What is Matelasse Bedding?

Matelasse bedding is made with woven fabric that resembles quilted material. Today’s matelasse features weaving that is more geometric and linear than traditional matelasse designs. Rather than imitating quilted floral patterns, west elm offers bedding that mimics raised surfaces like those of metal, stone and braided rope. Choose a matelasse coverlet or duvet to add contemporary texture and color to your bedroom. Matelasse (also called Marseille’s cloth, marcella, or woven quilting) is available in lightweight coverlets that add style to your bedroom year round. The lightweight fabric is ideal for summer sleep, and it also works layered on top of thicker quilts when the winter winds howl.


The first matelasse cloth was produced in Britain in the mid 18th century as an envious response to the popular quilted fabrics being produced by the skilled seamstresses of Marseille, France. Rewards were offered by a host of British manufacturers and societies to encourage the invention of an alternative method of creating the famous cloth. Since the sellers of fabrics and quilted petticoats, waistcoats and other garments relied on the elaborate quilted fabric of Marseille for much of their trade, those garment and textile makers wanted a cheaper alternative. p>

The technique of creating a quilted look was refined over the years to more closely resemble actual quilting. In the late 18th century, U.S. colonists used the new woven fabric in bedcovers, petticoats, skirts, waistcoats, pockets and other items. The fabric was ordered from sample books that offered dozens of patterns. Matelasse added a touch of elegance to even the simplest headboards and bedframes of colonial days and continues to add gentle, elegant comfort to modern bedrooms.


Matelasse fabric differs from cloque and other woven fabrics in the weaving patterns. Technically, matelasse is known as a “figured” fabric woven of three or four sets of yarns. Although matelasse fabric appears to be puffy as if quilted, the blistered look is not due to batting but owes its texture to the interplay of the woven yarns. Traditional matelasse was available in white, cream and colonial hues. Colorful, patterned matelasse fabric was sometimes used for upholstery and crib bedding. Contemporary matelasse bedding is offered in solid colors that are bold and inspired by nature. Choose a neutral or a more striking matelasse coverlet or duvet and add your choice of pillows and decor to create the bedroom of your dreams. When you get bored, change pillow covers and use the same matelasse coverlet to get a completely new bedroom look.


The charm of matelasse bedding is in the way the textures develop over the life of the bedding. Modern matelasse is woven on jacquard looms using regular yarns and coarse yarns to define the patterns. Each time you wash your coverlet or quilt, the design puckers a bit more. The fabric looks more like quilted fabric the more you use and care for it. If your matelasse bed covering or sheets get too wrinkled, cool iron the fabric as needed to smooth it again.


Matelasse bedding is a wonderful choice for daybeds and sleepers, since most matelasse bedding is made of 100 percent breathable, comfortable cotton. If guests appreciate organic fabrics, order an organic matelasse coverlet for the daybed or other guest beds. The color and finish of the fabric make the daybed look great as a seat or a nap spot. Matelasse gives every bed a timeless, classic look that can’t be achieved with ordinary fabrics. Over the years, matelasse has waxed and waned in popularity. Today’s matelasse bedding takes the traditional weaving technique and spins it into bedroom coverlets and duvets that work with minimalist, modern, industrial or rustic decor.

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