Poplin, also called tabinet (or tabbinet), is a strong fabric in
a plain weave of any fiber or blend, with crosswise ribs that
typically gives a corded surface.
Poplin traditionally consisted of a silk warp with a weft of
worsted yarn. In this case, as the weft is in the form of a
stout cord the fabric has a ridged structure, like rep, which
gave depth and softness to the lustre of the silky surface.
The ribs run across the fabric from selvage to selvage.
Poplin is now made with wool, cotton, silk, rayon, polyester
or a mixture of these. Being a plain under/over weave, if the
weft and warp threads are of the same material and size, the
effect is a plain woven surface with no ribbing. Shirts made
from this material are easy to iron and do not wrinkle easily.
Poplins are used for dress purposes, and for rich upholstery
work which are formed by using coarse filling yarns in a
The term poplin originates from papelino,
a fabric made at Avignon, France, in the
15th century, named for the papal (pope's)
residence there, and from the French
papelaine a fabric, normally made with
silk, of the same period.
Common usage of poplin until about the
20th century was to make silk, cotton or
heavy weight wool dresses, suitable for
winter wear. Poplin was also a popular
grape vines from
the Museo de
Arte Popular in
Cambric or batiste, one of the finest and most
dense kinds of cloth, is a lightweight plain-weave
cloth, originally from the French commune of
Cambrai, woven in greige, then bleached, piece-
dyed and often glazed or calendered. Initially it
was made of linen; later, the term came to be
applied to cotton fabrics as well.
Cambric is used for linens, shirtings, hand
kerchieves and as fabric for lace and needlework.
Cambric was originally a kind of fine white plain-weave linen cloth
made at or near Cambrai. The word comes from Kameryk or
Kamerijk, the Flemish name of Cambrai, which became part of
France in 1677.
The alleged invention of the fabric, around 1300, by a weaver called
Baptiste or Jean-Baptiste Cambray or Chambray, from the village of
Castaing in the peerage of Marcoing, near Cambrai, has no historic
Cambric was a finer quality and more expensive than lawn (from the
French laune, initially a plain-weave linen fabric from the city of Laon
in France. Denoting a geographic origin from the city of Cambrai or
its surroundings (Cambresis in French), cambric is an exact
equivalent of the French cambrésine a very fine, almost sheer white
linen plain-weave fabric, to be distinguished from cambrasine, a
fabric comparable to the French lawn despite its foreign origin.
White linen cambric or batiste from Cambrai, noted for its weight and luster,
was "preferred for ecclesiastical wear, fine shirts, underwear, shirt frills, cravats,
collars and cuffs, handkerchiefs, and infant wear". Technical use sometime
introduced a difference between cambric and batiste, the latter being of a lighter
weight and a finer thread count. Chambray, though the same type of fabric, had
a coloured warp and a white weft, though it could be "made from any colour as
you may wish, in the warp, and also in the filling; only have them differ from
In the 18th century, after the prohibition of imports in England of French
cambrics, with the development of the import of Indian cotton fabrics, similar
cotton fabrics, such as nainsook, from the Hindi nainsukh ("eyes' delight"),
became popular. These fabrics, initially called Scotch cambrics to distinguish
them from the original French cambrics, came to be referred to as cotton
cambrics or batistes. Some authors increased the confusion with the
assumption the word batiste could come from the Indian fabric bastas.
In the 19th century, the terms cambric and batiste
gradually lost their association with linen, implying only
different kind of fine plain-weave fabrics with a glossy
finish. In 1907, a fine cotton batist had 100 ends per
inch in the finished fabric, while a cheap-grade, less
than 60. At the same time, with development of an
interest in coloured shirts, cambric was also woven in
colours, such as the pink fabric used by Charvet for a
corsage, reducing the difference between cambric and
chambray. Moreover, the development and
rationalization of mechanical weaving led to the
replacement, for chambray, of coloured warp and white
weft by the opposite, white warp and coloured weft,
which allowed for longer warps.
