Fabric Glossary


Acrylic -
A quick-drying synthetic that is extremely durable and often wrinkle resistant.

Alternating stripes -
The background color stays the same but the stripes switch off and on.

Angora -
The hair of the Angora goat, also known as angora mohair. Angora may also refer to the fur of the Angora rabbit. The US Federal Trade Commission requires any clothing containing Angora rabbit hair to be labeled as such on each garment.

Antimicrobial -
An advanced fabric finishing process, which protects against odor-causing bacteria. Find the antimicrobial finish in our New York Casual® collection of updated active fashions featuring advanced performance fabrics.

Appliqué -
An embellishment on a garment where decoration is made by cutting pieces of one material and applying them to the surface of another.

Argyle -
A popular design for knitted fabrics (both hand and machine knit), most often used on sweaters and socks. Usually, two or three colors appear in this diamond-shaped plaid pattern, named for the tartan of a clan in the county of Argyll, western Scotland.

Balanced stripes -
Any pattern with background and stripe of the exact same width. Bengal and candy stripes are both balanced.

Barathea -
A soft fabric of silk and cotton, silk and wool or all wool, woven with fine two-ply yarns.

Battenburg -
Refers to any various designs of coarse renaissance lace.

Bengal stripes -
Equal and balanced stripes but fairly narrow and conservative.

Bedford -
A lengthwise ribbed weave that resembles corduroy. Fibers may be wool, worsted, cotton, silk and rayon.

Bird's Eye Check -
A pattern of small diamonds, each having a dot in the center woven into the fabric.

Binding -
A strip of fabric sewn over or attached along an edge, to secure or protect.

Broadcloth -
A plain weave of cotton, silk and rayon fibers that are woven with a fine crosswise rib that is similar to but more delicate than poplin, giving a lustrous and soft finish.

Brocade -
A heavy exquisite jacquard type fabric with an all-over floral design or raised pattern.

Cable knit -
A pattern consisting of vertical overlapping "cables" interspersed with flat knit columns.

Candy stripes -
Broader than Bengal stripes but still balanced. Think of candy canes.

Canvas -
A strong, durable, closely woven cotton fabric popular for raincoats, handbags and boots. Originally made of unbleached hemp of flax used for sails, tents, etc.

Carefree -
A versatile, fashionable "easy care" collection designed to offer great style in the most advanced easy-care, easy wear, stress-free fabrics. And they're all machine washable, featuring up-to-the-minute fashion details.

Cashmere -
A luxury natural fiber found from the soft fleecy undergrowth of the Kashmir goat, found in Tibet, Mongolia, China, Iraq, Iran and India. It is most commonly used in sweaters, shawls, suits, and outerwear for its warmth and softness.

Chambray -
A class of yarn-dyed, plain weave fabrics with a colored warp and white filling. Made of cotton or synthetic fibers, chambray is often light blue. It was originally woven in Cambrai, France, for farmers.

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

Chenille -
A fabric with soft, fuzzy yarns standing out around a velvety cord, whose name comes from the French word for "caterpillar". Used for bedspreads, rugs, bathrobes and, more recently, loose-fitting sweaters.

Chiffon -
A soft silk that is a plain woven, lightweight and sheer fabric containing highly twisted filaments of yard. The fabric is used for scarves and evening gowns, but can also be made from rayon and other synthetic fibers.

Chintz -
A printed and glazed cotton fabric usually of bright colors.

Combed cotton -
A fabric with a silk-like hand. Considered superior to basic carded cotton.

Corduroy -
A medium to heavyweight cotton pile fabric with wales, usually cut vertically.

Crepe -
Refers to a crinkly, crimped or grained surface. It is used to describe all kinds of fabrics-wool, cotton, silk, rayon, synthetics and blend. It comes from the French word creper, which means "to crimp or frizz".

Crepe de chine -
A fine, lightweight crepe usually made of silk.

Crochet -
A loose, open knit made by looping thread with a hooked needle. Used for light, summer sweaters.

Denim -
A twill-weave cotton-like fabric made with different colored yarns in the warp and the weft. The twill construction allows for one color to dominate on the fabric surface.

Dobby -
A type of woven fabric that contains simple geometric forms or motifs, where the design on the fabric is created in the weaving process.

