From abee to zippers, a comprehensive Fashion dictionary with definitions and meanings of key fashion vocabulary.


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Dress fabric in a plain weave. The warp is cotton and the weft is wool filling.

A manufactured fiber in which the fiber-forming substance is cellulose acetate and where no less than 92% of the hydroxyl groups are acetylated. The term triacetate may be used as a generic description of the fiber. It has different physical and chemical properties from rayons, especially in its reaction to dyes, and a whole new set of dyes had to be developed for it.

A manufactured fiber in which the fiber-forming substance is any long chain synthetic polymer composed of at least 85% acrylonitrile units by weight.

A specialty wool fiber. From the hair of the angora goat, which is native to
Turkey, this is the primary source of mohair fabrics.


A French term denoting the horizontal lines appearing in a repeat pattern throughout a piece of fabric. This fabric flaw can be caused by uneven winding and thick-and-thin at the spinning.

Fine texture of broken filling character. High-quality stock is used in making this cloth. Closely woven fabric with same characteristic as the pebbly weave.

Strong ribbed weave fabric with raised lines or cords produced by warp stuffing threads. Has a smooth, fine appearance since it is made with worsted yarns: may be of wool, silk, cotton, etc.

Cross-rib material with filling yarn coarser than warp. Made of silk and wool. Wears and drapes well. Pronounced filling cords add to the appeal of the cloth.

Special hidden stitch under waistband lining curtain to attach waistband lining into waistband as a reinforcement.

Looped-yarn giving a “ring appearance” to the face of the cloth.

(1) a cotton cloth with a clear surface and napped back, satin effect weave.
(2) a rugged, durable, woollen fabric made on 8-shaft with warp effect satin weave.

The cloth is heavily fulled and napped, and is then cropped so that a smooth finish results.


Cotton, linen, or synthetic fabric made with an even weave in heavy and firm weights for sails and industrial purposes. Today this effect is accepted as a very casual fashion. The ply yarns used give much strength and body to the fabric. From 2-ply to 14-ply yarns are used to make the goods.

The process in yarn manufacture in which the fibers are brushed up, made more or less parallel, have considerable portions of foreign matter removed. Carding is done by means of rollers or flats that are clothed with fine, cylindrical, pressed-steel wire, called card clothing. No fiber-twist is applied in carding.

The finest cashmere goat is raised in Tibet, the province of Kashmir in Northern India, Iran, Iraq and Southwest China. Cashmere is more like wool than any other fiber. The hair is very cylindrical, soft, strong and silken-like.

A strong fabric with a pronounced double-twill line on a 63 degree twill weave. Can be from fabrics of all natures and weights.

Plain-weave, smooth lustrous fabric made of dyed warp and white filling.

A cotton, wool, silk, or rayon yarn which has a pile protruding all around at right angles; simulates a caterpillar. The yarn is used as filling for fancies, curtains and carpets. After weaving, the fabric is cut between the bunches of warps, and the latter twisted, thereby forming the chenille effect.

Rough woollen suiting and overcoating cloth. Similar to tweed in construction. Name is derived from the fact that hardy wool from cheviot hills of Scotland is used in making the cloth.

A light, sheer fabric of plain weave. Spun with fine, hard-spun yarn with approximately the same size in warp and filling and the same number of ends and picks per inch. The finish is dull and soft.

A cotton fabric with a plain or twill weave made popular as summer wear for the armed forces.

Printed cloth made in bright and vivid colors. Closely woven texture, singed, starched, glazed. Not easily laundered, as starching or sizing is usually not permanent.

Any Scottish plaid in true colors of some particular Scottish clan such as the Cameron, Campbell, Macphee, Macdonald, etc.

The determination as to whether a color is fast in a number of standard tests used for the purpose. Yarn or fabric may be tested for fastness to color fading, with dry cleaning, laundering, sunlight, perspiration, ironing.

Extra smooth, fine and strong. This is due to the combing machine, which removes short fibers after carding.

An individual or firm that buys greige goods, and sells them as a finished product. The converter arranges for the finishing of the fabric.

A cut-filling-pile fabric made of cotton, which has hard-wearing qualities. When woven with a plain weave back, the fabric is called “tabby-back” corduroy and when woven with a twill weave back, it is known as “Genoa-back” corduroy. Corduroy is woven in about the same way as velvet, except that the pile filling picks are bound by the warp yarns to form straight lines of floats, thus producing the ribbed surface. The material is often waxed and singed to remove any long protruding fibers. Corduroy is made with the filling forming the pile effect after the cutting, which is a separate process after the cut of cloth has been taken from the loom.

