NOTE: TERMS LABELED “MEDIEVAL” ARE FROM 900 TO 1600 AD. I have not verified their use in later eras. These are only very short descriptions that I found doing research in many different books. I don’t guarantee that you will find the same definitions in different books. I don’t guarantee these were used in all countries every year by every person. Do NOT use these as the “word of God”….do your own research…..my own fallibility in transcription and interpretation is well proven!
ACORDILANTI, acordorati, acordolati: Medieval__ribbed fabric produced by combining varied proportions of fine linen and heavier cotton threads in the warp; thinner even weft cotton made a fabric with ribs running the length. Single, double or triple cords: Milan…single-ribbed cloth (con una corda) had a ratio of 12 linen to every 3 cotton warp: double had 12 linen to 2 cotton warps and was called acordorati zermelli. Dense and thickly woven acordorati spessi had a ratio of 8 linen to 4 cotton warps. Cords could be woven into other cotton cloth types also. (17)
ACTABI: Medieval__the name is an early form of tabby, probably a warp-faced tabby or extended tabby; same warp count and dimensions as heavy satin: 73 warp per cm, 59 cm wide. (7)
AMBRESINE: Medieval__heavy cloth of cotton and hemp. (17)
ARRAS: Medieval__the name of a well-known cloth producing town in the Low Countries in the middle ages….the cloth imported to Poland from Artois late 14c.: cheap, coarse 1/6 to 1/7th the cost of good quality and 1/10th the cost of Bruges broadcloth. (20)
ARMENTIERES OULTREFFINS: Medieval__fine woolen, 1.5 lb./sq. yard, about 1350 (20)
ASTRAKHAN: Originally the skins of very young lambs from Astrakhan, Russia, of which muffs, collars, and coats were made.
Late 1800s through present day, there has been made an imitation of this fur using wool or silk (1800s – 1960 or so) with cotton, and polyester and other manmade fibers being used now.
Used for outer garments… coats, capes, etc…. and as trimming; lining; for hats, collars, muffs and scarves. Presently it seems to be called Persian Lamb too. . There are still coats in Thrift Shops and vintage clothing shops that were popular through the 50s.
A dictionary of fabric terms from 1923 says:”A woolen or silk material of considerable warmth having a long, closely curled pile that imitates the fur of the real astrakhan lamb.”
ATLAS: Medieval__silk satin; manufactured in western Europe in considerable quantities in the 1600s; Florentine atlas was acquired in Vienna; some variants from Turkey and Persia. (10)
1882: “The German, Dutch, Russian, Polish, and Danish for satin is atlas, and the Swedish atlask; but a silk stuff wrought with threads of gold and silver, and known by this name, was at one time imported from India.” (3)
BAGAZIA: Medieval__cotton fabric of varying quality used for dresses, linings, furnishing, bedding and side panels of decorated tents; first mention Hungarian 1544. (10)
BAGAZUA PATYOLAT: Medieval__probably the first variety of the above. (10)
BALDACHINI ACCOLORATI: Medieval__from Lucca 1376; colored or polychrome baudekins, about 45″ wide; figured textiles of colored silk as well as gold and silver membrane; all of the 118 cm wide of this type had 1750 dents with 3 main warp and 1 binding warp per dent; at least 45 main warps per cm and 15 binding warps per cm. These could also be woven 59 cm wide not including selvedges, with 40.5 main warps per cm and 13.5 binding warps per cm. (7)
BALDACHINI RIFESSI: Medieval__Lucca 1376; divided baudekins …see above. (7)
BALDACHINI STRECTI: Medieval__Lucca 1376: narrow baudekins …see above. (7)
BANERIE OF MILAN: Medieval__thick cotton fabrics with a napped surface. (17)
BARRACANO, BARACAME, BOURACAN, BARRACAN, BARRAGAN: Medieval__derived from the Arabic barrakan which denoted both coarse woollen and heavy cotton stuffs. In Venice: sailcloth. (17)
BARRAGAN: Medieval__ a cotton cloth used for stockings “Chau ceii fu d’un barragan et d’un sollers de cordoan.” (11)
BASKET WEAVE: A weave in material made by crossing two or more warps with the same number of fillings each time. Sometimes used as a foundation for embroidery because of the regularity of the weave.
