Fine Linen Directory & Definitions

Luxury Linen & Bedding Definitions

Understanding luxury bedding, its materials, construction, styling and care, is essential to creating the designer bedding ensemble of your dreams. To familiarize yourself with some terms that you will often see while perusing our bedding collections, here are a few terms that may help you choose the best duvet cover, luxury sheet, or matelasse for your needs.


Related to the llama, the alpaca is native to the high Andean mountains. Its fine, downy fleece is soft, lustrous and very warm.


A design fashioned from pieces of fabric that are cut out and sewn or embroidered onto a base fabric.

Baffle Box Construction:

Most quality down comforters are constructed with baffle box stitching. It means that within each stitched square on your comforter there are vertical interior walls which keep the fill from shifting, eliminate cold spots and promote maximum loft. Introduced in the 1990s, it is more effective than traditional box stitching.

Baffle Channels:

All of our featherbeds are constructed with baffle channels that run the length of the bed. This allows the fill to loft throughout the featherbed, conform to your body when you lay down, and stay in place as you move from side to side. It also lets you manipulate where the fill is placed, giving you adjustable support wherever you need it most.

Bed skirt:

The bed skirt, or dust ruffle, is placed between the mattress and box spring to cover the box spring, bed frame and under-bed space, and also add another decorative element to the bed ensemble.  Most luxury bedding manufacturer's have moved to making a paneled adjustable bed skirt that is held with pins vs. the style that had the fabric all the way under the bed.  This makes it much easier to adjust the size, install, and to clean. Most of our bed skirts are this adjustable bedskirt style, also known as paneled bed skirts. A wide selection of Bed skirts can be found here: Bed Skirt and Dust Ruffles

Blanket cover:

Unlike a bedspread, a blanket cover does not extend to the floor, but ends just below the mattress. It is often made of a matelassé, diamond piqué or jacquard fabric, and may serve as a lightweight bedcover or coverlet. Traditionally, a 'covering' for the blanket giving a more formal look, blanket covers may also be used underneath a duvet cover.  A wide selection of Blanket Covers can be found here: Blanket Covers

Boudoir pillow:

These small (12" x 16") rectangular pillows are often used as decorative pillows, baby pillows, travel pillows or to add extra neck support on the bed. 

Box Stitching:

The classic way to construct a comforter, box stitching keeps the fill from shifting and promotes even warmth. It was standard for down comforters before the introduction of baffle box construction in the 1990s.  Scandia Down's Down-Free™ comforters are still constructed this way because it is the best method to manage our hypoallergenic synthetic cluster fibers and maximize their warmth.

Brushed or brushing:

A finishing process for cotton or other fabrics, where the fibers are brushed or abraded to create a raised nap and a very soft texture, for example, in cotton flannel.


A process in the manufacture of cotton where the fibers are separated, cleaned, aligned and formed into a continuous strand. This process removes most of the impurities and short, broken or immature fibers.


The extremely soft, silky and strong hair of the cashmere goat.

Cocktail napkin:

A small, square or rectangular napkin; Sferra's cocktail napkins are 6 inches square or 6 x 9" rectangular.  Cocktail Napkins can be found here: Cocktail Napkins


A premium step beyond carding in the cotton manufacturing process that can be done only to the best grades of cotton. The longer, choice fibers are separated out, straightened and aligned. Combed yarns are finer, cleaner, more lustrous and stronger than carded yarns.

Cotton Batiste:

A tightly woven cotton in a flat weave with a high thread count. It feels light, smooth and luxurious yet is extremely durable. Ours is woven in Germany at one of the finest mills.

Cotton Cambric:

A slightly lustrous ticking fabric in a plain weave. It usually is feather light, soft to the touch and extremely durable.

Cotton Percale:

This closely woven fabric in a plain weave is the simplest, strongest choice for sheeting. It has a crisp hand, unmatched durability and never pills, however it can wrinkle more that a sateen sheet.

The standard thread count for cotton percale is 180, but many upscale versions of this traditional favorite are is woven with 500 threads per square inch, for a softer, more sumptuous hand.  Sferra has a percale sheet that is measured at 800 threads, which at the time of this writing is the highest made in a percale.  A wide selection of Percale Sheets can be found here: Cotton Percale


Traditionally used as a decorative cover over a blanket on a formal bed. Today, it is meant to be layered under a comforter. A coverlet may be tucked in or left untucked, according to its weight and your preference. The comforter is then folded at the foot of the bed, for easy access to greater warmth and a luxurious look.  A wide selection of Coverlets can be found here: Coverlets.


A weave made on a jacquard loom where alternating satin and matte textures (produced by varying the warp or weft) create the pattern. Damask is often woven of a single color, as on a white tablecloth, but it can also be woven with two colors. The pattern can be seen in the reverse on the opposite side.

Double Stitching:

Double stitching is a sign of quality and superior construction. It is much stronger than single needle stitching and prevents down from escaping. It is used around the edges of bedding and usually finished with piping.