Twill usually made of woollen or worsted yarn with two shades of color such as a medium and a light brown. It is a highly desirable cloth and gives smart appearance to the wearer.

Characterized by a crinkling surface obtained either by use of (1) hard twist yarns, (2) chemical treatment, (3) weave or (4) embossing.

British term for heavy, plain weave bleached cottons. The body to this fabric comes from a stiff starched finish.

A rayon yarn made by the cuprammonium process, which was developed originally in Germany.


A registered trademark of the Dupont company. Made of polyester fiber in filament, staple, tow, and fiberfill forms.

A weight per unit length measure of any linear material. Officially, it is the number of unit weights of 0.05 grams per 450 meter length. This is numerically equal to weight in grams of 9,000 meters of the material. Denier is a direct numbering system in which the low numbers represent the finer sizes, and the higher numbers the coarser sizes.

A process which removes starch or sizing, put on the warp prior to weaving. Acids or special enzymes are used to convert the size to a soluble form, which then washes out.

Woven on a dobby loom. Includes material with small figures such as dots, geometrical designs and floral patterns woven in the fabric.

Used for trousers. The material is of fine quality, medium or light weight with a smooth face finish, compact and made of wool.

Silk thread from two cocoons that have nested together. In spinning, the double thread is not separated. The yarn is uneven, irregular and large in diameter.It is used in cloth of this name as well as in pongee, nankeen, shantung, etc.


Any pressure process producing raised or relief figures on the surface of fabrics. Usually accomplished by means of engraved rollers and heat application.

A warp made from two warps by taking the ends from each warp in an alternating order when the warp dressing is done.

The name means “sponge” and refers to a woollen dress-goods cloth that is very soft and sponge-like. Texture is low, about 20×20. A plain warp and novelty yarn filling are used, or the reverse can be used to advantage. Cloth is bleached and dyed.


Ribbed wool, silk or rayon cloth with crosswise rib effect. Good draping effects and wears well, hence is ideal for slacks and dresswear.

An individual strand that is indefinite in length. One example is silk which may run from 300 to 1800 yards in length. Filaments are finer in diameter than fibers. A fiber or a filament is the smallest unit in any type of cloth.

An individual yarn which interlaces with warp yarn at right angles in weaving fabric. Also known as pick or filling pick. Filling usually has less twist when it is compared with warp yarn. Weft is the equivalent term used in UK english.

Pocketing, linings, zippers and other sundry and supplementary items used in the manufacture of garments.

A light or medium-weight fabric of plain or twill weave, with a slightly napped surface. Can be from a combination of fabrics of three or four harness weaves. The warp is finer and stronger than the filling yarn. A flannel finish refers to a napped finish, which has the flannel appeal one expects.

A plant that produces linen.

Italian moleskin.


A 45 to 63 degree twill. These weaves give the characteristic single-diagonal lines noted on the face of the cloth. There are twice as many threads per inch in the warp than there are in the weft. Because of the twist in the yarn and texture, the cloth wears very well and outlasts similar materials used for the same purpose.

General agreement on tariffs and trade. This is an international agreement that controls the flow of goods throughout the world. The starting point for the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which today governs world trade.

A design of small squares and rectangles which is similar to shepherd’s and houndstooth check, district check, woollen or worsted yarn.

this trademark is owned by W.I. Gore and Associates, inc. A porous fabric that repels water, but allows for the passage of moisture vapour. Widely used in comfortable, water-proof garments.


The frame upon which heddles used in weaving fabric are placed. Warp threads are drawn through their respective heddle eyes. Harnesses, which form the shed of the loom to enable the shuttle with the filling yarn wound to pass through, are raised and lowered in accordance with the pattern set up by the designer. There must always be at least one harness raised and at least one lowered to make a shed.

A trademark for an imported tweed made of virgin wool from the highlands of Scotland. Spun, dyed and hand woven by islanders in Harris and other islands of the Hebrides.

Heat finishing treatment that will stabilize many man-made fiber fabrics so that there will not be any subsequent change.

A broken twill weave giving a zigzag effect produced by alternating the direction of the twill. Same as the chevron weave. Structural design resembles backbone of herring.

Popular woollen or worsted suiting fabric made from a 2-and-2 or a 3-and-3 basket weave.


Woven or not woven fabrics used between outer fabric and lining to reinforce or stiffen. Some major types include fusible and non-fusible, non-woven, canvas, haircloth, etc.


