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Fabric Resource - regional difference in terms

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion - Ask Questions Get Answers' started by denisebrain, Jul 20, 2012.

  1. denisebrain

    denisebrain VFG President Staff Member

    Ah, those of you in the UK and Australia would call gauze cheesecloth...I need to add that to the description of gauze in the fabric resource.

    This brings up a favor I'd like to ask of those of you outside of the U.S.: If you see a fabric resource definition that doesn't work for you, please let me know. I have tried to include other countries' meanings and descriptions, but I'm sure I haven't included all.

    I would agree that this skirt fabric is heavier than gauze, and I just included in that crinkled gauze description the fact that heavier, muslin-weight cottons are also given the same crinkled finish. I will probably separate those so there is an entry "crinkled cotton" or "crinkled muslin."
    Leonardo Da Vintage likes this.
  2. Retro Ruth

    Retro Ruth Administrator Staff Member

    On that subject. I was wondering about the names for corduroy weights. I'm not sure if this is regional, but the terms widewale and pinwale are not familiar to me. But needlecord and elephant cord are, if you'd like to include them.

    If I can think of others I will let you know.
  3. denisebrain

    denisebrain VFG President Staff Member

    Thank you Ruth!

    In my best UK fabric reference I see constitution cord defined as 5-7 wales per inch, thickset cord 8-11 and needlecord 16-21, roughly equivalent to the U.S. names widewale midwale and pinwale (there is a lot of discrepancy between sources on the subject of wales per inch). Can you help me define elephant cord?

    Over on fashion-era.com I see
    Also, in none of my reference books do I see Manchester defined as corduroy, but on the Wikipedia entry on corduroy, there is this
    Does Manchester ring any bells?
  4. Retro Ruth

    Retro Ruth Administrator Staff Member

    No I've never heard of Manchester cloth, certainly not commonly known to me!

    As far as I understand it, elephant cord is synonymous with jumbo cord, which I also use. That's widewale I think?

    I have a pair of 40s mens trousers I would call elephant cord. If I get a moment I'll post a pic if that would help?
  5. Retro Ruth

    Retro Ruth Administrator Staff Member

    Actually I just looked at those 40s trousers, they aren't as 'elephantine' as I remembered. They are 8 wales per inch.

    I suspect elephant cord doesn't have a strict definition, but maximum 8 wales I would say, more likely less.

    This what I definitely think of as elephant cord:

    denisebrain likes this.
  6. Midge

    Midge Super Moderator Staff Member

    In German we call corduroy "Manchester". No idea why! In Germany they call it cord too, but here in Switzerland I grew up with the term Manchester.

  7. denisebrain

    denisebrain VFG President Staff Member

    Karin, do you also call it corduroy or just Manchester?

    (the plot thickens!)
  8. Retro Ruth

    Retro Ruth Administrator Staff Member

    I've just noticed you've included my favourite piece of etymology trivia - the origin of the word canvas. :USETHUMBUP:
  9. I've long noticed some variance on the terms "calico" and "muslin" and "gauze" when it comes to cottons, so I'll go off and check your sections when I get the chance.

    Regarding "Manchester", Australians use it for something else: as a generic term for linens, eg bed linens, tablecloths etc - Manchester had big weaving factories I think so perhaps the term was applied as in "Manchester sheets" or somesuch and just got adapted. They thought I was very odd in the UK when I used the term.
  10. Okay - fabrics in Australia.

    1 - Calico (Aus) - rough unbleached and cheap cotton fabric with little flecks of brown and other colours, quite stiff and used for making toiles, craft purposes and shopping bags. Also available bleached. Not sure what the US/LR equivalent is.
    2 - Muslin (Aus) - light weight and loosely woven cotton fabric, used for crafts, loose garments and bandages. I think the US/LR calls this gauze but we only call call it muslin if it's pure cotton and it's almost always white.
    3 - Gauze - I haven't heard this term in Aus except for bandages.
    4- Crinkled Gauze (LR) - we call cotton georgette.
    4 - Cheesecloth - like cotton georgette, but heavier. The fabric in the OP's skirt looks like what we call cheesecloth. There's a slight contradiction with the term because muslin is used for cheesemaking, not cheesecloth, as the latter is too thick.

    Regarding corduroy, we also use "pinwale" and there's another term for the wide corduroy but I can't remember it, sorry. I think it's different from the words mentioned so far.

