Cambric (US: /ˈkeɪmbrɪk/,[1] UK: /ˈkeɪmbrɪk/ or /ˈkæmbrɪk/),[2][3][4] or batiste, one of the finest and most dense kinds of cloth,[5] is a lightweight plain-weave cloth, originally from the French commune of Cambrai, woven in greige, then bleached, piece-dyed and often glazed or calendered. Initially it was made of linen; later, the term came to be applied to cotton fabrics as well. Cambric is used as fabric for linens, shirts, handkerchieves, ruffs, lace and needlework.[6][7] The term "cambric cloth" also applies to a stiff, usually black, open-weave cloth typically used for a dust cover on the bottom of upholstered furniture.[8]

Chambray, though the same type of fabric, had a coloured warp and a white weft, though it could be "made from any colour as you may wish, in the warp, and also in the filling; only have them differ from each other."[9] Chambray differs from denim in that "chambray’s warp and weft threads will alternate one over the other, while denim’s warp thread will go over two threads in the weft before going under one." As a result, the color of chambray cloth is similar front and back, while the reverse side of denim is lighter in color.[10]

Charvet corsage
Charvet corsage in pink cambric (1898).


Cambric was originally a kind of fine, white, plain-weave linen cloth made at or near Cambrai.[11][12] The word comes from Kameryk or Kamerijk, the Flemish name of Cambrai,[11][12] which became part of France in 1677. The word is attested since 1530.[11] It is a synonym of the French word batiste,[11] itself attested since 1590.[13] Batiste itself comes from the Picard batiche, attested since 1401 and derived from the old French battre for bowing wool. The modern form batiste, or baptiste, comes from a popular merge with the surname Baptiste, pronounced Batisse, as indicated by the use of the expressions thoile batiche (1499) and toile de baptiste (1536) for the same fabric.[13] The alleged[14] invention of the fabric, around 1300, by a weaver called Baptiste or Jean-Baptiste Cambray or Chambray, from the village of Castaing in the peerage of Marcoing, near Cambrai, has no historic ground.[13][15][16][17] Cambric was a finer quality and more expensive[18] than lawn (from the French laune, initially a plain-weave linen fabric from the city of Laon in France[19]). Denoting a geographic origin from the city of Cambrai or its surroundings (Cambresis in French), cambric is an exact equivalent[20] of the French cambrésine (/kɑ̃.bʁe.zin/),[11] a very fine, almost sheer white linen plain-weave fabric,[21] to be distinguished[22] from cambrasine, a fabric comparable to the French lawn despite its foreign origin.[23] Cambric is also close to chambray (/ˈʃɒmbreɪ/ from a French regional variant of "Cambrai",[11] a name which "also comes from Cambrai, the French city, where the material was originally made of linen yarn".[24] Chambray (also spelled "chambrai") appears in North American English in the early 19th century.[11] Though the term generally refers to a cotton plain weave with a colored warp and a white weft, close to gingham, "silk chambray" seems to have coexisted.[25] Chambray was often produced during this period by the same weavers producing gingham.[26]

White linen cambric or batiste from Cambrai, noted for its weight and luster,[27] was "preferred for ecclesiastical wear, fine shirts, underwear, shirt frills, cravats, collars and cuffs, handkerchiefs, and infant wear".[28] Technical use sometime introduced a difference between cambric and batiste, the latter being of a lighter weight and a finer thread count.

In the 18th century, after the prohibition of imports into England of French cambrics,[29] with the development of the import of Indian cotton fabrics, similar[6] cotton fabrics, such as nainsook, from the Hindi nainsukh ("eyes' delight"),[11] became popular. These fabrics, initially called Scotch cambrics to distinguish them from the original French cambrics,[30] came to be referred to as cotton cambrics or batistes.[28] Some authors increased the confusion with the assumption the word batiste could come from the Indian fabric bastas.[31]

In the 19th century, the terms cambric and batiste gradually lost their association with linen, implying only different kind of fine plain-weave fabrics with a glossy finish.[32][33] In 1907, a fine cotton batist had 100 ends per inch in the finished fabric, while a cheap-grade, less than 60.[34] At the same time, with development of an interest in coloured shirts, cambric was also woven in colours, such as the pink fabric used by Charvet for a corsage, reducing the difference between cambric and chambray. Moreover, the development and rationalization of mechanical weaving led to the replacement, for chambray, of coloured warp and white weft by the opposite, white warp and coloured weft, which allowed for longer warps.[35]