Double stripes -
Usually two pinstripes or pencil stripes in proximity.

Drop needle -
A type of knit cut and sew fabric where some of the needles are "dropped out" during stitching, to produce an openwork pattern in the fabric.

Dupion -
A plain weave silk that is known for its irregularity and untwisted fibers that are spread out at intervals throughout the fabric.

Duchess satin -
A heavy, lustrous, rich-looking satin weave fabric usually used for wedding and fancy dresses.

Embroidery -
Fancy needlework or trimming consisting of colored yarn, embroidery floss, and soft cotton, silk or metallic thread. Although hand embroidery is still a widely practiced craft, most commercially produced embroidered clothes are made by machine.

Engineered print -
Also called a placed print, is integrated into a specific area of the design. Border prints are often engineered into place.

Eyelet -
A fabric that is designed with a series of finished patterned cutouts, or perforations, adding beauty and breathability to the garment.

Facing -
A piece of fabric sewn to the inside of a garment for lining purposes, or to add structure.

Faille -
A dressy, flat-ribbed fabric with a light luster that drapes and tailors well. The ribs are flatter and less pronounced than in grosgrain. Traditionally used for women's dresses, suits and coats.

Faille crepe -
A dressy, double-faced fabric made with high-twist poly crepe yarns.

Feed stripe -
A knit fabric where a stripe pattern is produced by the way colored yarns are fed into the knitting machine. Often used for cut-and-sew knits, like t-shirts and other casual knit garments.

Flannel -
A warm, soft fabric made in tightly woven twill or plain weave, and finished with a light napping. Derived from the Welsh word gwlanen, which means wool.

Flax -
Taken from the Linum plant, this lustrous fiber is considered to be strong, highly absorbent and quick drying. When processed into fabric, flax is called linen.

Foulard -
A lightweight, lustrous twill fabric, usually with a small, repeating printed design. Originally imported from India, it is popular for neckties and scarves.

French terry -
A circular knit fabric with a looped pile back and smooth face.

Gabardine -
A durable, tightly woven fabric made in a twill weave with distinct diagonal ribs, and given a clean finish. Made of cotton, wool or rayon, gabardine wears extremely well. Commonly used for sportswear, suits, uniforms and raincoats.

Georgette -
A sheer, lightweight plain-weave fabric with a fine crepe surface. Sometimes silk, sometimes synthetic. Also called crepe georgette or georgette crepe.

Gingham -
A yarn-dyed, checked or plaid fabric made of pure or blended cotton. Checked ginghams use two colors, plaid ginghams several. The name comes from the Malay word ging gang, meaning striped.

Glen plaid -
A woven design that pairs small checks with larger ones of similar colors. Named for Glen Urquhart, a valley in Inverness-shire, Scotland.

Hairline stripes -
Supposed to be the width of a hair, which makes them thinner than pinstripes.

Herringbone -
A twill weave made up of parallel lines balanced evenly in each direction to create a zigzag effect.

Hopsack -
A loosely woven coarse fabric of cotton or wool used in clothing. Hop growers originally used the fabric for bags.

Houndstooth check -
A variation on twill weave construction, where a broken check effect is made by a variation in the pattern of interlacing yarns, using at least two different colors.

Intarsia -
A flat knit fabric with solid-colored, geometric patterns. The sides of the fabric are identical. Derived from the Italian for "inlay".

Interlock -
A type of cut and sewn knit fabric that is characterized by the interconnecting of the knit stitches.

Jacquard [ja-CARD] -
An elaborate woven or knitted pattern made on a Jacquard loom. Invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard in France in 1801, the loom uses a punch card much like a player piano does. Some jacquard fabrics have specific names (e.g., brocade, damask and tapestry).

Jermyn stripes -
Used generically to describe boldly colored but traditional stripes like the patterns favored by the bespoke shirtmakers on London's Jermyn Street.

Jersey -
A generic term for a plain knit fabric without a distinct rib. Originally made of wool, jersey fabric was first manufactured on the island of Jersey, off the coast of England.

Linen -
The fibers of the flax plant, woven into fabrics that are cooler, stronger and more absorbent than cotton.

