Invented: Used in ancient China, Egypt, India, Mexico and Peru
Made of: Cotton boll
Types of cotton fabrics and their uses:
Batiste: originally was woven of cotton or linen and was sheer. It is named for the 18th-century French linen weaver Jean Baptiste. Today, the fabric may be made of fine wool, silk, polyester, or cotton blend fabrics, but is most commonly sheer, fine, mercerized cotton. It may be used for blouses dresses and lingerie.
Canvas: is strong plain-woven cotton used as a home decorating fabric.
Chenille: is a fur-like textured fabric made of cotton, silk, rayon, or wool. The warp threads are woven in groups. Created in France in the late 17th century, the fabric may be used as upholstery and clothing.
Corduroy: may be derived from the French word corde u roi, “cloth of the king”. Corduroy is made of durable cotton or rayon velvet and has wide or narrow wales, cords, or ribs. First used as work clothes but now popular as casual dress.
Denim: is a twill weave cotton fabric. It may also be cotton blended with rayon, polyester, or spandex. First worn as work wear, denim is popular as dresses, skirts, jackets, and trousers.
Eyelet fabrics: have small cutouts with stitching around the edges of the cut. The fabric is used most often in children’s wear.
Flannel: is generally 100% cotton but may also be made of wool. It may be a twill or plain weave. The face is brushed to create a soft, plush nap. It is often used for underwear, jackets, dresses, skirts, trousers, and pajamas.
Flannelette: is soft cotton that is napped on one side. It is used to make underwear, nightwear, and children’s clothing.
Guatemalan Cotton: is 100% cotton woven in Guatemalan ethnic designs. The fabric is used to make skirts, vests, jackets, tops, and home decorative items.
Jersey: is a soft, stretchy knitted fabric of cotton, nylon, rayon, wool, or other synthetic fibers. It was first used on the Channel Island of Jersey in the late 19th century as sportswear.
Piqué: is medium-weight cotton with a raised weave resembling a check. Shirting is made from long staple cotton and is used to make tailored shirts, pajamas and boxer shorts.
Terrycloth: is also called towelling. The cotton is woven with uncut loops on one side. It is typically used for towels but may also be used for beach wear or robes.
Voile: is a fine, sheer plain weave fabric made of cotton, silk, wool or manufactured fibers. It is used to make blouses and dresses.
Made of: fiber of the flax plant
Invented: Dr. Wallace H. Carothers, a scientist at Du Pont, invented nylon in 1927.
Made of: As defined in The Thames and Hudson Dictionary of Fashion and Fashion Designers, Nylon is a “generic term for a manufactured fiber in which the fiber-forming substance is any long chain synthetic polymide with recurring amide groups.”
The most common use is in carpets.
Nylon is frequently used to make lingerie, hosiery, socks, sportswear.
Tulle: was originally made of silk and may have originated in Toul France. It is a fine fabric of hexagonal mesh. Tulle is often used dress and hat trimmings as well as bridal gowns.
Invented: J. F. Winfield and J. T. Dickson of the Calico Printer’s Association introduced polyester in 1941.
Made of: Ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid
Types of polyester fabrics and their uses:
Eyelash: is lightweight polyester knit with a hairy face. It is used for sweaters, stoles, and scarves.
Faux Fur: comes in two weights: a silky low-pile rayon or polyester, and stiffer, long-pile polyester. The fabric may be used to make capes or craft items.
Polyester Silky: is as the name describes. It is suitable for blouses, dresses, and nightwear.
Invented: It was patented in 1892 by the British chemists Cross, Bevan, and Beadle, but Kenneth Lord, Senior, actually
named it in 1924. Lord had won a competition to name the artificial silk fabric.
Made from: Cellulose
Types of rayon fabrics and their uses:
Gabardine: is a registered tradename and is a twill weave fabric made of rayon, cotton, or silk. Since the 19th century it has been used in suits, coats, dresses, and pants.
Rayon Viscose: is produced from wood pulp and is the most common type of rayon made. It was patented in 1892 by the British chemists Cross, Bevan, and Beadle. This fabric is used to make full pants, full or A-line skirts, and dresses.
Suaded Rayon is brushed and has a silk-like hand. It is used to make full pants, skirts, and shorts as well as unstructured tops.
Invented: Silk originated in China. Confucius tells the story of Princess His-Ling, wife of Emperor Huang-Ti, in ca. 2700 B.C. sitting underneath a mulberry tree sipping tea. A silk worm cocoon fell in her cup. She played with the cocoon
and discovered it unwound in a long thread. Thus began sericulture (the rearing of silkworms). However, evidence indicates silkworm breeding did not begin until several centuries later.
