Fabric Glossary

Basket Weave (top)
Two or more warp ends and filling picks woven as one into a plain weave, loose-construction fabric resembling a plaited basket. Some examples are hopsack and monk's cloth. Because of its tendency to chafe or abrade, basket weave cloths have somewhat limited appeal in apparel.

Bedford Cord (top)
A strong, ribbed-weave fabric with raised lines produced by warp stuffing threads, the name is derived from its origin in New Bedford, MA. It can be made from wool, silk, cotton, rayon, or a combination of fibers. Because Bedford cord is strong & wears well, it is often used in suits, riding habits, & work clothes.
  
Bird's Eye (top)
A semi-formal pattern often used for business, bird's eye is a worsted yarn made up of two light and dark threads. The weave takes its name from the small, dark and light round dots created, which resemble the eye of a bird.
  
Bouclé (top)
From the French word meaning buckled, a woven or knit fabric with a looped or knotted surface that creates a spongy effect. It is used in sportswear and coats.
  
Brushing (top)
A finishing process used on knit or woven fabrics where abrading devices are used to raise a nap to produce a novelty textured effect.
  
Canvas (top)
An even weave cotton, linen or synthetic fabric made in heavy, firm weights for sails and industrial purposes. Unbleached linen canvas is used primarily for interlinings.
  
Carding (top)
A process of opening and cleaning textile fibers (usually cotton), that separates fibers, lays them parallel, forms them into a single, continuous, untwisted strand or bundle of fibers called a "sliver."
  
Calvary Twill (top)
Twill made from worsted yarns, this fabric derives its name from its use in military uniforms. A closely woven material, Calvary’s twill's elasticity makes it suitable for durable sportswear pants.
  
Cellulose (top)
A carbohydrate that is the primary component of plants' cell walls. Cellulose is found in wood, cotton, linen, jute, hemp and all of the best, leaf & stem fibers. It's used as a basic raw material in the manufacturing of rayon acetate and triacetate.
  
Chino (top)
A classic, all-cotton "Army twill" fabric produced from combed two-ply yarns. Traditionally used in army uniforms, chino pants gained popularity in casual wear in the post WWII era and have remained a staple since. Interestingly, the term "chino" is actually a misnomer, originating because the fabric was produced in China. When this twill was first shipped to the U.S., its country of origin was stamped on freight boxes. The imprint was misread as "Chino" instead of "China", and thus taken as a description of the cloth. Despite the mix-up, the name has stuck.
  
Combing (top)
A process for removing short fibers (less than 1 1/8"0 and impurities from cotton that has been carded. The finest cottons are made from combed fibers that are more compact and have fewer projecting fibers.
  
Corduroy (top)
A cut-filling pile-cloth with narrow to wide wales running in the warp direction of the fabric. Using an extra set of filling yarns in construction makes this effect. The back of the cloth is a plain or twill weave. It is usually all-cotton, but many corduroys can be blended with polyester, nylon or other fibers.
  
Course (top)
The row of loops or stitches running across a knit fabric, corresponding to the filling in woven fabrics.
  
Curtain (top)
The lining of the inside of dress pants' waistband, the curtain usually comes pre-made and is stitched into the waistband as a separate piece.
  
Denim (top)
A basic cotton cloth that is rugged, durable & serviceable used in sportswear and in jeans. Its traditional indigo-blue color warp, gray or mottled white filling and left hand twill on the face easily identify it. Denim is usually constructed with a two up, one down or a three up, one down twill weave. Denim takes its name from its early origins in Nimes, France, where it known hundreds of years ago as "Serge de Nimes," and was first brought to America over 500 years ago as the sails of Columbus' Santa Maria.
  
Dobby Loom (top)
A type of loom on which small, geometric figures can be woven in as a regular pattern. It differs from plain loom in that it may have up to thirty-harnesses and a pattern chain. Dobby weaving can be expensive.
  
Donegal (top)
A tweed fabric with colorful slubs woven in is used for suits & coats.
  
Faille (top)
A soft, slightly glossy woven fabric made of silk, cotton, rayon, wool, or manufactured combinations of these fabrics that features a light, flat cross grain rib or cord made by using heavier yarns in the filling than the warp.
  
Flannel (top)
Usually twill weave; flannel fabric is slightly napped on both sides. It can be woolen (carded), worsted, cotton or rayon. Worsted flannel is lighter, not as soft as woolen flannel, and has a more visible and resistant weave. Flannel tends to peel in areas subject to friction; consequently flannel trousers tend to wear out more than jackets.
  
Flat Front (top)
As distinguished from plain front in pants, "flat fronts" normally denotes both flat front and flat fold, without crease. See also plain front.
  
