Fabric Glossary


Fabric Glossary

A

Absorbency

The ability of a fabric to take in moisture.

Acetat

A manufactured fiber formed by compound of cellulose, refined from cotton linters and/or wood pulp, and acedic acid that has been extruded through a spinneret and then hardened.

Acrylic

A manufactured fiber, its major properties include a soft, wool-like hand, machine washable and dryable and excellent color retention.

Alpaca

A natural hair fiber obtained from the Alpaca sheep, a domesticated member of the llama family.

Angora

The hair of the Angora goat. Also known as Angora mohair. Angora may also apply to the fur of the Angora rabbit.

Antique Satin

A reversible satin-weave fabric with satin floats on the technical face and surface slubs on the technical back created by using slub-filling yarns. It is usually used with the technical back as the right side for drapery fabrics and often made of a blend of fibers.

Argyle

A pattern designed with different color diamond shapes knit into a fabric.

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B

Bamboo Fabric

Bamboo fabric is a natural textile made from the pulp of the bamboo grass. Bamboo fabric has been growing in popularity because it has many unique properties and is more sustainable than most textile fibers. Bamboo fabric is light and strong, has excellent wicking properties, and is to some extent antibacterial.

Bark Cloth

A textured woven, usually printed cotton fabric that was popular in the 30s-40s and 50s as an interiors fabric. The prints were often large vines, leaves and florals.

Batik

A method of dyeing fabric where some areas are covered with wax or pastes made of glues or starches to make designs by keeping dyes from penetrating in pattern areas. Multicolored and blended effects are obtained by repeating the dyeing process several times, with the initial pattern of wax boiled off and another design applied before dyeing again in a new color.

Batiste

A lightweight, plain weave fabric, semi-sheer and usually made of cotton or cotton blends. Appropriate for heirloom sewing, baby clothes and lingerie.

Bedford Cord

A cord cotton-like fabric with raised ridges in the lengthwise direction. Since the fabric has a high strength and a high durability, it is often used for upholstery and work clothes.

Bengaline

A fabric with a crosswise rib made from textile fibers (as rayon, nylon, cotton, or wool) often in combination.

Boiled Wool

Felted knitted wool, it offers the flexibility of a knit with great warmth. Create your own by washing double the needed amount of 100% wool jersey in hot water and drying in a hot dryer. Expect 50% shrinkage. Appropriate for jackets, vests and stuffed animals.

Boucle

A knit or woven fabric with small curls or loops that create a nubby surface. The fabric has a looped, knotted surface and is often used in sweater looks, vests and coats.

Broadcloth

A plain weave tightly woven fabric that is usually made from 100% cotton or a cotton blend. Most common uses are quilting and shirt-making.

Brocade

A heavy jacquard-type fabric with an all-over raised pattern or floral design. Appropriate for upholstery, draperies, handbags and eveningwear.

Burlap

A loosely constructed, heavy weight, plain weave fabric. It has a rough hand. Appropriate for draperies and decorative items.

Burn-out Velvet

Created from two different fibers, the velvet is removed with chemicals in a pattern leaving the backing fabric intact. Appropriate for more unconstructed and loosely fit garments.

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C

Camel's Hair

A natural fiber obtained from the under-hair of the camel. It is relatively close to cashmere. Appropriate for coats and jackets. Very soft hand.

Calico

A tightly-woven cotton type fabric with an all-over print, usually a small floral pattern on a contrasting background color. Common end-uses include dresses, aprons, and quilts.

Cambric

A fine thin white linen fabric.

Canvas

A strong, durable, closely woven cotton fabric.

Cashmere

A natural fiber obtained from the soft fleecy undergrowth of the Kashmir goat. Most commonly used in sweaters, shawls, suits, coats, and dresses. A luxury fiber with a very soft hand.

Challis

A lightweight, soft plain weave fabric with a slightly brushed surface. The fabric is often printed, usually in a floral pattern. Challis is most often seen in fabrics made of cotton, wool, or rayon.

Chambray

A plain woven fabric that can be made from cotton, silk, or manufactured fibers, but is most commonly cotton. It incorporates a colored warp (often blue) and white filling yarns.

Chantilly lace

This lace has a net background, and the pattern is created by embroidering with thread and ribbon to create floral designs. The pattern has areas of design that are very dense, and the pattern is often outlined with heavier cords or threads.

Charm Quilt

A quilt made of many, many small patches (traditionally 2" or so) where each piece is a different fabric. The pattern is usually a one-patch design and often involves swaps and trades with friends to gather many fabrics.

Charmuese

A luxurious, supple silky fabric with a shiny satin face and a dull back. Generally either silk, rayon ,or polyester. Suitable for blouses, fuller pants and lingerie.

Cheesecloth

A lightweight, sheer, plain-woven fabric with a very soft texture. It may be natural colored, bleached, or dyed. It usually has a very low count. If dyed, it may be called bunting and could be used for flags or banners.

