Fabric Glossary

acetate - a manufactured fiber formed by a compound of cellulose, refined from cotton linters and/or wood pulp, and acetic acid. 

angora - made from the hair of the Angora goat or rabbit.

applique - a cutout decoration attached to a larger piece of material.

beaded - a fabric with beads embroidered into the design.

boucle - a knit or woven fabric made from a rough, curly, knotted boucle yarn. The fabric has a looped, knotted surface.

brocade - a heavy 'jacquard-type' fabric with a raised pattern or floral design.

cambric - a fine thin white linen fabric.

canvas - a strong, durable, closely woven cotton fabric.

cashmere - a luxury fiber obtained from the soft, fleecy undergrowth of the Kashmir goat. Most commonly used in sweaters, suiting or fine outer garments.

chambray - a plain woven fabric that is usually made from cotton but can also be made from silk or manufactured fibers. It incorporates a colored warp (usually blue) and white filling yarns.

Chantilly lace - lace with a net background - 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.

charmeuse - trade name of silk and silk-like fabrics that are characterized by a shiny, soft, satin-like appearance

chenille - soft, fuzzy yarns surround a velvety cord on this fabric, whose name comes from the French word for "caterpillar.)"

chiffon - a plain, woven, extremely sheer, silk fabric, containing highly twisted filament yarns. The fabric, used mainly in evening dresses and scarves, can also be made from rayon and other manufactured fibers.

chintz - a usually glazed printed cotton fabric.

cotton - a 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.

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

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.

crinkled - forming many short bends or ripples.

crocheted - a loose, open knit made by looping thread with a hooked needle.

denim - a twill-weave, cotton-like fabric.

embroidered - an embellishment of a fabric or garment in which colored threads are sewn into the fabric to create a design either by hand or machine.

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

faux fur - artificial fur made from synthetic material.

flannel - a warm, soft fabric made in tightly woven twill or plain weave and finished with a light napping.

fleece - a manufactured soft, bulky, deep-piled knitted or woven fabric

gabardine - a tightly woven, twilled, worsted fabric with a slight diagonal line on the right side. Wool gabardine is known as a year-round fabric for business suiting.

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.

gingham - a medium-weight, plain-weave fabric with a plaid or check pattern.

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. Hence, fabrics of almost any type or complexity can be made. Brocade and damask are types of jacquard woven fabrics.

jersey - a stretch fabric with a smooth, flat face, and a more textured, but uniform back.

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. 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.

lawn - a light, fine cotton cloth made using carded or combed, linen or cotton yarns. The fabric has a crisp finish.

leather - animal skin.

Leatherette - simulated leather.

linen - a fabric made from linen fibers obtained from inside the woody stem of the flax plant. Linen fibers are stronger and more lustrous than cotton. Linen fabrics are very cool and absorbent, but wrinkle very easily, unless blended with manufactured fibers.

lycra - a DuPont trademark for its spandex fiber.

marabou - a thrown silk usually dyed in the gum or a fabric made of this silk.

matte - a finish to the fabric that is without luster or gloss and has a usually smooth even surface free from shine or highlights.

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.

micro fiber - generic term for any synthetic fiber finer than silk. Fabrics made with micro fibers are soft, lightweight, breathable and durable.

net - an open fabric, which is created by connecting the intersections in a woven, knitted, or crocheted construction to form a mesh-like appearance that won't ravel.

nylon - the first completely synthetic fiber developed. Known for its high strength and excellent resilience, nylon has superior abrasion resistance and high flexibility.

organza - a crisp, sheer, lightweight plain-weave fabric, with a medium to high yarn count, made of silk, rayon, nylon, or polyester.

ottoman - a tightly woven, plain-weave, ribbed fabric with a hard, slightly lustered 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, or waste yarn. In the construction, the heavier filler yarn is completely covered by the warp yarn, thus creating the ribbed effect.

pearlized - a pearlescent surface or finish.

peau satin - a heavy twill weave drapeable satin fabric, made of silk or a manufactured fiber, and used for bridal gowns and evening wear.

picot - a row of woven loops along the selvage of fabric or lace.

pointelle - delicate, rib-knit fabric made with a pattern of openings.

polyester - a manufactured fiber which has high strength, excellent resiliency, and high abrasion resistance. Low absorbency allows the fiber to dry quickly.

poplin - a fabric made using a rib variation of the plain weave. The construction is characterized by having a slight ridge effect in one direction, usually the filling.

ramie - a bast fiber, similar to flax, taken from the stalk of a plant grown in China.

rayon - a manufactured fiber composed of regenerated cellulose, derived from wood pulp, cotton linters, or other vegetable matter.

rhinestones - imitation stone of high luster made of glass, paste, or gem quartz.

ribbed - 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.

satin - a fabric with a satin weave construction to achieve a lustrous fabric surface. Satin is a traditional fabric for evening and wedding garments.

seersucker - a woven fabric 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.

sequined - ornamented with a small plate of shining metal or plastic.

shantung - a medium-weight, plain-weave fabric, characterized by a ribbed effect, resulting from slubbed yarns used in the warp or filling direction.

sheer - any very light-weight fabric (e.g., chiffon, georgette, voile, sheer crepe). Usually has an open weave.

silk - obtained from cocoons of certain species of caterpillars. It is soft and has a brilliant sheen. It is one of the finest textiles. It is also very strong and absorbent.

spandex - a manufactured elastomeric fiber that can be repeatedly stretched over 500% without breaking, and will still recover to its original length.

suede - leather with a napped surface.

taffeta - a lustrous, medium-weight, plain-weave fabric with a slight ribbed appearance in the filling (crosswise) direction. Silk taffeta gives the ultimate rustle and body.

Tencel - a trademark of Courtaulds for a high performance fiber used to make soft, beautifully draping rayon fabrics. Tencel is made from wood pulp that is harvested from replenished tree farms. So it's environmentally sensitive and it's washable!

terry - a woven fabric, usually cotton, with loop pile on one or both sides.

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.

twill - a fabric that shows a distinct diagonal wale on the face (e.g., denim, gabardine, tricotine).

velour - a medium-weight, closely-woven fabric with a thick pile. It can be made using either a plain weave or a satin weave construction. It resembles velvet, but has a lower cut pile.

velvet - a medium-weight, cut-pile constructed fabric 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.

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.

viscose - the most common type of rayon. It is produced in much greater quantity than cuprammonium rayon, the other commercial type.

voile - a crisp, lightweight, plain weave cotton-like fabric, made with high twist yarns in a high yarn count construction. Similar in appearance to organdy and organza.

wool - usually associated with fiber 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.