for stiffening collars and jacket facings in the tailoring world, but is(...)
- HOLLIE POINT
A needle lace, unique as the ground is more solid– the pattern is created by the holes, rather than the pattern creating holes .., so the other way around, very time consuming and rare to find.
A shrub with dark green, prickly leaves and bright red berries. Young holly wood is fine and white, used for contemporary furniture and fittings such as plaited wood poles, etc. Holly leaves and berries are a traditional decoration, with great appliqué potential for Christmas related(...)
An adjective used to describe a rough, primitively woven textile; traditionally, every household would spin their own yarn, so that the texture of woven fabric reflected not only the indigenous raw material sources but also the expertise of the spinner, evident from the fineness of the(...)
A lightweight raw silk from the Honan region of China, a high grade form of pongee. Made from from wild silkworms, it is the only wild silk that accepts vegetal dyes easily and uniformly. Woven in a plain weave with a typical slightly rough texture and matt look, it is a very chic fabric that(...)
A type of weave probably better known as waffle-weave, creating a figured cloth with a raised pattern reminiscent of the hexagonal grids of honeybee wax cells; it is used for summer dressing gowns and towels, especially hammam towels and for curtains, cushions and covers if you can find it by(...)
- HONITON LACE
A bobbin lace brought to the English town of Honiton by Flemish immigrants in the 17thC, it has developed into a very fine part lace worked in flowers and foliage on a fine mash ground. It is mostly made with white silk,cotton or linen thread, and occasionally in black silk.
- HOOK and EYE
A closure consisting of a small metal hook on one side, which fits into an embroidered loop, the eye, on the other side. Always stitched on the inside and intended to be invisible, in couture it is used especially at the top of a zip and along the shoulder seam to keep underwear straps in(...)
- HOOKED RUGS
A hand knotted rug - yarn or fabric is pulled through a squared canvas with a rug hook–the yarn is held beneath the canvas, and looped up at regular intervals from above with the hook: the sequence of loops form the pile.
Latch-hooking is a variant, whereby short lengths of wool are folded(...)
Hopsack fabric is a loosely woven, coarse fabric usually of cotton, linen or wool, and is so-named as hop growers used this weave for their hop carrying bags or ‘baskets’–an anecdote I like the sound of and have heard to be true, though I do not know for sure whether it is.
A plain weave(...)
A bone outgrowth of certain animals. Deer antlers (which are annually shed, or discarded), cow, ox and buffalo horn can be recycled into armchairs, chandeliers, wall lights, knife handles, brush handles, buttons, rings, zip pulls, cord tidies, etc.
Made from long strands of horse tail and used in upholstery, horsehair is a natural waste fibre, fully sustainable, which is very strong and just doesn't wear out.
Horsehair has two main uses.
1. For Traditional Upholstery
Loose, and used as the staple material for all traditionally(...)
Also known as dogstooth.
A distinctive two-tone pattern of broken checks that can be printed or woven, so-called as it supposedly resembles the pointed teeth of a hound. From the Scottish lowlands and traditionally used in tailoring.
The weave structure looks complex but is extremely(...)
- HOUSEKEEPER’S COVERS
These are the home made dust covers that drop casually over furniture, or squares to cover beds for protection when not in use.
Housekeepers covers are not exactly fitted - they are quickly made and more casual than the loose covers or slip covers that are chosen as alternatives to(...)
- HOUSEKEEPERS CUPBOARD
This is the huge free-standing cupboard that every home had before fitted units and cupboards took over. An important piece of furniture and a cavernous affair, that was very often a wedding gift, and in which bed linen, table linen and perhaps crockery and cutlery were kept.
Good housekeeping provides the support and order that underpins every household, hotel and business; without due care and attention the system and the edifice crumbles.
Housekeepers' cupboards and adequate storage are essential for good function.
The textiles that make the(...)
A riding seat for elephants or camels, typically, but not always with a canopy. At tourist level, the mix and match of textiles in the blankets, covers and cushions is a lesson in design serendipity and casual, comfortable creativity. At royal level, the upholstery, canopy and decoration(...)
A prosperous handloom weaving area located in southwest India, close to Goa, a hub for Khadi-cotton and silk textiles, paper and the use of vegetable dyes.
A coarse linen or cotton fabric with an uneven raised squared surface made of twisted yarn to increase the absorbency; woven for towelling and pre-dating the looped terry by centuries.
The hue is the attribute, the essence of a colour–that which makes it recognisable as red, or blue, or yellow. Black, white and all greys are excluded form the definition.
- HUET JEAN-BAPTISTE
Jean- Baptiste Huet (1745-1811) was the chief designer for the Oberkampf factory in Jouy-en-Josas, near Paris, an artist who created the first patterns and whose skill at combining individual scenes to create an overall pattern -toile de jouy – set the standard for these copperplate-printed(...)
French Protestants of the 16th-17thC, who were inspired by the writings of John Calvin and severely persecuted by the Catholics. By the end of the 17thC most had fled to England, Switzerland, Northern Europe, the Americas and South Africa. Many were skilled textile manufacturers of silk,(...)
Hunting is a way of life and for many tribal cultures the sole means of survival, providing food and materials for clothing and home making
1. A way of life, which by-product provides us with hides, skins, horn and bone for use in clothing and furnishing.
2. Any tweed or woven fabric in(...)
Striped reps, based on the dress uniform of the eponymous 14thC Hungarian light cavalry regiment.
See water hyacinth
This adjective describes a fear of water, and in textile it aptly denotes water repellent fabrics. As an inherent characteristic the fibre must be waterproof rather than simply the finish.
Hydrophobic fabric can be used safely for outdoor furniture and shower curtains.
Adjective, describes when moisture can penetrate fabrics - allowing them to breathe.
"Water in the solid state, formed by freezing liquid water"
The wide open areas of icescapes, the stillness and peace punctuated by animal life and settlement are inspirational design concepts, as is the associated lifestyle: the need to use what is available without fad or favour, with no(...)
Knitwear from Iceland tends to be not dissimilar to Fair Isle or Norwegian work, the wool from Lopi sheep is knitted into warm jumpers in two integrated colours, often with a detailed yoke pattern. Iceland knitting patterns tends to feature undyed wools–the neutrals, pale greys and browns of(...)
Rows of crystal drops stitched to the hem or edging of furnishings, that dangle and seem to drip like a melting icicle.
A painting of Jesus or other holy figures, typically painted or engraved on wood to help to facilitate a state of devotion and worship. Icons can be found in churches, or in a corner of the house dedicated to meditation, along with an oil lamp or candle, sacred text, an image or painting. In(...)
An adjective describing something of or relating to the nature of an icon; a classic representation, a piece from a certain period or style that is instantly recognisable: an iconic chair is one that most people will recognise as representative of a design period.
The people and language of one of Africa's largest ethnic groups, primarily living in south eastern Nigeria, in the Niger Delta.
Their uli/uri motifs express part of this community's rich cultural heritage: traditionally painted on women's bodies for social rites (funerals, marriage, even(...)
From the Malay mengikat, meaning ‘to bind’, a distinctive decorative textile weaving technique indigenous to various parts of the world, whereby the warp or the weft yarns(and sometimes both, this being the most prestigious type called double Ikat), are resist dyed according to the pattern(...)
A type of Jacquard woven cloth with a background stripe and a figured pattern over scrolls or other flowing design.
Refers to brownish impurities that are in unbleached and untreated fibres and woven cloth, within all vegetal fibres but especially in raw state cotton, and wild silks. The ‘impurities’ are small pieces of the cotton boll, silkworm cocoon, or stems of leaves that have been caught up in the(...)
Indigofera tinctoria, or true Indigo, is a plant from which the dye and deep blue colour Indigo is derived. Indigo dye is known all over the world and can be sourced from a number of other plants and species. In the natural range of dyes, indigo is high on the colour-fast list, ageing and(...)
The Indus valley encompasses the fertile lands around the Indus river, where once some of earliest civilizations settled and evolved; it is consequently an important region in the development of textiles. Evidence of human activity goes right back to the bronze age (3300-1300 BC) with the(...)
An adjective meaning liable to catch fire; the subject of strict regulations that vary from country to country especially with regard to furnishings for hotels, business premises and private lettings.
Every fabric has a flame test report that is available from the manufacturers and(...)
Or engrain: fabric, carpet or knitted articles that are made with pre-dyed yarn.
- INISHMACSAINT LACE
An Irish needle lace worked with a fine linen thread creating a raised, 3D effect - a dense design with little ground - each part of the design has a raised outline -the cordonnett - which is added after the flat work is complete with a thickish cord, sometimes over stitched with button(...)
- INK JET PRINTING
A computer printing method that creates a digital image by propelling minute droplets of ink on the surface of a variety of mediums.
Ink-jet printing has transformed the scope of printing, it is now as easy to transfer a computer image onto textile as it is onto paper. The options are(...)
A technique whereby a secondary material is neatly set into the first. For example, in woodwork, a pattern is carved out of the main wood at a shallow depth, then the wood to be inlaid is cut to this same exact depth and shape and carefully fitted and glued into place. With the best inlaid(...)
To mark, write, print, carve or engrave words, letters, a saying, a signature, initials, dedication, or personal identification onto or into a surface.
Signing your name implies ownership, and also pride. If a work is signed, it is validated by the author, to be released into the world to(...)
Fitting one thing carefully into another to denote a change–a splash of colour, a change of texture, of direction or a section of fullness or gathering such as a godet or gore. The effect might be subtle and depend on light and texture for definition, or be a very obvious insert.
Describes when one piece of cloth is set into another.
* This is always decorative and can be self-coloured for the seams to show the form, or to include other colours or textures.
* A repair patch can be inset or laid on (see appliqué ).
* An inset detail is one that is stitched(...)
- INSET PIPING
A type of piping. Piping is both purposeful and decorative, it serves to protect the edge and also to define the shape of the piece. Inset piping's sole purpose is to add detail, producing a narrow, raised strip of colour or texture to bring another dimension.
Where piping is used between a(...)
The finished work, and the method of seamlessly knitting a motif into the main body of the piece by using separate textured or coloured yarns for the duration of the motif, or picture, instead of carrying the different coloured yarns across the back of the work.
An invisible stiffening layer that is stitched between the top fabric and the lining or facing beneath, providing stability to a soft fabric so that it keeps its shape both whilst it's being worked on and throughout its life. Anything that is cut on the cross, or in a concave or convex(...)
Meaning two things are linked together to make a complete and seamless whole. The interlinking between warp and weft is often called interlacing. Once a weft yarn holds the warp it is interlaced.
Any material, natural or synthetic, that is sandwiched between two others, to add warmth, padding or weight. Interlining can be made for purpose or adapted: curtain interlining, wadding for quilting, fine linen to support a lightweight cloth or, say, a duvet stitched between the curtain fabric(...)
1. A type of woven cloth that at first sight looks like a JERSEY, but has the same appearance on each side and a more natural stretch.
2. Describes joining an interlining firstly to the main fabric, and then to the lining, with lock stitches that hold all the layers together firmly enough(...)
In working with textiles, intersections, or crossings, occur everywhere, in conjunction with layering and dimensional design. Insets, insertions or laid on works require a tricky level of detailed work to create a seamless look, which is more than compensated for by the results. Vertical and(...)
Intuition is born of experience and built on a foundation of observation and experimentation. It goes a long way when dealing with new textiles, sub-materials, upholstery and locations. To 'get your eye in' requires interest, education and simply just looking and looking. Museums, country(...)
The Inuit and the Yupik are culturally similar communities of hunters and fisherman indigenous to and living across the northern hemisphere, as close to the Arctic circle as anyone can. In such a harsh and limited climate the degree of materials available to work with is limited, and almost(...)
- INVERTED PLEAT
See pleat. A double pleat, where two equal folds of fabric are pleated towards each other and meet in the centre–from the front you see two folds with the pleat behind. Inverted pleats are common in furnishings for decoration or easement, as chair valance corners, bed valances, pelmets,(...)
To work two or more materials together to create a design, whether as a small additional decorative placement or as the main item–such as a large piece of cloth or fencing.
One of the five Classical architectural orders (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan, and Composite). The Ionic column is slender and fluted with a capital of double scrolls.
A flower, strongly associated with the Fleur-De-Lis motif found on wallpapers, stencils and flowers, and used in particular for Napoleonic and Regency period restoration work or to create a period style.
- IRISH LINEN
Linen woven in Ireland and certified by with Irish Linen Guild is among the finest and best in the world, in large part due to the softness of Irish stream and river water (also responsible for the best and smoothest Guinness).
It is believed flax was grown in Ireland as early as 1,000 BC,(...)
Iron is the most common element on the planet, forming much of its inner and outer core. As a less durable metal than silver or gold, its ancient use is not certain, though smelted iron (it is smelted to separate it from other elements) has been traced back to 3500 BC, in Egypt.
- IRON FILINGS
Iron filings reaction with jaggery - molasses on water to create a permanent black ink and dye which is used in kalamkari work and all hand block printing.
A bit of a catch-all really, covering many types of island-themed inspiration–the island you imagine will be the one you are most familiar with.
* Textiles, room schemes and homes are often designed, coloured and executed with the idea of islands in mind. The word is evocative of the sea,(...)
Or ixtle; a strong fibres from various tropical American and Mexican plants (including Agave funkiana) used locally to make ropes, basket work and carpets.
- ITALIAN QUILTING
Also known as corded quilting; a unique technique whereby only the pattern is quilted. The method was popularised in Renaissance Italy, however it is indigenous to many Asian and middle-eastern countries, and is thought to have been brought to Europe through trade links.
* The top layer of(...)
A hard, smooth, creamy white component of the tusks of elephants, walruses and narwhals, used in ornamentation; white piano keys were once always veneered with ivory, and old ivory buttons are well worth collecting from antiques markets to use for decoration and closures.
As a rare natural(...)
The common ivy Hedera helix provides much inspiration for embroidery and decoration as its fruits and lobed leaves carried on long stems are simple forms to work with. The trailing nature of the plant fully lends itself to the edges of bedding and the leading edges of curtaining.
- JACOB (Georges)
Antique pieces marked with the famed Jacob name are investment pieces and I think cannot now be taken out of France without express premission.
George Jacob (1739-1814), hailed from Cheny, Burgundy, France, was a prominent Parisian cabinet maker who produced upholstered carved and painted(...)
- JACOB'S FLEECE
Jacob sheep are an ancient breed, generally kept in small flocks. Their long crimped fleeces in tones of off-white to soft brown to dark brown–almost black–are sheared annually. This springy fibre is always used in its natural colours as sole colour or blended for knitting wool and in carpet making.
- JACOB'S LADDER
A stitch type found in most handworking techniques including crochet, knitting, embroidery, drawn thread work. The lines of ladder stitches can be made within a work or used to join two pieces of work together.
The ladder of Jacobs dream that reaches all the way to heaven, typically of much(...)
Refers to the 17th C post-Elizabethan period, in which England and Scotland were ruled by King James I (who namely commissioned the King James Bible).
The Jacobean decorative arts were marked by continental developments and increasing world travels. It therefore features furniture decorated(...)
The Jacquard loom revolutionised weaving techniques, allowing complex designs and intricate weaves to be made by machine.
Invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard in France between 1801-1804, the Jacquard loom came into general use over the next thirty years.
Weaving instructions are set out on(...)
The colour of deep green sea automatically springs to mind, although in fact jade stone runs from white to dark green. In furnishings, jade green - deep turquoise- is a good element colour to use, bringing out the best from those that surround it.
It's a ground colour for pinks and(...)
The capital of Rajasthan, also known as the Amber city as it was built from a local stone that reflects the warm tones of the sunlight. It is the textile capital of India, a city of artisans specialised in hand block printing, embroidery and leather-work; it is also a centre for precious(...)
A town in Rajasthan, India, which has given its name to the Shisha embroidery style that incorporates small pieces of stitched-in mirrored glass. These reflect the light and glitter in an extraordinarily beautiful way.
Pierced, carved, latticed screens of wood or stone typically following Islamic design principles, and particularly developed in Moghul India to cover or become the windows of palaces and grand houses.
The function was two-fold, to shield from sun and breeze, and to shield courtesans would(...)
Jalousie windows and doors are very similar in principle to Parisienne shutters, in that the the upper section is louvred, within a solid frame. Whilst Parisiennes by and large provide supplementary cover, Jalousies are themselves the door or window.
The design is such that the louvres(...)
The vertical side-surface or post of a chimneypiece, window frame or doorframe.
A figured or flowered muslin woven in West Bengal and Bangladesh. Of Persian origin, from jama meaning cloth and dana, woven motif, and known throughout the ancient world as a fabric of great and desirable delicateness. The Moghuls are said to have developed the Bangladeshi muslin weaving(...)
- JAP SILK
Jap silk–the favourite soft, wispy, silky but slightly matte fabric used in lingerie and lampshade coverings, a habotai, habouti or pongee from Japan and China.
Now always known as habotai - Jap silk was so called when it was widely exported from Japan to the west in the first half of the(...)
The Land of the Rising Sun.
A Pacific Ocean island, the far East, lying to the west of China. Japan translates as 'sun origin', or 'sunrise' ; it carries a rich and ancient cultural and textile history, characterised by detail and exactitude.
Japanese culture rose to Western attention in(...)
An ornamental pot for displaying growing plants or traditional floral arrangements. Often made in ceramic, in blue and white, Chinese influenced and designs.
A mineral that is a form of chalcedony, opaque and either red, yellow, green or blue; it's an ancient stone, described in the Bible in Exodus 28 as one used on the High Priest's breastplate.
Whilst the most esteemed are green, the colour 'jasper' almost always refers to the(...)
A long-sleeved knitted top, and a soft, fine knitted fabric.
1. Jerseys are plain, hardworking jumpers knitted in stocking stitch with ribbed hems. This absolutely classic design is a simpler version of the Guernsey sweater, one that remains de rigueur for yachtsmen and women across the(...)
- JODPHUR BLUE
Jodphur, in Rajasthan, India, is renowned for many thing , amongst which are the infamous riding jodhpurs, for its blue and for bandhani - tie-dyed silks.
Many of the houses of the Mehrangarh Fort area are painted in Jodphur blue, an unforgettable and wonderful sight between the sky and(...)
A weaving technique from Laos. Jok means 'to pick' and is a supplementary weaving method, in which the pattern is created by inserting extra weft threads by hand, producing a fabric that looks like a stunning brocade.
The threads are 'picked' by hand, with a needle or a porcupine quill and(...)
- JOUY en JOSAS (TOILE DE JOUY )
The world famous toile de jouy fabrics which have stolen many a heart and typify the 'French style' were first made in Jouy en Josas , just outside Paris, by the river Bièvre where Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf decided to locate his printing workshops. From 1760,(...)
- JUMBO CORD
The thickest, widest and deepest form of corduroy, very well suited to furnishings. As a plain colour it has plenty of texture and nap–meaning it reflects light well. Its depth of fabric has a sound-deadening quality, making it a fabric of choice for studies and book-rooms. The best qualities(...)
Jungle prints are effusive, exotic and full of life, tropical growth, birds and wildlife: savannah, tigers, zebras, giraffes, lions, leopards, cheetahs, flamingos, elephants, monkeys…etc.
Jungle prints might be scientifically and biologically accurate, in fun forms, simplistic outline, or(...)
An evergreen shrub or tree, the Juniperus family of coniferous plants produce berries that are used as a spice for rich meats, such as venison, and are the primary flavouring for gin. They have a rich, deep, purplish-black colour, which is very often a desirable alternative to a solid black in(...)
A versatile, age-old fibre from plants in the genus Corchorus that thrive in a monsoon climate, where they can grow fast with their feet in water in alluvial soil. Tossa jute, Cochorus olitorius, traditionally comes from Africa and the Middle east, and white jute, Cochorus capsularis, from(...)
- JUTE SCRIM
An open weave jute fabric that is used for cleaning windows and for upholstery, and which makes great-looking sheer curtains. Scrim is transparent enough and discreet – the natural colour ‘disappears’ so that is not obvious from outside, and the material provides just enough coverage to(...)
The placement and the tension gained when two objects are placed next to each other.
In home furnishings and textiles, colour juxtaposition is a science all of its own; for example, how red and pink might look together and then how that same red will look against white, or blue, or(...)
Or Qalamkari (meaning brushwork/pen craftsmanship), a traditional textile art whereby cotton cloth is decorated with free-hand painting or block printing using only vegetable dyes.
Many of the textiles we enjoy are based on traditional kalamkari designs, such as the Tree of Life. Designs(...)
Kamdani is the lighter form of Zardosi embroidery, with flattened gold and silver thread and used on finer fabrics with less elaborate stitching. It is one of the most ancient of Indian embroidery techniques, venerated throughout Persia, China and Europe, and employed for lighter furnishings(...)
- KANI WEAVING
A traditional Kashmiri hand weaving technique which has produced some of the very finest and most elaborate cashmere shawls, now mainly produced in the Srinagar locality, in Kanihama, Batpora, Kashmir. Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte famously presented his wife Empress Josephine with a Kani shawl,(...)
A traditional Indian running stitch that is used for a form of quilting; also the name of fabric worked in this way. Kanthas are made from layers of old materials, usually whole or patchworked pieces of sari that are sandwiched together between new cloth by rows of running stitches worked by(...)
A fine, cotton-like fibre that grows in the seed pods of the Kapok tree, the Ceiba pentandra (also known as silk-cotton, or Java cotton), which grows in West Africa, Central Caribbean, Central and South America, China and the Far East. The fibre is light, buoyant, resilient and water(...)
Karamiori – Japanese meaning to entwine, tangle - covers the loom techniques that use intertwining threads to create open structure - Ro, Sha and Ra. Any fine fibres can be used- even gold thread which creates an amazing translucent
It’s thought to be an old technique from at least 710 –(...)
- KASAI VELVET
Also known as velour du Kasaï, a cloth made using a cut-pile technique of embroidery by the Kuba ethnic group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Women (traditionally, pregnant women) thread very fine raffia fibres through a woven raffia base cloth to create a pattern(...)
Historically the valley between the Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain ranges of the north western Indian sub continent, it now refers to a region divided geographically and politically between India and Pakistan. It is an important religious and cultural centre renowned for its fine(...)
A city in Pakistan close to the Indian border, known for its canvas and relief tent business, also more recently for reviving the hand loom weaving textile production.
A Japanese ikat technique using indigo and white almost exclusively, ( with occasional uses of brown) and usually woven as a weft or double ikat.
This is a true celebration of the use of colour and a master class in how to work with limited means–through deliberate choice, rather than(...)
An Indonesian batik technique made up of four stylised ovals (a cross-section of the aren-palm fruit) placed at 90º angles in a circle, creating a repeated, geometric, kaleidoscope-like pattern. Kawung was one of the carefully guarded forbidden design worn by Javanese royalty.
Hand-made ceramic beads and pottery ware from Kenya by the Kazuri workshops. Run since 1975 to provide sustainable employment for the marginalised in Kenyan society, in particular single mothers, the artistry reflects Kenyan culture and wildlife.
Kazuri's quality, vibrant colours and(...)
A flat tapestry-woven carpet woven by the tribal communities of Anatolia, the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Middle East. Kelim rugs are made from wool, cotton or goat hair–whichever the local climate supports–and coloured from the supply of local vegetation or traded minerals. The older are(...)
An ancient and jute-like fibre, Hibiscus cannabinus is grown in various parts of world, and is the new kid on the block. It is a whole plant: grown as a forage crop for livestock, the bast fibre is used for fabric, the stalks are burned for fuel and the leaves are eaten as a(...)
- KENTE CLOTH
Mainly produced by the Asante/Ashanti tribe of Ghana (and also by the Ewe tribe), it is woven in pieces on narrow-strip looms and then embroidered together to form a 6ft x 12ft cloth. An exuberant, strikingly colourful cloth more commonly made of cotton, and sometimes of silk.
This is sacred cloth.... the livery of freedom (Mahatma Gandhi)
Khadi or khaddar is an organic cloth woven from silk, wool or cotton by hand using khadi yarn–which is twisted as it is spun, giving the finished cloth an uneven, slightly crumpled texture. It is cool in summer and warm(...)
The dull, sandy-brown colour of military uniforms (camouflage and fatigues), it is a good background colour. Military cloth–cavalry twill–is very hardwearing and excellent for walling, upholstery and curtaining in dens, children's rooms and studies.
The soft and supple hide of young goats–kidskin gloves are the stuff of legend. Chairs and seats covered in such leather feel luxurious, clean with a wipe, last and look good for a long time–though it is always vulnerable to buckles, rings and belt ends catching. However, once it's past being(...)
An alternative spelling of Kelim.
A knee-length garment of wool flannel woven in a myriad of particular plaid designs with clan names and specific colour combinations; the traditional dress of Scottish highlander men, it was adopted in the 19th C as a wider Scottish national symbol.
A rich resource from an immense catalogue(...)
A term that generally covers a long and wide-sleeved, loose fitting style of robe worn by Japanese men and women from all classes of society from the 16th C till today, though now mainly worn for ceremonial occasions and relaxing.
The Kimono is a simple construction of straight seams and(...)
- KITENGELA GLASS
Everything Unique – Nothing Wasted
" Sleek vases the colour of sea glass. A coffee table that looks as if it’s made of crushed ice with orange melting shapes within. Extravagant murals. A goblet that feels solid and perfect in your hand. Majestic and bejeweled chandeliers. A splash of(...)
A classical Greek chair with sabre legs and a back rail that curves around the body.
- KNIFE PLEATS
Fabric folded into a number of pleats that are pressed all in the same direction. They are chic, usually completely vertical but may be shaped to taper–these are much more complicated to make, but look especially good on the deep skirts of loose covers–for this you need a good budget or masses(...)
An ancient method of creating fabric by interlocking loops of yarn either by hand with knitting needles, or now by machine. Knitted fabrics tend to be made from natural, soft fibres such as wool and cotton, though it is possible to use paper, copper wire, plastic–anything that can be made into(...)
- KNOT GARDEN
An Elizabethan garden design concept, related to the French parterre, low hedgings of box or yew forming a particular pattern with gravel type spaces and pathways, designed to be best appreciated viewed from the first floor reception rooms where the design becomes more apparent.
A secure fastening made by tying or interweaving rope or string. Knots play an important part in sailing and in nautical life, the ability to use the right knot for the right occasions an essential survival skill.
In creating textiles and finishes knotting techniques are less about life and(...)
- KNOTTED LACE
Macrame is the only hand knotted lace, the others that might come under the category- refer to lace - are made with needles or bobbins that through the stitch, manipulation or order of work, create knots.
Also known as tasar; it is the Sanskrit name for the wild silk from the cocoons of worms that feed on oak leaves and leave the cocoon before the silk thread is obtained, as opposed to seri-culture silk that is produced under controlled conditions, so that the thread is unwound in a long single(...)
A cloth made in Uttar Pradesh and in Kota, Rajasthan's third largest city, 149 km south of Jaipur on the banks of the Chambal river–a major food production area also known for its art and textile production.
Kota is woven mostly for fine saris by small family businesses, each with their own(...)
- KOUBIS GEORGETTE
A type of georgette crepe - very fine and lightweight, in silk.
Felted wool particularly suited to steaming and manipulation, used in millinery for cloche style hats. Use in furnishings for unusual detail and manipulated projects.
The Kuba ethnicity, located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (previously Zaire), has woven cloth from raffia since the 12th C at least, appearing in Europe from the 17th C. Kuba men are responsible for growing, then weaving a base cloth of raffia (called mbal); women then work the(...)
- KURTA / KURTI
Kurta and Kurti from Hindustani, meaning the Persian 'collarles shirt'
These are the loose, long shirts, worn extensively by men ( kurta ) and women ( kurti) throughout India, Srilanka, Afghanistan, Nepal and Pakistan. They are simple, unfitted and collarless, slip-over tops that usually(...)
A lightweight, open weave fabric worked with needles, spindles (bobbins) or crochet in looped, twisted, knotted or interlocked threads - lace making has it’s own language. These techniques characterise the lace type ( see below) and create a border or a piece or work that is built up(...)
- LACE PILLOW
A padded 'cushion' used in bobbin lace making and in needle lace which rests on the lap or a low table, and which holds the work throughout the making process.
A process whereby a long thread, ribbon, string, or lace is threaded systematically through two opposite rows of punched holes or eyelets to draw two pieces together.
Describes when a fabric surface is covered with a solid and very high sheen that resembles lacquered paint and shellac varnish work.
Few furnishings fabrics per se are lacquered as the finish is very difficult to manage, perhaps the closest might be a heavy heavily glazed by the calendering(...)
- LAID ON
When a textile or trimming is superimposed onto another as in, patching, edging or decoration. Such as appliqué, couching and braid work.