Made from: the cocoon of the silk worm
Types of silk fabrics and their uses:
Brocade: is a figured silk fabric with gold or silver woven into it to create a raised design. It is often used in evening wear.
Charmeuse: is the trade name of a 20th century satin weave fabric of silk, cotton, polyester, or rayon. It may be used for blouses, pants, lingerie or piping.
Chiffon: is made of silk, rayon, or polyester. Silk chiffon has the best drape and is used to make full pants, loose tops, and flowing dresses.
China Silk: is a plain weave silk. It is lightweight and suitable for garment linings.
Damask: is a durable, lustrous, reversible figured fabric. It is commonly used to make tablecloths and napkins.
Georgette: is silk or rayon similar to chiffon. It is used in eveningwear.
Pongee: is a soft, thin Chinese or Indian silk and is generally a natural light brown color.
Satin: is made of silk, polyester, or rayon. It is used for evening or special-occasion wear.
Silk Dupion: is thick, crisp, and nubby (irregular). It is suitable for tailored pants, jackets, fitted dresses, straight skirts, or vests.
Silk Gazar: is a crisp medium weight silk suitable for blouses and and loose evening coats. The fabric has a “gauzy” appearance.
Silk Noil: is also referred to as raw silk. It is made of short waste fibers and is affordable. The fabric has a dull finish and ravels, but readily accepts dye. Silk Noil is used for unstructured clothing such as full pants and skirts, loose dresses, and big shirts.
Silk Organza may also be made of rayon and polyester, but organza made of silk is preferred for its superior handling. Silk organza is stiff, plain, thin and nearly transparent. Lightweight organza is used for interfacing and
underling of silk garments. Heavyweight silk organza may be used as a blouse. As with silk gazar, silk organza is best not used for garments requiring drape.
Silk, Sandwashed: is brushed which softens the material and makes it more wrinkle resistant. This fabric is suitable for blouses, full pants, lingerie, and piping.
Silk Shantung: is made from the silk wild silkworms. The fabric has a nubby (irregular) filling creating an uneven effect. It is a crisp fabric that has with a sheen. The fabric may be used for tailored pants and jackets, fitted
dresses, straight skirts, or full special-occasion dresses.
Silk, Thai: is similar to silk dupion, but is finer and less bulky. Thai silk is often used in evening, bridal, and period costuming. It may also be used as a home decorating fabric.
Silk Tussah: is made from the cocoons of wild or semi-cultivated silkworms. The resulting fibers are course and uneven and when woven create a nubby appearance. The fabric is suitable for tailored pants, jackets and skirts
as well as vests and other structured garments. Silk Tussah should not be used in garments that are meant to drape.
Silk Tweed: is suitable for jackets and vests. This fabric snags easily.
Taffeta: may be made of real silk or artificial silk. This fabric may have been named for the Persian fabric “taftan”. It has a glossy, iridescent sheen and rustles with movement. Taffeta is commonly used in specialoccasion
Velvet: was originally made from silk. The fabric is often used in evening or special-occasion clothing.
Invented: Wool is one of the oldest fabrics in the world.
Made of: Wool is made from the hair of sheep, goats, camels, and rabbits.
Types of wool fabrics and their uses:
Alpaca: cloth was first introduced in 1836 by Sir Titus Salt as a silk and alpaca blend. In the late 19th century alpaca was blended with cotton. Today alpaca is available as a woven or knit and is commonly used for outerwear.
Angora: is made from the hair of the Angora rabbit. It does not take dye well and is generally blended with another type of wool. Angora is used to make sweaters.
Boiled Wool: is knitted wool that is felted, that is the knitted wool is machine-washed in hot water and machinedried, usually more than once. Boiled wool may be used for jackets, cardigans, and mittens.
Camel Hair: is made from the underhair of the camel. In the 19th century camel hair was a blend on cashmereand camel. Camel hair is primarily used for outer garments.
Cashmere: is made of the hair of the kasmir goat found in Asia. This fiber has been used since the 14th century, but has been used extensively in Europe since the 19th century when it was used for children’s clothing. In the
present day, cashmere is used for coats, dresses, scarves, and sweaters. Cashmere may be blended with other fibers.
Lamb’s Wool: comes from animals younger than 7 months old. It is a fine soft fabric.
Mohair: is made from the hair of the Angora goat. Mohair is loosely woven with cotton, silk, or wool and produces a fuzzy texture. Popularized in the 1950s, it is used for jackets, coats, skirts, and sweaters.
