Principal Silk Fabrics
=Alma.= Cloth, double twilled from left to right diagonally, first
made in black only as a mourning fabric. The name is from the
Egyptian, as applied to a mourner or a singer at a funeral.
=Barege.= Sheer stuff of silk and wool for veiling, named from the
town of Bareges, in France.
=Bengaline.= An imitation of an old silk fabric made for many
centuries in Bengal, India, whence the name. The
weave is similar to
that of ordinary rep or poplin, being a simple round-corded effect.
The cord is produced by using a heavy soft-spun woolen weft which is
so closely covered by the silk warp threads that it is not exposed
when examined from the wrong side. The same weave is also found in
all-silk goods, under the designation of all-silk bengaline. When
cheapened by the use of a cotton weft in place of wool the fabric is
known as cotton bengaline, although the cotton is in the filling only.
=Berber.= Satin-faced fabric of light-weight cloth. It came into favor
about the time of the defeat of the Berbers by General Gordon in his
campaign against the Mahdi in North Africa.
=Brocade.= Raised figures on a plain ground.
=Brocatel.= A kind of brocade used for draperies and upholstery;
usually raised wool figures on a silk ground.
=Bombazine.= Silk warp, wool weft, fine twilled cloth; originally made
in black only for mourning. It is used largely for mourning hat bands.
The root of the name is bombyx, the Latin for silkworm.
=Chenille.= Cloth of a fuzzy or fluffy face; woven of cotton, silk, or
wool; used sometimes for dress goods; more generally for curtains and
table covers. Chenille is the French word for caterpillar, which the
single thread of the cloth resembles.
=Chiffon.= A thin, transparent silk muslin. Although one of the
thinnest and gauziest of modern silk fabrics, it is relatively strong
considering its lightness. To convey an idea of the fineness of the
thread used in its manufacture, it is stated that one pound of it will
extend a distance of eight miles. In the process of finishing the
fabric receives a dressing of pure "size." There are two styles of
finish, called respectively the demi- or half size and the full size.
Chiffon finished by full sizing is comparatively stiff; while the
demi-finish produces a softer and lighter texture. It is dyed in a
great variety of colors, and sometimes is printed in delicate
patterns. It is especially adapted for home and evening wear, and is
used for neck and sleeve trimming, drapery over silk foundations,
fancy work, and millinery.
=China Silk.= A term applied to plain woven silks manufactured in
China. The term China silk has been adopted in the United States in
recent years for a class of machine-woven silks made in imitation of
the hand-loom product. These imitations are narrow in width and lack
the soft, lustrous quality of Eastern fabrics, and are also free from
the uneven threads. China silks are distinguished by their irregular
threads, caused by some of the threads being heavier than others, and
their extreme softness.
The warp and filling are identical in size and color, and being woven
evenly produce a beautiful natural luster. It is generally plain
color, although the figured goods are printed in much the same manner
as calico. It is used for gowns, waists, underclothing, etc. It
launders as well as white cotton.
=Crepe.= A thin, gauzy fabric, woven in loose even threads of silk,
heavily sized or gummed, crimped or creped in the dyeing. Crepe was
first used in black only as a badge of mourning. It is now an accepted
dress fabric, made in colors and white and of many materials. The name
signifies to crimp or crepe with a hot iron.
=Crepe de Chine.= A soft, lustrous silk crepe, the surface of which is
smoother than that of the ordinary varieties. It is woven as a plain
weave with part of the warp threads right twisted and the rest left
twisted. It is dyed almost any color and figured or printed.
=Eolienne.= Sheer cloth of silk, silk and wool, or silk and cotton,
woven in fine card effect. The name comes from the Greek AEolus, god of
=Foulard.= Plain silk cloth, sold as dress goods; originally made for
handkerchiefs only. The name is French for silk handkerchief.
=Glace.= Plain, lustrous silk, yarn dyed, with warp of one color, and
weft of another. The name is applied to all fabrics having two tones.
Glace is French for icy, having an icy appearance.
=India Silk.= A name applied to the plain woven silks manufactured in
India on the primitive hand looms. The warp and weft are woven evenly
and produce a beautiful natural luster. It is similar to China and
Japanese silk. In fact most of these fabrics come from China and
Japan, India silk being almost unknown in this country as so little of
it is exported. The durability of these silks is about the same, and
there is little difference in the prices.
=Japanese Silk.= A term applied to the plain woven silk manufactured
in Japan. The warp and filling of this fabric are identical in size
and color, and being woven evenly produce a beautiful natural luster.