- LAMB FLEECE
The whole natural woolly skin of a young sheep, used mostly for fleece sized rugs and cushions. Fleeces can be joined together to make larger pieces for floor rugs, bedcovers or curtaining.
Lamb fleeces are perfect for young children and babies to lie on and to sleep on :
+ the fleece is(...)
- LAMB NAPPA
Soft lambskin that has undergone a nappa treatment to make it soft enough for the finest cushions.
An ornamental hanging or covering–a surround–often pinned around a door or window frame, behind which curtains are hung. It is especially typical of early days curtaining, where the actual window covering would have been made of plain wool with little or no fullness. Today lambrequins are most(...)
Leather made from a young sheep (anything from six months to a year old), which is very soft and pliable It is used in the fashion business for gloves and soft hand bags, and generally in home furnishings for upholstery and accessories: cushions, throws, screens, stools and chair seats.
Wool from the first shearing of a lamb that can be anything from six months to a year old, depending on the climatic conditions of the herd. Six to eight-month-old lambs produce the best quality fibre: long, soft and fine. Lambswool is woven or knitted into fine quality cloth that can be made(...)
A distinctive, sparkly fabric that is woven or knitted with or to include thin ribbons or fine metallic threads of gold, silver or copper. It is mostly used for glittery evening dresses and fancy dress costume, although there is no reason it can’t be used in furnishings, in the right place and(...)
The process of bonding several layers of material together to create a stronger form, which has the benefit both of the materials inherent qualities and those of the manipulation, shaping, sculpting and bending ihat would be ways impossible for the single layer.
* Bonding can be with glue,(...)
A silk fabric with rich colours and a unique shimmering quality, thought to originate in China or Persia, and known in Europe as the ultimate luxury fabric from the 10thC onwards, being particularly popular in the 16thC. The background weft is supplemented with additional wefts (often in gold(...)
Loose undergarment, a loincloth made of fine cotton and worn by Indian men beneath the Kurta.
Also the name for washable, re-usable, cloth diapers / baby nappies which are shaped to fit.
To make a langot:
2 yards fine cotton or linen
needle and thread
The natural oil or wax present in sheep's wool. For most processes, lanolin is removed to make the wool yarn soft and fine; however, when knitting hunting and seafaring sweaters, lanolin is left in as a natural and essential waterproofer. In this state, lanolin has a slightly waxy feel and a(...)
- LAPIS LAZULI
A deep blue semi-precious stone, often with tiny specs of sparkling pyrite. Polished lapis lazuli survives in artefacts from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, and we know Cleopatra used it as eye shadow. It is best known as the ground pigment that supplied the precious and distinctive(...)
An English cottage garden plant that is tall and carries blue, pink or white flowers on high spires; it appears in many old-fashioned floral prints.
- LATH AND PLASTER
An internal wall and ceiling finishing technique that is sound absorbing and heat retaining. Horizontal rows of chestnut, hazel or oak laths are fixed to either side of a timber stud wall or ceiling framework, and the laths covered, filled and sealed with lime plaster.
In a wall, the stud(...)
An open framework of diamonds or squares created with criss crossed strips of material, wood or metal for outdoor use, leather or fabric, or ribbons for soft furnishings. In the first instance lengths of material are set parallel and away from each other diamond to create the form. For diamond(...)
A Mediterranean plant, the bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) provides aromatic cooking leaves, the staple of all bouquet garni, and also gives us the leaves of the classical laurel wreath, the symbol of success and victory–in reference to which we have the poet laureate.
To ‘look to one's(...)
A low growing shrub, Lavandula and species with mauve, pink or blue-ish flowers harvested for the perfume and moth proofing properties. Universally adored for the en masse colourful fields of lavender ready for harvest, it is closely associated with sunflowers, both on the ground and as(...)
A fine linen cloth originally produced in Laon, northern France, now mostly woven in cotton. Lawn is a fine, plain, tightly woven, strong fabric with a high thread count giving a light, silky, smooth feel with a good drape. Only just opaque, lawn lies between organdie, and calico) and can be(...)
A fabulous Indonesian silk cloth used for wedding ceremonies, resist -dyed by tying where the colours change. The centre panel is plain, surrounded by border in a complementary plain, with a narrow thread of yellow between. I've seen them in red with green, orange with red, green with red and(...)
The collection of new baby clothing and bedding that is lovingly prepared for a newborn baby: socks, booties, gowns, hats and jackets, swaddling blankets, sheets, pillowcases, and comforters.
In earlier times, all the women in the family would have been involved, gathering to help the(...)
1. A blue-grey element that is very heavy, soft, malleable and impenetrable–a highly toxic material, its use is closely regulated (for example, it is no longer a component of commercial paint).
2. Lead paint offers a silky smooth finish and looks very lovely, and it is still made for(...)
- LEADING EDGE
The forward edge of a curtain, which is pulled over and back. In a pair of curtains, the leading edges are the edges that meet and/or overlap in the centre of the window, track or pole. These edges are often the medium for decoration, such as contrasting fabric borders, rolled edges, appliqué(...)
A material derived from any animal hide made useable through the ancient process of tanning. Leather is a natural by-product of animal life, and in plentiful supply from the meat industry, where it’s a resourceful way of giving a new lease of life to what essentially starts off as a waste(...)
- LEATHER EMBOSSING
A process whereby a pattern is impregnated into leather through inlay (see inlaid), carving, embossing or by stamping.
A repeated, recurrent theme associated with an idea, situation or person–whether it be an image, motif, stanza, phrase, or melody.
If you're in the business of making beautiful furnishings, it's a good idea and a nice touch to have a subtle leitmotif that appears now and again as a kind of(...)
A type of loom that is used to make gauze; also a variation on the gauze weave, which is commonly mistakenly called as such. As a fabric it has a low thread count and non-slip construction. Grenadine is an example of a leno weave.
1. Fake or printed fur to resemble leopard skin.
2. A large cat with a distinctive spotted coat indigenous to parts of Africa and Asia, and an endangered species.
3. Blue and white, black and white, monochromatic or in multi coloured schemes, it brings a bit of animal magic to a design(...)
- LES INDIENNES
Nowadays commonly referred to in the English-speaking world as Provençal prints, it is the generic term for a small, colourful pattern printed with carved blocks onto calico.
Originally imported from India to France during the mid 17thC, these richly printed cloths, or toiles peintes, were(...)
Refers to any script that is decoratively included into a textile design, or commissioned embroidered monograms, full names, or phrases.
Generally refers to the Mediterranean region, and in textiles to a high-grade leather, also called Levant-grained or Levant morocco.
Made from sheep, goats or seals, its specific tanning technique accentuates the grain pattern, producing an irregular, creased finish. Often used in bookbinding.
- LIANE TASAR
Fabric made from the thread of wild silk worms that have fed on liana, or liane–any kind of climbing woody planting in tropical forests.
An iconic department store established in 1875 on Regent's St, London, by Arthur Lasenby Liberty. It remains true to its original ethos of celebrating the best of craftsmanship from the Occident to the Orient and beyond, in fashion and home furnishings. Notably famous for popularising William(...)
A composite plant made of a successful partnership between a fungus and a photosynthetic partner. Forming a leaf like growth, thousands of species can be found on trees, old wood, rocks… and survive the white heat of the day, the coldest of extremes and the darkest, dampest forests.
Describes the weight of certain fabrics such as voile, organdie, muslin, organza–mainly transparent or semi-transparent, and used predominantly for sheer under-curtains, dressing tables and lampshades. By nature floaty, soft and feminine, lightweight fabrics can be beautifully showcased as(...)
1. A white caustic alkaline substance derived from limestone, used in construction in a variety of ways, in particular for mortar and lime-wash.
2. Limed wood has a grain with a light dusting of white–this looks particularly well with an open grained, strong looking timber such as oak. The(...)
Originally referring to a linen thread, it now also generally refers to a straight line. In textiles and design, a 'good line' describes a pleasing shape and form.
From the Latin linium and the earlier Greek linum, woven from flax, linen is one of the world's oldest textile fabrics. Linen is thought to have been made in the Mediterranean and Europe at least 5,000 years ago–indeed, historical fragments of linen have been found in Switzerland, Mesopotamia,(...)
- LINEN SACKS
Linen and hemp sacks were used in Europe until very recently for transporting flour and grains, recognisable by the rustic ground cloth and the woven blue, red or ochre stripes, often centrally but also on either side; each maker had their own style.
These old sacks have been used, laundered(...)
- LINEN UNION
See metis, union
An inner or under fabric for improving a curtain drape, supporting a weaker or more wayward fabric, and protecting from sunlight, insects and dust. Standard curtain linings are twill woven cotton–cotton sateen–in white and neutral tones, though they are also available in a wide range of(...)
A printmaking technique in which linoleum is used as the relief surface–either side can easily be carved with a craft knife. The linocut is inked with a roller and pressed onto paper or fabric, either manually or mechanically. Print makers use linocuts in a highly skilled and mature way, but(...)
Also called lino, a wood cellulose floor covering with one top smooth surface and a rough hessian or canvas backed under surface. Often made from renewable materials, it comes in all types of grades and patterns.
Also known as 'wincey' or 'stuff', it is a thin, rough twill or plain hand woven fabric with a linen warp and a cotton or wool weft–producing a sturdy but coarse cloth more suitable to upholstery than clothing (though it was used for trousers and jackets). Used as a ground for needlepoint, for(...)
A soft linen or cotton with a raised nap used to dress wounds, which can be used for very fine interlining; or flax prepared for spinning; also the short fibres, the fluff that comes off the surface of cloth or yarn as it is processed.
- LIQUID COTTON
Originally a fashion fabric, as its name suggest it is a fine soft, flowing, knitted cotton jersey with a slinky feel and sheen and a fabulous drape. We've used it in soft grey and in oyster for bedroom curtains–it creates a very chic effect en masse.
A woven or jersey knitted fabric made from a tightly twisted, fine cotton thread (called lisle thread) which gives a very smooth finish; it was originally spun and woven in the French town of Lille.
A South American camelid living in the high Andes, similar to the alpaca–small, hump less with a woolly coat that protects it from both cold and heat; although it contains no lanolin (as sheep's wool does), its fibre density makes it waterproof.
The fleece is made up of a double coat, a(...)
A round or flower-shaped Swarovski crystal bead, also called a margarita bead, with a centre hole for decorative stitching, designed for use in fashion, but also employed a lot in interior furnishings as a spacer or on its own.
A thick, warm, light, windproof and relatively waterproof woollen fabric with a short pile, made by shrinking a loosely woven cloth: this creates a dense, felt-like fabric which is now a standard coat fabric. It was originally made in Austria, for 16thC Tyrolean monks and peasants, from the(...)
A star used as a point of reference during a nautical voyage–said especially of the North Star, and of any inspiration or guiding point of reference that keeps us on track.
The term used to describe the thickness of the yarn and its bounce-back after being compressed. When choosing any fabric, take a piece in your hand and scrunch it up. In so doing, you'll immediately know a lot more about it than what you can see on the roll.
A mechanism for weaving cloth. The simplest loom is a wooden frame onto which warp yarns are stretched and fixed on two opposite sides–usually the top and bottom. The weft yarn is then repeatedly passed through–under and over–the warp threads, in effect creating a woven cloth. There are many(...)
A term describing fabric as it leaves the loom, in an unprocessed state: almost all cloth needs to be washed, shrunk, dyed, or finished in some way before it is ready for use. Loomstate linen for example, is coarse, uneven and may be full of impurities, as are fabrics hand-woven from fairly(...)
- LOOSE COVER
Or slip cover
A removable, washable cover for chairs, sofas and bedheads.
Furniture covers can be tailored to fit exactly and as close to the upholstery as possible, or made oversized and loose. Either option will suit a country house, but the tailored option is the only one for urban,(...)
Also louver; a set of horizontal slats hung at a door, shutter or screen, designed to swivel and tilt to provide shade and/or protection from rain, whilst allowing air and a light breeze through.
see shutters, slats, les parisiennes
An architectural term for both the opening in the top of a dome which is opened to admit light and air, and any semi-circular panel or crescent shaped form in a ceiling, dome or other such space, decorated with paintings or sculptures.
The town Lunéville, in the Lorraine region of France is a historic centre for embroidery, home to a technical school of repute, Le Conservatoire des Broderies de Lunéville, and particularly known for its tambour stitchwork.
Point de lunéville is an embroidery technique on cotton (especially(...)
The trademark name for a metallic thread or yarn made of polyester fibre that is covered in a fine film of aluminium, silver or gold, giving its colour and preventing it from tarnishing. Also said of cloth woven using this yarn.
A wool and cotton satin woven fabric with a glossy–high sheen–surface.
The Du pont brand name for the spandex stretch fibre that is often mixed with cotton, and used for sportswear and fashion. Lycra textiles can be fun to use in interiors in a modern and sports-like setting.
A corrosive alkaline solution–sodium hydroxide–commonly known as caustic soda and used in washing powders to achieve purer whites, in oven and drain cleaning products, and to cure certain foods such as green olives.
* Lye solution is also used to treat woods, especially oak: soak in a bath(...)
An ancient Greek stringed instrument with a particularly lovely form and outline that has been copied many times for chair backs, wrought ironwork and in textile design.
As a lyric is the written expression of a writer's thoughts and feelings, so lyrical art is the way artists, poets or musicians create light, happy, infectious rhythms, performances and visual works.
An oriental spice made from the dried aril/outer covering of the nutmeg. It is one of the major mulling spices for white and red wines and cider, and adds a good flavour to red meat.
It is also reference for a really good wall colour that is not dissimilar to lovely aged wood, panelling.
Macramé is thought to have come from a 13th Century Arabic weavers’ word “migramah” meaning “fringe” This refers to the decorative fringes on camels and horses which help, amongst other things, to keep the flies off in the hot desert regions of northern Africa…
*An open work textile made(...)
- MADDER LAKE
A lake is a pigment formed by precipitating a dye with a binder, or mordant. Madder lake was one of the earliest ways of using madder.
- MADDER RED
“…my version of the story of madder is based on three Russian sources written about 1860. Naturally they do not agree with each other, drawing from different informants and covering an encouragingly wide field of disciplines. Where possible later sources are used to fill the gaps and to update(...)
Now Chennai, a city in southern India, it also refers to a lightweight cotton produced there, typically woven with open line checks in reds and blues and other bright colours. As clothing, it is used for handkerchiefs, short and shirts; in furnishings, it makes into tablecloths, comforters,(...)
- MADRAS CHECK/PLAID
Also known as Real Madras handkerchief( RMHK ) it is a fabric thought to have initially been woven on hand looms in Madras as ceremonial handkerchiefs–though 'handkerchief' may also refer to the 36” x 36” (91.5 x 91.5 cm) square repeat pattern, by this the fabric could circumvent certain(...)
The Indian elephant 'drivers' and handlers, some of whom offer a taxi service with rustic howdahs equipped with an eclectic selection of cushions, rugs and covers. These provide good design inspiration, and are a reminder not to worry too much about design schemes: mixed collections of(...)
- MALTESE CROSS
Also known as the Amalfi cross, it is historically associated with the Knights Hospitalier and the medieval European crusades. Made of eight points or a variation on this, in which each limb is V-shaped and symmetrically tapers and joins in the centre. It is often used decoratively in(...)
A circular, geometric figure representing the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism. It sometimes refers generically to any geometric plan or chart that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; it is also associated with the notion of journeying, in particular of labyrinths,(...)
- MANILA HEMP
Another name for the fibre obtained from abaca used for textiles, and which is best known by this name when referring to ropes and paper (manila envelopes).
A loose fitting cape, wrap or cloak that was once given as a symbol of power and authority in the European Church and at court. Because these garments employed the best quality materials and workmanship, were well cared for and thus survived, they constitute important sources of information(...)
A type of passementerie typical of Napoleon III's furnishings style, it is a short, thick fringe made from wool, cotton or viscose and is usually multi-coloured. When used on a cushion or loose coverings it looks a little like a brush. It's quite a fussy alternative to other piped or braided(...)
The Italian art of staining paper in marble-effect designs. Most of us have experimented with this well known technique at school. A shallow tray is filled with water or a specialised solution, into which drops of coloured dyes are added and swirled around several times using different(...)
- MAROCAIN/ MOROCAIN
A lightweight ribbed crêpe woven from cotton, wool, rayon and especially silk. It has a more visible grain than crêpe de chine.
Double crepe morocain is heavier and more often used for fur nishings
Refers to a lightweight leno weave open fabric, used for blinds and curtains. Traditionally a woven fabric made of cotton, it is now also machine-knitted and available in an array of chemical fibres, whether used singly or mixed with other fibres.
- MARRIAGE CLOTH
A wedding day cape worn by men or women in many world societies, and a major piece of the bridal trousseau. It is of immense cultural significance, the richness of the colours, textiles and designs are all symbolic, traditional and relevant to each community, and the quality of the work a(...)
- MARRONS GLACÉS
A typical French sweet of candied chestnuts cooked in syrup and glazed. They have a simply lovely colour, which is good inspiration for sofa and walls in studies and libraries, or when looking for fabric wall covering or paint similar in tone to aged wood panelling.
- MARTINDALE TEST
The industry standard for assessing the suitability for purpose of all upholstery textiles, evaluating their durability in terms of 'wearability and potential longevity' through rub tests: i.e. the amount of a rubs/abrasions a fabric can take before it starts to show wear.
This test is(...)
A small rug used for a specific purpose, e.g. a door mat collects dirt from shoes, a bath mat absorbs splashed water… The fabric should, of course, be fit for purpose, so a bath mat is likely to be in cotton, which absorbs moisture but is easy to launder, and a door mat in coir or woven(...)
A weaving or stitching technique carried out either by hand, on a quilting machine or on a Jacquard loom, which creates a sculptural, quilted effect creating the illusion of traditional hand-stitched padded quilts from the front.
The stitches or weave follow intricate decorative designs and(...)
The elements, the ingredients with and from which things are made: metal, wood, stone, glass, nuts, bolts, steel sheets... In textiles, it usually refers to the main fabric to be made up: the top cloth; although linings, interlinings and threads are essentially all construction(...)
A Hindi term for plain handloom woven silk made from thick yarn, which is warm to the touch, is crease resistant and looks like linen but with a softer drape. It can either be made from Mulberry silk filament, which produce the finest cloth, or broken, wild eri, silk, which gives a fluffier(...)
- MATKA TWILL
Matka silk in a twill weave gives a lovely, soft, heavy fabric, with a fabulous drape–it can be used in exactly the same way as a plain Matka weave.
An adjective describing any fabric with or without a nap that has a very flat (as opposed to shiny or lustrous) appearance–due either to the weave or finish.
Not that matte fabrics are without life: a matte silk can be almost chalky in appearance, stonewashed fabrics are matte with subtle(...)
Describes a floor covering usually made of coarse materials such as hemp, jute or straw, though any textile will do: paper, cloth, plastic tubes, wool, felt, seagrass, banana, bamboo, hessian...provided it is woven thickly and is durable enough to be walked on, to provide warmth, comfort and(...)
A large, generally rectangular stuffed fabric case used for sleeping or sitting on, filled with soft, resilient padding material.
Early mattresses, such a paillasse were made as a bag that tied at one end, filled with dried hay, collected grasses, herbs and anything suitable that could be(...)
- MATTRESS TICKING
Hand-made mattress cases were originally called ticks and it's from this that the cover fabric took it’s name. Ticking is a striped, tightly woven cloth in herringbone weave that is made to last, to hold the mattress together and to prevent the down, feather quills, straw, or whatever(...)
The pinkish - purplish or blueish - purple tones of pigment from the mallow plant.
A pale version of the purple colour, sometimes called mallow, it is also the first aniline dye created in the late 19thC.
A 17thC Flemish bobbin lace–though it is worth noting that at that time many Flemish laces were generically referred to as Mechlin laces. Mechlin is a very delicate and transparent lace skilfully worked with the finest of threads, and therefore quite costly. It was originally used decoratively(...)
- MEDIUM WEIGHT
'Medium weight' covers the middle ground and the majority of furnishing textiles - those that can be used for curtains, covers, cushions, drapes, beds, and upholstery. Really anything that is neither sheer nor very heavy can be described as medium weight. . Most cottons, linens and wools,(...)
A medium weight woven wool fabric that is smooth with a short nap, used in fashion for coat collars and for almost any furnishings including upholstery It's stable, hangs well, presses well and is a pleasure to work with; in addition, it resists fraying so can be made up with raw edges,(...)
A fabric finishing process that increases the lustre and smoothness of a plain weave cotton cloth. It was devised by the 19thC English inventor John Mercer, who found that treating the cloth to a caustic soda bath, followed by another in a neutralizing acid changed the surface texture,(...)
A breed of sheep that gives us a high quality, long staple fleece, which is spun into a strong, soft luxurious yarn. This natural wool is unsurpassed in its insulating qualities. Bred in the Middle Ages in and around the Mediterranean, notably in Turkey and Spain, today’s most constant supply(...)
In textile terms, it describes a fabric with an open structure achieved by planning the weave with gaps between warp and weft threads. The subsequent sheer/semi-sheer fabric filters light and views, thereby offering privacy, making it a practical solution for blinds, under curtains and at high(...)
- METAL THREAD
Used particularly in embroidery, these are threads made of silver, gold, copper or aluminium that are milled or beaten, and either cut into fine strips and wrapped around a core, or used flat, backed with strengthening paper or glue. Twisted metallic threads also exist, made from melted metals(...)
From the French, meaning ‘mixed’, it is a cloth woven with a cotton warp and a linen weft also known as union or linen union.
It has good body and drape, is soft and has a lovely colour, because even though both sets of fibres have been dyed either as a piece or yarn dyed to match each(...)
Refers to the amount of material–fabric, trimming, lining, interlining etc.– needed to complete a project.
From Italian meaning half stitch, a needle worked stitch used in embroidery, tapestry and lace making, known in English as half cross stitch., It is A 45º stitch is made in the direction of work, across two warp and two weft threads, and all subsequent stitches are made at the same angle, in(...)
A synthetic, breathable, water repellent and silky fibre. As clothing, microporous fabrics are used to make sportswear and outdoor clothing; for homes and gardens, they are made into shower curtains, garden cushions, rugs and throws, and quilted into curtains and slipcovers.
From Italian, meaning ‘a thousand flowers’, a design that can be found in any pattern or embroidery with massed flower heads. More specifically, it describes mosaic beads, a typical Venetian glass technique and a decorative motif, in which multi-coloured glass canes, or rods (called murine),(...)
Chinese dynastic rule from 1368 - 1644, well known for the finely made and painted porcelain.
- MIRROR WORK
Also known as shisha, shisheh or abhla bharat embroidery, is a typical decorative work of Jaiselmer, Gujerat and the west of Rajasthan, in which tiny pieces of mirror are inserted into an embroidered work, reflecting light and sparkling in the sun.
The genus of a tall, fast growing species of perennial grasses, and referring more habitually to Miscanthus giganteus (‘elephant grass’), a hybrid of M. sacchariflorus and M. sinensis. Cultivated in Japan and various parts of Asia and Africa, it has been seriously grown as a new crop in Europe(...)
A technique for making neat corners and junctions, to reduce the bulk of fabric at the meeting points of hem and side turnings.
The corner is folded back on itself before the hems and side turnings are made, so that they they meet across the angle...
See basic techniques
Originally referring to the Yemeni port city of Mokha, associated with the early 15thC coffee trade, it is now known as the lovely colour of the eponymous coffee and chocolate drink mixed with a touch of cream.
Mocha is also a very soft glove leather made from either kid or lambskin.
An artificially manufactured fibre similar to rayon, spun from beech tree cellulose. Its popularity increases in line with the price of cotton, as modal weaves, dyes and handles like cotton but absorbs fifty per cent more moisture. It can be used on its own, and is improved by mixing with(...)
The long hair of the angora goat (not to be mistaken with the hair of the angora rabbit), is silk-like, fine, soft and very durable. The word angora is derived from the Turkish city Ankara, and mohair from the Turkish muyhar, meaning ‘the best selected fleece’. Indeed, these goats and their(...)
A watermark finish for woven fabrics, achieved through the calendaring process, whereby fabric–generally silk or an acetate–gains a shimmering quality. A lightly ribbed single-coloured or tonally striped fabric is taken through very hot, engraved rollers, where the combined forces of pressure(...)
A medium to heavy weight plain cotton sateen fabric with the majority of the weft threads on the surface that are repeatedly brushed and sheared to create a suede-like pile reminiscent of a mole’s coat.
Used for jackets, trousers and for hardwearing furnishings, it is a fabric of substance(...)
- MONK’S CLOTH
A soft, medium or heavy basketweave cloth ( a loose over-and-under, 4 strand weave ) originally made from wool worsted for monks’ habits. Now mostly in linen or cotton and used for curtains, draperies, bedcovers. In cotton as borders for towels, blankets, pictures and wall hangings.
- MONK’S WOOL
Similar to Monk's cloth, but in heavy wool worsted.
A motif of one or two letters, making a personal mark by means of embroidery, stamping, embossing or engraving.
* A monogram is typically a person’s initials, with the purpose to identify, or to make a personal statement.
* A stitched monogram might have a significant emblem, a(...)
A substance–such as alum, chromium, copper, IRON or tin–used to fix dye to fabric. Most natural dyes have no inherent ability to attach themselves to fibres; instead, a fabric must first be combined with a mordant (in most cases through boiling) that carries metal ions, to which the dye fixes(...)
A heavy, sturdy wool, cotton or mixed cloth with a ribbed, sometimes embossed or moiré finish used in clothing, curtains and upholstery. It is a period cloth, used in the Renaissance all the way through to 19th C, when it was manufactured in England and exported to the United States
- MOROCCO LEATHER
A very soft, light coloured leather, tanned with the vegetable dye Rhus Chinensis
- MOSS STITCH
Moss stitch is a continuous knitting pattern of knit one pearl one, so that the next row shows the opposite of the last one–creating an evenly lumpy surface. Moss stitch can be worked in larger patterns with multiples of rows and stitches worked out according to the wool and the tension. e.g.(...)
- MOTHER OF PEARL
Also known as nacre, it is the iridescent inner shell layer of certain molluscs such as oysters and abalone. Its characteristic shimmery front surface and darker, mottled back make it a material of choice for buttons–although we often use them the other way around, as the back is as lovely in(...)
A decorative design or pattern, often a distinctive, feature or stylised pattern, it can be used singly, as in a hallmark, or repeated.
* Motifs are often in single colours, though can also be multi-coloured: simplicity of drawing and printing is the point of a motif.
* In traditional(...)
An adjective describing the effect of an irregular arrangement of complementary and diverse colouring producing a harmonious whole. The yarn itself is mottled, having been spun with fibres of different colours and tonalities. In woven cloth it’s usually enough to use one mottled yarn(...)
Or Alpine style: includes anything that looks good and is fit for purpose in the mountains, perhaps especially with wood panelling–reminiscent of the romantic notions of the Heidi house.
* Mountain homes are concerned with keeping the cold out and providing security and comfort, often(...)
- MOUNTAIN GOAT
Mountain goats produce the finest and softest hair, due to their need to survive in extremely harsh conditions. The hair under the chin and under the bellies, close to the skin and growing in a tight, thick fleece beneath a second longer coat–the guard hair–is the best quality, producing the(...)
Also called silk muslin. It is a plain weave fabric with a semi-opaque, lightweight, silky, soft finish, finer than muslin and similar to chiffon; mostly made of silk but also of rayon,
A rare and luxurious wild, vanya silk with a rustic, golden yellow tone, produced exclusively in Assam, northwest India, from the indigenous, semi-domesticated Antheraea assamensis silkworm fed on aromatic leaves.
Muga silk is a traditional fabric, prized for its natural lustre, glossy(...)
A French city that was the epicentre of the French calicoindustry. Great textile industrialists such as Boussac, in Wesserling, contributed to and drew inspiration from the archives of the local textile printing museum.
Butter muslin and cheesecloth, domestics muslins are typically white or off-white plain weave, loose, thin, transparent fabric with a soft finish, woven in different weights and calibre of yarn and finish from pretty rustic cloth to the finest, often used as a straining material for making(...)
A dark green-ey yellow colour, obtained from mixing yellow ochre and raw umber. It is also a condiment used to spice up cooked ham and beef. When something 'cuts the mustard' it means it's just right, it is the perfect thing–the right amount, in the perfect place.
In furnishings, especially(...)
Mother of pearl, sometimes used by French fabric houses to describe the oyster/off-white colour of their fabrics.
Or naive. From French, a term used in art and design in reference to simplistic drawings and interpretations, to forms reduced to their essence in 2D, to primitive, simple outlines or early works.
A small metal spike with a flattened end driven into wood with a hammer, to join and hold together, or used as a peg or hook.
Upholstery nails ( these are the decorative ones as opposed to the working tacks) are used to cover raw fabric edges, to protect vulnerable points and also by(...)
