All posts tagged: terminology

Terminology: What’s the difference between worsted & woolen wool fabrics?

If you have ever gone shopping for wool fabrics you may have seen some of the fabric described as worsted, and some of it described as woolen. If you are me, you may have wondered what this meant.  Aren’t all wool fabrics woolen?  I mean, they are wool, right? Not quite! In brief, worsted and woolen are different types of wool (long staple vs short staple), prepared in different ways, resulting in a different look and feel.  Under magnification, worsted yarns look smooth with long fibres, and woolen yarns are much hairier, with lots of short fibres and more pokey-out bits.  Worsted wools are slick when woven, woolen wools are knitted, crocheted, or woven into softer, fluffier fabric, or fulled fabric.  Worsted wools are better at keeping out the wind and rain, but woolen wools are warmer, because they are full of air which acts as insulation. Worsted is also used to describe a particular way of spinning yarn, or weight of yarn, but I’m not going to go into that because it’s a modern spinning thing, not …

Brocade and jacquard – what’s the difference? (or, the history of the jacquard loom, and all the weaves it can create)

A long time ago, when I posted the difference and between muslin, voile, lawn, and batiste (among other fabrics), someone asked if I could explain the difference between brocade and jacquard.  I took a deep breath, and say “Yes, but it will take a while.” It certainly has, because it’s actually quite a big question, and there is so much confusion around it! A lot of the confusion come from the fact that while the appearance of brocade has stayed very similar throughout history, the method of creating it has changed drastically.  Prior to 1801 brocades were woven on hand operated draw-looms by master weavers, who manually created the elaborate brocade patterns as they were woven in with the help of a drawboy, who stood on a perch above the loom.  Then, in 1801 Joseph Marie Jacquard demonstrated a new invention (albeit one based partly on a series of inventions from the 1740s-60s) – a loom which ran on cards with holes punched in them.  Each card represented one line of a pattern, with the holes allowing threads to pass through …

High heels for kings, empresses and Nana

For my Historical Sew Fortnightly ‘The Politics of Fashion’ challenge I present a carry-on from my Art submissions.  I’ve knocked off another little bit of Manet’s Nana’s outfit by making high heeled 1877 evening shoes. Like Nana’s shoes, mine feature very high Louis heels, a black velvet or suede ground (mine are faux suede), and gold decorations on the toes – I went for gold lace with gold beading. I made my shoes by taking a pair of 1990s shoes that had the right basic silhouette, and (most importantly) the right heel: a high Louis heel. Unfortunately, they were cut far too high in the foot, so I had to cut them down. Then I bound the edges (an endeavor that required pliers to pull the needles through, bent one and broke two) where I had cut them. Next, it was time for the lace.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have any suitable gold lace in the stash because I de-stashed my 1990s gold bridal lace bits because (duh) they were 1990s gold bridal lace bits, and when was …