The following apparel glossary contains terms that are generic to clothing and the garment industry and some that are specific to sustainable and organic clothing and eco-fashion. We are working to create a reference that explains many terms that you might encounter when purchasing clothing to help buyers better understand what they are purchasing. This is especially important when buying over the Internet where you have to rely more on descriptions.
Abaca – A vegetable leaf fiber derived from the Musa textilis plant. It is mainly grown in the Philippines but is also found, in smaller amounts, in Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia and Costa Rica. The fiber is obtained from the outer layer of the leaf. Processing occurs when it is separated mechanically into lengths varying from 3 to 9 feet. Abaca is very strong and has great luster. It is very resistant to damage from salt water.
Abrasion Resistance - The ability of a fiber or fabric to withstand surface wear and rubbing.
Absorbency - The ability of a fabric to take in moisture. Absorbency is a very important property, which effects many other characteristics such as skin comfort, static build-up, shrinkage, stain removal, water repellency, and wrinkle recovery.
Acetate - A manufactured fiber formed by a compound of cellulose, refined from cotton linters and/or wood pulp, and acetic acid that has been extruded through a spinneret and then hardened.
Acrylic - A manufactured fiber derived from polyacrylonitrile. Its major properties include a soft, wool-like hand, machine washable and dryable, excellent color retention. Solution-dyed versions have excellent resistance to sunlight and chlorine degradation.
A-line gown - Form fitting bodices that flare out from the waistline to a full skirt. These gowns have a seamless waist.
A-line skirt - A skirt that is fitted at the waist and flares out in an A-line or tulip shape at the hem.
Alpaca - True alpaca is a hair fiber from the Alpaca animal, a member of the Ilama family of the South American Andes Mountains. Alpaca is imitated in wool, wool and alpaca blends, rayon, mohair and rayon or cotton blends, and in synthetics fabrics. Alpaca is fine, silk-like, soft, light weight and warm. It is very rich and silky with considerable luster and resembles mohair. If guard hairs are used, it is inclined to be "boardy". It is strong and durable. True alpaca is expensive and is often blended with other fibers or imitated by synthetic fibers. Alpaca is found in white, black, fawn or gray. The fibers are less coarse than those of the llama but are higher in tensile strength. Alpaca is most commonly used in fabrics made into sweaters, dresses, coats, and bedding batting.
Alpaca (Organic) - Free range roaming,
pasture rotation, distribution of the Alpaca’s
manure as fertilizer, fed no hormones, no chemical
dipping for ticks and parasites, no chemicals
ingredients are permitted on the land or animals.
Finer than cashmere, smoother than silk, softer
than cotton, stronger than mohair, warmer than
goose down and synthetic fabrics, and breathes
better than thermal knits. The fibers do not
have lanolin or other oils. Luxuriously soft
on your skin. Hypoallergenic and naturally
fire resistant and dust mite resistant.
Alpaca (Undyed) - The Natural Alpaca fiber comes in the whitest white, to the most intense black, including around twenty brown and gray tones. Therefore, undyed color combinations are very plentiful. By using undyed Natural Alpaca a step is made to decrease the amount of chemical runoff into the world’s water tables.
Angora - The hair of the Angora goat or the Angora rabbit. The clipped fiber from a living animal is also known as Angora mohair. Scoured mohair appears smooth and white. It varies in fineness and is highly resilient, very strong and has high luster. Its value is determined by its luster and not its softness. The Angora rabbit is indigenous to Asia Minor and Turkey. It is often blended and mixed with wool to lower the price of the finished. Angora rabbit hair is long, very fine, light weight, extremely warm and fluffy. It has a tendency to shed and mat with time. According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, any apparel containing Angora rabbit hair must be labeled as "Angora rabbit hair" on the garment.
Appliqué - A cutout surface decoration that is sewn or embroidered to a larger piece of material.
Armure - Cotton, silk, wool, rayon, synthetics, and blends. The weave can be plain, twill, or rib, background often has a small design either jacquard or dobby made with warp floats on surface giving a raised effect. Design is often in two colors and raised. The name was derived from original fabric which was woven with a small interlaced design of chain armor and used for military equipment during the Crusades. Often used in elegant evening gowns, draperies, or upholstery.
Art Linen – A linen woven with even threads that are especially good for embroidery. It is very easy to "draw" the yarns for drawn thread work. Comes bleached, or colored. Has a soft finish. Has been use for needlework.
Back Coating - Fabric treated with sizing on the back only to give added weight, strength and opacity.
Back Drape - A length of material attached either at the shoulder or the waist that flows over the back to floor length. In some cases it is removable.
Back yoke - A fitted or shaped piece at the top of a skirt or at the shoulder of various garments.
Ball Gown - Characterized by a very full skirt that begins at the waist and continues to a formal length. The skirt waist is seamed and can be of various styles.
Ballerina Neckline - This is a low neckline that usually occurs with strapless or spaghetti strapped dresses.
Bamboo - A natural, renewable resource that can be made into fabrics. Bamboo grows very quickly and does not require fertilizers or pesticides.
Barathea – A broken ribbed weave from silk, rayon or acetate. The fabric has granular texture achieved by the short broken ribs in the filling direction. It is a rich soft-looking, fine fabric.
Basket Weave - A variation of the plain weave construction, formed by treating two or more warp yarns and/or two or more filling yarns as one unit in the weaving process. Yarns in a basket weave are laid into the woven construction flat, and maintain a parallel relationship. Both balanced and unbalanced basket weave fabrics can be produced. Examples of basket weave construction includes monk cloth and oxford cloth.
Basque waist / V-waist - This dropped waist starts at or just below the natural waistline and dips in the center creating a "V" shape.
Bast Fiber - Strong, soft, woody fibers, such as flax, jute, hemp, and ramie, which are obtained from the inner bark in the stems of certain plants.
Bateau Neck / Boat Neck - A high, wide, straight neckline that runs straight across the front and back, meeting at the shoulders with the same depth in the front and back.
Batiste – A medium-weight, plain weave fabric. Generally made from cotton, but can also be made from rayon and wool. Named after Jean Baptiste, a French linen weaver. Light weight, soft, semi-sheer fabric which resembles nainsook, but finer. It belongs to the lawn family; almost transparent. It is made of tightly twisted, combed yarns and mercerized finish. Sometimes it is printed or embroidered. In a heavier weight, it is used for foundation garments and linings in a plain, figured, striped, or flowered design. Considered similar to nainsook but finer and lighter in weight. Now usually made of 100% polyester distinguished by slubs in filling direction.
Bayadere – Silk in a crosswise rib (plain or twill weave). Has brightly colored stripes in the filling direction. Often black warp. The color effects are usually startling or bizarre. Mostly produced in India. Name derived from the Bajadere dancing girl of India, dedicated from birth to a dancing life. The Bayadere costume includes the striped garment, a flimsy scarf or shawl, jeweled trousers, spangles, sequins, anklets. Used in blouses, dresses, and evening wear.
Beaded - This refers to any style of fabric that has beads embroidered into the design. Beading can be done at the time the lace is made or can be re-embroidered after the lace is made.
Bengaline - A fabric with a crosswise rib and warp faced made from silk, wool, rayon, synthetics and cotton, often in combination. Bengaline was first made of silk in Bengal, India. Ribs are round and raised. Often has wool or cotton dilling in the ribs which doesn't show. It is difficult to make bound buttonholes in it. Has a tendency to slip at the seams if too tightly fitted. Grosgrain and Petersham is bengaline cut to ribbon widths.
Besom Pockets - A pocket sewn inside the garment with access through a welted slit-type opening.
Bias Cut - Cut diagonally across the grain of a fabric. Used to create garments that follow the body curves closely. A bias cut is any direction in the fabric which does not exactly flow in the direction of the weft yarn (vertical yarns) or warp yarns (horizontal yarns) of a fabric. A true bias makes an angle of 45 degrees across the length and width of a fabric. Fabric cut on a bias has maximum stretch.
Bike Tards - A close-fitting, one-piece garment from the top of the torso to be hem of the shorts.
Birdseye - Cotton and Linen or blend of rayon staple and cotton, usually in a dobby weave with a smooth, clear finish and small diamond-shaped figures with a dot in the center of each. The pattern suggests the eye of a bird. It is very soft, light-weight, and absorbent. Birdseye is woven with a loosely twisted filling to increase absorbency and launders well. No starch is applied because the absorption properties must be of the best. Material must be free from any foreign matter. It is also called "diaper cloth" and is used for that purpose as well as very good toweling. Often used as a summer dress fabric.
Blanket Stitch - A closely spaced stitch that forms a line of closely spaced loops at the edge. It is used in embroidery for purely decorative purposes.
Blazer - A long-sleeved sports jacket with labels.
Bleaching - Necessary process to remove the natural and artificial impurities in fabrics to obtain clear whites for even dyeing and printing. Bleaching with hydrogen peroxide is the most environmentally friendly way to whiten fabrics. Hydrogen peroxide can help produce a white fabric but not a bright white fabric.
Blend - A term applied to a yarn or a fabric that is made up of more than one fiber. In blended yarns, two or more different types of staple fibers are twisted or spun together to form the yarn. Examples of a typical blended yarn or fabric is polyester/cotton.
Bolero Jacket - A loose, waist-length jacket open at the front.
Boot-Cut - Cut below the belly button and slightly flares from the knee to the ankle.
Boucle - A knit or woven fabric made from a rough, curly, knotted boucle yarn. The fabric has a looped, knotted surface and is often used in sportswear and coats. Made from wool, but also in rayon, silk, cotton, linen, blends, and some hair fibers. The name is French for "buckled" or "ringed". A drawn out or ringed, looped yarn is used to give it a kinky appearance at intervals. Boucle yarns are usually in both the filling and the warp. The fabrics are usually springy to handle on account of the highly twisted yarns used to achieve the boucle effect. Often ravels easily.
Bourdon Stitching - A close, narrow row of decorative raised stitching such as a monogram, finished edge or accent.
Box-pleated - Two folds of fabric brought together to form a pleat.
Broadcloth – Can be manufactured from cotton and silk, and rayon which are very different than wool broadcloth. A plain weave tightly woven fabric, characterized by a slight ridge effect in one direction, usually the filling. Most cotton broadcloths are made with a very fine crosswise rib weave. In cotton it is made from either carded or combed yarns. The filling is heavier and has less twist. It is finer than poplin when made with a crosswise rib and it is lustrous and soft with a good texture. Thread count ranges from high quality 144 x 6 count down to 80 x 60. Has a smooth finish. May be bleached, dyed, or printed; also is often mercerized. Broadcloth tends to wear very well. If it is not of a high quality or treated it wrinkles very badly. The finest quality is made from Egyptian or combed pima cotton - also sea island. Uses include shirts, dresses, particularly the tailored type in plain colors, blouses, summer wear of all kinds.
Brocade - A heavy, exquisite, jacquard-type fabric with an all-over raised pattern or floral design, generally made from silk, rayon, and cotton in a Jacquard and dobby weave.. Cotton brocade often has the ground of cotton and the pattern of rayon and silk. Pattern is in low relief. Rich, heavy, elaborate design effect. Sometimes with colored or metallic threads making the design usually against a satin weave background. This makes the figures stand out. The figures in brocade are rather loose, while in damask the figure threads are actually bound into the material. The pattern may be satin on a twill ground or twill on a satin ground and is often reversible. The motifs may be of flowers, foliage, scrollwork, pastoral scenes, or other designs. The price range is wide. Brocade is believed to come from the Latin name "brocade" which means to figure. It is used in all types of evening wear, church vestments, interior furnishings, and state robes.
Brocatelle - Originally supposed to be an imitation of Italian tooled leather. Brocatelle, made from silk, rayon, cotton, and synthetics, has a satin or twill pattern on plain or satin ground. It has a Jacquard weave on double or backed cloth. It is recognized by a smooth raised figure of warp-effect, usually in a satin weave construction, on a filling effect background. True brocatelle is a double weave made of silk and linen warp and a silk and linen filling. Present-day materials may have changed from the 13th and 14th century fabrics, but they still have the embossed figure in the tight, compact woven warp-effect. While brocatelle is sometimes classed as a flat fabric, it shows patterns which stand out in "high relief" in a sort of blistered effect.
Broomstick - A skirt or dress that is characterized by numerous pleats and crinkled material.
Buckram – Made from cotton, linen, and synthetics in a plain, cheap, low-textured, loose weave that is heavily sized and stiff. Also, two fabrics are glued together. One is an open weave and the other much finer. Buckram is also made in linen in a single fabric. Buckram is also called crinoline book muslin or book binding. Named from Bokhara in Southern Russia, where it was first made. It softens with heat and can be shaped while warm
Burn-out - A brocade-like pattern effect created on the fabric through the application of a chemical, instead of color, during the burn-out printing process. (Sulfuric acid, mixed into a colorless print paste, is the most common chemical used.) Many simulated eyelet effects can be created using this method. In these instances, the chemical destroys the fiber and creates a hole in the fabric in a specific design, where the chemical comes in contact with the fabric. The fabric is then over-printed with a simulated embroidery stitch to create the eyelet effect. However, burn-out effects can also be created on velvets made of blended fibers, in which the ground fabric is of one fiber like a polyester, and the pile may be of a cellulosic fiber like rayon or acetate. In this case, when the chemical is printed in a certain pattern, it destroys the pile in those areas where the chemical comes in contact with the fabric, but leave the ground fabric unharmed.
Butcher Linen – Plain weave. It was originally made with linen but is now created with cotton or manufactured fibers. It launders well, sheds dirt, and is exceptionally durable.
Calendering - A process for finishing fabrics in which such special effects as high luster, glazing, embossing, and moiré are produced.
Calico – Cotton fabric with a low-count, plain weave. It originated in Calcutta, India, and is one of the oldest cottons. Calico is rather coarse and light in weight. The pattern is printed on one side by discharge or resist printing so it generally isn’t color fast. It is often sized for crispness but washes out and requires starch each time. Designs are often geometric in shape, but originally elaborate designs of birds, trees, and flowers. Calico is usually inexpensive and similar to percale. Very little true calico is on the market to-day, but the designs are still in use on other fabrics and sold as "calico print".
Cambric - A fine, thin, white linen or cotton fabric that is soft, closely woven, and light and has been treated to give it a slight gloss. It is either bleached or piece dyed and is highly mercerized and lint free. It is calendered on the right side with a slight gloss. Lower qualities have a smooth bright finish. It is similar to batiste but is stiffer and with fewer slubs. Cambric launders very well, has good body, and sews and finishes well. It was originally made in Cambria, France of linen and used for Church embroidery, table linens, handkerchiefs, underwear, slips, nightgowns, children's dresses, aprons, shirts and blouses. Normally used for pillow and duvet shells.
Camisole - A short, sleeveless garment for women.
Camocas – Another largely historic fabric that was popular in the 14th and 15th centuries. It was a very beautiful fabric which was often stripped with gold or silver. It had a satin base and was diapered like fine linen.
Camp Pockets - Pockets that are sewn to the outside of the garment, usually squared off and characterized by seaming.
