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Bed Linen Glossary

 

Terminology

Absorption

The attraction and retention of gases or liquids within the pores of a fibre.

Baffle wall

A thin fabric 'wall' sewn between the top and bottom layers of a comforter shell. These vertical walls create a deeper interior of the comforter, allowing the down to loft more, and permitting the down to "touch" along the wall lines.

Batiste

Named after French weaver Jean Batiste, this is a very fine 'plain weave' using only combed cotton yarns and given a mercerised finish.

Breathability

Down has a remarkable ability to wick away moisture. It allows water vapour to pass right through it, keeping the sleeper comfortable, with none of the clamminess that is often felt with synthetics.

Calendarising

A process of passing fabric between rollers under heat and pressure to give it a shine. Makes the fabric more down proof.

Cambric

A closely woven, cotton fabric finished with a slight gloss on one side. Usually this is the most common down proof fabric.

Cassette construction

Individual square pockets are created in the duvet casing to ensure that the fill is evenly distributed and remains that way.

Cleanliness

High quality downs are carefully washed, rinsed and dried, using machinery developed for this specific purpose. Special sanitizing processes are used to ensure the down is.

Cling

Eiderdown is the only down where cling is specific to its species. Other downs must be very mature to develop this trait. Tiny hooks develop as the down matures and these hooks cause down clusters to cling together giving a more even layer of insulation.

Combed cotton

Cotton that has had the short fibres and impurities removed. It is a superior process to the more common treatment called 'carding' because the yarns have fewer fibres projecting from them.

Combing

A process by which natural fibres are sorted and straightened; a more refined treatment than carding.

Comforter

A comforter is a type of bedding - a soft flat bag used on a bed as a type of bed cover. It is filled with either an artificial material (such as polyester batting) or a natural material. A comforter usually doesn't cover the pillows or box spring of the bed.

Cotton types

Cotton is the fibre from the seedpod of the cotton plant. The quality of cotton depends mostly on the length of the fibre, with a longer fibre being better.

Damask

Damask is a fabric of silk, wool, linen, cotton, or synthetic fibres, with a pattern formed by weaving. The term originally referred to ornamental silk fabrics from Damascus, which were elaborately woven in colours, sometimes with the addition of gold and other metallic threads.

Density

This describes how dense the fibres of down are at its centre. The denser the down, the better it traps air, and the better insulator it is. High density is found only in very mature downs.

Dobby weave

A decorative weave, characterized by small figures, usually geometric, that are woven into the fabric structure. Dobbies may be of any weight or compactness, with yarns ranging from very fine to coarse and fluffy. Standard dobby fabrics are usually flat and relatively fine or sheer.

Dotted swiss

A sheer, crisp cotton fabric with either clipped spot or swivel dots.

Down cluster

The group of components: down, nestling down, and plumule. (Down fibre and other components are specifically excluded)

Down fibre

The tiny strands that used to be attached to a down cluster but that are present in the mixture. Down fibres are not counted towards the total "Down" percentage. Down fibres are parts of the down cluster that have come away from the cluster point.

Down proof

Fabric that is down proof (lower air permeability means more down proof) will not leak or bleed feathers and down from the inside. Lower thread count fabrics may be treated with starch sizing to make them 'down proof,' as well.

Dupioni silk

Dupioni Silk (meaning double) is produced when two or more silkworms spin their cocoons closely together.

Duvet

A duvet (pronounced /du:vei) is a type of bedding. A soft flat bag traditionally filled with down or feathers, or a combination of both and used on a bed as a blanket.

Eiderdown

Eiderdown comes from the Eider duck, and is considered to be the finest quality of all downs. It is also the most expensive. This down is unique in that it clings to itself, resulting in superior insulating power. The Eider duck is a protected migratory species.

Embroidery

Ornamental needlework on fabric either by hand or by machine. Fabric forward law Where the fabric is woven has to be indicated on the law label. So if the fibre is woven in China then that is what has to show on the law label.

Fill power

The ability of down to regain its shape when pressure is released. The higher the fill power number, the greater the insulating value of the down.

Flannel

Plain or twill woven cotton or wool fabric that has a surface with a napped finish. The cloth must be made from cotton with a fibre long enough to hold in the yarn, otherwise, the fibres will shed from the flannel or pill into little balls on the surface.

Gussets

The side "walls" along the perimeter of a pillow or duvet. Generally provides no functional benefit; just an aesthetic enhancement of the product.

Hand

The "feel" of a fabric.

Hypo-allergenic

A fibre or material is deemed hypo-allergenic if it has undergone a process that makes it less likely to cause an allergic reaction.

Jacquard

This decorative weaving technique was invented by Joseph Jacquard in 1804. A special loom is used to weave a non-linear pattern directly into the fabric; usually a design or shape such as a flower.

Loft

Loft is the number of cubic inches one ounce of down will fill under specific conditions: The larger, more mature the bird, the higher the loft of its down. A loft test is done in a Plexiglas cylinder of a standard size, under exacting conditions of specific temperature and humidity.

Madras

A finely woven, soft plain or Jacquard weave fabric with a strip in the lengthwise direction and Jacquard or dobby patterns woven in the background.

Mercerise

A finishing process for combed cotton that increases the fibre's lustre and affinity for dyes.

Microfibre

Microfibre is a specially light and fine polyester fibre that's air-blown into the duvet casing for good loft and softness. It is designed to emulate the characteristics and feel of down. Microfibre duvets are generally a little more expensive than those made of other types of polyester.

Piece dyed

The fabric as a whole is coloured as a whole after weaving.

Pima cotton

Pima cotton is a grade of cotton, so named because it is traditionally grown in the southwest United States by Pima Indians. U.S. Pima cotton fibre is among the longest in the world, with an average length over 1-7/16". Its long fibres provide much of its strength.

Piping

A thin tube of fabric that is used to ornament pillows and duvets. Can be made of any variety of fabric types.

Polyester

Polyester is a category of polymers, or, more specifically condensation polymers, which contain the ester functional group in their main chain. Usually, polyester refers to cloth woven from polyester fibre. Polyester clothing is generally considered to have a "less natural" feeling to it.

Sateen

A cotton or spun-yard fabric characterised by floats running in the filling direction. Usually is mercerised and has a shine from the finishing process.

Synthetic fibre

A man-made fibre made from chemicals that were never fibrous in form.

The all seasons duvet

If you are unsure of which duvet warmth duvet will suffice for an entire year you may want to think about is the All Seasons duvet. As the name implies, this duvet is manufactured to be suitable for all seasons throughout the year. It consists of a 4.5 tog duvet (Summer) and a 9.0 tog duvet (Spring).

Thread count

Measured by adding the number of warp ends per inch and filling picks per inch in the woven fabric. The higher the number, the more dense the yarns are packed together. Unfortunately thread count has come to be the major determinant of quality in the customer's eyes.

Warp

The yarns that run the length of the loom. The warp yarns are pulled through the loom as the weft or filling yarns are woven across the warp to make the fabric.

Weaving

Weaving is an ancient art of making fabric, with no new types of weaves having been developed since 1747. The warp yarns and weft yarns are interlaced (woven) with each other to make a fabric (vs. a knit where the yarns are looped together).

Weft

The yarns that are woven across the loom. The individual yarns are also known as picks.

Wick

The property of a fibre that allows moisture to move rapidly along the fibre surface and pass quickly through the fabric.

Yarn dyed

The individual yarns are coloured as a whole before weaving.