Percale

By | May 22, 2016
Percale bloomers, circa 1900. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Percale bloomers, circa 1900. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Part of the ‘Antique Fabrics‘ series, this fabric isn’t necessarily extinct, but it was more popular in the past than the present.

A firm, plain-weave cotton fabric. Imported from India in the 17th & 18th centuries, then produced in France, thereafter.

Thread count is usually 200 per inch or more. Percale uses long-staple cotton, resulting in a smoother finish to the fabric, as well as a stronger yarn. In contrast, muslin is made with a short-staple cotton, which is why it has a rougher surface, in comparison.

Percale is still very much in use today – frequently for bed-linens, but also infant’s clothes and pajamas. Contemporary percale may be made with other yarns, such as polyester or with a cotton/poly blend, but cotton remains popular.

If you’re seeking a good-enough fabric for costuming, consider a better-quality muslin, lawn (which might be a bit too sheer) or do what I’d do – go visit some thrift stores and look for good quality used sheets in the linens section. Such finds are always pre-shrunk, too!

Be sure to pre-wash any percale before cutting, to get all of the shrinking out of the way. Use a universal needle and all purpose thread.

Percale cotton. Source: organiccottonplus.com

Percale cotton. Source: organiccottonplus.com

 

Leave a Reply