From the Hindi word nain, meaning ‘eye’, and sukh, meaning ‘delight’; nainsook is a lightweight, plain weave, soft cotton muslin, sometimes with a self-stripe, and often used for baby clothes.
A term that describes the surface texture of fabric when its pile lies in one particular direction; any fabric with a cut or loop pile and a brushed finish is likely to have a nap. The way the nap ‘lies’ affects how the light catches it, giving it either a deeper or lighter tone, which in turn(...)
Napkins are an important element of table decoration to partner tablecloths, and / or to add colour, dimension and texture to the eating surface, whether smooth, shiny or or matte, glass, wood, marble, stone, sand or grass.
* Setting the table with individual napkins, to provide a cloth(...)
- NAPPA LEATHER
A rich, supple calf leather that has been tanned with a special oil mixture for a soft, pliable feel.
- NATURAL COLOURS
There is actually no chemically manufactured colour that does not also occur in the natural world, however 'natural colour' is usually used to refer specifically to colours that have been obtained from the natural world, i.e.
a) Animal- such as red cochineal from bugs, blue - black ink(...)
- NATURAL DYES
Until the very recent past, all dyes were natural, derived from vegetation, river-beds, the soil–the land. The world was arguably a far more harmonious place aesthetically, when paints and textiles reflected the regional colourings and resources, whereas nowadays there is often no longer any(...)
- NATURAL FIBRES
Natural fibres fall easily into two groups: animal and vegetal.
In the vegetal group, planting crops and harvests are determined by local distinctiveness/geography and often best managed by indigenous communities. For example, some of the best cotton is grown in Egypt, where the climatic and(...)
Any woven, knitted or printed pattern with reference to maritime activities of sailing, rowing, yachting is described as nautical. So too are any of the filets and edgings in wood, metal or textile that resemble ropes or chain link. Nautical accessories include buttons, buckles and other(...)
This North American tribe from Arizona, Utah and New Mexico has a long history of weaving for their own purposes – namely saddle rugs, blankets and floor rugs. They weave traditionally using upright looms, with the high quality Navajo Churro sheep wool. The designs are creative and(...)
- NAVY BLUE
The classic blue for winter coats, blazers and skirts associated with and named after the British naval uniform.
Plain navy as such isn't used a huge amount in furnishings but when it is is very effective, and a very good colour for teenage boys. Oranges, reds, yellow, dark grey, white of(...)
- NEEDLE LACE
Needle lace is handmade, using stitch work and needles, in contrast to bobbin lace that builds up the design by crossing, looping and knotting the threads. Needle lace can either be worked onto an ancillary background mesh or so that the background and the pattern are created at the same time.(...)
A lightweight, very finely ribbed corduroy, that is as soft, durable and washable as it’s bigger brother. We've used it endlessly for family rooms and children's upholstery, loose covers and curtains and as linings for door curtains–where we’ve needed a tightly woven fabric for wear and for(...)
Embroidery in which wool yarns are stitched through an open canvas to create pattern that fully covers the whole area of canvas. The design is first drawn out onto paper and in the past was set below the plain canvas, to be copied. Afficcionados still prefer to work this way, but it’s more(...)
An artistic movement spanning c.a. 1750-1830, born of archaeological excavations in Rome that inspired a re-interpretation of the classical orders. Neoclassical aspirations are towards simplicity vs. colour as applied to art, sculpture, architecture, interior design, furniture making, which(...)
A synthetic rubber used in waterproof textiles. It can also be used to add bulk, a sort of giant padding or quilting. And to soften and sound-deaden the walk on wooden flooring, set directly below boarding planks or the base board for parquet.
As a relatively new fabric on the domestic(...)
Interior furnishings are the human version of birds ‘feathering the nest’, providing a comfortable, soft interior within the outer protective structure. The form of nest is the sanctuary and the safe house, the building; whilst the inside of a bird’s nest is prepared with soft materials for(...)
Net, netting, or mesh is created by knotting yarn into squares, thereby creating a durable and repairable textile. Fishermans nets are made secure in this manner, as is the ground for lace work. Net or netting is also the old name for sheer or voile curtains, particularly from the last(...)
For those of us with gardens, nettles are weeds that hurt, to be got rid of as quickly as possible. We've mostly forgotten that for millennia nettles were valued as a source of food, a herbal medicine and source of fibre. A plant that grows all too freely, and annoyingly, in every spare space(...)
- NEUTRAL COLOURS
Neutral colours divide into two camps:
a) the lazy camp are those non-descript, achromatic and uninteresting colours that we see all too often, being named ‘neutral ‘ the sole justification for existence. These are chosen by those who are afraid of colour, have perhaps made a mistake once(...)
A silvery-white element that is malleable and often
alloyed with copper and zinc. Nickel plated fittings are sometimes a softer and more friendly design option. They can be matter, brushed,or shiny and polished, always in a very attractive greyish silver. Softer in appearance than chrome,(...)
- NO THEATRE
Sometimes referred to as Noh Theatre, it is a traditional Japanese dance drama originating in the 14thC and formalised as an official ceremonial art in the Tokugawa period (1603-1867). In No theatre, male dancers respond to a poetic text that is sung to the accompaniment of three drums and a(...)
An off-white raw silk incorporating fragments of the cocoon, creating a soft, matte and nubby texture. Noil can hold its own, yet still retains a really good drape, and for this reason it’s never really out of fashion. In the home it make excellent curtaining, either in it’s natural state and(...)
- NON SLIP
Non slip materials are used both to prevent textiles from moving against each other and to prevent slippage against any other surface.
1. There are a couple of tried and tested methods that hold floor rugs in place on solid floors:
a) a thick underlay just slightly smaller than the rug,(...)
For us nonchalance describes the design ideal when we want to create something that is informal, even casual –perhaps to the point of carelessness, but not ill- fitting or ill- made. A really good word for contemporary interior design – to create a good architectural line, whilst retaining a(...)
- NORTHUMBERLAND QUILT
Quilting bedcovers and wall hangings is an age-old tradition in which a thick, warm, inner pad is secured between two outer layers of fabric by a stitched pattern.
Quilting has surely been made for millennia, but it’s never really possible to be precise with textiles, as a) they are well(...)
1. Knitwear know for it’s distinctive two coloured design and snowflake patterning. Dale of Norway has been making outdoor and ski wear since 1879, using only natural materials and mostly wool - natures own high tech fibre.
We've used the sleeves and bodies of these sweaters to make into(...)
A V-shaped indentation cut into a seam allowance and used as a marker; also a V-shaped notch cut into a fabric edging or hem for decoration.
An almost intangible sense of something, a nod towards, it, a subtle difference–for example, a nuance of pink would be a creamy white with, say, the slightest hint of a pink hue that is only just present, and can be fleeting with the light or over time. Perhaps a little like the .... white(...)
A very strong and resilient, waterproof, extruded fibre with a silky, shiny finish chemically produced from petroleum, and introduced by the American chemical company DuPont in 1939. Nylon and its derivatives have virtually replaced natural fibres in some cases, as with ropes and outdoor(...)
A huge tree in the Quercus genus. The European oak grows tall and strong, harsh winters and hot summers keep its growth rate down and slow, leading to tight ring formation, which create a stable material. English oak and oaks from central Europe and France in particular are the best: tall,(...)
A tapered, classical Eqyptian stone pillar with a square, or rectangular tapering monument that comes to a point, a pyramid shape, at the top. They were built in pairs to define the temple entrance; when the Greeks saw them they named them ‘obeliskos’ [meaning ‘pointed pillar’ or(...)
A Japanese sash used to wrap around the waist of a Kimono. The obi sash is important as a marker of status and time–there are many varied styles, each design relating to gender, age, community and events. We've occasionally used the concept around cushions, chair backs and pelmets.
Often partnered as ‘Occident and Orient’ and literally referring to ‘where the sun sets’, i.e. the west. Generally meaning Europe and the United States of America, it also holds significant historical, geographic and cultural connotations, defining Europe in opposition to the Orient.
A naturally occurring earth, or mineral pigment, which comes in a vast array of colours and tones, from the palest of yellows to brown-reds and greens depending on its ferric oxide, silica and alumina levels. It is a pre-historic pigment used in cave paintings and as an early form of paint. It(...)
A geometric shape with eight equal sides, very often used in patchwork designs and elsewhere in furniture and furnishings as a more formal alternative to the circle. It can feature in any centrepiece, as a table to comfortably seat 8 or as an alternative to the usually round display table–for(...)
An international, independent testing and certification system developed in 1992 specifically to limit the use of certain chemicals in all stages of textile production. Look for the Oeko-tex label .
- OIL CLOTH
May refer to:
A cotton cloth that has been treated and impregnated with oil to become waterproof. Often used for kitchen tables, drawer linings and in children’s rooms. It can also be used for outdoor awnings and covers. Oilcloth by the metre is available from many of the niche designers,(...)
- OLD GOLD
A colour reminiscent of aged gilding, old gold in furnishings needs to have some of the life and light of the gold that became the gilding. Better when the colour leans more towards sand and warmth than the deeper tones of brown and sludge that can happen, and that many people describe as ‘old(...)
The olive tree is a symbol of longevity, it’s not unusual to find an olive grove with a few or more trees that are several thousands of years old. They are gnarled, beautiful and command respect alongside and perhaps because of it’s role as provider - of lovely fruits, oils and very attractive(...)
- OLIVE DRAB
A dull, grayish-olive, which along with khaki is an old sort of colour, used for military clothing and winter coats. It does a good service in mufty rooms, neither one thing nor the other in many ways, but a good ground and base colour, often in heavy wools, gabardine and twills.
From the French and the Italian, meaning shadow and shading. A certain amount of shadow and half-light is essential to create atmosphere, and must be taken into consideration in the furnishings equation. Ombra also describes a ‘shading’ paint and textiles finish, where colour moves from dark(...)
Describes anything you can’t fully see through, i.e. anything that is not transparent. Opaque materials are chosen to block light, to create form, to filter light and / or to provide privacy.
Most textiles hold degrees of opaqueness that prevent or limit transparency to some degree: from(...)
- OPEN WORK
Describes any weave or embroidery, lacework, crochet or knitting with a pattern or make up that creates holes of any shape, form or size. Open worked textiles are primarily used to allow light through, but in such a manner as to filter or semi obscure it, whilst showing and endorsing the(...)
A bright, red-yellow colour reminiscent of the orange fruit.
Orange khadi cloth is worn by the Sadhus in India, as the colour signifies their renunciation of the world and the hand woven khadi fabric that is used to make the robes affirms Ghandi's message to hand work and self sufficiency.
- ORANGE PEEL
The peel of the orange fruit has a distinctive dimpled texture that reflects light and shade well–imitations of this finish can be woven into fabric, and hammered into leather or stone. Into textiles for the look of it, into stone for the look bit mainly because it's one of the most attractive(...)
- ORGANDIE (ORGANDY)
The very finest sheer fabric, of which the best is made in Switzerland. Plain woven cotton is subjected to an acid finish that produces a unique crispness. In some ways this seems an extraordinary contrast to the ethereal floaty quality of the sheer weave, yet this magical quality transports a(...)
In the design and making of furnishings, a term with various uses:
* Applied to textiles when no artificial means have been used in the making process, from plant to finished cloth.
Cotton, our mostly widely used fabric, for instance, is one of the most environmentally harmful fibres to(...)
- ORGANIC COTTON
A sheer fabric that, although traditionally made of silk, an also be ascribed to cotton, polyester, nylon or viscose. In use and appearance it is similar to organdie, but overall softer and very springy, so less easy to use,.
Silk organza is the best and finest of course, and can be dyed to(...)
A bay window that stands proud of the building, held in place by corbels or other architectural support. From the inside, an oriel might reach the floor, or begin at any distance from the floor, perhaps creating space for a cosy window seat.
Literally referring to ‘the land of the setting sun’, it is a term traditionally used to distinguish from the Occident and to describe the civilizations of North Africa, the lands to the east of the Mediterranean and beyond. Our western conception of the orient is of a rich, vibrant and exotic(...)
An alloy of copper, tin or zinc used for making passable gilded-looking decorations, popular in Empire and Biedermeir interiors. Nowadays, the difference in cost between real gold and ormolu isn't worth troubling over.
The osier is a species of the multi-stemmed willow Salix viminalis, a small tree grown in wet habitats specifically for coppicing. Multiple long straight and flexible stems grow from the head of the trunk; these withies are used for basket making. In the UK the drainage rines that criss cross(...)
1. The textile
A heavy fabric with horizontal ribs in silk, cotton or mixed fibres, similar to repp. It has the appearance of a fine corduroy, though the ribs run across the width instead of along the length; extra wefts are cords are covered by the WARP yarns. It is a stiff and hardwearing(...)
An adjective to describe anything egg-shaped, ORGANIC looking.
An architectural term for the convex ‘quarter round’ moulding used in joinery and stone masonry– also known as quadrant , especially when bought by the length.
A soft, fine cotton with a small basket weave, made for and used almost exclusively as shirting fabric. It was first made by a Scottish mill, and is one of four cloths named after old and famous universities: Oxford cloth has stood the test of time and is still in use, though Cambridge,(...)
- OXFORD CUSHION
I'm not sure how this one got its name–but its sits well in sofas, chairs and on beds as the flaps stabilise it. Oxford cushions are basically two pieces of fabric folded under and stitched together to make a border of flaps–it is very straightforward so long as dimensions and measurements are(...)
Refers to a number of marine bivalve molluscs that famously give us beautiful, naturally shaped pearls in all tones of off-whites and greys, to be worn in jewellery of course, but also in furnishings as buttons and beads. The beauty of natural pearls lies in the irregularity of form and(...)
A wool worsted fabric that resembles cotton gabardine in weight and texture. As its name suggests, it was intended for outdoor coats and jackets, particularly within the horse and agricultural world.
Or Palliasse or pallet, from the French paille, meaning ‘straw’. Until very recently, most of the world's population would have been familiar with a type of paillasse, a straw-filled mattress used for sleeping on, often stuffed with aromatic and cleansing herbs, those such as rosemary,(...)
The French word for spangles or specks that catch and reflect light, used in the Parisien couture world to describe the sequins use for embroidery and beading work.
The English name for an iconic textile design motif of Persian origin and Indian, then European adoption, known elsewhere as boteh. It was named after the Scottish town of Paisley, which discovered the exotic boteh designs through imported 18thC cashmere shawls and promptly fell in love with,(...)
Southern Indian painted fabric panels displaying a central theme or motif bordered on all four sides, which featured prominently in the 18thC European chintz trade.
Palampores are hand printed according to the kalamkari technique and derived from Hindu temple cloths. Typically, the central(...)
Literally, a thin board or slab on which an artist will mix paint.
Metaphorically, describes the range of different colours that make up an artistic creation; it refers to the intricate tones and hues that are assembled on a real daubed palette, holding an indication of the artist’s taste and(...)
From the Greek, meaning ‘scraped again’, describes an old document, often parchment, which initial script or design has been rubbed out for the sake of economy and written or drawn over–the consequent faded, layered effect is a recurrent concept in textile design.
An adjective used to describe the widely influential style of the 16thC Italian architect Andrea Palladio. Initially trained in stone-masonry, Palladio particularly drew upon the buildings of ancient Rome and the Classical Orders, studying and then re-interpreting them to create his own(...)
An African and Indian tribal tradition of re-using worn out materials, whereby layers of worn out cloth are enclosed in new fabric lengths and stitched lengthwise every few millimetres with a running stitch, which secures the construction. Closely related to kantha, quilting, patchwork and sashimi.
A basketweave that is open enough to allow air through, giving it a distinctive lightness. It is used as a base cloth, in traditional upholstery and as embroidery canvas.
Its distinct, small-squared pattern is also associated with the world-famous Panama hats, from the eponymous Central(...)
Typically a rectangular section of thin wood, metal or stone set into a wall, door or ceiling; used in reference to a decorated area within a whole; also referring to the individual pieces of fabric that make up a sewn piece. In soft furnishings, fabric panels are used variously for a range of(...)
The collective and generally decorative use of panels fitted to inner walls and ceilings and sometimes on the exteriors of buildings. It has the effect of revealing and drawing out the true character of any material through the play of light and shadow on its large surface area.
A type of velvet with a longer pile that lies flat on the surface, rather than almost vertically. The effect is ‘strokeable’ and more reminiscent of an animal skin than the feeling we normally associate with velvet. The pile generally lies across the width, so for the luxury of velvet and the(...)
Together with other animal skin prints (namely leopard spots, zebra stripes…), panther comes and goes in interior furnishings trends as fast as it does in the fashion world. In an eclectic or Directoire sort of setting, panther prints or weaves look good on stools and small items of furniture,(...)
Paper made of recycled cloth is soft and warm to touch, dense and pliable. As an environmentally friendly alternative, it is also a growing industry that serves the poorer parts of the world well. Although a significant amount of water is necessary to the production processes, it dovetails(...)
- PAPER LINEN
A lightweight linen that has a slight crunch to it, until it has been washed that is, when it goes a bit floppy. However all it needs then is a light touch of spray starch to bring it back to life and then the light, almost floaty, fabric comes into its own again. A little starch goes a long(...)
- PAPER TAFFETA
A finely woven, lightweight silk taffeta with a crisp texture and sound, and a hand that, to a large degree, holds itself in place. It's a joy to work with: when it’s scrunched up, it holds it's shape, and being silk it comes in the most incredible colours, appearing ethereal as the light(...)
- PARACHUTE SILK
A very fine, tightly woven silk that was used for early parachutes. During the first half of the 20C across Europe the scale and quality of this fabric, a whole parachute, was prized and well used. Recycled into wedding dresses, lingerie, bridesmaid dresses, then bed linen, sheer curtains(...)
An ancient material that,as far as we are aware, pre-dates paper, whereby animal skin (sheep or goat) is treated until it is thin and fine enough to write on. Parchment is also used for upholstery, to cover boxes and photo frames, for the details on small items and for lampshades. The light(...)
From early French, meaning ‘on the ground’ a parterre is a formally planned garden area planted on a level surface, planned for the formal area in front of the house, designed purposely to be viewed from the first floor salon, or entertaining hall.
The parterre motif should stand out in(...)
The Persian pashm, meaning ‘soft’ is the indigenous word for cashmere wool. Light as air, warm as toast, it folds to almost nothing.
Right now the word is used popularly in reference to woven cashmere scarves, which may be pure, or mixed with silk or other fine wools to increase the body(...)
The French word for decorative trimmings; as this ancient French craft is as much reputed for excellence now as it ever was, the word stays in common parlance. The 16thC, Paris based passementerie guild created the opulent trimmings for Versailles, and still exists as Les Passementiers d’Îsle(...)
An artistic, musical or literary work imitating the style or character of another period, artist or work.
- PAT SILK
Or Paat; from Assamese, meaning simply ‘silk’, pat silk is produced in Assam, northwest India. It is the only wild silk made from silkworms (Bombyx textor) fed on mulberry leaves–which are known to produce the finest of silk fibres and typical of all commercial silk production. Pat silk comes(...)
- PATAN PATOLA
Or just Patola, this is a hand woven silk textile particular to Patan, the capital of Gujarat, India. The distinctive, exquisite cloth is a double ikat weave–a most complex dyeing and weaving technique which has been passed down through the generations for thousands of(...)
A piece of fabric stitched over another for primarily practical or decorative reason. Leather patches sometime come as part of the package with a tweed jacket purchase - designed to be worn for countryside pursuits or rural labours the elbow areas wear out long before the body. Patching is not(...)
- PATCH WORK
A patchwork is any textile work made entirely of individual ‘patches’ that are sewn together in a formal pattern ( as opposed to a collage ). The form of the finished piece can be extremely simple but is always pre-planned, using the patterns and shapes of the ‘patches’ to create a specific(...)
- PATENT LEATHER
A leather treated to achieve a hard, glossy surface finish, which most of us will know from handbags or shoes, some from trousers and tops. For furnishings, it is best used for carefully chosen accents and accessories, perhaps even as buttons. The high level of sheen can act like sequins,(...)
From the Sanskrit patta meaning ‘canvas’ and chitra ‘picture’, a west Bengali (India) art form, whereby Hindu and Muslim religious histories and mythologies are illustrated on cloth scrolls that are unfurled as a storyteller sings out the narrative. This tradition was passed down from father(...)
1. In the making of anything really, the pattern refers to the template, the form and the directions to follow in order to achieve a completed project. In our world it is the template or the instruction for cutting and then fitting individual pieces of fabric together. The pattern can be your(...)
- PATTERN REPEAT
The distance between the top and bottom of a printed or woven design is the pattern repeat: it can govern the suitability or practicality of the fabric for purpose, the economy or otherwise of cutting placement, the matching point and the joining marks for two or more widths.
Mixing patterns is one of the greatest joys, but also one of the latest concerns that people have about ' getting it right'. The answer is usually, to relax a bit, because it's not that difficult when you follow an inspiration, make up a colour board or follow a few basic guidelines ( see(...)
A soft, brushed finish, so called as it feels very like the skin of a peach.
See peau de soie.
Pearlised - the reflective, subtle toned beauty that is both the inside of the oyster shell - mother of pearl, and the coating on pearls. In the home world it describes the soft silvery pearl-like shimmer that is often incorporated into the finish of textile or paint to cause reflection and(...)
A country dweller and worker, often with limited means and education, highly skilled at all levels of craftsmanship, home making and husbandry. In what we call the ‘first world’, this is by-and-large a lifestyle choice, almost–if not fully–extinct. In what we all the ‘third world’ (or(...)
- PEAU DE SOIE
Peau de soie translates from the French literally as 'the skin of silk', and is a medium to heavy satin weave cloth which is soft and matte - like skin, with a stiffer drape. It’s main use is for weddings but also for chic furnishings, bed drapes and tailored lampshades. In weave, in making(...)
A subtle surface finish creating a texture resembling tiny pebbles. It can be embossed into leather and other stiff materials, or woven into cottons as a permanent finish.
The low pitched roof gable in classical architecture, usually over an columned entrance: it may project in front of a high wall, or break the roofline directly over a particular set of doors, stating and clearly defining the main door.
- PEKING SILK
Peking silk is hand painted, an ancient Chinese tradition of depicting butterflies and flowers, in gouache, onto a striped silk ground. These stripes are subtle, self toned, relying on the play of light on alternate shiny and matte finishes. The base cloth can be woven, with the weave itself(...)
Pelmets fit above the window, they cover the curtain fittings and may or may not also fold the fittings. They are always made to the window, and generally in either decorative wood that is stained, painted or gilded, in metal, or some sort of fabric covered wooden board.
A flag made of a narrow triangle that tapers to a point, traditionally hung on ships to symbolise ownership. Used for celebration and commemoratively, and as a show of support at athletic events. When attached side-by-side to ropes and draped in rows across streets and through gardens at times(...)
A flared ruffle attached to an edge for stylistic effect, in furnishings generally on a lampshade or a pelmet. In fashion, a peplum is mostly seen at the waist of a fitted jacket where it flares out over the hips. With some pattern cutting experience, a peplum can be cut to fit any form,(...)
A sheeting fabric in a smooth plain weave with a higher than average thread count; to be classified as percale it as to have thread count of 200 or more; it can be in cotton or a mix of cotton and other fibres, but the best is a fine Egyptian cotton.
Percale originates from Persia, where it(...)
A trellis or support system for trailing and climbing plants and vines, often found over walkways or seating areas. A pergola may also have canvas 'sails' or outdoor curtains, fitted to the underside of the structure, as a way of sheltering eating and seating areas from rain, sun, and wind.
- PERMANENT FINISH
Those fabric finishes that are not adversely affected by excess heat, water, sunlight and normal wear are described as 'permanent'. To then preserve any applied finish, it is crucial to follow the care instruction supplied with the fabric, as most will not tolerate either high(...)
- PERMANENT PLEATING
Permanent pleats are firmly set, by a process of impressing through heat. So long as the laundering temperature is less than the impression heat, permanent pleating will remain permanent. Washable pleated fabrics such as lightweight sheers should be hung out to drip dry, or fitted back(...)
The western term for the dominant language spoken in Iran (called Farsi); also the historical name for ancient Iran, referring in particular to the ancient Persian empire, its culture and civilization, which at one time stretched from Northern India to the Caucasus (including central Asia,(...)
- PERSIAN CLOTH
When applied to textiles, Persian describes the earliest hand block printed cloths, still made through the Sindh, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Typically printed with paisley, arabesque or stylized small repeated motifs; in it’s simplest form, hand carved blocks pick up vegetable dyes and stamp(...)
Exterior window shutters with a section of LOUVRES set in a fixed frame that can be open outwards or inwards to let air through while keeping the sun out.
Persiennes were invented in 1727 in Versailles, France, by Antoine Duchesne, the prévôt des bâtiments du roi–a high-ranking official in(...)
A ribbon tape woven in almost any width from 3-12mm with vertical ribs that give strength and definition. In plain colours or wonderful stripes often used for hat bands – boaters for example,whether designed for boating or school uniform are always decorated with a distinctively striped(...)
An alloy of tin with lead, sometimes copper and antimony - a metal for accessories. In soft to dark greys, pewter or pewter coloured taps, light switches and ironmongery items are darker, richer and more subtle in tone than the other cool-toned options of chrome, stainless steel or(...)
Pi (or ∏) refers to a constant numerical value 3.14, that relates the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Used as far back as the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians, the constant was so-named in 1706 by William Jones after the Greek letter for p, being the first word for(...)
The pick ( sometimes called the shot) is used to describe the density of a cloth, i.e. the number of picks per cm is the number of times the shuttle has crossed the loom to lay down weft threads.
The shuttle takes the weft thread across the loom through the ‘shed’, the gap between the warp(...)
From the French pic point - small point.
Refers to the tiny pinprick holes, which can appear along the selvedge - these are from the pins that are used to hold the fabric taut and in place during the finishing processes.
- PICOT EDGINGS
Picot edgings consist of any pattern of small loops, or small triangles - these can be sharper or softer depending on the thread and design. Used extensively in woven passementerie, lace or broderie anglais, and most of us, ladies at least, will have picot edgings on decorative undergarments(...)
This is an intentional background print of small dots surrounding a larger pattern.
In traditional block printing, the dotted design is created by nails driven into the wooden blocks in a secondary pattern beyond the main carved pattern area. These pick up small amounts of dye that(...)
- PICTORIAL PRINTS
Any printed design that depicts scenes of life and landscapes with accurate reference are classed as pictorial.
Toile de jouy is the standard, well-known textile of this genre, picturing scenes of everyday life and mythical ideals in monochromatic colouring. In tones and derivations of the(...)
- PICTURE WINDOW
A window created with a single pane of glass, of which there may be more than one to fill a wall or a large opening.
Picture windows are usually large, large enough to encompass the view beyond, smaller versions tend to be called 'single pane' windows. Picture windows may be fixed or able(...)
A ‘piece’ is the continuous length of fabric available and ready for sale once the printing, dying, weaving and finishing processes are completed. A piece tends to be between 40 and 100 metres long, and this length always corresponds either, to length the loom can manage, the length that(...)
- PIECE DYED
Piece dyed cloth has been dyed after it has been woven, as opposed to cloth that is woven with pre-dyed fibres.
In hand block printing, the calico fabrics are first woven unbleached, then bleached by the sun and then dyed in the right ground colour before they are printed. Wool and silk are(...)
- PIERCED FABRIC
Fabric that has been pierced after weaving so that light creates and highlights the pattern made.
Fashion and furnishing textile designers have produced some really interesting pierced designs, especially into fine leather. The scale of the pattern and the amount of holes made will(...)
- PIERCED SCREENS
Commonly used in architecture and of near-eastern origins, these screens are typically made of stonework or wood, in which has a pattern has been carved through to the other side, allowing light through whilst shielding from sight Jali screens. The ladies of the household would sit behind(...)
- PIG SKIN
Refers to a soft and suede-like cured pig hide available for upholstery in varying degrees of thickness. Pig skin is used in much the same way as any other hide, though its flexibility makes it adaptable and its thickness and density makes it especially suited to brushed and dimpled finishing(...)
The raised surface of fabric created during either of two weaving processes:
a) the weft thread makes a loop at each warp junction, creating fabric such as towelling, pincord, corduroy and repp.
b) the weft threads travel backwards and forwards between two series of warps creating a two(...)
- PILLOW LACE
Bobbin lace is worked on a lace pillow, and is sometimes incorrectly called pillow lace.
However, the lace making pillow is traditionally a cotton covered horsehair pillow that is balanced on the knees and is large enough to hold both the work and the bobbins. Some of these cushions are(...)
- PILLOW SHAM
A decorative, often frilled cover that slips onto a pillow for a pretty daytime look, it's a separate pillow that is then popped into a chest or cupboard at night or when not needed. We tend to make these for hotels or homes where there is plenty of help or storage–and then[in the home for the(...)
