Glossary of textile decoration


A small piece of fabric, used to show what the fabric actually looks like. Samples come in different forms: as cuttings, in reference sample books or as hangers. They all are avalaible from our retailers (see store locators) and show rooms


Very similar to satin. Thin, made of cotton, with a shiny look, it comes in a wide range of plain colours. Sateen adds a touch of happiness and softness to curtain linings, table rugs and bedspreads.


A fabric with a matte wrongside and a glossy right side, traditionally made of silk, and originating from a Chinese city called Zaintun. Today, Satin is made with a broad range of materials. The satin weave is one of the three basic weaves. See Weave entry. Among its many qualities: shifting colours, depending from which angle one looks at it, very shiny and hard-wearing, very versatile (cotton satin, cosy satin, duchess satin,thick and heavyweight, eiderdown satin, tight as not to let down squeeze through, liberty satin, with a slightly carded wrong side, Lyon satin, glossy on both sides). See a product


See “Stainresistant” entry.


Refers to a vegetal fibre made with alga, and used to make rugs and wall-to-wall carpets. The technique used is simple: strips of seagrass are braided and stitched to one another. Seagrass carpets have been a popular item in British stately homes for a long time. They have to be sprinkled with water regularly, in order not to dry up and turn brittle. Seagrass carpets have a delicate texture, are lined with latex and their trademark green-ish colour lasts very long. It is perfect for home decorating, as it is very easycare: it does not show the dirt and is not damaged neither by damp nor by running back and forth from indoors to outdoors. See Agave, Sisal, Coco.


See sofa, chair, armchair, footstool.


Refers to a small cushion filled with kapok or foam, designed to make folding or garden chairs and kitchen straw chairs more comfortable. Cushions are tied to the seat or to the backs with bows or buttons. The best option is to have custom-made cushions upholstered by a professional, so you can choose the fabric and the pattern. For outdoor chairs, make sure to choose a fabric suitable for outdoors use.


Seersucker, whose name is derived from Persian (Iran) word “shirushakar, is a special fabric: its gathered or even blistered appearance is made by slack-tension weave. The threads are wound onto the two warp beams in groups for a narrow stripe. The crinkle stripe may have slightly larger yarns to enhance the crinkle. The stripes are always in the warp direction and ongrain. Ideally made from cotton, it is naturally fluffy and lightweight, which makes it perfect for blinds. Requires very little ironing.


The edge that frames a piece of fabric widthwise. Selvage is woven simultaneously with the fabric itself, yet it features more wefts, or is made with coarser thread, than the actual fabric, in order to make it more hard wearing, as selvage is a key element to ensuring that weaving and subsequent treatments such as dyeing, finishing, drying and so on will not damage the fabric. Some selvages visibly feature, whether woven or printed, the name of the manufacturer or the designation of the fabric. Some Pierre Frey fabrics and all Pierre Frey prints feature such “speaking” selvages, as they are known in French.


A type of twill weave fabric that has diagonal lines or ridges on both sides, made with a two-up, two-down weave. It was often coming in crimson red for celebrations. Its texture allows a very good hang. Whether plain or with large checks, Serge is perfect for upholstering seats. Used for curtains, it will be even more becoming if lined. As a plaid blanket, it does go out of shape.


The craft of fastening or attaching objets using stitches made with needle and thread. It is usually practised in workshops. Whether made by hand or with sewing machines, sewn objects include curtains, blinds, bedspreads, cushions, linings, fleece, bias cut garments… To enjoy the benefits of such painstaking skills, find our retailers by clicking on “Store Locator”.


A fabric that takes its name from the Chinese province of Chan Tung. It is made from raw silk, and woven with long, irregular, horizontal weft thread. Its traditional look is charming, and so is its subtle dyeing. Mostly produced in India, Thaïland and China, Silk shantung is a heavy weight, adaptable fabric which lends itself to seat upholstery. As wall hanging, it is highly decorative. Used also as undercurtains thanks its see-through quality. It is also known in France as Pongé fabric.


A technique used to line the inside of drawers and furniture, foot included. Sheating a sleek look: try sheating bedside tables, armchairs, stools, sofa ends or book shelves with Flannel, Chintz, Pekari or Sharskin. Example: Mercure TA002. See a product


Refers to a type of linen or cotton or mixed cloth used for bedding. The Yves Delorme houselinen range features unique Pierre Frey motifs for sheets.


Shirring tape is found at the top of curtains and drapes to provide a gathered effect when the treatment is hung on a window. It provides a polished, professional look to window treatments. The most popular shirring tapes are single, double, smocking, four cord and pencil pleat tape. It is ideally made with stiff cotton.


In textile jargon, this term refers to the difference between the actual length of a piece of fabric and the billed length.


Refers to a fabric whose warps end wefts are dyed in different colours so that the fabric appears to change colour at different viewing angles and lightings. This dyeing technique is typically used for Silk fabrics. Example: Fadini Monica I6461 See a product


Water-repelling treatment allowing liquids to run off a fabric without penetrating its fibres. See a product


Volume or weight loss affecting thread (or fabrics alike) during the different steps of its transformation.


