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Fabric & Sewing Terms | Whole 9 Yards Portland


Glossary of terms commonly used at the Whole 9 Yards


Known for its cozy feel, chenille is also very durable and cleans up well. A real chameleon, chenille fabrics can be found in both traditional and more contemporary spaces. We love pairing it with velvets and tapestries. The term “chenille” most commonly refers to the style of weave and not the fibers.

Cotton & Linen Prints

Most of our 54" cotton and linen prints are absolutely suitable for upholstery as well as drapery. Cotton is a very strong fiber, and upholstery cottons are woven tightly with heftier yarns.  If you are concerned about care, consider choosing a busier pattern which can help hide dirt and stains;  Keep in mind that most of the cotton and linen prints do come with a stain guard applied.

Double Rub

Double rub refers to the back and forth motion used to test the durability of an upholstery fabric; and the double-rub test duplicates the abrasion that occurs from normal use of upholstered furniture. Industry standards rates 15,000 rubs or higher as heavy-duty residential and 30,000 or higher as commercial grade.


Fabrics meant for use outdoors have come a long way and we are finding some really lovely patterns that lend themselves to indoor applications as well.  Solution dyed and woven outdoor fabrics are pretty inherently stain resistant, and are designed to withstand heavy use and be washable (some are even bleach-treatable!).  We carry several outdoor lines, including one that is 100% American made and is Cradle-to-Cradle certified.


Refers to the way a pattern is milled. Typically a 54” wide fabric will have the pattern running up and down the roll. A railroaded fabric will be milled with the pattern running across the roll thus allowing the fabric to be turned and used horizontally, so a sofa or large cushion can be upholstered without seams or a break in the pattern.


Wow, do we love silk!! The subtle luster and beautiful embroidery definitely gets our hearts thumping!  There is nothing quite so grand as a properly lined silk drape; and depending on the style of drape they can go equally well in traditional/formal as well as more contemporary rooms. Silk can also be used for upholstery, although it must be backed.


The beauty of this classic fabric is owed to the many different thread colors used to weave together one cohesive design. Good tapestries are like paintings and should retain their richness for many years.  We love that most tapestries wear and clean-up well, and think they are a good choice for active families.


Velvets are known for their elegance and richness, and are typically chosen when someone wants a deep, comfortable feel.  Upholstery grade velvets are intended to withstand heavy wear, and these days are made in a variety of fibers.  Velvet is also one of the most “cat friendly” fabrics out there, as claws tend to run right through the nap, and kitty gets bored!  Velvet works equally well for draperies, and drapery specific velvets are known for how they “fall” beautifully.


"Woven" is a pretty generic term in the upholstery world. In most cases, we use it to refer to fabrics where the pattern is woven in, rather than printed on the surface.