Decorative needlework in which pieces of fabric, embroidery, or other materials are sewn onto another piece of fabric used as a ground to create designs or patterns.


Fibre fabric made from sections of the inner bark of certain trees and shrubs, in particular the wild fig, the paper mulberry and the breadfruit tree. They are soaked or boiled to soften the fibre, and then beaten to make a flat coherent fabric. The making and use of barkcloth has wide distribution through the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Southeast Asia, the islands of the Pacific (Oceania), and the Americas. The use of the term tapa refers specifically to the barkcloth made in Oceania.

   Bizarre silk

Textile style originating in France in 1680 and introduced in England in 1706 by James Leman, who was then an apprentice weaver in Spitalfields. Both rich and fantastical, the pattern combines variations of scale and juxtaposes both strange and familiar motifs, often inspired by chinoiserie and japonaiserie.


Term commonly used for any rich figured textile or any textile with a woven pattern in gold or silver. The technical term is brocading weft, which refers to a figured textile with an additional weft whose movement is limited to the width of the design it produces.


Lampas-woven textile with silk warps that is characterised by a marked relief of the warp-faced weave. This results from the use of coarse linen ground weft and silk pattern wefts, and the appropriate tensions for warps and wefts.


Taffeta in cotton with a printed pattern. Originating in Calicut, India in the eleventh century, they became fashionable in Europe in the eighteenth century and therefore an important commodity for trade.


Weave with transverse ribs formed by warp floats.


Outermost, sleeveless liturgical vestment.

   Chiné à la branche

Eighteenth century silk textile with polychrome patterns on the warp produced by the ikat process.


See definition of velvet.


Silk yarn and, by extension the textile itself, made by doubling several grège threads - a silk that has been particularly treated - and thrown to the maximum.


Long-sleeved liturgical vestment.


Figured textile with a warp and a weft in which the pattern is formed by a contrast of binding systems. In its classic form, it is reversible, and the contrast is produced by the use of the warp and weft faces of the same weave.


Decorative needlework using a large variety of stitches applied to a pre-existing ground fabric. Generally characterised into different styles according to the distinctive qualities of texture, design and colour.


General term for any cloth-like material made for use as clothing, hangings, coverings. It equally applies to woven (textiles), interworked (lace, knitting, crochet) and felted (barkcloth, felt or paper) materials.


Any substance composed of thread-like tissue whether animal, vegetable, or mineral, especially when capable of being spun or woven.


Term used technically to designate weaves or textiles in which one or more of the warps are controlled by a figure harness.


Segment of end or pick which crosses at least two yarns between points of binding.


Rest-dyeing process by which a pattern is left on the warp, or the weft, or both, before weaving. Bindings, which resist dye penetration, are applied to the threads before they are dyed. Originating in Indonesia and Malaysia, it is now widely accepted as a general technical meaning.


Figured textile in which a pattern, composed of weft floats bound by a binding warp, is added to a ground fabric formed by a main warp and a main weft.


Thread or cloth made from flax.


Liturgical vestment that hangs from the left arm.

   Metal thread

Kind of threads composed in part or entirely of metallic materials. It includes particular forms, such as filé, frisé, gilt leather or membrane strip, gilt paper strip, lamella, wire.


Rippled or watered effect produced by pressing certain warp rib fabrics in such a way as to flatten parts of the ribs and leave the rest in relief so that the flattened and unflattened parts reflect the light differently.


Decorative needlework that encompasses tassels, fringes, ornamental cords, galloons, pompons, rosettes, and gimps.


Arrangement of motifs in the ornamentation of a textile.


Single passage of the shuttle through the shed.


Ribbed effects, either transverse of longitudinal.


Binding system or weave based on a unit of five of more ends, and a number of picks equal to, or a multiple of, the number of ends. Each end either passes over four of more adjacent picks and under the next one, or passes under four or more adjacent picks and over the next one. They can be regular or irregular according to the spacing of the points of binding.

   Selvage or selvedge

Longitudinal edge of a textile distinguished by warp ends.


Opening in the warp that permits the passage of the shuttle and thereby the pick.


Continuous filament secreted by various insects, especially larvae of the caterpillar Bombyx mori known as the silkworm. By extension, thread and textile woven of silk.


Binding system or weave based on a unit of two ends and two picks, in which each end passes over one and under one pick, the points of binding being set over one end on successive picks. It is also known as tabby.


Weave with a warp, and a weft composed of threads of different colours, each of which is interwoven only with that part of the warp where it is required by the pattern. Thus each colour area is formed by a continuous thread that is carried back and forth until it is completed.


Woven fabric that is constructed by the crossing of a warp and a weft on a loom.

   'Velours d'Utrecht'

Woollen velvet upon which a pattern is stamped, as opposed to being cut or voided. It was used as a cheap alternative for luxury velvet.


Pile weave in which the pile is produced by a pile warp that, by the introduction of rods during weaving, is raised in loops (which may be subsequently out), above a ground weave. Velvets may be described as solid, when the ground is entirely covered in pile, or voided when areas of the ground are left free of pile. Depending on the nature of the pile, it may also be classified as uncut, when the loops formed by the pile warp are left uncut; cut, when the loops formed by the pile warp are cut; and ciselé, when the pattern is formed by cut and uncut pile.


Longitudinal threads of a textile; those that are arranged on the loom. A single thread of warp is called an end. Alone, the term warp denotes all the warp ends in a textile.


System of interlacing ends and picks on a loom according to the defined rules or binding systems in order to produce all or part of a textile. The basic binding systems are taffeta, twill and satin.


Transverse threads of a textile; those which are passed through the sheds. Alone, the term weft denotes all the picks in a textile.


This glossary quotes extensively from a French dictionary of technical terms first published in 1959 by the Centre International pour l'Étude des Textiles Anciens (CIETA).