Serge (fabric)

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Serge is a type of twill fabric that has diagonal lines or ridges on both sides,[1] made with a two-up, two-down weave. The worsted variety is used in making military uniforms, suits, great coats and trench coats. Its counterpart, silk serge, is used for linings. French serge is a softer, finer variety. The word is also used for a high quality woolen woven fabric.[2]

Etymology and history[edit]

The name is derived from Old French serge, itself from Latin serica, from Greek σηρικός (serikos), meaning "silken".[3] The early association of silk serge, Greece, and France is shown by the discovery in Charlemagne's tomb of a piece of silk serge dyed with Byzantine motifs, evidently a gift from the Byzantine Imperial Court in the 8th or 9th century AD. It also appears to refer to a form of silk twill produced in the early renaissance in or around Florence, used for clerical cassocks. A reference can be found in Don Quixote: "I am more pleased to have found it than anyone had given me a Cassock of the best Florentine serge" (The Curate, Book I, Chapter VI).

From early Saxon times, most English wool ("staples") was exported; in the early 16th century it went mainly to a Royal monopoly at Calais (then an English possession) and was woven into cloth in France or the Low Countries. However, with the capture of Calais by the French on 7 January 1558, England began expanding its own weaving industry, this was greatly enhanced by the European Wars of Religion (Eighty Years' War, French Wars of Religion); in 1567 Calvinist refugees from the Low Countries included many skilled serge weavers,[4] while Huguenot refugees in the early 18th century included many silk and linen weavers.[5]

Denim is a cotton fabric with a similar weave; its name is believed to be derived from "serge de Nîmes" after Nîmes in France.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "serge", AccessScience, McGraw-Hill Global Education Holdings
  2. ^ " Fabric swatch NO. 1 SERGE" (Sep/Oct 2010) Selvedge No. 36, p.79, London ISSN 1742-254X
    The article discusses the way in which the fabric serge has been used throughout history.
  3. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary
  4. ^ Lambert, Tim. "A History of Southampton". Retrieved 26 November 2017. 
  5. ^ "BBC - Legacies - Immigration and Emigration - England - London - The world in a city". Retrieved 26 November 2017. 
  6. ^ Bryson, Bill (2016) [1994]. "'Manifest Destiny': Taming the West". Made in America. Transworld Publishers. p. 182. ISBN 978-1-784-16186-6.