Glossary: Fabric


1. The wearing away of any part of a fabric by rubbing against another surface.
2. UK standard for abrasion is a Martindale test carried out on a Martindale machine
2. US standard for abrasion measured on a Wyzenbeek machine.
*please note Martindale and Wyzenbeek are not compatible.

The propensity of a fabric to take in and retain a liquid, usually water, in its pores and interstices.

A manufactured fibre formed by compound of cellulose, refined from cotton linters and/or wood pulp, and acedic acid that has been extruded through a spinneret and then hardened.

Man-made, resin based fibre created to look like wool that has a soft hand,
is resistant to wrinkles and sunlight, and can be easily dyed and washed.

A natural hair fibre obtained from the Alpaca sheep, a domesticated member of the llama family.

The hair of the Angora goat. Also known as Angora mohair. Angora may also apply to the fur of the Angora rabbit.

Antique Satin
A reversible satin-weave fabric with satin floats on the technical face and surface slubs on the technical back created by using slub-filling yarns. It is usually used with the technical back as the right side for drapery fabrics and often made of a blend of fibres.

A pattern designed with different colour diamond shapes knit into a fabric.


1. Fibres from this plant are made into raw pulp which undergoes a viscose-like process.
2. A rapidly renewable resource, grown without pesticides or chemicals, that is naturally antibacterial.

Basket weave
Also known as Panama Weave.  A variation of plain weave in which two or more yarns are woven together in both warp and weft directions

Bark Cloth
A textured woven, usually printed cotton fabric that was popular in the 30s-40s and 50s as an interiors fabric. The prints were often large vines, leaves and florals.

A traditional wax-resistant dyeing technique.

The bias direction of a piece of woven fabric, usually referred to simply as "the bias", is at 45 degrees to its warp and weft threads. Every piece of woven fabric has two biases, perpendicular to each other.

A novelty yarn characterized by rough loopy knots

Burn-out fabric
A patterned fabric, made with two different fibres, whose effect is produced by destroying one of
the fibres through a printing process which employs chemicals instead of colour


A preliminary process in spun yarn manufacture in which impurities and very short fibre pieces are removed and the remaining fibres are separated and smoothed into a thin web of condensed material

Cashmere is wool from the Cashmere goat.

Cellulose; this fibre processed to make cellophane and rayon, and more recently Modal, a textile derived from beechwood cellulose

A novelty yarn with a pile protruding on all sides

Chintz is calico cloth printed with flowers and other devices in different colours. It was originally of Eastern manufacture.

Cutting away the floating portions of supplementary yarns to allow the remaining
loose-cut edges to be used as a part of the design

Colour Blanket
A trial fabric wherein numerous options of colour, yarn, etc., will be woven together in sequence

Colours that will bleed or fade very easily from washing. Specifically, a textile's ability to maintain its colour without running or fading.

A set of colours to be used in a design; multiple colourways are often given for one fabric

1. Natural fibre from the white fluffy fruit of the cotton plant
2. Graded by length, brightness, colour and purity
3. Dyes well, is strong and soft to the touch, and cleans well because it absorbs water easily
4. Untreated, it wrinkles and shrinks

Cotton boll
A seed pod that when ripe splits open exposing seeds covered in cotton fibres

Cradle to Cradle
A set of design and manufacturing protocols that aims to reduce or eliminate ecologically harmful waste

Cross dyed
Fabric composed of two or more different fibres with varying dye affinities dyed to achieve a multi-coloured effect in a single dye bath

Extremely stain resistant, Crypton fabrics also provide breathable comfort, act as a moisture barrier, add strength and durability to the fabric and are engineered to provide antibacterial protection

Cut and loop pile
A combination of cut ends and loops of pile yarn creating a variety of surface textures

Cut pile
A pile cut during manufacture by means of cutting wires or by a reciprocating knife blade, as in double plush or dress velvet, or cut in a separate finishing operation, as in corduroy, velveteen, knitted velour or cut-pile tufted carpet


1. A group of jacquard-woven fabrics in which the pattern is created by contrasting satin weaves
2. Originally a rich silk fabric with woven floral designs made in China and introduced into Europe through Damascus, from which it derives its name.  Normally produced on a Jacquard Weave.

