This section is from the "A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods" book, by George S. Cole. Also available from Amazon: A complete dictionary of dry goods and history of silk, cotton, linen, wool and other fibrous substances,: Including a full explanation of the modern processes ... together with various useful tables.
Eiderdown Cloth. A heavy-napped woolen fabric invented in 1882, by Mr. Robert Ward, of Philadelphia, and extensively used in the manufacture of children's garments, caps, cloaks and robes. It is also used for ladies' sacks, jackets, opera cloaks, dressing gowns, and for counterpanes, afghans, mats, and lap robes. Though of delicate texture, it will stand wear to a remarkable degree. The especial qualities of lightness, warmth and elasticity which the fabric possesses are not due to the material alone, but largely to the peculiar construction of the cloth. This will be understood when it is remarked that Eiderdown is a knit cloth produced by the same process as crochet work. By this means at least double the surface is secured that is possessed by woven cloth of the same weight. In fact to produce a woven cloth with the same weight would cost at least twice as much. Eiderdown comes in a great variety of patterns, from plain white and the different shades of red, blue, pink, to fancy squares and stripes. All plain cloths in the various tints and colors are simply dyed, but stripes, squares etc., are embroidered into the fabric by machinery, previous to napping. Fancy effects in stripes and checks are produced by a combination of different colored yarns knitted into the cloth by the same machine which constructs the fabric.