Below is a fabric glossary provided by NY Fashion CenterTM
A manufactured fiber formed by compound of cellulose. It resists shrinkage, moths and mildew, but is not a strong fabric as it breaks easily and has poor resistance to abrasion. It has a soft crisp feel and a lustrous face, which are its signature characteristics.
A manufactured fiber that has a soft, wool-like feel, and uneven finish, and its fibers create a strong weave that is machine washable, dryable, and resists shrinkage.
Baize is a loose woolen fabric, with a finely cut nap on both sides. This heavily felted material is traditionally dyed either red or green, and is used for simple clothing, as well as drawer linings and tablecloths. Derived from the French baie, the Spanish name for baize is bayetta.
Batik is a fabric dyeing technique originating in Indonesia, which uses wax resist molds to create designs. The wax is poured on a fabric, typically cotton, and allowed to harden in the shape of the desired design. The cloth is then dyed and the wav removed, with the remaining design in the original cloth color. This process can be repeated for intricate design work, and the characteristic veined look of Batik is achieved when some dye leaks through cracks in the wax.
An extremely fine, semi-sheer, lightweight, plain weave fabric. It is almost transparent and is usually made of cotton or cotton blends.
From the French word meaning curled, boucle is a knit or woven fabric with loops that create an uneven, textured surface at intervals. Because of the fabric’s looped, knotted surface, it has a very supple, bouncy hand.
A thick, heavy fabric made with a Jacquard loom and a satin weave, most often featuring a raised floral pattern. Brocade is typically made from silk, rayon or nylon, and has a very Oriental look. It is often used in home decor, womens wear and accessories.
The removal of excess knots, bumps, loose threads and slubs from a fabric before the finishing process, by means of a burling iron or tweezers. Burling does not damage the fabric and ensures a smooth texture.
A process to flatten fabric involving alternating smooth metal and cloth-wrapped rollers, similar to ironing. The process can also be used to apply different finishes to pre-treated textiles, as well as to coat fabrics with plastics or rubber.
A plain weave cotton material that is unbleached and still retains some of the natural vegetable matter normally extracted in the manufacturing process. Named for the town of Calicut in India, calico fabric is typically used for making quilts.
A lightweight plain weave cotton or linen cloth, slightly heavier than muslin, that is closely woven and calendered to give a slight sheen on one side. The material was originally a linen fabric woven in Cambrai in northern France.
A plain woven fabric, typically made from cotton or synthetic fibers, that is often woven in checkered or striped patterns and has a frosted appearance. Usually made from blue and white yarns and used to make shirts, dresses and childrens clothing, the fabric originated in the town of Cambrai in northern France.
A luxurious, supple, silky fabric with an extremely shiny face and a dull back, similar to satin but lighter in weight. Usually made from rayon or cotton, but premium varieties are made from silk.
Made from tightly twisted crepe fibers, chiffon is lightweight, extremely sheer, almost transparent fabric that has a slightly bumpy texture.
Calico cloth printed with large flamboyant designs, typically with a floral print. This plain-weave fabric is often starched for stiffness and calendered with wax to produce a smooth shiny surface. Fabric must be dry-cleaned as the glazing will wash off with machine laundering.
An exceptionally durable fabric, usually made of cotton or a cotton blend, composed of twisted fibers that, when woven, lie parallel to one another to form the cloth’s distinct parallel ribbed pattern, a “cord.” The number of ribs, or wales, per inch of fabric indicates the type of corduroy, with values ranging from a very wide 3 wales to pincords with 21 wales per inch.
Made from the soft fibers that grow around the seeds of the cotton plant. The fibers are spun into yarns to create a comfortable, breathable, machine washable fabrics that are the most widely used natural-fiber materials in the world.
A fine, almost gauzelike fabric made of synthetic or natural fibers that are twisted to give a slightly crinkled texture. It can be found in a variety of different weights and levels of sheerness. Crepes are dull with a harsh dry feel.
A satin fabric in which the wrong side has the crinkled texture of crepe, while the right side has a smooth, shiny satin finish.
From the French word meaning hook, crochet is the method of creating fabric from yarn using a crochet hook, a tool with a knobbed end used for pulling loops of yarn through other loops. Similar to knitting, although crochet only involves one active loop at a time.
A heavy fabric made from cotton, silk, linen, wool or synthetic yarns, typically used for draperies and home decor. Typically made using a satin weave, this reversible fabric is named for a luxurious silk fabric introduced through Damascus, Syria.
A strong, durable twill weave cotton fabric, originating in Nimes, France, made with different colored yarns in the warp and the weft. The weft passes under two or more warp fibers, which produces a diagonal ribbing found on the reverse of the fabric. The twill construction causes one color (blue is most common) to dominate the fabric’s surface.
A heavier fabric in which two layers of looped fabric are woven together and cannot be separated. Manufactured using a double knit machine, which has two distinct sets of needles.
