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Linen Dictionary

 

When buying linens you'll come across quite a few technical words. These are terms used in the linen industry to explain different types of fabric and the treatments used to create special finishes. We hope our linen dictionary will help you to find exactly what you want!

Bath Robe -  A casual garment usually made of terry toweling, which you wear after a shower or on top of your pajamas.

Bath Sheet -  The largest size bath towel. In the gulf, many Arabs will call bath sheets “beach towels”. 

Beach Towels -  In Europe or Australia a beach towel is an oversized towel to use only on the beach or beside the pool, so it is usually brightly coloured and may have a velour (sheared) finish. In the gulf, many Arabs will call extra large bath towels “beach towels”.

Bed Runner - A long decorative cover for the end of the bed. It’s similar to a table runner. It’s long and skinny and generally is only for decoration.

Bedskirt -  A piece of material to cover the bed base or legs of the bed. Same as a “bedskirt”.

Bedspread -  A quilted top of bed cover. It is like a larger duvet cover or comforter, with the duvet filling permanently sewn inside. A traditional bedspread will have corners sewn into it, whilst a more modern style like Christy will be flat so it can be used on the bed in several different ways.

Bedthrow -  A cover for the end of the bed. It is rectangle shape, and is usually made of quilted (padded) cotton. It has a decorative purpose (it looks like a bed runner), but can also be used as a spare blanket on the bed.

California King -  This is a common U.S. size name for bedlinen. Size dimensions will depend upon which country you are in, as each country has different bed sizes. Please refer to Linen Obsession’s size chart – we carry both UK and Gulf bedding sizes.

Carded Cotton -  Cotton which has not been “combed”, so it will still have more shorter & spikier cotton fibres inside it, and more impurities (e.g. small pieces of cotton plants etc).

Combed Cotton - This is cotton which has been combed to remove any inferior shorter fibres and any impurities.

Comforter -  A quilted top of bed cover. It is an American style product, like an unshaped bedspread, or like a duvet cover with the duvet filling permanently sewn inside.

Commercial Laundering (washing) -  Hotels require special linen which is extra strong and durable, as it has to withstand bleaching, washing at 90 degrees celcius, and the very strong commercial drying machines. Standard retail linen is not suitable for use in hotels.

Cotton - is a natural fibre harvested from the cotton plant. It is famous for it’s ability to “breathe” or absorb moisture, so it can feel cooler to sleep under, and is the best fibre to use to make bath towels.

Damask - is a reversible jacquard fabric with a pattern weaved into it that gives the appearance of a sheen, reflecting light as it is moved. Today, damask fabric is manufactured using Jacquard Looms that are controlled by using computerised software.

Domestic Washing Machine -  is washing the linen in a standard home washing machine. All linen purchased in linen or department stores should be suitable for normal home washing, unless marked otherwise on the care instruction label.

Double - This is a common size name for bedlinen. The size dimensions will depend upon which country you are in, as each country has different bed sizes. Please refer to Linen Obsession’s size chart – we carry both UK and Gulf bedding sizes.

Down - are the smallest and fluffiest feathers found on the underneath the tougher external feathers of a water bird. These feathers have virtually no stem (or stick) and therefore feel much softer than feathers from the same bird. They are great to retaining warm and are used in superior quality filled bedding products, like pillows, duvets and comforters.

Duck Feather and Down - Ducks provide a more affordable source of “Feather and Down”.  Feather and down has excellent warmth retention, whilst being lightweight and fluffy – all great qualities for a duvet filling. Cheaper quality Duck Feather and Down is known to sometimes have a slight smell.

Duvet - The filling that goes inside the duvet cover (also called a quilt, or comforter, or doona).

Duvet Cover - The most popular top layer for the bed. A duvet cover is the cover for a duvet or quilt or doona or comforter filling (these are all names for the same thing!) i.e. the “duvet filling” is put inside “duvet cover”.

Egyptian cotton - is superior quality, extra-long length cotton, which has been growth in Egypt (only). See “Types of Cotton” for more information.

Emperor - This is a common size name for bedlinen. The size dimensions will depend upon which country you are in, as each country has different bed sizes. Please refer to Linen Obsession’s size chart – we carry both UK and Gulf bedding sizes.

