Bedding glossary. What does it all mean?

Ever wonder what in the heck some descriptions mean when describing bedding or textiles?  Here is some information we thought you may find useful in assisting you to make the best product selections.


Bedding Glossary

Absorbency - The ability of a fabric to take in moisture. An important property for towels, it affects characteristics such as skin comfort, shrinkage and water repellency.

Antibacterial – Refers to fabric that is either chemically treated or whose fiber is created with an antibacterial agent. An antibacterial treatment makes the fabric resistant to microorganisms and inhibits their growth.

Applique – Stitched piece that is applied, usually sewn or embroidered, onto another piece of fabric as a decorative element

Baffle-Box Construction – Construction in which fabric walls are sewn in between the top and bottom of a comforter. This allows for better loft and more even distribution of fill. It also prevents fill from bunching and shifting, helping to keep it in place.

Bamboo – A natural textile made from the pulp of bamboo grass. Bamboo fabric is light, strong and known for its sustainability and good wicking properties.  Most importantly, Bamboo is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and will never get smelly like with cotton. Bamboo is often blended with cotton to create items such as throws and blankets.

Basket Weave – A plain weave variation in which multiple warp or filling yarns are treated as one woven unit. Basket weave yarns are laid flat and maintain a parallel relationship.

Bath Mat – An absorbent cloth piece used to stand on when coming out of the bath or shower. Bath mats have rubber backing, tend to be plush and come in a variety of sizes.

Bath Sheet – Similar to but larger than a bath towel. Used for drying after a bath or shower. Not included in towel sets

Bath Towel – Longer than it is wide and quite larger than a hand towel. Used for drying after a bath or shower

Batik– Unique design or fabric pattern created when some of the dyes are prevented from penetrating the fabric during the dyeing process. Can be repeated several times to create multicolored and blended patterns. The term can be used to describe either the resulting fabric design or the dyeing method itself.

Batting– Cotton, wool or synthetic fiber used as a fill or an inner lining for quilts

Bed Frame– The frame, usually made of metal or wood, which holds a bed’s foundation and maintains the headboard and footboard.

Bed Riser– Separate piece, usually in a set of blocks or cones, placed under a bed to raise it higher off the floor

Bed Set – Bedding ensemble usually consisting of a 3- or 4-piece sheet set. Twin sheet sets include a flat sheet, fitted sheet and pillowcase, while full and larger sizes include 2 pillowcases. Shams, decorative pillows or a bedskirt can be added to form a larger set.

Bed Scarf– Fabric accessory that drapes across the bottom of a comforter or other bed covering for a decorative effect

Bedding– A general term describing all of the sheets, pillows, comforters and other accessories used on a bed

Bedskirt– Decorative fabric accessory that includes a platform of flat top fabric and skirts that drop to the floor on 3 sides Can be tailored as straight, ruffled or pleated and is good for hiding items under the bed. Also called a dust ruffle

Bedspread –A decorative topper that covers the bed and reaches to the floor at the foot and sides

Binding– The trim on bedding items

Blanket– A woven bed cover used for warmth

Blend– A fabric weave made of 2 or more fibers

Boudoir Pillow– A decorative pillow, also known as a breakfast or oblong pillow, placed on a bed to create a decorative effect such as height, fullness or pattern coordination

Box Spring– A bed foundation with spring coils that is placed under the mattress for support

Box Spring Cover – Elasticized cover that fully wraps around the box spring and has no drop

Box stitch – A stitch with a crisscross or checkerboard pattern. Good for keeping fill in place in a comforter

Broadcloth – Tightly woven fabric, usually made from cotton or a cotton blend, commonly used in quilting

Calendering – Process where fabric is pressed between rollers to create a smooth, shiny look

Cambric Cotton – Closely woven, usually thin cotton treated to give off a slight gloss

Canopy – A fabric covering suspended above a bed

Canvas – A strong, durable, closely woven cotton fabric

Carding – Method of cleaning fibers by separating them and laying them parallel

Chamber – A wall of fabric sewn inside the basic shell to create a compartment that separates filled portions from each other. Often used in comforters to keep fill in place