Candlewick Fabric - Made from cotton and sometimes wool. An unbleached muslin bed sheeting (also called Kraft muslin) used as a base fabric on which a chenille effect is formed by application of candlewick (heavy plied yarn) loops, which are then cut to give the fuzzy effect and cut yarn appearance of true chenille yarn. True chenille is a cotton, wool, silk, or rayon yarn which has a pile protruding all around at slight angles and stimulates a caterpillar. Chenille is the French word for caterpillar. Used in bedspreads, drapes, housecoats, beach wear.
Canton Flannel – made from cotton with a four harness warp-faced twill weave. The filling yarn is a very loosely twisted and soft and later brushed to produce a soft nap on the back, the warp is medium in size. The face is twill and the fabric is heavy, warm, strong and absorbent. Named for Canton, China where it was first made. Comes bleached, unbleached, dyed, and some is printed. Used in interlinings, sleeping garments, linings, coverings, work gloves.
Canvas - A strong, durable, closely woven cotton fabric.
Cap Sleeve - A small, short sleeve which sits on the shoulder, either forming a stiff cap or falling on to the arm to provide minimal coverage.
Capri Pants - Fairly straight-cut pants, tapered to the mid-calf.
Cardigan Jacket - A usually collarless sweater or jacket that opens the full length of the center front.
Carding - A process of cleaning fibers by separating and laying them parallel to each other.
Cargo - Characterized by sporting a large pocket usually with a flap and a pleat.
Carpenter pants / shorts - Five-pocket pants characterized by a "hammer holder," a stretch of material connecting the outside seam to the back pocket.
Cashmere (Kashmir) - A luxury fiber obtained from the soft, fleecy undergrowth of the Kashmir goat of Tibet, Mongolia, China, Iran, Iraq, and India. Most commonly used in sweaters, shawls, suits, coats, and dresses. The fiber is cylindrical, soft and silken and is more like wool than any other hair fiber. Has a very soft silky finish and is very light in weight. It doesn't stand up to hard wear because of its extremely soft downy finish. The natural fiber is white, black, brown or gray but can be died a variety of shades. It comes in different weights.
Cathedral Train - Also known as a monarch train. A cascading train extending six to eight feet behind the gown. Often used on wedding dresses.
Cellulose - A material derived from the cell walls of certain plants such as hemp, flax, bamboo and also trees. Cellulose is used in the production of many vegetable fibers, as well as being the major raw material component used in the production of the manufactured fibers of acetate, rayon, triacetate, and lyocell.
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. Typically has a plain weave or dobby designs on a plain-weave ground and is made with a dyed warp and a white or unbleached filling. Both carded and combed yarns used. Has a white selvedge. Some chambray is woven with alternating white and colored warp. Naturally has a "faded" look and very soft coloring. Some is made with stripes, checks or embroidered. Smooth, strong, closely woven, soft and has a slight luster. It wears well, is easy to sew, and launders well. It wrinkles easily. Chambray riginated in Cobrai, France, where it was first made for sunbonnets and is used for children's wear, dresses, shirts and blouses, aprons, all kinds of sportswear.
Chamois Cloth – A plain woven cotton fabric that is napped, sheared, and dyed to simulate chamois leather. It is stiffer than kasha and thicker, softer and more durable than flannelette. Must be designated as "cotton chamoise-color cloth".
Chamoisette – A fine, firmly knit fabric made from cotton and sometimes rayon and nylon in a knitted, double knit construction. It has a very short soft nap and wears well. Nylon chamoisette is more often called "glove silk" and often used in gloves.
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.
Chapel Train - The most popular of all train lengths. It flows from three to four feet behind the gown.
Charmeuse - A lightweight, drapey fabric with is woven with a satin weave where the warp threads cross over three or more of the backing weft threads. This causes the front side to have a shiny, satiny finish and the back side to be more dull. Finer quality charmeuse is made of silk and rayon or polyester are used in lesser quality charmeuse. Originated as a French lightweight silk that was recognized for it's supreme luster and drapability. It is found in a variety of solids and prints.
Cheesecloth – Plain woven cotton fabric originally used as a wrapping material for pressing cheese. It is loosely woven, thin, light in weight, open in construction, and soft. Carded yarns are always used. It is also called gauze weave. When an applied finish is added, it is called buckram, crinoline, or bunting.
Chemise / Skimmer - Simply a straight unbelted dress with varying sleeves and length.
Chenille - Soft, fuzzy yarns stand out around a velvety cord on this fabric, whose name comes from the French word for caterpillar and the fabric looks "hairy." Generally made from cotton but can also be made from other fibrics. Filling of chenille yarns (has a pile protruding all around at right angles). Do not confuse with tufted effects obtained without the use of true Chenille filling.
Cheviot – Originally made of wool in a twill weave from the Cheviot sheep but now it is also made of blends, spun synthetics, crossbred and reused wools. It is very rugged with a harsh, uneven surface that does not hold a crease and sags with wear. It resembles serge but is much more rugged and coarse and will not shine because of the rough surface. Cheviot is often sold as a homespun but true homespun has a plain weave and very heavy. Cheviot is also sold as a tweed.
Chinchilla – Usually made from wool but can also be made in cotton, and some manmade and synthetics. It has a sateen or twill construction with extra fillings for long floats. Thankfully, it does not resemble true chinchilla fur but has small nubs on the surface of the fabric which are made by the chinchilla machine. It attacks the face and causes the long floats to be worked into nubs and balls. Cotton warp is often used because it cannot show from either side. Chinchilla takes its name from Chinchilla Spain where it was invented,
Chiffon - A plain, woven, lightweight, extremely sheer, transparent, airy, and soft silk fabric, containing very fine, highly twisted filament yarns. The fabric, used mainly in evening dresses and scarves, can also be made from rayon and other manufactured fibers. The tightly twisted yarns could be either in the filling or the warp or both. It is very strong, despite filmy look. Wears very well. It is very difficult to handle when sewing and it is best to baste the pieces over tissue to make it easier. It has slightly bumpy look. It is best suited to shirring, draping, gathering, tucking, etc., because it is so limp. Chiffon is French for "rag".
China Silk - Originally hand woven in China of silk from the Bonabyx mori. China silk is very soft and extremely lightweight but fairly strong. Irregularities of threads caused by the extreme lightness and softness are characteristic of the fabric.
Chinchilla – A cotton, wool, and even synthetic fabric of a sateen or twill construction with extra fillings for long floats. Thankfully, it does not resemble true chinchilla fur. It has small nubs on the surface of the fabric which are made by the chinchilla machine. It attacks the face and causes the long floats to be worked into nubs and balls. Cotton warp is often used because it cannot show from either side. It is made in medium and heavy weights and is a very warm and cozy fabric. It takes its name from Chinchilla Spain where it was invented.
Chino – A cotton fabric of a left-handed twill. Combined two-ply warp and filling. Has a sheen that remains. Fabric was purchased in China (thus the name) by the U.S. Army for uniforms. Originally used for army cloth in England many years before and dyed olive-drab. Fabric is mercerized and sanforized. Washes and wears extremely well with a minimum of care. Now you know the history of the popular chino slacks.
Chintz - A usually glazed printed cotton fabric with bright figures, large flower designs, birds and other designs. It also comes in plain colors. Chintz can use several types of glaze. This glazed cotton is often printed with figures and large flower designs. The wax and starch glaze produced by friction or glazing calendars will wash out. The resin glaze finish will not wash out and withstand dry cleaning. Also comes semi-glazed. Unglazed chintz is called cretonne. It is named after the Indian word "Chint" meaning "broad, gaudily printed fabric". Used widely in upholstery fabric.
Chite - Painted linens that originated in Chitta (India) in the 17th century.
Column skirt / straight skirt - Also referred to as a pencil skirt, this skirt is a straight line with no flare or fullness at the hem or waistline.
Combing - A process for removing short fibers. The process enables cotton to be spun into very fine, lustrous yarns for high quality fabrics.
Comfort Stretch - The term given to the freedom of movement experienced in the wearing of a garment that contains spandex, or has stretch engineered into a yarn through mechanical stretch construction.
Composite Fabric – In performance garments, an engineered fabric made from two or more components. One component is often a strong fiber such as fiberglass, Kevlar®, or carbon fiber that gives the material its tensile strength, while another component (often called a matrix) is often a resin, such as polyester or epoxy that binds the fibers together.
Compression Fabric – In performance garments, high tenacity stretch fabric which, when in a close fitting garment, provides muscles with a firm compression fit that lessons vibrations, reduces fatigue, and keeps muscles energized. The fabric is usually made in a knit construction, using a series of gradient fibers with an open knit inner surface to create a moisture transfer environment.
Compression Stretch - The name given to the expansive stretch that is created by the spandex fibers used in the development of a compression fabric for performance garments.
Convertible Collar - A rolled collar that can be worn open or closed. Sewn directly to the neckline.
Cool Colors Blue, violet and green are cool or light colors. They are reducing in nature, as seen by the eye they move away from the object thereby increasing its size. Cool colors have a calm and restful effect.
Corduroy – Typically made of cotton but can be made of rayon and other textiles. It has a filling pile with a plain or twill back and is made with an extra filling yarn. Corduroy is in the velvet family of fabrics and it has narrow medium and wide wales, also thick and thin or checkerboard patterns. Wales have different widths and depths. Corduroy has to be cut all one way with pile running up. Most of it is washable, wears very well, and has a soft luster.
Corset top / boned bodice - a form-fitting, usually strapless bodice with boning and either laces or snap closures, styled in the fashion of the ladies undergarment of the same name.
Cotton - A unicellular, natural fiber that grows in the seed pod of the cotton plant. Fibers are typically 1/2 inch to 2 inches long. The longest staple fibers, longer than 1-1/2 inch, including the Pima and Egyptian varieties, produce the highest quality cotton fabrics. It is one of the world's major textile fibers. There are four main types of cotton: American Upland, Egyptian, Sea Island and Asiatic. The flowers from which these different types of cotton are obtained vary in color and texture, thus providing each type of cotton with varying characteristics. Cotton, in general, is very elastic. It can withstand high temperatures, is very washable and is very susceptible to dyes.
Cotton (Color grown) - Cotton plants that
are specifically bred to take advantage of their
natural coloring in shades of white, brown and
green. Fabrics are then created that use the
natural coloring and are completely free of dyes.
Color grown cotton can be grown in beautiful
natural colors such as honey, sage, and mocha.
Ancient Indians in South America were known to
have used color grown cotton. In the past decade,
these color grown cotton fibers have become
available once again for apparel manufacturing.
With the limitations of lower yields and shorter,
weaker fibers, color-grown cotton varieties have
had to go through an extensive breeding program to
improve their yield, fiber quality, color
intensity and color palette. Color grown
fabrics may contain certain natural variations in
color, light fastness and shrinkage.
Cotton (Green) - A marketing term referring to cotton that is unbleached and undyed but grown using toxic pesticides. Green cotton has not been subjected to the harsh, toxic chemicals used during the processing period. Because green cotton has been grown using toxic insecticides, herbicides and fertilizers, it is still a contributor to the environmental damage and the damage done to the health of the farm workers and those that live in the nearby areas.
Cotton (Organic) - Cotton grown without any harmful pesticides, herbicides or artificial fertilizers using biologically based and sustainable growing methods such as crop rotation rather than with highly synthetic and destructive fertilizers. Organic cotton is grown using biologically based growing methods rather than toxic synthetic fertilizers, soil additives or defoliants. It is also free of formaldehyde finishes. Organic Cotton wears well and is extremely breathable, unlike synthetics that pill, emit static electricity, prematurely age, and trap perspiration. Cotton is commonly portrayed as natural, yet conventional cotton is cultivated in a highly toxic process, which contaminates groundwater and ultimately drinking water and poisons the food chain. While it takes approximately one pound of chemicals to grow three pounds of conventional cotton, organic cotton is grown chemical free.
Cottagora - An extremely soft and environmentally sound material made from a combination of Angora rabbit hair and organic cotton. Unlike traditional Angora, cottagora can be machine washed and dried. It is also the warmest natural fiber available and more durable than any other elite wool. This is because the Angora rabbit itself has three to four times as many hairs per weight unit as sheep's wool. Cottagora is also a breathable fabric, allowing the body to maintain its natural temperature. It is ideal for travel, as it is both versatile and wrinkle free.
Cowl Neck - A neckline featuring a piece of material attached to a garment at the neck, which may be used as a hood or draped loosely in a swag from shoulder to shoulder at the front neckline or back.
Crash – A linen that is very rugged and substantial in feel. Comes in white or natural shades or could be dyed, printed, striped, or checked. The yarn is strong, irregular in diameter but smooth. Has a fairly good texture.
Crepe - Used to describe all kinds of fabrics--wool, cotton, silk, rayon, synthetics and blends-that have a crinkle, crimped or grained surface. Made from worsted cotton, wool, silk, man-made synthetics. Has a crinkled, puckered surface or soft mossy finish. All crepes have a pebbled, rough feel and appearance due to the yarns having a high twist in the filling or the warp or both. Crepe comes in different weights and degrees of sheerness. Dull with a harsh dry feel. Woolen crepes are softer than worsted. If it is fine, it drapes well. Crepe has very good wearing qualities and a slimming effect in garments. Most crepes launder well with care.
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. Satin weave on the face and a crepe effect on the back obtained with twisted crepe yarns in the filling - 2 or 3 times as many ends as picks per inch. It is a soft fabric which is reversible. It is usually piece dyed. Very interesting effects can be obtained in a garment by using both sides in different parts of the garment, such as using the crepe side for the body and trim or binding with the satin part up.
Crepe de Chine - Silk warp and crepe twist silk filling with more ends than picks per inch. Has a soft hand, considerable luster, launders well, and is fairly sheer. Made of raw silk or rayon, it is easy to manipulate and handle and very long wearing. Could be piece dyed or printed. Has a slight rippled texture. Heavy crepe de chine is called "Canton crepe" which is slightly ribbed and now mostly made in rayon.
Crepe (Georgette Crepe) - Lightweight, sheer fabric that is more stiff and with body giving an exellent wear. Has a dull, crinkled surface achieved by alternating S and Z yarns in a high twist in both warp and filling directions. Georgette has a harder, duller, more crinkled feel and appearance than crepe de chine.
Crepe (Flat Crepe) - Also called French Crepe or Lingerie Crepe but not exactly the same. It is the flattest of all the crepes with only a very slight pebbled or crepe effect hard twist alternating 25 x 22 in filling; warp has ordinary twist. It is very soft and pliable, which makes it good for draping. It is very light weight - 2 times as many ends as picks. Most of it launders well and is often used in accessories, blouses, dress goods, negligees, pajamas and other pieces of lingerie and linings.
Crepe (Moss Crepe or Sand Crepe) - Has a fine moss effect created by plain weave or small Dobby. Made with a spun-rayon warp and a filament rayon filling. The two-ply warp yarn is very coarse and bulkier than the filling. Mostly made in rayon and synthetics but some in silk.
Crepon - Crepe effect appears in direction of the warp and achieved by alternate S and Z, or slack, tension, or different degrees of twist. Originally a wool crepe but now made of silk and rayon. It is much stouter and more rugged than the average crepe. Has a wavy texture with the "waves" running in a lengthwise direction. Mostly used for prints in dresses and ensembles.
