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If there's a term missing from our glossary that you think we need to add please click here to email us and let us know. If you'd like us to email you the definition just type 'Definition Reply' in the subject field!
A Architrave A wooden border surrounding a window (usually found in older properties) or a doorway
Appliqué Pieces of fabric or felt applied to a background fabric
Austrian blind A soft fabric blind that is gathered or pleated along the top and which draws up in soft pleats
B Batten A narrow piece of timber that slots into the hem or casing pockets of a roman blind Back to top
Bias or crossways strip A strip of fabric cut on the diagonal across the warp and weft of the fabric
Binding or lipping A strip of contrasting fabric applied to the edges of curtains, valances or tiebacks etc. This decorative edging can be cut to varying widths depending on the nature of the article being edged
Blackout lining A thick fabric used to line curtains where light exclusion is required. Available in 2 varieties – 2 pass in which the lining is coated white or ecru on one side only or – 3 pass in which both sides are coated. Because of its rubberised feel, it makes it more difficult to dress the curtains satisfactorily
Box pleat [headings] Flat symmetrical pleats that are formed by folding the fabric back on itself either side of the pleat
Brocade A rich fabric with an intricate pattern created within the weave, traditionally embossed in gold or silver. This term is now applied to any flowered fabric with a raised pattern
Buckram A coarse fabric of cotton or linen used for stiffening pelmets, curtain headings and tie backs
Bump A soft, thick material used for interlining curtains, pelmets etc
C Café rod A narrow rod usually made of brass used for curtains with a cased or scalloped heading Back to top
Calico A cheap, coarse textured plain weave cotton, similar to muslin other than in its thickness. Available in different weights - can be fire retardant treated for upholstery work
Chintz A printed cotton fabric usually with a glazed finish.
Cleat A metal or plastic hook with two arms  used for holding in place the cords on fabric blinds
Cornice or coving A decorative moulding positioned at the top of a wall where it meets the ceiling
Cut drop The cut length of a piece of fabric before any hems, headings or turnings have been stitched in place
D Dacron A synthetic fibre used for filling and padding articles Back to top
Damask Traditionally a silk, cotton or linen fabric with a textured pattern woven into it. Cheaper substitutes are now available made of synthetic fibres
Dormer Term applied to a window set within a roof
Dupion A plain, shiny fabric similar to silk in appearance. It is a fairly difficult fabric to work with as it frays very easily once cut
E Back to top
F Face fix A term usually relating to the installation of a curtain track fitting or the positioning of a blind fixing. The fixing is screwed into the face of the wall above the window recess or into the front of the window frame itself if the window dressing is to be inset into the window recess Back to top
Fascia board A narrow strip of board covered with fabric that is used to cover a curtain track
Festoon blind A very decorative blind that is ruched all along its length as well as across the heading
Finial A shaped attachment that slots onto the ends of a curtain pole. It helps secure the rings onto the pole but its primary function is decorative. Vast choice available in terms of shape and colour
Finished drop The final length of fabric after the hems, headings or turnings have been stitched in place
French/Triple Pleat A decorative curtain or valance heading in which the fabric is gathered into groups of 3 pleats. The heading is usually stiffened with buckram for a professional finish. It is possible to achieve a similar result using a curtain heading tape.
Fusible lining Lining with special heat activated glue on one side. Used for 'no sew' methods of curtain and blind construction
G Gimp A narrow braid used as a decorative trimming Back to top
Goblet pleat [heading] A decorative curtain heading in which the fabric is stitched into narrow tubes that are then stuffed with wadding.
H Heading The top edge of a curtain or valance finished either with a tape or a curtain buckram Back to top
Half Drop A half drop pattern repeat is where the pattern repeats itself on the diagonal rather than on the horizontal.
Hem The bottom edge of a curtain or valance
Herringbone stitch A strong stitch that is used to hold a single or double layer of fabric in place over another layer of fabric
Holland (cloth) A plain linen cloth commonly used in the making of roller blinds
I Interlining A soft material sewn in between the face fabric of a curtain and its lining. It gives the curtains a very luxurious appearance and provides extra insulation Back to top
Italian stringing Curtains with Italian stringing are joined together permanently in the centre and are as such ‘dress curtains’. The stringing is set on the diagonal near the top of each curtain thus pulling the curtains back at this point
J Back to top
K Back to top
L Lacing A very long stitch used to attach a face fabric to a buckram pelmet or tie back. Back to top
Lambrequin A stiff shaped surround to a window, similar to a stiff pelmet, but with much longer sides that can go as far down as the window sill.
Leading edge The edge of the curtain that faces the centre of the window
Lining A closely woven cotton fabric with a shiny surface used for lining curtains etc.
Lockstitch Akin to a loose blanket stitch, lockstitch is used to hold linings or interlinings to the reverse of a curtain face fabric
M Mitre A particular method of folding a corner enabling the fabric to lie flat. See Soft Furnishing Sewing Techniques Back to top
Moiré A watered silk or a cheaper synthetic substitute
Muslin A very fine cotton, very like a modern sheer
N Notch A ‘V’ shaped cut in a seam allowance, helps to reduce ‘bulk’ Back to top
O Outside edge The edge of the curtain that faces the outside edge of the window Back to top
P Pattern repeat The length of the pattern on a piece of fabric before it repeats itself. When joining lengths of fabric with a pattern, regard must always be paid to the pattern repeat Back to top
