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Glossary Of Fabric & Garment Terms

This is a general glossary of fabric and garment terms that may be used used in our YouTube informational videos and website articles. You can find the screen printing glossary here.

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Appliqué - These are decorations or embellishments on garments where different types of fabrics are cut and applied to the surface of one type of material to create a design or pattern.


Bird's Eye - A diamond weave patterned fabric.

Bleach wash - This is a bleach wash used to soften and distress the look of fabrics.

Bolt - This refers to larger quantities of fabric on a roll. This is how the fabric comes to the manufacturer of the finished garment. A bolt of cloth may have any amount of yardage. It refers more to the uncut piece of fabric rather than the quantity.

Brushed cotton - This fabric is brushed to remove the excess lint or fibers, leaving a smoother finish.

Burn-out - A brocade-like pattern effect created on fabric through the application of a chemical, instead of color, during the burn-out printing process. When the chemical is printed in a certain pattern, it destroys the pile in those areas where the chemical comes in contact with the fabric, but leaves the ground fabric unharmed.


Canvas - Cotton, linen, or synthetic fabric made with a basic plain weave in heavy and firm weight yarns for industrial or heavy duty purposes.

Cap sleeves - A type of sleeve that hits the upper arm between the elbow and the shoulder. Most often found in ladies' garments.

Carding - This is a process of cleaning fibers used in yarn spinning.

Chintz - A printed and glazed fabric, usually cotton.

Circular Knit - Weft knit fabric made on a circular needle-bed knitting machine, which produces fabric in tubular form.

Colorfastness - This generally describes the durability in fading or running of the fabric in relation to exposure to sunlight, dry cleaning or laundering. The types of fiber, dye or treatment used for creating the color determine how "colorfast" a fabric is.

Combed cotton - This where cotton yarn is combed in order to remove small fibers and align bigger fibers in a parallel manner which gives a smoother finer yarn.

Compaction - This refers to a shrinkage control process used during manufacture.

Core Yarn - A yarn in which one type of fiber is twisted or wrapped around another fiber that serves as a core.

Cotton - A unicellular, natural fiber that grows in the seed pod of the cotton plant. Fibers are typically 1/2 inch to 2 inches long. The longest staple fibers, longer than 1 1/2 inch, including the Pima and Egyptian varieties, produce the highest quality cotton fabrics.

Crochet - A loose, open knit made by looping thread with a hooked needle. Used for light, summer sweaters.

Crocking - The rubbing-off of dye from a fabric.


Decitex - The international standard for yarn weight measurement. Decitex is defined as the weight in grams of 10,000 meters of yarn.

Denier - This is a weight measurement of filament yarns and fibers. Low numbers represent finer sizes and higher numbers the heavier yarns.

Double knit - This is a knit fabric of double weight.

Double-needle stitched - Used for sleeves or lower hems. It is a two needle process that creates parallel rows of visible stitching.

Drapability - This refers to the fabrics feel based on the body or hanging. It's how the fabric will appear hanging and draping. The more refined it looks the better the drapability.


Effect Thread - A significantly different yarn from the main yarn being used to make the garment is placed in the fabric as a highlight or effect.

Encapsulation - A process in which the fibers of a fabric are coated with a filmy substance to create certain high performance qualities, such as breathability.

End-on-end - A process using arranged warp yarns with one end of color and one end of white alternating.

Enzyme washed - This is a washing process using organic enzymes to create a washed or aged effect in the fabric pr dyes.


Face - This simply refers to the finer, more printable surface of the fabric that is used as the outside. It is the more finished side of the fabric.

Facing - An extra piece of fabric stitched into the inside of a garment for lining purposes or to add strength and structure.

Feed stripe - A knit fabric where a stripe pattern is produced by the way colored yarns are fed into the knitting machine. This is also known as yarn dyed.

Filament - This can be a very small, thin spun thread or fiber.

Finish - This generally refers to the processes used to make fabrics. Bleaching, mercerizing, steaming, singeing, and dyeing are all finishing processes.

Full Cut - This is the size scale of the brand. For instance a size large in one brand may be bigger than the same size in a different brand. The larger cut may be said to be a full cut.


Garment dyed - This means the product is dyed after being processed into a shirt as opposed to being dyed in bulk on a roll known as a bolt.

Garment washed - This is just a prewash which preshrinks and softens the finished garment.

Gusset - An added extra piece of fabric in a seam or joint such as an armpit area to provide added ability for movement.


Hand - The tactile properties of a fabric. This is the way it feels to the human hand as it is touched.

Herringbone - Much like a piece of jewelry, this is a broken twill weave producing a zig-zag pattern.


Interlock - This is a plain-stitched knit fabric which looks the same on each side.


Jacquard - A particular weave pattern made by a special loom. This is a raised design or pattern woven into the fabric rather than being printed.

Jersey knit - This is a type of knit fabric with two visibly different sides. It is a plain stitch, single knit fabric.

Jersey Stitch - A basic stitch used in weft knitting, in which each loop formed in the knit is identical.


Knit/knitting - The method by which thread or yarn may be turned into cloth or other fine fabrics. Knits may be different and visually distinctive.


Lining - A fabric that is used to cover the inside of a garment to provide a finished look. Generally, the lining is made of a smooth lustrous fabric.

Loft - High loft is thick and fluffy, low loft is thin and dense. The higher the loft is, the better the insulation characteristics the fabric has.

Lycra - An elastic fiber that is blended with other fibers made by Du Pont. It has a 500% stretching ability.


Marled yarn - Here two single yarns of different colors are twisted together. This is a common mottled effect in sweaters.

Mercerized - This is a finishing process for cotton yarn or fabric that increases shine, strength and luster. This produces an increased ability for the fabric to absorb dye colors.