Crettone – Made from cotton, linen, rayon in a plain or twill weave. Quality and price vary a great deal. The warp counts are finer than the filling counts which are spun rather loose. Strong substantial and gives good wear. Printed cretonne often has very bright colors and patterns. The fabric has no luster (when glazed, it is called chintz). Some are warp printed and if they are, they are usually completely reversible. Designs run from the conservative to very wild and often completely cover the surface.
Crew Neck - A round neck with ribbed banding that fits close to the base of the neck.
Crinkled - Forming many short bends or ripples.
Crinoline - A very loosely woven fiber with high rigidity. It is smooth, stiff, and has excellent strength. It's comes in a variety of shades from white to black.
Crocheted - Loose, open knit made by looping thread with a hooked needle. Used for light, summer sweaters.
Cropped top / jacket - Hem is cut just above the waist.
Damask - Made from linen, silk, rayon, cotton, synthetics, wool, worsteds and is woven on a Jacquard loom that has an alternating satin and matte texure. Originally made of silk, that came to us from China via Damascus. In the XIII Century, Marco Polo gave an interesting tale about it. It is one of the oldest and most popular cloths to be found today. Very elaborate designs are possible. Cloth is beetled, calendared and the better qualities are gross-bleached. It is very durable, reversible fabric that sheds dirt. In Damask fabric, the firmer the texture, the better the quality. It launders well and holds a high luster - particularly in linen. The quality of Damask depends on the yarn used and the thread count. - If the same quality and thread count are used, single is better than double because the shorter floats are more serviceable and the yarns hold more firmly. Double damask with less than 180 thread count is inappropriate for clothing. LotusOrganics.com has some excellent pajamas made from Damask manufactured by Fisher-Henney.
Denier - A system of measuring the weight of a continuous filament fiber. In the United States, this measurement is used to number all manufactured fibers (both filament and staple), and silk, but excludes glass fiber. The lower the number, the finer the fiber; the higher the number, the heavier the fiber. Numerically, a denier is the equivalent to the weight in grams of 9,000 meters of continuous filament fiber.
Denim - True denim is a twill-weave, cotton-like fabric made with different colored yarns in the warp and the weft. Due to the twill construction, one color predominates on the fabric surface. Name derived from French "serge de Nimes". Long wearing, it resists snags and tears. Comes in heavy and lighter weights.
Diamond Neck - A diamond-shaped cutout that fastens at the front or back neckline.
Dimity – Cotton fabric made of combed yarn that comes in a plain weave with a crosswise or lengthwise spaced rib or crossbar effect. A thin sheer with corded spaced stripes that could be single, double or triple grouping. Has a crisp texture which remains fairly well after washing. It is easy to sew and manipulate and launders well. Dimity will crease unless treated to become crease-resistant. May be bleached, dyed, or printed and often printed with a small rose-bud design. It is mercerized and has a soft luster.
Dobby - Woven on a dobby loom, this fabric can be made with a dot or geometric design. A decorative weave, characterized by small figures, usually geometric, that are woven into the fabric structure. Dobbies may be of any weight or compactness, with yarns ranging from very fine to coarse and fluffy. Standard dobby fabrics are usually flat and relatively fine or sheer. However, some heavyweight dobby fabrics are available for home furnishings and for heavy apparel.
Doeskin – Made from wool and also rayon in a harness satin weave or a twill weave that is napped on one side. Doeskin has a very smooth, lustrous surface made with a slight short nap and compact weave to look like fine leather. The weave is not visible because of napping. Very high quality wool is used. Doeskin needs care in handling. Generally applied to a type of fabric finish in which a low nap is brushed in one direction to create a soft suede-like hand on the fabric surface. End-uses include billiard table surfaces and men's' sportswear.
Dolman Sleeve - Cut as an extension of the bodice, the dolman sleeve is designed without a socket for the shoulder, creating a deep, wide armhole that reaches from the waist to a narrowed wrist. Also called a batwing sleeve.
Domett Flannel – A cotton fabric in a plain or twill. Can also be spelled domet. Generally made in white. Has a longer nap than on flannelette. Soft filling yarns of medium or light weight are used to obtain the nap. The term domett is interchangeable with "outing flannel" but it is only made in a plain weave. Both are soft and fleecy and won't irritate the skin. Any sizing or starching must be removed before using. Outing flannel is also piece-dyed and some printed and produced in a spun rayon also.
Donegal Tweed – A medium to heavy of plain or twill weave fabric in which colorful yarn slubs are woven into the fabric. Made from wool but can also be made from rayons and cottons. It is mostly made from a plain weave but can also be made in twill. Donegal was originally a homespun woven by the peasants in Donegal, Ireland and is a rough and ready fabric that stands much hard wear. End-uses include winter coats and suits. Yarns are coarse with thick slubs and colored nubs. Now made in other places as well - particularly England.
Dotted Swiss – A lightweight, sheer cotton or cotton blend fabric with a plain weave with a small dot flock-like pattern either printed on the surface of the fabric, or woven into the fabric. Dots could be a single color or multicolored. Placed regularly or irregularly on a semi-sheer usually crisp fabric which may or may not be permanent. First made on hand looms in Switzerland and some still is. It is made in 32" widths. The lappet is the most permanent. When hand woven with a swivel attachment the dots are tied in by hand on the back of the cloth. End-uses for this fabric include blouses, dresses, baby clothes, and curtains.
Double-Breasted - Having one-half of the front lapped over the other. Usually has a double row of buttons and a single row of buttonholes.
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.
Doubleknit - A woven fabric construction made by interlacing two or more sets of warp yarns with two or more sets of filling yarns. A weft knit fabric in which two layers of loops are formed that cannot be separated. Made from cotton, wool, worsted, silk, rayon, and synthetics with a circular or flat-needle bar type. A two faced cloth, either face may be utilized as the right side. The fabric originated in Milan and Florence. Can be stabilized for shrinkage control and dry cleans satisfactorily. A double knit machine, which has two complete sets of needles, is required for this construction.
Double-Tee Top - A layered look with one T-shirt over another.
Double Weave - The most common double weave fabrics are made using a total of either four or five sets of yarns.
Doupion, Douppioni - Silk yarns made from the cocoon of two ilk worms that have nested together. In spinning, the double strand is not separated so the yarn is uneven and irregular with a large diameter in places. The fabric is of silk made in a plain weave but is very. It is imitated in rayon and some synthetics, and one such fabric is called "Cupioni". Dupion yarns also used in shantung, pongee. It tailors very well.
Draped Bodice - An extra piece of
material is draped over the bustline.
Drill – Cotton twill. Left-hand twill. It has closer, flatter wales that ganardine. Medium weight and course yarns are used. Also made in some other weights. Some left in the gray but can be bleached or dyed. When dyed a khaki color, drill is also called "khaki".
Dropped Shoulders - Characterized by the shoulder / sleeve seam falling off the shoulder.
Dropped Waist / Low Waist - A waistline that is sewn below the body's natural waistline.
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 - Similar to shantung, this textured fabric is recognized by irregular-sized, thick fibers woven into the base fabric. Fibers that create the texture, are thicker and heavier than those used in shantung.
Durability - The ability of a fabric to resist wear through continual use.
Durable Press - A treatment applied to the fabric in the finishing process in which it maintains a smooth attractive appearance, resists wrinkling, and retains creases or pleats during laundering.
Duvetyn(e) – A good quality wool. If it is made in cotton, it is usually called suede cloth. Duvetyn has a close satin weave that is brushed, singed, and sheared to conceal the weave. It has a smooth plush appearance resembling a compact velvet and is similar to wool broadcloth but heavier and thicker. Has a good draping quality, soft and wears well if looked after. Spots easily and care must be taken when handling it. Back is often slightly napped also. Name derived from the French word "duvet" meaning "down".
Dyes (Fiber Reactive) - The molecules of fiber reactive dyes actually react and bond to the fiber molecules. These dyes are the best quality and most ecologically sound synthetic dyes available. They contain no heavy metals or other known toxic substances. The colors are brighter, richer, and exhibit superior colorfast properties. Very little residual dye comes out in the waste water. Significantly more costly than using conventional direct dyes but the quality and ecological benefits are far superior.
Dyes (Low Impact) - Dyes that are more
environmentally friendly than conventional dyes
because they contain no metals, low salt, AZO &
dioxazines compound free. Called "Low
Impact" because they use less water to disperse
the dye, so less dye is used and waste water is
carefully filtered to remove as many of the dye
particles as possible. Low impact dyes require
significantly less water for the dyeing process so
there is much less polluted runoff than from the
conventional dye process. Organic cotton and
most other fabrics can be successfully colored
with all natural or fiber-reactive low impact
dyes. They are the highest quality, most
ecologically friendly dyes available, producing
colors that are both richer and brighter than
conventional dyeing practices. These dyes reduce
water and electricity consumption and discharge
60% less toxic runoff into the waste stream. They
promote healthy ecosystems by using fewer
resources and less energy while providentially
allowing greater adherence of the dye to the
Dyes (Natural) - Pigments are derived from organic materials such as vegetables, berries, bugs, clay, indigo, and other plant extracts to dye fabric. The weakness of natural dyes has been that many natural dyes are not color-fast and wash out of the garments quickly. Clay dyes are some of the best in retaining their color across repeated washings.
Eco Fashion - The term has been coined to refer to fashionable and stylish clothing that has been manufactured using environmentally- friendly processes under Free Trade conditions. Eco fashion clothing can use recycled clothing and even recycled materials such as eco-fleeced produced from recycled plastic soda bottles. Eco fashion is not necessarily made from organic fibers and is not necessarily healthy for people with chemical sensitivities.
Eco-fleece - A nubby, soft fabric made from recycled soda bottles. Every time you purchase something from eco-fleece you are contributing to saving another piece of the earth, which would otherwise be used as landfill. Of course, you are also wearing plastic from old soda bottles.
Eco Wool – Sheared from free range roaming sheep that have not been subjected to toxic flea dipping, and have not been treated with chemicals, dyes, or bleaches. Eco wool comes in natural tones of white, grey and black.
Elasticity - The ability of a fiber or fabric to return to its original length, shape, or size immediately after the removal of stress/tension.
Elastin - A protein that is similar to collagen and is the chief constituent of elastic fibers.
Embossing - A pressure process using engraved rollers and heat application to produce raised or relief patterns on the surface of the fabric.
Embroidered - An embellishment of a fabric or garment in which colored threads are sewn into the fabric to create a design. Embroidery may be done either by hand or machine.
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.
Empire Bodice - A bodice that ends just below the bust, sometimes low-cut and gathered.
Empire Seams - A seam that is sewn directly below the bustline.
Empire Waist - This waistline begins just below the bust.
Eolienne - It's name comes from the term Eolus, which is Greek for God of Winds. This airy fiber has a low thread count and is very delicate. It is lightweight and is very lustrous.
Eponge (Souffle) – A fabric of wool, also of rayon and silk. The name is derived from the French term eponge for "spongy". It is a very soft and sponge-like fabric in a variety of novelty effects with loose weave. It is also known as ratine in cotton. The fabric in rayon and silk is soft, loose, and spongy, something like terry cloth. It does not have surface loops. Many stores now call eponge "boucle".
Etamine – A twill originally made of wool, cotton or linen and used for sifting. It is now a worsted fabric with a very short nap and light in weight used for clothing.
Eyelet - A style of decorative fabric stitched with small cut out openings. A type of fabric which contains patterned cut-outs, around which stitching or embroidery may be applied in order to prevent the fabric from raveling.
Face - The right side or the better-looking side of the fabric.
Facing - A piece of fabric that is sewn to the collar, front opening, cuffs, or arms eye of a garment to create a finished look.
Faconne - Silk or rayon with a figured weave or "burnt-out" finish. Faconne in French, means fancy weave. It has small designs all over the fabric. Fairly light in weight, and could be slightly creped. Background is more sheer than the designs, therefore the designs seem to stand out. It is very effective when worn over a different color and it drapes, handles, and wears well.
Fagotting - an embroidery produced by pulling out horizontal threads from a fabric and tying the remaining cross threads into groups of an hourglass shape.
Faille - A glossy, soft, finely-ribbed, silk-like woven fabric made from cotton, silk, or manufactured fibers, especially rayon. It has a crosswise rib weave and the soft material drapes well. It is finer than grosgrain and with flatter ribs. It is difficult to launder but will give good wear if handled properly. Has a lustrous finish.
Faux fur - Artificial fur made from synthetic material.
Felt – Made from wool, reprocessed wool, reused wool, or scrap fiber, and can be mixed with other such as fibers, cotton, or rayon. Felt fabric is not woven but felted. It is a very compact fabric in various weights and thicknesses and has grain so can be cut any way. Felt needs no hemming or finishing because it does not fray. It has many industrial uses such as piano hammers and in the printing industry.
Fiber - The basic entity, either natural or manufactured, which is twisted into yarns, and then used in the production of a fabric.
Fiberfill - Specially engineered manufactured fibers, which are used as filler material in pillows, mattresses, mattress pads, sleeping bags, comforters, quilts, and outerwear.
Filament - A manufactured fiber of indefinite length (continuous), extruded from the spinneret during the fiber production process.
Filling - In a woven fabric, the yarns that run cross the fabric from selvage to selvage, and which run perpendicular to the warp or lengthwise yarns. Also referred to as the weft.
Findings - Any extra items attached to a garment during the manufacturing process. This can include trims, buttons, hooks, snaps, or embellishments.
Finished Fabric - A fabric that has gone through all the necessary finishing processes, and is ready to be used in the manufacturing of garments.
Fishtail Train - Fitted around the hips and flares out from the knee to the hemline.
Fitted Point Sleeve - A long, narrow sleeve that tapers to a point which rests against the back of the hand.
Flame Resistant - A term used to describe a fabric that burns very slowly, or has the ability to self-extinguish upon the removal of an external flame.
Flame Retardant - A chemical applied to a fabric, or incorporated into the fiber at the time of production, which significantly reduces a fabric's flammability.
Flannel - A warm, soft fabric of wool, worsted, cotton or rayon made in tightly woven twill or plain weave and finished with a light napping. Flannel originated in Wales and has a soft, napped surface that partially cancels the weave. Has a dull finish and is made in a variety of weights. It is more loosely woven than worsted flannel with a higher nap and bulkier hand. Flannel shrinks if not pre-shrunk and sags with wear, unless underlined. Does not shine or hold a crease. Watch pressing - if pressed too hard, it flattens in the nap. Flannel comes in many colors, weights, and fancy effects. Sometimes has a prickly feel when worn.
Flannel (Worsted) – It has a twill weave a is made in a variety of weights. It is more closely woven and harder than wool flannel and can have a very slight nap on one side. It tailors and presses very well and holds a hard crease.
Flannelette - A heavy, soft cotton material with a napped finish, usually only on one side. In cheaper qualities the nap comes off. Launders well, easy to manipulate and is warm to wear. There are many types on the market. It may be bleached, dyed, printed, or woven in colored stripes.