In popular culture

The English folk song ballad "Scarborough Fair" has the lyric in the second verse "Tell her to make me a cambric shirt, / Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme / Sewn without seams or fine needlework, / Then he'll be a true love of mine." It also appears in the David Bowie song, "Come And Buy My Toys" in the lyrics "You shall own a cambric shirt, you shall work your father's land." In the Andrzej Sapkowski Witcher novel, "The Last Wish", Renfri described her privileged upbringing, referring to "...dresses, shoes. Cambric knickers. Jewels and trinkets..." as if suggesting that the cambric material was an indication of the fabric's high quality.

See also


  1. ^ "Cambric". Merriam Webster.
  2. ^ Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
  3. ^ Definition of "cambric" at Collins Dictionary
  4. ^ Definition of "cambric" at Oxford Dictionaries
  5. ^ Sir David Brewster (1814). Second American edition of the new Edinburgh encyclopædia. Published by Samuel Whiting and John L. Tiffany [and others]. pp. 189–190. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
  6. ^ a b Elisabeth Hardouin-Fugier; Bernard Berthod; Martine Chavent-Fusaro (1994). Les étoffes: dictionnaire historique (in French). Editions de l'amateur. p. 120. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
  7. ^ Westman, Hab'k O. (1844). Transactions of the Society of Literary & Scientific Chiffoniers. New York: Harper & Brothers. p. 58. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  8. ^ "Cambric (Dustcover) - DIY Upholstery Supply". Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  9. ^ Bronson, J. and R. (1977) [First published in 1817]. Early American Weaving and Dyeing: The Domestic Manufacturer's Assistant and Family Directory in the Arts of Weaving and Dyeing. New York: Dover Publications. p. 21.
  10. ^ "Chambray vs Denim". Proper Cloth. Retrieved August 4, 2018.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h Oxford English Dictionary
  12. ^ a b Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Cambric" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  13. ^ a b c Le Robert: Dictionnaire historique de la langue française (in French). 1. Dictionnaires Le Robert. 2000. p. 352. ISBN 2-85036-532-7.
  14. ^ Archives historiques et littéraires du nord de la France, et du midi de la Belgique (in French). Au Bureau des Archives. 1829. pp. 341–. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  15. ^ France. Comité des travaux historiques et scientifiques. Section d'histoire et de philologie (1898). Bulletin historique et philologique du Comité des travaux historiques et scientifiques (in French). Impr. nationale. Retrieved 9 October 2011. Pas plus une réalité historique que l'étymologique brasseur Cambrinus.
  16. ^ Société d'émulation de Cambrai (1859). Séance publique [afterw.] Mémoires (in French). pp. 1–. Retrieved 9 October 2011. On ignore complètement le siècle où a vécu Jean-Baptiste Cambrai.
  17. ^ Max Pfister (1980). Einführung in die romanische Etymologie (in German). Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, [Abt. Verl.] ISBN 978-3-534-07834-9. Retrieved 9 October 2011. Obschon Cambrai fûr die mittelalterliche Leinenindustrie bekannt ist und Baptiste sogar mit einem Denkmal geehrt wurde, dürfte dieser Fabrikant historisch nicht nachweisbar sein, da batiste etymologisch auf battre zurück geht.
  18. ^ Belfast Literary Society (1808). Select papers. p. 32. Retrieved 11 October 2011. Cloth of this fabrick, lower than 5s. per yard, is called Lawn, above 5s., Cambrick.
  19. ^ Société des amis de la Romania (1900). Romania. 29. Société des amis de la Romania. p. 182. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
  20. ^ Revue de l'enseignement des langues vivantes (in French). 1902. p. 304. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
  21. ^ Bernardini, Michele (2004). "The Illustrations of a Manuscript of the Travel Account of François de la Boullaye le Gouz in the Library of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei in Rome". Muqarnas. 21: 64. doi:10.1163/22118993-90000054. Elle a une pièce de cambrésine sur son corps tellement fine que l'on voit à travers.
  22. ^ Académie française (1836). Dictionnaire de l'Académie française (in French). Firmin Didot frères. p. 135. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
  23. ^ Guillaumin (Gilbert-Urbain, M.) (1839). Dictionnaire universel théorique et practique du commerce et de la navigation (in French). Guillaumin et Cie. p. 493. Retrieved 11 October 2011. On a donné ce nom à des toiles fines d'Egypte, à cause de leur ressemblance avec la toile de Cambrai. Il y a aussi des cambrasines, que l'on tire de Smyrne; elles sont de deux sortes : celles qui viennent de la Perse, et celles apportées de la Mecque. Les premières conservent la dénomination de cambrasinbes; les secondes se nomment mamoudis.
  24. ^ Eliza Bailey Thompson (1917). The cotton and linen departments. Ronald press company. p. 63. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  25. ^ Bassett, Lynne Z. (2001). Textiles for Regency clothing 1800-1850: a workbook of swatches and information. Q Graphics Production Co. p. 28. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
  26. ^ Fowler Mohanty, Gail (Summer 1989). "Putting up with Putting-Out: Power-Loom Diffusion and Outwork for Rhode Island Mills, 1821-1829". Journal of the Early Republic. 9. pp. 204, 206, 214.
  27. ^ Savary des Bruslons, Jacques (1741). Dictionnaire universel de commerce (in French). 1. Paris: Vve Estienne. p. 902. Sorte de toile de lin, très fine, & très blanche
  28. ^ a b Greene, Susan W. (2005). Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion. 1. Charles Scribner's sons. p. 217.
  29. ^ The Gentleman's magazine. F. Jefferies. 1759. pp. 241–. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
  30. ^ Official descriptive and illustrated catalogue: Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations, 1851. By Authority of the Royal Commission. In 3 volumes. Spicer Brothers. 1851. p. 516. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
  31. ^ George Ripley; Charles Anderson Dana (1859). The new American cyclopaedia: a popular dictionary of general knowledge. D. Appleton and Co. pp. 738–. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  32. ^ Denny, Grace Goldena (1923). Fabrics and How to Know Them. Lippincott. OCLC 2231068. In this century, [nainsook] is described as a soft-finished white cotton fabric with a polish on one side ... not so closely woven as cambric but heavier than batiste.
  33. ^ Philippine magazine. 1922. p. 382. Retrieved 9 October 2011. Cambric is a fine calendered cotton or linen cloth of plain weave characterised by the smooth glossy surface.
  34. ^ Frank P. Bennett & Co (1914). A cotton fabrics glossary. Frank P. Bennett & co., inc. p. 125. Retrieved 12 October 2011.
  35. ^ David Page Coffin (1 October 1998). Shirtmaking: developing skills for fine sewing. Taunton Press. pp. 7–. ISBN 978-1-56158-264-8. Retrieved 9 October 2011.

