This glossary explains a little bit about the fiber types we use in our clothing. If you have further questions, you can contact us for additional information.


The ester cellulose ethanoate (cellulose acetate), referred to commercially simply as acetate, is used in fabrics, fibers, and films. It is one of the first manufactured fibers and is soft with a crisp feel. It has the lustrous appearance of silk and an excellent appearance when draped. It is not a strong fiber, as its resistance to abrasion is poor. Resists shrinkage, moths, and mildew and does not absorb moisture readily. Its yarns are pliable and supple and will always spring back to their original shape. It is fast drying and when heated becomes more pliable. Acetone and alcohol dissolve acetate fibers. Special dyes are required if it is to be colored.
Back to Top

Acrylic resins, often called acrylics, are made by the polymerization of acrylates or other monomers containing the acrylic group. Acrylic compounds are thermoplastic (they soften or fuse when heated and reharden upon cooling), are impervious to water, and have low densities. These qualities make them suitable for the manufacture of a variety of objects and substances, including molded structural materials, adhesives, and textile fibers. Such fibers are used to weave durable, easily laundered fabrics that resist shrinkage. It is a durable fiber with a soft, woolly feel. It has an uneven surface, making it different from most manufactured fibers. It comes in a variety of colors, and can be dyed easily. It is resistant to sun and chemicals.
Uses: Often used as a replacement for wool.

Fiber: Silk, wool, rayon, synthetics, cotton.
Weave: Crosswise rib, warp faced.
Characteristics: A corded fabric resembling poplin but with heavier cords; it may be silk or rayon with worsted cords. First made of silk in Bengal, India. Ribs are round and raised. Often has wool or cotton drilling in the ribs which doesn't show. Difficult to make bound buttonholes in it. Has a tendency to slip at the seams if too tightly fitted. Grosgrain and Petersham is bengaline cut to ribbon widths. The cloth is usually 40" wide. Cotele - A French term for bengaline made from a silk or rayon warp and worsted filling which is given a hard twist.
Uses: Coats, suits, millinery, trims, bouffant dresses with a tailored look, mourning cloth, draperies.
Back to Top

Fiber: Wool, also in rayon, silk, cotton, linen, blends, hair fibers.
Weave: Any weave, knit.
Characteristics: Yarn with loops, which produces a woven or knitted fabric with rough appearance. A drawn out or ringed, looped yarn is used to give it a kinky appearance at intervals. Made in a variety of weights. Boucle yarns are usually in both the filling and the warp. Fabrics are usually springy to handle on account of the highly twisted yarns used to achieve the boucle effect. Often ravels easily.
Uses: Coats, suits, dresses

Fiber: Cotton and silk, and rayon. Very different than wool broadcloth.
Weave: Plain weave and in most cotton broadcloths made with a very fine crosswise rib weave.
Characteristics: Originally indicated a cloth woven on a wide loom. Very closely woven and in cotton, made from either carded or combed yarns. The filling is heavier and has less twist. It is finer than poplin when made with a crosswise rib and it is lustrous and soft with a good texture. Thread count ranges from high quality 144 x 6 count down to 80 x 60. Has a smooth finish. May be bleached, dyed, or printed; also is often mercerized. Wears very well.
Back to Top

Camel Hair
Fiber: Hair from the camel. Sometimes blended with wool or imitated in wool.
Weave: Twill or plain.
Characteristics: Bactrian Species of the Chinese and Mongolian deserts. Under hair is best. It is light-weight, lustrous and soft. It ranges from a light tan to a brownish-black color. Usually left in its natural tones but can be dyed-usually navy and some red. It has quite a long nap and is warm. Better grades are expensive. Sometimes blended with wool to reduce the cost and increase the wear. All wool camel hair is not as lustrous and is spongy. Can have either a rich nap or a flat finish. Wears fairly well, particularly if blended.
Uses: Coats

A soft fabric made of the fine, downy wool growing beneath the outer hair of the Cashmere goat.
Back to Top

A natural vegetable fiber of great economic importance as a raw material for cloth. Its widespread use is largely due to the ease with which its fibers are spun into yarns. Cotton's strength, absorbency, and capacity to be washed and dyed also make it adaptable to a considerable variety of textile products. It is one of the world's major textile fibers.

Cotton Brocade
Fiber: Cotton brocade often has the ground of cotton and the pattern of rayon and silk. Pattern is in low relief.
Weave: Jacquard and dobby
Characteristics: Rich, heavy, elaborate design effect. Sometimes with colored or metallic threads making the design usually against a satin weave background. This makes the figures stand out. The figures in brocade are rather loose, while in damask the figure threads are actually bound into the material. The pattern may be satin on a twill ground or twill on a satin ground. Often reversible. The motifs may be of flowers, foliage, scrollwork, pastoral scenes, or other designs. The price range is wide. Generally reputed to have been developed from the Latin name "brocade" which means to figure.
Uses: All types of evening wear, church vestments, interior furnishings, and state robes
Back to Top

Fiber: Wool and also rayon.
Weave in Wool: A 5 or 8 harness satin weave. Weave in Rayon: Twill weave and napped on one side, or a small satin-weave.
Characteristics: Very smooth, lustrous surface made with a slight short nap very close and compact weave to look like fine leather. Weave not visible because of napping. Very high quality wool used. Needs care in handling. Medium weight.
Uses: Women's suits and coats, and also in a lighter weight for dresses. Sportswear and riding habits for both men and women. Trousers and waistcoats for men.

