Fabric Types & Patterns

If you’ve ever tried to choose a fabric for decorating or interior design, you’ve run across some strange terms –dupioni, chintz and moire – just to name a few...

Barkcloth is a dense cotton weave that has a slightly nubby texture and popular in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Think of a retro, vintage Hawaiian shirt and it will give you an idea of what a bark cloth fabric usually looks like.  It’s currently enjoying a retro resurgence in home textiles.

Batik is a dyed fabric – usually multi-colored such as an Indonesian cotton fabric.  It’s usually reserved for casual, lightweight fabrics for a more tropical or modern decor.

A soft, fuzzy yarn with a pile or nap that can resemble velvet.  It’s usually used in upholstery and is quite durable, but because of the nap, the fabric will eventually show rub marks, using a chenille with a pattern can help hide that issue.


Chintz is a cotton fabric with a high sheen – when you think of an shiny English floral upholstery or drape, usually a chintz comes to mind.  It seems to go in and out of style, and was quite popular in the 80’s, though some find it to be a classic fabric.

Crepe is a lightweight fabric which has a crinkled or crimped surface, usually used in draperies.

Crewel is an embroidery technique that creates a design from stitches in wool yarn, it’s usually less densely decorated than needlepoint and makes a fine fabric for upholstery, drapes or pillow that can go from casual to traditional décor.

A damask is a firm, glossy jacquard-patterned (A jacquard is a double cloth with quilted or puckered surface patterning) fabric, similar to brocade, but flatter and reversible - it can be made from linen, cotton, rayon or silk, or a combination of fibers.

Dupioni is a spun silk fabric with slubs that form interesting textures.  It’s a light weight fabric, perfect for bringing texture into a room in draperies.

A classic, sturdy fabric made from the flax plant which can come in plain or damask weaves.  It’s available in a variety of weights so it can be used for curtains, slipcovers, and upholstery.  It’s best for drapery applications, as it wrinkles easily, unless it’s pretreated.

Mohair is a fabric made from the silky hair of the Angora goat.  Most mohair found in today’s home textiles are Mohair blends, and it makes a wonderful, natural upholstery weight fabric – if you can find it. 

Moire (pronounced mwa) is a fabric with a wavy, almost watery, appearance, caused by varying the tension in the warp and weft of the weave.  It’s usually found in more traditional styles with silks or silk like fabric and can have a shimmery look.  It’s a lightweight fabric best for draperies and very light upholstery use.

A distinctive printed pattern originating in India. Paisley comes in a multitude of shapes, designs and colors and is known for colorful swirls of curved shapes.

Tapestry is a very heavy fabric woven into detailed historical scenes and can resemble embroidery.  It’s most often used on pillows and smaller upholstered furniture and tends to have a traditional, formal look.

Toile is a timeless, classic print with a pattern that is traditionally a one-color pastoral scene that tells a story.  It’s made in all types of weights from upholstery weight to lighter weight fabrics and makes lovely upholstery for an accent piece, drapes or even a wall covering.  Toile has been around for centuries and has been extremely popular in cottage décor, but can go to a more formal, traditional room quite easily.