The English folk song ballad Scarborough
Fair has the lyric in the second verse
"Tell her to make me a cambric shirt, /
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme / Sewn
without seams or fine needlework, / If she
would be a true love of mine." It also
appears in the David Bowie song, Come
And Buy My Toys ... "You shall own a
cambric shirt, you shall work your father's
Charvet corsage in
pink cambric (1898).
Voile is a soft, sheer fabric, usually made of 100% cotton or
cotton blends including linen or polyester. The term comes
from French, and means veil. Because of its light weight, the
fabric is mostly used in soft furnishing. In hot countries, voile
is used as window treatments and mosquito nets. When used
as curtain material, voile is similar to net curtains.
Voiles are available in a range of patterns and colours (unlike
net curtains, which are generally white or off-white). Because
of their semitransparent quality, voile curtains are made using
specially manufactured heading tape that is less easily
noticeable through the fabric. Voile fabric is also used in
dress-making, either in multiple layers or laid over a second
material. Voile is very similar to chiffon, which is also used in
Light penetrating sheer fabrics include muslin, voile,
and lace. These can be broadly divided into two groups
based on method of production. The first are the
natural fibers such as cotton and silk. The second group
is prepared from a man-made fiber. This kind of
synthetic sheer is extracted from raw material such as
wood pulp or petroleum. They are robust and sturdy yet
still delicate looking and tend to take dye well. They
are often used as window dressing as they fall into soft
folds that make attractive scarf swags.
Large brocade loom, Nanjing, China, 2010
Brocade is a class of richly decorative shuttle-woven fabrics,
often made in colored silks and with or without gold and silver
threads. The name, related to the same root as the word
"broccoli", comes from Italian broccato meaning "embossed
cloth", originally past participle of the verb broccare "to stud, set
with nails", from brocco, "small nail", from Latin broccus,
Brocade is typically woven on a draw loom. It is a supplementary
weft technique; that is, the ornamental brocading is produced by
a supplementary, non-structural, weft in addition to the standard
weft that holds the warp threads together. The purpose of this is
to give the appearance that the weave was actually embroidered
In Guatemala, brocade is the most popular technique used to
decorate fabric woven by Maya weavers on backstrap looms.
Ornamental features in brocade are emphasized and wrought
as additions to the main fabric, sometimes stiffening it, though
more frequently producing on its face the effect of low relief.
In some, but not all, brocades, these additions present a
distinctive appearance on the back of the material where the
supplementary weft or floating threads of the brocaded or
broached parts hang in loose groups or are clipped away.
When the weft is floating on the back, this is known as a
continuous brocade; the supplementary weft runs from
selvage to selvage. The yarns are cut away in cutwork and
broché. Also, a discontinuous brocade is where the
supplementary yarn is only woven in the patterned areas.
Brocade fabrics are used in modern times mostly for upholstery and
draperies. They are also used for evening and formal clothing, for
vestments, as well as for costumes. The use of precious and
semiprecious stones in the adornment of brocades is not common but has
been replaced with the use of sequins and beading as decoration.
Brocade fabrics are now largely woven on a Jacquard loom that is able to
create many complex tapestry-like designs using the jacquard technique.
Although many brocade fabrics look like tapestries and are advertised by
some fashion promotions as such, they are not to be confused with true
tapestries. Patterns such as brocade, brocatelle, damask and tapestry-
like fabrics are known as jacquard patterns.
Silk brocade fabric, Lyon, France, 1760-1770.
Lacrocade, Russia, early 18th century
Detail of hairsash being brocaded
on a Jakaltek Maya backstrap
Persian Silk Brocade, Brocade weaver: Master Seyyed Hossein Mozhgani.
1974 A.D. the Ministry of Culture and Art .
Honarhaye Ziba workshop.
Canvas is an extremely durable plain-woven fabric used for
making sails, tents, marquees, backpacks, and other items
for which sturdiness is required. It is also popularly used by
artists as a painting surface, typically stretched across a
wooden frame. It is also used in such fashion objects as
handbags, electronic device cases and shoes.