BAUDEKIN, BALDAKIN: Medieval__1293; (baldacco…Italian: made in Baghdad) later usage for a special fabric made in Italy which might have been termed “half-silk” …silk ground over linen or hemp in one warp system. (9)
BAVELLINA: Medieval__fabrics made with waste silk (18)
BAYS (BAYES, BAIES, BAIZE): Medieval__pre-1600, probably mid-1550s there is a rhyme about bays placing them in the 1530s; weighed half as much or less,, as broadcloth and woolens; had a warp of combed wool and weft of carded wool. (20) The Burghly papers of 1578 list double bays weighing .36 lb./sq. yd, and single bays weighing .22 lb./sq. yd. (12) A MS dealing with customs in 1592 notes Flemish Baies for last the 25 years sold by Flemish ells (=3/4 of an English yard…37 inches): 3 sorts, the finest = 80 Bayes; medium= 60 Bayes; worst= 40 or ordinary Bayes. The number referred to the number of threads used. 80 Bayes was also called double and 40 Bayes was called single. (2) In a MS in the Lansdown Collection, dated 1592, gives: Bayes, double, weight about 32 lbs. valued at L 4 ; Bayes, middle or 60 Bayes, about 30 lbs. ; Bayes single, weight about 26 lbs. valued at L 2 . (3)
BIFFES, ARRAS: Medieval__an Arras biffe was 40 ells (28 m) long when finished and was to weigh just 30 lbs.; the weight required for Arras “grands draps” was in the limits for cheap “light” cloths. In 1300 it was to be 52 ells long by 7 quarters yard wide and up to 2800 warps, which was similar to Arras says, and was to weigh .79 lbs. per sq. yd. . In 1333, the requirements were 50 ells long by 7.5 quarters wide and weighing about .28 lbs. per sq. yard. (11)
BIGELLO: Medieval__a type of thick, coarse woollen; shaggy , uncut nap on one side; called “friez” in English. (8)
BIGELLA: Medieval__a somewhat finer cloth than bigello; made of Spanish or African wool, generally called lanuda garba. (Merchant of Prato)
BISIELLO: Medieval__fine linen cloth; could also refer to fine cotton; “byssus” in English; for personal linens like nightgowns and nightshirts. (8)
BOCCARAMO, BUCHERAME: Medieval__ (French…bougran) referred tocotton buckram (17). Apparently a firmly woven material of linen, hemp, or possibly cotton, used for inexpensive garments, linings, and toiles. Probably starched or gummed when used for stiffening collars and sleeves. Also used for stays. (2)
BOILED SILK: Medieval__silk which had been processed in hot water with soap which removed the sericin (18)
BOMBAST: Medieval__cotton wool used for padding ; Elizabethan. (2)
BOMBASINA: Medieval__1293, the Marseilles product was to weigh 16 lbs. with 10 lbs. of Levant cotton in the weft and 6 lbs. Burgundian hemp in the warp. (17)
BONCASSIN: Medieval__seems to be applied to “robust cotton fabric” used for linings. (11)
BROADCLOTH: Medieval__a wide woollen cloth, various widths applied through the period but generally 2 yards wide and made in a wide range of qualities.. An English cloth yard in period is 37 inches. A broadcloth sample found in a document in Toulouse, 1458, had English broadcloth which was woven in tabby, z/s spinning, teaseled both sides and had a thread count of 12-23/12 per cm. It was called “good middle quality”. A fine quality would be 18/18 per cm and above; a coarse quality would be 10/10 per cm and below; a medium quality would be between the two. (6) A short broadcloth would measure 24 yards long and weigh 1.27 to 1.52 lb./sq. yd.(12) In late medieval Flanders a broadcloth measured 32 yd x 2.75 yd, with 36 lb. of warp and 48 lb. of weft. This figures out to be about 15.27 oz/sq.yd. (20) Requirements for width, length, and weight were different depending on: country of manufacture; year of regulation; quality of the broadcloth; application of the regulations; whether the broadcloth was made for export, sale in a large regulated market, sale to private individuals. You can find something to suit everyone 😉
BROCATELLES: Medieval__mixed fabrics with silk warp and weft of waste silk, flax or cotton; imitated brocade (18)
BUCHERAME, BOCCASINO: Medieval__ cotton cloth from Caffa and Trebisone, where Italian colonies were also established (17)
BUCKRAM: Medieval__ “apparently a firmly woven material of linen, hemp or cotton used for inespencive garments, linings and toiles. Probably starched or gummed when used for stiffening collars and sleeves..” (2)
BURATTI, BORATTI: Medieval__mixed cloths…silk warp and wool weft (18)
BURDI: Medieval__a linen and/or hemp or cotton mixed cloth; plain, striped or checked used for mattress ticking; cotton weft only (17)
BUREL: Medieval__1150-55 and 1170, a cheap material; characteristic dress of a monk: “Le cuens Guillaume vesti une gonnela de tel burel come il ot en la terra__”; “Li evens Guillelme….D’un burel gris, n’iert pas de Normandie, fu sa goneie_” (10) Cheaper, coarser and light fabrics about 11 lb per piece: London’s cloth industry 1300 listed these with wadmal (11)
BURRELL: Medieval__material used for gowns, cloaks and safeguards, exact variety unknown, possibly slubbed or lumpy: “…ashe colour silk Burrell.” (2)