Foulard (top)
Finely woven, lightweight worsted, silk or rayon cloth noted for its silkiness and soft feel
  
French Fly (top)
A one-piece fly used in dress pants that also sometimes features a tab attached. French flies help to ensure that the pant front lies flat, for a neater, cleaner appearance.
  
Friction Calendaring (top)
A bright, shiny finish used on lining twills, sateen Silesia, messaline and bind finish cloths. It is achieved when one calendar roller moves at a slightly increased speed over the other roller in the set. Rollers may or may not be heated.
  
Gabardine (top)
A tightly woven, nearly waterproof-combed yarn characterized by vertical twill lines in the warp than weft. Gabardine is also done sometimes in a three-harness weave. Attention to gabardine’s quality, elasticity and shrink-resistance is important, as it is a delicate fabric.
  
Glazing (top)
This finish, which provides luster, shine or polish to some fabrics, is created through friction calendaring. The depth and life of the finish depends on the ingredients used and the machine's settings. Some fabrics have a durable finish while others cannot withstand laundering. Chintz is a glazed fabric.
  
Herringbone Twill (top)
A broken twill weave named for its resemblance to a herring's backbone. It is distinguished by a balanced zigzag effect produced when the rib first runs to the right, then to the left for an equal number of threads.
  
Hound's Tooth (top)
A medium-sized, broken check often used in clear-finish worsted, woolen dress goods. Four-end twill based on a herringbone weave, with four ends on the right, then four on the left. The check is shaped like a four-pointed star, with two points up, two down. The simple regularity of the design can sometimes hide defects in yarn.
  
Interfacing (top)
Woven or non-woven fabrics used between outer fabrics and linings to reinforce or stiffen, as in interfacing used in trouser waistbands. Some major types include haircloth, canvas, plain cottons, resin-stiffened materials and a variety of usable and non-wovens.
  
Khaki (top)
Literally a color description given to yellow-brown, earth/dust tones or greenish tinged shades, the term khaki has also evolved to define a strong cloth made of cotton, worsted or linen yarns and man-made fiber blends. Now ubiquitous in casual wear, khakis were first used in uniforms by British armies during the Crimean War in 1853. The term Khaki is often used interchangeably with Chino.
  
Linen (top)
A natural cellulose fiber that is produced from the stem of the flax plant. Linen fibers are stronger, stiffer and more lustrous than cotton; they yield cool, absorbent fabrics that wrinkle easily.
  
Lycra (top)
This is the registered ™ of Dupont for continuous filament elastic textile yarns with excellent stretch and recovery properties. Lycra is now being incorporated increasingly into men's sportswear, suits and pants for greater comfort and ease of movement. See spandex.

Madras (top)
Named for the city in India where t originated, madras is a lightweight, plain weave cotton fabric noted for its bleeding colors in stripes, checks and plaids.
  
Mercerizing (top)
A finishing process used on cotton yarn and cloth that impregnates material with sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) solution. The treatment increases the fabrics' strength, affinity for dyes and luster.
  
Microdeniers/Microfiber  (top)
These are continuous filament fibers that emerge from a spinnerette less than one denier per filament. (A human hair is generally two to four deniers per filament. (A human hair is generally two to four deniers per filament, by comparison.) Microdeniers are one of the most important areas of development in fabric technology, because they give polyester and other man-made fibers a new array of aesthetic and performance properties useful in apparel.
  
Mohair (top)
Produced from the hair of Angora goat, mohair is generally a milky-colored fleece, but can sometimes be black, brown or rose-colored. Normally a plain weave, mohair is put into the fabric weft, usually with a worsted wool warp. Less curly than sheep hair and, therefore, shinier, mohair is also very resilient, lustrous, durable and crease resistant.
  
Moleskin (top)
A heavy sateen-weave fabric made on five-end or eight-end satin construction using heavy, soft-spun filling. The napped, sueded surface effect simulates the fur of a mole.

Nylon (top)
A manufactured polyamide fiber. Nylon fabrics feature excellent strength, flexibility, toughness, elasticity, abrasion resistance, wash ability, ease of drying and resistance to attack by insects and microorganisms.

Pick (top)
A single filling thread carried by one trip of the weft-insertion device across the loom. The picks interlace with the warp ends to form a woven fabric.
  
Pique (top)
Medium weight or heavy fabric with raised cords that run in the warp direction. This substantial cloth is made on a dobby, jacquard, drop-box and other types of looms.
  
Plain Front (top)
Refers to pants without pleats, but with a crease down the center.
  
Polyester (top)
A manufactured fiber in which the fiber-forming substance is any long chain synthetic polymer composed of at least 85 percent of an ester of dihedral alcohol and terephthalic acid. Polyester fibers are strong and are resistant to shrinking and stretching. Fabrics are quick drying and wrinkle-resistant.
  