Channel Stitch – Stitching pattern in which rows are stitched along the length of a comforter to create channels that encase the fill. Also known as karo stitch

Chenille – A fuzzy cotton fabric with protruding pile

Chevron – A regular, repeated zigzag pattern formed by reversing the twill in the weaving process. Also known as herringbone

Closed Construction – Comforter construction in which the filling does not move between chambers, such as in baffle box construction

Coil – Springs used in a mattress and/or box spring to provide resistance to applied weight

Coil Count – The number of coils in a mattress. Coil count is important to mattress integrity and resiliency.

Coil Configuration – The specific pattern in which coils are arranged

Colorfastness – A dyed fabric's ability to resist fading due to conditions such as washing and sun exposure

Combed – Cotton treatment (combing) that reduces the number of uneven, short fibers in the fabric

Comfort Hold – Comforter feature in which the sides and bottom have a comfort-lock border and the top border contains extra filling

Comfort Lock – Border along the sides and bottom of a comforter that locks the filling in place

Comforter – Bed cover made of a filling stitched into an outer fabric shell. Smaller than a bedspread and larger than a coverlet, a comforter is placed over the sheets and spreads across the bed but does not cover pillows or hang to the floor.

Comforter Set – Bedding ensemble usually consisting of a comforter, pillow shams and a bedskirt. Larger sets might also include Euro shams, decorative pillows and window treatments.

Cotton – Natural fiber made from cotton plants. Cotton is the softest and most breathable fabric and is known to draw moisture away from the skin. Types of cotton include cambric, Egyptian, Percale, Pima and Supima.

Convoluted Foam – A type of synthetic foam with patterned, raised fibers in such shapes as waves and boxes

Coverlet – A lightweight bed cover that is usually quilted or appears quilted. Smaller and lighter than a comforter, it is normally used during warmer months.

Decorative Pillow – Accent pillow consisting of a shell or cover and fill. The fill may or may not be removed depending on how the pillow is made. Examples include boudoir pillow, square pillow and neckroll.

Down – Soft feather fill, usually used in a comforter, featherbed or pillow. Available in different fill weights, high-quality comforters start at 550 fill power.

Down Alternative – Synthetic fill with insulating properties similar to down

Drapes – Matching pair of fabric panels that hang from a curtain rod for privacy and/or decorative effect. Also known as window panels

Drop – Commonly used in bedskirt measurements, the drop refers to the length of the skirt measured from the box spring to the floor.

Duck – A tightly woven fabric, usually made of cotton, with a durable finish

Dust Ruffle – Decorative fabric accessory that includes a platform of flat top fabric and skirts that drop to the floor on 3 sides Can be tailored as straight, ruffled or pleated and is good for hiding items under the bed. Also called a bedskirt

Duvet – A fabric shell that fits over a comforter. An opening at one end lets you insert the comforter and close the duvet using buttons, ties or zippers. Protective, decorative and easy to remove, duvets are a great way to preserve a comforter you like and change the look of your bedding by simply changing the cover.

Duvet Set – Bedding ensemble usually consisting of a decorative cover and matching/coordinating pillow shams. May also include a bed skirt

Egyptian Cotton – The longest staple cotton, it is considered the finest grade, with a soft and luxurious feel.

Embossing - A calendering process in which fabrics are engraved to produce a raised design on the surface.

Embroidery - Embellishment in which colored threads are sewn onto fabric to create a design. Can be done either by hand or machine

Euro Pillow– Large square pillow measuring 26” x 26”

Euro Sham – Decorative covering for a Euro pillow. Measures 26" x 26"

Feathers – Plumage from waterfowl, such as goose or duck, used as filling material

Featherbed – A soft, thick mattress topper filled with down or feathers

Featherbed Cover – Large shell (similar to a duvet) used to protect a featherbed

Fiber Bed – A soft, thick mattress topper filled with synthetic material.

Fill – Natural or synthetic material used to stuff bedding pieces such as comforters, pillows and mattress toppers.

