FREE SHIPPING ON ORDERS OF $299+
ITEM QTY PRICE

Fabric Glossary A-L


Our fabric glossary is a comprehensive resource for information on all of our entire online fabric selection. This section contains detailed descriptions of a plethora of fabrics, including silk fabrics, wool fabrics, cottons, and a wide range of designer fabrics available in a variety of weaves and knits. From the natural strength and durability of our silk fabrics to the natural weather resistant properties of wool, find out which of our online fabric selections is best suited to your particular project.

Whether seeking fabric for a high-end designer brand or a creative home sewing project, let us help you find the ideal material for your apparel and décor needs. New York Fashion Center is a trusted favorite among designers in the New York Garment Center and we have available an in-house fashion designer to answer any questions our customers may have about our many online fabrics.

Please email us if you have any more questions. Please Click Here to continue shopping.

See Glossary M-Z 

A

 

Acetate
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.

Acrylic
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.

Alencon Lace
An ornate needle lace fabric with a floral design on a sheer net background, originating in the French town of Alencon in the 16th century.

Alpaca
A natural hair fiber from the alpaca animal, a member of the llama family. It's rich, luxurious, soft, lightweight, and warm, with a luster similar to cashmere or mohair.

Angora
One of the finest fur fibers made, angora comes from the natural hair of the angora rabbit. It is long, silky, fine, and fluffy, but sheds and mats over time.

Applique
A cutout fabric decoration attached to a larger piece of material, in order to add depth, designs or contrasting colors.

Argyle
A design featuring interlinking diamond shapes of varying colors, in a diagonal checkerboard pattern. Thought to have been derived from the tartan of Clan Campbell, og Argyll, Scotland.

 

B

 

Baize
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 isbayetta.

Bamboo
Bamboo is a natural fiber which is bacteria and odor resistant, as well as absorbent and breathable. Bamboo's strength lends excellent durability to a fabric.

Bark Cloth
A printed, textured cotton fabric, popular from the 1930s to 1950s, featuring floral and leaf designs.

Basket Weave
A relatively simple weave involving two or more warp ends woven parallel to each other, resulting in a thatched texture.

Batik
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.

Batiste
An extremely fine, semi-sheer, lightweight, plain weave fabric. It is almost transparent and is usually made of cotton or cotton blends. Check out our Batiste Collection.

Bengaline
A fabric with a crosswise rib, traditionally made from silk, cotton or wool, but now predominantly made from acetate or polyester. Bengaline is similar to faille but heavier in weight.

Blend
A combination of two or more fibers within the same yarn. Fabrics are often made from blended yarns to increase durability, stretch, stain resistance and cost efficiency.

Boucle
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.

Broadcloth
A dense woolen cloth with a plain weave that is tightly woven and usually made from cotton or a cotton blend. It is heavier, lustrous, and soft, and made with a crosswise rib. Check out our Broadcloth Collection.

Brocade
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.

Buckram
A plain weave fabric, usually made from cotton or linen, that is stiffened with starch during the manufacturing process. Buckram is typically used in bookbinding and millenary.

Burling
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.

Burlap
A densely constructed, heavy weight, plain weave fabric with a coarse texture. It is also called jute, as it is made from jute and vegetable fibers.

Burn-out Velvet
The burn-out look is created when fiber-eating chemicals are printed on the fabric instead of color. The desired pattern is left imprinted in the velvet leaving the backing untouched.

 

C

 

Calender
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.

Calico
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.

Cambric
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.

Camel Hair
A premium luxury material, similar in look and feel to cashmere, made from the under wool of the camel. Extremely soft, camel hair is typically found in dressy jackets and overcoats.

Canvas
An extremely heavy-duty, plain weave fabric. Made from plied yarns and has an even weave.

Carding
The process of opening, disentangling, cleaning and then separating fibers to produce a continuous strand which is then spun into a yarn. Performed on a machine called a card.

Cashmere
Made from the natural fibers of the soft undercoat of the cashmere goat. Extremely high-quality, lightweight, and luxurious fabric.

Chambray
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.

Chantilly Lace
A lace featuring a netted background with ornate, often dense embroidered floral patterns with outlines made from heavier threads. Originated in Chantilly, France in the 17th century.

Charmeuse
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. Check out our Charmeuse Collection.

Cheesecloth
A soft, sheer, woven cloth, often porous. Cheesecloth is often bleached white or naturally off-white, and can be used for cooking and straining liquids.

Chiffon
Made from tightly twisted crepe fibers, chiffon is lightweight, extremely sheer, almost transparent fabric that has a slightly bumpy texture.

Chintz
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.

Combed Yarn
The process following carding, combing straightens fibers into parallel strands and removed any remaining impurities or short pieces, in order to further soften cotton yarns.

Corduroy
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.

Cotton
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.

Crepe
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.

 

Crepe-back Satin
A satin fabric in which the wrong side has the crinkled texture of crepe, while the right side has a smooth, shiny satin finish.