Polynosic (top)
A highly refined rayon staple. The molecular chain length of the cellulose forming the fiber is about twice as long as conventional rayon.
  
Poplin (top)
A plain-weave fabric characterized by a rib effect in the filling direction.

Rayon (top)
A man-made fiber composed of regenerated cellulose. In rayon manufacturing, cellulose from wood pulp, cotton linter or other vegetable matter is dissolved into a viscose spinning solution. The solution is forced into an acid-salt coagulating bath and drawn into continuous filaments. Different rayon yarns vary in size, strength, elongation, luster, handle, and suppleness.

Seersucker (top)
A lightweight fabric made of cotton or manufactured fibers with crinkled stripes made by weaving some warp threads slack and others tight. Woven seersucker is more expensive than imitations produced from chemical treatments.
  
Selvage (top)
The narrow edge of woven fabric that runs parallel to the warp. It is made with stronger yarns in a tighter construction than the body of the fabric to prevent unraveling.
  
Spandex (top)
A manufactured fiber in which the fiber-forming substance is a long chain synthetic polymer composed of at least 85 percent of segmented polyurethane. Spandex is lighter in weight, more durable and suppler than conventional elastic threads, and has between two and three times their restraining power.
  
Square Weave (top)
Also known as balanced cloth, the term describes a woven fabric with the same size yarn and the same number of threads per inch in both the warp and the filling direction.
  
Super 100's, 120's, 140's, 150's and 180's (top)
Increasing used in better-tailored clothing, this terminology refers to the length in centimeters one woolen yarn can be stretched. Hence, Super 100's yarn is stretched to 100 centimeters, Super 120's to 120 cm and so on. The longer the yarn, the higher quality the fabric. These cloths are more luxurious, have a finer hand and a much lighter weight and feel than traditional worsteds.

Tencel (top)
A cellulose fiber produced by Courtaulds, spun from an amine oxide solvent that offers a higher degree of polymerization than rayon.
  
Thread Count (top)
The number of ends and picks per inch in a woven cloth, or the number of wales and courses per inch in a knit fabric.
  
Ticking (top)
A compactly woven, striped cotton cloth that often has a white background with blue or brown stripes in the motif. In apparel, it is used for sportswear and work clothes.
  
Tricotine (top)
Wider Calvary twill, named for its resemblance to a tricot knit.
  
Tropical (top)
This plain weave, worsted fabric consists of relatively high-twisted two-ply yarn. It is a sturdy fabric, but also lightweight and airy, used for summer clothing. One important version of a tropical fabric incorporates a mohair wool blend in the weft, adding greater luster and resiliency to the fabric.
  
Tweed (top)
Originally derived from the Scottish word "tweel," meaning, "to cross," the name of the Tweed River, which separates England from Scotland. Tweed material is prickly and coarse, and used in jackets and vests, rather than pants. Different varieties of tweed take their names from region of origin.
  
Twill (top)
Produced from combed yarn, this weave has a diagonal effect. Because it doesn't have a high elasticity, twill holds its form well, but it creases easily and some times wears thin.

Wale (top)
In knit fabrics, a column of loops lying lengthwise in the fabric. The number of wales per inch is a measure of the fabric's fineness. In woven fabrics, one of a series of ribs or cords, running either warp wise or filling wise.
  
Warp (top)
The yarn that run vertically or lengthwise in woven goods.
  
Weft (or Filling) (top)
In a woven fabric, the yarn running from selvage to selvage at right angles to the warp. Each crosswise length is called a pick. In the weaving process, the shuttle or other type of yarn carrier carries the filling yarn.
  
Welt (top)
A finished edge on knit goods or a small cord covered with fabric, sewn along a seam or border to add strength. Also a seam made by folding the fabric double, generally over a cord, and sewing it.
  
Wicking (top)
Cord, loosely woven or braided tape or tubing to be cut into wicks, as well as dispersing or spreading moisture or liquid through a given area, vertically or horizontally.
  
Wool (top)
Most often used to describe the fleece of sheep, wool also refers to the hair of angora or cashmere goats, or other specialty fibers from animals such as camels, alpacas, llamas and vicunas.
  
Worsted (top)
A general term applied to fabrics and yarns from combed wool and wool blends. Worsted yarn is smooth-surfaced and spun from evenly combed, long staple. It is woven tightly with a smooth, hard surface. Gabardine is an example.
  
Sources: Nautica Tailored Clothing Handbook, Dan River Dictionary of Textile Terms, Hoechst Celanese Dictionary of Fiber and Textile Terminology.  Courtesy of Lakelandssc.com