CAFFA, CAPHA, CAFAS: Medieval__a kind of course taffata: “2 greate varthingalles 1 of straberry taffeta theother straw color and watchet caffa wit the halfe verthingall belonginge therto.” “one petticoate of purple taffeta or caffe rewide with crimsen and white with a gard of crimsen vellat enbroidered with wilver lace and lyned with orr(enge) taffeta…” (1) CAPHETAN: a kind of coarse, or grosse, taffeta (1611) which may have been woven in Caffa or traded there (2)
CALLCOWE: Medieval__export form the Levant listed in 1586 in the Earl of Leicester’s accounts at 6d per yard; in 1594: “a kirtle of whit Callacowe bounde with riben of our great Warderob” (2)
CAMBRIC, CAMERIKE: Medieval__ fine white linen originally made at Cambrqy in Flanders (2)
CAMELIN: Medieval__a cheap “dry” worsted-type of woolen, later 12th-early 13th c. Flemish (20)
CAMUCHA, CAMACAS: Medieval__a figured silk textile (6)
CANEVAZZE: Medieval__mixed cloths….silk warp, weft of waste silk or flax (18)
CANOVACCIO: Medieval__coarse linen cloth for utilitarian use, from tailor’s fittings to horse covers (8)
CANVAS: Medieval__in English accounts of 1605 this was made of hemp; a coarse material made in several qualities foruse as household linen, hardwearing shirts and doublets, stage costumes, interlining, and stiffening for bodies (2)
CAPISOLI: Medieval__mixed cloth based on waste silk (18)
CERE-CLOTH, CEREMENT, SERE CLOTH: Medieval__Waxed cloth in which to wrap dead bodies or line boxes to prevent moisture; Beck says of Sir Thomas Browne ” in his Hydrotaphia, 1658, describes a dead body ‘sound and handsomely cere-clothed that afeter seventy-eight years was found incorrupted.’ ” (3) Also mentioned in Arnold’s Queen Elizabeth’s Warderobe Unlock’d, having been used to line boxes, especially the one in which the records of the Warderobe was kept. (2)
CHAMLETT, CAMLET: Medieval__(Italian: ciambelloti) probably the name for a ribbed weave, today called repp; silk, camel hair or camel hair and wool were all used to make camlet in the 16th c. (1)
CIGATTONI: Medieval__weft-faced compound twill; allowed a main warp of line or cooked inferior silk or a weft of cooked silk (7)
CSEMELET, CSEMELYET, CHIEMELLET, TSEMEYET, TSIOMOLIET: Medieval__fabric of camel hair or camel hair and silk; “turn of the 15th c” it was frequently used for royal garments for everyday use at the court of Wladislaw II Jagiello. (10)
COGWARE: Medieval__woolen cloth sold to the poor; England 1380, mentioned as exempt from aulnage (cloth regulation and tax) (20)
COTONETA: Medieval__a rough opaque dress material used widely by the lower classes in towns or countryside (17)
COTTON: Medieval__ England produced a wool cloth called “cotton” in the late 1500s (16); cotton was imported from the Levant to England (1586) and is listed in the Wardrobe warrants for lining doublets (1)
COVERTURA: Medieval__Ypres 1350, a very cheap and coarse “dry cloth” (yarns spun with un-greased wool) (20)
CUSACCHI: Medieval__mixed cloths with silk warp and cotton weft, Levantine origin (18) found in a petition of Venice weavers in 1580 (18)
CYPRESS, CYPERS: Medieval__light transparent fabric imported from or through Cyprus; in plain and crepe weaves in both silk and linen; usually white or black but in colors also (2)
DICKEDINNE: Medieval__broadcloth from Ghent, made with the finest English wools; 22.8 yards long by 65 inches wide, warp count 2066 ends, 20.83 ends per inch, 1.67 lbs. per sq. yard. This was very expensice and very good quality. (12)
DIMITY, DIMETO: Medieval__a cotton made in Genoa and widely used for linings (17)
DOBLONI: Medieval__mixed cloths with silk warp and wool weft (18)
DOUKEN: Medieval__Flemish, cheapest, coarsest wool fabrics 1200s (20)
DOZENS: Medieval__12 yards long by 1 yard wide woolen cloth (20)
DOUPPIONI: Also douppione. Douppioni silk is produced when two or more silkworms spin their cocoons too close together and they tangle with each other. This usually produces a rougher, more uneven yarn than a single cocoon of cultivated silk. According to Julie Parker’s
“All About Silk”, this silk is usually reeled (unwound from the cocoon and reeled onto a special holder) and used to make fine or heavy yarns with pronounced irregular slubs at random intervals.
The classic douppioni cloth is made with a tight plain weave, fine warp yarns, and heavier, slubbed filling yarns. The fabric is light to medium in weight with a crisp, scrunchy hand, a rough, uneven texture and a dull luster. It is usually dyed brilliant colors and is often iridescent but may also be natural or bleached white.
The first mention I have found in my several books is in 1972. Which only means that it was in the books at that time.
The warp is a reeled silk and the weft is a reeled silk…..the warp without slubs in most cases. Usually, for the main part, the warp and weft are about the same thickness, resulting in a taffeta. (with slubs in the weft). The taffeta can be very fine, like a “paper/rustling taffeta” or can be a medium weight. This fabric is on the stiffer side and should be used for “structured” garments, not for flowing, soft looks. It is said to have a “crisp hand”. It will take dye well (acid dye) as most cultivated silks will. The raw edges must be finished as it ravels like a house afire.