Flax - Flax is taken from the stalk of the Linum usitaatissimum plant. It is a long, smooth fiber and is cylindrical in shape with a length varying from 6 to 40 inches but averaging between 15 and 25 inches. The color is usually off-white or tan and due to it's natural wax content, flax has excellent luster. It is considered to be the strongest of the vegetable fibers and is highly absorbent, allowing moisture to evaporate with speed. It conducts heat well and can be readily boiled. It is very washable but has poor elasticity and does not easily return to its original shape after creasing. When processed into a fabric it is called linen
Fleece - A soft, bulky, deep-piled knitted or woven fabric of wool or cotton in a plain, twill, pile or knitted weave. Fleece has a deep, soft nap or pile obtained by heavily napping with wire brushes or with a pile weave. This provides air space giving good insulating properties without too much weight. The inter-lacing space is covered by the nap. The nap wears out in time, but good quality cloth gives good wear. Range from cheap to expensive clothes. Material is often cumbersome and bulky, therefore it may be difficult to manipulate.
Flocking - A type of raised decoration applied to the surface of a fabric in which an adhesive is printed on the fabric in a specific pattern, and then finely chopped fibers are applied by means of dusting, air-brushing, or electrostatic charges. The fibers adhere only to the areas where the adhesive has been applied, and the excess fibers are removed by mechanical means.
Foil - A thin piece of material put under another material to add color or brilliance.
Foulard – A twill weave in silk, rayon, or very fine, worsted cotton. A very soft, light fabric that is noted for its soft finish and feel. It is usually printed with small figures on a dark or light background and is similar to Surah and Tie Silk, but finer. It was originally imported from India to be used in dresses, robes, scarves, and neckwear of all kinds.
Frise – Often made from rayon but can also be made from mohair, silk and synthetics. The ground or backing yarns are usually made of cotton. Sometimes jute or hemp is combined with the cotton. It has a pile (looped) weave with uncut loops. It can be patterned by shearing the loops at different lengths. Some made with both cut and uncut loops in the form of a pattern. Typically used in upholstery, Frise is also spelled Frieze but frieze really refers to a rough, fuzzy, rizzy, boardy woolen overcoating fabric which originated in Friesland Holland. Often used for overcoating material for soldiers. Irish frieze is quite popular and more reliable and is called "cotha more".
Flat-Front Pants - Straight pants, often seamless and without pockets.
Form-Fitting / Slim Fit - Straight from waist to ankle except for a slight curve around the hip.
Forte of a garment - The strong point of the garment.
Frey - Threads which come out from the fabric during handling.
Frog Closure - Chinese closing of decorative cording or braid. A soft ball of cording or a button is used to complete the closure.
Fustian - Cotton or cotton with linen or flax in a cross woven weave. It was originally made in Fustat near Cairo, from which it gets its name.
Gabardine - A tightly woven, twilled, worsted fabric in cotton, rayon or a blend with slight diagonal lines on the face and a raised twill. Wool gabardine is known as a year-round fabric for business suits and wears extremely well. It has a clear finish, tightly woven, firm, durable, rather lustrous, but it can be given a dull finish. Inclined to shine with wear and is hard to press properly. Used in men's and women's tailored suits, coats, raincoats, uniforms, and men's shirts.
Gattar – A satin made with a cotton filling and a silk warp. It is only found in solid colors and is known for its elegant luster and excellent drapability. It is famous for elegant evening wraps.
Gauge - A measurement most commonly associated with knitting equipment. It can mean the number of needles per inch in a knitting machine. However, in full fashioned hosiery and sweater machines, the number of needles per 1-1/2 inches represents the gauge.
Gauntlets - Dress gloves extending above the wrist.
Gaucho - Wide-legged pants or divided skirt reaching mid-calf and worn with boots.
Gauze - A thin, sheer plain-weave fabric made from cotton, wool, silk, rayon, or other manufactured fibers. End-uses include curtains, apparel, trimmings, and surgical dressings.
Georgette - A sheer lightweight fabric, often made of silk or from such manufactured fibers as polyester, with a crepe surface. End-uses include dresses and blouses. It is characterized by crispness, body and outstanding durability. It is sheer and has a dull face.
Geotextiles - Manufactured fiber materials made into a variety of fabric constructions, and used in a variety civil engineering applications.
Gingham – A medium-weight, plain-weave fabric with a plaid or check pattern made from cotton or synthetics fibers. The word is derived from Italian "Ging-gang" meaning "striped". Medium or fine yarns of varying quality are used to obtain the checks, plaids, stripes, and plain effects. The cloth is yarn dyed or printed. The warp and the filling are usually balanced and if checks of two colors, usually same sequence in both the warp and the filling. It is strong, substantial, and serviceable. It launders well but low textured, cheap fabric may shrink considerably unless preshrunk. Has a soft, dull luster surface that wrinkles easily. Tissue or zephyr ginghams are sheer being woven with finer yarns and a higher thread count.
Glass Fiber - An inorganic fiber which is very strong, but has poor flexibility and poor abrasion resistance. Glass will not burn and will not conduct electricity. It is impervious to insects, mildew, and sunlight. Today, the primary use of glass fiber is in such industrial applications as insulation or reinforcement of composite structures.
Grain - Another word used for the length-wise (weft yarn) or the cross-wise / horizontal (warp yarn) threads of the fabric.
Granada – A twill whose name is derived from the Latin word Granum, which refers to the grainy quality of the textile. This granular quality is achieved by a broken twill weave. It is made of a cotton warp and alpaca or mohair filling. This fiber is exceptionally fine.
Greige Goods (pronounced "gray") - An unfinished fabric, just removed from a knitting machine or a loom. Loom state of cloth that has not received dry and wet finishing.
Grenadine - A fine fiber originated in Italy. It can be made in various fibers such as cotton, wool, silk or synthetics. It is well know for its stiffness and often used women's clothing.
Gusset - Refers to mattress depth.
Halter Top - A sleeveless bodice with a high choke or wrap neck that may be backless.
Hand - The way the fabric feels when it is touched. Terms like softness, crispness, dryness, silkiness are all terms that describe the hand of the fabric.
Handkerchief Style - The hem of a blouse or skirt that is gently jagged to form flowing points.
Haute Couture - French (of course) that literally means "high fashion". Haute couture garments are always one-off, one-of-a-kind. They're extravagant, often irrational, always unique and totally unaffordable. Famous eco haute couture designers include Linda Loudermilk, Katharine Hamnet, and Deborah Lindquist.
Heather - A yarn that is spun using pre-dyed fibers. These fibers are blended together to give a particular look. (For example, black and white may be blended together to create a gray heathered yarn.) The term, heather, may also be used to describe the fabric made from heathered yarns.
Hemp - Hemp is a bast fiber that was probably used first in Asia. The fiber is dark tan or brown and is difficult to bleach, but it can be dyed bright and dark colorrs. The hemp fibers vary widely in length, depending upon their ultimate use. Industrial fibers may be several inches long, while fibers used for domestic textiles are about 3/4 inch to 1 inch (1.9 to 2.54 cm) long. The elongation (1 to 6 percent) is low and its elasticity poor. The thermal reactions of hemp and the effect of sunlight are the same as for cotton. Hemp is moth resistant, but it is not impervious to mildew. Coarse hemp fibers and yarns are woven into cordage, rope, sacking and heavy-duty tarpaulins. In Italy, fine hemp fibers are used for interior design and apparel fabrics. Hemp is a very durable fiber that holds its shape. It grows without the use of pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers and can withstand harsh growing seasons. Hemp cultivation does not exhaust, but rather continuously fertilizes the soil by shedding its leaves throughout its growing period. In this way, it actually returns nutrients to the soil, helping to reduce the energy demand on the Earth. It is also naturally UV resistant and dries quickly.
Hem Stitching - A decorative stitching along the stitching lines of hems and borders to create an open weave pattern.
Henequinn - It is obtained from the leaves of the Agave fourcroydes plant, which is native to Mexico. It is produced by mechanically decorticating the leaves into strands from 4 to 5 feet.
Henrietta – A twill originally consisting of worsted filling and silk warp. Today, it can be found in a variety of blends. It has excellent drapability. Its weight and quality vary with fibers, however, when created with silk and wool it is lustrous and soft. Often used for dress goods.
Herringbone Twill - A variation on the twill weave construction in which the twill is reversed, or broken, at regular intervals, producing a zig-zag effect. Named after the skeleton of the Herring fish as this is what the fiber pattern resembles. It is usually created in wool and has varying qualities. It is also known as Arrowhead and is commonly used in suits, top coats and sport coats.
Hickory Cloth – A twill known for its excellent durability. It is warp striped and comes in a variety of colors. It usually is created with cotton and found in work clothes.
High Loft - General term for a fiber structure containing more air than fiber. In general, higher loft retains more warmth.
Hip Pockets - Pockets sewn on the front of a garment at hip height.
Hollywood Waistband - Characterized by a full elasticized back and a side zipper / button closure.
Homespun - Cotton or wool in plain weave with coarse, rugged yarn. Originally an undyed woolen cloth spun into yarn and woven in the home, by peasants and country folk the world over. Has substantial appearance and serviceable qualities. Homespun is made with irregular, slightly twisted uneven yarns. Has a spongy feel with a hand-loomed tweedy appearance. Genuine homespun is produced in a very limited quantity and powerloom cloth is often sold as genuine homespun. Many qualities of homespun cloth are made but the best is an ideal rough-and-ready type of cloth.
Honey Comb A float weave made in many fabrics. The name comes from a French word meaning birds nest. Its patterns are regular and open. Honey comb fabric is also known as Diamond Weave. It is found in draperies, jackets and women's clothing.
Hong Kong - A ribbed fabric usually found in plain colors. It comes in a variety of qualities but the best type is made out of silk.
Hook & Eye Closure - a two-part fastening device consisting of a metal hook that catches over a bar or into a loop
Hopsacking – Can be made from cotton, wool, linen, rayon, silk, hemp, or jute in a basket weave and made with coarse yarn. Has a rather rough texture and is quite durable and often bulky.
Houndstooth – Commonly made with wool with a broken twill weave that has been woven into an irregular check of a four pointed star.
Houndstooth Check - A variation on the twill weave construction in which a broken check effect is produced by a variation in the pattern of interlacing yarns, utilizing at least two different colored yarns.
Huckaback – Made from linen or cotton in a dobby or basket weave. It is strong, but rough in the surface finish. Has variation in weaves but most have small squares on the surface that stand out from the background. The motif is made from a series of floats, some of them rather long, which gives a loose effect in certain areas. This, if well spaced, acts as a good absorbing agency. Mostly used for towels.
Hydrophilic Fibers - Fibers that absorb water easily, take longer to dry, and require more ironing.
Hydrophobic Fiber - Fibers that lack the ability to absorb water.
Illusion Bodice - A bodice made of sheer material giving the illusion of no bodice.
Illusion Sleeve - A sleeve made of sheer material giving the illusion of no sleeve.
Intarsia - A colored design knitted on both sides of a fabric.
Interlining - An insulation, padding, or stiffening fabric, either sewn to the wrong side of the lining or the inner side of the outer shell fabric. The interlining is used primarily to provide warmth in coats, jackets, and outerwear.
Interfacing - Fabrics used to support, reinforce and give shape to fashion fabrics in sewn products. Often placed between the lining and the outer fabric., it can be made from yarns or directly from fibers, and may be either woven, nonwoven, or knitted. Some interfacings are designed to be fused (adhered with heat from an iron), while others are meant to be stitched to the fashion fabric.
Interlock - The stitch variation of the rib stitch, which resembles two separate 1 x 1 ribbed fabrics that are interknitted. Plain (double knit) interlock stitch fabrics are thicker, heavier, and more stable than single knit constructions.
Ixtle - Made from linen or cotton with a dobby or basket weave. It is strong. Rough in the surface finish but finer, shinier than cotton huckaback. Has variation in weaves but most have small squares on the surface that stand out from the background. It comes in white, colors, or colored borders, and stripes. The motif is made from a series of floats, some of them rather long, which gives a loose effect in certain areas. This, if well spaced, acts as a good absorbing agency.
Jacquard - Woven fabrics manufactured by using the Jacquard attachment on the loom. This attachment provides versatility in designs and permits individual control of each of the warp yarns. Thus, fabrics of almost any type or complexity can be made. Brocade and damask are types of jacquard woven fabrics. The loom produces elaborate cloth weaves such as tapestries, brocades, and damask fabrics.
Jacquard Knit - A weft double knit fabric in which a Jacquard type of mechanism is used. This device individually controls needles or small groups of needles, and allows very complex and highly patterned knits to be created.
Jersey - The consistent interlooping of wool, worsted, silk, cotton, rayon, and synthetics yarns in the jersey stitch to produce a fabric with a smooth, flat face, and a more textured, but uniform back. Jersey fabrics may be produced on either circular or flat weft knitting machines. Right side has lengthwise ribs (wales) and wrong side has crosswise ribs (courses). Jersey is very elastic with good draping qualities and has special crease-resistant qualities due to its construction. It is knitted plain or has many elaborate tweed designs and fancy motifs as well as printed designs. It can look very much like a woven fabric. Jersey wears very well and, if washable, it washes very well. Jersey was first made on the Island on Jersey off the English coast and used for fisherman's clothing. Stretch as you sew.
Jersey Fabric - The consistent interlooping of yarns in the jersey stitch to produces a fabric with a smooth, flat face, and a more textured, but uniform back. Jersey fabrics may be produced on either circular or flat weft knitting machines.
Jersey Stitch - A basic stitch used in weft knitting, in which each loop formed in the knit is identical. The jersey stitch is also called the plain, felt, or stockinet stitch.
Jewel Neck - A high round neckline resting simply at the base of the neck.
Jusi Banana Fabric - Not all Jusi is made out of banana leaves. Some Jusi is made from silk worm cocoons.
Jute and Burlap
Jute is used in textiles for interiors, especially for wall hangings and a group of bright, homespun-effect draperies and wall coverings. Natural jute has a yellow to brown or gray color, with a silky luster. It consists of bundles of fiber held together by gummy substances that are pectinaceous in character. It is difficult to bleach, so many fabrics are bright, dark, or natural brown. Jute reacts to chemicals in the same way as do cotton and flax. It has a good resistance to microorganisms and insects. Moisture increases the speed of deterioration but dry jute will last for a very long time. Jute works well for bagging, because it does not extend and is somewhat rough and coarse. This tends to keep stacks of bags in position and resist slippage.
Kangaroo Pocket - A pocket formed by sewing a piece of cloth over the garment leaving two open ends.
Kapok - A short, lightweight, cotton-like, vegetable fiber found in the seed pods of the Bombocaceae tree. Because of its brittle quality, it is generally not spun. However, its buoyancy and moisture resistance makes it ideal for use in cushions, mattresses, and life jackets.
Kasha (Casha) - Made from either a blend of cashmere and wool or a very fine wool.
Kenaf - A bast fiber obtained from the Hibiscus cannabinus plant. The stalk of this plant varies in height from 8 to 12 feet and is about half an inch in diameter. Kenaf is mostly produced in India and Pakistan but also grows in Africa, South East Asia, Indonesia, Russia, Mexico, the Philippines, and Cuba. Used as a substitute for Jute.
