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 to be less likely with the most expensive cloths, as the fibre, printing process, technical experience and quality checks are all of the highest standard.
b) the certainty that simple hand block printed fabrics will show divergences in colour, pattern repeat and even in width, which is indeed an inherent part of their charm.
c) the expectation of some variation between the sample you’ve been given and the fabric currently in stock. Always ask for a stock cutting to ensure that the background and print colours, the styles and the pattern repeats are as you expect. Also, to avoid possible disappointment, always reserve the amount of fabric you need whilst you agree the stock cutting.