Madras -
A plain weave, lightweight cotton fabric that has a striped, plaid or checked pattern. This type fabric is often imported from India, and is used for shirts and dresses.

Marled yarn -
Two single yarns of different colors twisted together. You see this mottled effect most often in sweaters.

Matte jersey -
Dull, flat knit fabric made of fine crepe yarns.

Mélange wool -
A fancy yarn spun from fibers that have been printed in many shades, tones and hues.

Mercerized -
A process applied to a cotton yarn or fabric, which increases its luster, shine and affinity for color dye.

Merino wool -
High-quality wool yarn is made from the fleece of merino sheep that is fine, strong and elastic, and takes dye well.

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

Mille stripes -
Stripes formed by individual threads that alternate in color. Unless you look at the fabric up close, you may mistake this for a solid.

Modal -
A generic category of manufactured fibers that have a greater ability to retain their shape when wet, as well as a high breaking strength.

Multicolor -
Usually describes a pattern that has stripes of equal width in more than two colors. If these are a little wider and more boldly colored, this pattern may also be described as Roman, a term that refers to contrasting stripes of the same size.

Multirack stripes -
Stripes of varying widths, the most popular pattern in the current shirting market.

Non-iron -
A fabric has a finish that allows a garment to stay smooth without ironing, and crisp throughout the day.

Nylon -
A lustrous fiber, which is fast drying, strong, elastic and washable. Given its nature, it maintains its original shape, and has great versatility.

Oil-based -
Coating normally applied to outerwear fabrics, has the characteristics of a slick hand and subtle shine. This can also be combined with other finishes to ensure water repellent standards.

Ombré -
The shaded effect of color ranging from light to dark tones of one color, and is often used in a striped motif.

Ottoman -
Use of a stiff, heavy weight, warp rib (vertical running yarns) is referred to either as an Ottoman rib or Ottoman cord.

Paisley -
A teardrop shaped design in a fancy fabric often used in dresses and ties.

Pencil stripes -
Narrower than a Bengal stripe but wider than a pinstripe.

Percale -
Originally 100% cotton, percale is a plain lightweight fabric made in a great variety of qualities. Today, better qualities of percale contain blended yarns of polyester with the cotton. The finest quality percales are high count and are made with combed yarns. Lower count percales are sized to add body to a fabric. All percales must be dyed or printed. Best qualities are used in easy-care dresses and shirts.

Picot -
A small, embroidered loop forming an ornamental edging on a ribbon or lace.

Piece-dyed -
Fabrics that are dyed in piece form after they are woven are piece-dyed, and are usually offered just as a single color.

Pima -
High-quality cotton known for its softness and durability.

Pinpoint oxford -
A lightweight, soft, cotton-like fabric with small, 2x1 basket (rib) weave repeats. It is of high quality, with a very smooth surface often used for shirts.

Pinstripes -
Supposedly the width of a pin, approximately 1/16 of an inch or less.

Piqué [peekay] -
A knitted cotton fabric with a waffle (or diamond-shaped) pattern.

Placket -
The piece of cloth that reinforces a split or opening in a garment; and that usually also serves as the closure

Plisse -
A crinkled or creased effect created by shrinking on fabrics such as cotton, acetate or rayon.

Pointelle -
A very feminine, delicate-looking rib knit fabric made with a pattern of openings.

Polyester -
A generic term for a category of synthetic fibers that are lightweight, strong, quick-drying, and resistant to creases, stretching, abrasion and shrinking. Fabrics made with polyester require minimum care, and maintain their shape.

Ponte -
A non-jacquard double-knit fabric made on an interlock basis, resulting in a fabric that is generally firm and very stable.

Poplin -
A durable, plain weave fabric similar to broadcloth, but with a heavier rib and heavier weight. Made of silk, cotton, synthetic fibers, wool or blends.

Ramie -
A bast fiber that is similar to flax that comes from the stalk of a plant grown in China.

Rayon -
A generic term for a synthetic fiber made from cellulose, which is soft, highly absorbent, has a lustrous appearance, and offers good drapability.

Rip stop -
A fabric woven with a double thread at regular intervals, so that small tears do not spread.

Ruching -
A detail created by taking fabric and sewing in lines of elastic to the back in neat rows, so that the fabric puckers to create a stretchy, gathered look.