US term for both bed pillows and all scatter cushions.
Pillows are used as head-rests for sleeping on, mostly replacing the earlier, long bolster. They come in several 'standard' sizes, as do pillow covers, or pillowcases, and are designed to fit standard beds.
Beds have become larger and(...)
- PILLOWS - THROW PILLOWS
Or cushions in the UK .
A pad or bag filled with soft stuffing, used as a comfortable support, generally for back, head or for seating; pillows are the most essential home accessory for comfort and decoration.
They can be bought in many standard shapes and sizes, or made in any shape(...)
- PIMA COTTON
A plant also known as Gossypium barbadense, which produces a long, very durable and absorbent cotton staple initially developed and grown in Peru, and named after the Pima American Indian tribe that first cultivated it in the U.S. It produces a high quality cloth that resists pilling and is(...)
Also known as needlecord and pinwale. It is a corded weave fabric with very fine ribs, hardwearing and useful for piping a less sturdy upholstery or loose cover fabric, for all upholstery, curtains and for the basic and essential furnishings - meaning that it's a robust and good looking fabric(...)
A small, padded cushion used in sewing for keeping pins conveniently handy and safe; they come in all shapes and guises, laid on the table or made into a wrist cushion.
Keeping track of pins is always an issue as they like to disappear–we get through so many pins in a year I think we should(...)
An oxford cotton with an ultra-fine basket weave that is soft and lustrous. It's mostly used in the fashion world, for shirts, for interiors we use it for lovely soft, easy-on-the-eye backings and curtain linings - anything that will show, that we can enjoy looking at. It makes an(...)
A pattern consisting of evenly spaced, thin, parallel, vertical stripes that can be woven into any cloth. In woolen fabrics it almost always comes in a light colour–white or grey–against a dark ground–grey, black, navy, though also in fine navy or red stripes with off white. In linens it's(...)
- PLAIN WEAVE
The most basic weave, we are first taught plain weaving as schoolchildren with ribbons or paper tapes: the vertical warp yarns and horizontal weft yarns are woven in alternate over-and-under passes, thus creating a simple criss-cross pattern fabric. Also called tabby, linen or taffeta(...)
A technique whereby three ribbons, cords or fabric lengths are woven together in a certain order to create a typical twist that is extremely attractive and easy to make, and very sturdy. A plaited length is far stronger than any single or even twisted length, being the sum of its parts. For(...)
Regroups a range of synthetic materials that are malleable–easily able to be molded, formed and shaped.
Plastic describes anything that can be manipulated.
Plastics have, without doubt, spawned many of the great changes of the 20th century. In our kitchens alone we have plastic bowls,(...)
The generic name for any hardwearing, inexpensive twill or plain weave, dyed or loomstate cloth used to hide the workings of upholstery. Platform linings are is tacked to the underside of all chairs, sofas and to the backs of headboards for a tidy finish, and also to protect from dust,(...)
Pleating happens when flat fabric is folded back on itself repeatedly, or with at least two folds.
* Pleats come in a variety of sizes and widths, with each pleat requiring at least three times its measurement in unpleated material.
* Only synthetic materials can be made into permanent(...)
Derived from the Latin pilus, meaning 'hair', the name of a textile with a soft, cut pile nap that is longer than 3mm, traditionally made of mohair, worsted, silk, cotton or a combination, and now made from synthetic fibres too. It is woven with a double warp: one 'background' warp and one(...)
All natural fibres, whatever their natural length or source - animal, leaf, stem or seed - are first teased out and spun into very long lengths to even them out and make them useable. These lengths of yarn are then either wound into a skein and used as single ply yarn, or plyed–twisted(...)
- POCKET CLOTH
A double-faced fabric woven in such a way that one side is the reverse of the other, so both sides have equal merit. It is particularly suitable for situations or projects where both sides need to be seen, and there is no need for the extra thickness of interlining. To appreciate both sides(...)
- POINT D'ALENÇON
A French needle lace known as the ‘Queen of Lace’. It was originally worked in the town of Alençon and known as point coupé. In 1665 Louis XIV’s minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert’s established a national lace manufacture and Venetian school of lace in the area, as a means of encouraging people to(...)
- POINT DE FRANCE
The name by which Point D’alençon was known from 1665-1720, at the time when a royal workshop and a Venetian school of lace was established in the area. It was set up by, Louis XIV’s minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert to encourage people to buy national rather than Venetian or Spanish laces; he(...)
- POINT DE VENISE
A Venetian needle lace from the 17cc, scrolling floral patterns with additional floral design worked in relief.
A delicate looking knitted fabric with a geometric stitch pattern that makes holes to create small-scale open work patterns..
- POINTS OF BRIGHTNESS
‘Points of light’ created by reflection or specific means bring life and joy into any and every environment.
Sparkle is life enhancing. It's not for nothing that Champagne, full of sparkle and bubbles, is the ultimate 'pick me up' for a dull day, a dull moment or can re-set a difficult(...)
- POIROT TWILL
A firm worsted twill fabric with a steep angle and a pronounced line, very similar to gabardine, named after the punctilious fictional Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. This textile was designed for the rigorous standards of the tailoring world, which demands good looks and durability in(...)
The rods, fitting brackets, rings and (optional) cording mechanism used to hang window curtains, bed curtains and, on occasion, Roman blinds. Poles are mostly made from wood and metal, though also in perspex, glass, zinc and brass.
A pole can be anything, so long as it fits the space and(...)
A synthetic extruded fibre that is particularly resilient and generally good tempered. Thanks to modern weaving techniques and clever technology it can be made into textiles that, on the face of it, feel and perform just like wool, cotton, linen or silk–although its inherent properties will(...)
- POLYESTER / COTTON MIX
As they go, a good a synthetic/natural fibre that keeps the cost low and benefits from the best of their individual properties: hardwearing, long lasting, soft to touch, non-creasing, absorbent while quickly releasing moisture.
Cotton will always feel better and will look better for longer,(...)
The seeds and skins of the pomegranate fruit (Punica granatum) yield a pale yellow natural dye that is the base for all kalamkari, hand block printing and dying work, and a similar dye colour to turmeric.
The pomegranate tree and in particular its fruit, thought to originate from Iran, are(...)
A soft, lightweight plain weave dyed silk fabric originally made from raw silk, imported from China and the Far East to Europe in the 20thC. It is still woven across China, especially along the banks of the Yangtze in Sichuan, Anhui, Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces. In lighter weight it is(...)
- PONY SKIN
Pony skin hides are a natural by product. Sleek, soft and warm underfoot, they come for the most part in sophisticated and unobtrusive dark colours. They are effective for grounding smaller rooms such as bedrooms and hallways. Haircalf is a similar material
In the last ten years or so, fantastically interesting fabrics in delightful colours for poolside use have come on the market. They are all water resistant–to varying degrees, from light shower to drenching–though none, however, will take unremitting wettings without good drying times(...)
First made from wool in Avignon, France, for the Pope, we now know it as a plain weave cotton with a slight ribbing across the width created by densely weaving a fine weft with an even finer warp; the best quality is woven from the long Egyptian staple fibre. This produces a strong fine, light(...)
A popper is a closure fitting made of two parts that slot into each other securely when pressed together. Poppers come in plastic or metal, and are an alternative to press stud, press fasteners or snap fasteners. It significantly differs from these in that it is usually invisible on the face(...)
- PORTER'S CHAIR
An upholstered chair with a high back that extends around towards the front or even right to the front of the arms, making it much more enclosed than a wing chair. It was a medieval European invention to keep porters or gatekeepers sheltered from bitter draughts during their night watch in the(...)
- POWDER COATED
A dry finishing process achieved by spraying a very fine layer of powdered and coloured paint onto heated metal.
It's used for outdoor poles, gutters and downpipes as is highly resistant to abrasion and therefore chipping. Metal curtain poles and fittings can be powder coated in any colour.
Or the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, refers to a group of 19thC English artists, poets and critics who challenged contemporary aesthetics and in particular the Royal Academy, and harked back to the less formalized style and content of art prior to the 16thC Italian Renaissance painter Raphael.(...)
- PRESS FASTENER
A plastic or metal closure made of two parts, one half of which is fitted to each side of the opening, which are joined by pressing together; an alternative word for a popper or snap fastener.
- PRESS STUD
A fastening mechanism for closures, whereby one half is pressed into the other, on the same principle as that of a popper, press or snap fastener. One side is intended to be seen and shows on the face fabric. This makes it a decorative choice, and indeed it is often used as a signature(...)
- PRESSING ARM
A pressing arm helps to reach into tight corners and curves, as the fabric can be sleeved over it. The arm will have one or two useable ends in varying depths and shapes.
- PRESSING CLOTH
A fine evenly woven linen or cotton cloth that is wetted and placed over the area you want to press, beneath a very hot iron. The steam generated is forced directly into the fabric beneath, which embeds the stitching and sets the seam or dart end.
For woollen and worsted cloths steam is(...)
- PRESSING ROLL
The principle is to have a cylinder or ball or other shape that can be slid under the immediate area to be pressed, and to be of a shape that will fit the work snugly, and especially for curves, darts, and any tight corner or hard to reach spot .
The shape, or roll is stuffed with cotton(...)
- PRINCE OF WALES CHECK
The ever-popular prince of wales check is properly the Glen plaid or Glen Urquhart check In the 19th C the Countess of Seafield used to dress her gamekeepers from 19th C. The cloth was favoured by Edward V111 when he was Prince of Wales; and the anecdotal name has stuck.
Prince of Wales(...)
- PRINCESS SEAMS
In tailoring and dressmaking, the curved seams that allow a garment to fit closely to the body using panels rather than darts. A typical 'princess style' coat or dress is shaped from the centre of the shoulder to curve around the bodice, so creating a centre and two side panels. The same(...)
- PRINTED BORDERS
Some traditional printed fabrics have a border along one side. This is usually in the same colour but in a smaller scale, geometric or other complementary design. In some cases one or two new colours are added into the border design [only]. Borders do limit the available width of fabric but in(...)
Said of an item, in particular a valuable item, in reference to its history. It tells the story of where it was made, who bought it, where it has lived and how far it has travelled with a particular emphasis on ownership and individuality. Something that might in itself be quite(...)
A south-eastern region of France. One of these places in the world guaranteed to capture the hearts and minds of all setting foot on its land–truly blessed with its sunshine, sea, mountains and valleys. Its typical landscape of lavender and sunflower fields, olive groves and vineyards,(...)
- PUFF EMBROIDERY
A machine embroidery technique used for creating raised letters, such as are commonly found on baseball caps and sports gear. A thin layer of foam is placed onto the face fabric and the design (an initial, a logo…) is stitched, rather embroidered, over it. Once this is complete, any excess(...)
From the shape of the puffed up fungus and perhaps the inflated puffer fish. Taking inspiration from the fullness of puffball dresses and bringing it to the world of interiors can bring a touch of fun tor tablecloths and lampshades, pelmets and dining chair covers.
To make your own, you(...)
A knitted top, a jumper, with or without sleeves and without fastenings, which pulls on over the head. In interiors, we use it in reference to our pullover lampshades and chair backs.
- PUNCHED LEATHER
Leather is generally punched with an awl for construction or decorative purposes, making either holes or indentations of varying depths. In this way, any form or pattern can be created–from a straight line indentation, a geometric form, border, an all over, or a stylised, intricate(...)
- PUNTO IN ARIA
From the Italian meaning ‘stitch in air’, and also known as flat Venetian point, it is an early form of needle lace. Punto in Aria was a 17thC development from reticella laces and constituted a breakthrough in lace making–it is considered to be the first true needle lace, as it was designed to(...)
The second basic knitting stitch, in which a loop is worked with the yarn at the front of the work, creating a wavy horizontal-looking stitch.
- PURPLE ( TYRIAN)
Also known as royal purple, An ancient highly prized purple-red DYE used by the ancient Hebrews, Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines… and extracted from molluscs such as the Murex. It was notable in that instead of fading over time, it became brighter and more intense with AGEING. Being valuable,(...)
- PVA GLUE
A wood glue and the best for attaching gimps or edging to upholstery frames and to hold foam to head boards etc.
The Qashqai or Kashgai; regroups a confederation of nomadic pastoral tribes and sub-tribes who are now mostly settled in the Fars region of southwest Iran, renowned for beautiful, high-quality hand made weaving. Qashqai rugs are Persian rugs, which you often find under the name of Shiraz(...)
The quarter section of a circle found by dividing the circle equally by two lines that meet at right angles at the centre,
In architecture and architectural mouldings, a quadrant is a convex curve with a 90º angle profile used to create form. As a moulding it is used to bridge gaps between(...)
From the French, meaning 'four leaves'.
An ornamental design that is four times its mirror image, often four shapes arranged around a decorative centre, resembling the elusive four-leaved clover that every child has been tasked with finding.
Apart from the design inspiration for print(...)
- QUEEN ANNE
In England the period of Queen Anne style covers around twenty years of a style of decorative arts from approx. 1700 to 1720, spanning the reigns of three British monarchs, King William III, Queen Anne and George I, though reaching its apogee under the reign of Queen Anne (1702-14). Its(...)
A textile made by quilting, i.e. creative stitching that holds a warm filling between two layers of fabric, and which is traditionally used as a bedcover.
* Quilts are country pieces, made for warmth, and created over long winter evenings, very often in small communities of family or(...)
A sewing technique whereby a layer of wadding or batting is sandwiched between the top cloth and the backing cloth with creative stitching, creating a warm and sturdy, padded textile; also the process of making a quilt.
* Quilting was a medieval European craft, but also already present in(...)
A fine linen woven in Quintin, Brittany, a pretty town that benefited hugely from the successful linen weaving business that employed approximately 300 workers, from 16th - 19th Centuries
Plural Radii, refers to any line from the centre of a circle to its circumference.
Palm trees ( Raphia)native to Madagascar and tropical Africa that also grow in the Philippines. Their plume-like leaves are the longest leaves in the world, reaching up to 18m (60ft) and produce long fibres that have many uses. locally they are used for ropes, sticks, supporting beam, and roof(...)
- RAG RUG
A rug that can be knotted or woven from offcuts, spare lengths of fabric or from old curtains, garments, bedcovers, tablecloths, etc. These pieces can be woven through, or knotted into an open, large holed jute or hemp rug canvas. For weaving, the fabric strips usually run in one(...)
- RAGS AND TATTERS
Along with flotsam and jetsom, refers to bits and pieces of cloth, leftovers, worn out or whatever we use to turn into new projects in our series "From the Cutting Room Floor."
Also used to describe any design that is deliberately déshabillé–stylistically nonchalant and with a degree of(...)
Railroading means to use fabric 'the other way around', that is, with the straight of grain across the width rather along the roll.
* Most fabrics are woven to be strongest running along their length, but just occasionally with a horizontally predominant weave there will be a note(...)
In its origins, a Japanese pottery tradition of hand-shaped tea-drinking vessels, which are quickly brought to a high temperature in a firing kiln and when red-hot are immediately removed and left to cool down in the open air. It is a technique that has been elaborated upon by western(...)
Pronounced ray-me, Boehmeria nivea, a flowering plant also known as China grass, which produces a bast fibre. The white ramie is traditionally cultivated in China, and the green ramie in the Malay peninsula. Nowadays it is also grown in Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, the Phillipines, Brazil and(...)
- RANDOM PATTERN
Used to describe either:
1. An all over pattern with no particular sense of a centre, or any part which is significantly more important than another, making pattern matching either unnecessary, pointless or arbitrary. However, as all printed patterns will have a repeat of some sort, there(...)
A numerical comparison between the size of two things. In textiles, ratio refers to: the overall dimension, the width go height of a motif whether woven or printed, and the way it is repeated in proportion to the finished length, or room.
* The ratio between motif and space can be(...)
1. Any fibre, but usually cotton, linen, wool and silk in its natural, unprocessed state, before bleaching, dyeing, etc. Once the fibres are woven into fabric it’s usually known as unbleached or loomstate rather than raw.
Raw silk describes any silk where the fibres still hold ‘impurities’,(...)
A regenerated cellulose fibre derived from wood pulp, first manufactured in France in the 19thC as a cheaper alternative to silk. As a woven or knitted fabric, rayon shares many properties with natural fibres such as silk, wool, cotton, linen and bamboo. It produces a soft, comfortable light,(...)
- RAZZLE DAZZLE
Noisy, showy, exciting–sometimes, a bit of 'show biz' is just what's needed!
- REAL MADRAS HANDKERCHIEF
See Madras check/plaid.
Re-using old or unwanted textiles came as second nature to all previous generations, and in many parts of the world it still the only way of doing things. Perhaps especially with respect to textiles, waste was unheard of, and re-cycling until there was no more life left in them was part and(...)
Tall slender grasses that grow in water, marshes, wetlands or swamps and have hollow stems. When cut and dried, they can be used for thatching, to stuff mattresses, and woven into baskets, rugs and mats, window blinds, door covers and to cover dirt floors; similar to and sometimes called rush(...)
Describes the action of pulling boat sails in, rolling them up before high winds.
This term has been borrowed to describe curtains and blinds that are pulled back and/or up using a similar system of cords and rings.
Reefed curtains are fixed at the head and drawn back, or back and up(...)
Typically, amateur sporting events consisting of a series of boat races, synonymous with a fun summer's day out for competitors and spectators alike. The boating jackets traditionally worn at the Henley Regatta (England) and other smart venues along the Thames river are famous for their(...)
An English historical period spanning 1811-20, when George IV was Prince Regent, which falls within the Georgian period. Coinciding with the French Empire (Napoleonic) style and the central European Biedermeir movement, Regency architecture (exemplified by John Nash) and decorative style was(...)
Wide coloured striped woven cloth that resemble the striped tapes that hold the regimental decorations of the British army
An adjective that conjures up the discipline of the regiment, army life, images of rows of soldiers standing to attention. In furnishings, it is used to describe an ordered and unbending, rigid style; an overall design that is highly disciplined with no room for manoeuvre or loose(...)
When not working with Father Christmas, reindeer live in the arctic and sub-arctic regions, which include North America, Lapland, Scandinavia, Russia, China. Reindeer, which when wild are called caribou in north america, shed their antlers in the autumn if they are male, and in the spring if(...)
Short lengths length of fabric, ends of rolls, or leftovers from a project. Workroom remnants can be strips of just few centimetres, and these we can make into something turn for our ' Cutting Room Floor' or 'Diary of a Workroom' series. Furnishing fabrics to buy usually qualify as remnant(...)
A historical period (14th-17th) of great cultural and artistic change and innovation in Europe, which started in Italy.
Textiles first became popular as window dressing rather than as wall hangings, door hangings or as bed hangings during this period; an opportunity to showcase the growing(...)
A weaving technique using a fine warp and a slightly heavier weft,producing a horizontally corded, ribbed, surface, and a strong, resilient fabric. Rep can be in cotton, silk, wool, viscose or mixed fibres and comes in medium to heavy weights.
A true rep(p) has the loom set with alternating(...)
- RESIST PRINTING/DYEING
A printing and dyeing technique, in which certain areas of cloth are treated in such a way that they ‘resist’, the dye that colours the rest of the cloth. Prior to dying, the areas of resist are either treated with a substance, such as wax, or knotted, sewn or stapled according to a(...)
Describes an inherent property of a fibre or a finishing treatment, providing information as to the suitable uses of a textile, i.e. springy, fire resistant, moth resistant, water resistant, dirt repellent, etc.
Describes a textile’s ability or penchant to return to its original form after a natural treatment or exposure to a surface altering chemical–from the ability to accept dye, to permanent pleating crushing, gauffrageing puffing, etc.
- RETICELLA LACE
The earliest needle lace that developed in the 15thC from drawn thread work. In earlier lace interpretations lace patterning was made by taking threads out, and manipulating, stitching this open grid of threads, into new designs.Geometric lace patterns were created by connecting these threads(...)
Describing fabric made to be used on both sides.
* Many woven fabrics are automatically reversible, e.g. all plain weaves, herringbones, wool flannels, tweeds, plaids, woven stripes, and purpose designed damasks and jacquards.
* Some reversible fabrics look exactly the same on both(...)
Rhythm signifies movement and keeps order–the rhythmic work of stitching, embroidery, the loom shuttle going back and forth, etc. When work is in time, in rhythm, it's going well. It has harmony and calm. When glitches occur that interrupt the rhythm, it's frustrating and the snags and(...)
Refers to a raised pattern in the surface texture of a fabric, that might run with the length of the fabrics, or across; well known ribbed fabrics include corduroy, needlecord, faille, ottoman and repp.
A ribbed fabric is a variation on a plain weave with twisted fibres that form a distinct(...)
- RIB KNIT
The rib section happens at the end of arms and other knitted panels to fit the work and to keep that part of it stretchy. Rows of alternate plain and pearl stitches are knitted, one of top of the other to create a vertical ribbed structure
Katherine Gustafson's copper ribbons running through trees at the Gardens of the Imagination in Terrasson, France are pure delight.
1. A long, flat and narrow strip of anything that can be used for wrapping, to decorate and to create design.
Materials that we might use are: thread, wool,(...)
- RICK RACK
A trimming braid woven in a zigzag pattern, which we use for upholstery and is always a fun edging for children's furnishings.
- RIGHT SIDE
The face side of any fabric refers to the one intended, by the designer and the weaver, to be seen; it is usually–but not always–the sleekest looking side. The choice of right side however, is yours alone, it’s just the side you prefer to see.
Only occasionally is there a technical reason(...)
A naturally formed or man-made gulley that fills with running water. In textiles, refers to double layers of cloth in which the under layer shows through in a straight or undulating, even or random width line.
- RING TAFFETA
A type of taffeta fine enough to be pulled through a ring.
A Japanese Kimono damask - a reversible self patterned satin weave, traditionally made of silk and sometimes rayon with a geometric background that gives way to a stylised floral patterns. The scheme of the patterning allocates almost equal space to the pattern and to the ground weave
The pattern of ripples sent across flat waters have inspired countless textile artists, potters and sculptors to create ridges in wavering lines or in concentric circles, which embody movement and energy.
Ripple patterned fabrics look especially good on flat surfaces where the design can be(...)
A lightweight, usually nylon fabric with a distinctive crosshatch pattern, in which thicker threads are woven into the main fabric in a small grid motif–this reinforcing technique prevents the cloth from tearing further than the edge of each square. Originally made for outdoor wear and not a(...)
A Japanese textile made of alternating gauze and plain weave. Soft and pliable, Ro is traditionally a summer kimono , kosode, fabric but well suited in interiors to screens and cushions; antique Ro kimonos have particularly lovely colours.
The gauze weave is similar to the Leno weave where(...)
An 18thC (1730-1770) European decorative style, characterized by elaborate hand worked ornamentation, natural forms and motifs (shells, fronds of stylized acanthus leaves, scrolls, knots of ribbons and garlands of flowers), intricate plasterwork, and the gilding/pastel colours(...)
The Japanese word for their batik- the technique of hand-applied wax-resist dying; here characterized by small, broken lines where resist has cracked and allowed dye to seep in.
- ROLLED EDGE
An edging technique creating a padded roll of varying diameter at the edges or hems of tablecloths, bedcovers, curtains and pelmets.
- ROLLER BLIND
A type of blind that is made from taught fabric attached to a roller with a spring and a cord (or other pull mechanism) that raises and lowers the blind, and allows it to settle anywhere in between. Roller blinds are ideal for small and narrow spaces, as the roller can be made with a smaller(...)
- ROLLER PRINTING
Effectively a variation on the age-old hand block printing method, in which a pattern is carved onto a surface that picks up a paint or dye and transfers it onto cloth, or other surface. With mechanisation in particular, carved or etched rollers allowed for greater efficiency by printing many(...)
- ROMAN BLIND
Blinds made of fabric that pleat up as they are raised and fall out as they are lowered.. Meanwhile sit above, or at the top of, the window.
* They can be made in almost any fabric and lined, interlined or unlined. The edges need to be hemmed, bound or finished in some manner.
An early medieval (11-13thC) art and architectural style of western Europe, inspired by the Roman empire, and used by Scandinavian, Christian and Islamic traditions. Characterised by buildings with rounded arches and very deep stone walls, scrolling plants and expressive representations of the(...)
- ROMANIAN POINT
A hand made needlepoint braid lace dating from 14thC. It is quite a heavy lace that can be worked into large pieces such as cloths or table from or motifs (floral, of butterflies, angels…) to be used in appliqué–these can be made singly or set into a worked surround and outlined by a crocheted(...)
A furnishings style that is feminine, pretty and soft, making use of silk, lace, organdie, muslins, needlework and beads. It is suited to a boudoir, a bedroom, a baby’s nursery, and in small doses a drawing room. Think roses, frills, gathers, soft colours and a myriad of off - whites....
Made from jute or other strong vegetal cellulose yarns that are twisted together until they become strong enough to hold knots and items. A small rope is a string, or a cord. Rope can be made up of ever more twists and twists of twists to make it strong enough for purpose, especially when it’s(...)
- ROSE COLOURED
Although roses come in any and every colour, rose-coloured definitely means pink, a pale pink that you might get from rose petals, certainly derived from red madder and the red ochres.
- ROSE MADDER
A red natural dye. See madder red .
- ROSE WINDOW
A circular window that has the tracery of a simplistic rose within it .
An aromatic European, evergreen herb with grey-green spikes often used to flavour meats and in bouquet garni. Its late spring pretty blue flowers taste very slightly of ginger and look pretty sitting on with creams and ice cream. Along with other grasses and reeds, rosemary was a key(...)
Everybody loves roses, their form, colour, perfume, the associations, the sheer intensity and variety, and roses age well. The dying muted colours of rose petals are every bit as beautiful as the fresh new buds and young flowers.
The colours of roses provide endless inspiration for wall(...)
A decoration in the shape of a rose and typically made of ribbon, especially useful for covering joins and complementing a furnishing style–whether it is in the formal gymkhana-style or in a more relaxed, bunched rose shape.
A small circular window, mostly seen in attic rooms and on the apex walls of stone, flint or brick-built barns and other agricultural buildings, there to admit light rather than showcase a view.
- RUB TEST
See martindale test/ Wyzenbach test / durability.
A material made either by coagulating and dying the latex–or gum–from the rubber tree, or as a synthetically extruded rubber look-alike.
* A thin, fine grade of sheet rubber can be used for shower curtaining.
* Natural rubber floor tiles are excellent, soft and stable underfoot, warm (it(...)
A technique for taking an imprint of a motif in a relief in brass or stone. A piece of paper is placed over the motif and rubbed over with a pencil, chalk or coloured wax–in this way the outline of the pattern is transferred.
* Taking rubbings from architectural and sculptural pieces is a(...)
A precious gemstone with a hue ranging from deep red and purple to pale pink; as a colour, generally refers to a dark, rich , slightly blue, red.
Or rouching. A sewing technique, that creates small pleats, ruching happens when fabric is gathered or folded back on itself informally.
1. Fabric that is gathered or pleated between two fixed edges, as much or as little as needed for effect. It is used in lampshades and to make ruched(...)
A short stiff or stiffened frill that is designed to stand up, typically seen finishing a collar or cuff. It will be made from a crisp fabric such as organdie or other slightly crisp linen or cotton, and may be starched for a stiffer look. It is shorter and stands more upright than a(...)
An attached, full frill used in fashion for collars that cascades from the neckline the cuff or skirt hem finishes. It is longer than a ruff and generally made of lighter material for a softer effect. Use as a pretty treatment to finish or decorate curtains, lampshades, cushions and covers.
A textile floor covering that is both practical and decorative, and tends not to extend over the entire floor nor to be fixed. Rugs are carpets, certainly carpeting, but not in the wall- to- wall fitted sense, and the words are interchangeable for woven and knotted textiles, especially perhaps(...)
- RULE OF THUMB
Refers to the generally accepted way of doing things or measuring, which incidentally may not require or comply with any particular standard apart from tradition and experience.
A printing batch. See piece.
- RUN OFF
A printed pattern should always run with the horizontal grain–the weft–as well as the vertical–the warp, though it reality it often doesn't, so we say the pattern has 'run off'. This is due to an imprecise alignment of the printing roller, blocks or screens, to careless stretching or an(...)
- RUN ON
When a length of fabric or flooring is commissioned , a major part of the cost will cover the making and printing setting up costs. It is possible to order a small amount of metreage, but there will also be a 'run-on' from the minimum order, which will cost proportionately less per metre, to(...)
A long thin piece of textile. As carpets they 'run along' corridors; on stairs they fit within the stair width and are held in place at the back of each tread with removable bars; on tables and chests they lie along the centre for decoration and to protect the tables form flower vases, picture(...)
