Building & Renovating

Building 101: 9 Different Fabric Types

Learn more about commonly-used textiles for interiors to make decorating your home easy

Photography: Miguel Nacianceno

Read the original article ("The Fabric of Life”) in the June 2008 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App now! Log on to for more details.  

(From top to bottom)

CHINTZ (yellow fabric with ribbon)

What it is: A glazed plain weave cotton fabric with a tightly spun fine warp, often printed with brightly colored flowers or stripes.

Used for: Drapes, slipcovers

VELVET (black, orange, and violet fabric with floral pattern)

What it is: A luxurious medium weight cut-pile constructed fabric in which the cut pile stands up very straight, commonly made with a filament fiber for high luster and a smooth hand.

Used for: Upholstery, throw pillows, drapes

TOILE DE JOUY (blue and red printed fabric)

What it is: A patterned fabric that originated in the French town Jouy-en-Josas in the 1700s with a single-color, pastoral-themed print on a white or off-white background.

Used for: Upholstery, drapes, table linens; the pattern is also used on wallpaper

 SATIN (apple green fabric)

What it is: A silk, nylon, or polyester fabric with a glossy, lustrous surface and a dull back. Its smooth texture is due to the high number of "floats"-"missed" interlacings, where the warp yarn lies on top of the weft yarn, or vice versa.

Used for: Upholstery, throw pillows, bed sheets

MOIRE (light green fabric)

What it is: A corded fabric made from silk or man-made fibers, whose surface has a distinctive watermarked wavy pattern.

Used for: Upholstery, throw pillows, drapes

BROCADE (floral fabric underneath the bowl of buttons)

What it is: A heavy, exquisite, jacquard-type fabric with an all-over raised pattern or floral design.

Used for: Upholstery, drapes

DAMASK (dark blue fabric)

What it is: A glossy jacquard fabric, usually made from linen, cotton, rayon, silk, or blends. The patterns are flat and reversible.

Used for: Napkins, table linens, drapes, upholstery

CREWELWORK (brown fabric with leaf pattern)

What it is: A decorative form of embroidery using wool and a variety of different embroidery stitches to follow a design outline applied to the fabric, typically linen or cotton.

Used for: Upholstery, throw pillows, curtains, wall hangings

TAFFETA (yellow fabric)

What it is: A lustrous, medium weight, plain weave fabric with a slight ribbed appearance in the filling (crosswise) direction. It has a crisp hand and lots of body.

Used for: Upholstery, throw pillows, drapes


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