Fiber: Cotton. Originally made in linen.
Weave: Plain, but also crosswise rib.
Characteristics: Also called duck. Name originated in 18th Century when canvas sails from Britain bore the trademark symbol - a duck. Very closely woven and heavy, it is the most durable fabric made. There are many kinds of duck but the heavier weights are called canvas. It may be unbleached, white, dyed, printed, or painted. Washable, many are water-proof and wind proof. Made in various weights. AKA Cotton Canvas
Back to Top

Fiber: Polyester/Polyethylene - recycled soda bottles!
Weave: Knit, with several possible textures.
Characteristics: Varies with the type of fleece.  We use fleece fabrics purchased from Malden Mills almost exclusively. 
Classic Polarfleece has a 100% polyester velour construction creates air pockets that trap air and retain body heat. Unlike less expensive fleece fabrics, Polartec® Classic products maintain their insulating ability and non-pilling appearance after repeated laundering.  The 100 series is lightweight, 200 is midweight and 300 is heavyweight.
Malden Mills also makes weather protection grade fleeces with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR).  Polartec® Wind Pro® has four times more wind resistance than traditional fleece without sacrificing breathability. Polartec® Windbloc-ACT® blocks 98% of the wind while Polartec® Windbloc® is completely wind-proof.

From the Malden Mills website:
Q. What's the difference between Malden Mills fleeces and copycat fleeces?
A. Be careful of the imitations! Other manufacturers are producing fleeces that may appear to be similar to Malden Mills fleeces, but they aren't. They will cut costs by:

Back to Top

Fiber: Worsted cotton, rayon, or mixtures.
Weave: Steep twill (63 degrees).
Characteristics: A smooth durable twill-woven cloth esp. of worsted, spun rayon or cotton. Clear finish, tightly woven, firm, durable, rather lustrous. Can be given a dull finish. Has single diagonal lines on the face, raised twill. Wears extremely well. Also comes in various weights. Inclined to shine with wear. Hard to press properly.
Uses: Men's and women's tailored suits, coats, raincoats, uniforms.

Guipure Lace
A heavy stiff open lace. Design stands in relief. There is no background or net, the patterned areas are joined by threads known as bridges.
Back to Top

Hair Canvas
A form of interfacing - high quality which lends itself to molding for areas such as firm blazer rolled collars.

A woven design made with the aid of a jacquard head (this constitutes a jacquard loom) and may vary from simple, self-colored, spot effects to elaborate, multicolored all-over effects. The loom operates a bit like the roller on a player piano. But instead of notes, it gives instructions to the machine on how to create the design.
Back to Top

Lambs wool
Definition of Lamb`s Wool
Elastic, soft, resilient wool fibers obtained from lambs when they are seven or eight months old - the first or virgin clipping from the animal. This lofty stock is used in better grades of fabrics.

Fiber: Silk or any textile fiber in which metallic threads are used in the warp or the filling. Lamé is also a trade mark for metallic yarns.
Weave: Usually a figured weave but could be any.
Characteristics: A fabric with gold or silver threads interwoven. Often has pattern all over the surface. The shine and glitter of this fabric makes it suitable for dressy wear. The term comes from the French for "worked with gold and silver wire".
Uses: Principally for evening wear. a fabric with gold or silver threads interwoven.
Back to Top

Characteristics: Cloth woven from flax. This fiber is taken from the stalk of the Linum usitaatissimum plant. It is a long, smooth fiber and is cylindrical in shape. its length varies from 6 to 40 inches but on average is between 15 and 25 inches. its color is usually off-white or tan and due to its natural wax content, flax has excellent luster. It is considered to be the strongest of the vegetable fibers and is highly absorbent, allowing moisture to evaporate with speed. It conducts heat well and can be readily boiled. It's wash ability is great, however, it has poor elasticity and does not easily return to its original shape after creasing.
Uses: Apparel fabric. When processed into fabric it is called linen.

Various rayons, cottons, synthetics, and blends are woven with threads of uneven thickness to simulate linen. They lack the cool, firm, yet soft feel of linen. Their irregularities are too even when seen beside real linen.
Back to Top

Fiber: Wool, sometimes combined with synthetics.
Weave: Twill or satin weave.
Characteristics: Thick well fulled or felted wool with a smooth surface. Napped and very closely sheared. Coarse meltons are similar to makinaws but made of finer yarns and finished with a smoother, more lustrous surface - used for "under collar cloth" in lighter weights. Very solid cloth due to the finishing processes that completely conceal the weave. It wears very well. Wind resistant. Used for heavy outer garments and coats.