A way of life connected with the land, especially when the vegetation and, or the live stock provide the living. It is typically a spare existence with no waste and little luxury, the story of tribal life and especially nomadic life, of all agrarian culture, and subject of much romanticism,(...)
A marsh and wetland grass-like flowering plant, which many varieties and types have been harvested, dried and woven by civilisations throughout the ages on home looms, at kitchen tables or on the ground to make floor mats, bedding mats and shelters.
* Rush material is simple and basic with(...)
A deep reddish brown colour named after an English apple with the same colouring.
It’s the colour of rusted metal and also the colour of autumn, as trees turn ready for the fall, and of the edges of vine leaves just before the grape harvest.
It is also an old English name for a homespun(...)
- RUSSIA / RUSSAIN BRAID
'Russia or Russian braid', it is a flat narrow braid that looks like very small double piping. It is very malleable and easy to work, and is applied or worked by stitching along the centre of the braid. Used to make soutache applied in furnishings and fashion in lines of a single or more(...)
- RUST PROOF
A finish for metals such as iron and steel that protects against rust. This can be paint, varnish, lacquer, powder coating, galvanising, or nickel, chrome, copper or silver plating–depending entirely on budget and application.
- RUSTED METAL
As metals such as iron or steel are affected by the elements they begin to corrode and produce a layer of reddish-brown oxide called rust.
This can be prevented by painting, galvanising or lacquering these metals; however, where there are cracks the surface will quickly begin to corrode and(...)
From the countryside, an adjective to describe inherently home grown, homemade and homespun furnishings for family or local community use, in styles and with materials typical of a particular geographical area.
* Rustic furniture and furnishings were born of necessity, made with love and(...)
A type of rough fabric bag made from hessian, jute or hemp for carrying soft items and foodstuffs. Flour sacks, hop sacks, grain sacks, and coffee sacks sacks can be recycled into smart furnishings within a deliberately rustic look for an urban setting or in any warehouse style, country or(...)
- SADDLE BAG
Saddlebags used for horses, camels, donkeys, goats, etc. can be made with great craftsmanship and typical folk decorations and materials, and are well worth collecting. They are durable, often colourful, fit into most environments and are a joy to look at. Display on walls, or turn into(...)
- SADDLE CLOTH
A hardwearing, traditionally hand worked blanket, pad or fabric that fits between the animal's back and the saddle. By the time the rider or camel driver wants to part with them they are often worn, but can be cut down and remade into hardwearing cushions.
One who makes or deals in saddles or saddlery, a master leatherworker, able to work with complex leather and therefore with all the right tools and expertise to help with any interiors project. A saddler's involvement can be invaluable for both new and refurbishment projects, for example(...)
The 'sad' in the name is the old English word for solid, and it was, a very heavy type of flat iron pointed at both ends, used to press heavy woollen fabrics. It would be heated over the open fire or range and held over a damp cloth, the steam penetrating the wool to set the work, shrinking it(...)
- SAFARI PRINT
Any printed design depicting safari scenes and wild animal, especially African animals such as giraffes, elephants, zebras, big cats, crocodiles, etc.
- SAFETY CURTAIN
Refers to a fireproof interior furnishing especially used in commercial buildings made of stainless steel wire, reinforced glass fabric, or other fire retardant materials, which is lowered to control the spread of fire. Also a metal mesh curtain mechanism fitted to the inner front edges of the(...)
Salvia officinalis, or common sage, is one of the most popular and easiest of the culinary herbs to grow, particularly in the garden, or in a window box on hand to be used all year round..
One of the early medicinal herbs for soothing skin and as a decongestant, an essential ingredient in(...)
A very stiff, hardwearing 100% cotton canvas plain or basket weave fabric designed for use as yacht sails. It is most useful in interior furnishings in the creamy-white colour for inexpensive curtains, or coloured and striped for garden awnings and deck chairs. Shrink before use and iron(...)
A Japanese technique of weaving, re-using finely cut or torn strips of used textiles, usually recycled clothing, creating a textured cloth to make into garments, or furnishings. The strips can also be used to weave or to tuft rag rugs.
We think of our similar work and ideals as rags and(...)
In France, a reception room (grand salon, petit salon), which in English meets the same requirements as the drawing room and the smaller, less formal sitting rooms in the houses of large country estates.
In the stately homes, grand homes and palaces of Europe the salon is a large open room,(...)
Normal table salt is used in dye baths to reduce pH levels, which allows some dyes to take more easily to the fibre.
Salt is also used to reduce impurities in raw materials, a good wash with salt cleans, pre-shrinks and pre-prepares all manner of potential and inexpensive furnishing(...)
A small piece of any material with a reference that you are given to look at, feel, test, match, to decide whether it is right for purpose, before placing an order for a larger amount.
There are various sample designations:
Cutting: a small sample from the general stock
A beginner's exercise in hand embroidery, usually the alphabet, mottos or ornamental motifs worked on canvas and signed and dated. Previously, this would have been an important part of a young girl's education, she would spend hours with a needle making up samplers to practice, hone and(...)
A fragrant wood indigenous to Australasia and southeast Asia. The essential oil has an exotic, heady aroma used for incense and perfumes. In the home, a few drops on the top of a lampshade frame to release the essence as they warm up, or slivers of wood or drops of oil into soft wood balls for(...)
A fairly soft sedimentary rock composed of sand, clay, feldspar quartz and haemetite.
Sandstone my be any colour from pale off white sand, to yellow-brown, reds, tan grey and black – in fact any and all of the colours you pick up in a handful of pre-sand sea shingle. However the colour that(...)
A natural textile finishing technique that gives a fabric a soft touch and an aged appearance. Grains of sand act as an abrasive – like free-range sandpaper – on the surface to break up a glaze or polished finish, or just to roughen up the fibres a bit, to create a soft matte finish. The(...)
A patented textile treatment process that involves mechanically starching, shrinking and fixing a woven cloth to preshrink and thoroughly stabilise it prior to use.
Heading tapes such as buckram and interlinings – anything that needs to be stable – should be bought sanforized to reduce the(...)
One of the very early Indo-European languages, an ancient and sacred language spoken in India and employed in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist writings
The Hindu Vedic oral tradition and subsequent writings (the earliest, the Rigveda, dating back to the 2nd century BC) were in Sanskrit, the mantra(...)
"Saris belong to a region rather than a social strata. Everyone from the cobblers wife to the goldsmiths wife wears the sari of the region"
Saris make women look beautiful and elegant whether at work, shopping, doing house work, building roads or at leisure; she will have a variety of saris(...)
A garment made of a long length or tube of fabric particularly associated with southeast Asia (sarong being a Malay and Indonesian word), but existing under other names in many traditional societies the world over. The tube style sarong is standard dress for many men and occasionally women(...)
- SASH WINDOW
Also called a hung sash window, it is a Georgian, architectural feature, and to everyones mind the most elegant of functional windows. It is typically constructed of two moveable frames, or sashes,, each with one or more glass panels, set one above the other, which slide vertically up or down(...)
From the Japanese sashi, ‘to stitch’ and ko, ‘small’, this is a 17thC Japanese hand sewing technique used for textile repairs and recycling best known for its geometric designs very often worked in worked in white or off white on indigo dyed cloth.
Sashiko is similar to the Indian kantha(...)
A satin weave of cotton, linen or rayon. Sateen fabrics have a smooth, lustrous, glossy surface that resists dirt and is generally good tempered.
Good curtain linings are sateen woven as the fabric is durable, highly practical and accepts sun resistant and fire proofing well.
To clear one common misconception, satin is a weave not a fabric.
It is one of the three basic weaves and it creates a strong and versatile fabric with a glossy face and a matte back. It is primarily woven in silk, cotton and wool, but also from any other fibre, to improve its weight,(...)
La Manufacture de la Savonnerie was a reputed French rug, tapestry and furnishing textiles workshop, founded in an obsolete soap factory (savon meaning 'soap’ in French) near Paris in the early 17thC by royal decree. It was spearheaded by two French weavers, who set to employ the techniques of(...)
- SAVONNERIE POINT
Or point noué Savonnerie, the hand-knotted technique by which Savonnerie rugs are made and which is the secret to their great durability.
Scale, the size of one thing in relation to another, and proportion, is everything to creating a visually pleasing environment. The most expensive and exclusive fabric in the world will be wasted if the finished project is out of sync with the rest of the room.
A balanced room design hinges(...)
The distinctive shape of the scallop shell, full of allegorical and historical symbolism–of fertility, spring, new life, music–that often appears in artistic, textile, furniture, accessories and architectural decorative motifs. The scallop shell has long been associated with St James and is(...)
A very bright red colour that can look stunning in an interior scheme, either on its own in a textured weave, or as a splash of colour, an – accent – included in an accessory,, a piping or edging, or just a touch of colour in a painting. Scarlet works well with other colours of equal tone such(...)
- SCATTER CUSHION
Any cushion that is supplementary, chosen for both comfort and decorative impact. Stylistically a scatter cushion can be anything – large, small, square, round, and made of absolutely any fabric. It is perhaps partly this diversity and scope that makes scatter cushions so appealing.
All interior decoration and furnishings set a scene, the stage for life events. It is the background against which you, your friends and family will live, so it is vitally important that you feel it is an environment in which you can be yourself. This is why architecture, furnishings and(...)
The Schiffli machine, invented by Isaak Groebli in Switzerland in 1863, changed the face of embroidery. With multi-needles and a two-thread system similar to a sewing machine, the shuttle holding the bobbin resembled the hull of a sailboat– in German, schifli means ‘little boat’, and it's from(...)
1. A wall mounted light fixture, a bracket that can hold a candlestick or electric light fittings.
2. A flat candle stick with a handle, which we used to call the 'wee willy winkie' lights when we were small.
Before any fabric is dyed it must be scoured to remove any trace of wax, chemicals, oil or impurities that might hinder the fabric’s ability to accept the dye
This process involves washing and rinsing the fabric with an alkaline solution, usually a mild solution of soda ash, lye or caustic(...)
- SCREEN PRINTING
A versatile printing technique that creates sharp and detailed prints. The screen, or frame, holds taut woven mesh onto which a design is drawn in an ink-blocking substance, thereby creating a stencil. This is inked, and in the process the design transferred onto fabric or paper. The original(...)
A gauze of varying densities made from cotton, flax, or jute, which is used in the building trade, in bookbinding, in curtain making and upholstery. In bookbinding, scrim is glued to the spine to reinforce it; in construction scrim strips are used to cover the cracks and gaps around plaster(...)
A roll of parchment or writing paper; also a historic motif inspired by the profile shape of unfurled parchments.
1. Being a precious material, parchment was stored rolled up and gradually unfurled in the process of reading, leaving the top and the bottom curling in opposite directions. It(...)
Said of deep pile textiles with a surface design of rows, ridges, florals, etc. that has been carved by hand or machine. Sculpted surfaces throw the light especially well; if the fibre is springy the design keeps its shape, whereas a floppy or long fibre will create a more random impression.(...)
A step in preparing, or dressing, textile fibres (flax, cotton, hemp, silk, wooL) for spinning by beating them to remove impurities. This process was previously done by hand with sticks, a scutching knife or a small iron scraper. Since the 19thC, it is now done by scutching machines.
- SEA ISLAND COTTON
The name for Gossypium barbadense cotton when grown exclusively in the West Indies (see Egyptian and pima).
Sea Island cotton sounds as though it should be romantic and sensuous, and it is indeed just that. With one of the longest and smoothest fibres, its superior strength, softness and(...)
- SEA SILK
Also known as mermaid’s gossamer, it is an ancient and extremely rare, fine cloth with a golden gloss woven from the anchoring filaments–the byssus–of bi-valve mollusks such as the pen shell, Pinna nobilis cetacea. It is valued for being both delicate and strong, changing colour when observed(...)
A marine flowering plant that yields a vegetal fibre used to make furniture, rugs and carpets. China is one of the largest commercial cultivators, growing crops in paddy fields that are flooded with seawater in the growing season.
The dried seagrasses are twisted into yarn, which is woven(...)
- SEAL SKIN
Dark grey to black, it is very hard wearing and used for upholstering stools or ottomans, skins stitched into floor rugs or outdoor cushions.
- SEED STITCH
A small, continuous, embroidered stitch that looks like a row of seeds.
It may be used within a large design, on its own as a cluster stitch, or in pairs along a hemline or to create the effect of stripes.
From the Persian word shirshukar, a cotton, cotton mix, rayon or linen fabric with puckered, vertical stripes in varying widths made by alternating tight weaving and loose weaving. It was introduced to Europe via the 18thC East India Trade Company The fabric comes in plain colours, checks or(...)
- SELF BUTTON
A button made in the same fabric as the main fabric it is used against, creating a design more dependent on shape and shadow than on colour contrast.
- SELF ON SELF
A generic term for any weave that creates a pattern within the cloth, where the weave of the design differs from the ground weave.
Very often white on white or neutral colours for lightweight fabrics and sheers; such as jamdani, spot muslin, raised herringbone, dobby, pheasants(...)
- SELF TIE
A tie, ribbon or cord made in the same fabric as that of the main project.
Used to describe any trimming, detail or additional piece that is made of the same fabric as used for the main body of the project – a design detail that depends on subtlety of form and shadow rather than on contrast, as in self piped, self bound, self lined…
Refers to the two side edges of any woven fabric, where the wefts reach the end warps, loop around them and then return back to the other side. The last centimetre or so of warp threads are often denser so they can take the tension and keep the fabric taut and true once it leaves the(...)
- SEMINAL DESIGNS
Some of the textiles we know best, those patterns or forms or motifs that have influence our own lives are the classics - the designs that were made at seminal historical points.
Simple things such as William Morris’s willow pattern wallpaper that has never gone out of print, the arabesque,(...)
- SEMINAL POINTS
The course of history is defined by moments when something ground breaking, highly original and important happens, just every once in a while. Seminal designs, patterns, techniques and technologies mark turning points in architecture, sculpture, print design or weaving, which are remembered,(...)
A flat braid made by plaiting dried grasses or other vegetable fibres, most commonly used in millinery. Sennits are very strong and used in a variety of ways. When coiled, its depth is useful for creating flat structures such as place mats, floor mats and bedding mats. It can alternatively be(...)
Furnishings and furniture are the feathers in the nest, there to be enjoyed and to make us feel welcome, comfortable and comforted. Homes that provide refuge, sanctuary and emotional healing are also sensuous, calming and reassuring, and must alert the senses.
If we don't want to run our(...)
A small, slightly curved, flat, or crimped metallic or glass 'bead' that sparkles from every facet. Often used en masse as complete shimmer...they look especially good by flickering candlelight. Belle Époque dresses were very often beaded with sequins in rows, along the hems or almost all over(...)
A twill 2:2 weave that creates a fabric with diagonal ribs on both faceand underside. Usually made of wool, as either plain cloth or in checks it is a sturdy, medium-to-heavy weight fabric that drapes well and with good body. Wool serge is used in fashion for suiting and outerwear, and in(...)
The production of raw silk and silkworm farming for this purpose.
A soft, curved, S-shaped line with convex and concave sections, used variously as a design statement–in furniture design and upholstery. pelmets, bedheads sofa backs or fronts might be in a serpentine with a concave shoulder at each end that dips and rises to a shallow curve peaking at the(...)
A paper napkin.
A fully upholstered couch or sofa-type seating for more than one person, which is soft and comfortable and to be used in sitting rooms, dens, bedrooms and drawing rooms.
An interior is as much defined by what’s in a room as how it is arranged–how the dining table is set, whether the lights are dimmed, candles lit, the guest bedroom prepared all show your personality and are all little scenes, settings intended to bring out the best.
As with the scene, these(...)
A high-backed box-like wooden seat with arms for two or more people, sometimes with storage underneath, associated with cottages, hallways, rural surroundings or domestic quarters. The high back protects from draughts and today often sits neatly against a wall, whereas in the past they might(...)
The Self Employed Women’s Association is the largest co-operative in India, with membership topping 1,000,000 throughout the country and a recently opened school for young children. As a non-governmental organisation, it aims to help women become self-reliant by providing them with work to do(...)
A cloth made of wool and linen mixed, and a traditional Jewish prohibition from wearing it. Leviticus 19.19 exhorts the Jews not wear a mingled stuff, wool and linen together...
Scholars such as Josephus suggest this was to prevent the laity from wearing priestly garb, others such as(...)
Uses to describe a style of furnishings that is at once comfortable and smart- typical of the more casual way of living associated with the lat 20C . The term which has now spread far and wide was first coined during an interview in the World of Interiors magazine in the 1980's.
Describes long pile floor rugs. Or shag pile. Silk, wool, cotton, linen and mixed fibres make up into luxurious shaggy rugs in any colour and many interesting design combinations of stripes, sculpting and pile length to supplement the favourite single length pile
Long pile carpeting works(...)
An untanned sharkskin, ray skin, leather, or fabric that has been embossed, woven or printed to resemble the pebbled patterning and colouring of real shark skin; it is available in many colours from both a realistic and a high fashion palette.
The subtle colouring of real skin was favoured(...)
A raw silk fabric traditionally made from tussar or wild silk woven with a slightly nubby, uneven texture; it takes its name from the Chinese province of Shandong, though is now also produced in India and Thailand. It is sometimes called Nankeen or Rajah (the provinces where the yarn(...)
A square of woven or knitted cloth draped around the shoulders and sometimes pulled over the head for warmth and protection from the elements, and as a fashion accessory. This concept of keeping warm and snuggled up puts shawls very much have a place in interior furnishings, as fireside and(...)
- SHAWL COLLAR
A long, turned back collar with a soft rounded line, a fashion technique we've applied to interiors for slip covered lampshades and chair covers.
Lambskin pelt or sheep skin that has been shorn once and tanned with the curly wool left on, meaning one side is leather and the other wool.
Used for coats and gilets in the fashion world, warm curtains, cushions and rugs for furnishings.
1. To create a weave on a loom, the warp yarns are set to open according to the weave or pattern allowing the weft shuttle to pass through; the shed is the opening created.
2. The shed is, of course, the man hut at the end of the garden. Where the garden tools are kept, all neat and tidy, an(...)
Sheepskin rugs are small enough to pick up, move and to shake out, warm underfoot, easy to manage, and as skins go, inexpensive. They can be cut and joined, stitched together for larger area rugs, for small upholstery projects and even for curtains.
Sheepskins are the most natural,(...)
Describes any diaphanous, transparent or semi-transparent material made into curtains, under curtains or blinds for the look and the feeling that sheer fabrics give, to provide a degree of privacy or to filter sunlight or breeze.
Fabrics to use are silk or cotton organdie, silks, faux(...)
To use sheets and sheeting for furnishings makes perfect sense- the fabrics are already tried and tested for heavy wear, they are easy to use, come in a range of good colours and are relatively inexpensive–as such, they have solved many a problem for us over the years.
As large pieces of(...)
1. The hard outer covering of molluscs, crustaceans and sea creatures such as turtles and tortoises, and the shells of coconuts, or other seedpods. They make into interesting accessory items, and inspire colour schemes and design ideas with their shapes and colourings.
2. The shell of a(...)
- SHELL HEMMING
An easy and most decorative hand-sewing hemming technique for fabric edges that will be on show, for particularly fine, springy weaves or cloth that is simply too delicate to put through a sewing machine; use also for lampshades, dressing table skirts, etc.
The hem must be as narrow as it(...)
The resin secreted by the lac insect, it is a traditional, natural, breathable varnish, often used by specialist paint finishers to protect painted furniture and paint finishes.
Lac is used to dye fabrics to the prettiest pink shades; the insect, Kerria lacca is part of the coccidae family(...)
- SHEPHERD CHECK
This wool, worsted or cotton twill weave creates a standard 6mm check of alternate black squares and white squares.
It’s believed to have started as simple woven lengths worn by shepherds throughout the Scottish lowlands, the north of England, Wales and Ireland, tied around the waist and(...)
An ethnic group living in the Nepalese foothills of the Himalayas, who are noted for their mountaineering skills. Their thick warm clothing and traditional way of life is an inspiration for comfortable furnishings.
Both men and women wear a long inner shirt over baggy trousers, under a(...)
- SHETLAND WOOL
Denotes wool from a breed of sheep originating in the Shetland Isles, north-east Scotland, which produce a soft and shaggy fleece that is spun, knitted and woven into cloth and tweeds.
Real Shetland wool is not sheared but pulled out by hand from the sheep’s underbelly in springtime (on(...)
A Japanese resist-dye technique, in which design is created by preventing specific areas of the cloth taking the dye.
Shibori is distinct from other methods in that it creates a raised and wrinkled surface texture. It can be worked by hand or machine, and traditionally makes use of natural(...)
Describes the effect on fabrics that reflect flickers of light, particularly with slightly ruckled weaves. Other fabrics are woven with just enough metallic thread to create an attractive shimmer, which in a dark room subtly picks up that bit more light, and in a clean cut setting strikes a(...)
The capital of the Fars province of southwest Iran, it is an ancient centre of regional trade, famous for its culture and crafts, in particular Persian rugs such as kelim and pile carpet-weaving. Shiraz weavers are typically home-based, settled villagers, whose work is similar to that of(...)
A decorative finishing technique whereby material is drawn up into gathers between parallel rows of stitching. The rows can be pulled up by hand and fixed in place; shirring today is usually made with the help of an elasticated thread, called shirring elastic, which makes the gathers but at(...)
A fabric that re-uses materials, scraps of woollen clothing stripped back and re-worked, perhaps adding some new wool to it; the fabric thus produced would inevitably be of lesser quality and low durability. It is a term now synonymous with inferior quality and workmanship.
- SHOOTING LODGE
Originally the shooting box, a small house on a country estate large enough to provide accommodation for a shooting party (of 8 ). Originally designed for use during the shooting season solely, it is now often designed for year-round leisure use.
Describes weaves in which the warp and weft are in two or more different colours, creating a fabric that appears to change colour with each new angle and extent of light. Even as you scrunch a piece of shot fabric in your hand and turn it, one colour after another will show itself.
- SHOWER PROOFING
A water repelling treatment that allows water to run off without penetrating the cloth. Lightweight, summer weight shower-proof fabric sprayed with a fine coating of latex on the under side can be used for shower curtains and outdoor furnishings
1. All fabrics loose some of their weight and volume during processing. These factors are taken into account by the manufacturer when the dimensions for the width and the pattern repeat are given, though in reality both may vary slightly either way
2. Washing and laundering also cause(...)
A trust based in Kolkata, India, started by David Earp, which supports children and young people with disabilities. The project is funded through making and selling kanthas, a traditional Indian quilting technique using vintage cottons, sold online and at Breuer & Dawson on Portobello road,(...)
A Japanese satin weave.
A simple float weave in groups of five or more warps and wefts, where the warps float over a minimum of four wefts and are never bound by more than one weft. The diagonal weave is halted by maintaining the one warp between each set. The design is interesting, a(...)
There are two types of window shutters:
a) those that block all light and air out, provide effective window security and work as either an alternative or supplement to curtaining.
b) those that are pierced, or have slatted louvres (fixed or opening), which allow air and light to pass(...)
Originally a characteristically coarse woven Sicilian fabric of mohair and cotton fabric, which could be in either in plain weave or woven with a light rib.
Today, Sicilienne has developed into a high quality poplin cloth with a silk warp and either cotton or wool wefts that create a heavy rib.
A type of ochre with a high ferric oxide content, it is one of the essential earth pigments that contributes softness, age or depth to all other paint colours. In its natural state it is called raw sienna and has a golden toast colour; when roasted, it is called burnt sienna and is a dark(...)
Your personal stamp and sign off. Everything you make should relate to you in some way–it should have your personal touch. All designers have some sort of signature to their work, whether deliberately or instinctively, which is impossible to quash, however diverse the projects and client(...)
Originally a fine glazed linen (a type of Taschenfutter) from Silesia–a historic region of central Europe with a long history of growing and weaving linen, now encompassing Poland mostly, with smaller areas of the Czech Republic and Germany. Now a dense but lightweight cotton twill weave(...)
Refers to the outer line of the shape of an object, in particular how it will appear in half-light or if backlit. Printed silhouettes, on textiles or wallpaper, are either depicted filled in or as drawn outlines.
- SILICA GEL
Silica is a naturally occurring quartz mineral and a major ingredient in glass and ceramics manufacture–in powder form it is capable of absorbing a large amount of moisture. When working on a house that is damp, or that has a damp wall, we attach a small bag of silica gel behind curtain(...)
A strong fibre with a high lustre produced by the larvae of certain bombycine moths fed on specific leaves (most commonly mulberry), and also by certain spiders.
Legend has it that Lei Zu, the wife of the Yellow emperor was sitting under a tree one day when a silk cocoon fell into her tea. As(...)
- SILK JERSEY
A knitted silk fabric that is fine and lightweight with a fabulous drape and slight sheen. It makes into opulent curtain and bed covers, drapes and small furnishings. Use to bring softness and luxury into contemporary, hard environments; soft greys and neutral colours sit comfortably in such(...)
- SILK SCREEN PRINTING
See screen printing.
A grey-ish-white metal that occurs naturally free or alloyed with other metals and minerals. Highly malleable and beautiful to look at, silver is prized and therefore used a great deal within the home, whether carved, moulded, or in filigree, as cutlery and all other flat ware, jugs, bowls,(...)
- SILVER GILT
A type of gilding, in which silver leaf is covered with a very thin layer of gold leaf. I often prefer this to gold gilding, as it gives a softer, less dense finish.
- SILVER PLATE
Describes a method of covering a base metal (usually brass) with a thin coating of silver, which allows both larger and smaller items to be made at reasonable cost. Plate is fine and even essential for the larger and lesser items of ‘silver’ in the home, such as flower vases and trays, jugs(...)
A concept that embodies something uncomplicated, clear, classic, natural, plain, uncluttered, sincere, modest, unpretentious…and easy. Easy implies first level, basic, manageable–within your scope, which is all anyone can do. It doesn't mean carelessness, 'good enough', bare, unfinished or(...)
Simplicity is the aim and the goal. Simplicity is complexity broken down: when each stage or level of a complex pattern or design is itself simple, the whole will become achievable, harmonious and pleasing.
For us simplicity means working with a great textile and making it well, with due(...)
To do away with anything extraneous and bring something back to its basics. In a home, it's sometimes easy to get carried away and over do it at any stage and in furnishing, especially if you love textiles, creating and making, and basically love things. Taking away, editing, simplifying is(...)
- SINGLE CANVAS
A simple, first stage embroidery canvas with a single open mesh made from cotton or cotton and polyester, with easily distinguished holes between warp and weft.
Alternative spelling of sennet.
A fibre derived from the leaves of the Mexican plant Agave sisalana, or Agave.
Traditionally used for twine and rope, it now has many uses–paper, cloth, wall coverings, carpets, drums and in the household–body brushes, slippers an cleaning cloths; also in the building and automotive(...)
A long length of thread or yarn wound into a coil with double looped ends for knitting, embroidery and weaving. It’s sometimes easier to manage skeins by winding the threads or yarns into balls.
- SKETCH SCHEME
A preliminary design scheme that is the vehicle and the best base for initial ideas – from which to assess whether ideas will work in reality, to explore the possibilities and then, once the various ideas have been brought together, to find out if they are acceptable to all concerned.
Animal skins are warm and draught proof, a traditional naturally insulating material essential to life in a cold climate, whether as a bear or reindeer fur coat, as floor rugs to keep the home warm underfoot, as bedcovers and mattress covers for night-time and as hangings over doors and(...)
In furnishings, refers to the area between the chair/sofa seat and the legs, also the finish that covers this area of upholstered or loose covered fabrics. The skirt can be pleated, frilled, bound, in simple or elaborate finishes, but can also be less visible, even non-existent when(...)
The wooden architrave at the foot of walls, a finishing architectural detail that also protects the wall from wear and tear during cleaning–damage from brushes or vacuum cleaners. Skirting is a feature of formal architecture; in cottages and castles stone, cob or adobe walls look very much(...)
To dissolve a substance in water. In order to use lime in lime wash, plaster, neutralizer, or for any other purpose, it first needs to be slaked, i.e. dissolved into water so it becomes calcium hydroxide. This is a highly corrosive process that should be done in a pit under supervision.
Any series of narrow strips of wood, bamboo or metal that are fixed in parallel lines. For bed bases they run across the bed, so that the natural spring is created along the length of the bed. With blinds and louvres they run horizontally so that they can be tipped, folded or rolled to control(...)
- SLEIGH BEDS
Wooden beds with a high head and footboard, so named as the ends are often shaped like a classic sleigh, joined with deep sidebars within which the mattress sits, hidden from view.
As they are partially enclosed, sleigh beds feel comfortable, benefit from some draught-proofing and carry a(...)
Or loose cover.
A removable, washable cover for chairs, sofas and bedheads.
