Our glossary

A-Z glossary of useful fabric and wallpaper key words and phrases explained.



Acetate: A man made yarn. When used in fabric, it is often very shiny and adversely affects how the fabric drapes.

Architrave: Timber moulding around the interior side of a window reveal or around a door.


Back-coating: Coating the reverse side of a fabric to change its properties (usually to make it meet fire retardancy requirements).

Barrier cloth: A special interlining that covers upholstery fillings underneath the top fabric, to provide fire protection meeting the requirements of Schedule 3 of the Furnishings (Fire) Regulations.

Bent track: Curtain track that is curved or has angled bends to fit around a window bay.

Blackout lining: Lining that has been coated with a rubber-like finish on the reverse side to block light.

Bolster: Tube-shaped cushion or pillow, typically for bedding or for sofa ends.

Bonded Interlining: Man made interlining that has been stuck to the back of curtain lining. Used to give an extra layer for curtains, but not as complex as adding separate interlining. Can affect the way seams and hems look.

Buckram: Starched jute or cotton used for stiffening curtain headings, pelmets and tiebacks.

Bullion fringe: Deep thick fringe used on sofa bases, pelmets or heavy curtains.

Bump: Thick interlining.


Cartridge pleats: Buckram heading with small pleats sewn into a predetermined width. Looks a bit like the loops to hold shotgun cartridges on a belt.

Cleat: Pronged fitting around which a blind cord is secured in a figure-of-eight.

Composition: Fibre content of a fabric's yarns.

Cord weight: Weight attached to track or blind cords to make them hang straight and untangled - usually brass or chrome.

Corded track: Curtain track with a corded mechanism for opening and closing curtains.

Cornice: Decorative moulding between ceiling and walls.

Coving: Simple moulding between ceiling and walls.

Cross lining: Wallpaper lining paper applied to the wall horizontally rather than vertically, to create a better surface for the wallpaper.


Divan bed: Normal bed with an upholstered base. Comes in a range of standard sizes with standard fixings for headboard struts.

Dormer rods: Hinged swinging arms for curtains, used in place of a conventional track or pole, particularly suited to dormer windows.

Dormer window: Attic window that projects from the roofline.

Drop: A piece of fabric or wallpaper hung vertically, one fabric/wallpaper width wide, or the measurements of same.


Eyelet heading: Large metal rings rivetted into the top of the curtain which are threaded onto a curtain pole of suitable diameter.

End stops: The fixed eyes on the end of a curtain track that stop the gliders coming off and to which the outermost hook of the curtain attaches.


Finial: Decorative end to a curtain pole that also prevents the rings slipping off the end of the pole.

Finished length: Length of completed curtain or blind from top extremity to bottom hem.

Finished width: The measurement from side to side of the completed blind or curtain - see also Gathered width.

Fullness: Ratio of the finished width of curtains to the pole or track width. Typically 2x to 2.5x for pleats and gathered headings, less for eyelets or tab tops.


Gathered heading: Simple gathering tape is sewn onto the back of the curtain at the top, usually set down to form an upstand. The tape only has one row of hook pockets, so length calculations need to be very accurate.

Gathered width: The measurement from side to side across the pleated or gathered curtain heading - for a pair of curtains usually half the pole width plus allowances for overlap, ease and returns.

Gliders: The little runners in a curtain track to which the curtain hooks are attached.

Goblet pleat heading: Curtain heading stiffened with buckram and pleated to a predetermined width with large pleats sewn in at their base and dressed to look like wine goblets.


Heading: The type of finish applied to the top of a curtain, for example, Pencil Tape, Pinch Pleat, Eyelet, Tab Top or Gathered.

Heading height: Tape headings may be set down from the top of the curtain to achieve an upstand on the curtain - the height at which the heading tape is set will affect the size of the upstand.

Heading tape: Woven pocketed tape that is applied to the back of the curtain heading to which the curtain hooks are attached.

Headrail: Rail to which a Roman Blind is fitted. This takes the place of the traditional wooden batten, which we still offer as an alternative.

Hem: The turned and stitched edge of a finished blind or curtain. This usually refers to the bottom edge. In curtain making, a generous hem allowance (up to 15cm, double turned) helps how the curtains hang and allows for lengthening the curtains if they shrink.

Holdbacks: Metal or wooden arm fixtures to hold curtains back from the window.

Hook drop: Measurement from the eye of the pole ring/track glider to the bottom hem of the curtain.


Interlining: Blanket-like fabric incorporated between the curtain fabric and lining for a richer and warmer finish.


Leading edge: The edge of a curtain on the side that draws across the window.

Lining: Plain fabric for backing curtains to give more body, better protection and a fuller look. The best is 100% cotton with a sateen weave and a fade-resistant treatment.


Modal: Similar to viscose, a manufactured fibre from natural cellulose.


Overhang: Describes the amount by which a pole or track extends beyond the sides of the window opening. The greater the overhang, the more the curtains will clear the window when open, but if you make the pole too wide, you may need extra curtain widths to cover the opening.