Crepe de Chine
Woven of hard spun silk yarn in the natural condition. The fabric has a somewhat crimpy or crinkled surface created by the highly twisted fibers.

Crimp
The waviness or curvature of a fiber or yarn. Can be found naturally, as with wool, or can be mechanically produced.

Crochet
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.

 

D

 

Damask
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.

Delaine
A lightweight wool fabric featuring a print.

Denim
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.

Denim-Stretch
The twill weave cotton is blended with spandex to give the denim elasticity.

Dobby
A type of weave using for decorations, featuring woven geometric patterns.

Double Knit
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.

Duck Fabric
Duck fabric, or duck cloth, is a heavy-duty plain weave fabric, resistant to the elements and used for outdoor coverings and tarps. The term is typically interchangeable with canvas.

Dupioni Silk
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.

 

E

 

Elastic
A stretchy yarn or fabric.

Elastique
A soft, smooth, twill weave fabric with diagonal ribbing.

Embossing
A calendering method of pressing designs or patterns onto a fabric using engraved rollers.

Embroidery
A type of needlework that involves sewing thread into a base fabric to create designs. Embroidery can be done by hand or by machine, and can use threads of varying thicknesses.

Eyelet
Fabric with patterned cut-outs, edged with embroidered stitches as part of a design.

 

F

 

Faille
Pronounced "file", it is a soft, ribbed fabric, typically made from silk, cotton, or synthetic yarns, with a slight sheen. Similar to bengaline.

Felt
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.

Flannel
A soft twill weave, usually made from cotton or wool fabric that has been brushed or has a slightly napped surface.

Flax
The natural fiber, grown chiefly in Western and Eastern Europe, that is used in the production of linen. Flax seeds are also used as a dietary supplement and are used to make linseed oil.

Fleece
An all-wool or synthetic knit fabric with a deep soft pile. It provides good insulation without the too much weight or bulk. Also the term for the complete shaving of a sheep's wool at on time.

Foil
Metal layering that adds shine, color or designs to the underlying fabric. often found on spandex and stretch fabrics.

Foulard
A lightweight fabric, made from silk or synthetic fibers with a twill weave and featuring small patterns on a solid background. Often used in men's neckties.

 

G

 

Gabardine
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.

Gauze
A thin, sheer fabric with a loose open weave that is usually made from cotton or silk.

Georgette
A woven fabric created from highly twisted yarns creating a pebbly texture. It is thin and semi-sheer and is characterized by its crispness and exceptional strength.

Gin
A device invented by Eli Whitney that separates the cotton fiber from the cotton seed. Prior to this machine, the separation was done by hand.

Gingham
A checkered pattern fabric featuring dyed and undyed fibers, most often made from cotton.

Gossamer
An extremely lightweight, sheer, shiny fabric, typically made from silk, similar to gauze.

Greasy Wool
Sheep's wool that has not been fully scoured, and still retains its natural grease and lanolin.

Grosgrain
A heavy, tightly woven ribbed fabric typically made from silk. Used in formal wear and for neckties.

 

H

 

Habotai
From the Japanese for "soft as down", habotai is a lightweight, plain weave silk fabric. Lighter than shantung, it is also referred to as habotai.

Herringbone
A zig zag twill weave pattern, popular for dress shirts.

Houndstooth
A two-toned pattern featuring broken checks or pointed shapes, originating in Scotland. Popular in 1960's style jackets, suits and hats. Also referred to as dog's tooth.

 

I

 

Ikat
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.

 

J

 

Jacquard
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.

Jersey
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.

 

K

 

Kapok
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.

Khaki
A yellowish earth tone color, also a rugged twill weave fabric, often in the same dusty brown color. First named and utilized in 1848 by English soldiers fighting in Afghanistan.

Knitting
The process of interlocking loops of yarn to form a fabric. Warp knitting loops yarn across a fabric, while weft knitting loops several yarns down the length of a fabric.

 

L

 

Lace
A decorative open fabric made through knitting or looping yarns together. Lace also refers to design work on top of a base fabric, resulting in a raised pattern.

Lambswool
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.

Lamé
Pronouced "lamay", lame is a shiny evening wear fabric made from metallic yarns.

Lawn
A fine, somewhat porous fabric made from cotton or linen, originating in Laon, France. Lawn is more crisp than voile, but less than organdy, and is often found in summery blouses and dresses.

Leather
A material created through the tanning of animal hides, typically from cattle. Leather can feature course or smooth finishes, and takes dye well. Used for jackets, pants and upholstery. Check out our Leather Collection.

Linen
This fabric is made from the fibers of the flax plant, and when woven, this extremely cool and breathable material is stronger and more lustrous than cotton.

Loom
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.

Lurex
A brand name of a type of metallic yarn, which is a polyester fiber with a vaporized layer of aluminum applied.

Lycra
The trademark name for DuPont's brand of Spandex fiber.

Lyocell
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.