Glossary of terms used on this site

Worshipful Company of Weavers

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Term Main definition
sack cloth

A very coarse, rough cloth said to have be woven from goats\' or camels\' hair and worn in mourning or as penitence.  The term has also been used to describe a solid colour flannel. See burlap.


Generally applied to a variety of coarse fabrics chiefly used for making bags and sacks.  Often made from jute, hemp, flax or man-made fibres such as polyolefin.  See gunny and osnaburg.


A tightly woven heavy canvas traditionally made of cotton or linen and used in the manufacture of ship and yacht sails.  Now often made of nylon (polyamide) or polyester for lightness, durability and strength. Cotton sailcloth is often used for sports shoes and upholstery.


A weft face weave which is normally associated with cotton cloths, although man-made fibres are sometimes used either by themselves or blended with cotton.  A smooth fabric, free of any twill direction, where the the weft thread is usually coarser than the warp.  A fabric made with this weave is often referred to as a sateen fabric.  See weaves. 


A warp face weave which is often associated with silk and artificial fabrics.  Traditionally made of silk, satin has a smooth, lustrous, unbroken surface texture.  There are many types of satin fabrics which include:  ciré satin, panne satin, duchesse satin, charmeurse, antique satin, crêpe back satin, skinner\'s satin and a very thin satin called satinette. Satin is used extensively in the manufacture of clothing and also used in furnishings.  It is highly probable that the word satin derives from Zaitun or Zayton, the name by the Chinese medieval port of Chinchew was known by traders who exported all types of silk, particularly satin, in the 13th and 14th centuries. See weaves.


A soft hard wearing woollen cloth woven from 60s, or finer, woollen spun yarn. Also sometimes woven from soft worsted yarns.  A lightweight tweed suitable for clothing.  The name comes from the Saxony area of northern Germany, where this type of cloth was first woven.

schappe silk

Spun silk woven fabric which has been de-gummed by fermentation.


The process of scouring. Washing all types of textile fibres, yarn or cloth to remove dirt, natural fats, waxes, proteins, oil or other impurities.


An open-mesh, plain weave coarse cloth made either from jute, hemp, cotton or flax.  Used in embroidery, for gluing to the inside of wooden panelling to prevent shrinkage, to reinforce plaster when casting models, for curtaining and in theatrical scenery where a transparent area is required.


Used to describe the rustling sound produced when silk yarn or cloth is handled. Sometimes the same sound comes from certain cellulosic fibres, yarns or fabrics which have had specialized finishing.


The process of scutching has various definitions:

  1. The process of opening cotton mechanically and cleaned, then formed into a continuous lap.
  2. The operation of separating the woody part of retted flax from the flax fibre.
  3. The process carried out on a scutcher, in the finishing process, for opening a rope of fabric.

The old Persian phrase for milk and sugar, shír o shakkar, aptly describes the character of this fabric. Usually a warp striped plain weave cotton fabric, its design is of smooth stripes contrasting with puckered or crinkled stripes.  Sometimes the stripes are dyed in contrasting colours. The fabric can be produced in three different ways: by each stripe in the warp being woven under different tension, by using two yarns in the warp of varying twist or by printing a resist on a cotton cloth which is then treated with caustic soda which then crinkles the resist free areas of the cloth.  Requires little or no ironing. 


The two longitudinal edges of a woven fabric. The selvedge is made when the weft turns round each of the extreme warp ends when the weft passes through the warp.


The protein liquid, known also as gum, which coats the silk as it is exuded by the silkworm.


The cultivation of silkworms, or lepidoptera larvae, for the production of cocoons from which silk is unwound to produce a textile thread.