External links


Airdura is a synthetic fabric used for motorcycle clothing with summer or warmer riding conditions. The cloth is light and claimed to be "breathable". It is likely to be a play on the name of DuPont's (Invista's) cordura.

Bands (neckwear)

Bands are a form of formal neckwear, worn by some clergy and lawyers, and with some forms of academic dress. They take the form of two oblong pieces of cloth, usually though not invariably white, which are tied to the neck. The word bands is usually plural because they require two similar parts and did not come as one piece of cloth. Those worn by clergy are often called preaching bands, preaching tabs, or Geneva bands; those worn by lawyers are called barrister's bands or, more usually in Canada, tabs.

Ruffs were popular in the sixteenth century, and remained so till the late 1640s, alongside the more fashionable standing and falling bands. Ruffs, like bands, were sewn to a fairly deep neck-band. They could be either standing or falling ruffs. Standing ruffs were common with legal, and official dress till comparatively late. Falling ruffs were popular circa 1615–1640s.


Batiste is a fine cloth made from cotton, wool, polyester, or a blend, and the softest of the lightweight opaque fabrics.


For the study and collection of beetles, see coleopterology.

Beetling is the pounding of linen or cotton fabric to give a flat, lustrous effect.

Calendering (textiles)

Calendering of textiles is a finishing process used to smooth, coat, or thin a material. With textiles, fabric is passed between calender rollers at high temperatures and pressures. Calendering is used on fabrics such as moire to produce its watered effect and also on cambric and some types of sateens.