Fabric Softener - This is the enemy of your linen (and any clothes too). Fabric Softeners weaken the fibres in your fabrics, and if you use them, you will find the fabrics will start tearing many years before they should. TIP: if you bath towels are too hard, you simply over-dried them. You can try to dry them in the shade or the tumble drier next time, so your towels feel softer without having to use fabric softeners. TIP: if your bedlinen is too hard, you over dried them (we know this is easy in the gulf heat!). They will return to their beautiful softness after their next wash.

Face Washer - A very small towel used for washing the face or sometimes drying hands. Also called face cloth, or flannel.

Face Cloth - A very small towel used  for washing the face or sometimes drying hands. Also called face washer, or flannel.

Feather and Down - Superior quality pillows and duvets are filled with a mixture of water bird “Feathers” and soft feathers called “Down”. Feather and down has excellent warmth retention, whilst being lightweight and fluffy – all great qualities for a duvet or comforter filling.

Fitted Sheet -  A sheet which is shaped to fit the mattress. It usually has elastic in all four corners, so the fitted sheet can fit snuggly over the mattress. It is important to know your mattress size, so you can buy the correct size fitted sheet. All beds require a fitted sheet (although you can use a flat sheet and tuck it under the mattress, the old fashioned way).


Flannel - A very small towel used for washing the face or sometimes drying hands. Also called face cloth, or face washer.

Flannel -  is also a warmer, fleecy fabric usually used in winter only. See “Types of Fabrics”.


Flat Sheet - A plain flat “rectangle shaped” sheet which can fit any mattress size. It is an optional item, as some people sleep directly under the duvet cover, and use a fitted sheet only.


Grams Per Square Metre (or “G.S.M.”) -  is the measurement used for checking the weight of bath towels, and it also indicates the expected thickness. A basic bath towel is more than 450 gsm, good bath towels start at 500 gsm, very good quality is 600 gsm or more, luxury quality is usually 650gsm or more.

Goose Feather and Down - Goose Feather and Down provide a superior quality and more expensive filling option for filling duvet covers, duvets and comforters. Goose feathers are generally thought of as superior to Duck feather, as they can trap more warm air, due to their larger size.

Guest Towel - A smaller hand towel size, which is popular in the UK or Australia. Size is usually around 40cm wide by 65 to 75cm long.

Gym Towel - A small sized towel, usually 50 x 100cm or 60 x 100cm. We suggest to buy our Christy hand towels 50x100cm for this purpose.

Hand Towel - A smaller towel for use on the hand rail for drying hands. Due to the Turkish influence in the Middle East, the larger 50 x 100cm size is popular here. This size is also good to use as a small “gym” towel.

Hotel Bed Linen - Middle Eastern quality hotels generally use 250 or 300 Thread Count 100% cotton sateen. They use this thread count, because it is a strong fabric, which also feels luxurious. Hotel linen can be bleached or washed in a commercial washing machine or dryer, so it needs to be strong. Hotels in cooler regions sometimes prefer a polyester and cotton blend for their sheets, as the fabric is stronger and more wrinkle resistant. Often hotel linen has a more simple (more economical) sewing style. The hotels will usually use a white plain sateen fabric (with no decoration) and/or a white sateen stripe. Our Linen Obsession Hotel Linen will have the real hotel fabric, but we upgrade the sewing standard to a nicer finish for your home use.

Hotel Towels - are usually made of a shorter loop cotton, so there is less chance of guests catching their jewelry on the towels and pulling threads. They are denser and “matte” style, as they are using “double-cotton”, which allows company logos to be added into the pile (fabric) of the towels. They frequently don’t have any decorative bands or headers, to avoid any chance of shrinkage during the hot commercial washing process.

Jacquard - is a fabric with a decorative pattern made inside the fabric, by using a special “jacquard” weaving loom e.g. Damask. See “Types of Fabrics”. This is a type of weave, where a more complex pattern is achieved through combining different threads. The Jacquard Loom was invented in France by Joseph Marie Jacquard at the beginning of the 19th Century. We now use computer cards to program the pattern and this allows for more intricate designs. See “Types of Fabrics”.

