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Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Regency and Georgian Fabric Glossary

Regency & Georgian Fabrics
Acknowledgements; Fairchild’s dictionary of textiles, Cambridge History of Western Textiles; Western World Costume: an outline history by Caroline G. Bradley; and thanks too to Charles Bazalgette for sharing his glossary.

Alamode aka Mode
Thin lightweight and glossy plain weave, very soft, usually dyed black for mourning
Bath Coating
Lightweight wide fabric with long nap that is bleached or coloured; preferred as a fabric for a coat over superfine by Beau Brummel according to the tailor Schweitzer.
Felted woollen fabric with long nap used for coating.  Also the underfur of the beaver used to make hats
Blonde aka blonde lace
Unbleached silk bobbin lace that was creamy in colour. Later bleached or dyed, black blonde being popular during French Revolution.  Usually a fine mesh ground with heavier thread making up the design, often floral.
Book Muslin
In 18th century folded with the book fold, doubled lengthwise then folded to make a compact package. Later either a soft muslin for tambour work or muslin stiffened to resemble French lawn.
A cloth woven wider than a single man could weave it, originally woven by two men and a technique used only for the highest quality woollens, later with the advent of machinery any cloth that was broad though generally a durable cloth.
Silk patterned with a lustre face by jacquard weaving to produce a pattern in self colour or multicolour the warps carrying across on the underside so the fabric is not reversible but may be of very complex and rich design.
Treated with rollers to create a shiny finish; or in earlier times rubbed manually with a hot glass implement see also tabby and moiré
Plain weave lightweight painted or printed cotton; from Calicut [Calcutta]. Later use in England implies plain white/cream cloth [bleached or unbleached] 22 OR 28 yards to the piece. 18th century calico was often cotton weft on a linen warp.
Soft plain weave cotton or linen calendared for slight lustre, similar to muslin.
Camlet, Camblet
Wool with a weft of silk and/or goat hair syn. Camelot from earlier period
Fine, silky wool from the cashmere goat; used to make soft, light, warm shawls of great richness.
See Kerseymere
Made of cotton, wool or silk yarn with fibres protruding as a pile. Used as a weft for some fancy goods and also for fringes and embroidery.
A cotton which has had the warp printed before weaving so that when woven the pattern is clouded.
Corduroy aka Corduroy
A ribbed cotton uncut pile fabric, hard wearing, used for trousers and dresses
A silk fabric with a crinkled surface by filling with alternate s-twist and z-twist yarns; used for mourning.
A jacquard fabric which is reversible, may be self colour or bicoloured, the pattern being raised and in satin weave on one side, the negative pattern being so on the reverse.
Originally meaning diamond; soft absorbent cloth; huckaback
Lightweight sheer cotton fabrics with 2, 3 or more warp cords woven together, often striped or checked
Woollen coating in brownish grey; also cloths dyed in the colour called drab [a very dark beige and its variants]
Drap de…
Cloth of…. A French term.
Ribbed wool and worsted cloth 18th century, or syn. Droguet mixed wool and linen or silk dress fabric
Broad term for strong plain weave fabrics usually cotton. Often used for canvas.
A unit of measurement; in the middle ages in England it was 45” but the measurement was different in different parts of Europe.  In the 18th century in England it was 5/4 of a yard; the use of it was banned in 1824
Espagnolette aka spagnolet aka spaniolet
Very fine wool fabric, French and originally of merino wool, finished smooth or with  nap raised either or both sides. Dyed in the piece.
From Welsh word for wool, a light or medium weight fabric of plain or twill weave with a lightly napped surface; woven in such a way to make a warm cloth with softly twisted and napped filling yarns
Florentine [silk]
A heavy silk often with stripes generally used for waistcoats.  Ambiguous term; has other meanings.
French Lawn
A stiff, brittle lustrous finish applied to fine lawn fabrics
French net
A net used much for evening gowns during the Regency period
Woollen fabric [initially a heavy worsted] after 17th century more increasingly of cotton.  Heavy fabric plain or with raised nap. May also be known as swansdown, moleskin or velveteen
Narrow ribbon or braid of cotton, wool or silk used for trimming men’s hats, dresses or uniforms; may contain metal threads
Thin sheer open weave fabric made of silk or cotton.  Term derives from city of Gaza.
Gobelin [scarlet]
A French woollen cloth [utilising the red dye invented by the Gobelin dyeworks, used for hunting pinks.] A cloth generally dyed rich dark colours
Uses hair other than wool in the weave and may have plain, satin or leno [open] weave; horsehair or camel usually.
Furnishing fabric 18th and early 19th centuries; fine worsted warp and coarser filling to make rib effect, finished by watering and stamping
Irish cloth
Medieval fabric, woollen lining cloth in red and white, still in use in 18th century.
Irish or Irish Linen
High quality linen
Thin cotton material similar to muslin
Cotton blend twill, lighter than drill.
Durable woollen fabric much fulled and often finished with a slightly lustrous nap. May be twill.  Used for overcoats, uniforms.  From English town Kersey
Kerseymere aka Cassimere
Medium weight twill weave soft textured wool fabric.
Very fine sheer plain weave linen; French lawn is a stiff and brittle finish.
Lambskin from very young or unborn lambs used for gloves [cf budge from an earlier period]
Lustre/ lustre fabric
Dress fabric with cotton warp and heavier lustre fibre weft like mohair or alpaca
Lutestring aka Lustring
Fine, glossy warp-ribbed silk dress fabric
Mantua silk
Plain weave silk in black and other colours somewhat heavier than taffeta.  Dress silk, sometimes furnishings.
A fine figured cotton piqué
Heavy bleached linen fabric, twill weave, soft finish
Wool derived from the merino sheep, a twilled worsted fabric, very fine cloth
French for the process of making watered effects on fabrics
Fine firm, plain weave cottons, lightweight.  May be figured by having a heavier thread woven for lines, wavy lines or checked appearance, gold or silver with metallic thread woven in or printed with gold or silver leaf. Usually to be found in white or pastel in the regency.  10 yards to the piece.
Nankeen aka Nankin
Durable firm textured cotton originally from Nanking from undyed brownish-yellow cotton
Paduasoy aka padaway
Group of heavy rich corded silk fabrics made in Padua Italy popular in 17th and 18th centuries. Later [late 19th c] called rep.
Persian or Silk Persian
Lightweight plainweave silk lining fabric printed with large floral patterns; in use from !8th century
A tabby weave wool in the particular colours and arrangement of chequered pattern specific to the various highland clans .  Found also in silk during the craze for plaid in 1789 after George III’s first recovery and subsequently after 1822 when George IV visited Scotland. Silk plaid is mentioned in 1809 for a gown.
Durable plainweave fabric, usually a cotton broadcloth.
Rateen aka ratine
A coarse, loosely woven cloth, slightly nubby
Russian duck
Fine bleached linen duck for summer garments.
Sarsanet aka sarcenet aka sarsnet  etc
In regency usage, a fine thin silk fabric with a soft finish in plain or twill, after 19th century a plain weave piece-dyed cotton
A smooth, lustrous fabric which may have a less lustrous back in the purest use of the term.  Satin weave is achieved by the domination of warp yarns on the face.
Satin jean
Heavy durable cotton jean, highly twilled, with smooth glossy surface
Satin Merino
Wool fabric with lustrous face and napped back, women’s clothing early 19th century.
Twilled worsted fabric  made in England and France in 18th century
Spagnolet aka Spaniolet

