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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. Hi Maggie, I think it's safe to assume that Australia shares UK definitions of fabrics - your description of cheesecloth sounds fine to this Aussie.
  2. Oh - perhaps I should add that (Aus) cheesecloth has a crinkled texture like cotton crepe!
  3. denisebrain

    denisebrain VFG President Staff Member

    Thanks Nicole...I wasn't sure about that.

    Tell me, do you have any great Australian reference books on fabric to recommend?
  4. Retro Ruth

    Retro Ruth Administrator Staff Member

    That's my (UK) understanding too.
  5. laughingmagpie

    laughingmagpie Registered Guest

    Here in Alberta, Canada I've always heard and used the US version of "muslin" and "gauze", not the UK one. Perhaps because the US and Canada would be fabric trading partners more than the other nations, and I think the fabric in our main stores (Fabricland here, Jo-Anns in the US) comes from a lot of the same distributors and has the same sort of names.

  6. denisebrain

    denisebrain VFG President Staff Member

    Great, thanks for the further info Ruth and Jen.
  7. Midge

    Midge Super Moderator Staff Member

    Coming back to the corduroy discussion here! I think I may have found a clue why we call corduroy "Manchester" here! I recently got two old mail order catalogs, one from 1949, the other one from 1953, unused (with unused, still attached order forms!). The 1949 one is by Veillon, a mail order company located in Lausanne, in the French speaking part of Switzerland, and this catalog is in French. It features a corduroy jacket for men, and they call the material "Manchester" too! So I went searching for a bit, and it seems that one proper French expression for corduroy is "velours de Manchester" (Manchester velvet), though I found other ways of naming it too, but it's even on Wikipedia.fr, on their list of fabric names. I am guessing that that's where the word comes from, it was shortened to just Manchester because that's easier and made it's way into Swiss German vocabulary too, like so many other French words - these are what we call "helvetisms". Though there is a "proper" German word for these, we'd never use that - even in print, such as newspapers, helvetisms are used... One more reason why Germans have trouble understanding our dialect :).

    denisebrain likes this.
  8. Retro Ruth

    Retro Ruth Administrator Staff Member

    That is really interesting Karin. Thanks for sharing that. Of course I couldn't resist doing a little searching myself.

    I've seen a reference to cordoroy being called 'Manchester fabric' here: http://www.chapmangroup.co.uk/about.asp

    And here is a interesting though unconfirmed suggestion about the real origin of the word corduroy - not French at all:

    The SOED defines corduroy as a late 18th century word meaning ‘a coarse cotton velvet with thick ribbing’. If you, like me, thought it had French origins ( ‘corde du roi’), that looks like being a fine example of folk etymology; according to the esteemed oracle (OK, it’s Wikipedia, but I’m feeling lucky) there’s no such phrase in French and the word, like the cloth, appears to be of English origin. The clever dictionary folk of Oxford claim that the word is formed from ‘cord’ (in the sense of string or rope) plus ‘duroy’, duroy being a kind of coarse, lightweight worsted (wool) cloth formerly made in western England (in my local towns of Chippenham, Melksham and Devizes, to name but a few) and used to make men’s clothes. The name harks back to the early 17th century, though its origins are shrouded in mystery. I’ve flagged up this sadly dark area of textile etymology to Michael Quinion over at World Wide Words and will let you know if he gets back to me with any illumination. What seems more certain is that corduroy was at one time a cotton textile produced in Manchester; in continental Europe, corduroy is still referred to as ‘Manchester’ (another Wikipedia fact, so please don’t treat it as Gospel until Saint Michael of Quinion has approved it). Manchester cloth was originally worn by poorer workers in the same way as fustian; however it was of high quality, according to this authority, with a good dense pile.

    From http://scrapiana.com/tag/corduroy-day/
  9. sewingmachinegirl

    sewingmachinegirl VFG Member

    Hi Maggie, and gold stars to Nicole for covering the Australian definitions perfectly ;). The only term I know for larger corduroy that is commmonly used here, is the very uninspired term "-Jumbo Cord

    I will certainly check out all these fabulous links later today !