Pattern match: The way in which the fabric pattern matches to the next piece of fabric. Usually a "straight match" - that is, horizontally aligned across the fabric, but sometimes a "half-drop" where the join is half way up the pattern, or "staggered", where the join is at some other interval. The type of match will affect your quantity calculation.

Pattern repeat (horizontal): The measurement between any point in a fabric's pattern and the point at which that same point in the pattern is repeated across the width of the fabric.

Pattern repeat (vertical): The measurement between any point in a fabric's pattern and the point at which that same point in the pattern is repeated along the length of the fabric. When furnishers refer to pattern repeat, they usually mean vertical pattern repeat.

Pelmet: Deep cover boxed over the top of curtains which disguises the track and curtain head. Made by covering plywood, buckram or thick board with fabric. A soft gathered version of this is sometimes called a valance.

Pelmet board: Board attached to the wall for mounting curtain track under and pelmet on front.

Pencil pleat heading: Gathered looking small pleats to the curtain heading. Made using the most common heading tape, usually about 7.5cm (3") deep is sewn on the back of the curtain at the top, and gathered into pleats using gathering strings set within the tape. There are usually 3 hook pockets to allow the curtain hooks to be set at different heights.

Penny weights: Traditional weights for sewing into the curtain hem. We put these in the corners and at each seam.

Pinch pleat heading: The curtain heading is stiffened with buckram then pleated into fixed pleats to a predetermined width. Usually triple pleats, but sometimes double pleats for less full curtains.

Piping: Fabric sewn around a length of cord then sewn into a seam to create a decorative edging.

Polyester: A man made yarn. Polyester content in fabric often causes the fabric to drape less well.

Puddling: Cascading of curtains onto the floor rather than hanging just to the floor. Also known as "Crashing".


Railroading: Using fabric on its side, i.e. using the width as the length. Some fabrics such as wide voiles and a few upholstery cloths are designed specifically to be used sideways.

Return: The part of a curtain or pelmet that "returns" back to the wall on each end. Returning curtains to the wall helps exclude light and gives a tidy finish.

Return edge: The back edge of the curtain that remains fixed when the curtain is drawn across the window.

Reveal: The opening into which a window frame is fitted.

Roller blind: Fabric on a roller fixed at the top of a window and pulled down to cover the window. Roller blinds can be operated by a spring mechanism or by a chain and ratchet system.

Roman blind: Panel of fabric with strung horizontal rods attached to the lining on the back of the panel, such that when the strings are pulled up, the panel is raised to hang in tidy concertina folds.


Seam: Sewn joint between two pieces of fabric.

Selvedge: The narrow strip down each edge of a fabric, sometimes has printed info such as design name. The Selvedge can form part of a seam allowance but is not useable as a visible part of the fabric.

Sheer: Lightweight fabric with some degree of translucence, sometimes used for privacy as well as decorative purposes.

Sidewinder: Chain mechanism that attaches to a blind headrail for raising or lowering a blind.

Sill: The board or plaster "shelf" at the bottom of the window. Same as Cill.

Slotted heading: Channel sewn into the top of a curtain which threads over the curtain pole.

Soffit: Underside of the top of the reveal (opening) into which the window frame fits.

Splayed: As in splayed reveal. Where the sides of a window reveal are angled, admitting more light and improving the outlook from a window.

Split batten: Batten that is sawn through at an angle to form a simple and effective two-part fixing for hanging things on walls.

Stackback: The width of curtaining when the curtain is in the open position. The wider the window, the greater the amount of fabric required to cover it and so the greater the stackback. When planning track or pole size, allow a greater width to preserve light if you will have a large stackback.

Struts: Legs, supports - as for headboards.

Swatch: Small fabric sample or cutting for checking colour, texture or design.

Swags and tails: Highly ornate fabric treatment over a pair of curtains to give the illusion of a length of carefully draped fabric. A decorative alternative to a pelmet.


Tab top heading: Fabric "straps" are added to the top of the curtain and these are threaded onto the curtain pole.

Tiebacks: Rope ties, commonly with tassel decoration, wrapped around the curtain to hold it back to the side. Originally traditional loops of stiffened lined fabric.

Tieback hooks: Hooks attached to the wall to take tiebacks, for holding curtains back.

Top-fix: Fixing orientation. For example a curtain track can be face-fixed (to the wall or window frame) or top-fixed to the ceiling or soffit.

Trimming: Decorative braid, fringe, ruche or other edging to finish the edges of curtains, blinds or upholstery.

Turnings: The fabric that is turned over at the top and the bottom of a curtain or blind. Add turnings to the finished length to calculate the cut length.


Upstand: The amount by which the curtain top is higher than the hook or tape position.


Vinyl: As in vinyl wall covering. A polymer-based material that is non-porous. Some wall papers also have a thin vinyl coating as a protective layer.

Viscose: A manufactured fibre derived from natural product (cellulose). Adds strength to fabric but can reduce stability.

Voile: See Sheer.

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