The process of removing the sericin (gum) from raw silk by boiling in a soap solution

Denim denotes a rugged cotton twill textile.

Dobby loom
A type of loom on which small geometric patterns can be woven

Double Cloth
A woven double cloth in which the layers are joined only at pattern changes, space between the two layers of cloth are called pockets

Double weave
Double weave is a type of advanced weave. It is done by interlacing two or more sets of warps with two or more sets of filling yarns.

1. A character of fabric indicative of flexibility and suppleness
2. The degree to which a fabric falls into graceful folds when hung or arranged in different positions

how durable a fabric or yarn is.

Dura Block
This complete liquid barrier is a total-block backing that is laminated to the fabric. It provides comfortable cushion protection where required, combined with optimum spill and stain prevention and clean ability

A colourant that chemically interacts with fibres


1. Ability of a fibre to be stretched, extended, or lengthened
2. Provides "give"

A technique usually involving pressure and/or heat that creates a three-dimensional surface pattern

An example of the decoration of fabric or leather ground with needle-worked accessory stitches made with thread, yarn, or other flexible materials that is either done by hand or machine.

End use
The way a fabric will be applied by the consumer, for example in apparel, furnishings (residential and contract), medical, industrial, military, or other uses

Epinglé fabric
A type of velvet fabric woven on a wire loom or épinglé loom. The épinglé velvet is notable in that both a loop pile and a cut pile can be integrated into the same fabric. The art of épinglé weaving in Europe originated from Lucca (Italy) and later came to Venice and Genua, which is where the term Genua velvet comes from. The technique of épinglé weaving is still used today in the Flemish region of Kortrijk and Waregem. The fabric finds it application mostly in upholstery, although in medieval times it was used as apparel for princes and kings as well as for bishops, cardinals, and the Pope.

Epinglé loom
A kind of weaving machine whereby steel rods are inserted in a top shed which is formed over the bottom shed in which the weft is inserted. The steel rods are inserted into the fabric every second or third pick by a separate mechanism that is synchronised with the weaving motion. The same mechanism also extracts the rods from the fabric. If the rod carries a cutting blade at the tip the warps that are woven over the rods are cut, creating a cut pile effect. In case the rod has no blade, then the warp ends from a loop pile. Alternating cut and loop wires create cut and loop pile in the fabric. This weaving technology is used for weaving velvets for furnishing and apparel applications. These fabrics are known as 'moquette' or "épinglé' fabrics. This kind of weaving machine is also used for weaving carpets where it is known as a 'Wilton loom'.


1. Woven fabric made of wool or a wool blend that is heavily fulled and shrunk so the yarns become closely interlocked, making it almost impossible to distinguish the weave
2. Nonwoven sheet of matted material made from wool, hair, fur or certain manufactured fibres

The fundamental component that is used in the assembly of yarns, including cotton, wool, silk, nylon, and polyester

Filament fibres
Long, continuous fibre strands of indefinite length, measured in yards or even miles, normally associated with man made fibers.

See weft

1. Slender annual plant that produces bast fibre (linen)
2. Oldest textile fibre known


Genova velvet
A type of velvet where in Jacquard patterns are woven into the ground fabric and where the pile is made of a combination of cut and uncut (loop) pile. This fabric is also known as Venetian velvet, or more generally, as épinglé velvet. In the actual terminology of furnishing fabrics it is mostly named with its French name "velours de Gênes".
This kind of fabric is made on a wire loom or épinglé loom.

