Types of Fabric & Garment Glossary

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The apparel glossary below defines terms commonly used in the garment industry.

Abrasion resistance: The ability of a fabric to withstand loss of appearance and function through the destructive action of rubbing. Fabrics labelled as abrasion-resistant are typically highly durable and long lasting.

Antron nylon: A taffeta nylon fabric with a reflection or shiny finish.

Argyle: A popular design for knitted fabrics. Two or three colours are generally used in a diamond shape arrangement.

Basketweave: A finely woven all-over texture resembling a weave commonly found in baskets.

Bi-swing back: A rear insert panel, typically used in jackets. Extra material is gathered or folded to allow more freedom of movement in the shoulder area. Sometimes called an "action back."

Birdseye: A fabric woven with a pattern of small diamonds, each having a dot in the center.

Bleach wash: The process of washing fabric or a garment with bleach to soften and distress the look of the fabric.

Blended yarns: Yarns composed of two or more different fibers.

Broadcloth: Closely woven fabric with very fine embedded ribs and a lustrous finish. Made in many weights, fibers, and blends. Resembles fine poplin. (Worsted and woolen broadcloths have a glossy finish).

Brushed napping: Knit or woven fabrics of wool, cotton, or synthetics. The result is a flannel-like texture.

Butterfly collar: A pointed collar that lies flat against the garment, but can be brought up and secured to ensure warmth.

Byron collar: A pointed, shirt-style collar.

Canvas: A heavy, closely woven fabric of cotton, hemp, or flax, originally used for making tents and sails.

Cargo pockets: Large expandable pockets sewn to the shell with side pleats.

Cire, nylon: Lustrous surface effect produced on the surface of a fabric.

Chambray: A broad class of plain weave, yarn dyed, cotton or synthetic fabrics made with a collared yarn and white filling.

Chamois twill: A Dunbrooke adjective used to identify a heavily brushed twill fabric.
Clean finished self shell: Seams are finished, not raw with no lining.

CMT: Cut, make and trim

Coating: A finishing process in which a substance - like rubber, resin or synthetic
compounds - covers the fabric on one or both sides. Polyurethane is a common coating for outerwear. Coating typically aids water-resistance.
Colourfastness: The ability of a fabric to withstand exposure to sunlight, dry cleaning and laundering without fading or running. The types of fiber, dye and treatment used for setting the colour determine how colourfast a fabric will be.

Corduroy: Cut pile fabric woven with either wide or narrow wales formed by using extra filling. Back may be either plain or twill weave, the latter being better quality.
Cover stitch: Background of solid embroidery. Background behind copy.
Cover stitched armhole seam: Usually found in knit shirts, refers to the inside armhole seam being serged or finished.

Crepe: A fabric characterized by a broad range of crinkled or grained surface effect.
Delrin zipper: A heavy nylon zipper with large teeth, often left exposed for style.

Denier: The weight measurement of filament yarns and fibers. The low numbers represent the finer sizes and the higher numbers, the heavier yarns.

Direct embroidery: The process of sewing a name or design directly to a garment.

Double knit: A knit fabric of double thickness.
Double needle safety stitched: Seams top stitched with two needles running side by side.

Double sided fleece: Fuzzy on both sides for maximum durability.

Drapability: A fabric's ability to hang gracefully in a finished product.

End-on-end: An arrangement of warp yarns with one end of colour and one end of white alternatively.

Enzyme washed: A process of washing using organic substances that cause transformation or accelerate the aging of dyes.

Elastic: Easily stretched rubber usually prepared in cords, strings or bands. An elastic fiber is usually made of yarns containing rubber.

Embroidery pattern: An electronic program which directs the embroidery equipment to reproduce a
specific design. The pattern may be a paper tape or a computer diskette.

Epaulet: A shoulder "strap" or collar trim that is styled with a military look.

Face: Traditionally, the side of a fabric that offers a finished or polished appearance. The face is normally used for outward print and decoration.

Feeder stripe: An 1/8" repeating stripe.

Filament: A fine or thinly spun thread or fiber.

Finish: General term for processes used in converting raw goods into finished cloth. Bleaching, mercerizing, steaming, singeing, and dyeing are typical finishing processes.

Flannel: Plain or twill weave, can be fabric with a slightly napped surface.

Fleece: Refers to pile or napped fabric with a deep, soft, woolly-style surface.

Full-fashioned: A term applied to fabrics made on a flat-knitting machine, such as hosiery, sweaters and underwear, that have been shaped by adding or reducing stitches.

Garment dyed: Apparel dyed in garment form rather than fabric form. This is a popular fashion treatment used by designers.