Wool Bouclé: is a loosely woven or knitted fabric with small curls or loops on the face. Bouclé is from the French word boucler, meaning “to curl”. This fabric has been popular since the 1950s and is used to make
sweaters and coats.
Wool Challis: is lightweight plain weave wool. It traditionally is printed with a floral pattern and is used for shirts and dresses.
Wool Crepe: is the most common crepe, a woven fabric with a crinkled texture. Wool crepe is ideal for tailored pants, skirts, jackets, or dresses.
Wool Gauze: is sheer and the least stable wool fabric. It is used to create loose tops, dressed and skirts.
Wool Jersey: is a knitted fabric originating from the Channel Island of Jersey. It drapes well and is good for wrap and full tops, dresses, full pants and skirts.
BLEND - A fabric made from two or more fibers blended together. For example, cotton and polyester in one fabric - sometimes called polycotton. A blend is not made of some threads of cotton and some of polyester; it is made of
BROADLOOM - Type of loom use to make rolls of carpeting. Broadloom is not a fiber or fabric type nor does it imply high quality.
CALICO - One of the oldest known fabrics. Often made of complex designs and patterns. Today, calico has been replaced by percale, although the term is still used to refer to certain printed designs.
CANVAS - A plain, tight weave traditionally made of cotton.
CARDING - A process in which raw fibers (cotton, wool, etc.) are untangled and partially straightened by drawing them through a series of sharp points. After carding, fibers are combed.
CHAMBRAY - A plain weave fabric with a colored warp and a white filling of combed or carded fibers, traditionally cotton. Named after its birthplace - Cambrai, France.
CHENILLE - A velvet-like yarn traditionally made of cotton. Fibers protrude from the yarn, much like the tufts on the back of a caterpillar. The word "chenilid' is from the French word for caterpillar.
CHIFFON - A nearly transparent fabric made with a plain weave. Chiffon was originally made of silk, but today is often of rayon, silk, nylon and other synthetic fibers.
CHINO - A twill fabric with a slight sheen often of cotton or polycotton.
CHINTZ - A plain weave fabric, usually cotton often printed in bright colors. The fabric is often glazed to give a shiny surface.
COMBING - A process after carding in fibers are pulled into parallel alignment before spinning.
CORDUROY - A fabric named after the French phrase cord du Roi, "the cloth of kings." It is a ribbed, cut pile fabric in either a plain or twill weave. An extra set of filling yarns are used. After weaving the floats are cut on special machines
to produce a "plowed field" effect. The raised ribs are called “Wales." A “wide wale” corduroy might have two or three wales per inch; a pinwale corduroy can have over 20 per inch.
CUT PILE - A fabric formed with loops on the surface. Cutting the loops produces a cut pile. Examples include corduroy, velvet, woven rugs, and traditionally made "plush" carpeting.
DENIM - A twill weave with blue warp threads and white filling threads. Denim is designed by the weight of a yard of fabric. A 14 ounce denim is heavy duty, while a 10 ounce denim is for summer wear.
DOUBLE KNIT - Double knits are the product of two sets of needles. The resulting knit has both sides identical and is stronger than a single knit. Double knit clothing often holds its shape better than single knit.
EGYPTIAN COTTON – Egyptian cotton, grown in the Nile Valley, is a long staple fiber famous for its lush feel. It is often blended with lower grade cottons, so look for 100% Egyptian cotton.
FABRIC - A general term referring to any material that is woven, knitted or somehow made into cloth.
FABRIC COUNT - see THREAD COUNT
FELT - A non-woven fabric made by pressing fibers together under heat to form a matted whole. Felted fabric is not strong but can easily be molded. Hats are often made of felt.
FILLING - The crosswise (weft) yarns in a fabric that interlace with the lengthwise (warp) yarns.
HAND - The way fabric feels. It can be silky, soft, rough, etc.
FINISH - Various processes that change the fabric. Examples include treatments to make a fabric resist flames, repel water, shrink or wrinkle less, or shine more.
FLANNEL - A soft fabric usually made of cotton or wool. The surface is brushed to raise fibers that create insulating air cells. Flannel is soft and warm.
GABARDINE - A tightly woven twill that produces a very durable fabric. Wool is the primary fiber used for gabardine.
HERRINGBONE - A twill weave in a 'V'pattern, most often in wool. Also called a broken twill.
INTERLOCK KNIT - A very firm knit made of two interlocked rib knits. Both sides of the fabric look like the face side of jersey.
JERSEY KNIT - A generic term for a fabric made of a plain knit stitch without the distinct ribs found in many knitted textiles.
KNIT - A way of making fabrics by interlocking loops of one or more yarns.