Slipcovers can be tailored to fit exactly and as close to the upholstery as possible, or made oversized and loose. Either option will suit a country house, but the tailored option is the only one for urban, sleek(...)
- SLIPPER SATIN
A closely woven, fine, satin from silk, wool or cotton with a soft sheen rather then than the high glossy finish of some other satin weaves. Of all satins it’s probably the best option for elegant furnishings; being less slippery it is also easier to work with.
Yarn that is of uneven width, either because it has been spun to include supplementary short lengths of fibre at random intervals,, or because the fibres are of lesser quality and of shorter lengths than those that produce the finest yarns.
Slub threads or yarns can be used singly in either(...)
A loose-fitting worktop that falls above the knees, worn across the world. Smocks are all simply made but vary hugely according to local custom, skill and the maker’s inclination, from the simplest pull-over four-seamed garment to ones with gathers, movement inserts, pin-tucked fronts and(...)
A decorative technique, whereby sections of fabric are carefully pleated, but more often gathered as they are held in place with embroidery stitches, which create a pattern. Fine and lightweight fabrics must be very full, medium weight ones less so. The stitching needs to be tight enough to(...)
Snakes naturally shed their skins; as these are long and narrow, they must be joined to make anything other than covers for small boxes, picture or mirror frames. For upholstered seats, say, the seams become as much part of the pattern and design as the material itself.
- SNAP FASTENER
An alternative word for any two-part fastening, in which each half is fitted onto or into either side of an opening and pressed together. Other names for this fitting are press fastening, press stud, or popper.
A small piece of fabric, a trimming cut for reference, for record or for matching. During the decorating process and beyond, it is useful to keep a snippet on a small card for reference, as an aide memoire and to help identify certain colours and textures.
Snow white is the whitest of whites. Laying cloth down onto newly fallen snow is the surest way to whiten and naturally bleach it without chemicals.
Snow bleaching features in the Japanese textile tradition, when making a hemp fabric called Ojiya Chijmi or ramie: the vegetal fibres(...)
A word for a small, comfortable and cosy room in an inn. In the home, the snug is the least formal room and might be the family room, a den, a book room, a study or a small sitting room.
It's bit of an old fashioned word for a room, but to keep a home warm, cosy and snug is the ambition(...)
Also called steatite, it is a metamorphic rock composed mostly of compacted talc–magnesium silicate–and comes in white-grey-green or soft browns with white strata. With a very high degree of resistance to heat, electricity and acids it is used for making table tops, hearths and work surfaces.(...)
Or Saponaria officinalis, a flowering plant native to Europe and Asia, which crushed leaves and roots have been used since the Middle Ages at least for making a good, chemical-free, natural soap and shampoo.
It is used by textile conservators and advisable for cleaning any delicate or(...)
May refer to the naturally occurring mineral sodium carbonate, or to various sodium based chemical compounds used for cleaning and whitening.
Sodium carbonate–washing powder; sodium bicarbonate–baking powder, for cleaning and to absorb aromas; sodium chloride–salt; sodium chlorate–to(...)
A comfortable piece of furniture that seats more than one person, which is fully or partially upholstered with soft cushions on the seats and/or backs and/or arms; it is often made up with loose covers to protect the upholstery beneath.
The underside of a structural component or architectural detail, such as a ceiling or a roof beam, boxing, window reveals, or a deep architrave.
- SOFT BLIND
A blind that is made of furnishing, carpet, ethnic or dressmaking fabric, as opposed to the rigid blind fabric used for roller, slatted and Venetian blinds. Soft blinds may be formal–with rods to form perfect pleat – or informal hanging in soft swags, unlined, lined or interlined, plain or(...)
Full of vibrancy, colour, people and things, a continuous hubbub and hive of activity, souks are the open market places of Northern Africa and the Middle East. It also loosely refers to many small stalls full of colourful and interesting wares. The souk is an endless source of inspiration for(...)
“From far off, through circuitous corridors, came the scent of citrus-blossom and jasmine, with sometimes a bird’s song before dawn, sometimes a flute’s wail at sunset, and always the call of the muezzin in the night …”
– Edith Wharton, In Morocco
We think so much about the appearance of(...)
A French technique passementerie particularly for jewellery and cartouche, in decorative and often fanciful designs that are always formed, shaped and contained by Russia braid.
* Several rows of self coloured or contrasting coloured braids can be stitched together through their centres to(...)
Soy protein fibre (SPF) is the only protein fibre, a natural fibre with the physical properties of synthetic fibres. Extracted from the soybean cake (the residue of which is used as stock feed), it s a soft, smooth and lightweight fibre with a lustre similar to silk, and an excellent drape. It(...)
‘Points of light’ created by reflection or specific means bring life and joy into any and every environment.
Sparkle is life enhancing. It's not for nothing that Champagne, full of sparkle and bubbles, is the ultimate 'pick me up' for a dull day, a dull moment or can re-set a difficult(...)
Of Sparta (the ancient Greek city), and particularly associated with their fabled indifference to comfort. In interiors, it describes a very strict, severe decorative, architectural or stylistic mood.
The most Spartan home environment is perhaps the traditional monk’s cell with its hard,(...)
A fabric often known as willow, that is made from esparto, of indigenous Spanish grasses such as Lygeum Spartum, Stipa tenacissima. Esparto grows naturally in southern Spain and North Africa; the Japanese have tried to grow it in their paddy fields but it produces a more brittle, and(...)
To scatter, splash, or sprinkle liquid in an overall pattern of tiny droplets. Textile and paint spatter finishes might be influenced by and designed to look like a bird's egg, a pebbled beach, sand, or dewdrops. Spattered finishes provide a good background that does not easily show dirt, and(...)
Leather with a high gloss finish, a degree below patent.
The Italian word for mirror, a metallic, reflective leather.
Very small spots and marks in random formation, such as freckles, or the marks on a birds egg shell. It is used much like spatter finishes, as a background and foil to other larger patterns, and is often both more interesting and more suited to informal spaces than a plain fabric. Where(...)
Spice colours and flavours introduce a 'bite', a sense of exoticism, redolent of the colour and warmth of the Middle and Far East. Cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, saffron, cloves and nutmeg are not just lovely flavourings and aromatic delights but fantastic colours to use in furnishings, as(...)
A long slender rod or stick of wood or metal, tapered at each end with a notch at the top; the part of the spinning machine that twists and collects the newly spun yarn. The earliest spun yarns were made using a hand held spindle, and even the mechanisation process is very simple to build and(...)
A technique whereby prepared raw fibres are turned into thread and yarn, in order to use for weaving, knitting or stitching. Across the world, every culture has its own spinning techniques, though the principles remain the same. There are many and various types of spinning wheels, some for(...)
In general terms a spiral is a curve emanating from a central point that becomes progressively further away as it revolves around the central point.
A shape from the golden ratio that is often found in nature, especially in shell construction, also present in florets and the Ammonite(...)
A fundamental state that embodies the reasoning, forces and influences that animate and inform human creativity; every home is testament to the spirit of a place and the people who shape it. Indeed, a home is the result of both tangible and intangible, clear and diffuse factors.
A home is(...)
- SPLAT BACK
A chair back with a central vertical panel characteristic of Queen Anne furniture.
To splash with small blobs and spots, replicating the effect of liquid falling on a hard surface, such as raindrops or flicked paint. It is used as a finish to create a random, interesting pattern important in its own right, or as a subtle foil for marks and real splashes. As with spatter and(...)
Describes a quality of brightness, brilliance, ceremony, dazzle, display, glory, majesty, pomp, richness, sumptuousness, fine quality...We all love a bit of splendour, 'pomp and ceremony'. Who doesn't warm to and enjoy occasions' weddings and celebrations–rites of passage?
An open, porous and highly absorbent material used to wipe spots and stains from textiles, or for dabbing paint to create a 'sponged' paint finish. True sponge occurs naturally, it is the calcerous or fibrous framework supporting the multi-cellular body of marine creatures–such sponge lasts a(...)
Any stick, rod, or similar object around which yarn thread, string, etc. can be wound–either for efficient storage, to facilitate using and unwinding, or to prepare for the next stage of work. Typically, sewing thread is wound onto a specialist spool–a reel–to sell, and onto another specialist(...)
Or sporty, describes textiles with sport motifs, scenes or pageants of fishing, golfing, horse racing, cricket, hunting, skiing, football, etc. In the relevant environment, these are fun, much more interesting and suitable than plains and most other patterns. Some sporting designs are so(...)
Spot, spots, spotty and spotted textiles can be woven, embroidered or printed- although as weaving works with squares, only the finest yarns and tightest weaves can manage an absolute circle–most woven spots are slightly lozenge shaped or with a hint of cut corner.
Printed spots tend to(...)
- SPOTTED MUSLIN
Muslin is so fine it is almost transparent, so weaving it with spots makes for an interesting and almost opaque fabric.
As window sheers it can be gathered or ruched onto wires, or used flat as a blind or fold over curtain to suit the required level of prettiness and privacy. It makes(...)
- SPRAY PRINTING
A spray gun forces the colour through a screen, and electro coating is used to apply a patterned pile.
1. A small design of bud, shoot or leaf spray, a motif printed in regular, repeated form.
2. A metal dowel pin, a small needle-sized wire nail without a head, which is driven into wood to secure, remaining invisible on the surface
- SPRIGGED MUSLINS
Muslin decorated with embroidered sprig motifs worked with tambour stitches. Sprigged muslin gowns were very fashionable during the Regency era, whether waisted or pulled in under the bust, often in combination with horizontally pleated skirts and hems, or with frilled details at the hems,(...)
- SPUN SILK
Silk fabric made from a yarn spun from the short lengths of silk left over from long filaments, broken threads, i.e. waste, or the shorter lengths from broken or damaged cocoons, and sometimes both.
Spun silk fibres are soft with a good sheen and are often twisted for durability and light(...)
A loose cushion made to fit neatly and sit onto the seat of a side chair to provide a softer landing, to raise the seat height or for aesthetic reasons. A squab can be used over wood, cane or upholstery; it may be boxed, piped, buttoned or not, and cover an inner pad of horsehair, cotton(...)
1. The square
A square has four even, adjacent, sides that form right angles with each other. The form of square is essential and basic. A stretched square is a rectangle - but remains a square form or squared form. The verb to square, squared, or squared off means to create two adjacent(...)
- STAIN RESISTANT
A treatment specifically applied to the surface of textiles to repel stains, dry smudges or wet spills.
- STAIR RUNNER
A length of soft flooring made of wool, paper, cotton, linen, silk (for luxury only), plastic, seagrass, sisal, jute or any other suitable fibre for use on stairs. It was called a runner because it was always a single width of carpet when 70 cms ( 27-28" ) was the standard loom width that left(...)
A textile finish, a reverse embossing that imprints the surface weave or pile of a fabric with a pattern. This is achieved by running the material between two heated cylinders, one of which is engraved with the pattern. The heat enforces the impression made by the roller.
In textiles, refers to the naturally formed cluster of wool fibres: a sheepskin fleece is made of many staples. The strength of a staple of wool affects its price and is one of the major factors to take into account when spinning yarn.
The length of a staple determines the end use of the(...)
Five and six pointed stars are often used in printed and woven textile design, either as the complete or a partial pattern. Stencilled stars are easy to make, and free-hand drawn, lopsided sort of stars are fun to add to rooms and textiles.
The star is also traditionally featured with the(...)
A natural glucose occurring in and taken from rice or potatoes and used to stiffen textiles.
Use for fabrics that lose their first stiffness after laundering and those that need to be stiffened for purpose. A can of spray starch is a useful addition to the workroom kit to stiffen, but also(...)
- STATE ROOM
A large, formal reception room and/or bedroom used for entertaining or accommodating royalty. In the event of having to furnish one for yourself or for a client, be prepared for huge scale–we've made 'footstools' over 2 metres long and curtains over 6 metres high with pelmets the length of an(...)
Referring to something of large and elegant proportion, neat, classical and beautiful, pleasing to the eye.
An alloyed metal based on iron containing carbon with either manganese, nickel, or chromium and is very strong and workable. Stainless steel is completely rust proof, and as such suited to bathrooms, light switches, curtains poles and outside work such as balustrades and light fittings, etc.;(...)
- STEEL WOOL
A pad of mangled steel fibres, excellent for cleaning down metals, for polishing or for rubbing down painted or varnished woodwork ready for bleach.
To soak in liquid for as long as needed to achieve the result, especially in home dying–see coffee and tea.
The process of applying a painted pattern through a pre-cut stencil onto fabric or another surface.
Domestically, stencils that have been cut from waxed card or metal are carefully positioned, then either sprayed or brushed over with stencil paint; then the stencil is lifted and moved along(...)
A paint finish of tone on tone tiny speckles achieved with the ends of a fat rounded brush, a stippling brush or large stencil brush. Stippled effects should be sophisticated and elegant with no sharp contrasts, and can be a deeper tone on a lighter one, vice versa, or alternated to give soft(...)
- STOCK CUTTING
Before ordering any woven or printed fabric, stone or wallpaper, you must get a stock cutting of it. The cutting or sample book in which you will originally have seen the material will almost certainly have been made from an earlier batch of the material. Very often, the current stock varies(...)
- STONE WASHED
A washing process that tumbles cloth with abrasive stones to achieve a soft 'river washed' finish. Sand washing gives a similar effect.
- STORY TELLING
Every fabric tells a story of some sort, and part of the fun is to detect it. Many printed or woven designs include symbols taken and adapted from a particular community or locality– and we find it’s often the motifs that we have known for a lifetime and take for granted that are imbued with(...)
- STRAIGHT OF GRAIN
Primarily the warp, ‘the grain’ of weave that runs the length of the piece. All patterns should be cut running with the grain–the arrow printed on a paper pattern should line up along the vertical grain. A textile's strength, fall, drape and pattern have been carefully worked out by the(...)
A single thread or yarn, or one of a set that together makes up a rope or cord or knitting wool, etc. For example: an embroidery skein usually has 6 strands, each of which can be used alone or in smaller multiples; four-ply knitting wool has four strands that can be used. A strand of hair is(...)
The spent stems of wheat or oats once the grains have been threshed, harvested by hand or machine,, which are then cut and made into bales for packaging and for stable floors.
In earlier times straw was the main stuffing for mattresses and sometimes upholstery as a less expensive and / or(...)
- STRETCH KNIT
A soft, often slinky fabric that stretches in both directions. The best quality will return to shape, and although not in high use for interior furnishings, as with all clothing fabrics it can be interesting and useful for specific ideas and designs–say for luxury chair covers, bolsters and(...)
- STRETCH WOVEN
A cotton, silk or wool textile woven with a small percentage of elastic fibres, such as denum, towelling, gaberdine, etc.
Created for the fashion world, any of these is very useful for interiors and should be considered for loose covering or upholstering very rounded or complex shaped(...)
1. A weave that produces a surface appearance of randomly narrow width stripes in (usually deeper) tones of the same colour. In most cases the wefts of one or more colours provide the deeper tone are to a single coloured weft.
2. A paint finish leaving subtle thin lines in tone on tone.(...)
- STRIKE OFF
The hand made test sample of any bespoke printed material for your approval to see and approve the depth, colour, scale, back cloth, etc. before it goes into production.
The cost of strike offs or hand trials will be deducted from a serious order.
(For a woven cloth this process is(...)
Striped fabrics, both printed and woven, are timeless and virtually essential in interior furnishings as they can fit into any furnishings design scheme of any period and style – from deck chairs and beach huts to the great classical Regency and Georgian furnishings.
Some notes ;
Lengths of fabric that have been woven, cut or torn for a bigger purpose.
1. Many ethnic and early textiles are woven on 8-10" (c.a 20-25 cm) looms, in strips that are then stitched together to make up into a larger piece.
2. Fabric is cut into strips to create multi-coloured or(...)
The form; also the arrangement, linkage, organisation and relationships of the constituent parts to each other that creates the form. So structure is as necessary in the management of the project as the weaving of one of the textiles.
In furnishings, and especially drapery and(...)
Upholstery studs that are used for practical or decorative purpose. Called either studs or nails, any significant difference between the two is lost in colloquial speech, although studs tend to be larger and are for show. Folded or raw edges are often finished with a choice of passementerie(...)
Said of something that is carefully thought through and considered, so as to achieve the best solution and most relevant design.
The space an artist or designer uses to work, to think, to create and to produce works of artistry in whatever medium–in music, textiles, paint, film, all visual and spoken media, dance, sculpture, painting and all fine and applied art. For designer makers, the workroom and the studio are(...)
- STUDIO COUCH
A sofa without back and arms that can easily be converted into a bed–a studio couch can be as simple as two mattresses laid on top of each other with some sort of a bedcover and cushions. A convenient, practical piece of furniture for small spaces and occasional overnight use, simpler than a(...)
- STUDIO FLAT
A small accommodation with just the one room or perhaps one room that doubles as bedroom, and sitting room with wet areas separated. A comfortable version of the studio couch, or a day bed provides both a sofa and bed in these environments
A room or space made comfortable with books and used for quiet work, reading and writing.
As a room, a study often becomes a cosy small sitting space for winter evenings, and alongside the pre-requisite books and writing desk, very comfortable sofas and chairs, and if possible a good open(...)
Stuff is the old English word for a thick, coarsely woven worsted wool and then possibly for linsey - woolsey ( or Woolsey-linsey) a wool/linen mix.
At court, lawyers' gowns were called stuff in contrast with that worn by the Queen's Counsel, which are made of silk.
An embroidery technique in which the stitch work is raised above the surface. Embroidery thread is twisted around wire or thicker wool or padded with wool from beneath, to create raised images of figures, flora and fauna.
The technique includes most needle skills, certainly those of and(...)
Refers to the workings that hold the super structure; independent or inter-dependent units that combine to create the full structural form. For example, a lampshade frame that both holds the lampshade to its base and the cover in place is a substructure.
The underside of leather hide, which has been buffed to raise the grain evenly for a soft, tactile finish with a nap. Suede takes on the room temperature and makes comfortable and interesting furnishings – if not always to sit on, then as window seats, curtains, screens, stool covers and floor rugs.
Faux suede made of a tight satin weave cotton, which surface has been brushed to resemble suede, or peach skin. Suedette can be used anywhere and for anything, it’s virtually bombproof and easy both to work and maintain.
Alcantara is the trade name of the faux suede we use mostly.
Refers to any fabric woven to make suits, from light-weight summer linen to winter wool weights, mixes of wool and silk, linen and silk, linen and wool...and in any weave, check or pattern. Suiting fabrics are designed to be durable, with a high rub test and a soft but firm drape, and are(...)
Also sumac, or Rhus chinensis, a large species of deciduous small shrubs and trees growing in temperate and sub tropical climates. The dried and ground fruits of sumach give us the deep purple-red lemony spice, used in hummus and with sweet spices in Middle Eastern cooking. Sumach also yields(...)
Like splendour, a really important attribute in interior furnishings. It evokes much more than comfort–all textiles and furnishings should be tactile, lovely to stroke, feel sensuous, and be sumptuous. The mixture of fabrics, the trimmings, the colours, designs and weaves all contribute to(...)
- SUN LOUNGE
A room orientated, designed and constructed specifically to receive as much sun as possible. It can be attached to the house, or located along a walkway into the garden or hinterland. Garden rooms that pivot to follow the sun around must be the ultimate sun lounges.
The colour of a field of sunflowers is intoxicating, and full of sun. In interiors, just a dash of this striking yellow can perk up a tired or unconvincing scheme in a touch of piping, a ribbon tie, small cushion or a brush stroke in a painting. Try it.
The essence of life: we want lots of light and sunshine in our rooms, and flowing through our homes–shining through windows, open doors, skylights and glass ceilings...
However much we love it, the task of balancing the strength of the sun's heat and glare and limiting potential damage(...)
- SUNRAY PLEATING
Sunray pleating is mostly found on the underside of the tops of four-poster beds and half testers, so that you look up into it. The technique consists of pleating or gathering fabric to form the 'rays', which emanate outwards from a central given point to the sides and corners.
Also sundown, describes the spectacle of colour and pattern as the sun disappears over the horizon at the end of every day, ushering in twilight and dusk–full of the colours of the sun and the sky, casting a very special softening mauve-lilac over the landscape. The colours of the sunset are(...)
Describes awnings, parasols and tent-like structures that provide comfortable cover within the garden, and over south facing windows.
The visible part of any structure, held in place by the substructure beneath. For example, the lampshade that fits over a frame, the dressing table cover puffed out with tulle or the loose chair cover are all superstructures.
A soft, even sided twill usually in silk, but also in silky fibres such as polyester, typically used in fashion. It is very slippery and therefore not so easy to handle nor very durable as furnishing fabric, so confine the use to bed curtain linings, sunray pleating, or better still, as the(...)
Refers to the top side, or face of any material, including fabric. More specifically: surface weaves or surface prints are those weaves or prints that show patterning or colours on the surface only; some decorative work will only show or be applied to the face, such as paint, beading,(...)
In fashion, a crossover V-neckline, which we've used for slip cover lampshades.
One of the most important art movements of the 20thC, inspired by the writings of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. ‘Surrealism’ is a term coined by the art critic G. Apollinaire and adopted by André Breton in Paris with his Manifesto of Surrealism (1924), who applied the new philosophical and(...)
From the Persian meaning ‘needle’,suzani are stunningly beautiful, decorative, tribal embroidered textiles originating in the 15th C, and typical of Central Asia, in particular Uzbekistan (also in Tajikistan, Kazakhstan)–an important trading post along the Silk Road connecting China to(...)
- SWAGS AND TAILS
A traditional pelmet treatment from the Georgian era, when under curtains were no more than muslin or fine silk and the pelmets were the object of decoration and drapery. The swag or swags across the centre of the window and the tails hang to either side
There are various incarnations of(...)
- SWAN’S DOWN
1. The fine, soft, insulating feathers of the swan used to trim clothing, luxurious furnishing accessories and powder puffs.
2. Lambswool mixed with silk or cotton, that makes a soft, fluffy fabric especially good for bedding and cushions for small children and babies.
3. A thickly woven(...)
A small sample of fabric or a book of small fabric samples tied or pinned together. Now more commonly called cutting or cuttings.
A swatch or cutting is usually about 10 x 15 cm and as such is useful enough to see the colour and weave or print. You can tell much about the fabric from a(...)
A flat, bladed, spatula-like wooden implement used after retting to remove the coarse material from vegetable fibres, such as flax, hemp or ramie.
- SWISS COTTON
A fine cotton organdie, tulle or muslin woven with small motifs or patterns on a bobinette machine
Although Switzerland does not grow cotton, the textile industry in Switzerland is its oldest and from its advent right up until today, the Swiss have concentrated on making high quality fabric(...)
- SWISS DOT
A very lightweight muslin or lawn fabric with a repeating small dot pattern woven or embroidered into it.
An adjective meaning from the woods, or even referring to the spirit of the woods–an idyllic rural ideal, where all is wonderful, close to the best of nature. A log hut in woodlands can be described as a sylvan retreat.
The physical representation of something abstract, such as a meaning or ownership; also codes and language that send messages to those who needed to know long before the written word.
Across the centuries, in literature, art and music, symbols or symbolic language has been used as(...)
The use of symbols to convey ideas, specific characteristic or qualities.
For example, when used in textile design, the acanthus leaf, typical of the corinthian column, classical stone carving and architecture, is symbolic of the ancient Mediterranean civilizations. Equally, for those in(...)
A visual sense of order based on mirroring, where similar forms, shapes, colours face each other around an axis.
This in an extremely important principle of Classical architecture, employed to create calm and ordered spaces as frameworks to hold intricate decorative detailing and life.(...)
A full orchestral music composition with several movements, typically in four including one sonata; a composition of several elements which represents and builds on a central theme, motif or idea, repeating it in whole and in part, re-inventing and re-interpreting it precisely and reflecting(...)
The co-operation, interaction of two or more agents to create more than the sum of their parts. It is the endlessly hopeful possibility that two or more forms or materials will come together to create 'magic'. Closely linked with serendipity and trial and error, the more open minded, and the(...)
Describes something made by chemical reaction, to replicate a natural form or to create something new and not naturally occurring–although of course the basic chemical components usually are.
A two-tone ikat woven exclusively by the women of the T'boli tribe of the Phillipines from abaca.
Traditionally used for clothes, marriage shawls, swaddling and shrouding, no two are alike; these hand woven pieces take months and years to make and are rarely for sale.
A hardwearing upholstery silk, cotton or acetate fabric woven in alternate stripes of plain and satin or moiré.
Another name for the basic weave we usually call plain. So named after the Arabic 'attābī, for the Attabiya district of Baghdad, where plain fabrics made of silk or cotton were woven
The still-life scene representing a narrative, dramatic or important event from history or classical mythology, which in textiles is traditionally rendered through tapestry for wall hanging.
- TABOR/ TABORET/TABOURET
An embroidery frame with a tightening device made of two concentric wooden rings that fit snugly within one another: the fabric is placed between them and secured in place by tightening the rings, thus keeping the material taut whilst it is being worked. A Tabouret or taboret are smaller versions.
A short, very sharp nail used in upholstery to attach materials such as fabric or leather to wood, and in carpet fitting to fit flat weaves to wooden floors.
- TACK HAMMER
A hammer with a narrow shaft and narrow, double ended driving end designed specifically to fit tacks: the magnetic side picks up the tack and the opposite end drives it in.
There is also a tack hammer for dome headed tacks or nails, which has a protective plastic covering on the driving(...)
- TACK RAG
An oil-impregnated cotton cloth used to clean wood, or to wipe down surface dust.
Originating from the Persian word tafta, meaning ‘twisted or woven’, it is historically a tight plain weave producing a stiff and crisp fabric present in Europe and Asia since medieval times - tabby from Iraq. Originally only woven from silk, it is now available in acetate and silk blends(...)
Refers to three species related to the wild goat that produce cashmere (the Himalayan Tahr, Nilgiri Tahr and Arabian Tahr). The Himalayan tahr is quite large, with a shaggy coat and curved horns, well-adapted to live in rocky terrain and high altitudes of the mountain(...)
- TAILOR MADE
A bespoke work that is perfectly made and suited to purpose–tailored.
- TAILOR'S TACK
A temporary tacking stitch made of double loops, effectively to transfer darts and matching point markings from the pattern onto the cloth, and from one layer to the next.
- TAILORS' CHALK
Pipe clay blocks used to mark out darts and stitching lines, fitting and altering points on fabric that rub out. It works well on most fabrics, and especially on wool.
Tambour embroidery is a hooked embroidery stitch worked using both hands: the right hand holds the tambour hook and the left hand holds a line of thread beneath the fabric. The needle is pushed through the fabric, catches the thread, pulls a loop of it back through the fabric and then through(...)
- TAMBOUR LACE
Even if we don’t recognise the term for tambour lace, most of us have heard of sprigged muslins, the 18C summer dress fabric of many a period drama.
A lace made of chain stitch worked with a tambour hook on a muslin or fine net fixed onto a deep round embroidery frame typically held between(...)
Or tambour, a round frame consisting of two rings from the original drum concept, used for tambour embroidery.
A light weight worsted wool often finished with a hot pressed soft glazed, that was manufactured from the early 17thC for making flags. It looks similar to a heavy weight linen.
It was also known as bunting after the rows of pennanted flags that were made from it and hung on ships.
A natural, vegetal, yellow-brown acid and astringent found in many plants, notably Camellia sinensis–the tea plant– in coffee, vines and in oak or fir trees. Used as a leather tanning agent and in textile preparation as a mordant to fix dyes; at home the agent from tea bags, coffee and red(...)
A key step in the ancient process of preserving skins and hides and turning them into leather; tanned leathers have been known to last thousands of years. Skins are first cured (with salt) and cleaned before being soaked in a tanning agent, and then finished. Un-tanned leather is called(...)
A very ancient type of bark cloth, predominantly made in the Pacific Islands, primarily Tongo, (ngatu) Samoa (siapo) and Fiji (masi), from the bast fibres of the paper mulberry (Morus papyrifera), breadfruit or fig tree. This hand-made cloth is decorated with symbols and designs relating to(...)
Any length of flat material, usually woven, used to fasten, tie or support.
1. Decorative Tape
Narrow bands of woven tapes or ribbons can be used in interior furnishings as decoration - to finish an edge, create a line or identify a form, as fixings - to hold curtains to the poles, to(...)
- TAPE LACE
A 17-18thC lace making technique using a tape or braids to outline the motifs rather than a foundation thread. First a narrow tape is made with bobbin or needlework, which is then wound and placed onto a pattern and either fixed to a bought mesh, or connected using lace stitching worked into a(...)
Describes anything that is wider at one end than the other. For example, an ice cream cone or spire that begins as a cylinder and ends at a point.
In furniture legs are often tapered. In furnishings, pleats may tapered so that they are wider at the top than at the bottom, as inset gores, or(...)