Keyhole Neck - A tear shaped or round cutout that fastens at the front or back neckline.
Kimono - A long Japanese robe with wide
sleeves traditionally worn with a broad sash.
Knit - Fabrics made from only one set of yarns, all running in the same direction. Some knits have their yarns running along the length of the fabric, while others have their yarns running across the width of the fabric. Knit fabrics are held together by looping the yarns around each other. Knitting creates ridges in the resulting fabric. Wales are the ridges that run lengthwise in the fabric; courses run crosswise.
Knit-de-knit - A type of yarn texturizing in which a crimped yarn is made by knitting the yarn into a fabric, and then heat-setting the fabric. The yarn is then unraveled from the fabric and used in this permanently crinkled form.
Knit Fabrics - Fabrics made from only one set of yarns, all running in the same direction. Some knits have their yarns running along the length of the fabric, while others have their yarns running across the width of the fabric. Knit fabrics are held together by looping the yarns around each other. Knitting creates ridges in the resulting fabric. Wales are the ridges that run lengthwise in the fabric; courses run crosswise.
Knitted - Formed by interlacing yarn or thread in a series of connected loops with needles.
Lace - An ornamental braid for trimming.
Lambswool - This is the wool that is taken from sheep before they reach the age of 7 months. It is soft, slippery, resilient and smooth and has superior spinning properties. It is used in fine grade woolen fabrics.
Lame like glotique - A woven fabric using flat silver or gold metal threads to create either the design or the background in the fabric.
Latex - Used to provide stretch to fabrics. 100% natural latex contains no synthetic ingredients. Blended latex, also know as Styrene Butadiene Rubber (SBR), is produced with petrochemicals and doesn't not have the resilience properties that 100% natural latex has. In Europe, anything that has at least 20% natural latex is considered natural.
Lawn - A light, fine cloth made using carded or combed linen or cotton yarns in a plain weave. The fabric has a crease-resistant, crisp finish. The name derived from Laon, a city in France, where linen lawn was manufactured extensively. It is light weight, sheer, soft, and washable. It is crispier than voile but not as crisp as organdy. When made with fine high count yarns, it has asilky feel. Comes in white or may be dyed or printed. When made with combed yarns with a soft feel and slight luster, it is called nainsook.
Leatherette - Simulated leather.
Leno Weave - A construction of woven fabrics in which the resulting fabric is very sheer, yet durable. In this weave, two or more warp yarns are twisted around each other as they are interlaced with the filling yarns; thus securing a firm hold on the filling yarn and preventing them from slipping out of position. Also called the gauze weave. Leno weave fabrics are frequently used for window treatments, because their structure gives good durability with almost no yarn slippage, and permits the passage of light and air.
Light Weight - Having an airy weave. Used as a light weight base layer in apparel for aerobic activities and cool weather.
Linen - A fabric made from linen fibers obtained from inside the woody stem of the flax plant. Linen fibers are much stronger and more lustrous than cotton. Linen fabrics are very cool and absorbent, but wrinkle very easily, unless blended with manufactured fibers.
Linen (Non-crushable) – A specially treated linen that is washable, durable and highly resistance to wrinkling. This finish provides greater resilience and elasticity.
Lining - A fabric that is used to cover the inside of a garment to provide a finished look. Generally, the lining is made of a smooth lustrous fabric.
Llama – Llamas are found mainly in South America and the color of their hair may vary from white to brown and black. This fiber has impressive luster and warmth and is very light weight.
Lock Stitch - A type of stitch consisting of two threads that are interlocked at short intervals. A lock-stitched terry does not pull easily.
Loft - High loft is thick and fluffy, low loft is thin and dense. The higher the loft, the better the insulation characteristic.
Longcloth – A soft, high quality cotton and cotton blend fabric with a moderate luster.
Loom - A machine used for weaving fabrics.
Lycra - A DuPont trademark for its spandex fiber. Any time you see this fiber listed on a label, expect comfort, movement, and shape retention that won't wash away. Lycra increases the life of a garment, making it more sustainable. It adds stretch and versatility and contributes to a wider array of fashion fabrications.
Lyocell Fiber - A manufactured fiber composed of regenerated cellulose. Lyocell has a similar hand and drape as rayon, but is stronger, more durable, and in many cases machine washable. It has a subtle luster and is rich in color. Lyocell possesses low shrinkage characteristics, as well as good absorbency and wrinkle resistant qualities.
Luster Fabric - Created using warp threads of cotton or synthetic fibers with high luster such as worsted or mohair yarn.
Mackinaw – Historically, it was made from an ordinary grade of wool that often had shoddy re-used or remanufactured wool mixed in. A twill weave where the weave is concealed. Mackinaw is heavily fulled or felted and napped on both sides to conceal the weave. Much of the fabric is in a plaid or large check design or brightly colored, or with different colors on each side. Mackinaw is heavy and thick, very similar to melton. It is named after MacKinac Island, Michigan and is also called snow cloth. It was used by miners, lumbermen, hunters, trappers, fishermen, and cowboys in jackets, mackinaws and coats. It was also used for blankets, shirts, and some heavy sportswear, and windbreakers. Mackinaw is another fabric that has been replaced by more modern, lighter and warmer synthetics and blends.
Macrame – A hand woven and knotted lace originally made in Arabia but later made in Italy. Macrame was popular during the ‘60s and early 1970s for pot hangers, curtains, shawls and scarves.
Madras – A lightweight plain weave cotton fabric with a striped, plaid, or checked pattern. A true madras will bleed when washed. This type of fabric is usually imported from India. End-uses are men's and women's shirts and dresses. Generally cotton although can also be made from rayon and silk. Plain weave or can be a dobby or jacquard weave used for designs. Originated in Madras (now called Chenia), India and it is a very old cloth. Much of it has a plain colored background with stripes, plaid, checks, or designs on it. Has a high thread count. Madras is made with combed or carded yarns depending on the quality. Some is mercerized to make it lustrous and durable. Often the dyes are not fast and with each washing, color changes take place.
Maillot - A woman's one-piece bathing suit.
Mandarin Collar - A short, stand-up collar, adopted from the close-fitting Asian collar.
Marabou - A thrown silk usually dyed in the gum or a fabric made of this silk.
Marble Cloth - Originally made of silk and wool. Today it is produced with natural and synthetic fibers
Marocain - A ribbed fabric from silk, wool or synthetics with a wavy look, resembling crepe.
Marquisette - Silk, cotton, rayon, or synthetic fibers in a gauze or lino weave that is a very lightweight, open, sheer, or mesh fabric. Wears very well and launders very well. Typically has a swivel dot or clip spot (marquisette).
Marseilles - Named after it's city of origin in France. It is identified by its raised woven pattern. This double-faced textile has a quilted appearance that is very elegant. Usually found in white, but other colors can also be used.
Matelasse – French for "cushioned or padded" and is made on a jacquard or dobby loom, in double cloth weave. This term refers to the type of weave. It is a triple-woven medium to heavyweight luxury fabric fabric made in a double cloth construction to create a blistered or quilted surface. The pattern stands out and gives a "pouch" or "quilted" effect to the goods. Crepe yarn in double weave shrinks during finishing causing a blistering effect. Gives good wear and drapes well. If washable, it must be laundered with care. It is very attractive and suits quite plain styles. Some cotton matelasse is used for bedspreads, dresses, suits, or ensembles.
Matte - Lacks luster or gloss and has a usually smooth even surface free from shine or highlights.
Melton - A heavyweight, dense, compacted, and tightly woven wool or wool blend fabric used mainly for coats.
Mercerization – A finishing process of treating a cotton yarn or fabric, in which the fabric or yarn is immersed in a caustic soda solution (sodium hydroxide) and later neutralized in acid. The process causes a permanent swelling of the fiber, resulting in an increased luster on the surface of the fabric, an increased affinity for dyes, and increased strength.
Merino - A type of wool that originates from pure-bred Merino sheep. The best Merino wool comes from Italy.
Mermaid - This skirt hugs the body until it reaches the knees or just below and then ends in a dramatic flare.
Mesh - A type of fabric characterized by its net-like open appearance, and the spaces between the yarns. Mesh is available in a variety of constructions including wovens, knits, laces, or crocheted fabrics.
Metallic Fiber - An inorganic fiber made from minerals and metals, blended and extruded to form fibers. The fiber is formed from a flat ribbon of metal, coated with a protective layer of plastic, which reduces tarnishing. Metal used in apparel fabric is purely decorative.
Microclimate - The temperature and humidity of the space between your skin and the base layer of clothing.
Microfibers - Generic term for any synthetic fiber finer than silk. Fabrics made with micro fibers are soft, lightweight, breathable and durable. Currently popular in outdoor activewear. Fibers made using microfiber technology, produce fibers which weigh less than 1.0 denier. The fabrics made from these extra-fine fibers provide a superior hand, a gentle drape, and incredible softness. Comparatively, microfibers are two times finer than silk, three times finer than cotton, eight times finer than wool, and one hundred times finer than a human hair. Currently, there are four types of microfibers being produced. These include acrylic microfibers, nylon microfibers, polyester microfibers, and rayon microfibers.
Microfleece - A soft, luxorous fabric with a velvety feel.
Microporous - A coating on a fabric that breathes through microscopic pores.
Modacrylic Fiber - A manufactured fiber similar to acrylic in characteristics and end-uses. Modacrylics have a higher resistance to chemicals and combustion than acrylic, but also have a lower safe ironing temperature and a higher specific gravity than acrylic.
Mohair - From the clipped angora goat. Some mohair fabric has a cotton warp and mohair filling (sometimes called brilliantine). Imitation mohair is made from wool or a blend. The weave can be plain or twill or knitted. The Angora goat is one of the oldest animals known to man. It is 2 1/2 times as strong as wool. Angora goats are raised in South Africa, Western Asia, turkey, and neighboring countries. Some are in the U.S.A. but give a fabric that is smooth, glossy, and wiry. The angora goat has long wavy hair. Mohair is also made in a pile fabric of cut and uncut loops similar to frieze with a cotton and wool back and mohair pattern. It is similar to alpaca.
Moire - Silk, rayon, or cotton in a plain or crosswise rib weave. It has a watermarked finish that is fairly stiff with body in most cases. It is produced by passing the fabric between engraved cylinders which press the design into the material, causing the crushed and uncrushed parts to reflect the light differently. The pattern is not permanent, except on acetate rayon.
Moisture Regain - The amount of water a completely dry fiber will absorb from the air at a standard condition of 70 degrees F and a relative humidity of 65%. Expressed as a % of the dry fiber weight.
Moisture Transport - The movement of water from one side of a fabric to the other, caused by capillary action, wicking, chemical or electrostatic action.
Monk's Cloth – Made from wool, cotton, linen, silk, rayon, or synthetics. In a basket weave. Monk’s cloth is heavy due to its construction. It is difficult to sew or manipulate as the yarns have a tendency to slide, stretch and fray. It may sag in time depending on the compactness of the weave. It can also be made in other basket weaves. Monk’s cloth is rough in texture.
Monofilament - A single filament of a manufactured fiber, usually made in a denier higher than 14. Monofilaments are usually spun singularly, rather than extruded as a group of filaments through a spinneret and spun into a yarn. End-uses include hosiery and sewing thread.
Montagnac - This luxurious textile is soft and lustrous. It is mainly created with Cashmere or Camel hair.
Mousseline de Soie – A silk muslin that is sheer, open, and lightweight. It is something like chiffon but with a crisp finish produced by sizing. It does not wear well and it does not launder. Used in evening wear, and bridal wear.
Muslin - Cotton sheeting fabric with thread count of less than 180 threads per square inch.
Nainsook – A fine, lightweight cotton in a plain weave that is produced in the finishing processes from the same gray goods as used for batiste, cambric, lawn. Soft and has a slight luster in the better qualities (mercerization). It is slightly heavier than batiste. Like lawn but not as crisp. Soft, lacks body. Usually found in white but also comes in pastel colors and some printed. Often tucked or embroidered, in blouses, night wear, lingerie, and infant's wear.
Nano-fiber - Nano refers to 1 billionth of a meter, or 1 x 10-8 centimeter. 150,000 strands of a nano-fiber can fit across a human hair.
Nano-technology - Complex technology that involves nano-size materials and combines science such as biology, chemistry and physics and engineering.
Napped Fabrics - Cotton fabrics which have been dry finished by raising fibers on the surface to produce a fuzzy fur-like feel and appearance created when fiber ends extend from the basic fabric structure to the fabric surface. The fabric can be napped on either one or both sides. Cotton flannel is an example.
Natural Fibers - Materials that grow in nature such as cotton, flax, hemp, alpaca, wool and silk. The processing natural fibers into organic clothing is done with as few chemicals and harmful impact on the environment as possible.
Natural Waist - A seam or waistband that secures or falls at the natural curve of the body, which is the indentation between the hips and the ribcage.
Net - An open fabric of silk, rayon, cotton, synthetics, or nylon, that is created by connecting the intersections in a woven, knitted, or crocheted construction to form a mesh-like appearance that won't ravel. It is a knotted, mesh fabric made on a lace machine or gauze or leno weaves in a variety of geometric-shaped meshes of different sizes and weights. It is very open and light. It forms the foundation for a great variety of laces, curtains, millinery, fancy pillows, trims, evening and bridal wear.
Ninon - A lightweight, plain weave, made of silk or manufactured fibers, with an open mesh-like appearance. Since the fabric is made with high twist filament yarns, it has a crisp hand. End uses include eveningwear and curtains.
Nonwoven Fabric - Fabrics made directly from individual fibers that are matted together by forming an interlocking web of fibers either mechanically (tangling together) or chemically (gluing, bonding, or melting together).
Nylon - The first completely synthetic fiber developed in 1938. Known for its high strength and excellent resilience, nylon has superior abrasion resistance and high flexibility. Known for its high strength and excellent resilience, nylon has superior abrasion resistance and high flexibility.
Nytril - A manufactured fiber, most often used in sweaters or pile fabrics, where little or no pressing is recommended, as the fiber has a low softening or melting point. However, it has also been successfully used in blends with wool for the purpose of minimizing shrinkage and improving the shape retention in garments.
Off-The-Shoulder Neck - A neckline that lies gently hovering across the top of the bust-line with the shoulders uncovered or able to be seen through the sheer yoke of net or organza attached to a high collar.
Oilcloth - Originally, textiles such as cotton were coated in oil to create resistance to moisture. Now, resins from plastics are used instead of oil. Olefin is a very versatile fiber with excellent flexibility. In the past, oilcloth was used for waterproof garments. Oilcloth is another historical fabric that has been replaced by synthetics and more modern fabrics.
Olefin (also known as polyolefin and polypropylene) - A manufactured fiber characterized by its light weight, high strength, and abrasion resistance. Olefin is also good at transporting moisture, creating a wicking action. End-uses include activewear apparel, rope, indoor-outdoor carpets, lawn furniture, and upholstery.