DRAPERIE OINTE: Medieval__greased drapery: wool cloth, the warp and weft of which was made with fine, short, curly-fibered wools which were oiled or greased to facilitate combing/carding, spinning, weaving and fulling (20)
DRAPERIE SECHE, DROOGE DRAPERIE, DROGHE PLAINELAKENE, ONGESMOUTTE LAKENINDUSTRIE: Medieval__the worsted wool cloth known as “dry drapery”, the warp and weft of which was made with straighter, long-stapled, coarser wools not artificially greased but not thoroughly scoured so that the natural oils were left in the fleece (20)
DRAPERIES LEGERES: Medieval__Flemish rural sayetteries which made cheap, coarse, light cloths: worsteds, serges, etc. (13)
DRAPPI D’ORO ET D’ARIENTO….see baldachini…: Medieval__ cloths of gold and silver (7)
DRAPPARIE PIANE…see taffecta…: Medieval__ non-figured textiles (7)
EENBLUWE: Medieval__Flemish…very coarse worsteds of little value 1320 (20)
FAUDEITS: Medieval__Flemish…also called faldatus; cheapest, coarsest wool fabrics 1200s (20)
FERANDINE: Medieval__mixed cloths with silk warp and wool weft (18)
FOZTAN, FOSZLANY: Medieval__a cotton fabric, Hungarian use of word in 1519 (10)
FRIEZE, FREEZE, FREESE, FFREZE, FRISE, FRYCE: Medieval__ In Beck (3): (Old English: frise; Welsh: ffris- meaning nap of cloth); Edward III, 1376, enacted__no “aulnage duty should be paid on cloth called frize-ware, which be made in England or in Ireland of Irish wool”; 1530, the Privy Purse Expenses of Henry VIII lists “cots of ffreze and for….doubeletts of ffustyn…for Henry Elys, the fawconer.”;1539 inventory: ane goone of freis claith of gold”; 1562 bequest: nightgown of frized cloth furred with lamb.: In Montgomery (19) there is a color plate showing a coarse napped fabric from 1770 labeled “one bale of broad cloth, frized” ; Munro (20): Listed as an inferior cloth or low-priced, mixed woolen-worsted in English customs accounts are panni bastardi, russets, “cottons”, coverlets, friezes, streits, dozens, Welsh & Irish cloths. Walshe frices…an act of 1551 mentioned these as Welsh manufacture: a whole piece, fulled, was 36 yards length, 3/4 yard bredth, and every whole piece weighing 48 lbs. It was evidently made in different qualities: 1502…1 yd cost 6d.; 1618…4.5 yd of “indico fryce” cost 15s.; 1562…bequeathed, one nite gowne of frees, furred with whyte lambe … 16d. (2)
FRIZAL: Medieval__Polish: cheap coarse wool cloth, 14c (10)
FUSTAGNO: Medieval__light to medium cloth; called “fustian” in English’ linen warp, cotton weft; used for clothing by urban woking classes in Europe throughout the Middle Ages; thinner than guarnello (8)
FUSTIAN: (see fustagno above) Medieval__derived from Arabic, originally indicated heavy cotton cloth with linen warp, but was also used generically to mean all cotton cloths (17) ; fustian sof Naples in 1578 weighed .23 lb per sq. yard (12) fustian tunics were worn by French villagers and townsmen in 1210. The costume of knights doing penance (1200)…”bliau z ont de coton”, also 1153-88 there are several references from ecclesiastical sources to “bliauclus fustaneus”, “blialdum de fustiano” (11) FUSTIAN-A-NAPES : fustian of Naples, was apparently made of cotton, or flax mixed with wool, so silky looking it resembled velvet (2) In Norwich, 1554, weavers petitioned to be allowed to call theirs “Norwich fustian”; 12 yd long and half an ell wide in the loom; the spun cotton came from the Turkey Company and was the finest obtainable. Surviving lining fustian in a doublet has a linen warp and cotton weft…16th and early 17th c…; 1576, a dublett of perfumed fustian of our store layed with lase of venice golde and grenesilk lyned with grene taphata sarceonett canvas bumbaste hooks and eyes. (2)
GABARDINE: This is a weave. It is a twill with specific characteristics. A twill weave shows a diagonal line in the fabric. See “twill” …coming soon… I hope. But the gabardine twill has a distinct tight twill on one side and a smooth, plain-looking reverse side. If it has a distinctly visible twill on both sides it is not a “true” gabardine. (if silk, it would be a surah or twilled silk) According to Julie Parker’s “All About Silk”, the diagonal twill line may run either to the up to the left or up to the right, but the angle of the twill is usually about 45 or 63 degrees.
Gabardine does not show up in the 1883 “Drapers Dictionary”. Nor is it in Florence Montgomery’s “Textiles in America; 1650-1870″. In the 1923 edition of the Women’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences: Volume 1, gabardine is mentioned as ” a twilled and waterproofed worsted coating material, made with fine diagonal ribs or a softer fabric, similar to French serge and used for women’s skirts, coats, and suits.”