Green Shield
A topical finish that utilizes 7-10 less fluorocarbons than similar finishes and releases no VOC emissions. The technology is based on amorphous silica nano-particles that permanently adhere to a fabric in a mesh network that prevents particles from becoming airborne. The manufacturing process also requires lower temperatures, and therefore less energy, compared to similar finishes.

Fabric that has received no preparation, dyeing or finishing treatment


1. Characteristic of fabric that is perceived by touching, squeezing, or rubbing
2. Properties of hand: flexibility, compressibility, extensibility, resilience, density, surface contour, surface friction, thermal character

The main uses of hemp fibre are rope, sacking, carpet, nets and webbing. Hemp is also being used in increasing quantities in paper manufacturing. The cellulose content is about 70%.

Having an affinity for water

Tending to repel water


Ikat is a style of weaving that uses a tie-dye process on either the warp or weft before the threads are woven to create a pattern or design. A Double Ikat is when both the warp and the weft are tie-dyed before weaving.


Jacquard loom
A type of loom used to produce elaborate designs having intricate weaves

Jute is a long, soft, shiny plant fibre that can be spun into coarse, strong threads.  Jute is one of the cheapest natural fibres, and is second only to cotton in amount produced and variety of uses. Jute fibres are composed primarily of the plant materials cellulose and lignin.


1. General term for the process of inter-looping yarns either by hand or machine
2. The fabric made by this process

Knit yarn
Yarn with an interesting surface created by inter-looping


Lace-making is an ancient craft. A lace fabric is lightweight openwork fabric, patterned, either by machine or by hand, with open holes in the work. The holes can be formed via removal of threads or cloth from a previously woven fabric, but more often lace is built up from a single thread and the open spaces are created as part of the lace fabric.

Lamé is a type of brocaded clothing fabric with interwoven metal threads, typically of gold or silver, giving it a metallic sheen.

Leno weave
(Also called Gauze Weave or Cross Weave) is a weave in which two warp yarnsare twisted around the weftyarns to provide a strong yet sheer fabric. The standard warp yarn is paired with a skeleton or 'doup' yarn; these twisted warp yarns grip tightly to the weft which causes the durability of the fabric. Leno weave produces an open fabric with almost no yarn slippage or misplacement of threads.

1. The oldest and best known fibre of the bast family, linen comes from the inner fibre of the flax plant stalk
2. Feels and looks crisp

1. A device used to weave cloth
2. A device holding warp yarns in tension to allow the interlacing of filling yarns

1. The amount of light reflected from the surface of a fibre, yarn, or fabric
2. Textiles that reflect a great deal of both specularly and diffusely reflected light are considered to have a high lustre, those that do not reflect much light have low lustre


The Martindale test is a measure of the durability of a fabric.  The fabric being tested is pulled taut and loaded onto the lower plates of the Martindale machine.  Small discs of worsted wool or wire mesh (the abradant) are continually rubbed against the test specimens in a Lissajous figure - a wandering, oscillating circle.  The fabric is continually inspected for wear and tear, and the test ends when two yarns break or when there is a noticeable change in appearance

A double cloth with a quilted or padded texture resulting from stuffer yarns inserted between layers

A long fibre from the hair of the angora goat that is spun into a soft, lustrous, luxurious yarn that is very durable

A surface effect resembling a watermark or wood grain on fabric


Nano Tex
Builds permanent spill and stain protection into the molecular  structure of virtually any fabric. Easy to clean, it preserves a fabric's beauty and natural hand, while maintaining breathability and comfort

1. A textile structure produced by bonding or interlocking fibres, or both
2. Accomplished by mechanical, chemical, thermal or solvent means and combinations thereof

Novelty yarn
A yarn with unusual or special effects such as nubs, flakes, loops, beads, or lumps

A man-made fibre that is strong, durable, elastic, exhibits high static and pilling, and has low moisture retention


A design motif resembling a modified oval with both concave and convex curves

1. Synthetic  petroleum-based fibre that is durable, resilient, economical, and cleans well
2. Also known as Polypropylene