Ondule - The name is derived from a French word meaning wavy. This wavy effect is created by weaving the warp irregularly. It is created in silk, cotton and manufactured fibers.
Organdy – Plain cotton made with tightly twisted yarns. Crispness is due to a finish with starch and calendaring which washes out, or a permanent crispness obtained with chemicals (Heberlein process). Organdy wrinkles badly unless given a wrinkle-free finish (bellmanizing). May be bleached, dyed, printed, frosted, flocked, embroidered, or plisse.
Organza - A crisp, sheer, lightweight plain-weave fabric, with a medium to high yarn count, made of silk, rayon, nylon, or polyester. The fabric is used primarily in evening and wedding apparel for women. It has a very wiry feel. It crushes or musses fairly easily, but it is easily pressed. Organza is a dressy type of fabric that sometimes has a silvery sheen.
Osnaberg - A medium to heavyweight coarse fabric that is characterized by its strength and durability. May or may not be treated with a finish. If it is finished, it is also know as Hopsacking or Crash.
Ottoman – Originated in Turkey, this is a tightly woven, plain-weave, ribbed fabric with a hard, slightly shiny surface. The ribbed effect is created by weaving a finer silk or manufactured warp yarn with a heavier filler yarn, usually made of cotton, wool, rayon or waste yarn that is completely covered by the warp yarn, thus creating the ribbed effect. It is characterized by horizontal ribs and is heavier in weight and with a larger rib than both faille and bengaline. It has very pronounced flat ribs in the filling direction. Ribs are made by a cotton, worsted, silk, or rayon filling which does not show on either the face or the back, because the warp covers the filling entirely. It is called Ottoman Cord or Ottoman rib when a warp rib is employed. Fabric is stiff and cannot be gathered or shirred. Like other ribbed fabrics, it has a tendency to slip at the seams and crack, so it cannot be fitted too tightly. Another type of Ottoman with heavy ribbing is also found in Satin Weave.
Oxford – Cotton, or sometimes rayon in a plain weave. Warp has two fine yarns which travel as one and one heavier softly-spun bulky filling which gives it a basket-weave look. Better qualities of oxford cotton are mercerized. It is a rather heavy fabric that is usually all white but some has a spaced stripe in the warp direction. Oxford launders very well but soils easily. When made with yarn dyed warp and white weft, it is called oxford chambray. The one remaining commercial shirting material made originally by a Scotch mill which bore the names of four Universities - Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, and Yale. Well known for men's shirts, but is also used for summer jackets, shirts, skirts, dresses, and sportswear.
Paisley - A tear-drop shaped, fancy printed pattern, used in dresses, blouses, and men's ties.
Panne - French word meaning plush. It resembles velvet but has a much longer pile. It has high luster and is made in silk, silk blends or with synthetics.
Panné Velvet - A type of lustrous, lightweight velvet fabric, usually made of silk or a manufactured fiber, in which the pile has been flattened in one direction.
Pearlized - Given a pearlescent surface or finish.
Peasant Top - Romantic style often characterized with a low neckline, ruffles, or free flowing material.
Peau de Cynge - The name comes from a French phrase that means "swam skin". Crepe yarns are woven to create a silk textile with high luster and a slightly slubbed texture with good body.
Peau de Peche - The name comes from a French phrase meaning "skin of peach". This textile has a soft nap that is acquired after a finishing process.
Peau de Soie - A heavy twill weave drapeable satin fabric, made of silk or a manufactured fiber, and used for bridal gowns and eveningwear.
Peau Satin – Satin fabric of silk or a manufactured fiber that is woven in a heavy twill weave. The fabric is easily draped and used for bridal gowns and evening wear.
Peek-a-boo - Any part of the garment which has been cut out to reveal skin.
Pekin - A high quality fabric characterized by its vertical stripes of identical width that have equal widths between them. It consists of cotton, wool, silk, or elaborate velvet stripes that are separated by satin.
Percale – Plain, medium weight, cotton weave of a medium weight that is firm, smooth, with no gloss. Warps and washes very well. It is made from both carded and combed yarns. Percale sheeting is the finest sheeting available and is made of combed yarns and has a count of 200 - carded percale sheeting has a count of 180. It has a soft, silk-like feel. The thread count ranges usually from 180-100.
Performance Fabrics - Fabrics made for a variety of end-use applications, which provide functional qualities, such as moisture management, UV protection, anti-microbial, thermo-regulation, and wind/water resistance.
Petticoat - An underskirt usually a little shorter than the outer clothing and often made with a ruffled, pleated or lace edge.
Picot - A narrow row of dainty, woven loops along the selvage of fabric or lace produced to create an edge or a finished flange.
Pieced - A look created by sewing several pieces of material together to form the garment, much like a quilt.
Pile Knit - A type of knit construction which utilizes a special yarn or a sliver that is interlooped into a standard knit base. This construction is used in the formation of imitation fur fabrics, in special liners for cold weather apparel such as jackets and coats, and in some floor coverings. While any basic knit stitch may be used for the base of pile knits, the most common is the jersey stitch.
Pile Weave - A type of decorative weave in which a pile is formed by additional warp or filling yarns interlaced in such a way that loops are formed on the surface or face of the fabric. The loops may be left uncut, or they may be cut to expose yarn ends and produce cut pile fabric.
Pill - A tangled ball of fibers that appears on the surface of a fabric, as a result of wear or continued friction or rubbing on the surface of the fabric. Occurs as a result of fibers loosening from the fabric surface to form balls of matted fiber particles.
Pinafore - Originally used to protect dresses from dirt, it was adopeted as a fashion piece and worn as a sleeveless dress or over a blouse.
Pique - Cotton, rayon, or synthetic fabrics in a lengthwise rib, English crosswise rib or cord weave that creates a stiff, durable ribbed fabric with an embossed pattern produced by a double warp thread. Originally was a crosswise rib but now mostly a lengthwise rib and the same as bedford cord. Ribs are often filled to give a more pronounced wale (cord weave). Comes in medium to heavy weights and is generally made of combed face yarns and carded stuffer yarns. It is durable and launders well, but wrinkles badly unless given a wrinkle-free finish. It also comes in different patterns besides wales. Some of the patterns are birdseye (small diamond), waffle (small squares), honeycomb (like the design on honeycomb honey). When the fabric begins to wear out it wears at the corded areas first.
Placket - The piece of cloth that reinforces a split or opening in a garment. Usually also serves as the closure.
Plain Weave - A basic weave, utilizing a simple alternate interlacing of warp and filling yarns. Any type of yarn made from any type of fiber can be manufactured into a plain weave fabric.
Plaited Fabric - A narrow fabric made by crossing a number of sturdy yarns diagonally, so each strand passes alternatively over or under one or more of the other stands. Typically used in shoe laces and suspenders.
Plaited Yarn - A yarn covered by another yarn.
Plied Yarn - A twisting together of two or more single yarns in one operation.
Plisse - Cotton, rayon, and other fabrics that have been treated with a caustic soda solution which shrinks parts of the goods either all over or in stripes giving a blistered effect that is similar to seersucker in appearance. Produced by a wet finishing treatment, this fabric has the look of woven seersucker, similar to crepe. This crinkle may or may not be removed after washing. This depends on the quality of the fabric. It does not need to be ironed, but if a double thickness, such as a hem, needs a little, it should be done after the fabric is thoroughly dry.
Plush - Velvet or velveteen where the pile is 1/8" thick or more. e.g. Cotton velour, hat velour, plush "fake furs".
Pointelle - Very feminine, delicate-looking, rib-knit fabric made with a pattern of openings.
Point d'esprit – Cotton, and sometimes silk, in a Leno, gauze, knotted, or mesh weave. First made in France in 1834, it has a dull surfaced net with various sized holes. Has white or colored dots individually spaced or in groups.
Polyester - A manufactured fiber introduced in the early 1950s, and is second only to cotton in worldwide use. Polyester has high strength (although somewhat lower than nylon), excellent resiliency, and high abrasion resistance. Low absorbency allows the fiber to dry quickly.
Polypropylene (also known as polyolefin and Olefin) - A manufactured fiber characterized by its light weight, high strength, and abrasion resistance. Polypropylene is also good at transporting moisture, creating a wicking action. End-uses include activewear apparel, rope, indoor-outdoor carpets, lawn furniture, and upholstery.
Pongee - Silk, cotton, or rayon in a plain weave that was woven "in the gum". Originally from China and woven on hand looms in the home. It is light or medium weight and tan or ecru in color. Some is dyed, but color is not quite uniform. The warp is finer and more even than filling. The nubs or irregular cross ribs are produced by uneven yarns. It is woven from wild tussah silk and it is a "raw silk".
Poplin - A cotton or wool fabric made using a crosswise rib variation of the plain weave. The construction is characterized by having a slight ridge effect in one direction, usually the filling. The filling is cylindrical with two or three times as many warp as weft per inch. Has a more pronounced filling effect than broadcloth. It is mercerized and has quite a high luster. It may be bleached, or dyed (usually vat dyes are used) or printed. Heavy poplin is given a water-repellent finish for outdoor use. Poplin was originally made with silk warp and a heavier wool filling. American cotton broadcloth shirting is known as poplin in Great Britain.
Press Mark - Undesirable shining lines on the outside of the garment due to incorrect ironing.
Princess Seams - Seams that can be found in the front or the back of a garment that create a form-fitting shape.
Provence – This is a plain woven cotton with a typed style of printing which characterizes the countryside of Provence in French country.
Puckered bodice - Usually associated with tube tops, it provides a scrunchy look.
Puff Sleeve / Pouf Sleeve - A full sleeve of varying lengths, created by generous gathering around the armhole.
Purl Stitch - A basic stitch used in weft knitting, which produces knit fabrics that have the same appearance on both sides. The purl stitch is frequently used in combination with the jersey and rib stitches to produce a knitted fabric design. Sweaters, knitted fabrics for infants and children's wear, knitted fabrics for specialized sportswear, and bulky knit fabrics are commonly made using the purl stitch.
Pyrenees – A wool fabric made in France from the wool of Pyrenees’ flocks of sheep. The Pyrenees are a mountain chain between France and Spain. The fabric is well known because it is a high quality fabric which keeps warm.
Quilting - A fabric construction in which a layer of down or fiberfill is placed between two layers of fabric, and then held in place by stitching or sealing in a regular, consistent, all-over pattern on the goods.
Radium - Originated in Lyons France. It has high luster and is smooth and soft.
Ramie - A natural woody fiber, similar to flax, taken from the stalk of a plant grown in China. Also know as rhea and China grass, it is obtained from a tall shrub grown in South-east Asia. China, Japan, and southern Europe. The fiber is stiff, more brittle than linen, and highly lustrous. It can be bleached to extreme whiteness. Ramie fibers are long and very fine. They are white and lustrous and almost silk-like in appearance. The strength of ramie is but elastic recovery is low and elongation is poor. Ramie lends itself to general processing for textile yarns, but its retting operation is difficult and costly, making the fiber unprofitable for general use. When combed, ramie is half the density of linen, but much stronger, coarser, and more absorbent. It has permanent luster and good affinity for dyes and is affected little by moisture. Ramie is used as filling yarn in mixed woolen fabrics, as adulteration with silk fibers, and as a substitute for flax. The China-grass cloth use by the Chinese is made of Ramie.
Raschel Knit - A warp knitted fabric in which the resulting knit fabric resembles hand crocheted fabrics, lace fabrics, and nettings. Raschel warp knits contain inlaid connecting yarns in addition to columns of knit stitches.
Ratine - Originated in Italy but is a French word that means rough. This fiber has an uneven, pebbled surface. It comes in solid colors and prints and is usually made from silk, cotton or wool.
Rayon - A manufactured fiber composed of regenerated cellulose, derived from wood pulp, cotton linters, or other vegetable matter.
Re-embroidered - To outline a design (as on lace) with embroidery stitching.
Repellency - The ability of a fabric to resist such things as wetting and staining by water, stains, soil, etc.
Resiliency - The ability of a fabric to spring back to its original shape after being twisted, crushed, wrinkled, or distorted in any way.
Rhinestoned - To attach a colorless imitation stone of high luster made of glass, paste, or gem quartz.
Ribbed - To form vertical ridges in knitting.
Ribboned - Ribbon lace is made by stitching ribbon onto mesh or net fabrics. The design is usually a random pattern rather than floral.
Rib knit - A basic stitch used in weft knitting in which the knitting machines require two sets of needles operating at right angles to each other. Rib knits have a very high degree of elasticity in the crosswise direction. This knitted fabric is used for complete garments and for such specialized uses as sleeve bands, neck bands, sweater waistbands, and special types of trims for use with other knit or woven fabrics. Lightweight sweaters in rib knits provide a close, body-hugging fit.
Rib Weave - One of the plain weave variations, which is formed by using: 1) heavy yarns in the warp or filling direction, or 2) a substantially higher number of yarns per inch in one direction than in the other, or 3) several yarns grouped together as one. Rib fabrics are all characterized by having a slight ridge effect in one direction, usually the filling. Such fabrics may have problems with yarn slippage, abrasion resistance, and tear strength. Examples of this construction include broadcloth, poplin, taffeta, faille, shantung, and cord fabric.
Rip-stop Nylon - A lightweight, wind resistant, and water resistant plain weave fabric. Large rib yarns stop tears without adding excess weight to active sportswear apparel and outdoor equipment such as sleeping bags and tents. Fabric woven with double thread at regular intervals to create small squares that prevent tears from spreading. Usually made from nylon or polyester and used in packs, sleeping bags, tent sand gear.
Romaine - A lightweight textile with a low thread count that is lustrous and has an uneven textural appearance. It was originally made of silk but is found today in wool, silk, rayon, acetate and other synthetics.
Romper - A one-piece garment with the lower part shaped like bloomers.
Ruche - Fluted or crimped lace or gauze, used as a trimming.
Sailcloth - A strong canvas of cotton, linen, or nylon in a plain weave, sometimes with a crosswise rib. The weights vary, but most often the count is around 148 x 60. Able to withstand the elements (rain, wind and snow). Sailcloth for clothing is sold frequently and is much lighter weight than used for sails. Historically used in sails, awnings, and all kinds of sportswear for men, women, and children.
Sanforized - A process to preshrink fabric. Fabrics with this trademark should never shrink more than 1%.
Sanglier – French for wild boar. It was named for its texture which is compact and wiry. It also has a very rough finish. It is usually created with mohair and worsted fibers.
Saran Fiber - A manufactured fiber which has an excellent resistance to sunlight and weathering, and is used in lawn furniture, upholstery, and carpets.
Sarong Skirt - Long cloth which is wrapped around the entire body.
Sateen – Cotton or rayon in a filling-face weave. A weave construction for mercerized cotton fabrics, which produces a lustrous and smooth surface with the sheen in a filling direction. Carded or combed yarns are used. Better qualities are mercerized to give a higher sheen. Some are only calendered to produce the sheen but this disappears with sashing and is not considered genuine sateen. May be bleached, dyed, or printed. Difficult to make good bound buttonholes on it as it has a tendency to slip at the seams. Used in dresses, sportswear, blouses, robes, pijamas, linings for draperies, and bedspreads.
