Matelasse is an embossed pattern on a single layer of cloth. The raised design can be created by hand stitching, by weaving on a loom or by a system, leading to a heavyweight, monotone cloth. Developed in the 18th century, matelasse fabrics represented purity and refinement in the home.
The Shabby Nest
Heavyweight matelasse cloths are typically used for bedcovers, frequently called counterpanes. The dense cloth lies flat, doesn’t wrinkle easily and has a nice, sharp finish. Lighter versions of matelasse may be used for clothing.
Matelasse fabrics can be hand stitched or woven on a jacquard or dobby loom. A jacquard loom can be used for weaving intricate upholstery tapestries, along with a dobby loom can be used for weaving straightforward lines or patterns, like those of the piqué cotton used for polo and tennis shirts.
Lee Ann Burkhart Interiors
Very similar to quilts, the layout on matelasse cloth is able to look padded, but there is just one layer of cloth; the puffiness is made using the stitches.
Dona Rosene Interiors
A quilt can be made with many colours or fabrics stitched together, whereas matelasse cloth is white on white, or monotone, and relies on the feel for its layout.
The matelasse bedcover in this image has been woven with chenille thread, and this is a cotton or synthetic yarn which has fuzzy fibers wrapped around a compact center, just like a pipe cleaner.
Story & Space – Interior Design and Color Guidance
The names for bedcovers made by quilting or by matelasse are used interchangeably. The concept is that matelasse cloth was invented after handmade coasters from Marseilles, France, became the height of fashion. Tiny wads of stuffing were sewn into complicated patterns to the quilts, but producing the material was labor intensive, and the quilts were rather pricey. Matelasse fabric could be woven on a loom to create a similar look more quickly and at a lower cost.