Butternut

Part of the Antique Fabrics series. A heavy woolen cloth, dyed brown with extracts from the butternut tree. If you want to play a Confederate soldier in the US Civil War, you’re going to learn a lot about butternut, as it was a widely-used homespun fabric used to replace official-issued uniform jackets and trousers as… Read More »

Tarlatan

Part of the ‘Antique Fabrics‘ series, this fabric isn’t necessarily extinct, but it was more popular in the past than the present. AKA Argentine cloth. Tarlatan is a lightweight open-weave fabric, a lot like cheesecloth or cotton gauze, but it’s stiffened with starch. It was used for dainty clothing items in the 19th century, and sometimes as an… Read More »

Sateen

Satin, sateen. How different can they be? About $3/yard, for starters. As satin was traditionally made from silk, sateen was created as a cheaper alternative. It’s a twill-woven cotton with some yarns ‘floated’ as per a satin weave – it’s not quite one or the other, although most of my textile books prefer to refer to… Read More »

Ciré

Ciré  is a fabric that has been finished by heat, pressure and – sometimes – a wax-like coating  to create a very glossy surface. From a distance, it can be mistaken for vinyl and, up close, you might think you’re looking at a very shiny chintz or spandex. Often marketed as “wet look fabric” because,… Read More »

Cambric

Part of the ‘Antique Fabrics‘ series, this fabric isn’t necessarily extinct, but it was more popular in the past than the present. Cambric is a lightweight, densely-woven, plain-weave cloth. Originally made of linen, but later made of cotton as well. It’s name derives from Cambrai, France, where it was once made in significant quantities. Today, linen cambric is… Read More »

Percale

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… Read More »

Peau-de-Soie

Part of the ‘Antique Fabrics‘ series, this fabric isn’t necessarily extinct, but it was more popular in the past than the present. AKA poult-de-soie, and paduasoy  A fine-corded silk fabric, made in a plain weave, but because of it’s semi-lustrous appearance, it can be mistaken for a satin weave. Quite luxurious. It’s still in use today for evening… Read More »

What Is A Fabric’s “Finish”?

(I realized about three days after the site launched that this entry was necessary. Mea culpa – Ed.) To keep it simple, a fabric’s finish is what happens to a fabric once it comes off the loom. How big a deal is it? Batiste and organdy begin life as the same greige goods and organdy only becomes such… Read More »

Baize

(By popular request – Ed.) Baize is a dense, plain-weave wool cloth, traditionally used as a surface for gaming and pool tables. It’s usually green, but it can be found in other colors (red is a popular alternative). A lot of fabrics will be described by sellers as baize simply because it’s green and fuzzy, which can be… Read More »

Serge

Part of the ‘Antique Fabrics‘ series, this fabric isn’t necessarily extinct, but it was more popular in the past than the present. Serge is a soft, durable twill-weave fabric. The pattern of the weave is very much like that of denim – steeply diagonal and reversible. In the 19th century, serge was a popular choice for military… Read More »