Intricate method of weaving. A head motion at the top of the loom holds and operates a set of punched cards, according to the motif desired. The perforations in the cards, in connection with the rods and cords, regulate the raising of the stationary warp thread mechanisms.


Linen is woven from fibers produced by the flax plant, and the term “linen” cannot be applied to any other kind of fiber except that of natural flax. Among the properties of linen are rapid moisture absorption, fiber length of a few inches to one yard, no fuzziness, soil-resistance, natural lustre and stiffness.

Animal raised in Bolivia, Peru, Southern Ecuador and Northwestern Argentina. Lake Titicaca between Bolivia and Peru is the centre of llama land. The fleece is obtained every two years and the life span of the animal is 10 to 14 years.

The elastic fiber made by Dupont.

General classification for solvent-spun cellulosic fiber.


Treatment for cotton yarns and cotton goods to increase lustre and improve strength and dye affinity.

The highest quality, finest and best type of wool obtainable. The best wool in the world comes from the Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, and New South Wales districts of Eastern Australia. (Botany Bay and Port Phillip bay areas of Australia.)

Picture the finest fiber you can imagine, then divide it in half and that is what is called a microfiber. Half of the thickness of silk and 100 times finer than a human hair. A microfiber is the tiniest man-made fiber ever created. Fabrics made of microfiber are wrinkle resistant and easy to care for.

MICRON (or micrometer)
A unit of length, the thousandth part of one millimeter, or the millionth of a meter. This is the unit of measurement employed to designate fiber thickness. One micron is about one twenty-five-thousandth of an inch or, expressing it another way, about forty millionths of an inch (0,000039 in).

Trademark of the Dupont company (patent pending) for a special production method that produces yarn said to provide more body and resilience to mid-weight and bottom-rate fabrics.

A woven cloth that has been felted, which is to say that the fabric is heavily fulled then shrunk, so the yarns become closely interlocked. It is almost impossible to distinguish the weave.

British generic fiber category for manufactured cellulose fabrics having a high breaking strength. Often mixed with other fibers.

Obtained from the angora goat, this is one of the oldest textile fibers. It is both durable and resilient.

A heavy, strong fabric woven with coarse, carded yarns. The fabric is made with a short nap and then sheared. The surface is smooth and solid, often suede-like.


North American Free Trade Agreement. Governs the management of trade between the countries, with a philosophy of promoting North American content.

A finishing process that raises the fibers of a cloth to the surface by means of revolving cylinders. A finish for such fabrics as flannels, wool, broadcloth, etc.

A flaw in a yarn in the form of thin spots in the fiber.


Fabrics with stripes of various colors are often sold under this name.

Silk or man-made fiber yarn fabric characterized by a heavy large rounded cord effect in the filling direction of the goods. The filling rib yarn is often cotton, wool or waste yarn, none of these showing on the face or back of the goods since the warp covers the filling in its entirety.


A worsted fabric very much like gabardine, made in England. The name probably derives from the fact that clothing made of this fabric was worn in the paddock.

A colorant that is permanent in nature when dispersed into the fabric.

A soft furry or velvety raised surface consisting of threads standing out from the surface of fabric or carpet, either singly or as loops, soft down, fur, hair or wool.

Cotton cloth with raised cords that run in the warp direction.

The simplest, most important and most used of all of the hundreds of weaves in the making of textiles. Over 70% of all cloths made each year are made on this simple construction. There is only one plain weave, and it gives a checkerboard appearance. It is made, and repeats, on two warp ends and two filling picks, and is read as “1-up-and-1-down”.

A manufactured fiber in which the fiber-forming substance is any long chain synthetic polymer composed at least 85% by weight of an ester of a dihydric alcohol and terephthalic acid.

A high-modulus, dimensionally stable rayon staple fiber. It is natural, originating from wood pulp, cellulose and rayon. Finer quality than the regular rayon yarns, it has high resistance to stretching under wet conditions. Used blended with other yarns in modern and sophisticated fabrics.

A broad term applied to several fabrics made from various types of yarn. It is identified by a fine rib effect in the filling direction from selvage to selvage. Plain weave used with rib effect made by the use of a warp yarn much finer than filling yarn with a texture or count of two or three times as many ends and picks in the goods.

A type of durable press finish in which the finish is applied to the fabric by the mill, but the garment manufacturer completes the cure of the finish by applying heat, using an oven or press or both to the completed garment.

A type of durable press finish in which the finish is applied to the fabric and set or cured through the use of heat by the mill, prior to shipment of the fabric to be made into garments.


