Huckaback or Harateen?

Inventories often feel to me like someone opening wide their front door and inviting me in to their homes, to have a good old nose around.  They can bring  to life the social history of different periods, give you a real sense of how people lived, and what was of value in their homes.  Walking with the appraisers from room to room, seeing in your imagination the room in front of you is much more satisfying if you have some clue as to what the unusual or obsolete terms mean.

The types of fabric used about the household are often specified, some of which are less familiar than others.  In this post I am putting together a list of fabric types, some I had heard of, others were new to me, which hopefully will add depth to the picture, fill in some of the gaps, and make the inventories clearer.  This list is far from exhaustive, but these are some words that I have come across in recent work.

buckram Buckram – fine linen or cotton; subsequently coarse linen stiffened with paste or gum.

stiffened buckram
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Cambric, camerick – a type of fine white linen, originally made at Cambrai in France.  The term was also applied to a hand-spun cotton imitation.

cambric     – – –

camletCamlet – a fine, light linen made from a combination of wool, silk and hair, and especially from the wool of angora goats.  It is said to have originally been made from camel hair in the Middle East, but this is uncertain.  Frequently used for bed hangings, upholstery, and womens’ clothing

camlet gown

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Cheyney – a printed woollen or worsted fabric, sometimes used for curtains


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Damask – a rich silk fabric, woven with elaborate designs, originally from Damascus.  Later, a twilled table linen, with an elaborate design woven in, seen by the reflection of light; the term was subsequently applied to any fabric woven in this way.

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Diaper – twilled white linen cloth woven with geometric patterns, used as towels, or napkins for drying hands during meals; also as table cloths.  Originally made in Ypres, Belgium, hence the name d’Ypresdiaper

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Dowlas – a coarse linen or calico used by the poor for sheets, skirts, smockes etc..   Originally from Adoules or Doulas in Brittanydowlas-Linen

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Drugget – a coarse woollen material, or perhaps mixed with linen or silk, felted or woven, sometimes printed on one side, and used for wearing apparel, or for table or floor coveringsDrugget Rug

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Fustian – a coarse fabric made from a mixture of cotton and linen, with a silky finish, used for furnishings and heavy clothes; conjecturally originating in Fostat, Egyptfustian

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Harrateen – a linen fabric used for bed curtains

   harrateen backing of stitched work chair

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Huckaback, huggaback – strong linen fabric with a roughened surface, used for towellinghuckaback towels

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Turkey, turkey work – cross-stitched woollen carpet on a canvas backing, with a deep pile, woven from richly coloured yarn in the Turkish fashion, used as a covering for chairs, cushions, etc.turkey work

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Twill – a coarse linen fabric in which the weft passes alternately over one warp thread and then under two or more threads, producing a lined effect; often used for bed coverings



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