GAERNINE DRAPERIE: Medieval__very coarse worsted (douken leenbluwe) of little value (13)
GHESMOUTTE DRAPERIE: Medieval__true woolen cloth; also “greased drapery” (13)
GRANAT, GRANAT POSZTO: Medieval__broadcloth for various garments, referred to as Turkish granat; frequently acquired for Transylvannian princes in Istanbul; from western Europe and often purchased in Venice; first mentioned in Hungarian sources in 1552 (10)
GROGRAM, GROSGRAIN, GROFGRON, GROGRAINE,GROGRANE: Medieval__the Charter of Charles I to the City, 1641, includes “grogram or mohair yarne” and “chamlets or grograms”, there’s also a record of imported China Grograms and Silk Grograms; 1583: Stubbes, in Anatomy of Abuses, a mention of grogram grouped with taffeta, silk, scarlet and fine cloth. (3) Norwich grosgrains in 1578 weighted .20 lb per sq. yd. (12) In Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d: “the newe stuffe called Grogryn is all one with the stuffe heretofore called chamlett”; Taffetas, plain weave with heavier weft giving ribs; silk goathair, worsted and mixed fibres (2)
GUARNELLO: Medieval__thin, coarse linen or cotton used for lining and undergowns; can also refer to the gwn made of it (8)
GULDEN AEREN: Medieval__1544, Malines, a half-carded cloth using Leominster wool; of the highest quality: 3120 warp ends in 1980cm.width, 18.11 threads/cm and 2 lbx per sq. yard when fulled (12)
HABOTAI: habutae; hautae; habutai; This means “soft as down” in Japanese. It is a lightweight, plain weave, silk fabric that is thin and flowing. It is also called China silk. It is made in various weights from 3 mm (mm: momme= a unit of weight measurement) through 10 mm or more. The 3.5 mm is very nice for sheer veiling. 5 mm is good for semi-sheer veils and fine chemises.(think “wet tee shirt contest”) The 8 mm is used for linings and scarves. The 10 mm, and heavier, is used for blouses, light weight dresses and lightweight garments.
KANICA: Medieval__a silk and or woolen fabric…Hungarian use in 1542 (10)
KARMASIN: Medieval__a silk fabric perhaps in satin weave; could also refer to silk yarns ans was the term commonly used to designate a crimson color…Hungarian use 1458 (10)
KASMIR: Medieval__a fine woollen fabric of Oriental origin, meaning from Kasmir…Hungarian use (10)
KARAZJE: Medieval__Polish name for kersey, late 14th c, a cheap coarse import (20)
KENDALL: Medieval__a woollen cloth sold to the poor, exempt from aulnage; England 1380-1407; 1448 the seargents of Salisbury wore coats of Kendall cloth for the King’s visit (4)
KERSEY: Medieval__(English, later 14th c through 16th c) a true fulled woollen, coarser than broadcloth; many were closer in weight and cost to broadcloth than to worsteds; cheaper in the later period so there were more in the English exports in the late 1400-early 1500s; much smaller than broadcloth, typically 18 yds by 4 quarters yd wide with 38 lbs of wool in the piece; approximately 1.11 to 1.41 lbs per sq. yd; mentioned in John May’s “Declaration of the Estate of Clothing”…a kersie was allowed to be “strained 2 naile in breadth and a yard in length” when tentring the piece. (a naile is 2 1/4″ and an English cloth-yard was 37 inches ). One form of abuse in the cloth industry was overstretching the wool when processing it. (16)
LAWN: Medieval__1550s and later: fine delicate linen used for smocks, sleeves, ruffs. (2)
LAWN: cotton- originally “a soft, sheer fabric filled with starch or sizing and used for dresses, aprons, and curtains. Often printed after it is woven.” In the 1950s or 60s the industry treated some cotton lawn chemically to give it a permanent crispness.
Going back to the mid 1500s, linen was the fiber used to make lawn. It was a delicate fabric used for Elizabethan ruffs and cutwork. Over the years it has been used for shirts, handkerchiefs, ruffles, aprons, sieves, and expensive dresses. Eventually in the 1800s, some cottons were given the name of lawn… such as “Victoria Lawn” or “French Lawn”. The industry has always tried to make things sound better than they really are…the better to take your money 😉
MEZZELANE: Medieval__Italian cotton industry; mixed cloths of linen warp and woolen weft with a brushed and napped surface; also called satellari; used by the middle and lower classes in local Italian markets (17)
OCHIELLATI: Medieval__possible variant of silk twill…(goose-eye twill?) 30.5 inches wide (7)
OPPERTEN ZEGEL: Medieval__”1st Seal”, 1519 Leuven, traditional woollen broadcloth, using the finest English wool; warp count was 2400 ends width, 13.81 warp ends per cm; 21.93 thread ends per inch and over 2 lbs per sq. yd. (20)
ORMESINI: Medieval__plain, light and inexpensive silk cloth of Levantine origin; widely produced in 16th c. Italy; patterned red weave towards the end ot the century (8)
OULTREFFINS: Medieval__fine quality woollen from Armentieres, mid 14th c and on; 1.5 lb per sq. yd. (20)
PALIOCTA: Medieval__all-cotton woven with dyed and white yarns in stripes or patterns and used mostly for lining quilts (17)