In preparation for calendering, the fabric is folded lengthwise with the front side, or face, inside, and stitched together along the edges. The fabric can be folded together at full width, however this is not done as often as it is more difficult. The fabric is then run through rollers that polish the surface and make the fabric smoother and more lustrous. High temperatures and pressure are used as well. Fabrics that go through the calendering process feel thin, glossy and papery.The wash durability of a calendared finish on thermoplastic fibers like polyester is higher than on cellulose fibers such as cotton. On blended fabrics such as Polyester/Cotton the durability depends largely on the proportion of synthetic fiber component present as well as the amount and type of finishing additives used and the machinery and process conditions employed.

Cambrian explosion

The Cambrian explosion or Cambrian radiation was an event approximately 541 million years ago in the Cambrian period when most major animal phyla appeared in the fossil record. It lasted for about 20–25 million years and resulted in the divergence of most modern metazoan phyla. The event was accompanied by major diversification of other organisms.Before the Cambrian explosion, most organisms were simple, composed of individual cells occasionally organized into colonies. As the rate of diversification subsequently accelerated, the variety of life began to resemble that of today. Almost all present animal phyla appeared during this period.


A Cloque or cloqué (French for "blister" or "blistered"), occasionally abbreviated clox, is a cloth with a raised woven pattern and a puckered or quilted look. The surface is made up of small irregularly raised figures formed by the woven structure. The Americanized spelling is "cloky".

Designation of workers by collar color

Groups of working individuals are typically classified based on the colors of their collars worn at work; these can commonly reflect one's occupation or sometimes gender. White-collar workers are named for the white-collared shirts that were fashionable among office workers in the early and mid-20th century. Blue-collar workers are referred to as such because in the early 20th century, they usually wore sturdy, inexpensive clothing that did not show dirt easily, such as blue denim or cambric shirts. Various other "collar" descriptions exist as well.


End-on-end (also fil-à-fil) is a type of closely woven, plain weave cloth created by the alternation of light and dark warp and weft threads, resulting in a heathered effect. The English term comes from the French "fil-à-fil", literally "thread-to-thread". It is most commonly woven from cotton or linen fibers. End-on-end is almost identical to cambric (also known as chambray), lacking only the calendering which gives cambric fabric its glossy appearance.

End-on-end is typically woven using white thread with another color to create a fabric with a subtly heathered texture that, from a distance, appears as a solid color. Occasionally, variations are seen which use two colors of thread (instead of white). It may also be incorporated into a stripe pattern.

Jabot (neckwear)

A jabot ( (listen); from French jabot: a bird's crop) is a decorative clothing accessory consisting of lace or other fabric falling from the throat, suspended from or attached to a neckband or collar; or simply pinned at the throat. It evolved from the frilling or ruffles decorating the front of a shirt in the 19th century.

List of fabrics

Fabrics in this list include fabrics that are woven, braided or knitted from textile fibres.


Longcloth refers to a plain cotton cloth originally made in comparatively long pieces.

The name was applied particularly to cloth made in India. Longcloth, which is now commonly bleached, comprehends a number of various qualities. It is heavier than cambric, and finer than medium or Mexican. In the early 1900s, as it was used principally for underclothing and shirts, most of the longcloth sold in Great Britain passed through the hands of the shirt and underclothing manufacturers, who sold it to the shopkeepers, though there was still a considerable if decreasing retail trade in piece-goods. In the UK in the early 20th century the lower kinds of longcloth, which were made from American cotton, corresponded in quality to the better kinds of shirting made for the East, but the best longcloths were made from Egyptian cotton, and were fine and fairly costly goods.Nowadays, longcloth (or long cloth) designates a cotton fabric which is of high quality, very soft, coarsely woven, and very often used to make underwear and infants' clothing.

Milk tea

Milk tea refers to several forms of beverage found in many cultures, containing some combination of tea and milk. Beverages vary based on the amount of each of these key ingredients, the method of preparation, and the inclusion of other ingredients (varying from sugar or honey to salt or cardamom). Instant milk tea powder is a mass-produced product.

Ottoman (textile)

Ottoman is a fabric with a pronounced ribbed or corded effect, often made of silk or a mixture of cotton and other silk like yarns. It is mostly used for formal dress and in particular, legal dress (such as QC gowns) and academic dress (mostly for hoods).

Ottoman made of pure silk is very expensive so artificial silk is used instead to create a cheaper alternative.

Grosgrain is similar to Ottoman but it is thinner and lighter than Ottoman and is used mostly for ribbons.

