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Fabric Glossary & Terminology

fabric glossary

  • Appliqué - Embellishment on a garment where decoration is made by cutting pieces of one material and applying them to the surface of another.
  • Bird's Eye - A fabric woven with a pattern of small diamonds.
  • Chambray - A class of yarn-dyed, plain-weave fabrics with a colored warp and white filling.
  • Chenille - Soft, fuzzy yarns stand out around a velvety cord on this fabric, whose name comes from the French word for "caterpillar."
  • Chintz - A printed and glazed fabric.
  • Crêpe - Used to describe all kinds of fabrics--wool, cotton, silk, rayon, synthetics and blends-that have a crinkly, crimped or grained surface. From the French word crepe, which means "to crimp or frizz."
  • Crêpe de chine - A fine, lightweight crepe.
  • Crochet - Loose, open knit made by looping thread with a hooked needle. Used for light, summer sweaters.
  • Decitex - The international standard for yarn weight measurement. Decitex is defined as the weight in grams per 10,000 meters of yarn.
  • Effect Thread - Yarns inserted into a fabric that are sufficiently different to the surrounding yarns, to form or enhance a pattern.
  • Elastomer - Any polymer showing rubber-like elastic properties.
  • Embroidery - Fancy needlework or trimming consisting of colored yarn, embroidery floss, and soft cotton, silk or metallic thread. Although hand embroidery is still a widely practiced craft, most commercially produced embroidered clothes are made by machine.
  • Engineered print - Also called a placed print because it is integrated into a specific area of the design. Border prints are often engineered into place.
  • Facing - A piece of fabric sewn to the inside of a garment for lining purposes or to add structure to the garment.
  • Faille - A dressy, flat-ribbed fabric with a light luster that drapes and tailors well. The ribs are flatter and less pronounced than in grosgrain. Traditionally used for women's dresses, suits and coats.
  • Feed Stripe - Knit fabric where a stripe pattern is produced by the way colored yarns are fed into the knitting machine.
  • French terry - A circular knit fabric with a looped pile back and smooth face.
  • Gabardine - Durable, tightly woven fabric made in a twill weave with distinct diagonal ribs and given a clean finish. Made of cotton, wool or rayon, gabardine wears extremely well. Commonly used for sportswear, suits, uniforms and raincoats.
  • Georgette - A sheer, lightweight plain-weave fabric with a fine crepe surface. Sometimes silk, sometimes synthetic. Also called crepe georgette.
  • Hopsack - A loosely woven coarse fabric of cotton or wool used in clothing. Hop growers originally used the fabric for bags.
  • Intarsia - A flat knit fabric with solid-colored, geometric patterns. The sides of the fabric are identical.
  • Interlock - a type of cut and sew knit fabric that is characterized by the interconnecting of the knit stitches.
  • Jacquard - Elaborate woven or knitted pattern. The system for producing these fabrics was invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard in France in 1801. Some jacquard fabrics have specific names (e.g., brocade, damask and tapestry).
  • Jersey - A generic term for a plain knit fabric without a distinct rib. Originally made of wool, jersey fabric was first manufactured on the island of Jersey.
  • Lycra® - DuPont's registered trademark for its brand of Elastomer.
  • Marled yarn - Two single yarns of different colors twisted together. You see this mottled effect most often in sweaters.
  • Matte jersey - A dull, flat knit fabric made of fine crepe yarns.
  • Microfiber - Generic term for any synthetic fiber finer than silk. Fabrics made with micro fibers are soft, lightweight, breathable and durable.
  • Picot - A small embroidered loop forming an ornamental edging on a ribbon or lace.
  • Pinpoint oxford - Lightweight, soft, cotton-like fabric with a small 2x1 basket (rib) weave repeats. High quality, very smooth surface, and used for shirts.
  • Piqué - A knitted cotton fabric with a waffle or diamond shaped pattern. French piqué knits became an international favorite when René Lacoste, a 1920's French tennis champion, designed the polo shirt.
  • Pointelle - Very feminine, delicate-looking rib knit fabric made with a pattern of openings.
  • Poplin - A durable, plain weave fabric similar to broadcloth but with a heavier rib and heavier weight. Made of silk, cotton, synthetic fibers, wool, or blends.
  • Ripstop - A fabric woven with a double thread at regular intervals so that small tears do not spread.
  • Sari - The sari is a piece of clothing traditionally worn by Indian women and can be made of cotton, silk, or polyester. Typical saris measure about 7.5 yards or 5 to 7 meter (16 to 23 ft) unwound and often feature bright colors and embroidery.
  • Sateen - A semi-lustrous surface distinguishes this smooth, durable fabric in a satin weave. Sateen is usually made of cotton.
  • Schiffli - A type of embroidery characterized by vine-like floral pattern on sheer/mesh-like fabrics, named after the type of machine it is produced on (Schiffli machine).
  • Seersucker - A popular warm-weather cotton fabric with permanent woven crinkled stripes.
  • Shantung - Medium weight, plain weave, silk-like fabric with pronounced slab filling yarns (slab means yarns are uneven or knobby). Used for dresses.
  • Shot effect - A color effect produced in fabrics woven with a warp yarn of one color and a weft yarn of a contrasting color.
  • Terry - A fabric with loop pile on one or both sides.
  • Toile - Light/medium weight, plain weave, fine, cotton-type fabric, usually with one colored printed scenic design. Used mostly for home furnishings, clothing, etc.
  • Twill - A fabric that shows a distinct diagonal wale on the face (e.g., denim, gabardine, tricotine).
  • Velour - Soft plush fabric with a close, dense pile.
  • Weft Knits - Weft is a type of knitting in which yarns run horizontally, from side to side, across the width of the fabric.
  • Velvet - A short, closely woven cut pile fabric with a rich, soft texture.
  • Viscose - A manufactured fiber made of regenerated cellulose. It is soft, absorbent and drapes well.
  • Voile - A lightweight, sheer fabric with a crisp, wiry hand.