Panama Weave
Also known as Basket Weave.  A variation of plain weave in which two or more yarns are woven together in both warp and weft directions

Panné velvet
A pile fabric with a longer pile than normal velvet but shorter than plush, the pile is flattened or pressed down by means of heavy roller pressure in finishing, giving the fabric a high lustre

Piece dyed
Fabrics that are dyed after they have been woven or knitted

1. Raised loops or other yarns or fibres deliberately emplaced to stand away from the surface of a fabric, forming all or part of the fabric surface
2. The length and thickness vary

The tendency of a fabric, usually synthetic, to form little fuzzy balls in reaction to abrasion

Plain weave
1. A weft yarn crosses over a warp yarn and then under the next warp yarn, with each row alternating the "over" and "under" warp yarns
2. Simplest and most important of the basic weaves, providing the greatest number of intersections in a given space; 3used in about 80% of all woven fabric

Doubling a fabric over into folds and fixing them in place by sewing or pressing

Ply yarn
A yarn formed by twisting together two or more single yarns or strands in one operation

Fibre made from petroleum, coal, air, and water that is high-strength, washable, and abrasion resistant, but subject to pilling, staining, and static electricity

Polypropylene (PP)
Also known as polypropene, is a thermoplastic polymer used in a wide variety of applications including packaging and labelling, textiles(e.g., ropes, thermal underwear and carpets), stationery, plastic parts and reusable containers of various types, laboratory equipment, loudspeakers,  automotive components, and polymer banknotes. An addition polymer made from the monomer propylene, it is rugged and unusually resistant to many chemical solvents, bases and acids

Fibre with high strength, high elongation, and low moisture absorption used for nonwoven faux leathers and vinyls


A long fibre harvested from the raffia palm used to make baskets, mats, hats, and fabrics

1. Soft silk-like man-made fibre that is produced from cellulose (wood chips) and chemicals
2. Also known as viscose

The process of unwinding raw silk from cocoons by placing them in hot water and unwinding the filaments onto a reel to form a single yarn without any twist


S & Z yarns
"Twist" in spun yarns or ropes is often labelled S-twist or S-laid (for left-handed twist) and Z-twist or Z-laid (for right-handed twist), due to the respective left and right of the central sections of those two letters. To visually determine the handedness of the twist of a rope/yarn/etc, sight down a length of it; the direction of the twists as they progress away from you, left or right, reveals their handedness.

Selvage or Selvedge
The term for the self-finished edges of fabric. The selvages keep the fabric from unravelling or fraying. The selvages are a result of how the fabric is created. In woven fabric, selvages are the edges that run parallel to the warp, and are created by the weft thread looping back at the end of each row. In knitted fabrics, selveges are the unfinished yet structurally sound edges that were neither cast on or bound off


Not to be confused with satin.  Sateen is a term usually applied to cotton, or sometimes rayon. Sateen produces the sheen and softer feel through the use of a different structure in the weaving process. The sateen structure is four over, one under, placing the most threads on the surface, making it extremely soft, though slightly less durable than other weaves. Standard non-sateen weaves use a one-over, one-under structure.

Satin weave
1. The face of the fabric is formed almost completely of warp or filling floats produced in the repeat of the weave, achieved by spacing the yarn crossover or intersection points as evenly and widely as possible
2. Produces a characteristic smooth surface, employing a great number of yarns in the set that forms the face

A natural, gummy coating on raw silk filaments that makes the silk harsh and stiff and imparts a dull lustre

Sheer is a semi-transparent and flimsy cloth.

Shrink yarn
Thermoplastic yarn that contracts or shrinks when exposed to heat

A protein harvested from the cocoons of silkworms that is naturally in filament form and when cleaned is fine, supple, lustrous, and exceptionally strong

1. Larvae of moths (caterpillars) that produce a large amount of silk when constructing cocoons before changing to pupae
2. Feed on the leaves of the white mulberry, certain other mulberry species, and the Osage orange tree

Sisal or sisal hemp is an agave Agave sisalana that yields a stiff fibre used in making rope. (The term may refer either to the plant or the fibre, depending on context.) It is not really a variety of hemp, but named so because hemp was for centuries a major source for fibre, so other fibres were sometimes named after it.