Sateen Fabric - A fabric made from yarns with low luster, such as cotton or other staple length fibers. The fabric has a soft, smooth hand and a gentle, subtle luster. Sateen fabrics are often used for draperies and upholstery.
Sateen Weave - A variation of the satin weave, produced by floating fill yarns over warp yarns.
Satin - A traditional fabric utilizing a satin weave construction to achieve a lustrous fabric surface. Satin is a traditional fabric for evening and wedding garments. Typical examples of satin weave fabrics include: slipper satin, crepe-back satin, faille satin, bridal satin, moleskin, and royal satin. Traditionally made from silk, satin can also be made from rayon and synthetics. It originated in China (Zaytoun, China - now Canton - a port from which satins were exported during the Middle Ages). It became known in Italy during the XIIth, and XIIIth Centuries and in England by the XIVth Century. It became a favorite of all court life because of its exquisite qualities and feel. It usually has a lustrous surface and a dull back. The luster is produced by running it between hot cylinders. It is made in many colors, weights, varieties, qualities, and degrees of stiffness. A low grade silk or a cotton filling is often used in cheaper cloths.
Satin (Double-Faced Satin) - Yarn woven with two warps and one filling, to simulate a double satin construction. Has satin on both sides. Cotton filling is often used in cheaper qualities.
Satin (Duchesse Satin) - This form of satin has a wonderful luster and a smooth feel with a thread count is very high. As the name implies, it is used in fine women's wear. Very fine yarns are used, particularly in the warp with more ends/inch than picks. It is characterized by a grainy twill on back.
Satin (Peau de Soie) – A soft, satin-face, good quality cloth with a dull luster. It has a grainy appearance, and is a characteristic in the cloth which may have a single or double face construction. Fine close ribs are seen in the filling direction. With the best grades, the fabric can be used on either side. Lower qualities are finished on one side only. Name means "skin of silk". Some cloth sold as peau de soie is really a de-lustered satin. It doesn't have the grainy appearance. Because of crosswise rib, the fabric is difficult to ease. Also sold as "de-lustered satin".
Satin on one side and anything on the other. For example, very good velvet ribbon has velvet on one side and satin on the other.
Satin Faconne – A jacquard figured fabric with an all-satin weave background. Various types of striping effects are obtained.
Satin Weave - A basic weave, characterized by long floats of yarn on the face of the fabric. The yarns are interlaced in such a manner that there is no definite, visible pattern of interlacing and, in this manner, a smooth and somewhat shiny surface effect is achieved. The shiny surface effect is further increased through the use of high luster filament fibers in yarns which also have a low amount of twist. A true satin weave fabric always has the warp yarns floating over filling yarns.
Scalloped Edge - A border that contains continuous curves finished with bourdon stitching.
Scoop Neck / Round Neck - A low, U-shaped or round neckline.
Seamless Knitting - A unique process of circular knitting, done on either Santoni or Sangiacomo knitting machines. This circular knitting process essentially produces finished garments with no side seams, which require only minimal sewisng to complete the garment. Seamless knitting can transform yarn into complete garments in a fraction of the time it takes for traditional garment manufacturing, by minimizing the traditional labor-intensive steps of sutting and sewing.
Seersucker - A woven fabric of cotton, rayon or synthetics which incorporates modification of tension control. In the production of seersucker, some of the warp yarns are held under controlled tension at all times during the weaving, while other warp yarns are in a relaxed state and tend to pucker when the filling yarns are placed. The result produces a puckered stripe effect in the fabric. The term is derived from the Persian "shirushaker", a kind of cloth, literally "milk and sugar". Colored stripes are often used. It has a dull surface and comes in medium to heavy weights. The woven crinkle is produced by alternating slack and tight yarns in the warp for a permanent effect. The crinkle effect can also be produced by pressing or the use of chemicals, which is not likely to be permanent - called plisse. It is durable and will wear for years. It may be laundered without ironing. Can be bleached, yarn dyed, or printed. Some comes in a check effect. Often used in summer suits for men, women, and children, coats, uniforms, trims, nightwear, all kinds of sportswear, dresses, blouses, children's wear of all kinds, curtains, bedspreads, slipcovers.
Selvage or Selvedge - The thin compressed edge of a woven fabric which runs parallel to the warp yarns and prevents raveling. It is usually woven, utilizing tougher yarns and a tighter construction than the rest of the fabric.
Serge - A fabric with a smooth hand that is created by a two-up, two-down twill weave.
Serging -An overcasting technique done on the cut edge of a fabric to prevent raveling.
Serpentine Crepe – Has a filling with a twisted thread which creates a crepe effect. The size of the crepe thread determines the texture.
Sequined - Ornamented with a small plate of shining metal or plastic.
Shantung - A medium-weight, plain-weave fabric in cotton, silk, rayon or synthetics, characterized by a ribbed effect, resulting from slubbed yarns used in the warp or filling direction. End-uses include dresses and suits. It is a raw silk made from Tussah silk or silk waste, depending on the quality. It is quite similar to pongee, but has a more irregular surface, heavier, and rougher. Most of the slubs are in the filling direction. It wrinkles easily and abundantly. Underlining helps to prevent this as well as slipping at the seams. Do not fit too tightly, if long wear is expected. Comes in various weights, colors and also printed.
Shadowy Organdy – A lightweight, crisp and sheer fabric. The shadowy effect is produced by printing one color repeatedly upon itself itself.
Sharkskin – A hard-finished, low lustered, medium-weight fabric in a twill-weave construction. It is most commonly found in men's worsted suitings; however, it can also be found in a plain-weave construction of acetate, triacetate, and rayon for women's sportswear. Made from rayon (acetate) and synthetics (particularly Arnel) in a plain or twill weave. It has a heavy, semi-crisp texture and is very smooth and slippery with a flat look. It is mostly made in white but sometimes colored. It wears well and launders well particularly in Arnel. It a tendency to turn yellow with age, but the Arnel remains pure white. It has been used for summer wear.
Shatush - This is one of the finest textiles. It is created from white, silver or gray hair of wild goats. The supply of this hair is very limited so the textile is very rare and it is one of the most expensive fabrics in the world.
Shawl Collar - A one-piece collar which is turned down to form a continuous line around the back of the neck to the front.
Sheer - Any very light-weight fabric such as chiffon, georgette, voile, or sheer crepe. They usually have an open weave and feel cool.
Sheers (Triple Sheers) - Heavier and flatter than sheers and almost opaque. Many are made from "Bemberg", which wears, drapes, and washes well.
Shelf Bra - A bra that is built right into the garment. Used often in exercise clothing for ladies.
Shrinkage - The contraction of a fiber, yarn or fabric after washing and drying. All products made of natural fibers have a tendency to shrink 4%-8%.
Shrug - A woman's small, waist-length or shorter jacket.
Silhouette - Dark shaded profile portrait outline of any garment.
Silk – A fiber produced by the silkworm Bombyx mori, also known as the mulberry silkworm, with which the worm weaves its cocoon. One of the finest textiles, silk is soft, has a brilliant sheen, and is very strong and absorbent. A luxurious fabric, silk is lush to the touch and drapes beautifully on the body. It is sensitive to sunlight as well as perspiration and must be carefully laundered. While silk is essentially organic, standards are being developed for organic certification of silk.
Silk (Degummed Silk) - By boiling the silk in hot water, the gum (sericin) is removed from the yarn/fabric. By doing this, the luster of the silk is enhanced. It is very lightweight.
Silk (Honan) - The best grade of wild silk and is similar to "pongee" but finer. It is made from wild silkworms raised in the Honan area of China and is the only wild type that gives even dyeing results. Do not fit too tightly.
Silk (Illusion) - A
gauze weave or made on bobbinet machine or
knotted. It is a
very fine, all-silk tulle which originated in France. It has a cobweb appearance and used in wedding gown veils and trimmings.
Silk (Lame) - Silk or any textile fiber in which metallic threads are used in the warp or the filling. Lame is also a trade mark for metallic yarns. French for "trimmed with leaves of gold or silver". Often has pattern all over the surface. The shine and glitter of this fabric makes it suitable for dressy wear.
Sisal - A strong bast fiber that originates from the leaves of the Agave plant, which is found in the West Indies, Central America, and Africa. End-uses include cordage and twine. One of a group of fibers obtained from the leaves of a plant that belongs to the Agave family and is raised in Mexico, especially in the Yucatan peninsula. The fiber is also cultivated in Africa, Java, and some areas of South America. Sisal can be dyed bright colors, by means of both cotton dyes and acid dyes normally used for wool.
Skant - Pants that have a sweater-like attachment around the waist.
Skort - Shorts that have a front covering to resemble a skirt.
Smart Textiles - Textiles that can sense and react to changes in the environment, such as changes from mechanical , thermal, chemical, magnetic and other sources.
Solution-dyed - A type of fiber dyeing in which colored pigments are injected into the spinning solution prior to the extrusion of the fiber through the spinneret. Fibers and yarns colored in this manner are color-fast to most destructive agents.
Soy – A new fabric with a silky feel that is produced from the soy bean plant.
Spaghetti Strap - A thin tubular strap that attaches to the bodice. Named for its likeness to a strand of spaghetti.
Spandex - A manufactured elastomeric fiber that can be repeatedly stretched over 500% without breaking, and will still recover to its original length. Spandex increases the life of a garment, making it more sustainable. It adds stretch and versatility and contributes to a wider array of fashion fabrications. Lycra is the same as spandex.
Spinneret - A metal nozzle type device with very fine holes used in the spinning process of manufactured fibers. The spinning solution is forced or extruded through the small holes to form continuous filament fibers. The holes in the spinneret can vary in diameter to produce fibers of various denier.
Split Neck - A round neckline that looks like it have been cut in the center to form a small "V".
Spot Weave - A woven construction in which patterns are built in at spaced intervals through the use of extra warp and/or extra fill yarns are placed in selected areas. These yarns are woven into the fabric by means of a dobby or Jacquard attachment.
Spun Rayon – A rayon that is spun to look like cotton or wool. It is made with staple fibers in a continuous strand to give this effect. It wears well and is washable. Made in different weights and comes in plain colors and prints. Has soft, fuzzy surface and blends well with cotton.
Spun Yarn - A yarn made by taking a group of short staple fibers, which have been cut from the longer continuous filament fibers, and then twisting these short staple fibers together to form a single yarn, which is then used for weaving or knitting fabrics.
Square Neck - An open-yoke neckline shaped in the form of a half square.
Staple Fibers - Short fibers, typically ranging from 1/2 inch up to 18 inches long. Wool, cotton, and flax exist only as staple fibers. Manufactured staple fibers are cut to a specific length from the continuous filament fiber. Usually the staple fiber is cut in lengths ranging from 1-1/2 inches to 8 inches long. A group of staple fibers are twisted together to form a yarn, which is then woven or knit into fabrics.
Straight Legs - Pant legs cut an equal width from the waist to the ankle.
Suede – Suede leather with a napped surface. Suede fabric is made from wool, cotton, rayon, synthetics and blends in a plain, twill, or knitted that is napped on one side to resemble suede leather. The short, close nap gives a soft, smooth hand. When made in cotton, it resembles duvetyne, but heavier.
Sunn – A bast fiber obtained from the Crotalaria juncea plant. The fibers grow from 4 to 5 feet long and are retted and prepared like other bast fibers. Sunn contains over 80% cellulose and is highly resistant to moisture and meldew. This fiber is mainly produced in India although small amounts are grown in Uganda. It is mainly used for cordage, rug yarns, and paper. In India it is also used for fish nets and is sometimes used as a substitute for jute in bagging cloths.
Surah – A light weight, lustrous twill weave constructed fabric with a silk-like hand. Surah is the fabric of ties, dresses, and furnishings. It is available in silk, polyester, and rayon. A silk, rayon, or synthetic fiber woven in a twill (2 up and 2 down) that is soft and flexible, lightweight and lustrous. It has a noticeable twill on the fabric and wrinkles easily. Underlining can help to prevent wrinkling, as well as to prevent slipping at the seams. Some have a tendency to water spot. It is very similar to "foulard", but heavier.
Sustainable Clothing - Sustainable clothing and sustainable fashion is very subjective. Clothing that reduces the environmental impact. Clothing that supports and nourishes the earth and the lives of all people involved in the processes of growing, manufacturing and distributing the clothing. Reuse and recycling, organic fibers, Free Trade worker conditions, and animal welfare are important principles for sustainable clothing and fashion, but it isn't necessary to have them all together.
Sweetheart Neck - A graceful, open yoke, shaped like the top half of a heart.
Synthetics – Fabrics that are not from natural origins. Synthetics include manmade polyesters and polyvinyl fiber derivatives such as Acrylic, Nylon and Spandex that have been synthesized from petroleum and carbon derivatives.
Taffeta - A lustrous, medium-weight, plain-weave fabric with a slight ribbed appearance in the filling (crosswise) direction made from silk, rayon or synthetics. For formal wear, taffeta is a favorite choice. It provides a crisp hand, with lots of body. Silk taffeta gives the ultimate rustle, but other fibers are also good choices. It is a cloth supposed to have originated in Iran (Persia) and was called "taftah", meaning a fine silk fabric. In the 16th century, it became a luxury for women's wear. It is made in plain colors, fancy prints, watered designs, and changeable effects. It is smooth with a sheen on its surface. The textures vary considerably. They have a crispness and stiffness. Taffeta in silk will not wear as long as other high quality silks, since weighting is given the fabric to make it stiff. If it is overweighted, the goods will split or crack.
Taffeta (Faille) - Made with a crosswise rib weave and has a distinct rib effect and is usually quite heavy and firm.
Taffeta (Paper) - Plain weave, very light in weight and treated to give a crisp, paper-like finish.
Taffeta (Pompadour) - Originally executed in silk and often has large floral designs in velvet or pile on a Taffeta ground. Occasionally stripes are used instead of flowers. Today it is made with manufactured fibers.
Taffeta (Shot) - Usually plain weave in one color in the warp and another color in the filling, which gives the fabric an iridescent look. This color changes as the fabric is moved in the light. Shot taffeta is the silk version of chambray.
Taffeta (Tissue) - Plain weave, very light weight and transparent.
Taffeta (Warp-print) - Usually a plain weave, the warp yarns are printed before the filling is inserted. The fabric has a very fuzzy design when design is distorted as fabric is woven.
Tagua Nut - Used as a substitute for plastic buttons, the Tagua nut is a sustainable commodity harvested by the indigenous people of the rainforest.
Tank Top - A short, sleeveless top with wide armholes.
Tankini - A two piece bathing suit with the upper portion resembling a tank top.
Tapered Legs - Pant legs that become progressively narrower toward the ankle.
Tea Length - A gown hemmed to end at the shin.
Tencel - A trademark of Courtaulds for a high-performance fiber used to make soft, beautifully draping rayon fabrics. It is a strong, easy-care fabric made of cellulose extracted from wood pulp that is harvested from replenished tree farms. It's environmentally sensitive and washable. This elegant eco-fiber is derived using a non-toxic process, which spins it into a buttery-soft machine washable textile, both luxurious and upscale. Tencel is 100% biodegradable, durable, dyeable, and machine washable/dryable. It is elegant and ultra-soft, offering an incredible drape and versatility.
