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.
Kersey. [So-called from having first been manufactured at the village of Kersey, Suffolk county, England, in 1051] The kersey of former times was comparatively a coarse cloth, and an article of the same description is still manufactured in some parts of England and sold under the name of plaiding. Before the invention of knitting, kersey was commonly used for making stockings. At present, the term indicates either of two very different materials used for men's clothing: 1. A compact woolen fabric, fulled to a degree completely concealing the warp and weft threads, with, the surface finished with a short and extremely fine nap, highly lustrous, dyed in solid colors; similar in weight to a melton cloth. In the manufacture of kersey, the operation of producing the nap is the most important in the whole prosess of finishing. After the nap has been raised, the cloth is sheared in order that the individual filaments may be made of a uniform length, after which it is again run through the napping machine, which last operation adds materially to the smoothness of the goods. These alternate operations of shearing and napping are resorted to several times in the production of fine-faced kerseys. 2. Kersey is also the name of a coarse, diagonally ribbed or twilled stuff woven with cotton warp and woolen weft, and used for men's cheap clothing. The name is a corruption of coarse-say. Say-cloth, in the 17th century, was a kind of coarse wool serge of a shaggy appearance.