Chiffon

Lightweight, extremely sheer and airy fabric, containing highly twisted fibers. Suitable for full pants, loose tops or dresses.

Chintz

A plain-weave fabric, which has been glazed to produce a polished look. Fabric must be dry-cleaned as the glazing will wash off with machine laundering. Suitable for drapes and lining.

Chite

Painted linens that originated in Chitta (India) in the 17th century.

Corduroy

A fabric, usually made of cotton or a cotton blend, utilizing a cut-pile weave construction. The ''wale'' indicates the number of cords in one inch. Suitable for jackets, pants and skirts.

Cotton

a white vegetable fiber grown in warmer climates in many parts of the world, has been used to produce many types of fabric for hundreds of years. Cotton fabric feels good against the skin regardless of the temperature or the humidity and is therefore in great demand by the consumer.

Crepe

Used to describe all kinds of fabrics--wool, cotton, silk, rayon, synthetics and blends-that have a crinkle, crimped or grained surface.

Crepe Charmeuse

A smooth, soft luster fabric of grenadine silk warp and filling, with latter given crepe twist. It has the body and drape of satin and is used for dresses and eveningwear.

Crepe de Chine

Silk crepe de chine has a slightly crinkly surface create with highly twisted fibers. It comes in three weights: 2 ply, appropriate for blouses and lingerie; 3 ply, appropriate for dresses, fuller pants and dresses; and 4 ply, most luxurious and best for trousers and jackets.

Crepe-back Satin

A satin fabric in which highly twisted yarns are used in the filling direction. The floating yarns are made with low twist and may be of either high or low luster. If the crepe effect is the right side of the fabric, the fabric is called satin-back crepe.

Crewel

A true crewel fabric is embroidered with crewel yarn (a loosely twisted, two-ply wool) on a plain weave fabric. Traditional crewel fabrics are hand-woven and embroidered in India. The design motif for crewel work is typically outlines of flowers, vines, and leaves, in one or many colors. Modern weaving technology and inventive designers create traditional "crewel" looks with weave effects alone, without the use of embroidery.

Crocheted

Loose, open knit made by looping thread with a hooked needle. Used for light, summer sweaters.

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D

Damask

A glossy jacquard-type fabric, the patterns are flat and reversible. Unlike jacquards, the fabric is all one color. Suitable for draperies, curtains bed and table linens.

Denim

A twill weave cotton fabric made with different colored yarns in the warp and the weft. Due to the twill construction, one color predominates on the fabric surface. Suitable for pants, jackets and skirts. Pre-wash and dry 100% cotton denim at least twice to eliminate shrinkage and color bleeding.

Dobby

A decorative weave, characterized by small figures, usually geometric, that are woven into the fabric structure.

Doeskin

Generally applied to fabric with a low nap that is brushed in one direction to create a soft suede-like hand on the fabric front. Great for tops, pants and fuller skirts.

Dotted Swiss

A lightweight, sheer cotton or cotton blend fabric with a small dot flock-like pattern either printed on the surface of the fabric, or woven into the fabric. End-uses for this fabric include blouses, dresses, baby clothes, and curtains.

Double Cloth

A fabric construction, in which two fabrics are woven on the loom at the same time, one on top of the other. In the weaving process, the two layers of woven fabric are held together using binder threads. The woven patterns in each layer of fabric can be similar or completely different.

Double Knit

A weft knit fabric in which two layers of loops are formed that cannot be separated. A double knit machine, which has two complete sets of needles, is required for this construction.

Double Rub

Refers to the back and forth motion used to test the duribility of an upholstery fabric. The test duplicates the abrasion that occurs from the normal use of upholstered furniture. The larger the number of double rubs the more durible the fabric.

Drill

Strong, medium- to heavyweight, warp-faced, twill-weave fabric. It is usually a 2/1 left-handed twill and piece dyed.

Duck

A tightly woven, heavy, plain-weave, bottom-weight fabric with a hard, durable finish. The fabric is usually made of cotton, and is widely used in men's and women's slacks, and children's playclothes.

Dupioni Silk

A crisp fabric with irregular slubs. It is perfect for tailored slimmer silhouettes like flat-front trousers, jackets and fitted blouses and dresses. Silk Dupioni can be machine washed in the gentle cycle and drip-dried.

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E

Eyelet

Fabric with patterned cut-outs, around which stitching or embroidery may be applied in order to prevent the fabric from raveling.

Elasticity

The ability of a fiber or fabric to return to its original length, shape, or size immediately after the removal of stress.

Embossing

A calendering process in which fabrics are engraved with the use of heated rollers under pressure to produce a raised design on the fabric surface.

Embroidery

An embellishment of a fabric or garment in which colored threads are sewn on to the fabric to create a design. Embroidery may be done either by hand or machine.

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F

Faille

A glossy, soft, finely-ribbed, silk-like woven fabric made from cotton, silk, or manufactured fibers.