An important bast fiber also known as “rhea” or “china grass”. Ramie resembles flax but it is coarser. The cost of production in making the yarn is high. Ramie has great strength, lustre, body and appearance.

A manufactured fiber composed of regenerated cellulose in which substituents have replaced no more than 15% of hydrogens of the hydroxyl groups.


Made of filament nylon or polyester. It is smooth, light, strong, durable and has good resistance to water.

Similar to satin from the construction standpoint. Fabrics have a very smooth lustrous surface effect.

Satin cloths were originally made of silk and simulations but are now made from different types of yarns. The fabric has a very smooth, lustrous face-effect while the back of the material is dull.

Cloth made of very high grade wool originally raised in Saxony, Germany. The name is also applied to soft-finished woollen fabrics of similar fine stock, in fancy yarn effects in the order of tweeds.

Lightweight cloth made of cotton, nylon, silk and other yarns. Two warps are used, a base warp which lies flat in goods and a warp that becomes crinkled.

Popular staple, diagonal worsted cloth.

Low in lustre, heavier and rougher than pongee. A plain weave silk in which large irregular filling yarns are used. Also made from several major fibers.

A fine worsted quality fabric made from small color effect weaves or fancy designs, in which the effect noted in the finished cloth resembles the skin of a shark.

The operation of levelling the nap on cloth is much used in the woollen and worsted trades as well as in the case of certain cotton fabrics. Shearing regulates the height of the nap or protruding fiber found on the surface of goods.

Plain weave corded yarn (or combed) cloths in medium and heavy weights. Comfortable wearing fabric. Warp yarns in sheeting are often heavier than the filling yarn.

The shepherd’s check of the Scottish borders is the foundation on which the entire series of district checks rest (similar design to a houndstooth). The shepherd’s check consists of about a quarter inch of white and a quarter inch of black.

(1) A suiting fabric made wholly or partly of shetland wool. The cloth has a raised finish and a rather soft handle. Very popular for suiting and sportswear.
(2) A soft knitted fabric made of shetland wool.
(3) Loosely applied to various soft wovens or knits.

The end product of silk moths. The only natural fiber that comes in a filament form; from 300 to 2,000 yards in length as reeled from the cocoon, cultivated or wild.

A process which smoothes out the surface of a fabric by passing it over gas jets to singe off the protruding fibers.

A strand or rope of fibers which are soft, loose, and untwisted. Obtained from the delivery end of the carding machine in yarn manufacture.

A soft knitted waistband canvas tape, it is a blend of texturized polyester and nylon monofilament yarns with a total crease recovery. It is sewn into the trouser waistband to prevent roll over. It is fully washable.

The fiber produced from the soybean is of protein base. It resembles wool in resiliency and feel. It is insulative and has a tensile strength about 80% of that of wool. It excels wool in resistance to alkalies.

This final operation in yarn manufacture consists of the drawing, twisting and winding of the newly spun yarn onto a device such as a bobbin, spindle, cop, tub, cheese, etc. Spinning requires great care on the part of all the operatives involved. Mule and ring spinning are the two major methods used today and, in addition to being spun on these methods, worsted yarn is also spun on the cap and flyer frame methods of producing finished spun yarns.

Apre-shrinkage by dampening with a sponge, rolling in moist muslin or steaming, given to woollens and worsted by the cloth maker before cutting to ensure against a contraction of the material in the garment. A popular sponging treatment is “london shrunk”, a cold water treatment originating abroad that is frequently applied and guaranteed by the cloth manufacturers themselves.

Trademark for a superior type of extra long staple fiber, 1 3/4″ and longer. This is an exceptionally high quality American-Egyptian cotton grown in the southwestern part of the USA.

A filament nylon fiber, trademark of the Dupont company.


A filament nylon fiber. Trademark of the Dupont company.

Woollen, worsted or cotton cloth made in plain weave or in a two-up and two-down twill weave. Associated with Scottish clans, the fabric originated in Spain and was called tiritaña. This multi-colored fabric may be conventional or bizarre when made in variations of color effects. The Scottish kilt is known to everyone.

A merino-quality type of wool that comes exclusively from the island of Tasmania, off the coast of Australia. The wool is taken only off the shoulders of the sheep, which produces the finest yarns. This quality of wool is used strictly for super 90’s, super 100’s and super 120’s.

A heavy, fancy woollen vesting of “loud appearance” checks, bold effects and gaudy color combinations, often used in suiting and overcoating material.

The force necessary to tear a fabric, usually expressed in pounds or grams.

