Glossary of Fabric Uses

Choosing fabric for interior design is part of the fun of budget makeovers and choosing decor.  Some of the terms you may come across...

Fiberfill, cotton, wool, or other material that is flattened and usually on a roll and purchased in precut lengths or by the yard.

Refers to a fabric in poor condition which would only be useful when cut into pieces for use in quilting or appliqué or smaller projects.

The face of a fabric is the front or finished side which is the side meant to be seen.

The direction of the fibers in a fabric. A lengthwise grain runs parallel to the selvage with little give. Crosswise grain has more give and is perpendicular to the selvage.

Hand refers to the way a fabric feels and drapes.  It not only takes into account the weight of the fabric, but how it looks and lays.

A fold in fabric that is either inverted or folded outward, it is not sewn except on the top edge and provides decorative or functional fullness.

Railroaded Fabric
The fabric is woven ‘sideways’ so that the pattern or grain is situated so that the top would be from one side of the fabric and the bottom the other side.   It’s particularly useful for upholstery fabric for couches. Some fabrics can be railroaded even if they are not specifically woven that way. A plain tweed, cotton, leather and some geometric patterns may not have an "up" or "down".

The "repeat" of a pattern is the distance between any given point in a design to where that exact point is repeated again.  When choosing upholstery patterns, the repeat is going to be important as you don’t want the pattern cut off in an obtrusive way.

In a woven fabric, the selvage (or selvedge) is the uncut edge of the fabric which is on the right and left hand edges as it comes out of the loom.  It usually is bound so the fabric does not fray.  You can usually find the manufacturer’s information printed on the selvedge.  It  may also have color dots which show the colors used in the fabric and lines to indicate the repeat of a print on the fabric.

Warp & Weft
The lengthwise (warp) threads in a woven fabric that are interwoven with the fill (weft) yarns.