King - This is a common size name for bedlinen. The size dimensions will depend upon which country you are in, as each country has different bed sizes. Please refer to Linen Obsession’s size chart – we carry both UK and Gulf bedding sizes.

Linen - A general word used to describe any textile items used in the bedroom or bathroom, mainly for use against the skin i.e. bed linen, robes or bath towels.

Linen - is also a natural fibre, made from the flax plant. It has a lovely texture, often with a “slub” or bumpy natural look. It is very strong, however it’s known to need more ironing than most cottons.

Mattress Cover - is a protective layer used on top of a mattress. It is placed directly on top of the mattress to protect it from any moisture or spills. A mattress cover or protector will usually be waterproof, if it’s used on children’s bed. Same as a mattress protector.

Mattress Protector- is a protective layer used on top of a mattress. It is placed directly on top of the mattress to protect it from any moisture or spills. A mattress cover or protector will usually be waterproof, if it’s used on children’s bed. Same as a mattress cover.

Mattress Topper - is an additional soft upper layer added on top of a mattress, to make it super soft.

Muslin - A cheap fabric with a low thread count. It can feel and look a little “rough”. See “Types of Fabrics”.

Optical Brighteners - in washing liquids & powders are a type of bleach. We recommend that washing detergents with bleach or optical brighteners inside should NOT be used on linen which you buy in the linen or department stores. Regular use of Optical Brighteners and Bleaches in washing will fade colours, and fabrics will not last as long. We recommend using a simple washing detergent without bleach or brighteners, that is marked “colour safe”.


Optical Brighteners -  used in white linen production. Quality white linen will have “optical brighteners” added to the initial fabric processing, to ensure that the “whiteness” of the linen will last a long time.

Pedestal Mat - Also known as a “contour mat”. It is U-shaped bathroom floor rug, so it can fit around the base of the toilet, bidet or sink stand. They are usually tufted and are super thick.

Percale - A higher quality plain woven fabric (usually more than 200 Thread Count). It is a very strong fabric which is easy care and will last a long time. See “Types of Fabrics”.

Pillow Cover - A protective cover for a pillow. It is used under the decorative / outer pillowcase, and its purpose is to keep the inner pillow clean.

Pillowcases “Bag make” -  are simple pillowcase sewn like a “bag” The simplest and most widely used pillowcases in the hospitality industry is the 'Bag', because it allows for speedy housekeeping. Here, the pillowcase is longer than the pillow, with the extra length holding it inside rather than a flap, which makes the pillow easier to remove, and the pillowcase cheaper to sew. Most quality brands will offer Standard and Oxford pillowcase styles only, as they look nicer on the bed.
 
Pillowcase “Standard” - are the most popular pillowcase used in the home is called the 'Standard’ pillowcase, where the pillow fills to each corner of the pillowcase and an extra 15 to 20cm “flap” is added to the open end, to hold the pillow inside.

Pillowcase “Housewife” - is a funny English word used to describe a ‘Standard Pillowcase’, which is the most popular pillowcase used in the home. The pillow fills each corner of the pillowcase and an extra 15 to 20cm “flap” is added into the open end, to hold the pillow inside. We call them “standard pillowcases” on this website.

Pillowcase “Oxford” -  is the same as the 'Standard’ or “Housewife' pillowcase, except it is stitched differently with extra fabric to make a decorative border, or “frame” around the outside of the pillow. The frame is between 3 to 5 cm high. An oxford pillowcase requires more sewing details and cost, and hence the retail price will be more significantly expensive, compared to a standard pillowcase.

Pillowcase “Oxford Tailored Pillowsham” - The long name for the Oxford Pillowcase – see above. It just means it has a “tailored border”, like a plain frame around the outside of the pillow. The frame is between 3 to 5 cm high.

Pillowcase “Euro” -   is a square pillow- usually 65x65cm in size. It is called a “Euro” as it’s a very popular size in Europe. There can be “Standard Euro Pillowcases” (plain make, with an end-flap inside), or “Oxford Euros” which will have an extra frame/border entirely around the edge of the pillowcase.

Pima Cotton - High quality, long length cotton grown usually in the U.S., Australia or Peru. For more information see “Types of Cotton”.

