Handy Fabric and textile glossary that you can use so the most relevant terms become part of your vocabulary.
ANTIQUE SATIN – a sateen or horizontal satin drapery fabric with horizontal (weft) slubs which imitate spun shantung silk. It is typically composed of approximately 60% rayon (the face yarn fiber) and 40% acetate (the back yarn fiber). Most fabrics are one color from a selection of thousands. Occasionally the warp and weft yarns are dyed different colors to give an iridescent effect. Antique satin may also be printed. It is also suitable for bedspread fabric as it can be quilted.
BATIK – a process also know as Tjap where areas are opaqued with wax before the fabric is dyed. For two or more colors each preceding wax layer is removed and reapplied in a different patterned layer. A crinkled pattern is achieved by crumpling the fabric and cracking the wax. Primitive or ethnic batik patterns from Indonesia and Africa are reproduced by mechanical silk screen or roller printing on contemporary fabrics.
BROCADE – a multi-use formal, Jacquard weave with supplemental warp or weft woven into the fabric to give an embroidered, often-colorful design. Background weave is often satin. Threads not tied-down are carried as "floaters" on the back of the fabric and indicate the supplemental set of threads.
BROCATELLE – medium weight Jacquard fabric utilizing four or more sets of thread (two warps and two wefts most often). Finely woven brocatelles are formal, refined and sophisticated. Surface has slight relief variation (high and low areas), according to the patterns, and may appear embroidered or puffy.
CALICO – cotton or cotton/polyester fabric similar to broadcloth and usually printed in small "country" all-over multi-colored floral patterns.
CANVAS – versatile medium to heavy weight cotton fabric in plain or twill weave. May be dyed any color, and has many uses.
CASEMENT – casual drapery fabric in loose or tight, open or closed, plain or novelty weave. Often given interesting texture, color and pattern through tyed complex-yarn arrangements and weave variations. Usually semi-sheer, translucent or opaque.
CASHMERE – from the Cashmere goat in Tibet, the Kashmir province in India. It is known for its softness.
CHAMBRAY – lightweight cotton or blend fabric in plain, balanced weave. Yarns are slightly slubbed in both directions. Warp is usually white with a solid colored weft.
CHEVRON – regular and repeated zigzag pattern, also called herringbone, formed by reversing the twill weave.
CREPE - a fine yarn which is twisted so tightly that it gives a pebbly or crinkled surface in woven fabrics. Crepe fabrics may be plain or satin weave and include the following types of crepes: Canton crepe (heavier with ribs), Chiffon crepe (soft finish), Crepe de Chine (sheer, limp), Crepon crepe (fine ribs), Flat crepe (smooth surface), and Plisse crepe (puckered or crinkled surface).
CREWELEMBROIDERY – basket weave base cloth of cotton, linen or wool, with hand or machine embroidery of worsted wool. Patterns are meandering vine and floral motifs based on the East Indian tree-of-life designs and their English interpretations.
DAMASK – formal satin base Jacquard fabric with reversible pattern, historically a large floral or Renaissance pattern. Contemporary damasks are medium weight in a variety of designs. Used in nearly any decorative fabric situation.
DENIM – cotton or cotton/polyester left-hand twill weave cloth which is practical and sturdy. Navy colored denim is Jeans fabric, cream or white denim is Drill.
EMBROIDERY – a thread or set of threads sewn onto a fabric for surface ornamentation. Embroidery may be done as piece work or one-of-a-kind embroidered cloths. Hand-guided machine embroidery is the method generally used for crewel embroidery. Machine embroidery for mass production is called Schiffli embroidery.
FLANNEL – any fabric that is woven then brushed to achieve a soft nap. Types include cotton, flannelette, outing (for outerwear), French (finely twilled), melton (cotton and/or wool dense weave), and suede top-sided nap trimmed and pressed).
FLOCK – the material obtained by reducing textile fibers to fragments by cutting or grinding. There are two main types precision cut flock, where all fiber lengths are approximately equal, and random cut flock, where the fibers are ground or chopped to produce a broad range of lengths.
FLOCKING – a method of cloth ornamentation in which adhesive is printed or coated on a fabric, and finely chopped fibers are applied all over by means of dusting, air-blasting or electrostatic attraction. In flock printing, the fibers adhere only to the printed areas and are removed from the unprinted areas by mechanical action.
FRIEZE OR FRISE’ – upholstery weight looped pile fabric often of nylon, which is very sturdy. May be Jacquard woven to achieve a sculptural or ribbed effect.
HERRINGBONE – a novelty or complex twill which has a regular zigzag pattern. Woven or printed on light, medium, and heavy weight fabrics.
HOUNDSTOOTH – medium to heavy weight fabric with woven twill pattern that resembles squares with projecting "tooth-like" corners.
LISSERIE – a fine Jacquard woven stripe imitating silk and embroidery. The figuring and color in the pattern comes from the warp.
