Matelasse (pronounced matt-le-say) is a French word meaning padded, lined or quilted. It is used to describe fabric that appears to be quilted but is not. Jacquard looms are most often used to produce matelasse fabrics, with cotton being the most common material chosen for the special weaving process that gives the fabric its signature look.
The specialty looms used to produce matelasse cotton give the fabric a unique appearance of intricate designs that customers have made top sellers. Even though they are not quilted, matelasse fabrics are made to have raised patterns, indentations and the padded look often associated with quilts.
Cotton matelasse is used to make items such as bedspreads, slip covers, coverlets, shams and other home décor items.
Matelasse fabrics are said to bring a European style to homes which contain products made by the special Jacquard weaving process. These matelasse items are similar to the hand-stitched quilts made popular in France during the 17th century.
Special laundering practices are needed to ensure the longevity of your matelasse cotton items. Luxury fabrics like 100 percent Egyptian cotton matelasse are all natural and can shrink or become damaged if laundered in home washers and dryers. It is recommended you use a professional cleaner experienced in specialty fabrics.
Matelasse cotton is not only used for bedding and home décor products but has been used for clothing items by fashion designers like Dolce & Gabbana, Ellen Tracy and Michael Kors.
The looms used to produce matelasse cotton were invented in 1801 by a Frenchman named Joseph Marie Jacquard. The process he developed is still used today to make matelasse fabrics which otherwise could only be produced by the hand-stitching and long hours of dedicated workers.
Adeeba Folami is a freelance journalist residing in Denver, Colo. She was first published professionally in 1994. Folami's work has appeared in many publications, including "Denver Weekly News," "Afro American Newspapers," "Louisiana Weekly," "Dallas Weekly," "Mississippi Link," and "OpEd News."