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  • Cambric

    Cambric is a type of finely woven linen or cotton cloth which is specially treated to create a glossy, stiff appearance. True cambric can be difficult to find, as a result of the rising popularity of other textiles. When cambric can be found, it tends to be of poor quality. Consumers purchasing cambric for use in projects should look for tight, even weaving, a crisp texture, and a shiny upper side. A variation on cambric, chambray, is much more widely distributed. Both types of fabric are named after Cambrai, a city in Southern France which contributed to the development of cambric.
    To make cambric, cotton or linen is tightly woven so that it will have a smooth, even grain. Once finished, the fabric is run through hot rollers in a process called calendaring, which tightens the fibers and aligns them in the same direction. The resulting fabric is glossy and stiff, often through repeated washings. Cambric of a lower grade may need to be retreated after time to regain its original properties.
    Cambric first appeared in the late 1500s, and it quickly became a popular textile for a wide range of applications. The stiff neck ruffs of the Elizabethans were made from cambric, as were many curtains, wall hangings, petticoats, and a variety of other textile goods. Cambric was also known as batist, especially when it was used for embroidery and lacework. The fine fabric took well to embroidery projects, and many women produced astounding embroidery on cambric.