Microfiber - A generic term for any synthetic fiber finer than silk. Fabrics made with microfibers are soft, lightweight, breathable and durable.

Mineral Dyes - These are natural dyestuffs made from minerals including ocher, limestone, manganese, cinnabar, azurite, and malachite.


Nap - A soft finish given to fabric where the fibers are raised or "fuzzy" by brushing. This produces a soft feel to the surface.

Neck tape - An extra band of fabric material sewn over the seam between the body and the collar of a garment for a more comfortable feel.

Non-woven fabrics - Fabric or other materials that are produced by interlocking or gluing fabrics together.


Ottoman knit - This is horizontal, raised rib knit.

Oxford weave - A selection of cotton fabrics created with a modified plain weave or basket weave.

One x One Rib - This is a type of garment fabric where each rib is the same width as the space between each rib. This knitting helps the garment retain elasticity.


Peach wash finish - A fuzzy like finish applied to washed poplin. It creates a light nap for a soft feel.

Permeability - A textile characteristic which allows air, water, and water vapor to penetrate and pass through it.

Picot - This is a small embroidered loop which forms an ornamental edging on a ribbon and lace.

Pigment dye - These are washed down colors that continue to soften with washing.

Pile fabric - This is a fabric like a towel that has cut fibers or uncut loops which stand up densely on the surface. Velvet is an example of this as well.

Pique - A type of knit fabric with raised lengthwise "cords" which are a part of the weave.

Plain weave - The standard crossed method of weaving cloth.

Ply - The number of single yarns used to create ply yarn. It may also refer to the number of ply yarns used to make cord.

Poplin - This is usually a 50% polyester and 50% cotton fabric in a poplin weave.

Polyester - A synthetic fiber which is the most commonly used manufactured fiber worldwide. The fiber-forming substance in polyester is any longchain, synthetic polymer composed of at least 85% by weight of an ester of dihydric alcohol and terephthalic acid.


Raglan sleeves - These are sleeves that are all cut from one piece from collar to cuff.

Rayon - A manufactured fiber composed of regenerated cellulose, derived from wood pulp, cotton linters, or other vegetable matter.

Recovery - The ability of a fabric to return to its original shape after being stretched.

Rib knit - A textured knit that has the appearance of vertical lines.

Ring spun yarn - This is yarn made by twisting a thinning rope of cotton fibers. It creates a yarn where the fibers stand out and provide a softer hand.

Running stitch - Sequential stitching that goes in a single direction.


Sand wash - This is a method where the fabric is washed with sand to soften and give a distressed look.

Seam sealing - Here the stitch line of a garment is made sealed by the application of seam tape or glue.

Set-in sleeve - Sleeves made to go from the shoulder to the cuff.

Serge - One of the oldest basic terms in textiles, it now implies any smooth face cloth made with a two-up and two-down twill weave.

Shot effect - A color effect produced in fabrics woven with a warp yarn of one colour and a weft yarn of a contrasting color.

Shrinkage - This is the amount in size lost during the washing of cotton Most 100% cotton products have been pre-washed or pre-shrunk. After that a 4-5% shrinkage should be expected.

Silicone washed - A method of washing fabrics using silicone that increases softness similar to sand washing.

Singeing - Process of burning off protruding fibers from fabrics to give the fabric a smooth surface.

Space dye - An irregular dyeing process where one strand receives a color at irregular intervals.

Stain repellent - The ability of a fabric to resist wetting and staining by water.

Stain resistance - A fiber or fabric property of resisting spots and stains.

Stone wash - This is a method where the fabric is washed with stones to soften and give a distressed look.

Storm Shell - Wind proof, wind resistant outerwear.


Taffetta - A basic plain weave that is sharp and smooth on both sides. It most often has a sheen. The warp and filling are of approximately same count.

Taped seams - A strip of extra fabric stitched into the seam of a garment in order to prevent distortion or with outerwear, aid in waterproofing.

Tear strength - The force necessary to tear a fabric, measured by the force necessary to start or continue a tear in a fabric.

Texturing - This is the method of blowing a jet of air on a fiber to give it a rough, matte finish. This gives the fabric a feel of being thicker and heavier.

Twill - A fabric weave which is made of 2 to 3 warp yarns or threads for each weft. The weave is a diagonal ribbing with many variations. Types are flannels; serges, gabardines, and surahs.


Warp - The lengthwise yarn found in woven fabric. The warp is stronger as well as denser than the weft yarns, (crosswise yarns).

Water repellent - Fabrics that have been treated with a finish which cause them to shed water and resist water penetration, but are still air-permeable.

Water resistant - Fabric treated chemically to resist water or given a "wax- coating treatment" to make it repellent.

Weft - The horizontal or crosswise threads that intersect the warp threads in woven fabrics.

Weight - The actual weight of the fabric usually measured in ounces per yard.

Welded shell - The outer layer of a bonded or welded garment, such as a jacket.

Welt - This is a pocket opening finishing treatment. It is a cut and sewn piece of fabric used to finish the pocket opening.

Wicking - This is the fabrics ability to "brush off" or disburse water. It's ability to not absorb water or moisture.

Wind Resistant - The ability of a fabric to act against or oppose the penetration of wind or air, but it is not totally windproof.

Wrinkle Free - A resistance to wrinkling created through the use of a variety of finishes and treatments.


Yarn - A continuous strand of textile fibers created when a cluster of individual fibers are twisted together. These long yarns are used to create fabrics, either by knitting, plaiting, or weaving.

Yarn dyed - Here the color pattern is made by the dye in the threads or yarns which is dyed before weaving or knitting. Plaids, checkered or striped fabric are woven with this yarn to create the pattern.