Fill Power –Refers to the space (measured in cubic inches) that a single ounce of down fills. The higher the fill power, the warmer the comforter

Fill Weight – Refers to the amount of material used to create the fill

Firmness– Describes a mattress’ resistance to body weight and the resulting give

Fitted Sheet –Sheet that covers the mattress and lies under the flat sheet. It has elasticized corners that provide a snug fit around the mattress. Also known as the bottom sheet

Flange – Decorative fabric edging often used in shams

Flannel – Known for its warmth and soft feel, this fabric is especially popular during the winter months.

Flat Sheet –Sheet that lies between the fitted sheet and the bed cover. It can be tucked under the mattress at the sides and bottom. Also known as the top sheet

Footboard– A board or panel that forms the foot of a bed

Foundation –A non-coil base that supports the mattress and absorbs the weight and pressure applied to the bed

Gimp – Narrow decorative fabric trim that is usually corded, braided or ribbon-like

Gusset – Insert that adds strength to edges and corners (for example, a seam)

Hand – Term for how a fabric feels to the touch (for example, soft, silky or crisp)

Hand Towel – Towel that is larger than a washcloth and longer than it is wide

Headboard – A board or panel that forms the head of a bed

Hemstitch – Decorative stitch along the stitching lines of hems. Commonly used on sheets and pillowcases for a finished look that’s more durable

Herringbone – A regular, repeated zigzag pattern formed by reversing the twill during weaving. Also known as chevron

Hypoallergenic – A product that is largely allergen-free

Ikat - Fabric that is tie-dyed prior to weaving. The pattern ranges from simple to intricate

Jacquard – Fabric whose construction results in a raised woven design, usually with an intricate, repeated pattern. Created by using the Jacquard attachment on a loom

Jersey Knit –Commonly used for sheet sets; is also known as T-Shirt cotton for its soft, shirt-like feel

Jute - A bast fiber frequently used for binding threads in rugs

Kick Pleat – An inverted pleat. Commonly used on bedskirt corners to hide the legs of the bed frame

Linen(s) –Overall term for textile items used to adorn a bed. Bed linen includes sheets, pillowcases, shams, quilts and more.

Loft – The height created by the depth of the filling material. Comforters with greater loft usually have a baffle box construction.

Matelassé – A fabric finish that imitates the indentations of a quilt. Often used for coverlets

Mattress –The actual sleep surface of a bed; can be filled with coils or foam. Mattresses provide support and differ in comfort and firmness according to style.

Mattress Pad –Elasticized covering placed over and around a mattress.

MattressTopper –A layer of support that lies on top of a mattress (for example, a featherbed, fiber bed or foam topper)

Memory Foam –A type of elastic, viscous synthetic foam that molds to the shape of whatever surrounds it

Mercerize –Treatment used to shrink fibers and thereby increase a fabric’s strength and luster

Microfiber –A fine synthetic material with a soft feel

Neckroll– Decorative pillow with a cylindrical shape placed on a bed to create an effect such as height, fullness or pattern coordination

Open Construction– Comforter construction in which the fill can move between chambers

Percale Cotton –Closely woven, plain weave cotton with a thread count of 180 or above

Pile – Defined by feel and/or density, pile varies according to the particular weave and the quantity and quality of fibers used. The term may also refer to pile fabrics such as velvet. Commonly used to describe thickness of rugs

Pilling – Small round nubs of matted fiber created when fibers are loosened from the fabric surface. These soft balls most often appear after washing.

Pillow –Used for head support, a pillow has a fabric shell with natural or synthetic fill. Pillows vary in size, firmness, fabric, fill and design, and are available in down, down alternative, foam and other materials.

Pillow Protector –Pillow cover, usually zippered, used as a protective covering. The protector encases the pillow; the pillowcase then covers the protector.

Pillowcase –Functional covering for a pillow, with an opening at one end to insert and remove the pillow. Pillowcases match the fitted and flat sheet in the same set.