The silk yarns are made from the cocoon of two silk worms that have nested together. In spinning, the double strand is not separated, creating uneven yarns that give the fabric a crisp texture with irregular slubs. Also referred to as dupion or doupioni.
A non-woven fabric where the fibers are pressed, matted, and condensed together to form a compact material. It comes in varying weights and thicknesses, and because of its grain, felt can be cut any direction, and does not fray.
A tough, tight, twill weave that is wrinkle resistant and features diagonal ribbing. Worsted wool (woolen yarn) is the most common fiber used, but cotton, synthetic, or blended fibers are also popular.
A checkered pattern fabric featuring dyed and undyed fibers, most often made from cotton.
A manual weaving style that involves resist dyeing the warp or weft threads before the fabric is created. Originating in Southeast Asia, ikat fabrics can be extremely ornate and intricate, often featuring detailed designs or larger pictures. The more difficult method of double ikat involves the dyeing of both the warp and weft threads.
Interfacing & Interlining
The fabric used between the inner and outer layers of a garment to enhance warmth, strength or shape. Interfacing fabrics come in fusible (pre-treated with glue and attached to the fabric with an iron) and sew-in varieties, in a wide array of weights.
A weaving method invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard, which involves a machine attached to a loom that can electronically select and control individual warp threads. The Jacquard loom is used to create intricately woven fabrics, including brocade and damask. Silk, polyester and rayon are commonly used in the Jacquard process.
A general term for any knit garment or fabric, the material has length-wise ribs on the right side, and cross-wise ribs on the wrong side. It is crease-resistant, very resilient, and has the flexibility and stretch of knit. Usually made from wool, cotton or silk, but synthetics are often used as well.
A lightweight vegetable fiber found in the seed pods of the Bombocaceae tree, native to Central and South America. The fiber is water resistant and buoyant, and while difficult to spin and weave, is often found as filling in mattresses, pillows, life vests and upholstery.
The first clippings of young sheep, about seven or eight months old, are mostly used in high grade fabrics. They are woven to create a warm, durable wool that is elastic, soft, and resilient.
A machine or frame used to weave cloth. The earliest looms featured vertical warp yarns affixes to two ends of the frame, while the horizontal weft yarns were manually woven through. Today there are many different types of looms, from the hand looms still in use in developing countries to computer-controlled Jacquard looms that are able to control minute movements in the weaving process with speed and efficiency.
The trademark name for DuPont’s brand of Spandex fiber.
A manufactured fiber made from wood pulp cellulose, an environmentally-friendly material found in plants cells. It is classified as a sub-category of rayon, with a similar soft hand and drape, but slightly more durable. It has a subtle sheen and is very breathable.
Made from wool fibers, sometimes combined with synthetics, in either a twill or satin weave. It is heavy, closely sheared, compacted, and tightly woven. First used as a hunting cloth, the fabric resembles wool felt.
The process developed in 1844 by John Mercer to give a shiny, smooth finish to cotton fabric. First, the fabric is singed, then passed through a solution of caustic soda and finally rinsed. The process makes the fibers of the fabric swell, giving them increased strength and an increased ability to hold dye.
A porous fabric with a net-like appearance.
Strong, elastic and quick-drying, this is abrasion-resistant thermoplastic material has good chemical resistance and blends with natural fibers for durability and stretch.
A plain-weave cotton fabric which is treated with a solution of linseed oil (an extract of the flax plant) and a coloring, and then glazed to ensure water-resistance. Oil cloth has been mostly replaced with plastic coated cloth, and was popular for tablecloths and rainwear.
A stiffened, sheer, lightweight, transparent fabric, usually made from tightly twisted cotton or polyester yarns, with a crisp finish. Will withstand repeated launderings and still preserve the crisp texture.
Tightly twisted silk yarns make an extremely crisp, sheer, lightweight fabric. Organza was traditionally the silk version of organdy, but is now made from other fibers as well.
A swirled design named for the town of Paisley, Scotland, which was one of the major producers of the fabric in the early to mid-19th century. Often found on quilts, curtains and summery clothing.
From the Latin word for hair, pile is the extra yarn that protrudes from the surface of a fabric. Pile can be shaved and shaped, as with velvet and corduroy, or can be left uncut as with terry cloth.
Named after the Pima Indians who cultivated this plant in the Southwestern United States, Pima cotton is similar to Egyptian cotton, as it has exceptionally strong, long, combed fibers, dyes well and has a silky soft hand.
Also referred to as tartan cloth, plaid originated in the Scottish Highlands as a way to differentiate the different clans. Once denoting the garment itself, plaid is now used to refer to the specific crisscross designs and can be applied to a wide array of fabrics and uses.
A plain weave cotton fabric with permanent creases and wrinkles that have been produced through the application of a caustic solution in order to shrink specific areas. Similar in appearance to seersucker, plisse fabric is often used for bedspreads and dresses.