The weave is smooth and soft in quality. It is dyed in plain colors.
The figured goods are printed in much the same way as calico. It is
used for waists, gowns, and fancy underwear.
=Jersey Cloth.= Silk jersey cloth is popular at present. It is a
knitted silk fabric, not woven, and is generally dyed in plain colors.
It is expensive and is used for women's dresses, wraps, and silk
=Meteor.= Crepe de meteor was originally a trade name for crepe de
chine, but now applied to a fabric which is distinguishable from crepe
=Moire.= Moire is a waved or watered effect produced upon the surface
of various kinds of textile fabrics, especially on grosgrain silk and
woolen moreen. This watered effect is produced by the use of engraved
rollers and high pressure on carded material. The object of developing
upon woven textiles the effect known as moire is the production of a
peculiar luster resulting from the divergent reflection of the light
rays on the material, a divergence brought about by compressing and
flattening the warp and filling threads in places, and so producing a
surface the different parts of which reflect the light differently.
The moire effect may be obtained on silk, worsted, or cotton fabrics,
though it is impossible to develop it on other than a grained or fine
corded weave. The pressure applied to the material being uneven, the
grained surface is flattened in the parts desired. In the Middle Ages
moire was held in high esteem, and continues to enjoy that distinction
down to the present day. It is used for women's dresses, capes, and
for facings, trimmings, etc.
=Mozambique.= Grenadines, with large colored flower designs in relief.
=Organzine.= Silk fabric, made with warp and filling of the same size.
Organzine is the name given the twisted silk thread in Italy, where it
=Panne.= This name is applied to a range of satin-faced velvet or silk
fabrics which show a high luster produced by pressure. The word
panne is the French for plush.
=Peau de Soie.= Literally, skin of silk. A variety of heavy,
soft-finished, plain-colored dress silk, woven with a pattern of fine
close ribs extending weftwise of the fabric. An eight-shaft satin with
one point added to the original spots on the right or left, imparting
to the fabric a somewhat grainy appearance. The best grades of peau de
soie present the same appearance on both sides, being reversible. The
lower grades are finished on one side only.
=Plush.= Long piled fabric of the velvet order. Peluche, the origin
of the name, is French for shaggy.
=Pongee.= Said to be a corruption of Chinese punchi, signifying home
made or home woven. Another suggestion is that the word is a
corruption of pun-shih, a native or wild silk. A soft, unbleached,
washable silk, woven from the cocoons of the wild silkworm, which
feeds on the leaves of the scrub oak. Immense quantities in a raw
state are annually shipped from China to this country and Europe,
where they are bleached, dyed, and ornamented with various styles of
designs. The name is also applied to a variety of dress goods woven
with a wild silk warp and a fine worsted weft.
=Popeline.= A French name. The French fabric is said to have been
first introduced during the early part of the sixteenth century at
Avignon, then a papal diocese, and to have been so called in
compliment to the reigning pope. A fabric constructed with a silk warp
and a filling of wool heavier than the silk which gives it a corded
surface. Poplin manufacture was introduced into Ireland in 1693 by a
colony of fugitive French Huguenots. The industry concentrated at
Dublin, where it has since remained. The Irish product has been
celebrated for its uniformly fine quality. It is always woven on hand
looms, which accounts for the high price it commands in English and
American markets. The wool used is a fine grade of Cape or Australian,
which is the most suitable in texture and length of fiber. The silk is
unweighted Chinese organzine. The result is a rich, handsome fabric
resembling whole silk goods in appearance, but inferior to them in
durability and produced at a much less cost. It is used for ladies'
waists, wraps, and gowns.
=Figured Poplin.= A stout variety, ornamented in the loom with
figures. The ground is composed of clear, sharp cords extending across
the web. It is sometimes woven entirely of silk, but oftener of silk
and wool. Used for high-class upholstery purposes, and for curtains
=Terry Poplin.= A silk and wool dress fabric in the construction of
which the alternate warps are thrown upon the surface in the form of
=Sarsenet.= A thin, soft-finished silk fabric of a veiling kind, now
used as millinery lining. The name comes from the Arab Saracens, who
wore it in their head-dress.
=Satin.= When satin first appeared in trade in Southern Europe it was
called aceytuin. The term slipped through early Italian lips into
zetain, and coming westward the i was dropped, and smoothed itself
into satin. There is evidence that the material was known as early as
the fourteenth century in England, and probably in France and Spain
previous to that time, though under other names.