Polycotton - A fabric composition which is made from a mixture of polyester and cotton. The polyester content makes the fabric stronger and more wrinkle-resistant.

Queen - This is a common size name for bedlinen. The size dimensions will depend upon which country you are in, as each country has different bed sizes. Please refer to Linen Obsession’s size chart – we carry both UK and Gulf bedding sizes.

Quilt - The filling that goes inside the quilt cover (also called a duvet, or comforter, or doona).

Quilt Cover- Referred to as a “Duvet Cover” on this website. The most popular top layer for the bed. A quilt cover is the cover for a duvet or doona or comforter filling (these are all names for the same thing!) i.e. the “quilt filling” is put inside “quilt cover”.

Quilted -  means a padded (lightly filled) product with some stitching holding the filling inside. Most popular quilted products are square pillows (decorative for the back of the bed), bedspreads, bed throws or mattress protectors. Usually the filling is a light layer of polyester fibres.

Sateen - A special woven fabric made of 100% cotton, which puts more yarns on the top of the fabric, and less on the bottom – so the surface of the fabric appears softer and more silky. See “Types of Fabrics”.

Sateen Stripe - A classic hotel fabric with a striped pattern woven into the fabric every 1-3 cm, usually in white or cream only.

Satin - is usually a fabric made of synthetic fibres. Sometimes for Arabic speakers, “cotton sateen” is referred to as “satin”. See “Types of Fabrics”.

Silk - A very fine and super long thread produced by a silkworm. See “types of Fabrics”
Single This is a common size name for bedlinen. Size dimensions will depend upon which country you are in, as each country has different bed sizes. Please refer to Linen Obsession’s size chart – we carry both UK and Gulf bedding sizes.

Super Emperor - This is a common size name for bedlinen. The size dimensions will depend upon which country you are in, as each country has different bed sizes. Please refer to Linen Obsession’s size chart – we carry both UK and Gulf bedding sizes.

Super King - This is a common size name for bedlinen. The size dimensions will depend upon which country you are in, as each country has different bed sizes. Please refer to Linen Obsession’s size chart – we carry both UK and Gulf bedding sizes.

Supima Cotton - A brand of superior quality “Pima” cotton, which was grown in the United Stated. For more information see “Types of Cotton”.

Synthetic Filled -  “Synthetic” pillows or duvets are usually filled with 100% polyester fibre filling. This may be “hollow fill” which has additional space inside the polyester fibres to allow for more warmth retention.

Terry Towelling -  is the type of fabric used for bath towels, “terry” bath mats and some bathrobes. It is a woven fabric with extra “loops” added to the fabric. Due to the large surface area of the cotton loops, terry toweling has the best drying ability. Contrary to popular opinion, the towels wont “unwind” if you pull a thread – they are not knitted! You can cut off any loose or pulled threads with a pair of scissors.

Thread Count -  is the number of threads per square inch in the bed linen. It makes the difference in how comfortable and luxurious bed linen will feel. As the thread count increases, generally so does the quality, with 200 marking where a good quality fabric begins. Thread count is most important when buying sheets.

Throw -  is a smaller cover for the end of the bed or lounge chair. Usually made of a warmer material like quilted (padded) cotton or knitted of wool etc.

Towel -  is a piece of fabric made from terry toweling, which is usually used to dry water off the body or the bathroom floor.

Tufted Bath Mats - A woven fabric with extra shaggy pile (threads) added, so it is like a small shaggy carpet for the bathroom. Usually made of 100% cotton, for best water absorption and drying.

Twin - This is a common size name for bedlinen. Size dimensions will depend upon which country you are in, as each country has different bed sizes. Please refer to Linen Obsession’s size chart – we carry both UK and Gulf bedding sizes.

Valance - A piece of material to cover the bed base or legs of the bed. Same as a “bedskirt”.

Viscose -  A synthetic fibre, used to add shine to a fabric.

Waffle -  A type of woven fabric with a small square surface pattern, which looks like a Belgian “waffle”. This type of fabric is commonly used by hotels and has a higher rate of shrinkage than normal (up to 12%), so consider to buy a size bigger in this fabric.