Garment washed: After a garment is sewn it is washed to cut down on shrinkage and add softness to the garment.

Glen plaid: A popular Scotch pattern for suiting and sportswear characterized by two checks of different sizes.

Grommets: Metal, plastic or stitched holes creating fabric reinforcement at stress points.

Gusset: Added panel of fabric in a seam to provide action movement.

Hand: The tactile qualities of a fabric. The way it feels to the touch - soft, firm, elastic, etc.

Herringbone: Broken twill weave giving a zig-zag effect.

Hollofil: A high loft insulation made with hollow polyester fibers. The finished product is lightweight and warm. Hollofil II, another version, is a coated hollow polyester fiber with added drape.

Horn: Horn (button) - Tan/khaki swirls of light colours that resemble the cross-cut textures found in the horn of an antelope.

Houndstooth: Design woven into a fabric that looks like a star pattern.

Insulation: That which maintains warmth; the action of a garment in maintaining user warmth.

Intarsia: Derived from Italian meaning "inlay." A flat knit fabric with patterns knitted in solid colours, so that both sides of the fabric are alike.

Interlock: A plain-stitched knit fabric which looks the same on both sides. Often used for T-shirts and golf shirts.

Jacquard: Woven-in pattern created by a special loom. A raised design or pattern woven into the fabric as opposed to being printed on the fabric.

Jersey knit: A single-knit, plain-stitched fabric with a face side that is markedly different from the back side.

Johnny collar: A knit, stand-up collar.

"J" Placket: The shape of the placket is curved at the bottom. The "J" refers to the shape of the placket.

Jump stitch: Stitch in excess of 7mm used to "jump" (cut, going from one design to another) from one portion of the design to another.

Kasha: A light, flannel-like lining.

Knits: Fabrics constructed by interlocking a series of loops by hand or machine. Knitted fabrics tend to mold and fit easily to body shape: woven fabrics, in contrast, drape.

Lamination: A process of binding one fabric to another by means of heat or adhesive bonding.

Lycra: An elastomeric fiber that is blended with other fibers. Can stretch 500 percent without breaking. Holds dyes well and is resistant to heat. Trademark owned by Du Pont.

Mercerized: A treatment of fine cotton yarn or fabric that increases shine, luster and strength. Its ability to absorb dyes produces vibrant colours

Microfiber: Microfibers are man-made ultra fine fibers available in acrylic, nylon, polyester,
and rayon. When woven the produce an extremely drapeable, very soft and luxurious fabric .

Micro Suede: Usually a nylon/polyester blended yarn that is spun into a microfiber like fabric. It is then brushed twice to achieve the suede touch. The first brushing is applied before dyeing and the second brushing is considered a "suede" process which actually is brushed with pins. Then the fabric is dyed and sheared which gives the final suede look and touch.

Meistergram: An embroidery machine, usually a single-head, used by small retail shops to perform monograms and simple stock design on fabrics.

Nap: A downy surface given to a cloth when part of the fibers are raised from the basic structure and brushed.

Nappa: A soft surface on fabric or leather.

Neck tape: Protective band of tape sewn over the seam between the shell and the collar for a more comfortable feel to the garment.

Non-woven fabrics: Materials that are produced by interlocking or bonding fabrics together.

Nylon oxford weave: A coarse, plain weave cloth.

Nylon zipper: Sturdy cord zipper that is self-lubricating.

Ottoman knit: A horizontal raised rib textured knit.

Oxford weave: A group of cotton or man-made fabrics made with a modified plain weave or basket weave. Mainly used as shirting material.

Patch pocket: A pocket added to a garment usually made of self material and without pleats of lining, like a shirt pocket.

Peach wash finish: A "peach fuzz" like finish applied to washed poplin with a light nap for a soft, supple feel.

Pigment dye: Washed down colours that will continue to soften and age with washing. Great for outdoor and casual looks.

Pig split leather: The dermal and epidural layers of the leather are split, creating two pieces of thinner garment-weight material suitable for production.

Pile fabric: Fabric with cut fibers or uncut loops which stand up densely on the surface. Usually has a plush feel (i.e., bath towel, velvet).

Pique: Knit fabric with raised lengthwise "cords" which are part of the weave.

Plain weave: The basic criss-cross method of weaving cloth.

Ply: The number of single yarns twisted together to form ply yarn; also the number of ply yarns twisted together to form cord. By twisting two or more yarns together, a stronger single yarn is created.
Pointelle: Pointelle is a kind of drop needle fabric. It is constructed to control the degree of unlooping of certain stitches and to provide for opening needles latches when necessary.

