If you’re thinking about trying your hand at the dynamic world of fabric decorating, you’ll have to pick up a few textile terms along the way. This glossary list will start you out with the basics. Use these terms to build up your fabric by the yard lexicon, and then add to it as you continue your home decorating projects.
A manufactured fiber, its major properties include a soft, wool-like hand, machine washable and dryable and excellent color retention. The fabric is surprisingly soft and comfortable and its durability makes it an excellent choice for home decor.
A reversible satin-weave fabric with satin floats on the technical face and surface slubs on the technical back created by using slub-filling yarns. It is usually used for drapery fabrics and often made of a blend of fibers.
A sewing technique that involves stitching a small piece of fabric onto a larger one to make a pattern or design
Arts and Crafts Movement
Textiles from this period include flowing, swirling patterns by incorporating motifs with a natural influence.
A method of dyeing fabric where some areas are covered with wax or pastes made of glues or starches to make designs by keeping dyes from penetrating in pattern areas, also called “resist dyeing”.
A lightweight, plain weave fabric, semi-sheer and usually made of cotton or cotton blends.
In this context, refers to sewing or gluing beads onto a fabric.
A corded cotton-like fabric with raised ridges in the lengthwise direction. Since the fabric has a high strength and a high durability, it is often used for upholstery.
A knit or woven fabric with small curls or loops that create a nubby surface. The fabric has a looped, knotted surface.
A plain weave tightly woven fabric that is usually made from 100% cotton or a cotton blend. Most common uses are for quilting.
A heavy jacquard-type fabric with an all-over raised pattern or floral design. Appropriate for upholstery and draperies.
A tightly-woven cotton type fabric with an all-over print, usually a small floral pattern on a contrasting background color. Commonly used in quilts.
A strong, durable, closely woven cloth usually of linen, hemp, or cotton used where sturdiness is required.
A plain woven fabric that can be made from cotton, silk, or manufactured fibers, but is most commonly cotton. It incorporates a colored warp (often blue) and white filling yarns.
This lace has a net background, and the pattern is created by embroidering with thread and ribbon to create floral designs. The pattern has areas of design that are very dense, and the pattern is often outlined with heavier cords or threads. (And if you now have a certain song stuck in your head, we apologize! If you don’t know what we’re talking about – carry on!)
A plain-weave fabric, which has been glazed to produce a polished look. Fabric must be dry-cleaned as the glazing will wash off with machine laundering. Suitable for drapes and lining.
A great, all-purpose woven fabric. This blend is ideal for curtains, light upholstery, and pillows for the following reasons: compared to either cotton and linen alone, the blend is more wrinkle resistant, thinner and lighter and is more durable.
A true crewel fabric is embroidered with crewel yarn (a loosely twisted, two-ply wool) on a plain weave fabric. Traditional crewel fabrics are hand-woven and embroidered in India. The design motif for crewel work is typically outlines of flowers, vines, and leaves, in one or many colors.
A twill weave cotton fabric made with different colored yarns in the warp and the weft. Due to the twill construction, one color predominates on the fabric surface.
An embellishment of a fabric or garment in which colored threads are sewn on to the fabric to create a design. Embroidery may be done either by hand or machine.
Ikat is a popular fabric that is often crafted in Central Asia. It uses a labor-intensive dyeing technique that involves resist dyeing. The designs created are very vibrant and bold. They add a lot of color to a neutral room.
A smooth, lint-free, lightweight fabric that is woven to feel like linen even while made with other fibers such as cotton or polyester.
Made by pressing two layers of the textile together when wet. The similar but imperfect spacing of the threads creates a characteristic pattern which remains after the fabric dries.
An inexpensive, medium weight, plain weave, low count (less than 160 threads per square inch) cotton sheeting fabric. Muslin fabric has a simple, loose weave and is made in varying weights, ranging from finer, delicate textures to coarser, unfinished sheeting.
Produced in 1938, the first completely synthetic fiber developed. Known for its high strength and excellent resilience, nylon has superior abrasion resistance and high flexibility.
A traditional Japanese sash for keikogi, a uniform for martial arts training, and for kimonos.
Originated from India, paisley is a tear drop shaped ‘leafy’ motif. The name is derived from the town of Paisley in West Scotland, a center for textiles where the designs were produced. This pattern fits in both modern and traditional interiors, and can add an exotic accent, especially when done in bright bold colors.
Boho Luxe Home’s Neela pattern is reminiscent of paisleys and Indian saris, but this particlar image actually originated as Moorish architectural elements in Italy. Each of the brand’s exclusive patterns tells a travel story.
From Pakistan and India, a traditional quilt constructed from layers of discarded cloth and sewn into a variety of patterns.
Originally meaning “strip of cloth”, sari refers to traditional women’s attire in Ancient India. Made of cotton and silk, it is usually dyed in indigo or turmeric, resulting in shades such as blue, purple, red, yellow, and orange.
A style of Japanese pattern making by twisting, binding, wrapping, folding, and stitching fabric and dyeing it. Similar to tie-dye.
A soft, lustrous fiber from the cocoon of the silkworm. Also refers to the fabric made from this fiber, often used in luxurious clothes and furnishings.
A leather finished with a fine velvet-like nap, usually on the flesh side of the skin or hide, produced by abrasive action.
A pendant-style ornament commonly made up of thread and cords hanging from a round knob, used in clothing, jewelry, curtains, and bags.
With a crisp hand, taffeta is typically used for formal wear like gowns and fuller skirts. Underlining prevents some of the wrinkling it has a tendency to have. More classic decor uses taffeta as drapes.
Often ceremonial or religious in nature, tribal print refers to the craftsmanship of artefacts from tribal cultures. Tribal prints are heavy with symbolism and geometric patterns that have a lot of meaning rooted in tribal culture.
A fabric that resembles velvet but has more stretch and is made of rayon, wool, and used for outerwear or upholstery.
A closely woven fabric of silk or cotton with a short pile on one side, commonly used for luxurious touches on clothing, upholstery, or curtains.
Textile fiber from sheep and other animals. Today, wool tassels and pom poms are a fun way to add a bouncy flourish to home decor.