Buckram twosides.jpg
Buckram can be shiny or dull.
Buckram is available in many colors.

Buckram is a stiff cotton (occasionally linen or horse hair) cloth with a loose weave, often muslin. The fabric is soaked in a sizing agent such as wheat starch paste, glue (such as PVA glue), or pyroxylin (gelatinized nitrocellulose, developed around 1910), then dried. When rewetted or warmed, it can be shaped to create durable firm fabric for book covers, hats, and elements of clothing.[1]

In the Middle Ages, "bokeram", as it was known then, was fine cotton cloth, not stiff. The etymology of the term is uncertain; the commonly mentioned derivation from Bokhara[2] is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, uncertain.[3]

Use in bookbinding

In bookbinding, buckram has several attractive qualities. In addition to being highly durable, buckram does not allow the bookbinder's paste to seep through and cause discoloration or stains on the book's front and back covers.[4]

In bookbinding, pyroxylin-impregnated fabrics are considered superior to starch-filled fabrics because their surfaces are more water resistant, they are more resistant to insects and fungi, and they are generally stronger. They wear well and are particularly suitable for use in library binding where many people will be repeatedly handling the same books. Pyroxylin also allows for unique decorative effects on book covers. They, too, are water repellant and immune to insect attack and fungi, but they do not wear as well as starch impregnated cloths because of cracking at the joints and occasional peeling of the coating.[5]

Use in millinery

Millinery buckram is impregnated with a starch which allows it to be softened in water, pulled over a hat block, and left to dry into a hard shape.[6] Millinery buckram comes in many weights, including lightweight or baby buckram (often used for children's and dolls' hats),[7] single-ply buckram, and double buckram (also known as theatrical buckram or crown buckram).[8]


  1. ^ Arnold, Janet. Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd. p. 151.
  2. ^ King, Donald (1987). Alexander, Jonathan; Binski, Paul (eds.). Age of Chivalry: Art in Plantagenet England, 1200–1400. London: Royal Academy/Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 157.
  3. ^ "buckram, noun". Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  4. ^ Thomson, Paul (8 November 2013). "Introduction to Bookbinding Supplies and Materials". iBookBinding - Bookbinding Tutorials & Resources. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  5. ^ "Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books - A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology". cool.culturalheritage.org. Archived from the original on 2020-07-24. Retrieved 2020-10-17.
  6. ^ Hart, Eric (2013). The Prop Building Guidebook: For Theatre, Film, and TV. Taylor & Francis. p. 292. ISBN 9780240821382.
  7. ^ "The Copyist". The Illustrated Milliner. The Illustrated Milliner Company. 14 (7): 68. July 1913. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  8. ^ McMasters, Lynn (1 November 2005). "Buckram 101". Finery. Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild. Retrieved 8 October 2019.

External links

Media files used on this page

Jute nahtlos.png
Author/Creator: SoylentGreen, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Hessian Fabric made seamless. It will serve to create a normal map in Blender.
Batik Indonesia.jpg
Author/Creator: MartijnL, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0 nl
Batik cloth purchased in Yogyakarta, Indonesia
MacLachlan hunting tartan (D. W. Stewart).svg
Author/Creator: , Licence: CC BY-SA 2.5
A representation of the Maclachlan hunting tartan. This tartan is the oldest tartan to bear the name MacLachlan. This tartan is referred to as the Old MacLachlan, MacLachlan, and Hunting MacLachlan. This sett was first published in Old & Rare Scottish Tartans by D. W. Stewart in 1893.
Thread count: Y6, W4, Bk32, G32, Y6, W4, R48.
Sources: MacLachlan Clan Tartan WR1710 MacLachlan Hunting Tartan
Author/Creator: unknown, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Buckram variety.jpg
(c) Grendelkhan at the English-language Wikipedia, CC-BY-SA-3.0
This photo was taken on June 8, 2004, with a Sony Cybershot DSC-F828, in the Homer Babbidge Library. The image was level-adjusted, cropped, scaled from 1686x1527 to 800x725, and saved at a quality of 0.83 with The Gimp. The photo depicts a variety of buckram color swatches. The samples are courtesy of the preservation department at the Homer Babbidge Library.
ISBN with EAN13.svg
Author/Creator: unknown, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Buckram twosides.jpg


The original uploader was Grendelkhan at English Wikipedia., Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
This is a composite of two photos taken on June 8, 2004, with a Sony Cybershot DSC-F828, in the Homer Babbidge Library. The two images were cropped and copy-pasted together, then level-adjusted and unsharp-masked with The Gimp, and scaled from 1392x1300 to 600x560, and saved at a quality of 0.85. The photo depicts two sides of a sample strip of buckram. The sample is courtesy of the preservation department at the Homer Babbidge Library.