The soft cluster found under the breast feathers of geese and ducks. It is nature’s brilliant way of keeping these birds warm in frozen climates.

Scandia Down® uses only premium white goose down in its comforters, which is the superior choice for its greater insulation value, better loft and lighter weight. We also use the largest clusters from the goose, which better interlock and overlap to trap a protective layer of air that keeps warmth in and cold out.

Although there is no difference in quality between white and gray goose down, white is more aesthetically pleasing since it won’t show through tickings.

We always tell you where our down originates from—primarily Hungary, Poland or Siberia—because province matters. These locations produce the finest clusters in the world. Siberian is considered to be the best because generally speaking, the colder the climate, the larger the clusters—therefore the better the down.  Down Comforters can be found Here:  Down Comforters.


The word means “comforter” in French, though in the United States it is synonymous with duvet cover.  It is the decorative fabric covering that protects your comforter’s ticking and down from dirt, moisture and body oils. Usually with a button closure, which is a European tradition.  It should be laundered regularly to keep your comforter at its best.

Egyptian Cotton:

Scandia Down® only uses Egyptian cotton for its sheeting because it is considered to be the finest cotton in the world. It has a long staple, or fiber, which can be spun into finer yarns and, therefore, results in softer, more lustrous fabrics. It is the ideal material for bed linens because it is absorbent, cool, crisp, smooth and strong.

Espresso/cappuccino placemat:

A smaller (6" x 9") placemat designed for tea or coffee.

European Pillows:

These large 26-inch decorative pillows are placed against the headboard to dress up the bed and for extra support for sitting up. Stack them on end rather than lying them flat, then place your sleeping pillows in front of them. They are typically placed in a decorative pillowcase called a Euro Sham (also known as a European Sham or Continental Sham).

European return:

All Sferra top or flat sheets feature a deep turn back known as a European return, designed to be folded over the blanket cover, blanket or duvet. The sheet cuff is made of doubled fabric for strength and durability. Hemstitching, embroidery or other detailing is continued up the side of the cuff for 20 inches to allow for a finished appearance when the sheet is turned back over the blanket or quilt. The sheet is designed to lie flat and meet the bottom edge of the coverlet, rather than being tucked in.


An openwork or hand drawnwork stitch, like hemstitching, where weft threads are drawn out from the fabric, and the cross (warp) threads are joined, often in a zigzag pattern or ladder effect.


The actual feathers on geese and ducks—as opposed to the soft cluster of down found underneath—are durable and springy, making them an essential element in featherbeds and firm- or some medium-support pillows.  Scandia Down uses exclusively European small white goose feathers.


A pillow for the entire body, a featherbed is placed on top of a mattress to create gentle contouring support and soft warmth. It is made of down and/or feathers, encased within a fabric shell. And it is considered a de rigueur part of bedding in European households.

All Scandia Down featherbeds feature Baffle Channel construction.

Fill Power:

A measure of the ability of down to regain its shape when pressure is released, it is the best way to judge the resilience, durability and memory of this natural insulator.

The greater the fill power, the greater the loft—and more loft creates more warmth. As a general guide, remember that within the industry, 500 fill-power is considered average and 800 fill-power, sublime.

Flange, Flanged Hem or Border:

A decorative strip of matching fabric that runs around all four edges of a pillow sham or duvet cover. It gives these items a more formal and finished look.

French back:

On a pillow sham with a French back or envelope closure, the pillow usually slips between a flap of overlapping fabric on the back of the pillow. This provides a neater fit as well as a more finished appearance.


A type of hemstitching created by drawing out the weft yarns and then wrapping the warp yarns with a finishing stitch creating an "X" shape.


A decorative stitch, usually along a border or hem, that creates an openwork pattern by drawing out several weft yarns, and then sewing the warp yarns together in a uniform pattern, often in a ladder-like grid.


A broken twill weave that creates a zigzag or chevron pattern in the fabric.


Any fabric woven on a jacquard loom, which creates intricate and complex designs. Damasks, brocades and tapestries are all created this way. It is also the name of a specific weave.  Jacquard sheeting has a quiet shimmer, rich texture and silken touch because its pattern is woven directly into the fabric.


The tactile qualities of a fabric; the way it feels when you touch it.


A small decorative stitch, traditionally used along a border or hem. Also known as faggoting.


The thickness and fluffiness of down, especially as an indicator of its warmth. Also see Fill Power.


Linen, woven from flax, is considered to be the finest material for table linens, and to many people for sheets as well. Linen is extremely durable, yet soft and lustrous, and it only gets better with age and washing. Linen's ability to "breathe" and absorb moisture, and its cool, smooth finish makes it particularly appealing in summer. It is non-allergenic and non-static, and because of its great absorbency, makes an ideal tea towel or dish towel as well.

Luncheon napkin:

A luncheon or dessert napkin is smaller than a dinner napkin, traditionally 18 inches square.