Pile (textile)

Pile is the raised surface or nap of a fabric, consisting of upright loops or strands of yarn. Examples of pile textiles are carpets, corduroy, velvet, plush, and Turkish towels. The word is derived from Latin pilus for "hair"

Tie pin

A tie pin (or tiepin, also known as a stick pin/stickpin) is a neckwear-controlling device, originally worn by wealthy English gentlemen to secure the folds of their cravats. They were first popularized at the beginning of the 19th century. Cravats were made of silk, satin, lace and lightly starched cambric, lawn and muslin, and stickpins were necessary accoutrements to keep these expensive fabrics in place and safe. Stickpins commonly used pearls and other precious gemstones set in gold or other precious metals and were designed specifically for their owners.

By the 1860s, the English upper middle classes embraced wearing cravats with a consequently lower quality of materials and designs used in both the neckwear and in the stickpins used to keep it in place. By the 1870s, Americans had embraced stickpins and designs were mass-produced which included animal heads, horse shoes, knife and fork motifs, crossed pipes, wishbones, bugs, flowers, shields and a host of other figural motifs. By the 1890s, stickpins had crossed gender lines as women began wearing them with sporting outfits worn for bicycling, boating, horseback riding, tennis and golf. The Ascot, Four in Hand, Sailor scarf, cravat bow tie and wrapped scarf all became popular for both men and women, and all could be set off with an ornamental stickpin. Between 1894 and 1930 many patents were issued covering such issues as prong setting, ornament attachment, stickpin blanks, safety clutches, guards and decorations. One patent was for a brooch which could convert the center medallion to a stickpin. Another concealed a small lead pencil point attached to the shaft of the pin. Still another included a small water reservoir behind the ornamental head of the stick pin in which a flower blossom could be placed. Patent 1,301,568 dated April 22, 1919 was for a luminous stickpin with a star motif disk-like head which held a small drop of radioactive material.Gold or silver style safety pins were commonly used as tie and collar pins from the beginning of the 20th century. Such a safety pin was used to fasten the tie to the shirt and was an integral part of a man's clothing or school uniform, being especially useful on formal occasions or in windy weather. It could now be possibly making a comeback in 2013 as recently illustrated in the fashion section of a British newspaper.

Alternative ways to control unruly ties are available, although an ordinary safety pin inserted through from behind the shirt can invisibly secure the tie without damaging its surface.

During the 1920s the use of straight ties made of delicate materials such as silk became more fashionable and the use of tie clips gained prominence, replacing the more traditional tie pin.


Tucuyo is a type of coarse cotton cloth made in Latin America.

Valenciennes lace

Valenciennes lace is a type of bobbin lace which originated in Valenciennes, in the Nord département of France, and flourished from about 1705 to 1780. Later production moved to Belgium in and around Ypres. The industry continued onto the 19th century on a diminished scale. By the 19th century valenciennes lace could be made by machine.Valenciennes lace is made on a lace pillow in one piece, with the réseau (the net-like ground) being made at the same time as the toilé (the pattern). It differentiates itself from other types of lace because the openness of the réseau, the closeness and evenness of the toilé, which resembles cambric, and that it lacks any cordonnet (a loosely spun silk cord used to outline and define the pattern). Also, in real Flemish Valenciennes lace there are no twisted sides to the mesh; all are closely plaited, and as a rule the shape of the mesh is diamond but without the openings.The réseau ground is made of four threads braided together, with eight threads at the crosses, which makes it very strong and firm. This is simpler and easier to make than the ground for Mechlin lace, though similar in appearance.Valenciennes lace received an impetus in the seventeenth century, when the Scheldt was channelled for river navigation between Cambrai and Valenciennes, benefiting the export of Valenciennes' wool, fabric and fine arts. To use up flax yarn, women began to make the famous Valenciennes lace. Early Valenciennes lace was grounded with fancy mesh which was thicker and closer than the open réseau used later. The more open version was developed in Valenciennes, and thus the type of lace became known under the name of the town. The open mesh started to evolve in the 18th century and by the 19th century the characteristic ground made of four braided threads was in use. By the 1900s little of the famous lace was still made in Valenciennes.

Woven fabric

Woven fabric is any textile formed by weaving. Woven fabrics are often created on a loom, and made of many threads woven on a warp and a weft. Technically, a woven fabric is any fabric made by interlacing two or more threads at right angles to one another.

Figured woven
Pile woven
Textile fibers
Fabric mills

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