PANISELLUS: Medieval__silk/cotton mixed fabric, finely woven and used for canopies, b3d curtains, coverlets; also: ogellata, ogielata, ogilade (17)
PANNI DE FONTEGO: Medieval__Florence, 1400, cheapest Italian woolen export: 21 to 30 florins (20)
PIGNOLATI: Medieval__pure cotton cloth with a woven pattern resembling a pine cone; napped and sheared pignolati was made in Creomorna; also a cloth with a raised nap like flannel (17)
PELL: Medieval__a costly silk fabric (9)
PENNYSTONE, PENISTONE: Medieval__ a napped woollen cloth in several qualities, taking it’s name from the Yorkshire town (2)
PERPETUANA: Medieval__ John May speaking about falsifying this cloth, called it a new drapery that was popular: “new growne to great use and traffique.” First the “pitch in the loome” was 1200, but “now brought to 800 yet keep their breadth and length.” Some merchants bought “slight says” and milled them to make “bastard perpetuanas.” (16)
PERPIGNIANO: Medieval__ woollen jersey cloth used mainly for hose worn by men but there is record of a gamurra of this for a girl (8)
PLAINES, LANCASHIRE OR MANCHESTER: Medieval__ a woollen cloth that contained about one yard in breadth, sometimes cut in length according to a kersie and dressed and dyed “in forme to a kersie”; sold in “foreign parts” and in the “Realme” also (16)
PLOMMETTS: Medieval__a “new drapery”; listed in the Burghley papers of 1578 as weighing .23 lbs per sq. yard (12)
PLUSH, PLUSHE: Medieval__an expensive silk fabric with nap longer and softer than welvet; Jonson describes this as costing L 3.10s per yard; 1600s, a name given to long napped wool velvet; 1585 described as “Fringed sylke” when given to Queen Elizabeth (2)
POLPORE: Medieval__a weft-faced compound twill; allowed a main warp of linen or cooked nferior silk and a weft of cooked silk (7)
POSTE: Medieval__silk veils related to sendals, sometimes made like a net(18)
RASCIA: Medieval__originally a type of unrefined woollen cloth from Raska, Serbia; called “rash” in English; by the 16th c Florentines made rash an expensive woollen cloth without nap for men’s clothing (8)
RASETTI: Medieval__mixed cloths with silk warp and weft of waste silk and flax (18)
RASH, RAISHE: Medieval__twilled material similar to say, made with both silk and wool (2)
RASO: Medieval__a silk cloth that was dressed until it had a luster (8)
RASSE or STAMINETT: Medieval__a mixed cloth; the Burghley papers 1578 listed the weight as .64 lbs per sq. yd (12)
RAYE, RAY, or BARRE: Medieval__a “crosswise stripe of color”, a band of weft that has been woven in a different color; as opposed to a stripe where sections of the warp thread are colored; also the name of a wool fabric1500s with the defined quality(12)
RENSA: Medieval__a type of fine linen used for personal linens and undergarments in Rheims, France (8)
ROMAGNOLA: Medieval__undyed coarse local wool for the poor; also called bigello….(found in “The Merchant of Prato”)
RUSSELLS: Medieval__1554, a woollen cloth made in Norwich (12)
SAMITE, SAMITUM: Medieval__ during the first millenium; usually a polychrome, weft-faced compound twill silk; can also be silk and extrafine woollen and cotton and coarse wool; there are some rare varieties of monochrome; later ones had a main warp of linen or hemp (9)
SANTELLARI: Medieval__ see mezzelane
SARCINATI: Medieval__(sarcenets?)possibly a twill variant silk; 46″ wide; classed with ochiellati, soriani, and catrasciamiti, which were possibly all variants of silk twill (7)
SARSENET, SARCEONET: Medieval__ 1617: “a thinne kind of taffata”; a light weight silk frequently used for linings (2)
SATINS: Medieval__1554, a type of woollen cloth made in Norwich (12)
SAYS: Medieval__this is a “class name” for a mixed fabric of worsted wool, some with cotton or linen; in 12th and 13th c Florence, Tuscan and Lombard towns there were many varieties, some of which : saia, saia cotonata, stametto, trafilato, tritana, taccolino; the weights and sizes varied also:
Bergues-Sanit-Winco says: 40 ells x 4 qtrs; 11 lbs per piece; .476 lbs per sq yard (20)
Hondschoote says, 1530: unspecified size, (single?); 10 lb pc; .59 lb/sq yd (20)
Flemish says, 1578: 36.25 ells long (same length as 1 londschoote double says); 16 lb/pc.
Tournais says, 1300: “saies de ii estains”…says of two warps.
Tournais says, 1410: “faittes de deux estains sans mollet” (I have no idea what this means) (12)
Beck calls say a sort of thin woollen stuff or serge (3) It is also known as a totally worsted wool in both the 13th and 16th century (20)
SCIAMITI: Medieval__a weft-faced compound twill silk; allowed a main warp of linen or cooked inferior silk with a weft of cooked silk (7)
SCIAMILI: Medieval__a mixed fabric combining a silk weft with a linen or cotton warp (17)
SCIAMILI PILLOSI: Medieval__made with a napped surface (17)
SCHIAVINA: Medieval__rough woollen cloth; used for blanket and pilgrim robes, 1393; from Merchant of Prato.
