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.
Plush. A term derived from French peluch, which in turn is derived from Latin pilus, hair, from the fact that when plush was first manufactured it was made with a worsted foundation and a pile of goat's hair or mohair. The use and manufacture of plush in Europe dates from the sixteenth century, though it is highly probable that a fabric similar in appearance has been woven in China from time immemorial. Plush may be roughly described as long napped velvet, and any kind of fiber may be used in its manufacture, the distinction from velvet being found in the longer and less dense pile upon the surface of plush. The process employed in weaving it will be found fully explained in the article on WeavinG. The silk plush now so extensively used for dress and millinery purposes is made on a cotton foundation, the ground-warp being frequently dyed of the same color as the silk pile-warp. Silk plush having a longer and a less dense pile than velvet, the pile admits of being brushed from side to side much easier, thus reflecting the rays of light to a better advantage, and producing a watered or changeable effect. One form of plush is that which has taken the place of the napped beaver-felt in the dress-hats of gentlemen, which is consequently known as hatter's plush. This variety is all produced in Lyons, France, not a single yard being made in the United States. Indeed there are no plushes composed entirely of silk manufactured in this country, although cotton-back and mohair plushes are produced in fairly good qualities; in some instances being equal if not superior to the goods of Europe. This is especially true of the furniture plushes woven in Pennsylvania and Connecticut, and the exquisite seal plushes, woven in wide widths for winter cloaks and caps. The railroads of the United States consume about 40,000 yards of the best mohair plush for car seats every year, which large quantity up to the present time has been almost entirely supplied by our home mills. Crimped and embossed plush for furniture coverings are being produced in large quantities since the passage of the McKinley tariff act, which has greatly aided in the recent developement this industry. Plush is embossed by means of large steel rollers, on the surface of which a pattern is cut in relief. They are heated, and revolve slowly while the dampened material is drawn underneath; thus the pile is stamped flat in places, leaving some erect to form the pattern. Much mohair plush in England is woven by hand, an expert weaver producing about forty yards per month. A power loom will average about fourteen yards per week. Very frequently plushes are made to imitate the skins of animals. Every one is aware that a great many animals have next to the skin a short close fur, covered with a longer hair, the hair lying over the fur and serving to turn off the wet, while the fur serves to keep the animal warm. In imitating such furs two lengths of pile must be furnished the plush. In fact, two distinct plushes are combined upon one ground - one having a float an inch or more in length, and the other having a float of only a quarter of an inch. In case two different materials be used, such as fine wool for the short, and silk or bright mohair for the long pile, beautiful effects are obtained, and very correct imitations of the skins of some animals made. In making imitation sealskin, smoothness and brightness of the fiber are the essential conditions. If the pile is required to stand erect upon the surface of the cloth, unless it is very short pile, the hair or fiber of which it is made must be very strong, so that it can retain its erect position. In the manufacture of silk plush the pile is made of organzine silk; in mohair of the best angora hair. [See Utrecht Velvet, Pile Weaving, Velvet, Weaving, Mohair, Angora]