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ALLERGEN - A substance that causes an allergy such as house dust, dustmite droppings or down and feathers.

ALLERGY - The term allergy is used to describe a response, within the body, to a substance, which is not necessarily harmful in itself, but results in an immune response and a reaction that causes symptoms and disease in a predisposed person, which in turn can cause inconvenience, or a great deal of misery.  Sometimes the body reacts adversly to certain substances such as house dust, dust mite droppings or down and feathers.  A person having an allergic reaction may suffer from wheezing, a runny nose, watering eyes, sneezing or in severe cases an asthma attack.

ANTI-ALLERGY - Bedding products that help to prevent allergies are termed anti-allergy.  They may provide a barrier to allergens for example an anti-allergy mattress or pillow protector.  Sometmes manufactures use chemical treatments to create anti-allergy products.

BALL FIBRE - Down-like clusters of polyester fibre used in best quality pillows.  The clusters move freely in a pillow and make them easy to plump to shape.  They also allow a pillow to be washed time after time.

BATT - Standard pillows contain a roll of polyester fleece as their filling called a batt.  These may become damaged and flattened over time and misshapen when washed.

BOUND EDGE - The edging of a duvet finished using biased binding has a much neater edge than a standard duvet, which has overlocked stitching which is prone to unravelling and may come undone over time. 

CAMBRIC - A fine, plain weave cotton fabric, often glazed on one side, and used as a down-proof casing.

CASSETTE CONSTRUCTION - Rectangular pockets to keep the filling in a natural duvet evenly spread when in use - no more cold spots and filling trapped in the end of the duvet!  A similar construction used in some mattress enhancers.

COMBINATION DUVET - Sometimes called a Four Season's duvet this term is used to describe two duvets or different togs (usually 4.5 Tog and 9.0 Tog) that can be used independently or buttoned/poppered together depending on the season.  In the coolest months both duvets are used, in spring and autumn the higher tog and in summer the lower tog duvet; thus providing comfort whatever the temperature. 

DOWN - The soft clusters found on the breast of a duck or goose.  Down is very good at trapping air and so keeps you warm.  Down has no quill and so is very soft.  The lightest and most luxurious duvets contain a high percentage of down.  If a manufacturer follows the European Standard for natural duvets then a down duvet will contain a minimum of 60% down, the remainder of the filling being fine (nestling) feathers. 

DUST MITE - A tiny spider-like creature that lives on house dust.  Found in even the cleanest of homes, they tend to live in the mattress.  Their droppings may cause allergies.  Washing at 60˚C kills dust mites and their eggs.

EN12934:1999 - European standard for natural duvets.  Reputable manufacturers follow this code.  They will state clearly the percentage of down and feather contained in a natural duvet.  Look out for this on product packaging and sash labels as a sign of a good manufacturer.  Less reputable manufacturers may use more feathers (as they are cheaper).

FEATHER - The covering of a duck or goose with a quill and fine strands.  Feathers keep a bird warm without weighing them down and so make excellent light fillings for duvets.  Bigger feathers provide structure and support for pillows and mattress enhancers, and extra weight for duvets.

FOUR SEASONS DUVET - Sometimes called a combination duvet, this term is used to describe two duvets of different togs (usually 4.5 Tog and 9.0 Tog) that can be used independently or buttoned/poppered together depending on the season.  In the coolest months both duvets are used, in the spring and autumn the higher tog and in summer the lower tog duvet; thus providing comfort whatever the temperature.

HOLLOWFIBRE - Thread or filament in textiles with a hole running up the middle.  This traps air more effectively than a solid fibre and so makes a duvet warmer.  Similarly the hollow fibre shape is harder to bend and so provides structure and loft.

HUNGARIAN GOOSEDOWN - The soft clusters found on the breast of a Hungarian goose.  Down is very good at trapping air and so keeps you warm.  Down has no quill and so is very soft.  Hungarian goosedown clusters are generally larger and trap more air than down from standard geese.  This makes the duvets lighter, warmer and more luxurious.