SENDAL,SENDALL, SENDELLE, SANDAL, SANDALL, CENDAL: Medieval__unlike most other silk these were frequently piece-dyed, not yarn dyed. 1382, allowed to be raw silk in both warp and weft; a dressing of millet flour and water was permitted for both broad sendals and narrow white sendals as per ancient custom (7) Beck quotes Thynne’s Animadversions on Speght’s Chaucer, 1598, [which has] “a very valuable contemporary description of the material leaving no doubt as to its composition. ‘Sendall you expound by a thynne stuff lyke cypres; but yet was a thynne stuff lyke sarcenett, and of a raw [unboiled silk] kynde of sylke or sarcenett, but coarser and narrower than the sarcenett now ys, as myselfe can remember.’ ” (3)
SERGE: Medieval__(French= sarge); 1190-1200; worn by a knight: “Cote, sele, destrier et targe Out covert d’une noire sarge, Son vis out covert d’un nir voil…” (11)
SHALLOON: Medieval__a slight woolen stuff, first known as “rash”, made in large quantities in 16th century Florence (20); it could be hot pressed or unglazed (19)
SHAG: Medieval__a material with a long pile, of worsted or silk, mainly used for linings (2)
SILK SATINS: Medieval__ (in Lucca, 1376) Zettani allexandrini o di grana: a heavy satin with the same color red in both the warp and the weft; yarn dyed; must have 73 warps per cm. (7) Zectani forti: heavy satin; 59 cm. wide without selvedge; warps all single, or all douple warp and weft both of pure cooked silk; must have 73 warps per cm. (7)
Zectani legieri: light satin; 59 cm wide without selvedge, warp all single or double warp and weft both of pure cooked silk. (7)
SIPERS (CYPRESS): Medieval__a light, transparent material of silk and linen (1)
SIPRIS COTTONS: Medieval__listed as imported cloth at Dover in 1576-77 (2)
SOTTOPOSTA: Medieval__silk veiling, narrower than poste (18)
STAMMAE, STAMIGNA: Medieval__(Italian) plain woolen cloth (8)
STAMMINS: Medieval__in Norwich before 1520, the same throughout Europe (3)
STELETA: Medieval__a type of heavy mattress ticking…possibly cotton (17)
STRAITS, STREITS: Medieval__worsted wools that measured 12 yds long by 1 yd wide, about one forth the size of a standard broadcloth; in 1416 a cloth cost 6 florins L. 1, which was about 1/20th of the cost of a best broadcloth (20)
STRIPE: lines of color going the length of the fabric in the warp, made by groups of colored warp threads
TAFFECTA, TAFFETA: Medieval__taffecta was probably a tabby, 103 cm wide, 39 warp/cm; could have gold or silver bands; Lucca 1382: came in various widths; in 1376 all had warps of pure cooked silk; in 1372, raw warp for taffecta, (and other plain weave silks: sendadini, saracinati,ochiellati, and soriani); sendadi could have both warp and weft raw or cooked silk.(7)
TAFOTA: Medieval__a silk tabby, many colors, could be gotten in Istanbul; also came from western Europe; in Vienna, a variety of tafota (sometimes referred to as “ordinary”) and Spanish, Venetian and Neopolitan tafotas were to be had; general use to line costly garments and coverlets but sometimes used for entire garments. (10)
TELEVERGATE: Medieval__striped cloths with flax [linen] warp and silk and flax [linen] wefts; 16th c. Crema (18)
TERLICI: Medieval__triple twilled fabrics made with a combination of linen, hemp and cotton yarn; heavyweight, strudy and suitable for linings, bedspreads, seets, mattress ticking, mantles and outer garments. Similar to valessi. (17)
TIRETAINE: Medieval__fustians of linen warp and cotton or woollen wefts (12)
TIRINTANA: Medieval__linter, shearings and leftover fibers from processing, old used cottons, etc., were used to make short pieces of cloth…similar to tiretain in France/Flanders (17)
VALESSI: Medieval__similar quality to terlici; a linen and/or hemp or cotton mixed cloth used for quilts, linings, coverlets, tunics, doublets and clerical vestments (17)
VELUTI ALTIBASSI: Medieval__velvet with piles of different heights….from Merchant of Prato
VELVET, VELLIUTI: Medieval__two categories: “fine” and “less than fine”; both must have a pure cooked silk warp.
Fine: 59 cm wide without selvedge; with at least 3 mainwarp and 1 pile warp per dent: about 40.5 main warp/cm, 13.5 pile warp/cm; weft could be linen or various cooked silk types but must be all one type; a linen warp couldn’t be dyed in grain; gold/silver bands of weft were permitted.
Less than fine: 59 cm wide excluding selvedge; between 24-33 main warp threads/cm and 8-11 pile warp per cm; weft of pure cooked flax or cotton [that’s what it said in the paper]; gold/silver/silk weft bands permitted.
Both can be plain, checkered or figured velvets (7)
WHITES: Medieval__undyed woolens were called white wool; Coxall whites, East Anglican white, and Glensford cloth all were undyed cloth that had rock-spun warps (12)
WORSTEDS: Medieval__the general class name given to cloth made with worsted thread; the weave could be anything: worsteds called “Monk’s Cloth” were 12 yard long x 5/4 yard wide(also a Channon Cloth, a double worsted, roll worsted, etc (3) narrow worsted were 15 yard long by 5 quarters wide and weighed .37 lbs per square yard. The Burghley papers of 1578 listed them as weighing .26 lbs/sq/yd. (12) (sources vary) Worsted thread was wool fleece that was combed before being spun so the staple layed parallel to itself, making a tighter, harder and thinner (also stronger) thread/yarn.
