Our Art and Business Is Laundry

Glossary of Fabric Terms

Index: {A-H} {L-P}{Q-S}{T-Z}

A-H

Absorbency


The ability of a fabric to take in moisture. Absorbency is a very important property, which effects many other characteristics such as skin comfort, static build-up, shrinkage, stain removal, water repellency, and wrinkle recovery.

Blend

A term applied to a yarn or a fabric that is made up of more than one fiber. In blended yarns, two or more different types of staple fibers are twisted or spun together to form the yarn. An example of a typical blended yarn or fabric is polyester/cotton.

Carding

A process which eliminates fibers too short for inclusion in the spun yarn. The process also removes dirt and foreign matter remaining in the fiber mass, and arranges the fibers into a very thin layer

Combing

The carding process is an additional step beyond carding. In this process, the fibers are arranged in a parallel form, and additional short fibers are removed, producing high quality yarns with excellent strength, fineness, and uniformity.

Cotton

A unicellular, natural fiber that grows in the seedpod 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.

Elasticity

The ability of a fiber or fabric to return to its original length, shape, or size immediately after the removal of stress.

Embroidery

An embellishment of a fabric or garment in which colored threads are sewn on to the fabric to create a design. Embroidery may be done by either hand or machine.

Flax

Flax The plant from which cellulose linen fiber is obtained. Linen is used in apparel, accessories, draperies, upholstery, tablecloths, and towels.

Hand

The way the fabric feels when it is touched. Terms like softness, crispness, dryness, silkiness are all terms that describe the hand of the fabric

L-P

Linen

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

Loom

A machine used for weaving fabrics.

Matelasse>

A medium to heavyweight luxury fabric made in a double cloth construction to create a blistered or quilted surface. Common end-uses are upholstery, draperies, and evening dresses and bed coverings.

Mercerization

A process of treating a cotton yarn or fabric, in which the fabric or yarn is immersed in a caustic soda solution and later, neutralized in acid. The process causes a permanent swelling of the fiber, resulting in an increased luster on the surface of the fabric, an increased affinity for dyes, and increased strength.

Microfibers

The name given to ultra-fine manufactured fibers and the name given to the technology of developing these fibers. Fibers made using microfiber technology, produce fibers that weigh less than 1.0 denier. The fabrics made from these extra-fine fibers provide a superior hand, a gentle drape, and incredible softness. Comparatively, microfibers are two times finer than silk, three times finer than cotton, eight times finer than wool, and one hundred times finer than a human hair. Currently, there are four types of microfibers being produced. These include acrylic microfibers, nylon microfibers, polyester microfibers, and rayon microfibers.

Moisture Regain

The amount of water a completely dry fiber will absorb from the air at a standard condition of 70 degrees F and a relative humidity of 65%. Expressed as a percentage of the dry fiber weight

Moisture Transport

The movement of water from one side of a fabric to the other, caused by capillary action, wicking, chemical or electrostatic action.

Muslin

An inexpensive, medium weight, plain weave, low count (less than 160 threads per square inch) cotton sheeting fabric. In its unfinished form, it is commonly used in fashion design to make trial garments for preliminary fit.

Percale

Medium weights, plain weave, low to medium count (180 to 250 threads per square inch) cotton-like fabric.

Pill

A tangled ball of fibers that appears on the surface of a fabric, because of wear or continued friction or rubbing on the surface of the fabric.

Polyester

>A manufactured fiber introduced in the early 1950s, and is second only to cotton in worldwide use. Polyester has high strength (although somewhat lower than nylon), excellent resiliency, and high abrasion resistance. Low absorbency allows the fiber to dry quickly. Often blended with cotton in low to middle end bedding.

Return to Index

Q-S

Quilting

A fabric construction in which a layer of down or fiberfill is placed between two layers of fabric, and then held in place by stitching or sealing in a regular, consistent, all-over pattern on the goods

Sateen Fabric

A fabric made from yarns with low luster, such as cotton or other staple length fibers. The fabric has a soft, smooth hand and a gentle, subtle luster. Sateen fabrics are often used for draperies and upholstery.

Satin Weave

A basic weave characterized by long floats of yarn on the face of the fabric. The yarns are interlaced in such a manner that there is no definite, visible pattern of interlacing and, in this manner, a smooth and somewhat shiny surface effect is achieved. The shiny surface effect is further increased by high luster filament fibers in yarns that also have a low amount of twist. A true satin weave fabric always has the warp yarns floating over filling yarns.

Silk

A natural filament fiber produced by the silkworm in the construction of its cocoon. Most silk is collected from cultivated worms; Tussah silk, or wild silk, is a thicker, shorter fiber produced by worms in their natural habitat. All silk comes from Asia, primarily China and Japan.

Supima Cotton

The Supima� name is a licensed trademark owned by the Supima Association of American. Click here for more information.

T-Z

Ticking

A tightly woven, very durable fabric, usually made of cotton, and used for covering mattresses, box springs, pillows, and work clothes. Using a plain, satin, or twill weave construction can make the fabric.

Twill Weave

Basic weave in which the fabrics are constructed by interlacing warp and filling yarns in a progressive alternation which creates a diagonal effect on the face, or right side, of the fabric. In some twill weave fabrics, the diagonal effect may also be seen clearly on the backside of the fabric.

Warp

Warp In woven fabric, the yarns that run lengthwise and is interwoven with the fill (weft) yarns.

Warp Knit

A type of knitted fabric construction in which the yarns are formed into stitches in a lengthwise manner. Warp knits are generally less elastic than weft knits. Common examples of warp knits are tricot knits and raschel knits.

Waterproof

A term applied to fabrics whose pores have been closed, and therefore, will not allow water or air to pass through them.

Water Repellant

A term applied to fabrics that have been treated with a finish that causes them to shed water, but are still air-permeable.

Weft

In woven fabric, the filling yarns that run perpendicular to the warp yarns.

Wool

Usually associated with fiber or fabric made from the fleece of sheep or lamb. 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.

Yarn

A continuous strand of textile fibers created when clusters of individual fibers are twisted together. These long yarns are used to create fabrics, either by knitting or by weaving.

Wrinkle Recovery

Similar to resiliency. It is the ability of a fabric to bounce back after it has been twisted, wrinkled, or distorted in any way.

Return to Index