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Fabric and furnishings, key words and phrases explained

Barrier Cloth / FR Interliner - 

A barrier cloth, also known as FR interlining, is a type of cloth used under fixed upholstery fabric to ensure that it will meet British Fire Regulations.

Blends -

A fabric described as a 'blend' may be woven of two or more fibres.

Composition -

Composition is made up by the amount of each fibre every fabric contains.

Double Width Fabric -

The name given to describe a fabric with a width of at least 280cm, double the standard width. A more economic option, it's benefits include not having the need to join two widths togther. Particuarly useful on extra wide window dressings or upholstery.

Some double width fabrics can also be railroaded.

View our wide range of double width fabric.

Extra Wide Fabric - 

The name given to a fabric with a width over 150cm, wider than single width fabric.

View our range of extra wide fabric.

FR (Fire Retardant) - 

Fabrics categorised as 'FR' will have undergone a process during their manufacturing process to add a flame-resistant quality to either the woven fibres of the fabric (inherent) or to the fabric surface itself (back coating). We would always recommend if you required the fabric to be FR that you seek professional advice.

For further information on fire safety requirements for furnishings in the home, visit https://www.fira.co.uk/technical-information/flammability/domestic-flammability-guide

Martindale - 

The Martindale is a unit to measure the fabric abrasion to resistance, particularly important when determining the suitability of a fabric for use on upholstery. The results or 'rubs' is a score that shows how much wear and tear a fabric will take before there is a noticeable change to the fabric surface. This is done by 'rubbing' the fabric in a figure of 8 motion, the number of cycles determines the abrasion rating.


A score of 15,000 or less - Fabric is suitable for lighter use upholstery.

A score up to 25,000 - Fabric is suitable for general use upholstery.

A score of 25,000+ - Fabric is suitable for heavier use upholstery.


For a commercial setting, the Martindale score should be high enough to with stand heavy duty usage.

The rub count may also be described as Wyzenbeek score, this follows a similar method to Martindale and is more commonly used in the United States.

Outdoor Fabric -

A performance fabric that is suitable for outdoor uses. Generally water resistant, mould resistant and with a higher UV rating.

View our wide range of outdoor fabric.

Pattern Repeat -

A measurement between any point in a fabrics pattern and the point at which the same point in the paterrn is repeated along the length of the fabric.

Railroaded Fabric -

Several of our double width fabrics are 'railroaded', this means that the pattern runs horizontally across the roll from selvedge edge to selvedge edge, rather than vertical down the roll.

In some cases, the width will need to be used as the length to achieve the desired pattern. You should allow for this when calculating how much fabric is required for your project.

Seam Allowance -

The seam allowance is an area between the raw edge of the fabric and the stitch line.

Selvedge -

The narrow strip that runs down each edge of the fabric. The selvedge can form part of the seam allowance but is generally not useable as a visible part of the fabric.

Sheers / Voiles - 

Sheer - A thinly woven, semi-transparent fabric.

Voile - A lightweight, plain fabric woven from cotton or cotton blend.

View our range of sheer / voile fabric.

Single Width -

The measurement size of the fabric from one selvedge to the other. Standard width fabric in the UK is generally around 140cm.

View our range of single width fabric.

Synthetic Fabric -

Synthetic fabrics are also described as 'man-made' of which they have been formed using chemical reaction rather than of natural production using animal or plant fibres.

Tapestry Fabric -

A woven decorative fabric in which the design has been created in the process of the weave. A variety of coloured weft yarn is interlaced with the warp to create a pattern.

View our wide range of tapestry fabric.

Trims or Trimmings -

Decorative finish for the edge of curtains, blinds, cushions and upholstery, such as fringe or braid.

Usage - 

The usage of a fabric is determined by a variety of factors such as composition of the fabric and advises what the fabric is most suitable for. Generally, a lighter weight fabric would not be suitable for upholstery as it will wear more easily than a fabric specifically tested for upholstery use.

Washed Linen -

A linen supplied that has been pre-washed, this will help to prevent further shrinkage and means the fibres are softer to touch.

View our wide range of washed linen fabric.

Woven - 

A textile that has been formed by weaving, a technique involving many threads on a loom.

View our range of woven fabric.