    Cheers Gayle x
  10. Midge

    Midge Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ruth, the longer I was looking at the word corduroy, the more I came to the conclusion that you found out is wrong :hysterical:. Something more learned!

  11. denisebrain

    denisebrain VFG President Staff Member

    Thank you for continuing to track down these references! From all I read there just wasn't a consensus, other than that corde du roi and some sort of French royal connection was absolutely not accurate.
  12. I'm guessing the Brits don't use the term "Corduroy" in its original form because it's French. They "Britishize" it to Manchester or Cord, to "take the French out of it." I suspect it's the same reason they alter the pronunciation of any French borrowed words (e.g. "garage" goes from gah-RAZH to GAHR-adj). They're politely sticking out their tongues across the channel. :USING:
  13. Pinkcoke

    Pinkcoke Alumni

    actually I was brought up using 'corduroy' and found 'cord' was a rather old fashioned way of describing items, I've never come across the term 'Manchester' but then I think I'm of the generation that is unlikely to. :BAGUSE:
  14. Retro Ruth

    Retro Ruth Administrator Staff Member

    But it isn't French, people just think it is. We do say Corduroy - I'd never heard Manchester until this thread (and I'm an older generation than Melanie). If you look at the Chapman group link above, it implies that it was called Manchester because that's where the fabric was exported from, to other countries, by sea. So I think it was more likely to be called Manchester outside the UK.

    Of course we do stick our tongues out at the French though, you are perfectly right about that!
  15. Well I'll be darned!
  16. denisebrain

    denisebrain VFG President Staff Member

    [Corrected] I received this from a former member (vertugarde), who lives in Canada, originally from the UK:

    Re:Manchester and corduroy
    The North of England and Lancashire in particular was the centre of the Industrial Revolution in textile spinning and weaving. There were many mills in Manchester producing cloth which was sent all over the world and Manchester became synonymous with textiles and the name "Manchester" has been associated with not just corduroy but with household textiles and other fabric.
    To get to corduroy you need to look at fustian which I see is not included in your useful fabric resource. Fustian cloth may have had Islamic origins but was manufactured in the 12th century in the Lombardy region, Venice and Genoa. It was imported to England and production is known to have started there in the Lancashire area in the 17th century.
    "It was the pile weave fustians that were to expand greatly in use during the last half of the eighteenth century. These were fabrics with a supplementary weft that was cut after weaving with a specially adapted knife in order to form a pile (Fig. 3).Weft floats for cutting could be distributed evenly to yield velveteens, or aligned in parallel furrows to form cords (Fig. 4). The introduction of pile-woven cottons to Lancashire is documented in the Manchester Weavers’ Case concerning an annual tithe on looms which ran in the courts between 1749 and 1753."

    This quote is from an excellent research paper which will provide context:
    http://www.e-space.mmu.ac.uk/e-space/bitstream/2173/74454/2/Fustian-final version 1st edit.pdf
    There is a lot of information about fustian online.
  17. Here in Aus we call it "corduroy" and (as I think I've mentioned elsewhere) we use the term "Manchester" to describe household linens like bed sheets, table clothes etc. I was amused during my UK stay to see that the Brits had no idea what I was talking about.

    As to pronounciation of French words - the Brits aren't the only ones who mispronounce them. A personal peeve is the Melbourne suburb of "Reservoir", named for the large water reservoirs but the local Melbournian insists on calling "Reservor".
  18. Vinclothes

    Vinclothes Alumni +

    In Idaho - a western state - we say resevor. We have a long standing scuffle with french pronunciation. The French fur trappers with early explorers said: "Le Bois, les bois! But the pronunciation turned into boy-see (Boise), our state capitol.
  19. Marian, how interesting!

    I remember when I visited the US many years ago, we were quickly told that "St Louis" is pronounced "St Lewis" rather than the correct French.

    I find regional pronounciations fascinating - we have a few here.

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