Slit film yarn
1. Film slit into narrow strips that may be used as flat monofilaments in spinning, weaving, or knitting
2. Metallic/Lurex yarns are made by this process

Slub yarn
A novelty yarn with alternating thick and thin areas

Solution dyed
1. Manufactured filaments or staple fibres that are coloured by incorporating pigments in the melt or polymer solution from which they are extruded
2. Provides high levels of colourfastness
Used in outdoor fabrics

A thimble-like nozzle through which the spinning solution is forced to form fibre

The process of producing a yarn from staple fibres

Staple fibres

1. Short fibres, measured in centimetres or inches
2. natural fibres, except silk, are staple length and vary from 1.3 cm to 1 meter


A general term used to refer to fibres, yarns, or fabrics including woven, knitted, and nonwoven structures as well as lace and crocheted goods

Tissue picks
Supplementary filling yarn or yarns which "float" along the back of fabric in bands, and are brought up in selected areas for added color detail on the face of a fabric

Trevira polyester
1. Registered trademark owned by Hoechst-Celanese for specialized polyester fibre
2. Trevira CS is fire-retardant

Tussah silk
A strong, coarse, light-brown silk yarn or fabric made from cocoons of undomesticated silkworms with filaments that are more irregular and dull than cultivated silk and take dye poorly

Twill weave
1. The filling yarns pass over one or more and under one or more warp yarns in offset progression to create the appearance of diagonal lines
2. Used to produce strong, durable, firm fabrics such as denim
3. Has many variations, such as herringbone and bird's eye

Twist yarn
A yarn created by twisting two differently coloured yarns together

Two directional velvet
Velvet with more than one pile direction, each of which reflects light differently, creating dark and light values


1. A warp pile fabric with short, closely woven cut pile that gives the fabric a rich soft texture
2. First made of all silk, many major fibres are now used in this construction

1. A man-made fibre processed from cellulous into a liquid and extruded into filament that is easily dyed and lustrous
2. Used in fabrics with a soft hand that drape well

Voided velvet
1. A velvet with a pile raised only in selected areas
2. Designs are created by weaving the pile yarns into the flat weave of the ground


1. The set of yarn elements running lengthwise on a loom and in woven fabrics on the bolt
2. In place before the weft yarns are woven over and under it

Warp print
A printing method in which only the warp yarns are printed with a design before the fabric is woven. A hazy, greyed effect is produced

1. The set of yarn elements in a woven fabric that runs horizontally, crossing and interlacing with the warp
2. Also known as filling

How heavy the fabric is, generally measured in ounces per square or linear yard

1. Fibre derived from the fleece of sheep
2. In some instances may refer to the fibres from the hair of the alpaca, camel, llama, and vicuña
3. Resilient and may be blended with natural or man-made fibres

Woollen yarn
A coarse, short staple wool or wool-like yarn that has not been combed

Worsted yarn
A tightly spun, long staple, fine wool or wool-like yarn that is smooth and straight

1. General term for the process of inter-lacing yarns either by hand or machine
2. The fabric made by this process

Wrapped yarn
Constructed by wrapping a binder yard around a bundle of parallel fibres with little or no twist.

Wyzenbeek; or Oscillatory Abrasion Tester. To determine the abrasion resistance of fabrics when rubbed against a standard abradent or a wire mesh screen with a backward and forward motion over a curved surface.


A continuous strand of textile fibres that my be composed of endless filaments or shorter fibres twisted or otherwise held together

Yarn dyed
1. Fabric woven or knitted with yarns that have been dyed prior to fabrication of the cloth
2. Commonly used to produce striped, plaid, or jacquard colour effect