Madonna might be a material girl, but what kind of material?  They’re not all the same.  Daily Writing Tips sent this interesting material to my inbox a few days ago and I thought you might appreciate it, too.  Sew, onward and don’t allow yourself to be worsted by any of these you don’t know.  Have you cottoned onto the appeal of apparel? Oddly enough, (see #22) in the mid-seventies, I was actually in Osnabrück, Germany.  I’m not making that up out of whole cloth and far as I know, none of these have been fabricated.  Okay, I’ll stop now, although I think they forgot cotton, “the fabric of our lives.”

25 Names of Fabrics, Wools, and Leathers Derived from Place Names

By Mark Nichol

This post lists and defines terms for apparel materials that have in common that the terms are derived from place names

1. angora: a type of wool from Angora rabbits, which originated near Ankara (previously Angora), Turkey
2. Bedford cord: a corduroy-like fabric, named after Bedford, England, or New Bedford, Massachusetts
3. calico: a type of cloth originally from Calicut, India
4. cambric: a type of cloth originally from Cambrai, France
5. cashmere: a type of wool and a woolen fabric from Kashmir goats, which come from the Kashmir region of India
6. chino cloth: a cloth originating in China (the name is Spanish for “Chinese”)
7. Cordovan leather: a type of shoe leather first produced in Cordoba, Spain
8. damask: a type of fabric named after Damascus, Syria
9. denim: a type of fabric originally called serge de Nîmes, or “serge of Nîmes,” after Nîmes, a town in France
10. dungaree: a type of denim cloth originating in Dongrī, India; pants or overalls made from this fabric are called dungarees
11. duffel: a cloth first made in Duffel, Belgium
12. Harris tweed: a type of handwoven tweed cloth originating on the island of Lewis and Harris and adjacent islands in Scotland (the name of the cloth type tweed is coincidental with the name of the river Tweed)
13. Holland (or Holland cloth): a type of linen originally made in various parts of Europe, including the province of Holland in the Netherlands
14. jaconet: a fabric originally from Puri, India (the word is derived from the name of the city’s Jagannath Temple)
15. jean: a type of fabric originating in Genoa, Italy
16. jersey: a type of knit fabric originating on the island of Jersey, next to France (but a dependency of the United Kingdom)
17. Mackinaw cloth: a woolen cloth used for thick, warm jackets (called Mackinaws or Macs) originally favored by lumberjacks and then hunters and fishermen in the Mackinac (or Mackinaw) region of Michigan
18. madras: a lightweight cloth originally from Madras, India (now called Chennai)
19. muslin: a lightweight fabric originally from Mosul, Iraq
20. Morocco leather: a type of leather originally from Moroccan goats
21. nankeen: a type of fabric originating in Nanjing, China (previously called Nanking or Nankin); also refers to pants made of this material, as well as the pale buff or yellow color of the fabric, a type of porcelain originating in the city, and a type of lace (often called nankins) and part of the name of numerous animals and plants featuring this color
22. osnaburg: a coarse cloth originally made in Osnabrück, Germany
23. suede: a type of leather made from the underside of animal skins, originally referenced in the French phrase gants de Suède (“gloves from Sweden”); similar-looking fabrics are referred to as “sueded silk” and so on
24. tulle: a type of fabric originating in Tulle, France
25. worsted: a type of wool whose name is derived from that of Worstead, one of the villages from which it originated; also, the name of a type of yarn and a category of yarn weight

  1. Never knew about all these fabric. Interesting Info !

  2. StillWalks says:

    A fascinating post – I love your language 😊

  3. happyface313 says:

    🙂 Dear Janet,
    this is so interesting! I might have known about angora and cashmere, Harris Tweed and Jersey, but I didn’t know that there was a material that came from Osnabrück…after all, I’m German 😉
    Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful week!
    Claudia 🙂

  4. Dan Antion says:

    It’s always fun to discover where words began – thanks!

  5. Interesting origins of the fabric names, Janet. Enjoyed your little intro too 🙂

  6. Jet Eliot says:

    Very interesting list from Mark Nichol, Janet, thanks for sharing it.

  7. belocchio says:

    I am very much a “material girl”. I so appreciated the explanation of fabric names. I am an avid sewer and consequently the collector of fabrics. When I travel I almost always bring back some kind of fabric that is unique to the area. I consider my stash of fabric “money in the bank”. Cheers Virginia

  8. Leya says:

    Although I knew some of them – there were many new. Love it when I get to know history and background of words and phrases – thank you for sharing, Janet.

  9. Allan G. Smorra says:

    I learned a lot from your list today. Thanks for broadening my knowledge base. I do have one question about the last item on the list: Do the mills advertise, “Our Worsted is best”?

  10. I love fabrics but never studied them to this depth. Very interesting!

  11. restlessjo says:

    Fascinating! And no, I’m not 🙂 🙂

  12. joey says:

    I could live in calico and muslin 🙂 I am not a material girl, but I am a fabric queen, lol — I get it honestly, all three of my parents have been thread movers so I am as well. Tubs of fabric, piles of quilts — I have a serious cotton fetish!

    • My mom sewed many of our clothes when I grew up, so I collected fabric too for years before realizing that I never really was good enough at sewing that it was easy and fun. I also am a thrifty shopper (now literally, as almost all of what I buy is from various thrift stores), so it would actually cost more to make the things I was buying. It took me years, but I finally shed my non-sewing guilt and am now happy. 🙂


  13. Material girl, yes to all natural vibers , silk , cashmere, wool. Interesting post😀

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