A textile technique known as early as the ancient Egyptians, Hebrews and Greeks, which has played an significant role in European culture and economy.
Tapestries as wall hangings to warm up stone walls and cover doors and doorways long predate wall papers and curtaining. When the king moved(...)
Another word for a carpet, or tapestry cloths, taken form the French Tapissiere, that are used to cover tables.
A thin, sheer, plain weave cotton that is heavily starched and similar to a gauze-like muslin, it is generally unbleached but may be available in various colours; it’s used for stiffening and underlining in tailoring and dress making.
As with all fabrics, it can be used in furnishings as(...)
1. A heavy, waterproof canvas cloth impregnated or coated with oil, wax or paint, used for outdoor coverings.
2. In traditional upholstery terms, the tarpaulin is the covering cloth made of calico, light canvas or hessian that is laid over the horsehair stuffing to hold it in place and(...)
A term that covers a variation of plaids woven in fine twill wool or worsted, in colours and weaves that have a specific history and meaning, more recently connected with particular Scottish clans. In 1538, King James V of Scotland is recorded as ordering tertane, thought to mean the sheperd’s(...)
- TASAR SILK
A decorative finish often used in furnishings, a trimming, or passementerie staple, which can be as simple as a bunch of knotted threads fastened at the top, or extremely intricate and ornate with tassels on tassels on tassels.
The earliest tassels were made of silk and woolens, and when we(...)
A woven cloth with distinctive check or plaid pattern of thin, regular warp stripes and matching weft stripes, creating either a small or a large check, usually in two alternating colours set against a light ground. Named after Richard Tattersall who founded the horse market Tattersall in(...)
Lace made with looped stitches of linen or cotton in intricate patterns using a hand shuttle.
Tau (or T) is the constant, numerical value (6.28, or twice PI), which is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its radius. It is said to be in line to replace PI.
To find the circumference of a 200cm diameter circle, the formula is : T x radius = 6.28 x 100= 628(...)
An early method of tanning that is similar but not the same as straight curing. Tawing involves treating (usually goat or pig) hides to turn them into pale coloured or white leather using alum and salt.
- TEA DYE
A home method for ageing or darkening fabric, ribbon or other textiles. We use the tannins from basic tea bags, on a very ad-hoc basis, just to take the heat out of a colour when we need to, to knock it back.
We steep the tea basin boiling water for a few seconds ( and no more than half a(...)
A DuPont trademark, associated with its domestic use on saucepans, it is also a synthetic water-repellent coating for fabrics.
An ancient painting medium in which natural pigments are mixed in a water soluble binder–usually egg yolk and water, but also casein (milk) animal glue or wax–and used to apply paint to dry plaster or stone or gesso.
A pattern to be followed; more specifically, in design it refers to a pattern cut into paper, wood or plastic which is used to transfer measurements. The template can be the key pattern for a production line or the only pattern for a bespoke item.
Making a template is skilled job requiring(...)
- TEMPLE CLOTH
Throughout the world there has always been a strong connection between art and religion, so it is not astonishing that in the Indian sub-continent, where textiles have such a rich history, Hindu temple cloths reflect the best of generations of dedicated artisans’ hand work and reverential(...)
1. Describes the general idea, the overarching and guiding principle, the direction of the drift and purpose that resonates with and translates into every decision along the way.
2. Connected to the above but not quite the same, it also describes the feel of the thing and whether it will (...)
- TENSILE STRENGTH
A measure of how much force, weight, tension a material will resist before it breaks. Fibres, yarns, ropes and fabrics are tested for tensile strength to determine how strong and what stretch fabrics are capable of, in the UK through the Strip Test, and in the U.S through the Grab Test.
Without tension the result is unsure, even insecure.
1. Refers to how tightly or loosely a person knits or stitches
2. Describes tautness or stress. A degree of psychological 'tension' is an essential ingredient in successful art and interior furnishings. There must be an edginess, a(...)
- TENTED CEILING
Ceilings that are covered or made with fabric, recalling tents. Any shape of room can be tented, for reasons of decoration, softness and sound deadening, and it’s a great way of covering up a poor ceiling, or even temporary building works. Fabric is fitted around the top of the walls and to(...)
The frame that holds fabric true to shape whilst it is drying and gives the tiny holes that scan be seen along the selvedge.
Fabrics that arrive on your worktable with the weft grain at anything other than 90º to the selvedge have not been diligently finished or dried. The truism is that(...)
- TENTER HOOKS
The hooks that hold the fabric to the tenter, taking the strain and tension. The common expression to be 'on tenterhooks' is to be in a state of suspense or tension…Any exciting or inspired scheme you make should at some point involved this (natural) state !
See also tension, scale,(...)
The technique of hanging fabrics around walls and covering ceilings in a tent-like manner. Any shape of room can be tented for decoration, softness and sound deadening purposes, and as a great way of covering up a poor ceiling, or even temporary works.
This is an informal, loose look, and(...)
- TERMS OF TRADE
Terms of trade are important to establish from the start, and should be based on the premise of equal and fair exchange: your skill for another's.
- TERRA ALBA
Meaning 'white earth', refers to powdered gypsum, a mineral commonly used as a whitening agent, to make paper, paints, plaster of Paris and in medicines. It is also a generic term for other minerals and clays such as kaolin, magnesia, pipe clay and talc (talcum powder).
- TERRA FIRMA to TERRA INCOGNITO
Meaning from solid ground to unknown land, or going from the known to the unknown. In our design practice we encourage people to leave the expected, terra firma–what everyone else is doing–and to move to terra incognito–to discover new ground, to bring in new ideas, to feed your eyes, your(...)
- TERRA VERTE
Meaning green earth, it is a natural earth pigment used for paint and dyes. It’s a type of ochre that can be found in greensand and similar rocks, occurring in small measure in Provence close to the yellow and red ochres. The celadonite typical of medieval and renaissance painting, which has(...)
Meaning ‘fired earth’, a type of clay cooked by the sun or fired in a kiln with a wonderful soft, earthy, reddish-brown colour.
Being made of earth, terracotta floor tiles match the ambient temperature and are always warm underfoot. They are softer and kinder than stone, meaning that(...)
From the French, referring to a specific stretch of land, but also broadly meaning your patch. Our reputation as a designers or makers or both has to be built on considered, intelligent quality, care and advice and good workmanship. But equally, we need to understand the area we’re working in,(...)
A flooring treatment, a composite made of small chips of coloured stone, marble, glass, quartz, granite, etc. set into mortar or other binder (contemporary terrazzo tends to be epoxy resin terrazzo), and then polished to a high sheen. The floors–pavimenti–of Venice are mostly made with(...)
- TERRY/ TERRYCLOTH
An absorbent cloth, typically made of cotton but also made of hemp or linen, that is woven with a loop pile on one or both sides. The longer and denser the loops, the better the drying capacity. Some towels are looped on one side and cut–creating a velvet effect–on the other.
To tile a flat surface in a perfectly fitting geometric design with no gaps or overlapping, usually using square or hexagonal tiles, with or without pattern, creating a type of mosaic. This is suitable for floors, shower walls, tabletops, etc., and typical of Islamic art.
Also a popular(...)
The small squares of stone or glass used to make mosaics.
Tessera is the Latin origin of the word tessela, which is the small tile used in tesselation.
A bed canopy, the ceiling section of a four-poster bed, or a half canopy (known as a half tester). The underside is finished to be really beautiful and enjoyed, the frame is designed either to hold the side drapes or to feature as a decorative piece, in which case the frame will be fabric(...)
Describes the finished result of fibres that have been worked into fabric after weaving, beating, knotting or knitting, which may or may not be left plain, finished, printed, embroidered or pierced.
There are three main categories of textiles:
a) Vegetable fibres: there(...)
Describes the finish, the feel and look of a surface, a key component when choosing materials for interiors. Textures are created by the initial choice of fibres and whatever weaves, finishes and sewing techniques go into making it up: sculpting, stamping, piercing, dobby, herringbone, satin,(...)
A desert in Rajasthan, India, that has inspired local textile and rug designers and artisans for millenia.
- THE GAINSBOROUGH SILK WEAVING COMPANY
A high quality silk weaving and design company based in Sudbury, Suffolk with a Royal Warrant. It was founded in 1903 by Reginald Warren, who specialised in historical replicas and masterminded the whole unique weaving process, from preparing and dying the yarns, to the weaving and finishing.(...)
The distinction between thread and yarn is subtle, largely historical and circumstantial, and both terms are often interchangeable–which can create confusion, especially for a beginner textile worker. Broadly speaking, yarn is for knitting and weaving and thread for sewing and(...)
- THREAD COUNT
The number of warp and weft threads per each square cm or inch of cloth, counted through a specially calibrated magnifying disc. The convention of fabric measurement is 'warp before weft' so that a given dimension of 20/24 means that there are 20 warp threads and 24 weft threads per square(...)
- THREAD DYED
Or yarn dyed, describes when the thread or yarn is dyed to its end colour before being made up – i.e. woven or knitted...
Describes textiles when the pile or nap is so worn the base canvas threads show through. Threadbare floor rugs which have seen time are relatively inexpensive, and generally still have 20-30 years of life left in them–for me, they are far more attractive than a carpet with a plush, high pile,(...)
An old fashioned word really, which describes being careful with resources and finance–something we are all considering in our current times. In modern vernacular thrift involves recycling, re-making, rethinking, making a new appearance. Think of it as transformation, and the lovely cliff-side(...)
A strong, closely woven cotton or linen with a fine stripe running through it, used for covering feather cushions and mattresses. Its characteristic tight, herringbone weave repels feathers that might poke through.
It is not usually pre-shrunk, and is also available in plain colours,(...)
A variation on resist dyeing, it is a decorative textile dying technique found throughout the world in many variations. Tie-dye involves strategically tying certain areas of cloth and dipping either just the tied section or the whole piece into dye or bleach. When dry, the ties are removed to(...)
Any length of any material such as ribbon, tape, rouleau, torn lengths or strips of lace, raffia or other fabric long enough to tie into knots, used for decorative and/or practical purposes.
Ties serve practical purpose to hold one thing to another in the place we want it to remain - i.e.(...)
A 17thC very fine, transparent silk haberdashery textile, or a gauze, muslin or cobweb lawn, used for clothes, millinery and for samplers.
Tiffany is thought to have been named after the Epiphany (Twelfth Night), as it was especially worn on the Epiphany, or possibly in reference to its(...)
A chemical element, a metal often mined close to granite, which is malleable and often used in alloys with pewter and bronze or as a coating for steel. Its silvery-white colour is good for interior and exteriors.
Describes anything relating to colouring, staining or dying - the exact tone achieved - we often say 'a tinge of something '- as black might have a tinge of green, or white 'a tinge of pink'.
A solution made by dissolving or infusing a drug in alcohol and water; by extension it refers to a trace of something, a dye or pigment, the essence of a colour–a hint or a tinge of it that can be used say to turn white into pink by adding red, or blue into red to make purple.
The lightest shade of a colour, diluted by the addition of white; in effect it is white tinged with red, or green, or yellow. To tint is to add a hue, say when making the colour cream, or slightly softening an existing colour, leading to an infinite range of combinations...
Describes the lightest, finest of fabrics, which have a certain transparent tissue-paper quality, e.g. silk tissue and linen tissue, which are both finer than paper linen or silk. They are generally more tightly woven, meaning they drape softly but with body.
The fermented coconut milk drink that is toddy .......
An old word of Norwegian origin for the homestead and its arable land, crofting.
The *standard unit of thermal resistance, used to measure the warmth and the insulation capacity of textiles used in quilts, duvets (especially their silk, feather, down fibre content) and carpet underlay. Duvet fillings range from 4.5-18, the higher the number, the warmer you'll be.
The typical form of dress in ancient Rome, consisting of a long, single, sheet of woollen fabric draped loosely around the body and over a linen ? tunic, and fixed at the shoulder or around the waist with a sash or clasp.
Togas embody the essence of simplicity, and are a key inspiration for(...)
A shaped wooden peg, also made of horn, bone, glass, silver, etc., used as a fastener. It is generally attached at the end of a cord, rope or chain to one side of an opening, and slotted through a looped counterpart or buttonhole on the other side. It is the typical closure for duffle coats,(...)
In dressmaking, refers to a test pattern used to perfect the design before making the final garment–it embodies the process of turning an idea into reality through draping, pinning and cutting until the form is satisfactory and pleasing to the designer.
A toile is used to make the template(...)
- TOILE DE JOUY
A generic term referring to printed calico depicting scenes from everyday life, featuring pastoral, flora and fauna, classical and mythological motifs. They originated in 1760 with Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf, who set up printing workshops in Jouy-en-Josas, just outside Paris, by the river(...)
Comes from the French tôle, referring to a thin laminated sheet of metal (generally tin or steel). Toleware is a decorative technique creating enameled, japanned or lacquered metal household objects, kitchenware, lamp bases, shades and light fittings, interior fixtures and ornaments such as(...)
An adjective to describe the tone of a colour.
Describes the range of tones used in a colour scheme, their quality, scale and relationship to each other.
The quality and depth of a colour that has been mixed with either white or black, which affects the way it reflects light. To help with a common misconception: the tone refers to the depth of a colour, and the hue to its essence, i.e. whether it is red, green, yellow...Black and white don't(...)
A hard, translucent precious gemstone, which in its pure state is colourless and gains colour according to the presence of impurities: blue, pink or yellow. The imperial topaz is the most rare and is either pink-reddish-orange, or a golden-orange-brown-yellow colour that is historically called(...)
A neat, visible running stitch used to decoratively emphasize a line or strengthen an edge. Suit collars and lapels are topstitched to improve the tailoring whilst keeping an element of discreet finish. It is a technique that is used for interior furnishings for decorative edgings and for(...)
Initially a floor standing torch or candelabra, it now more commonly refers to a tall column-like stand made to display candelabra. Torchères are still used with candles, and are also available converted into electric lamps that only need the addition a giant lampshade.
Another name for a Torchère. Also an uplighter, a tall floor lamp with a shade made in the shape of an upturned bowl, which casts an upwards, diffused light.
- TORCHON LACE
A 17thC, European lace made with loosely twisted threads, often in a shell design or with picot edgings. Being a quick stitch it produces a lace that is not as fine, beautiful or durable as the very best of laces, but which low cost and simple look makes it entirely appropriate for rustic,(...)
Describes the colour of the hawksbill turtle’s shell, made of black, off-white, dark brown, yellow, and all tones in between; also refers to the similar markings of a cat and butterfly. Tortoiseshell is used in interiors as accessory details, paint finishes and for classic colour scheme(...)
A semi-circular cross section, which is employed in interiors as architectural and design detailing for classical, convex moldings, such as at the base of columns or on skirting boards.
- TOUCH AND CLOSE TAPE
Refers to the coarse, broken, untwisted fibres–generally though not exclusively vegetal fibres such as jute, flax, hemp, abaca, etc.–that have been retted, and which are ready for spinning.
A fine, branching, sometimes interlocking pattern. Also an architectural term to describe the use of thin or thick stonework to support and outline glass windows, characteristic of the medieval Gothic style.
A quilting technique in which batting, or wadding is placed between two layers of fabric that are stitched together, thus creating designs with a raised effect. Often called Italian Quilting.
- TREE OF LIFE
An ancient, symbolic, stylized flowering tree found in many middle and far-eastern designs, especially known in the west as a feature of most chintz and kalamkari designs, and the centrepiece of many 18thC palampores.
The tree of life is often depicted growing from a rocky mound or from(...)
From the Latin, meaning ‘three leaved’, it is a motif comprising of three overlapping arcs, rings or clover leaf-like lobes. Used in architectural layouts and tracery, it represents the holy trinity in christian symbolism, features in heraldry, and is at the origins of many contemporary(...)
A wooden or metal lattice structure used as a support in gardening; also a motif printed, woven or laid on textiles.
A natural fibre, chemically free, very hardwearing carpet with distinctive pronounced ribs, made from sustainably sourced goat’s hair. Highly durable and inexpensive, it comes in many colours, in 2m and 4m widths that join satisfactorily along the ridges. Tretford cord can be laid over paper(...)
A registered trademark non-flammable synthetic fibre, Trevira has come into its own for commercial furnishings.
A tribe is a form of community, a social division in terms of territory, economy, religion, blood-ties and culture; fundamentally we are all members of one tribe or another.
Tribal textiles are joyful celebrations of craftsmanship, colour and local distinctiveness instilled with pride by(...)
From the French for ‘knitting’, it describes a fine knitted fabric in silk or artificial fibres that has a soft touch and sheen. Its silky-ness makes for lovely bedding and feminine furnishings.
A light-medium weight wool or silk fabric in a double twill weave, with a heavy drape. As the name suggests, it can also be knitted. Cavalry twill is a tricotine, woven in the same way but with a much heavier fibre.
Describes a finish for edges, whether to disguise workings, raw edges or purely decoratively. Trimmings can be passementerie –fringes, braids, tassels, etc.; finishes–frills, ruffles; or edgings–borders and bindings of any width, colour and type that sit on, over or within the edge.
- TROMPE L'OEIL
From the French, meaning 'eye trick ', describes a visual illusion that gives the impression of a three dimensional depiction. Trompe l’oeils can be animal skin prints, painted wall murals, on textiles fixed to the ceiling to represent the sky, etc.
- TROPICAL JUNGLE
Describes any fabric pattern or motif depicting the luxuriant growth and vivid colours of exotic birds, often parrots, animals, flora and fauna associated with tropical jungles.
- TROPICAL WOOL
A smooth wool worsted fabric made from two-ply yarns in an open, plain weave. It is called ‘tropical’ as it is lightweight, hence often being used for summer clothing, and in some places all year-round wear.
The wedding attire, and in some cultures the future husband’s marriage shawl, furnishings for the new home, etc. that young girls would traditionally, and still in many parts of the world, gradually make in preparation for their betrothal. The trousseau is thing of great pride, showcasing(...)
Or yūki-tsumugi, a 17thC Japanese silk spinning, dyeing and weaving technique, producing pongee for kimonos that were traditionally worn by farmers and samurais; it is now a Unesco Important Intangible Cultural Property.
Tsumugi is hand woven with pre-dyed yarn spun in uneven thicknesses(...)
A Japanese resist dye and hand-painted textile decoration technique. Rice paste is squeezed out of a paper cone and used to draw freehand a design onto fabric, which is set with a soy based sizing, then typically dyed with Indigo (or another colour), dried, then washed to remove the rice(...)
Cloth knitted in the shape of a tube, which has limited use in interior textiles. Its set width can be lovely for bolsters and lampshades; anything that might look best and that doesn't need a seam or opening.
A fold or pleat that has been stitched into place, either decoratively or to create a more fitted piece.
A bunch or cluster of threads. Tufts can be tightly secured with thread at regular intervals through upholstery, a mattress, a cushion, a quilt, etc., to secure and strengthen the padding and for stylistic effect.
An upholstery finish for seats, cushions, bed heads and stools, in which fabric circles or ready made tufts are secured on the face fabric with thread, through the layers of padding, in a regular decorative grid pattern.
Tufting is also a mechanical technique for making textiles, in(...)
Also known as Yellow poplar, tulip poplar or canary whitewood; the North American Liriodendron tulipifera yields a light, soft, fine and straight grained wood that is creamy white with a heartwood in yellow/brown/olive tones that darken upon exposure to sunlight. It is a versatile wood that(...)
A very fine type of bobbinet netting initially made with silk, thought to have first been made in 18thC Tulle, in southern central France, which was then an important centre of lace silk making.
Now also produced in nylon or rayon, tulle is a lightweight and yet very strong fabric. This(...)
- TULLE LACE
From Provence, in France–lace embroidered on cotton tulle mesh
A textile finish, in which fabrics or skins are given a smoother and softer surface, and sometimes voluminised by being tumbled at a high speed and at a certain temperature in a large drum. Sand washing, stone washing, and some of the ageing, shabby chic and brushing finishes are achieved by(...)
- TUNG OIL
A fast drying oil made from the seeds of the Asian tree... Used in paints and varnishes; use on its own to bring out the natural colour of any wood without compromise.
A headgear made of a length of fabric wound about the head in a variety of distinctive ways.
Turbans are worn by men (most commonly) and women in various parts of the world for practical reasons, to denote traditional religious and cultural identity, and as a fashion accessory.
- TURKISH CORNERS
An informal type of box cushion with gathered or pleated corners–practical and much easier to make than formal boxing, they look chic and smart. The Ottomans (who once ruled Turkey) were reputed for their comfortable seating with piles of richly decorated floor cushions, lavish trimmings and(...)
The powdered stem of Curcuma longa, an Asian plant related to ginger used as a condiment and fabric dye. It produces a stunning orange-yellow tone, a colour which in furnishings blends with or lifts pretty much anything.
A key ingredient of many Asian dishes for it's health properties, it's(...)
A mineral, a gemstone with a blue-green colour, also the name of this truly amazing colour. Turquoise makes itself at home in any environment and setting, and in any colour scheme–even the tiniest of dashes brings light and life.
The plainest of the five Roman Classical Orders–Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite - with a smooth column and unadorned capital.
Also known as tussah, tushar, tassar, tusser and in Sanskrit as kosa silk
Tussar is wild silk that is cultivated in parts of India and South Asia, where it provides a life style and economic means for entire communities. It is produced from Antheraea silk moths (Antheraea paphia, A.(...)
The ruched short skirt worn by ballerinas and held by, or solely made of tulle net mesh. The same idea can work really well for girly lampshades, chair covers and pelmets, and for fun curtain and blind hems.
A woven woollen fabric that takes its name from the river Tweed, the natural border between England and Scotland. Tweed comes in many different weaves and colours, but is essentially a hardwearing, interesting cloth that does its job discreetly.
The yarns are dyed in natural country(...)
The soft diffused light occurring once the sun has disappeared over the horizon and before the light fully goes.
One of the three basic weaves, the others being plain ( tabby) and satin, that between them create every woven pattern that is.
The twill weave is the one that creates a characteristic surface pattern of usually 45º diagonal lines or ribs across the cloth. This is achieved by floating, or(...)
Twinkles and sparkles, tiny pin points of light provide little moments of joy in an interior, especially when they catch you unaware. Twinkles may come from pierced screens, glass bead buttoning, paillettes, sequins and crystal beads, or where the light picks up and reflects off of any shiny(...)
- TYRIAN PURPLE
Also known as royal purple, An ancient highly prized purple-red DYE used by the ancient Hebrews, Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines… and extracted from molluscs such as the Murex. It was notable in that instead of fading over time, it became brighter and more intense with AGEING. Being valuable,(...)
- UGLY DUCKLING
From Hans Christian Andersen’s fable of an ugly cygnet’s transformation from unattractive and awkward into a beautiful swan, it's one of our metaphors for transformation.
Transformation is always exciting and always life enhancing. It’s the way that things are extended or put together that(...)
A heavy, thick woven wool cloth with a nap on the face side. Similar to the North German loden. I bought a piece around thirty years ago, that we covered chair seats with. I can't seem to find where, if at all, it’s made today - I'll keep looking.
From the Latin meaning ‘across the sea’, it describes a vibrant, intense blue with a high lustre. Ultramarine is a natural pigment derived from the ground lapis lazuli stone mined in what is now Afghanistan. Although still very much in use today, and prized above all other blues, since the(...)
This is a trade marked artificial suede, similar to Alcantara®. A micro-fibre fabric that is soft and realistic to the touch and in addition water proof, stain resistant and machine washable. It is a practical and economic material widely used in fashion and interior furnishings, especially(...)
An earth colour, a type of ochre containing lime, oxides of aluminium , manganese and silicon. Raw umber has a greenish-brown colour, which when roasted acquires a deeper and redder tone and is called burnt umber.
It is used as the earth pigment of choice for ageing colours, as the base for(...)
Unbleached describes either fibre or textile in it's natural colour, in raw state such as –unbleached silk, linen, hemp and cotton.
* Unbleached fibres are very attractive and pleasing in their own right; the natural tones and changes of tone, and the way light moves across the weave of(...)
- UNDER CURTAINS
These are used behind main curtains, closer to the window to filter light, to afford privacy, or to use in the warmer months instead of pulling the heavier over-curtains.
* Under curtains are also a useful alternative to blinds for awkward windows and as an addition to blinds for elegant(...)
Underlay is used mostly to describe the padding between floor and carpet or rug. It softens the walk, protects the textile from any floor board ridges, and prevents rising dirt, grit or dust from damaging the fibres. It insulates from beneath so that the walk is always warm(...)
Article from techniques...
Undulations are simply any wavy lines or outlines, reminiscent of the rise and fall of waves, their ebb and flow movement. Undulations describe organic lines, and the representative pattern of woven or printed fabrics.
Quilted and whitework techniques depend on the undulations between every(...)
1. Clothing of the same colour and design worn to homogenize and identify with a group–such as school, the army, scouts, guides, tour leaders, a choir, etc.
2. In sewing describes stitching and work that must be equally placed and evenly balanced to achieve a calm, ordered, professional finish.
A linen and cotton mix fabric that combines the best qualities of both fibres, often called linen union. Being comfortable to sit in, it is a particularly useful material for loose covers: good tempered to work with, it is more crease resistant than linen alone, takes printed designs well and(...)
- UNION DYING
When a fabric is woven with two different yarns–as union cloths are– the dying process is particularly difficult, as yarns take and absorb dyes at different rates and intensities.
When linen and cotton mixes are piece dyed they show a subtle tonal shading, but the differences are more(...)
Describes any cloth that has not been subjected to any chemical or mechanical finishing process, and which is sold in its raw state for further specialist and individual treatments. Used by theatres, artists, fashion designers and students especially for preparing, dying, painting and(...)
The padded textile covering the bare frame of furniture, and the craft of building the upholstery up in order to make seats, arms and backs that are stable, comfortable, aesthetically pleasing and in keeping with the line and style of the given frame.
Upholstery requires a very specialised(...)
- URBI et ORBI
To the city and the world - an inclusive term that is also the annual papal blessing.
1. The utility room is the core of the home, on which housekeeping - the good and efficient running of the home - depends. A well appointed utility area that can cope with the laundry, with sports gear, pets, muddy boots and household storage is essential.
Utility rooms need to be sensibly(...)
Textiles and rugs from the Mongoloid peoples of Uzbekistan .....Uzbek textiles include flat weave and knotted floor rugs, felting and embroidered textiles. The motifs show influences from further afield, along the trading routes to India, China, Euroasia and Iran, to include rams horns and(...)
An untreated leather that develops its own natural patina, turning from light honey to a darker brown shade as the result of exposure to sunlight and oxidisation. Vachetta is susceptible to water and staining, and is therefore often used for commercial furnishings, for accessories and for(...)
A decorative length of fabric attached to a frame to hide mechanisms and for decorative purposes. In interiors, valances are used in three main ways:
A valance is usually a simply designed and executed pelmet. Not to be confused with drapery, which covers the more complex(...)
A bobbin lace, characteristically flat with the ground and pattern made from the same thread, worked by one person and in one piece. The technique originated in 17thC Valenciennes, northern France, and was taken to Belgium during the 18thC political turmoil. Valenciennes lace was originally(...)
Vanishing fabric and pens can be used for support and direction, and then washed out – pure magic!
A Sanskrit word meaning untamed, wild, or forest based, used in the world of textiles in reference to wild silk.
* Vanya silks, because they save the life of the worm and allow the moth to come out of the cocoon , all come under the Ahimsa - peace silk - banner.
* Muga, tussar and eri(...)
When applied to textiles, this terms covers:
a) the possibility of variation in the mechanical weave or printing of any cut length of fabric. The longer the piece, the more likely there is to be some small discrepancy–perhaps a colour change, or a pattern repeat that has slipped. This tends(...)
The trade mark name for touch and close tape.
A fine parchment, at first specifically made from the skin of calves, though now kid, lamb or calf..
* Parchment has been used for millennia for written scrolls, then book pages and still today to leaf the slivers of beaten gold.
* For interior furnishings, vellum can be made into(...)
A short warp pile fabric with a soft nap on the face side, similar to velvet. Originally made from quality wool but now also available in cotton and synthetic fibres. It is a very soft material with a good drape, sometimes used in upholstery.
Jersey velour is knitted from synthetic fibres(...)
This is an ancient technique that was used to create silk and linen cloth in Egypt, China and the Mediterranean region since the early middle ages. By the 12th C, Italian towns ( Venice, Florence, Genoa in particular ) were gaining what was to become an unsurpassed reputation for beautiful,(...)
- VELVET RIBBON
Ribbon that is woven with a cut pile, in the same way as velvet. This weave and pile gives it a totally different dimension to the usual plain or satin weave; velvet is much softer than petersham or grosgrain. The colour is also deeper and richer. The greater density adds weight so that ties(...)