see espagnolette
Usually black woollen coat fabric much fulled and sheared for a soft finish; may also refer to kerseymere with silk or mohair included.
Twill weave cotton  finished with a nap and used for underwear
Tabby aka watered silk aka moiré
A watered effect caused by the finishing on a ribbed fabric where the crushing of some parts through rollers causes the play of light to give a rippled effect
In 18th and 19th centuries fine worsted dress fabric, high lustre finish
Gold or silver lame cf cloth-of-gold of earlier periods
Cotton velvet often ribbed or printed with a pattern
Piled fabric, initially silk, woven on a epingle loom that lifts loops above the ground.  The pile may be cut or left in loops, may be of different heights in patterns forming figured velvets, or parts of the pile voided [left showing a satin ground] by the original jacquard weave or by being etched out with acid. Brocaded velvet may have pile of different colours in a brocaded pattern.
Velvet much in fashion winter 1808-9
A cotton velvet-like fabric but the pile is made with the filler not with the warp as in a true velvet.


  1. Sarah, you cut down my (albeit very small amount) of researching time in half with your pointers. Thanks!


  2. I was wondering if you could maybe give an example of a modern version of sarsnet? I an a little confused as to what might be a modern equivalent. Thank you!

  3. the definition for sarsanet in the modern era is; after the 19th century, a plain weave, strong, piece-dyed British cotton fabric finished with a high lustre. Often calendered to produce a twill effect. It is used, among other things, to make linings.

  4. The modern equivalent would be a habotai