Polynosic: Polynosic is a type of microfiber that is a blend of advanced polyester and rayon fibers. Characteristics include luxurious soft touch with a drapeable hand.

Poplin: A blend of cotton and polyester (bi-blend) in a poplin weave.
Printed fabric: A fabric with a pattern printed on it with an ink or dye.

Raglan sleeves: Sleeves are all one piece from collar to cuff, allowing for ease of movement.

Reactive printed fabric: A fabric printed with a reactive dye that promotes colourfastness.

Recovery: The capacity of a fabric to return to its original dimensions after being stretched out of shape.

Ripstop nylon: Nylon taffeta with double yarns creating the box pattern to provide extra strength and resistance to tearing.

Running stitch: Sequential stitching which runs in a single direction.
Sand wash: The process of washing fabric or a garment with sand to soften and distress the look of the fabric.

Seam sealing: A process in which the stitch line of a garment is made leak proof by the application of seam tape or seam-sealing glue.

Set-in sleeve: Sleeves constructed to run from the shoulder to the cuff.

Sheeting, cotton: Plain weave cotton.

Silicone washed: A process of washing using silicones that increase softness.

Slash pockets: Angled pockets that are formed by cutting a slash in the shell and attaching a pouch inside the garment.

Space dye: A yarn dyeing process of which one strand received one colour at irregular intervals. Produces an effect of unorganization.

SportFleece: A Dunbrooke term used to identify anti-pill polyester fleece.

Sportex: Sanded poplin.

Stand-up collar/mandarin: A collar with a short height that does not lie against the garment.

Stitch count: Accumulated total of stitches required to complete and embroidery design.

Stone wash: The process of washing fabric or a garment with stone to soften and distress the look of the fabric.

Storm flap: A strip of fabric covering the zipper or snap closure of the jacket and its pocket.

Supplex: A Du Pont trademarked fabric made of nylon fibers available in a side range of finished - it is durable, lightweight, soil-resistant. colourfast, quick-drying and breathable.

Taffetta: Basic plain weave that is crisp and smooth on both sides, usually with a sheen. Warp and filling approximately of the same count. May be plain, printed, striped, checked, plaid, or antique with uneven threads.

Tape: Originally, the item that contained the programming for computer controlled embroidery machines. Today, programs are recorded on computer floppy diskettes. Same as embroidery pattern.

Teflon coating: Du Pont trademarked water and stain repellent coating while remaining breathable.

Terrain cloth: A Dunbrooke adjective used to identify a very rugged, durable nylon.

Texturing: To achieve a matte, cotton-like texture, a jet of air is blown on a fiber to give it a rough, non-reflective surface. Textured fibers offer greater bulk and airiness to a fabric without increasing its weight.

Tricot: French for warp-knitted fabric. Tricots are flat knitted with fine ribs on the face (lengthwise) and ribs on the back (widthwise).

Twelve-head: An embroidery machine having twelve "heads" or stations. Each contains needles with the capability to sew multiple thread colours at the same time. This machine can embroider 12 garments at one time.

Twill: A fabric whose weave is made up of 2 or 3 warp yarns or threads to every one weft. Weave with diagonal ribs and large number of variations. Diagonals may be set at sharp or blunt angles, may be embedded or raised. Important types are flannels, serges, gabardines, and surahs.

Underlayer: Random stitches sewn to under-cover stitches and lettering to stabilize fabric and depth.

Urethane coated: A thin layer of polyurethane is sprayed onto backside of fabric to waterproof, yet accommodates silkening.

Velcro: Closure material. Consists of fabric with small hooks that stick to a corresponding fabric of small loops.

Warp: Lengthwise yarns found in all woven fabrics. The warp is stronger and denser than the weft (crosswise) yarns.

Water repellency: The ability to resist penetration by water, but not stop its penetration over prolonged exposure.

Waterproof: A fabric that withstands penetration by water. Waterproof fabrics are generally coated with chemicals or laminated with a film that closes the pores.

Weft: The horizontal (crosswise) threads that intersect the warp (lengthwise) threads in a woven fabric.

Weight: Usually measured in ounces per yard.

Welt: A welt is a pocket opening treatment. The welt is a cut and sewn piece of fabric that is used to finish the pocket opening.

Wicking: Movement of moisture within a fabric by capillary action, usually along the filament surface, to where it can evaporate quickly.

Windproof: The ability of a fabric to shut out wind or air.

Yarn dyed: A fabric such as plaid, check or strip where the colour is in the dyed threads or yarns before weaving or knitting cloth, as opposed to the colour being printed on the fabric after being woven.