A natural fiber made from the wood pulp of the Beechwood tree, lyocell has subtle luster, excellent drape, light feel, great strength and silky hand. And it’s significantly more absorbent than cotton.  This relatively new fiber, introduced only a decade or so ago, is being used more and more in luxury bedding.  A pioneer, and in our opinion the ultimate in Lyocell Beechwood Bedding and Towels is SDH with their Legna line of products, found Here: Legna Beechwood Sheets, Towels, Blankets and More

Matelassé [mat-luh-say']:

From a French word meaning cushioned or padded, this fabric is jacquard-woven to create a raised pattern with a quilted or sculpted effect. Matelasse material tends to wear very well, and it is often used as a blanket cover or coverlet, but matelasse material can be used for shams, bed skirts, throws and more.  Beautiful examples of Matelasse can be found Here: Matelasse


A treatment of cotton yarn or fabric that increases its strength, luster, and affinity for dyes. The material is immersed in special bath which causes the fibers to swell, giving the fabric greater sheen.

Merino wool:

Wool from the merino sheep, which is known for its very fine, dense wool. It is considered to be the softest and most luxurious wool.

Miter Border:

A beautiful way to stitch together the corners of a border on a coverlet or blanket, so the two pieces fit together perfectly (think of a picture frame). Also referred to as a mitered corner.


A type of viscose. When modal is blended with cotton, the resulting fabric has a pleasing luster and better absorbency. It will also wear extremely well, staying softer and brighter than an all-cotton fabric would after repeated washing.  We carry Modal Blankets, Sheets, Nightwear, Modal covered Comfortes and Pillows, and Duvet Covers & other Bedding.


This wool from the angora goat is known for its silkiness and luster, as well as its durability and resilience.

Pillow shams:

Pillowcases are usually open at one end, while pillow shams are finished on four sides and fashioned with a French back or envelope closure. The pillow usually slips between a tailored flap of overlapping fabric on the back of the pillow. This provides a neater fit as well as a more finished appearance. Most of our bedding ensembles offer both pillowcases and pillow shams.


A rounded cording sewn along the outside edge of a comforter or pillow. It is decorative as well as functional, adding a layer of protection to the seams—often the most vulnerable place for wear.


A medium to heavyweight cotton fabric with a recessed or embossed pattern produced by a double warp thread.

Punto ombra stitching:

A satin stitch done on the reverse side of the fabric, creating a raised border on the front, for a subtly finished hem. This special Italian hem treatment is done on many of Sferra's bed ensembles for a clean-lined, durable, elegant finish.


A mechanical treatment that preshrinks fabric. Fabrics bearing this trademark are generally accepted not to shrink more than 1%.


A cotton fabric in a lustrous satin weave. It has a very smooth surface and silky soft feel. Ideally, it should be ironed after washing to restore its luster, however it is not required.  Sateen sheets tend to have more color options available than Percale.

Satin stitch:

A simple straight stitch, done back and forth in a narrow line, often used to create a border or monogram.

Scallop stitching:

A scalloped border, with a series of curves or half-circles, that is finished with satin stitching.

Shadow work:

An elegant, subtle decorative treatment where stitching is done on the reverse side of the fabric, with only the outline stitching showing on the front, revealing the 'shadow' of the pattern underneath on the front face.


A decorative covering for pillows that has a more formal, neater appearance than a traditional pillowcase. Shams are typically finished on all four sides (instead of having a opening on one end like a pillowcase) and usually have an envelope closure in back.

Shutter Pipe Finish:

The term refers to a decorative band, usually on towels, formed by rows of flat piping. This tailored finish is a unique alternative to the common woven band found on most toweling.  Scandia Down Micro Modal towels have this unique styling.


A synonym for fiber, and also a term used to indicate lengths of fiber.


The shell of a comforter, pillow or featherbed.  Scandia Down, St. Geneve and Sferra's are made of the highest quality cottons and silks, tightly woven to prevent any filling from escaping.

Thread Count:

The actual number of threads in one square inch of cloth. To arrive at this number, the warp (vertical) thread count is added to the weft (horizontal) thread count.

As a general rule, higher thread count tickings and sheetings are more finely woven. But it is much more than this number that determines quality. Superior yarns, careful craftsmanship, hand finishing and attention to detail all dramatically affect the feel, look and durability, too.

In the end, trust what you see and feel. Discerning eyes and hands can always tell the difference between a gorgeous 500-thread count fabric and a merely mediocre one.

Read more about what goes into creating exceptional sheets and bedding in this article from Sferra:  Beyond Thread Count

Twill weave:

One of three basic weaves (the others are plain and satin), characterized by a diagonal rib in the fabric. It produces a strong, durable, firm fabric. Denim is an example of a twill weave.

Warp thread:

The lengthwise yarns in a fabric that are parallel to the selvage and are interwoven with the filling, or weft.

Weft (also called woof or filling):

The crosswise threads.


A process where yarn is dyed before the fabric is woven, for greater color retention and durability. Used to create patterns such as gingham, plaids and woven stripes.