Sateen -
A semi-lustrous surface distinguishes this smooth, durable fabric in a satin weave. Sateen is usually made of cotton.

Satin Stripes -
A two-tone effect created in a solid by a damask weave. For shirtings, expect to see it combined with color.

Schiffli -
A type of embroidery characterized by vine-like floral patterns on sheer/mesh-like fabrics.

Seersucker -
A popular, warm-weather cotton fabric with permanent woven crinkled stripes. Launders well, and generally does not need to be ironed.

Seersucker stripes -
A seersucker pattern is formed by its weaving-usually with some warp yarns tight and some loose so that the threads pucker and give its distinctive texture.

Shadow stripes -
Usually a fairly narrow stripe that's bracketed or "shadowed" by stripes on one or both sides. In classic shirting the shadow is a variation on the color of the main stripe.

Shantung -
A medium weight, plain weave, and silk-like fabric with pronounced slub-filling yarns (slub means yarns are uneven or nubby). It is primarily used for dresses.

Sharkskin -
A smooth, crisp fabric with a dull finish, usually made of rayon in a basket weave.

Shirring -
The gathering of fabric to create soft, feminine folds in the garment is referred to as shirring.

Silk -
Known as one of the finest textiles, silk is strong, soft, absorbent, and has a brilliant sheen. It is the only natural fiber to come in a filament form from silkworms.

Soutache -
A narrow, rounded braid in herringbone-weave, used for trim.

Spandex fiber -
A manufactured elastomeric fiber that can be repeatedly stretched over 500% without breaking, and will still return to its original shape.

Stain Resistance -
The term stain resistance refers to any finish that repels water, oil, and most stains.

Stain Resist and Release -
Refers to a special finish that minimizes most stains, repels liquids, and releases most stains during normal washing.

Tattersall -
A classic pattern of colored lines forming squares of solid background.

Terry -
A woven fabric; usually cotton, with loop pile on one or both sides.

Tipping -
The embellishment of a garment by adding some type of trim to the edges (cuffs/pockets/plackets/hems) for decoration.

Tissue linen -
Thin, sheer, lightweight linen used for blouses.

Toile -
A light/medium weight, plain weave, fine, and cotton-type fabric, usually with one colored, printed scenic design. Used mostly for home furnishings and clothing.

Trapunto stitch -
Allows one to create a quilted effect, where a design is outlined with single stitches, and padding is drawn from the back to give a raised appearance.

Tweed -
A medium to heavyweight woolen, twill weave fabric that is characterized by colored stubby yarns, used for coats and suits.

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

Unbalanced stripes -
Stripes of unequal width.

Variegated -
Having streaks, marks or patches of different colors; distinguished or characterized by a variety of different colors.

Velour -
Any soft, plush fabric with a close, dense pile. Originates from the French word for "velvet".

Velvet -
Any short, closely woven cut pile fabric with a rich, soft texture. Originally silk, velvet is now also made of cotton or blends.

Velveteen -
Cotton fabric made with a cut pile technique resembling velvet to create depth and richness in the cloth is called velveteen.

Viscose -
A manufactured fiber made of regenerated cellulose. It is soft, absorbent, and drapes well.

Voile [vwahl] -
A lightweight, sheer fabric with a crisp, wiry hand. Originally cotton, voile is now also made in silk, rayon or acetate.

Water Repellant -
A finish applied to a fabric that enables it to shed water, but is comfortable to wear is called water-repellent.

Waterproof -
A strong finish applied to a fabric that will not allow water to penetrate through. In order to qualify a garment as truly waterproof, the seams must also be heat-sealed.

Windowpane check -
Dark horizontal and vertical bars, crossing over a light background, giving the effect of a window divided into small panes.

Wool -
The fiber or fabric made from the fleece of sheep or lamb. However, the term "wool" can also apply to all animal hairs, including Cashmere or angora goats, alpaca, vicuna, llama or camel.

Wrinkle Resistant -
This special finish allows you to wear clothing right out of the dryer, which makes ironing optional.

Yarn-dyed -
A fabric woven or knitted with yarns that have been dyed prior to fabrication of the cloth (i.e., plaid) is called yarn-dyed. Considered a sign of quality, because yarn-dyeing makes the fabric resist fading.