Tammy Cloth

Piece of tammy cloth. Piece of tammy cloth.

Tammy cloth is a coarse, union (a mixture of two different types of fibres) cloth made of cotton and worsted (wool). The word derives from tamis, which is a cloth originally used for sieving (see French tamis, ‘sieve’). It is also called tammies. It should not be confused with ‘tammy’, the abbreviation for a Tam o’Shanter, a form of woollen bonnet used in Scotland.

The first recorded written use of tammy as a piece of cloth dates back to 1665, when it was described as a fine worsted cloth of good quality, often with a glazed finish. By 1769 the term tammy was associated with a coarse piece of cloth used as a strainer. In the nineteenth century tammy developed two meanings. Firstly, it was a coarse cloth used to sieve soaps and sauces. The second meaning was developed in the late nineteenth century, when tammy cloth was used for French canvas embroidery. The word tammy cloth with reference to sieving still exists in the twenty-first century, but its other use as an embroidery ground material has been lost.

The terms tammy cloth, tamis and tammies are often used for the same type of cloth.


  • CAULFEILD, Sophia Frances Anne and Blanche C. SAWARD (1882). The Dictionary of Needlework, London: L. Upcott Gill, p. 471.
  • MORRIS, Barbara (1962). Victorian Embroidery, London: Herbert Jenkins, p. 31.
  • Shorter Oxford English Dictionary: 'Tammy'.

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 27 April 2017).


Last modified on Wednesday, 26 April 2017 19:09
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