Pelmet A stiff pelmet is a fabric covered window dressing usually installed on top of curtains creating a decorative finish. It is flat not gathered
Pencil pleat [headings] The most commonly used taped curtain heading. When pulled up, the fabric forms a row of parallel vertical pleats
Pinch pleat [headings] See French and triple pleats
Pintuck A very narrow decorative seam that stands proud on the right side of the face fabric. These are usually arranged in a series of parallel lines
Piping Made by covering a cord with fabric
Q Quilting  A Technique for padding a fabric - the common method uses a layer of wadding and a backing cloth as well as the face fabric. The layers are then anchored together using decorative stitching techniques. Back to top
R Repp A coarse fabric with a ribbed appearance Back to top
Return The flat side of a lambrequin, pelmet or valance that buts up to the wall. This term also applies to the outside edge of a curtain that covers the space created between the track and the wall at the sides. It cuts out the light that would otherwise filter into the room down the sides of the curtain, creating a very tailored or ‘boxed’ effect to the window dressing
Reveal The side of a window recess, i.e. the wall adjacent to the window frame and at right angles to the surface wall
Roller blind A blind made of a stiffened fabric that is mounted on a spring mechanism. The blind can be raised or lowered to a specific height
Roman blind A roman blind is a flat, ungathered blind with no fullness. It offers a smart clean-cut finish to a window, with its pleats forming a soft layered pelmet when the blind is raised.
S Sateen lining 100% cotton sateen lining used for lining curtains, valances, pelmets, blinds, etc. Back to top
Selvedge The bound edge running along the side of a length of fabric
Sidelay The turning on the side of a curtain, both on the leading and on the outside edge
Silk A beautiful fabric made from the fibres produced by the silk worm. Care needs to be taken when using silk as the fibres eventually rot when subjected to direct sunlight
Skewer A long thick pin that is used to hold fabric in place during the making up process
Sliphem Used on the hems of lined and unlined curtains and on the sidelays of unlined curtains
Slip stitch (Ladder stitch) An invaluable stitch used to hold two folded edges together or a folded edge to a flat edge Back to top
Slot heading A curtain heading with a simple hemmed top into which is inserted a rod, pole or wire. The curtain is then bunched together to form gathers
Smocked heading A decorative curtain heading in which a series of pencil pleats are stitched together at regular intervals to form a honeycomb design
Squab A loose cushion with ties attached to the back edge for anchoring to a stool or chair seat
Swag A soft swathe of fabric usually coupled with tails to form a highly decorative window dressing
Stiff pelmet A stiff pelmet is a flat window dressing with either a flat or shaped lower edge. It is typically placed above curtains or blinds, and made using buckram or MDF.
T Tacking A temporary stitch used to hold layers of fabric together, tacking removed after final stitching Back to top
Taffeta A shiny fabric initially made of woven silk but now available in synthetic substitutes
Tab Top A decorative curtain heading by which the drape is hung from a pole using a number of fabric "loops" rather than a traditional taped or hand stitched heading. 
Tails A pleated and shaped piece of fabric installed on the outside edge of a curtain - usually coupled with swags to form an overall window dressing
Tapestry A thick heavy fabric woven from a number of different coloured fibres. Ideal for upholstery and for drapes in period properties. Due to its bulk, care should be taken when estimating
Template A pattern used as a guide when cutting out
Ticking A stiffened, striped, woven fabric, traditionally in black and white and used for making mattresses. Modern derivatives are not as stiff and come in a wide range of colours. Currently enjoying a revival in its popularity, it is an ideal fabric for a more informal setting
Tie Top Similar to a tab top heading but here the curtain is suspended from the pole using a series of "ties" rather than a "loop" tab. 
Toile de Jouy A printed cotton originally from France, usually bearing pastoral scenes. This fabric is undergoing renewed popularity, with its pastel designs on a white or cream background
Top Fix A term usually relating to the installation of a curtain track fitting or the positioning of a blind fixing. The fixing is screwed directly into the ceiling above the window rather than into the wall above the window if there is any. If the window dressing is to be inset into the window recess, then the fixings are screwed into the top of the recess above the window frame rather than into the window frame itself.

This type of fixing, particularly for blinds, is becoming more popular with the installation of UPVC windows. These windows often have quite large vents at the top and there has to be sufficient room for these to be opened without being obstructed by the blind. Window manufacturers will often advise very strongly not to drill into the frame itself and will even go so far as to say it will affect the guarantee on the window if this advise is not heeded

Back to top
Turnings A seam allowance
U Back to top
V Valance A pleated or gathered piece of fabric usually installed over the top of curtains. This term is also used to describe the decorative skirt used to hide a divan base Back to top
Velvet A good old favourite, velvet is a pile fabric made of cotton or synthetic mixes available in a vast range of colours and different decorative finishes. It will always be at home in a traditional setting
Voile A very finely woven cloth usually made of cotton or silk
W Warp The lengthways thread in a woven fabric Back to top
Wadding A batting or filling
Weft The crossways thread in a woven fabric
X Back to top
Y Back to top
Z Zipper foot A sewing machine attachment – a half foot that enables you to stitch very closely to a zipper or piping Back to top


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