Emma and Isla fabrics

Thread. Fibres. Fabrics.

Our sewing kit

At Neptune, we use a number of different yarns to build our fabric library. We too are huge advocates of the natural ‘movement’, but we equally won’t shy away from more modern man-made fibres like polyester if they’ll help to improve the structure of the final textile. Below, we’ve put together a character profile of each of the core yarns that we use in our ‘by the metre’ fabrics, to help you be sure you’ll get off on the right foot.


Growing cotton plants is a careful art, but one that has been happening for thousands of years across the globe. We use it predominantly to form our velvet fabrics. It’s the option that we feel is the happiest combination of natural, soft and resilient, and allows velvet to become an everyday luxury. Unlike pure polyester velvet, the pile can move and develop character, but it’ll stand up to daily life more than silk. We also choose cotton to create some of our superior linen blends.


    Strength: cotton plants might look like balls of candyfloss, but they’re remarkably strong. It’s incredibly difficult to cause cotton to tear, and so, whether used on its own or with another fibre, it’ll always promise durability.

    Soft: but it also manages to be soft at the same time. Each individual strand of cotton may be tough, but to the touch, it’s beautifully soft. Cotton offers the best of both worlds.

    Breathable: much like wool, cotton’s natural structure allows the air to circulate. It means that smells that drift from kitchen to living room are far less likely to get trapped within the strands, and that it will help to regulate your body temperature too.

    Hypoallergenic: yet another quality it shares with wool, cotton is naturally hypoallergenic.

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We use cotton in our Isla, Emma, Clara, and Jack fabrics.


There are various different types of wool from ultra-warm alpaca to supremely soft lambswool and cashmere (which you’ll find in some of our throws and blankets). But for our by the metre fabrics we use sheep’s wool.


    Warmth: wool is a fabulous insulator. It’s one of the things that people love the most. Cosiness is a given.

    Breathable: that being said, one of the things that is often overlooked is the fact that wool is also very breathable. So in summer, it will let the air circulate, but in winter, it will keep it trapped in. It makes it transeasonal.

    Texture: this can go either way. Some people love wool for its tickly texture, others find it a little irritating. It will never feel as silky smooth as cotton, but we’ve worked hard to give ours a handle that’s as soft on the skin as possible, without masking the natural character.

    Hypoallergenic: perfect for allergy suffers.

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We use pure wool in our Angus, Elliot, Ewan, Hector and Lorne fabrics.


Formed from the fibres of the flax plant, linen is one of the oldest yarns in existence. It’s at the heart of our biggest family of fabrics, with currently six types of linen blend in our portfolio.


    Strength: linen is known for being robust if it’s harvested carefully and the fibres aren’t damaged. It makes it an excellent choice for high-traffic areas or for homes with children or pets.

    Character: out of all of our yarns, linen is arguably the one with the most natural texture and variance, so much so that techniques have been developed to try to emulate linen’s slubs in other yarns, but never quite to the same effect. It’s all part of its natural character. The higher the percentage of linen in a blend, the more slubs. Without them, it wouldn’t be true linen.

    Breathable: like with wool and cotton, being a natural fibre, linen is also breathable, making it an excellent all-year-long option.

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We use linen in the following fabric styles: Hugo, Archie, Clara, Imogen, Gabriela, Finian, Lara, Emma, Jack, Chloe and Harry. Each time varying the finishing technique, the weight of the linen used, and the blend.

Slubs. Slubby. Slubbiness.

In brief, slubs are raised parts within the fabric, typically dotted with little knots and knobbles. They’re a characteristic of natural fibres, especially linen.

Slubs occur when shorter fibres are knotted together to increase their length. But equally, they can crop up along the thread even before they're knotted. Why? Because nature doesn’t create identical strands. These traits aren’t defects, quite the opposite, they’re the true mark of a natural fabric, and are what make each piece utterly unique.

Linen without slubs is like wood without a grain.


The structure of polyester is complex, but in a nutshell, it’s a synthetic fibre that’s used widely in the construction of fabric.


    Strength: polyester is incredibly durable. It can be stretched over time and still not lose any of its strength. It’s another way to make a textile more robust.

    Colour retention: just like viscose, polyester is excellent at holding onto colour and maintaining vibrancy where some natural yarns struggle.

    Not so breathable: the main downside to polyester is the fact that it can’t breathe like a natural fibre can. This is much more of an issue when polyester is used in clothing, but we’re still very aware of the fact and so use it in the smallest of amounts.

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We use a small amount of polyester (just 10%) to help our cotton velvet, Isla, to hold its colour. We also partly create our medium weight linen, Archie, with polyester for the same reason, and because it makes it an incredibly durable and easy to care for fabric.


Viscose is somewhere between a natural and synthetic fibre. The raw material is cellulose which is found in ‘wood pulp’ but it then undergoes a lengthy process before it officially becomes viscose. It’s often used interchangeably with rayon (formerly known as artificial silk), although they’re not quite one and the same thing.


    Softness: this is possibly the quality above all others for which viscose is heralded. Not only does it feel lovely against the skin, but it lends fabrics a beautiful drape. It works well when it’s paired with a natural fibre that needs a little more softness, or even with one that’s already soft and wants to be exaggerated.

    Colour retention: some natural fibres can struggle a little when it comes to holding onto colour. That’s where viscose can help. Colour clings to it fabulously, even the brightest and boldest of shades.

    Absorbs moisture: one of the downsides with viscose however is that it easily absorbs moisture and so is more prone to staining. That’s why it performs far better in fabrics  when it’s used as a carefully balanced blend.

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We use a touch of viscose in our Clara, Gabriela, Emma and Lara fabrics.

What do we mean by ‘handle’?

Quite simply, how a fabric feels to handle, how it feels in your hand. It’s the word we tend to use when describing the feel of our fabrics, as opposed to ‘texture’. Some fabrics have a handle that makes them better suited to different purposes. For example, certain fabrics have a better drape than others, making them ideal for curtains as opposed to upholstery.


Velvet isn’t technically a yarn – cotton, polyester, silk or a blend of fibres can be used to make it – but the way it’s made means it’s entirely different from any other fabric, so we thought it deserved a special mention.

    A bit like a field of grass, velvet’s fibres stand up vertically, rather than lying flat like most woven fabrics. It’s what’s known as a ‘pile’ or ‘nap’. You make it by layering two pieces of fabric and stitching them together. A guillotine then cuts the stitching apart, which is what forms the pile of the velvet.

    Because there are so many tufts of fabric sat close together, velvet has a soft, plush texture. It’s also light-reflective: you’ll notice that the velvet changes shades depending on the angle of the fibres. Yarns like silk will make for an even shinier velvet, while our combination of cotton and polyester is subtler.

It does also mean that – just like that field of grass – the fibres can bend over and lie flat in places when you press down on them. That’s why velvet can look like it has marks on it when it comes out of the packaging or after you’ve been using it for a while. It’s all part of velvet’s ageing process. Like leather that cracks with age, it’s what gives it its character. But if you’d prefer, you can use a velvet brush to push the pile back into place, or a light steam for stubborn marks.