WADMAL, WADMOL, VADMEL, WADMEL, WATMOL: Medieval__Beck quotes several sources…. Jamieson: a coarse cloth made in the Orkneys, also known as woadmel or wodnenell in midland and eastern counties of England; worn largely by the lower orders, being coarse…. Phillips in a 1720 dictionary says: a coarse sort of stuff used for covering the collars of cart horses…. Webster: a coarse hairy stuff made of Iceland wool, used to line the ports of ships of war… Jamieson again: often twilled and denoted Skaktvadmal. It was used dyed “blue and murrey” in furnishing the barge of Elizabeth of York; generally used in the dress of the poor; a 1436 export of Spain; Strytt says poor people of 15c and 16c wore coats of frieze, wadmol and other coarse cloths. (3) Munro sites the weaver’ and burellers’ ordinances of 28 Edward I, and says that London’s cloth industry around 1300 seems to have been principally based on cheaper, coarser, and light fabrics (about 11 lbs per piece), including burels and wadmal, some of them made from pre-merino Spanish wools. (12)
TABBY: Tabby refers to the type of weave of a fabric. It looks like a checkerboard: a weft thread goes over one warp thread and then under the next, repeating ‘over one’ ‘under one’ until reaching the edge of the fabric; on the way back across the weft thread will go under whichever warp thread it went over in the last row, and over the threads it went under. This firmly locks the threads in place and forms the fabric.
There are variations that can be done with a tabby weave. If, for instance, the weft threads are tightened while weaving and made to be very straight, and the warp threads are loosened so that they go up over and down under the weft, then the fabric will look like there are ribs or cording going across it. If the ribs or cords are very fine, the weave may be called a faille. If the weft threads are heavier than the warp threads, the rib is pronounced. You can see the ribs in grosgrain ribbon. There used to be a fabric called grosgrain in the 1800’s. It was a “firm, stiff, closely woven, corded fabric. The cords are heavier and closer than those of poplin, more round than those in faille.” Another account described it as “having a fine cord like that of Rep”. According to “Textiles in America; 1650-1870”, REP is distinguished as having heavier wefts as compared with cord which have heavier warps. Reps were made of silk, wool, or silk and wool. In the later 1800’s, early 1900’s, there were cheaper carpets with woven designs, made of narrow widths of heavy wool rep that were sewn together to make wider pieces of carpeting.
Tabbies could also be ornamented with brocading. They could also be treated with “pressure between the rollers of a cylinder, and the application of heat and an acidulous liquor….The beautiful description of silk called Moire’ is a Tabby;”
TUSSAH: Tussah is the name of a wild Chinese silk moth. It is also the name of the fabric made with a wild silkworm silk.
According to Julie Parker’s “All About Silk”, the classic tussah silk cloth has a coarse thick hand and a rough, uneven appearance, with distinct crosswise ribs formed by irregular, slubbed filling yarns.
The warp threads are usually fine filament silk. The tussah fabric is a rather stiff fabric that does not drape well. It should be used for structured, fitted or tailored clothing. And the raw edges should be finished because it tends to ravel!
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2. Arnold, Janet, “Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d”, W S Maney & Son Ltd., Leeds, 1988
3.Beck, S Wm, “The Draper’s Dictionary”, Warehousemen & Drapers’ Journal Office, London, 1882
4. Bridbury, A, “Medieval English Clothmaking”, Heinemann Educational Books Ltd., London, 1982
5. Cordier, H., Yule, H. , “Cathay and the Way Thither”, Munshiram Manoharla Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Deli, 1998 republished from 1916, 4 volumes
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7. Estham, Nockert, ed,. “Opera Textilia”, Statens Historiska Museum, Sweden, 1988
8. Frick, C., “Dressing Renaissance Florence”, John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2002
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10. Gervers, V., “The Influence of Ottoman Turkish Textiles and Costumes in Eastern Europe:, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, 1982
11. Goddard, E. R., “Women’s Costume in French Texts of the 11th and 12th Centuries”, Johnson Reprint Corporation, New York, 1973
12. Harte, N. B.,ed., “The New Draperies in the Low Countries and England”, Oxford University Press, Great Britain, 1997
13. Jorgensen, Lise B., “North European Textiles Until AD 1000” , AARHUS University Press, Denmark, 1992
14. Kolander, C., “Hemp for Textile Artists”, MAMA D.O.C., Portland OR, 1995
15. Lopez, R., Raymond, I., “Medieval Trade in the Mediterranean World”, Columbia University Press, New York, 1990
16. May, John, “A Declaration of the Estate of Clothing; London 1613,” #400- The English Experience, Da Capa Press, New York, 1971
17. Mazzoaui, M., “The Italian Cotton Industry… 1100-1600”, Cambridge Univ. Press, New York, 1970
18. Mola, L., “The Silk Industry of Renaissance Venice”, John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2000
19. Montgomery, F., “Textiles in America”, W W Norton and Co, New York, 1984
20. Munro, John, “Textiles, Towns and Trade”, VARIORUM, Ashgate Publishing Ltd., Vermont, 1994