LOFT - The height of a duvet or pillow filling.  Better loft means more air is trapped and a warmer duvet or more support from a pillow.

LYSOFT - An advanced fibre blend made from natural raw materials and polyester.  Lysoft has a remarkable ability to absorb and disperse moisture, allowing your body to breathe naturally and leaving you feeling fresh, cosy and comfortable all night long.

MATTRESS PROTECTOR - A covering for the mattress to provide protection against everyday spills, a barrier to allergens or an added touch of comfort.

MATTRESS TOPPER - Mattress Toppers add an additional layer of padding and extra comfort.  They are especially good for providing extra softness to a mattress that is maybe a little too hard or for extending the life of an ageing mattress.

MEMORY FOAM - Memory Foam is made from polyurethane with additives that add to its viscosity level, thereby increasing its density.  It is often referred to as visco-elastic polyurethane foam.  Famously, memory foam was originally developed by NASA to ease the pressure of extreme G-force during space shuttle take off; although it was never used in a mission.  Today it is widely used for mattresses, pillows and mattress toppers.  It provides excellent support and can reduce pressure points, thereby improving you night's sleep.

MICROFIBRE - Very fine fibre, strictly speaking of less than 1 micron diameter.  Microfibre fillings are very warm, soft and light.  Microfibre polyester is used in high performance skiwear to provide warmth without weight.  Duvets filled with polyester microfibre can be very light and yet very warm, and feel like down duvets, but are naturally non-allergenic.

MODAL - A natural fibre derived from wood pulp.  Very soft and breathable for added comfort in bed.  Related to Viscose and Modal.  Used in fabrics and fillings mixed with cotton or polyester to provide softness or temperature and moisture regulation.

NON - ALLERGENIC - Substances that do not normally create and allergic reaction such as polyester.

PERCALE - A closely woven, plain weave, spun fabric.  The high thread count gives the fabric a soft, silk-like feel.  Used for sheets, bedspreads and the higher quality duvet covers.  For the technically minded it has thread count of 180 and above. (Higher thread counts indicate higher quality fabrics).

PIPED EDGE - The higher quality finish on a natural duvet or pillow.  Fabric is stitched around a cord.

POLYESTER - The man-made fibre derived from oil-based products used to fill most synthetic duvets and pillows.  Polyester is non-allergenic, provides good warmth and is very affordable, but is less breathable than naturally occurring fillings such as down and feather.

SATEEN - Usually 'cotton sateen' this terms describes a type of weave that produces a smooth and lustrous surface, reminiscent of satin.  Soft and lovely to handle.

SILOCONISED - A term used to describe a slippery coating used on high quality polyester that makes the fibres slide past one another easily.  The filing feels softer to the touch and can be washed at higher temperatures than standard oiled polyester fibres.  Siliconised polyester is also more durable and will keep its Tog for longer.

SILK - Natural filling for duvets and pillows.  Made by pulling silk floss from the cocoon and layering.  Very breathable and naturally hypoallergenic.  Filling actually resistant to dust mites and is healthy choice for those who suffer from allergies.

SPIRAL HOLLOWFIBRE - Polyester fibres can have a spiral shaped to provide additional loft and trap more air.  They provide warmth and help to keep the duvet plump and cuddly. 

SWIRL STITCHING - A pattern of stitching with parallel swirls of continuous stitching.  Swirls are better than straight lines as they help to provide structure and height (loft) to the duvet and make it look plumper when on the bed.

THREAD COUNT - The number of threads of yarn in 1 square inch of fabric - add up the number of threads in the horizontal and vertical directions.  Generally speaking the higher the thread count the softer a fabric is to the touch.  Good quality bed linens have a thread count of 180 or more.

WISPELLE - A special microfibre blend that is additionally non-allergenic.  The secret of Wispelle lies in its ability to let your body breathe while you sleep, an important factor in achieving a comfortable, undisturbed night's rest. 

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