A cotton cloth made in a similar way to corduroy: extra wefts are floated over a plain or twill weave, which are then cut and brushed to produce a very short-cut, dense pile and a smooth back.
Similar in appearance to velvet, but tighter and without the problems that a definite pile brings,(...)
An exclusive textile originating from the Italian town of Venice as a twill woven silk with a high sheen, which is now also available in worsted yarns. It was once the cloth of choice for Arab traders to wear on their pilgrimage to Mecca.
- VENETIAN BEADS
Also called Murano glass beads. Venetian glass artisans have made beads for thousands of years, that are unrivalled in terms of colour and complexity. Venetian beads are made by glass blowing, by winding hot glass around a mandrel–a spindle, or by stretching molten glass around a(...)
- VENETIAN BLIND
A window blind made of horizontal slats that can be tilted, letting in more or less light, and for more or less privacy.
The whole blind can also be fully or partially raised or lowered through a pulley mechanism. The slats can be made of wood, metal or fabric covered.
- VENETIAN GLASS
A type of glass perfected during the middle ages in Murano, Venice, Italy, also known as Murano glass. The Venetian archipelago has a rich history of glassworkers, in part thanks to rich international connections, in particular with Byzantium.
When in the 13thC the old, wooden factories(...)
- VENETIAN LACE
This is the same as Point de Venise
A Venetian needle lace from the 17thC similar to guipure, with scrolling floral patterns with additional floral design worked in relief and often cobnected or finished with picots or thickened threads, and called variously Gros point, rose point, Point(...)
- VENETIAN PAPER
Venice is known for it’s hand made paper and then the highly individual marbled papers that were and are used to decorate the inside covers of books, now also to cover the front of books, files, folders and blotters.
- VENETIAN RED
Also known as sinopia, it is a deep red-brown natural earth pigment derived from ferric oxide, used in classical antiquity, and particularly associated with Italian medieval and Renaissance art, especially for cartoons and fresco under-paintings.
This pigment was mined since antiquity in(...)
- VENISE (POINT DE)
A Venetian needle lace from the 17thC similar to guipure, with scrolling floral patterns with additional floral design worked in relief and often cobnected or finished with picots or thickened threads, and called variously Gros point, rose point, Point de neige, Point plat and Burano. From(...)
The lovely greenish–blueish surface weathering that occurs naturally when copper, brass or bronze meets with air, water or seawater. It can be artificially made using acetic acid as the catalyst. The Statue of Liberty is a prime example, as are many beautiful domes, cupolas and external(...)
From the Italian meaning ‘little worms’. In the kitchen, this refers to fine lengths of pasta or chocolate strands. In textiles, vermicelli quilting is a technique for creating a background with twists and turns, that really do look more like writhing worms than chocolate–sadly.
A fabric with a plain or twill woven two-coloured check called Vichy in France, but that we also know as gingham. Originally made of linen or hemp, now also in cotton, and mixed fibres.
So-named after the French town of Vichy, that became well known for these basic two toned checks.
The reign of the English Queen Victoria (1819–1901) presided over a time of substantial growth of British industry, international economic and cultural expansion, a rise in the middle and merchant classes, levels of education, travel, and the development of mass manufactured furniture and(...)
A camelid indigenous to Peru with a fleece that is woven into what the Incas referred to as "the fabric of the gods”.
Vicuñas are the smallest of camelids and live in the wild in small family groups, high in the Andes, sleeping in the hills and grazing on the lower plains. With protection(...)
A sour, acid liquid made of fermented, diluted alcohol (beer, wine or cider), which is a culinary condiment and very useful in a workroom kit: to clean tools, glass and to remove a too-shiny lacquer from brass fittings.
Describes fabrics that have been previously owned, and strictly speaking from a quality provider or iconic period of time, though this is increasingly no longer the case.
Making furnishings from vintage fabrics involves re-making - old curtains, tablecloths or bedcovers into new curtains or(...)
A colour somewhere between red and blue, it is one of the oldest colour pigments used by man, found in prehistoric cave art as a mix with earth colours.
Violet has been extracted from different minerals, vegetals and animal: manganese, hematite, berries, indigo, and most regally from(...)
- VIRGIN WOOL
Or new wool, refers to wool that is being used for the first time.
Technically viscose rayon, this fibre is derived from wood pulp or cotton linter, which in all respects is natural in origin. Its classification as an artificial fibre is the result of the harsh chemical processing involved in bringing the material from pulp to fibre.
Viscose blends easily(...)
A fabric made of 45% cotton and 55% merino wool first woven in England in 1893, and registered as a trademark in 1894. It was named after the Via Gellia–the Roman named valley along the A5012 near Matlock where the first Viyella production mill was sited.
Viyella is famous for its soft,(...)
From the French word for veil, it is indeed a fine, lightweight, semi-transparent fabric, that serves to filter light, moderate a view or to create an element of privacy.
Voile was historically made of cotton, linen or a cotton/linen mix, but can also be made of silk, wool, bamboo ,(...)
USA - batting
Describes any material with a degree of resistance, spring, or bounce and thermal qualities used to pad out or thicken. Here are some of its common types and uses in interior furnishings:
1. Polyester wadding: broadly speaking is the easiest to use and the least expensive.(...)
- WAFFLE WEAVE
A weave that produces a surface with recessed squares that recalls tiny waffles, or honeycomb; these deep pockets trap air and allow much greater water absorption.
Ideal for cotton and woolen blankets, bathroom towels, kitchen tea-towels and also for loose covers and cushioning in any damp(...)
- WAGON COVER
Or cart cover. Previously, and still in some parts of the world, wagons and carts were covered with hand woven and embroidered textiles, reflecting local materials, techniques and styles. If during your travels you come across any in good conditions, from dealers or in antiques markets, they(...)
A wall treatment made of facing or wood panelling fixed to the lower half of interior walls, wainscot is an English period architectural detail that served both a decorative and a practical purpose: to cover up and protect from rising damp in old or stone cob walls. For this reason, wainscot(...)
A sleeveless jacket with front closure and finishing either just below the waist, or similar to a gilet somewhere above the knee. A highly practical garment, some form of waistcoat, in some form or another, re-occurs throughout history and culture and at every level from peasant to King
The technical term for the raised ribs in woven fabrics such as corduroy and rep, and sometimes the term for the vertical rows in knitted fabric..
The weight and thickness of these fabrics is measured by wales, a unit that stands for the number of ribs per inch. The higher the number the(...)
Interior and exterior walls are the fundamental boundaries that determine the potential and constraints of any given space .
The height, thickness, make up, finish and the solidity of a series of walls has a profound effect on the place within.
* The depth of walls affects our perception(...)
- WALL HANGING
An early wall decoration that pre-dates wallpaper and fabric walling and also provides warmth. From the dawn of civilization skins and woven textiles have lined the walls of tents and caves, covered doorways and window openings. They are items of necessity that are valued and decorated for the(...)
- WALL TO WALL
Describes flooring that is fitted to the whole area to be covered. This may be anything from a luxurious velvet pile carpet or to a woven plastic mat.
Soft flooring comes in widths of between 2 – 5 metres, so whether or not joins are needed will depend equally on the chosen flooring and the(...)
Describes fully upholstered walls, as opposed to walls with loose hangings (see wall hangings).
To do so, walls are first battened out, then covered with a thick cotton interlining or batting, or other appropriate site specific padding and insulation. The top fabric is then secured to the(...)
A paper decorative wall and ceiling treatment that is printed, embossed or backed to fabric. Its degree of pattern and print, tone and depth of colour is key in determining the style and feeling of a room.
Up until the 19thC, wallpaper design followed three main principles: that it should(...)
A piece of furniture dedicated to storing clothes, with rails for hanging and shelves for folded items. Wardrobes can be freestanding pieces or built in between walls.
Each culture has its own recognisable style of freestanding wardrobe with distinct colour and form of decoration, hinges(...)
- WARDROBE TRUNK
Also known as traveling wardrobes, these are luggage trunks kitted out with hanging rails, storage compartments, drawers and sometimes an iron and ironing board; they may be paper or fabric lined. Particularly popular in the early 20thC, children love them, and if you find one in an antiques(...)
Textiles are made by interweaving horizontal and vertical yarns–these vertical yarns are called warps. To make each new length of fabric, a weaving loom must first be set up with fixed warp yarns–this is a highly skilled process involving much planning beforehand, and a complex design can take(...)
- WARP PRINTED
A fabric in which the warps have been printed prior to weaving; also a technical description of Chiné.
A simple description of a complex and time rich process: the fabric length is fully woven with substitute weft threads, the pattern is printed, the weft threads are removed and the cloth(...)
Each textile comes with washing or cleaning instructions. If you will need to wash a fabric frequently, choose something tried and tested and pre-shrunk like linen, gingham, hemp…and follow the given directions!
As a matter of fact, very few fabrics can't be hand washed if done with with due(...)
Fabric, like any other product processed with water–such as cheese, Guinness, whisky–is affected by the mineral content of the water used in its preparation and washing. Guinness’ success is partly attributed to the gentle waters of the Liffey, and certainly tastes distinctly softer in home(...)
- WATER HYACINTH
Eichhornia, sea grass, or Jacinth is an invasive aquatic flowering plant which stems are used to make flooring and outdoor furniture.
Native to the sub-tropical regions, it is one of the fastest growing and expanding plants known to us. In southeast Asia, the hyacinth plants are grown for(...)
- WATER REPELLENT
The ability of a fabric to repel water comes from one of three sources: its inherent properties, weave, and finish.
Wool, for example, is inherently water repellent; however a felted wool will clearly hold out water for far longer than an open gauze.
Finishes applied to fabric when it(...)
- WATER RESISTANT
Treatments to make fabric water resistant fall into two categories: the more complex factory finishes and the fairly straight forward, easy to apply at home finish.
1. Fabric treated with oil, wax or a chemical to resist the absorption of water, in a finish that does not affect the feel of(...)
Naturally waterproof fabrics include plastics and rubber; alternatively, fabrics are treated by coating or steeping in a chemical that repels water. See hydrophobic.
A framework of interwoven twigs or laths, rush, cane or willow, creating a flat surface, something like a loose basket weave, which is made sturdy enough to act as a wind or light filtering barrier or backdrop.
In wattle and daub, the wattle part is the framework that provides the key to(...)
- WATTLE AND DAUB
A global, historical building material, an informal, rural wall construction consisting of a framework of wattle covered and filled with daub, a plaster of clay, straw, animal dung, sand, mud and water.
The wattle part is the construction of horizontal slats pinned to the vertical wall(...)
- WAX CLOTH
Similar to oilcloth, and an early form of linoleum (see linen)–this typically refers to a cotton or linen cloth treated on one side with wax, gum or natural resin to make it waterproof, and also to bind, coat or stabilise it for use as flooring.
- WAX PAPER
Describes paper that has been treated with wax or paraffin to make it water resistant and stable; the finish has a lovely honey colour with a light sheen that is attractive for furnishings. Wax paper – in differing weights ( microns ) and therefore flexibility can be made into paper screens,(...)
- WAX RESIST
A dying technique - see batik and silk painting, that global but with varied patterning, effects and colouration.
a) wax is applied to textile by brush or pen to outline the design, and thickly enough to seep into the fabric, filling the gaps between every fibre.
- WAX RESISTANT
A textile waterproofing finish, in which a wax solution is laid on the surface of the weave, penetrating and filling the gaps between every fibre.
Wax resistant textiles are mostly employed in the fashion industry and not easy to find by the metre, other than in outlet shops. When you can(...)
- WEAR AND TEAR
An expression to describe the effect of natural, daily usage on the durability and pristine finish of all materials, including fabric. It is one of the factors to bear in mind when assessing suitability for purpose.
- WEAR IN
New furnishings can sometimes look a bit too new–especially curtains and covers that replace worn ones in a complete and already settled environment. Many older houses and historic buildings have no need of change or 'upgrading', their replacements are made out of necessity rather than choice.(...)
A finish that makes materials look older than they are, which is a relatively new stylistic phenomenon, and perhaps a symbol of affluence–as we now have enough new furnishings in our homes, we want them to look settled and lived in, as though they have always been there.
* Stone washing(...)
- WEAVE/ WEAVING
Weaving essentially happens as a set of horizontal and of vertical yarns (or strips of other material) are interlaced and interlocked at right angles. Weaving has been a source of experiment, wonder, utility and livelihood for mankind since the beginning of time, making use of vegetal or(...)
All weaves are based on three basic weaves: plain, satin and twill, all others are variations of these three.
Including: barathea, basket, bombazine, cord, dogstooth, double ikat, end on end, faille, grenadine, herringbone, Highland plaid, hopsack, houndstooth, ikat, jacquard, lace, Lowland(...)
Just as the spider spins a gossamer web, in textiles this refers to any level of interweaving and interlacing that creates a structure, the weave.
The world wide web of information exchange has re-defined the way we communicate and research, a new interactive definition and angle for(...)
In weaving, refers to the yarns that run across the loom, between the selvedges, under and over the warps,
A quick memory jog to distinguish the direction of warp and weft is that 'the weft runs left to right'. Of course it also runs from right to left....
The way in which the wefts(...)
- WEFT PRINTED
A fabric in which the wefts have been printed prior to weaving. It makes a stunning looking cloth, but is a complex and time consuming process.
At its simplest: a fabric length is fully woven with substitute warp threads, onto which the pattern is printed; the warp threads are then removed(...)
One of the important characteristics of fabric, i.e. the standard unit of textile measurement of grams per square metre, or gm/2, or GMS. This refers to the weight (or mass) per standard or running meter. You can always feel weight differences by handling the fabric.
The technicalities are(...)
Also known as wold or woald. A clear yellow dye obtained from the flower and the whole plant, in particular the flower of the wayside rocket plant Reseda luteola, also known as dyer's rocket or dyer's mignonette. It is the oldest known yellow dye in Europe, grown in the Mediterranean and used(...)
- WELSH QUILTS
Bed quilts have been made in Wales by grandmothers, mothers and daughters for generations–Welsh girls aged around 10-11 would traditionally start working on a quilt for their trousseau, or marriage chest.
These quilts come with cotton tops and undersides in plain colours, wide stripes, or(...)
- WELSH TAPESTRY
Double sided woven fabric with a thickness that at first glance looks like stitched needlepoint / tapestry work. The limited range of colours and simple recognizable traditional designs show reverse pattern on their opposite sides – to make double face fabrics
The designs, in geometric(...)
A raised or strengthened seam that can be used to join many materials, from copper, zinc and lead to textiles. The welt seam is made by folding one side of the material over and under again to enclose the other; stitching or heat pressing keeps the seams together. For textiles the seam lies as(...)
A flexible, translucent, strong, sinewy material from the filter system of a whale’s mouth, now almost always synthetic substitute.
Frequently used in dress-making to stiffen seams so that they hold a particular shape. These thin, pliable strips are inserted into stitched pockets behind the(...)
A finishing technique of diagonal hand stitches used to cover raw edges and prevent them from fraying.
For the edges of a thicker fabric, it’s worked as a slanted and close form of blanket stitch.
Machine-whip stitching is a less attractive, more old-fashioned edging for floor rugs than(...)
Refers to a strong fabric using essentially the same weave as a steep gabardine. The distinct diagonal ribs of whipcord are very pronounced and the weft may be visible between the ribs on the right side, which is usually not the case for gabardines. Whipcord fabric can be made of cotton or,(...)
Technically white is not a colour and has no hue as it consists of all the colours of the spectrum, reflecting none. In reality it is the ultimate neutral as it reflects all light and is the basis for all coloured tints. In any white room, one wall may appear greenish, reflecting the greens(...)
A paint consisting of a suspension of lime in water that covers the surface with a thin membrane. Always use on lime plastered walls, over cob and wattle and daub, or adobe walls that need to breathe in order to function as they should. Like with like, the materials meld and strengthen as(...)
Refers to pale coloured woods such as tulipwood, pear wood and cotton wood, that are suited for painted decoration, and smooth enough to make small items of furniture that are destined to be fabric covered.
Or whitening. Refers to ground white chalk–pure calcium carbonate–used as a pigment for painting canvasses, to make gesso and in whitewash.
Refers to slender lengths of wood pliable enough to be woven into wickerwork, and to weave baskets. Willow, Salix viminalis and S. purpurea - osiers - are grown and pollarded for their long straight shoots, which are harvested when young, stripped off the bark and treated.
The widths of lengths of fabric are determined by tradition and weave.
For our purposes the printed, machine-made fabric comes to the consumer at between 135 and 145 cm (c.a. 53-57”) wide. Weaves can come in any width, but usually around 110-280 cm (c.a. 43-110”).
* A 'width' is the term to(...)
- WILD SILK
Refers to non- farmed silk (see sericulture) produced from the cocoons of silk moths that live in the wild, whose caterpillars are generally fed on the leaves of oak and deciduous trees other than mulberry. Wild silk is harvested once the caterpillars have left, so that wild silk is often(...)
- WILLIAM MORRIS
A 19thC English designer who energised and revolutionised the arts and crafts of interiors with his emphasis on beauty and utility, the natural world as an inspiration and the aesthetic and moral importance of a connection between the process of hand-making and the result–he rejected the(...)
A traditional type of carpet named after an eponymous city in England, where a specific weaving machine called wire loom was invented in the 18th century. Wilton carpets are double-weft woven and made with a variety of different wools, which ensure size stability and allow heavy-duty(...)
A soft, plain woven cotton with slightly raised pile on both sides.
Winceyette feels snug, retains heat and is therefore commonly used for warm pyjamas and nightwear, house pants and bedlinen, and in furnishings is perfect for children’s bedding, chair covers, cushions, curtains and as(...)
- WIND BREAK
Any interior furnishing that is designed or chosen to limit a breeze or light wind, such as fixed blinds that remain in place at open windows, also shutters, awnings and curtains for outdoor rooms and open doors.
Any opening in a wall, roof or within a door that lets light in and provides air circulation.
From pierced, non-glazed openings to the most elaborate and complex shapes, windows are they eyes of a building, an integral part of the architecture. The pattern and scale of windows dictates how(...)
- WINDOW BLIND
A type of blind that sits within a window recess or just in front, which can be adjusted to allow more or less light into the interior space.
* Hard blinds of wood, plastic or metal slats rotate from an open position to a closed position by overlapping. A lift cord allows the blind to be(...)
- WINDOW SEAT
A window built into a thick wall very often leaves a recessed opening that gives into the room. It is the perfect place for snuggling into to read a book, to look out of the window, to do both, to sit to chat...Soft cushions on the seat and around will help make the space comfortable and(...)
- WINDOW TREATMENT
Also called window dressing. Describes the full or partial covering of window openings to solve a number of problems: to afford privacy, to filter light, to cover the dark hole of night, to stop draughts or hold back cold air, to deaden sound, and last but by no means least–to add the softness(...)
- WINDOW VALANCE
See Valance and Pelmet
1. The glass section elements that constitute a window.
2. A weave with warps and wefts that intersect to form square or rectangular holes, or mesh or boxes evocative of a windowpane.
3. An open weave for light sheer and semi-sheer fabrics that is perfect for under curtains, summer(...)
- WINDOWPANE CHECK
A window pane check describes any of the open-line checks, or sets of parallel lines that cross to create squares, in a colour that contrasts with the plain ground to create an effect reminiscent of window panes. The design may be bold and dominant or subtle, in single or mixed colours, in any(...)
- WINDSOR CHAIR
A style of wooden chair with a shaped seat, splayed legs and backs made of fine spindles that fit into a shaped top rail of varying design and height.
Whilst it has a definite overall style, the Windsor chair comes in various sizes and variations: from full rocking carver to child’s seat,(...)
- WING CHAIR
Describes chairs with high backs that continue or extend around and over the arms, spreading out like a 'wing' at the top and tapering to the chair back by the time they reach the arm. Wing chairs were developed primarily to protect the head and neck from draught, so they are tall, the back(...)
An outward and upward facing pointed detail found on extravagant tie backs and pelmets.
A slender filament of metal or plastic. Wire is flexible and can be woven and knitted, or even embroidered if it’s very fine.
* Metallic threads used as warp or weft yarns add sparkle and light to the woven cloth, whether it’s a fine linen or a heavy woollen tweed.
* Lamé is made using(...)
- WIRE GAUZE
A mesh woven from wire that is stiff but fine and malleable enough to bend into forms that hold their shape. It may be used as a supporting material or decoratively.
- WIRE NETTING
Wire woven into looped mesh and galvanized, primarily used for fencing. Chicken wire has been used for centuries as the field of door frames, for food and linen storage, and any where that ventilation is needed.
- WIRE WOOL
A bundle of wire meshed en masse for scouring, cleaning down paintwork and woodwork to prepare for further work or to give it a new lease of life.
Wire woven or shaped and welded to make functional or decorative items. It is available from the simplest mesh to very complex and intricate filigree patterns and to be seen in garden chairs, the fields in door-frames and smaller items such as planters and flower pot holders.
- WISHY WASHY
Lacking in character, in substance or colour or both: nondescript. With all the available choice of ideas, advice and materials, this is completely unnecessary in the world of interior design.
Practical intelligence, i.e. 'the wit of woman' is to make a home, to find and make all homely things within a sensible budget and to a self-imposed standard. Wit and wile refers to the mind, to the cunning required to get what's needed.
In interior architecture and decoration, this refers to the family space–where everyone can feel comfortable and be themselves, whether it be a small room, a den for recreation and discussion, reading and games.
A room or a corner of the house that feels dark, damp, uncomfortable, naturally(...)
A natural fibre derived from the fleece of sheep and similar to the fleeces of camelids and goats and long haired through annual moults or by shearing, which we use in textile production.
Wool is known to have been used by nomadic tribes of Asia Minor (Mesopotamia) as far back as 10, 000(...)
- WOOL WEAVES
There aren ay wool weaves, some of which are briefly described here and further under their own categories,with or without accompanying project ideas.
1. Crepe: A lightweight woven wool with a crinkly surface.
2. Worsted: A tightly twisted yarn that produces crisp,(...)
- WORK SHEET
The records and notes detailing timings of each project, and their analysis in order to chart progress, compare works and assess costings.
- WORK TABLE
A generic term for a dedicated space where work can be carried out. Particular tasks, activities and professions have their own specific appellations: butcher's table, baker's table, work bench, etc.
Corduroys, heavy woollen weaves, gabardine, twill weaves, ticking, stripes, gingham, hemp, loosely hand-woven cottons and linens, fabrics with wax finishes–all these have a workmanlike feel.
Such textiles sit well in any converted agricultural or industrial building, where the decision to(...)
Or workshop, refers to the space where all hand crafted items are made: prototyped, assembled, and finished. It also describes where a small group of craftsmen work; once production increases and becomes more commercialised, this processing space is usually referred to as a factory. Most(...)
- WORKROOM MATERIALS
The basic materials needed to carry out the project.
- WORKROOM TOOLS
A paper or form detailing the work to be done with full materials specifications and instructions, accompanied by relevant sketches, drawings or details for the good outcome of the work.
1. Work space and as workroom.
2. Intensive and specialised study programmes focusing on a particular technique or skill, and lasting anything from a few hours to several days.
1. A creased line, or lines, on the surface of textiles, wrinkles can be deliberate and part of the weave. As such they make an easy care material, perhaps especially linen sheeting for bedding or for loose covers that need little or no ironing. Wrinkled fabrics look well in either soft and(...)
- WROUGHT IRON
A pure form of iron with a low carbon content that allows it to be worked and manipulated into forms and shapes–unlike cast iron, which can only be moulded.
However, wrought iron is no push-over. Ironmongers use extreme heat from a coal fired furnace and use cast iron tools to hammer and(...)
- WYZENBEEK TEST
The Wyzenbeek Test is the American version of the Martindale test, and ascertains the resistance of textiles to abrasion. The ratings are not exactly comparable, though it is generally considered that 40,000 Martindale rubs corresponds to 30,000 Wyzenbeek.
- XENO - FILE
From the Greek xeno, referring to the unknown, it describes an attraction for and love of things foreign, different and sometimes strange.
Textiles make up the largest global industry and affects and interests us all to varying degrees. Let us hope by now we're all xenofiles, celebrating(...)
The Xhosa are a southern African ethnic group with a long and rich tradition of complex beading with seeds, carved bone, shells, and more recently imported glass beads on cloth, as jewellery and to ornament household objects.
Their designs represent the natural world, rivers, stars,(...)
The yachting world has provided us with considerable inspiration over the years–from classical and universal red and white, blue and white stripes, to the Guernsey sweater, to the concept and idea of sails and to really clever fittings:
* Yachting catches and handles designed to manage(...)
Yaks are large, generally domesticated wild bovid hailing from the very high altitude Tibetan plateaux flanking the Himalayas. The thick shaggy coats, which provide protection from the severe winter climate–temperatures that go below 20ºC, and that's without the wind chill factor, is as good(...)
- YARD ARM
Ah! For all designers and makers – at the end of a long and tiring day, it's said that when the sun is ‘over the yard arm’ it's time for a glass of wine - or whatever takes your fancy.
The yard is the spar of a mast from which the square sails are set, and the expression is thought to(...)
A continuous strand of fibre or filament that is spun or extruded from natural or synthetic sources, ready for weaving or knitting.
To 'spin a yarn' is tell a long story, often embellished to make it last and not always 100% accurate, which probably went hand in hand with the many long(...)
- YARN DYED
This just mean that the yarn was pre-dyed, that is, coloured before being woven or knitted into fabric as opposed to piece dyed, when the whole work is coloured after it has been woven.
All mixed and complex weaves requiring more than one colour are woven with pre-dyed yarns, including(...)
Natural dyes producing yellow include ochre, pomegranite, topaz, turmeric, weld. Also cadmium yellow…
- YIN YANG
A key concept in Chinese philosophy, symbolising the harmony that comes from two opposing principles (masculine and feminine, hot and cold, etc.), believed to underly the fabric of existence and the interaction between cosmic and human spheres.
The comfortable and seamless interlocking of(...)
A garment construction method - the yoke is the flat section of a that fits to the body at the top of skirts, trousers and shirts,, holding the lower pieces of the garment beneath it and the waistband or collar above.
It can be a good technique to use at the top of curtains or chair covers,(...)
A west African tribe (Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Sierra Leone, Liberia) with a rich cultural tradition of textile weaving and decoration expressed in spectacular, symbolical fabrics used for furnishings and ceremonial attire.
Typical cloths include different types of Aso-oke, Aran, and Adire.
- YOUGHAL LACE
A needle lace from Youghal in County Cork, Ireland that was made from about 1845 to 1920, with very fine thread - finer than hair.
Needle lace is always made the same way, however each style of lace, from a particular area or era has it's own distinctive patterning, stitch a arrangement(...)
Or Zardozi. An ancient and unique embroidery technique associated with the furnishings and garments royal and imperial courts and thought to have been brought to Moghal India via Persia (zar meaning ‘gold’, and dozi ‘embroidery’ in Persian). It is a type of appliqué embroidery, in which(...)
Zari is a gold or silver thread traditionally used throughout India, Pakistan and Persia within weaving and for surface embroidery to create the finest silks. In the past the threads were made of fine gold or silver, today they are made with a cotton or polyester core wrapped in very fine(...)
Zebra striped fabrics are, of course, black and white, or dark brown and white printed or woven fabric that mimics zebra stripes. It is a useful pattern for bringing a soft geometry into neutral schemes, or as part of a classic black and white picture. In a black and white or chocolate(...)
- ZEBRA WOOD
A wood from the Microberlinia (Zebrano) tree family, which is indigenous to tropical America, Asia and Africa. It produces a wood that is naturally striped in soft formations, from pale sand to mid browns to very distinct sand-dark browns striata. Zebra wood is popular right now in(...)
- ZENTANGLE® QUILTING
A zentangle is an abstract, black and white piece of work created as part of a meditative process. This same process can be applied to quilting textiles, using a free-motion style, in which odd shaped spaces are filled with machine stitched repetitive patterns.
A gentle west wind, named after Zephyrus, the Greek god of the west wind; also the name for a thin, lightweight, soft, plain or self-striped woven cotton cloth.
Refers to the sable's fur, a pine marten species (Martes zibellina) indigenous to northern climates, the Ural mountains and Siberia. Sable fur has long been a luxury item for fashion and ceremonial collars.
The term zibeline is most commonly used to describe fabric made to look like sable(...)
A silvery-white metal that develops a lovely soft matte finish with age. Zinc can be alloyed with several metals, namely nickel and more essentially, copper to make brass.
Zinc is used for galvanising steel and iron poles to make them rust and weather proof, and in sheets for roofing. Zinc,(...)
A reliable, commonly used closure that is light and can either be invisible or very heavy and a feature, made of plastic or metal.
A zipper comes in two parts, each with a row of interlocking teeth, which are opened or closed with slider.