In the weaving of most silk fabrics the warp and filling intersect
each other every alternate time (as in plain weaving), or every third
or fourth time (as in ordinary twill weaving) in regular order; but in
weaving satin the fine silk warp only appears upon the surface, the
filling being effectually covered up and hidden. Instead of making the
warp pass under and over the filling every alternate time, or over two
or three filling threads in regular order, it is made to pass over
eight, ten, twelve or more filling threads; then under one and over
eight more, and so on. In passing over the filling, however, the warps
do not interweave at regular intervals, which would produce a twill,
but at irregular intervals, thus producing an even, close, smooth
surface, and one capable of reflecting the light to the best
advantage. The filling of low grade satin is generally cotton, while
in the better goods it is silk. Common satin is what is technically
known as an eight-leaf twill, the order in which the filling thread
rises being once in eight times. Rich satins may consist of
sixteen-leaf to twenty-leaf twills. The cheap qualities of cotton-back
satin, particularly those that sell at wholesale for fifty cents and
under, are not made to any extent in this country, our manufacturers
being unable to compete with foreign mills in these lines.
Satins are woven with the face downward, because in weaving, say a
sixteen-leaf satin, it would be necessary, were the surface upward, to
keep fifteen heddles raised and one down, whereas with the face of
the cloth under, only one heddle has to be raised at a time. When
first taken from the loom the face of satin is somewhat flossy and
rough, and hence requires to be dressed. This operation consists of
passing the pieces over heated metal cylinders which remove the minute
fibrous ends, and also increase the natural brilliance of the silk.
Cotton-back satins are used by coffin manufacturers, fancy box makers,
fan makers, and by the cutting-up trade. Rich satins are used in
making ladies' gowns and waists.
=Soleil.= Satin-faced cloth, woven with a fine line, a stripe running
lengthwise of the piece. It is usually made in solid colors and piece
dyed. Soleil is French for sun, and applies to the brightness of the
=Taffeta.= Derived from Persian taftah. Taffeta is one of the oldest
weaves known, silk under this name having been in constant use since
the fourteenth century. During this long period the term has been
applied at different times to different materials. It is a thin,
glossy silk of plain texture or woven in lines so fine as to appear
plain woven. The weave is capable of many effects in the way of shot
and changeable arrangements, which are produced by threads of
different colors rather than by any special disposition of warp and
filling. Taffeta has the same appearance on both sides. It is piece
dyed in numberless plain colors, and also produced in a great variety
of ornamental patterns, such as fancy plaids, cords, and stripes (both
printed and woven). The following considerations contribute chiefly
to the perfection of taffetas, viz.: the silk, the water, and the
fire. The silk must not only be of the finest kind, but it must be
worked a long time before it is used. The watering, which is given
lightly by any acidulous fluid, is intended to produce the fine
luster, and lastly, the fire and pressure which have a particular
manner of application. Its wearing qualities are not of the best. The
cloth cracks or breaks, especially if plaited. It is used for gowns,
shirtwaists, linings, petticoats, etc.
=Tulle.= Openwork silk net; made on the pillow as lace by young women
of Tulle, France.
=Velour.= French for velvet. A trade term of somewhat loose
application, being used indiscriminately to describe a great variety
of textures so constructed or finished as to present a velvet-like
surface. It is usually a velvety fabric made of coarse wool yarn and
silk. Velour is woven with a coarse stiff pile after the manner of
plush; while at present it is made of jute, cotton, and worsted, it
was originally constructed of linen. It is produced in numberless
forms, both plain and in fancy effects.
=Velvet.= From the Italian velluto, feeling woolly to the touch, as
a woolly pelt or hide. Fine velvet is made wholly of silk.
=Velveteen.= An imitation velvet, made of cotton, usually with plain
back, not twilled, as silk velvet.
=Tabby Velvet.= The lowest grade of cotton velvet, used for covering
cheap coffin lining cases, sold by the inch in widths which range from
sixteen to thirty-two inches. Originally made in Bagdad for wall
covering, its name being derived from a section of that city.
=Voile.= From the French voile, meaning a veil, a light fabric
usually more or less transparent, intended to conceal the features in
whole or in part or to serve as a screen against sunlight, dust,
insects, etc., or to emphasize or preserve the beauty. The custom of
wearing veils had its origin in the early ages in the desire of
semi-savage man to hide away the woman of his choice, and is a
survival of the ancient custom of hiding women that is found even down
to the present day in Eastern countries. Voile is a transparent, wiry
material with a square mesh.