MATELESSE’ – a heavy upholstery-weight textile in Jacquard weave with two sets of warps and wefts. Surface appears puffy or cushioned. Also called double cloth.
MOHAIR – fiber from the Angora goat.
MOIRE’ – formal ribbed faille fabric embossed with a watermark pattern. A highly versatile fabric. Has many interior applications.
OTTOMAN – natural or man-made fibers woven in a medium to heavy weight fabric with broad, round weft threads that produce a horizontal rib. Fine warp threads obscure the large, even or alternate size filling yarns.
PEAU DE SOIE – a French term, meaning literally "skin of silk" applied originally to a fine silk fabric in a modified satin weave that had a ribbed or grained appearance.
PILE FABRIC – fabric with a third element; an extra warp or weft set, woven or knitted into the fabric to produce a deep surface texture. Examples include velvet, terry cloth, frieze or corduroy.
PLAID – woven or printed design consisting of stripes in both warp and weft directions which cross at intervals to form different colors in square or rectangular patterns. May be light, medium or heavy weight, depending on the yarn. Plaids may be plain or twill weave. Types include: tartans (Scottish clan plaids) and plaid-back (reversible plaid).
PLISSE’ – a sheer, thin or lightweight fabric given a blistered or puckered surface through chemical treatments.
REP, REPP – a ribbed fabric (horizontal or vertical ribs) between poplin and ottoman fabric in both rib size and weight. Durable medium to heavy fabric. Many applications. High quality reps are often woven of wool.
SATIN – a basic type of weave where warp threads float over up to eight weft threads, then are tied down with one weft thread. Fine threads yield a smooth, slick, lustrous surface. Light to medium weight. Types of satin include: antique (with horizontal slubs to imitate shantung), lining satin (lightweight drapery lining), ribbed satin (resembles faille, or calendered into satin moire’), satin damask (background satin with jacquard pattern-in lighter weight is known as ticking satin), and upholstery satin (heavier weight satins).
SCRIM - Sheer open weave cotton fabric used for draperies and window decorating.
SHABBY CHIC – a look reflecting casual and relaxed lifestyles. Emphasis is on a soft touch, neutral colors and often a puckered, washed or unfinished look.
SEERSUCKER –crinkled surface in all-over or spaced stripes, permanently woven into a cotton or blend fabric, or induced through chemical treatments. Puckers tend to be more durable than plisse’ when chemically treated. Permanent puckers are woven in by loosening or relaxing some warp threads. Light to medium weight.
SHANTUNG DUPIONI – originally a spun silk fabric with slubs that formed interesting textures. Shantung today may be of many natural or synthetic fibers. Fabrics which imitate shantung are antique satin and antique taffeta.
SUEDECLOTH – a light to medium weight synthetic knit or woven textile with brushed nap which imitates genuine suede.
TAPESTRY – a plain weave technique used to produce complex, hand-woven European pictorial designs. These are now, most often, Jacquard woven with multiple warps and wefts.
TICKING – originally a twill blue and cream vertical, woven striped fabric used to make "ticks" or mattress and pillow casings. Historically used on walls, also for draperies and other interior uses. Mattress ticking may also be satin damask ticking, or ticking damask.
TISSUE PICK- Term which describes 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.
TOILE – a fabric of cotton or linen similar to muslin or percale in plain or sometimes twill weave. It is an unglazed chintz. Types include: toile de Touy (historic French scenes, Federal toile (American Federal Buildings and eagles), country toile (Contemporary Provincial floral) and toiles de Indy (Historic East Indian printed designs). Chinese toiles (Oriental designs and scenes), Rococo toiles (large-scale contemporary Rococo prints).
TOILE DE JOUY – Toile fabrics printed in one color (traditionally navy, cranberry or black) in rural country French scenes and of people from the 18th and 19th centuries.
TUFTED FABRIC – a pile fabric which is formed by tufting a yarn into a woven background. Early American tufted bedspreads are one example. Some upholstery fabrics and all tufted carpets utilize this method. The fabric may be tufted with a small hand-held tufting gun, or on a large machine utilizing multiple needles to tuft entire sections in rapid sequence.
TWEED – upholstery weight textile in plain balanced or variation weave, (originally) twill weave or variation. Plain and twill weaves may be combined in some novelty tweeds. Made first of wool in Scotland. Today’s tweeds may be of wool, nylon or a combination of natural and man-made fibers in solid colors, also heathered effect or plaid.
VINYL – extruded polyvinyl chloride synthetic fabric flowed onto a woven, knitted, or non-woven base cloth. Medium to heavy weight upholstery fabric which imitates leather.
VOILE – sheer transparent fabric in plain weave with tightly twisted yarns. Often has a stiff finish. May have novelty effects such as pique stripes, printed patterns and stripes, or woven with nubby yarns for novelty voile.