Tension Control Weave - A type of decorative weave, characterized by a puckered effect which occurs because the tension in the warp yarns is intentionally varied before the filling yarns are placed in the fabric.
Terry - A woven fabric, usually cotton or maybe linen, with loop pile on one or both sides. Pile, also jacquard and dobby combined with pile. It has either all over loops on both sides of the fabric or patterned loops on both sides. It is formed with an extra warp yarn. Long wearing, easy to launder and requires no ironing. May be bleached, dyed, or printed. Better qualities have a close, firm, underweave, with very close loops. Terry is very absorbent, and the longer the loop, the greater the absorbency. When the pile is only on one side, it is called "Turkish toweling". Commonly used in towels, beachwear, bathrobes, all kinds of sportswear, children's wear, slip covers, and draperies.
Terry Cloth - Type of cloth that has uncut loops on the pile. A typical uncut pile weave fabric. This fabric is formed by using two sets of warp yarns. One set of warp yarns is under very little tension; when the filling yarns are packed into place, these loose yarns are pushed backward along with the filling yarns, and loops are formed. Typical uses include towels, robes, and apparel.
Terry Velour - A pile weave cotton fabric with an uncut pile on one side and a cut pile on the reverse side. Terry velour is valued for its soft, luxurious hand. Typical uses include towels, robes, and apparel.
Thread Count - The number of yarns per square inch in a woven fabric (warp yarn x weft yarn per sq. inch). The higher the count the finer the fabric.
Ticking - A tightly woven, very durable fabric, usually made of cotton, and used for covering mattresses, box springs, pillows, and work clothes. The fabric can be made by using a plain, satin, or twill weave construction.
Ticking - Cotton twill that is very tightly woven with more warp than filling yarns. It is very sturdy and strong, smooth and lustrous. Usually has white and colored stripes, but some patterned (floral). Tiking can be made water-repellent, germ resistant, and feather-proof. Uses include pillow covers, mattress coverings, upholstering and some sportswear. "Bohemian ticking" has a plain weave, a very high texture, and is featherproof. It has a lighter weight than regular ticking and is patterned with narrow colored striped on a white background or may have a chambray effect by using a white or unbleached warp with a blue or red filling.
Tie-Cinched Waist - The waist is pulled tight around the body with a tie.
Tri-acetate - A manufactured fiber, which, like acetate, is made by modifying cellulose. Tri-acetate is less absorbent and less sensitive to high temperatures than acetate. It can be hand or machine washed and tumble dried, with relatively good wrinkle recovery.
Tricot – A warp knit fabric of silk, rayon, or synthetics in which the fabric is formed by interlooping adjacent parallel yarns. The warp beam holds thousands of yards of yarns in a parallel arrangement, and these yarns are fed into the knitting area simultaneously. Sufficient yarns to produce the final fabric width and length are on the beam. Knit or warp knitted with vertical wales on surface and more or less crosswise ribs on the back. It has a thin texture, made from very fine or single yarns. Glove silk is a double bar tricot (very run-resistant). Used in underwear, sportswear, bathing suits, gloves.
Tricotine – A fabric of worsted, wool, rayon, or blends with synthetics. It has a double twill rib on the face of the cloth with a very clear finish. It drapes well, and tailors easily and is medium in weight. It has exceptional wearing qualities and is very much like cavalry twill, but finer. It is in the same family as whipcords, coverts, and gabardines.
Trim - To cut off the ragged edges below the seam line to prevent the garment from being bulky and to give the seam a neat finish.
Tropical Worsteds - 100% worsted. If it is just called tropical, it can be made up in any fiber or blends of wool and synthetics. It has a plain and open weave. The yarns are tightly twisted and woven to permit a free circulation of air. It is lightweight ad is ideal for summer and tropical wear. It has a clear finish and wears and tailors very well.
Tulle – Made from Silk, nylon, or cotton in a weave of guaze, knotted, or leno and made on a lace machine. Its name is derived name from Tulle, France and was first made by Machine in 1768. It has a hexagonal mesh and is stiff and difficult to launder. It is very cool, dressy, delicate and is a stately type of fabric when used for formal wear, and weddings. It is also used for ballet costumes and wedding veils.
Tunic Style - A simple slip-on garment made with or without sleeves and usually knee-length or longer, belted at the waist and worn as an under or outer garment.
Turtleneck - A high, close-fitting, turnover collar used especially for sweaters.
Tussah – A silk fabric that is usually plain but also in twill. It is made from wild or uncultivated silkworms. It is coarse, strong, and uneven and has a dull luster and is rather stiff. It has a rough texture with many slubs, knots, and bumps. It is ecru or tan in color and it is difficult to bleach. It usually doesn't take an even dye color. It wears well and becomes more rough looking with wear. It wrinkles a little, but not as much as some.
Tweed – Generally made of wool, but can also be fabricated from cotton, rayon, silk, linen, and synthetics. Tweed is the Scotch name for twill and originated along the banks of the Tweed river, which separates England from Scotland. It is sometimes known as "tweel" and is similar to homespun cheviot and shetland. They are the same in texture, yarn, weight, feel, and use. Tweed was originally only made from different colored stock-dyed fibers, producing various color effects. The tweed fabric family consists of a wide range of rough surfaced, sturdy fabrics. There are also some closely woven, smoother, softer yarn fabrics, and many monotone tweeds. Tweed may also be plaid, checked, striped, or have other patterns. It does not hold a crease very well. Typically used in a wide range of suits, coats, and sportswear for men, women and children.
Tweed (Harris) - All are hand woven on the islands off the northern coast of Scotland (Outer Hebrides). Harris Tweed was originally woven from hand-spun yarn. When damp, it smells mossy and smoky.
Twill - A fabric that shows a distinct diagonal wale on the face such as denim, gabardine, or tricotine.
Twill Weave - A basic weave in which the fabrics are constructed by interlacing warp and filling yarns in a progressive alternation which creates a diagonal effect on the face, or right side, of the fabric. In some twill weave fabrics, the diagonal effect may also be seen clearly on the back side of the fabric.
Twist - A term that applies to the number of turns and the direction that two yarns are turned during the manufacturing process. The yarn twist brings the fibers close together and makes them compact. It helps the fibers adhere to one another, increasing yarn strength. The direction and amount of yarn twist helps determine appearance, performance, durability of both yarns and the subsequent fabric or textile product. Single yarns may be twisted to the right (S twist) or to the left (Z twist). Generally, woolen and worsted yarns are S-twist, while cotton and flax yarns are typically Z-twist. Twist is generally expressed as turns per inch (tpi), turns per meter (tpm), or turns per centimeter (tpc).
Urena - This bast fibre comes from the Urena lobata plant. Wild, it grows 3 to 7 feet high and when cultivated can grow as tall as 13 feet. The fiber strands are cream coloured and have a wonderful luster. This fiber is mainly grown in the Congo area although small amounts are also raised in Brazil, India and the Philippines. Urena has the same uses as jute.
V-Neck / V-Back - An open yoke coming to a "V" shape midway down the bodice.
Variegated - Having streaks, marks or patches of different colors. Distinquished or characterized by a variety of different colors.
Velour - A medium-weight, closely-woven cotton, wool, or spun rayon fabric with a thick, plush pile. It can be made using either a plain weave or a satin weave construction. It resembles velvet, but has a lower cut pile. The pile is characterized by two different lengths which gives it a rough look. The two lengths of pile create light and shaded areas on the surface and give it a pebbled effect. This type of velour was invented and made in Lyons, France, in 1844. "Velours" is the French term for velvet. "Cotton velour" is simply cotton velvet.
Velvet - A medium-weight, cut-pile constructed fabric of silk, rayon, cotton or sythetics in which the cut pile stands up very straight. It is woven using two sets of warp yarns; the extra set creates the pile. Velvet, a luxurious fabric, is commonly made with a filament fiber for high luster and smooth hand. Mostly made with a plain back but some with a twill. Some are made with a silk pile and a rayon or cotton back. The name comes from the Latin "vellus", meaning a fleece or tufted hair and it comes in many types, qualities, and weights. Good velvet wears fairly well and is inexpensive. The cheaper cloths give little service and look well only a few times before beginning to deteriorate. Better velvet may be crush resistant, water resistant, and drapes well but it has to be handled with care, and pressed on a velvet board. Cut all one way. For the maximum amount of depth in the color, cut it with the pile running up. It also wears better when cut this way. Velvet should be cut with very simple lines in the garment, so not to destroy the beauty of the fabric. It has the tendency to add weight to the figure.
Velvet (Cisele) - A velvet with a pattern formed by contrast in cut and uncut loops.
Velvet (Faconne) - Patterned velvet made by burnt-out print process. The design is of velvet with background plain.
Velvet (Lyons) - A stiff, thick pile velvet. Used for hats, coat collars, also for suits, coats and dresses, when thick velvets are fashionable.
Velvet (Nacre) - The back is of one color and the pile of another, so that it gives a changeable, pearly appearance.
Velvet (Chiffon Velvet or Transparent Velvet) - Lightweight, very soft, draping velvet made with a silk or rayon back and a rayon pile.
Velvet (Panne) - Has a longer or higher pile than velvet, but shorter than plush. It is pressed flat and has a high luster made possible by a tremendous roller-press treatment given the material in finishing. Now often made as knit fabric.
Velvet (Utrecht) - Originated in Utrecht, Holland where it was made of silk. It was pressed and crimped to produce a raised effect. Today both mohair and silk are used.
Velvet Satin - A satin weave is used as the base for this luxurious figured silk, made with a cut pile effect.
Velveteen - Cotton, sometimes rayon, with a very short filling pile. Woven with a extra filling yarn with either a plain or a twill back (twill back is the best). Velveteen is often mercerized with a durable finish. It is strong and takes hard wear. Poor quality rubs off. Some velveteen can be laundered. It is a warm, cozy fabric that comes in all colors, gradually piece dyed or may be printed. Vetveteen has to be cut all one way. Press carefully, preferably on a velvet board, or tumble dry after laundering (no pressing needed). Mostly used in children's wear, dresses, coats, draperies, lounge wear, and a few special Rabbits.
Venetian – A fabric of worsted, wool worsted and wool and cotton in a satin weave, some in small repeat twill weaves with a clear finish. Has a very good lustre finish which resembles satin. Some has a slight nap. Wears well - similar cloth has worsted warp and woolen filling.
Venice lace - This lace often has a high profile, and is made using a needlepoint technique rather than embroidery. A heavier weight lace, the patterns vary from geometric to floral. Each pattern is attached to the others by bars made of thread.
Vichy - The cotton weave of this fabric is formed of horizontal bands and vertical bands respectively in a light and strong variants of the same color.
Vicuna – The fleece is reddish brown, shading to white on the belly. The fibers can be use to manufacture the softest coat cloth in the world … or at least that’s the story from the vicuna growers industry.
Viscose - The most common type of rayon. It is produced in much greater quantity than cuprammonium rayon, the other commercial type.
Viyella – A twill blend of 55% wool and 45% cotton that has the appearance of very fine flannel. It is soft, fine, and warm that holds a good pleat. It is machine washable.
Voile - A crisp, lightweight, plain weave cotton-like fabric, made with high twist yarns in a high yarn count construction. It is similar in appearance to organdy and organza. When it is made from wool, it is called "Voile de laine". Voile is sheer and very light-weight. It is usually made with cylindrical combed yarns. To obtain a top quality fabric, very highly twisted yarns are used. Voile drapes and gathers very well. The clear surface is obtained by singeing away any fuzzy yarns. It has a hard finish and a crisp, sometimes wiry, hand.
Waffle Cloth - A honeycomb weave usually of cotton or wool, used mainly for towels and robes.
Warm Colors - Colors like red, orange, and yellow are called warm colors. They are advancing in nature because, as seen by the eye, these colors move closer thereby reducing the size of an object. Warm colors are cheerful.
Warp Knit - A type of knitted fabric construction in which the yarns are formed into stitches in a lengthwise manner. Warp knits are generally less elastic than weft knits. Common examples of warp knits are tricot knits and raschel knits.
Warp Thread - The set of fixed threads that are set lengthwise across the fabrics.
Waterproof - A term applied to fabrics whose pores have been closed, and therefore, will not allow water or air to pass through them.
Water Repellent - A term applied to fabrics that have been treated with a finish which causes them to shed water, but are still air-permeable.
Wedding-Band Collar - A collar featuring a yoke that is either open or of sheer net with an ornate band fitting snugly on the neck, creating a choker effect.
Weft - The crosswise threads of any woven fabric.
Weft Knit - A type of knitted fabric in which yarns are formed into stitches in widthwise manner. Common examples of weft knits are circular knits and flat knits.
Whipcord - Cotton, rayon, worsted or woolen twill that is similar to gabardine, but the yarn is bulkier and much more pronounced. It is very durable, rugged and stands hard usage and wear. In time, it shines a bit with wear. Some times back is napped for warmth. It is named because it stimulates the lash of a whip.
Wickability - The ability of a fiber or a fabric to disperse moisture and allow it to pass through to the surface of the fabric, so that evaporation can take place.
Wicking - Dispersing or spreading of moisture or liquid through a given area by capillary action in a material.
Wing Collar - A collar with projections which cover shoulder seams of bodices and doublets.
Woof - The threads that cross the warp of a woven fabric; the weft.
Wool – A protein fiber usually associated with fiber or fabric made from the fleece of sheep or lambs. However, the term "wool" can also apply to all animal hair fibers, including the hair of the Cashmere or Angora goat or the specialty hair fibers of the camel, alpaca, llama, or vicuna. Wool is very resilient and resistant to wrinkling. It is renewed by moisture and well known for its warmth. It absorbs and releases moisture slowly, which allows excellent insulating capabilities and breathability. It can even hold 30% of its own weight without feeling damp.
Wool (Eco Wool) – Sheared from free range roaming sheep that have not been subjected to toxic flea dipping, and have not been treated with chemicals, dyes, or bleaches. Eco wool comes in natural tones of white, grey and black.
Worsted Fabric - A tightly woven fabric made by using only long staple, combed wool or wool-blend yarns. The fabric has a hard, smooth surface. Gabardine is an example of a worsted fabric. A common end use is men's tailored suits.
Woven Fabric - Fabrics composed of two sets of yarns. One set of yarns, the warp, runs along the length of the fabric. The other set of yarns, the fill or weft, is perpendicular to the warp. Woven fabrics are held together by weaving the warp and the fill yarns over and under each other.
Wrinkle Recovery - Similar to resiliency. It is the ability of a fabric to bounce back after it has been twisted, wrinkled, or distorted in any way.
Yarn - A continuous strand of textile fibers created when a cluster of individual fibers are twisted together. These long yarns are used to create fabrics, either by knitting or weaving.
Yarn Dyed - Yarns dyed in a bundle or package before weaving into fabrics like ginghams, stripes and plaids. Also known as "color-woven" fabric.
Zephyr – The name comes from
the ancient God of the Winds Zephrus. The
quality of the textile is airy and can be made in
wool, cotton and synthetics