Pima Cotton –Soft, medium staple-length type of American-bred Egyptian cotton.

Piqué - Cotton or blended fabric of medium weight with an embossed check-like pattern

Plain Weave –The most basic of weaves; features one thread over one thread

Ply – Fabric element based on single- or double-yarn construction. Single-ply is higher in quality than two-ply

Polyester –Synthetic fiber that is durable, non-breathable, wrinkle- and shrink-resistant

Polyurethane – A type of synthetic, flexible foam

Print –A fabric’s “picture” or visual design. Created using various color transfer methods to form a pattern that transfers to the fabric

Quilt – Bed cover in which a layer of fill is placed between 2 fabric layers and then stitched into a specific pattern or design to hold the layers in place. A piece may be quilted only on the face or fully quilted through all 3 layers.

Quilt Set –Bedding ensemble that usually consists of a quilt and 2 quilted shams. Larger sets might include coordinating decorative pillows.

Rayon - A natural textile that features a soft hand and is created from wood pulp

Ruffle –A gathered fabric often seen in bedskirts and sometimes as the flange on shams and decorative pillows. Quantity of fabric used determines fullness..

Sateen –A weave that provides a subtle sheen resembling satin; gives cotton a soft, smooth hand

Satin – Fabric whose weave creates a lustrous, shiny surface

Scalloped Edge – A stitched border with continuous curves

Sham –Decorative covering for a pillow

Sheet Set –Bedding set that includes 1 flat sheet and 1 fitted sheet, and 1 Standard, 2 Standard or 2 King pillowcases, depending on mattress size

Sleep Set – General term that describes the combination of foundation, mattress, headboard, footboard and bed frame

Square Pillow – Decorative pillow with the same length and width, creating a square shape that often measures 16” or 18” square. Used in bedding to give a decorative effect such as height, fullness or pattern coordination

Supima® – Derived from the term “superior pima,” supima cotton has a very long fiber that provides a smoother feel than most types of cotton. Only certain manufacturers and retailers are granted license to use the name.

Support – Refers to a mattress’ stability and how it distributes body weight

Synthetic – Manmade material

Thread Count – The number of threads in one square inch of cloth. A high thread count results in a finer weave and can increase durability.

Throw – Similar to but smaller than a blanket, a throw is lightweight and one size. It can be functional or decorative.

Ticking – Closely woven, sturdy, durable fabric often used for mattresses and pillow coverings

Tieback – A length of fabric or other material tied around a window panel to hold back drapes

Toile – Design featuring a white or off-white background with a repeated, frequently pastoral-themed pattern in a single color—usually black, blue or dark red

Towel – An absorbent cloth used for washing or drying (for example, washcloth, hand towel, bath towel or bath sheet)

Towel Set –A set that typically consists of a matching washcloth, hand towel and bath towel

Trim – Refers to the edging on a bedding item (for example, binding, piping and cording)

Tufted – A raised loop surface created by pulling yarns into a woven background

Tulle – Lightweight, extremely fine, machine-made netting

Turn Back Hem – Finished edge formed by turning part of the fabric on the side of a sewn item. Used on flat sheets and pillowcases

Tweed – Woolen, twill-weave fabric with soft, thick-colored yarns

Valance – Decorative window accent made of gathered fabric. Features a short drape that hangs in the center of the window panels (drapes)

Velvet – Soft, luxurious fabric with a smooth pile and a plain underside

Velveteen – A cotton or cotton-blend fabric with a short pile. Similar to velvet but lacks velvet’s drape and sheen

Visco Foam – Temperature-sensitive visco-elastic memory foam that adjusts to body shape and movement

Warp – Refers to the lengthwise yarns through which the weft is woven during weaving

Washcloth – Square towel, often 12” x 12”. Also called a face cloth

Weft – Refers to yarns interlaced through the warp during weaving. Also known as filling

Window Panels – Matching pair of fabric panels that hang from a curtain rod for privacy and/or decorative effect. Also known as drapes

Yarn-Dyed – Process by which yarns are dyed before they are woven into fabrics Also known as color woven

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