Modern canvas is usually made of cotton or linen, although
historically it was made from hemp. It differs from other
heavy cotton fabrics, such as denim, in being plain weave
rather than twill weave. Canvas comes in two basic types:
plain and duck. The threads in duck canvas are more tightly
woven. The term duck comes from the Dutch word for cloth,
doek. In the United States, canvas is classified in two ways:
by weight (ounces per square yard) and by a graded number
system. The numbers run in reverse of the weight so a
number 10 canvas is lighter than number 4.
Canvas has become the most common support
medium for oil painting, replacing wooden panels.
One of the earliest surviving oils on canvas is a
French Madonna with angels from around 1410 in
the Gemäl de galerie, Berlin.
Early canvas was made of linen, a sturdy
brownish fabric of considerable strength. Linen is
particularly suitable for the use of oil paint. In the
early 20th century, cotton canvas, often referred to
as "cotton duck," came into use.
Canvas is a popular base fabric for
embroidery such as cross-stitch and Berlin
wool work. Some specific types of
embroidery canvases are Aida cloth (also
called Java canvas, Penelope canvas, Chess
canvas, and Binca canvas. Plastic canvas is
a stiffer form of Binca canvas.
Crêpe or crape (anglicized versions of the
Fr. crêpe) is a silk, wool, or synthetic fiber
fabric with a distinctively crisp, crimped
appearance. The term crape typically
refers to a form of the fabric associated
specifically with mourning, also
historically called crespe or crisp.
There are more than 30 types available!
Woman's mourning bonnet
in hard crape, c.1880
Detail of an aerophane dress,
Georgette is a sheer, lightweight, dull-finished crêpe
fabric named after the early 20th century French
dressmaker Georgette de la Plante.
Originally made from silk, Georgette is made with
highly twisted yarns. Its characteristic crinkly surface is
created by alternating S- and Z-twist yarns in both warp
Georgette is made in solid colors and prints and is used
for blouses, dresses, evening gowns, saris, and
trimmings. It is springier and less lustrous than the
closely related chiffon.
English pronunciation shiff-ON, (from the
French word for a cloth or rag) is a
lightweight, balanced plain-woven sheer fabric
woven of alternate S- and Z-twist crepe (high-
twist) yarns. The twist in the crepe yarns
puckers the fabric slightly in both directions
after weaving, giving it some stretch and a
slightly rough feel.
Chiffon is made from cotton, silk, or synthetic fibers. Under a
magnifying glass it resembles a fine net or mesh which gives
chiffon some see-through properties. Chiffon made from natural
fibers can be dyed to almost any shade, but chiffon made from
polyester requires specialized disperse dyes.
When sewing chiffon, many crafters layer tissue paper in
between the two pieces being sewn together. The tissue paper
helps keep the fabric together, with the rough surface of the
tissue holding the chiffon in place while it is handled. After
sewing, the tissue paper can be carefully ripped out. Chiffon is
also pinnable, as it will spring back, concealing pin marks. As a
general rule, sewers are advised to work slowly and steadily with
this fabric, taking care not to run it through a sewing machine too
quickly lest it bunch and gather.
Chiffon is most commonly used in evening wear,
especially as an overlay, for giving an elegant and
floating appearance to the gown. It is also a popular
fabric used in blouses, ribbons, scarves and lingerie.
Like other crêpe fabrics, chiffon can be difficult to
work with because of its light and slippery texture.
Due to this delicate nature, chiffon must be hand
washed very gently.
Since chiffon is a light-weight fabric that frays very
easily, bound or French seams must be used to stop
the fabric from fraying. Chiffon is smoother and more
lustrous than the similar fabric georgette. Chiffon is
also known as a very light pink.
The American actress Lillian Gish in morning dress in
chiffon and lace in 1922
Coat and skirt street suit of gray chiffon broadcloth
with embroidery and lace decoration (1905)