Trademark of Dupont. Stain resistant, water repellent finish applied to textiles. This treatment gives the fabric a protective coating (without affecting any of the fabric’s inherent properties).

The breaking strength of fiber, filament, yarn, cord, etc. Expressed in force per unit yarn number.

A miraculous new way of producing fiber from the wood pulp of trees. The trees are grown especially for this purpose on managed tree farms, which replant and reharvest as they cut down. Processed in a natural, non-chemical manner which is environmentally safe, the use of non-toxic dissolving agents does not pollute the rivers. Fabric is 100% biodegradable. The selected trees are grown on agriculturally poor land and are constantly replenished, so there is no threat to the environment. Tencel was introduced to the world of apparel in 1992 and is the first new fiber introduction in over thirty years. Tencel gives fabrics great color richness, from pale pastels to deep vibrant tones. It also has a subtle lustre found only in luxurious fabrics, and breathes well. Tencel can be finished in a variety of manners to produce unique surface effects. Comfort and strength are two more properties of tencel. Strength means high wash stability, extremely low shrinkage and good tear resistance, which all add up to a longer lasting garment.

(1) application of a very light color to material. (2) application of a fugitive color to yarn for identification purposes. A color is selected that will wash out during subsequent finishing.

Trademark of hoechst-celanese. A polyester fiber, in partially oriented yarn, staple and monofilament forms. The term is used often with other qualifiers that subclassify the fabrics.

A fine quality cavalry twill.

Lightweight fabrics used for warm weather wear. The weave is plain, of 1-up 1-down. Tropicals have a clear finish, and high-twist yarns are used to make up for the lack of weight and to provide good performance to consumers. The breathability is especially good for slacks.

Name of wild silk raised anywhere in the world. Compared with cultivated or true silk, it is more uneven, coarser and stronger. Difficult to dye or bleach.

A rough, irregular, soft and flexible, unfinished shaggy woollen named for the tweed river that separates England from Scotland. It is made of a two-and-two twill weave, right-hand or left-hand in structure. Outstanding tweeds include Bannockburn, English, Harris, Irish, Linton, Manx, Scotch and Donegal.

Identified by the diagonal lines in the goods. It is one of the three basic weaves, the others being plain and satin. Most twills are 45 degrees in angle. Steep twills are made from angles of 63, 70, and 75 degrees while
reclining twills use angles of 27, 20, and 15 degrees.


The largest part of the world’s cotton crop is of the upland type. It is also used as the standard with which other cotton types are compared.


Thick bodied, close napped, soft type of cloth.

A warp pile cloth in which a succession of rows of short cut piles stand so close together as to give an even uniform surface; appealing in look and with soft handle. When the pile is more than 1/8″ in height, the cloth is called plush.

The finest hair fiber to be found anywhere in the world; it is twice as fine as the finest merino wool fiber. It is found in small flocks in the almost inaccessible mountain regions of Peru. The animals thrive at an altitude of about 10,000 feet. Since the animal must be killed to obtain its fleece, only a very limited supply is readily available.

see rayon


In a knit fabric, the wale is the series of loops formed by one needle that runs lengthwise in the material. In a woven fabric, like corduroy or bedford cord, the wale is the rib or raised cord that runs lengthwise with the warp.

Trimmings on the inside of dress trousers.

The yarn that runs lengthwise in a woven fabric. Also called chain or twist.

Yarn that runs widthwise across the fabric. In Britain the word weft is used in the sense of filling.

Cloth made from woollen yarn but not always 100 percent wool in content. The average woollen has a rather fuzzy surface with a soft texture nap that does not shine with wear. Woollen finish is rather easily recognized on fabrics to determine the difference between this cloth and a worsted material. Fabrics are woven from yarn that has been spun from carded fibers and are not combed parallel prior to spinning as in a worsted yarn. Homespuns, tweeds, overcoatings, blankets, softness, bulk and surface nap are characteristics of woollen cloths where the weave is often invisible because of finishing.

A wide range of fabrics are made from worsted yarn and are compactly made from smooth uniform, well-twisted yarns. Little finishing is necessary in these clear surface materials. Plain or fancy weaves are used and the cloth is usually yarn-dyed, but piece-dyed fabrics are also popular. Ideal for summer wear by men and women, some of the fabrics in this fabric family include plain weave worsted, dress goods, gabardine, crepe, serge, tropical, etc.


A device consisting of two rows of metal or plastic teeth-like parts that are brought together by pulling a small sliding piece over them, used for closing openings in clothing, bags, etc.

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