    I find the cultural differences fascinating! I'm surprised there's so much regional variation.
    denisebrain likes this.
  11. Midge

    Midge Super Moderator Staff Member

    Maggie, growing up I remember my mom always using the word "Manchester". However, since most of my fashion / fashion history books and resources are in English, and I use English so much at work and in private, I'll sometimes call it cord too even when speaking German. Interestingly, my Reclam's encyclopedia of fashion (in German) only knows the word "cord" for coduroy either. So, no idea where "Manchester" came from, but it seems it is an expression mostly used in Switzerland, and not even in Germany. My 1971 Swiss mail-order brochure also uses the term "Manchester" - or even "Breitcord Manchester" for a wide (or elephant / widewhale?) corduroy - "breit" means wide.

    denisebrain likes this.
  12. denisebrain

    denisebrain VFG President Staff Member

    Wow, I am finding out all kinds of new things. At the outset, Jonathan advised me to look into the differences in terms, particularly UK vs. US. Obviously I've written this from a US perspective, but will try to add terms as used in other parts of the world as I can.

    Thank you for your help Nicole and Karin! Please keep these coming.
  13. Retro Ruth

    Retro Ruth Administrator Staff Member

    Same applies in UK to these.
  14. Linn

    Linn VFG Board Member Staff Member VFG Past President

    Muslin in the US is often unbleached and is used for draperies and drapery lining, as well as for lining in clothing. In the unbleached state it is not "white" - more of a pale, pale beige or ecru or light tan. I don't think Regan's skirt is crinkle muslin, but as Jody suggested it's crinkle cotton. Muslin is usually very lightweight.

    Maggie - would you like to start a new thread and we can move or copy all these comments that pertain just to fabrics to the new thread?

  15. denisebrain

    denisebrain VFG President Staff Member

    Since we have taken over another thread with a discussion of this, let's carry on here with the topic of regional differences in our naming of fabrics

    Obviously, I wrote the Fabric Resource from a U.S. perspective, with most of my references (see the Bibliography) being from the U.S.

    Please do share your knowledge of how you know fabrics by different terms or in different qualities/weights etc. I will try to add these little by little to the definitions. It would help tremendously if you can give me as specific information as possible or quote a source literally.

    Thank you!
  16. denisebrain

    denisebrain VFG President Staff Member

    Since we got started on discussing muslin and the regional differences in its meaning, I'd like to use that fabric as an example.

    Here is what I wrote for the Fabric Resource:

    Muslin has a very long history and somewhat divergent meanings in the US and UK (& countries historically under British influence). The fabric is the oldest staple cotton cloth and like so many very old fabric names, there is diversity in what the name means.

    From your posts, I see that the UK/Australia/probably-but-not-certainly Canada version of muslin is a loose, airy cotton fabric, while in the US it will most often be in a sheeting weight, not sheer. That sheer, loose cotton fabric is what we in the US would call gauze.

    Just to confuse the matter, there is a wool muslin and a silk muslin (mousseline de laine and mousseline de soie). In the UK I believe unbleached muslin is known as unbleached calico, while in the US calico is a fabric print. Osnaburg is unbleached muslin with particles of cotton plant waste.

    So is a 70s skirt made of crinkled muslin? crinkled gauze? crinkled cotton? crinkled cheesecloth? The answer inevitably has to do with the region in which you live, but also to where your trade extends. It's good for us all to know what each other calls a standard fabric.

    If selling an item, I think it is most important to state the fiber if at all possible and describe characteristics of the fabric (such as the crinkled texture and sheeting weight). The name—and I would call the fabric crinkled muslin if it is indeed of a sheeting weight and not sheer—is not as imperative.
    The Vintage Merchant likes this.
  17. Midge

    Midge Super Moderator Staff Member

    I'll just weigh in here too - muslin is practically called the same in German (Musselin) and we would also define it the same as UK/Australia etc. Funny!

    One other term that came to my mind was atlas - it seems not to be used in English though? I see silk atlas in German also being defined as duchesse or satin - in any case it's a heavy silk fabric.

  18. We don't use the term "atlas" here either, but "duchess satin" is also called "delustred satin" and sometimes "charmeuse" although I consider charmeuse to be a softer, more luxurious fabric than duchess satin, which is quite stiff.
  19. The Vintage Merchant

    The Vintage Merchant Administrator Staff Member

    I totally agree with Maggie, that muslin definitely varies in weights and can be quite heavy; people who are not familiar with the fabric tend to think there is only the light weight version.

  20. denisebrain

    denisebrain VFG President Staff Member

    Just wanted to update you on the muslin/gauze/cheesecloth collection of fabric differences.

    I've added to Gauze and Muslin

    and I've added
    Cotton georgette
    Cotton crepe
    Caustic soda crepe

    I'm not certain of the difference between cheesecloth in the UK and cheesecloth in Australia, so if this reads wrong, please help me fill in.

    I've also worked on the corduroys, but am still researching the use of the name Manchester.

    I really appreciate your help with these differences.

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