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 was known as parkala, and by the 17th-18thC was brought to Europe in great quantities from India for use in sheeting and bed linen.
We have used the less expensive cotton and cotton mix percale sheets to make curtains, bed drapes, duvets and linings; for linings and for temporary curtains it’s often a good way of obtaining the colour you want at a reasonable price.
Percale may be printed with flowers, fruit, leaves or paisley patterns. When the surface is glazed through the calendering process, percale is called chintz; it has now acquired a subtle and fresh look that turns it from soft bedding material into a fabric more suited to curtains and covers.