Refers to the decrease in the dimensions of a thread or fabric.


A natural protein fibre obtained from the cocoon of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm. Silk thread is the noblest of all materials. Silk has been woven for a very long time, and originates from China, India and Japan. Fabrics made from silk are numerous. To name just a few: douppioni, raw silk, crape, wild silk, noil. Fabrics made from silk can be anything: thin and flat, rough and uneven, but they always are lightweight. Silk lends itself to any motif, it may be printed, dyed, gathered, pleated, it is naturally shimmery and also has a specific sound when touched. See a product


Sisal is a Mexican agave tree, whose leaves havespecific fibres used to make rugs. On top of being hardwearing, Sisal is sought-after by decorators for its natural look. Softer and thiner than coir, it is available as wall to wall carpet with a latex underlay. It may come with wide ribs or relief effect. Sisal is perfect for contemporary settings, as it adds a touch of country chic to a urban environment. Its rough texture and natural look make it a very versatile material. It is available in 2 metre or 4 metre-width, and is equally attractive in bright or understated colours. See Agave and Coir.


Refers to a fabric whose dimensions will not change when used under normal circumstances. Size stability includes overstretching and shrinkage, though the latter is way more common. Many mechanical and technical procedures are available to remedy size stability issues, depending on the nature of the textile, and most particularly post washing shrinkage. Make sure you have a close look at the technical pictograms to be found in our catalogue and on our labels: they have been approved by our Pierre Frey specialized engineer.


Refers to a fabric wrap designed to cover a piece of furniture in order to protect and embellish it. Almost everything may be covered with it, more or less elegantly, depending on the shape of the piece of furniture: sofas, armchairs, chairs… In France, tight-fitting covers are very popular, while Britons enjoy loose and casual ones. A cover allows seasonal variations: linen in the summer, cashmere in the winter for instance: Shabby and gentleman by Pierre Frey. Machine washable fabrics are a convenient option. Light canvas fabrics like SOFA by Pierre Frey are also a sure choice. Armchairs and sofas may also be covered with hemmed panels to be tied according to one’s whim: panels allow an endless choice of colours and/or fabrics for many looks and atmospheres.


Novelty yarn with uneven, flame-shaped texture produced by twisting together a roving and one or two yarns. By extension, a fabric made of slub yarns. Its peculiar look makes it a very popular fabric for seat upsholstery. See Albano F2374 by Pierre Frey. See a product


Smocking is an embroidery technique used to gather fabric so that it can stretch.


A sofa is a long seat equipped with a back, typically made of two or three seating supports, possibly much more if, like the ones we make at Pierre Frey, they are individually designed and custom made to meet your own special expectations. To make them both comfortable and sleek looking, Pierre Frey sofas feature feather cushions. Our sofa arms, whether rolled or straight Parsons style, are long-lasting and hard-wearing. For sofa arm covers, we suggest you keep away from loose fabrics that tend to become saggy over time, or light cotton fabrics that are prone to stitch splitting. All our samples feature special Frey pictograms, to be found as well in our catalogue. They will help you choose the right fabric to cover your sofa with, and make sure they meet your requirements in terms of abrasion resistance and pilling. See a product


Treatment applied to a fabric to make it soft to the touch.


Undyed fraction of tread or fabric, obtained by tying, binding or the use of products.


Refers to a fabric whose surface is dotted with small specks of varied colours.


Refers to a special treatment applied to fabrics or carpets that protects them from stains.


Refers to a fabric treatment: the surface of a fabric is placed between two cylinders, one of them being engraved with a specific pattern. The fabric is then heat-embossed and stamped. See Gauffering.


Refers to a technique consisting in a cardboard or metal cut out used to brush paint a specific pattern according to the cut out’s lay out onto material. This technique is chiefly used for curtains, rugs, bedspreads, table cloths, furniture, floorboards. Stencilling adds a personal touch to a plain fabric or a window valance. Also refers to a printing technique known as stencil printing.


A special washing procedure using abrasive materials in order to give fabrics or textile items a faded look (worn or used). See Faded entry. Example: linen Shabby F2484. See a product


For decorating purposes, stripes are almost always vertical. Whether wide or narrow, they come in every fabric imaginable: silk, cotton, wool, linen, synthetic fabrics… They also come in a variety of styles: ton sur ton, as for gourgouran, many-coloured, milleraie, ticking stripe, tennis… In a low clearance flat, vertical stripes will help create the illusion the ceiling is higher than it really is. On the contrary, bayadere stripes are used horizontally (see bayadere).


Refers to a fabric made from cotton that imitates the texture of suede or calf thanks to a tight satin weave, and cut piles. Its surface is usually fluffy and as soft as peach skin. Example: Taïga Boussac. See a product


Refers to a lightweight, mechanically brocaded fabric that imitates plumetis stitching on tulle or organdy. It is chiefly used as curtains, and is ideal for canopies.