Condensation polymers combine to develop synthetic fibers that make this strong, quick-drying textile that does not wrinkle and holds its shape well.
Also called tabinet, this plain-woven fabric has a corded surface that runs selvage to selvage. Usually made from a silk warp with a weft of worsted yarn, but can also be made with wool, cotton, rayon, or any mixture.
A lightweight, wind and water resistant textile. Double yarns create a box pattern to provide extra strength and resistance to tearing. Commonly used in outdoor clothing and equipment as well as outdoor flags because of its extreme durability.
A patented process to pre-shrink fabric, developed by Sanford Pruett in the 1930s. Fabrics treated with this process should never shrink more than 1%.
A silky, lustrous satin weave fabric predominantly made from cotton. Sateen often has an increased thread count for extra softness and durability.
A smooth lustrous, shiny fabric with a dull back that has a superb drape and sheen. It is characterized by a weaving technique that forms a minimum number of interlacings in a fabric. Satin differs from sateen in that it is woven using filament fibers such as silk or nylon whereas sateens are woven using short-staple fibers like cotton.
A fabric distinguishable by its crepe-like, crinkled stripes, which are made by weaving some of the warp threads slack and others tight. This fabric is traditionally cotton, but can be made from nylon, silk and other yarns, and is typically worn in the summer.
A semi-transparent fabric that can be treated to have varying levels of crispness or body. Sheer fabrics are often used as volumizers underneath other fabrics, as draperies, or as sleeves for evening wear.
The fabric is woven using the natural filament fiber produced by the silkworm in the construction of its cocoon. Silk is a naturally strong, lustrous, and fine fiber that produces long-lasting, versatile, and high-quality multi-purpose fabrics.
A form of embroidery in which fabric is gathered and folded to provide increased stretch and comfort. Developed in the Middle Ages, smocking requires soft, lightweight, durable fabric, often batiste, voile or lawn, and is typically used for collars, cuffs and bodices. Smocking often reduces the fabric’s original width by up to two thirds.
Made with elastic fibers that can be stretched up to five times its original length without damage. When blended with natural fibers, it creates a lightweight and flexible fabric with great shape retention.
With a smooth feel, and a crisp hand, taffeta can be made from a variety of fibers including silk and rayon. It has a subtle horizontal ribbing effect and provides lots of body and an ultimate rustle.
The traditional name for Scottish plaid cloth, originally made from wool with a twill weave. From the French tiretaine meaning “linsey-woolsey”. The sett, or number of threads of each color in each warp and weft stripe, of each style of tartan cloth is recorded and maintained by The Scottish Tartan Society.
A fabric made from the cellulose of wood pulp, then processed into a silk-like fabric that is very soft with great drape. It’s usually a medium weight fabric that can be easily dyed and cared for.
This lightweight, extremely fine, machine-made hexagonal shape netting, is usually made from nylon, silk, or rayon.
A medium to heavy weight, roughly textured wool fabric, often featuring a twill weave, houndstooth or herringbone design. A classically English look accompanies this durable fabric, which is popular in sport coats, jackets and hats.
Typically produced with a knitted back, velour resembles velvet, but has some stretch and an uneven pile giving it a slightly rougher look. Velour is French for velvet, and it is made from fibers such as cotton, wool, or spun rayon.
Velvet is one of the most luxurious fabrics because of its evenly cut, thick, soft pile. Traditionally made from silk, velvet comes in a variety of blends like rayon/silk, cotton, or nylon, and some velvets, such as stretch velvet, has some lycra blended in as well.
A lightweight fabric made from cotton with a very short, dense pile. Developed in Manchester, England in the 18th century, velveteen lacks the sheen and drape of velvet, is woven with an extra filling yarn, and can have a plain or a twill back.
Usually made with cylindrical combed yarns, this plain, loosely woven fabric has an extremely clear surface because the excess fuzzy yarns are singed away. It is thin, semi-transparent, and very lightweight, resembling an organdy or organza in appearance.
The manner in which a fabric is produced, utilizing methods of combining the warp and weft threads. The type of weave affects the strength, stretch, sheen and weight of a fabric. The basic types of weaves are plain, twill and satin.
This textile is made using the fibers from the hair of animals, such as goats, sheep, camels, or llamas, and it comes in several different forms from crepe, to gabardine, to worsted. Wool is moisture absorbing and known for its warmth, and is also naturally stain and wrinkle resistant.
Named after the zibeline animal of Siberia, this textile is a satin weave faric made from the wool of cross-bred worsted yarns. Zibeline is napped, then steamed and pressed. It has a long, one-directional nape and is very sleek and shiny. Also known as zibaline.
All fabrics shown in this article are available to buy at MinervaCrafts.com
Visit our techniques page and click the fabric handling tag to find guides to sewing with many of these different types of fabric.