We send out sample cards frequently to customers, especially for cotton velours.  On the back of many of the sample cards, we include construction specifications provided to us by the mill, most of which is probably “greek” to the customer.    Weight per linear yard is fairly self-explanatory, as is fiber content, but what about “picks” and “pile ends” and “pile tufts?”  In case you were wondering as well, I thought I’d include a brief layman’s explanation.

Cotton velour is made of yarns that are woven together.  One set of yarns, running lengthwise, is called the warp, while the other set, running crosswise (perpendicular to the warp), is called the weft.  In the weaving process, the warp yarns are lifted (called “shedding”), and then the weft yarn is inserted (or “picked”).  So, “picks per inch” refers to how many times the weft yarn has been inserted into the warp.

The nap of cotton velour is achieved through a specific method of weaving called “pile weaving.”  In pile weaving, the warp ends are looped over metal rods or wires during the weaving process.  These yarns are called “pile ends,” so “pile ends per inch” describes how many times the warp ends were looped in a linear inch of the fabric.

When the metal rods or wires are removed, the surface of the fabric is a series of yarn loops.  If left uncut, the finished fabric would be described as having a “loop pile” (picture the loops on the pile of a Berber carpet), but when these pile ends are cut, the final fabric has a “cut pile” (imagine a regular plush carpet).  These cut pile ends are called “pile tufts” – essentially, the “nap” in velour or velvet (imagine a regular plush carpet).   So, “pile tufts per square inch” refers to how many cut tufts of yarn make up the nap of a single square inch of the fabric.

This is a very basic explanation (for more details, here is a still basic but more complete source), but I hope it helps you understand cotton velour a little bit more more, especially when you read the construction specifications on the back of a sample card!