LOOM - Machine used to weave yarn into fabrics.
MUSLIN - An inexpensive, plainly woven fabric, originally made of cotton. Today the word is used for almost any plain fabric.
NAP - A fuzzy surface on fabric usually produced by brushing. Fiber ends are teased out of loosely spun yarns and brushed so they stand up on the surface of the fabric.
OXFORD - A plain weave often used in shirts. Traditionally of cotton or a cotton blend and often with a colored warp and a white filling. The lighter weights are sometimes called Cambridge, after Oxford’s rival university.
PERCALE - A plain weave cotton (or cotton blend) fabric often used for linens. Percale has a thread count of 180 to 350 yarns per inch. Percale comes in a wide variety of colors and prints.
PILE - Pile fabrics feature short lengths of yarn stand up from the base of the material much like blades of grass in a lawn. Pile is by woven loops. Uncut loops give a "looped pile" fabric such as terry cloth. Cut loops give a plush or velvet
POPLIN - A family of plain weave fabrics characterized by crosswise ribs. The ribs are created by warp yarns that are finer than the weft yarns. Poplin is made of many fibers and in a variety of weights and qualities.
PLAIN MEAVE - The most used basic weave. Each filling yarn alternates crossing over and under each warp yarn. Like a window screen or tennis racket.
PRINT - A fabric on which a design or color is printed rather than woven or knitted.
REPELLENCY - A fabric's ability to resist water, stains, soils, etc. It does not mean that no water will get into the garment. Water-resistant fabrics, in contrast, are engineered to keep the wearer dry in rain, snow, etc. for a specified length of time.
SATIN - A weave in which each yarn crosses over four to twelve other yarns before going under another. The distance the yarn covers is called a "float." Because of these long "floats” the satin weave is flat, smooth, and lustrous. Usually made of silk or man-made fibers that give a lustrous, shiny appearance.
SEERSUCKER - A fabric named from the Persian word "shirushaka,” meaning blistered. It's a plain weave created by holding some warp yarns at a tight tension, others with some slack. The difference in tension causes the wave-like
blisters that give the fabric its distinctive texture.
SELVAGE - The woven edge of the fabric, running parallel to the warp. The selvage keeps the textile from fraying. It is often used to identify the manufacturer or provide a color check.
SERGE - A twill weave from smooth yarns. Traditionally, a long lasting fabric of wool for men's suits.
SPINNING - The process of twisting short lengths of fiber (called staples) fibers into continuous yarn.
TAFFETA - Fabric woven from tightly twisted yarn. Filling yarns are slightly larger than the warp yarns, creating a cross
ribbed effect. Taffeta is often a shiny fabric with a crisp, smooth feel.
TERRY CLOTH - A fabric usually made of cotton with uncut loops. The looping adds yarn making the material higher
absorbent and excellent for towels and bath robes.
THREAD COUNT - The thread (or fabric) count measures the number of yarns per square inch. More yarns per inch gives strength, and durability - and higher cost. A count of 80 x 60 means that in one square inch of fabric there are 80
yarns in the warp and 60 in the weft. If the two numbers are the same, the fabric is a balanced or "square" weave and the count can be given as one number, the sum of the warp and weft counts. So a percale fabric with a thread count of 180 means that in each square inch the fabric has 90 warp yarns and 90 weft yarns.
TWEED - A nubby, woven fabric often used in suits. Traditionally made of wool or wool blends.
TWILL WEAVE - One of three basic weaves. Recognized by the diagonal "twill line" or "rib" visible in the finished
WARP - In weaving, the yarns placed on the loom first. They run lengthwise on the fabric. Weft or filling yarns are
woven over and under the warp yarns.
WATERPROOF - typically suggests a protective laminate such as Urethane or another micro-porous film has been applied. Manufacturers of waterproof garments usually take additional measures such as seam-sealing to ensure that
water cannot seep through any opening in the garment.
WEFT - The crosswise filling yarns that are interwoven with the lengthwise warp yarns to make a fabric.
WEAVING - A method of making fabrics by interlacing yarns at right angles. The three basic weaves are plain, twill and satin.
WICKING - Diffuses moisture, pulling it through to the surface of a fabric away from the skin; this keeps the wearer dry.
WORSTED - Worsted wool fabrics are woven from yarn that has been carded and combed before spinning. Longer fibers are used for worsteds than for regular woolen fabrics. Common worsteds include gabardine and serges.
Worsteds are smoother and more tightly woven than woolens.
YARN - Long, continuous threads created by spinning fibers. Spinning adds a twist to the fibers for strength.