Fiber: From the angora goat. Some has cotton warp and mohair filling (sometimes called brilliantine). Imitation mohair made from wool or a blend.
Weave: Plain or twill or knitted.
Characteristics: Angora goat is one of the oldest animals known to man. It is 2 1/2 times as strong as wool. Goats are raised in South Africa, Western Asia, turkey, and neighboring countries. Some are in the U.S.A. Fabric is smooth, glossy, and wiry. Has long wavy hair. Also made in a pile fabric of cut and uncut loops similar to frieze with a cotton and wool back and mohair pattern. - Similar to alpaca.
Uses: Linings, pile fabrics, suitings, upholstery fabrics, braids, dress materials, felt hats, and sweaters.
Back to Top

Fiber: Silk, rayon, cotton.
Weave: Plain or crosswise rib.
Characteristics: Has a watermarked finish. Fairly stiff with body in most cases. It is produced by passing the fabric between engraved cylinders which press the design into the material, causing the crushed and uncrushed parts to reflect the light differently. The pattern is not permanent, except on acetate rayon.
Uses: After 5 wear, formals, dresses and coats.

A smooth delicately woven cotton fabric, used for dresses and curtains. In the USA, coarser cotton fabrics used for shirts and sheeting are also called muslins.
Back to Top

Nacre Velvet
Characteristics: The back is of one color and the pile of another, so that it gives a changeable, pearly appearance. Also called cross weave or cross dye.

Characteristics: This manufactured fiber is very strong and is resistant to both abrasion and damage from many chemicals. It is elastic, easy to wash and is quite lustrous. It returns easily to its original shape and is non-absorbent. It is fast drying, resistant to some dyes, and resistant to moths and other insects, water, perspiration and standard dry-cleaning agents.
Back to Top

Fiber: Silk, rayon.
Weave: Plain.
Characteristics: A thin stiff transparent silk or synthetic dress fabric. Fine, sheer, lightweight, crisp fabric. It has a very wiry feel. It crushes or musses fairly easily, but it is easily pressed. Dressy type of fabric, sometimes has a silvery sheen.
Uses: All types of after 5 dresses, trimming, neckwear, millinery, and underlinings for delicate, sheer materials, as well as an underlining for other fabrics that require a bit of stiffness without weight.

Panne Velvet/Velour
Characteristics: Has a longer or higher pile than velvet, but shorter than plush. It is pressed flat and has a high luster made possible by a tremendous roller-press treatment given the material in finishing. Now often made as knit fabric.
Uses: Many and varied.
Back to Top

The nap of the fabric - when the fabric is brushed in one direction it looks like a different color - velvet and corduroy are classic examples.

Fiber: Any of a group of condensation polymers used to form synthetic fibers such as Terylene or to make resins and fabric made from such a polymer.
Characteristics: It is an extremely resilient fiber that is smooth, crisp and particularly springy. Its shape is determined by heat and it is insensitive to moisture. It is lightweight, strong and resistant to creasing, shrinking, stretching, mildew and abrasion. It is readily washable and is not damaged by sunlight or weather and is resistant to moths and mildew.
Uses: Many and varied.
Back to Top

Characteristics: Any of various textile fibers or fabrics made from viscose. This cellulose fiber is highly absorbent. Its drapability and dye ability are excellent and it is fairly soft. Rayon does have a tendency to shrink but does not melt in high temperatures. It is resistant to moths and is not affected by ordinary household bleaches and chemicals.

Characteristics: A fabric of silk or various man-made fibers, with a glossy surface on one side produced by a twill weave with the weft-threads almost hidden. Became known in Europe during the 12th, and 13th Centuries in Italy. Became known in England by the 14th Century. It became a favorite of all court life because of its exquisite qualities and feel. Usually has a lustrous surface and a dull back. The luster is produced by running it between hot cylinders. Made in many colors, weights, varieties, qualities, and degrees of stiffness. A low grade silk or a cotton filling is often used in cheaper cloths.
Uses: Slips, evening dresses, coats, capes, and jackets, lining fabrics, millinery, drapes, covers, and pillows, trimmings, etc.
Back to Top

The edge of raw fabric which is unable to fray. Usually has company information and/or color matching dots on it.

Characteristics: It is obtained from cocoons of certain species of caterpillars. It is soft and has a brilliant sheen. It is one of the finest textiles. It is also very strong and absorbent.
Silk is one of the oldest known textile fibers and, according to Chinese tradition, was used as long ago as the 27th century BC. The silkworm moth was originally a native of China, and for about 30 centuries the gathering and weaving of silk was a secret process, known only to the Chinese.
Back to Top

Silk Dupionni
Characteristics: Silk yarns made from the cocoon of two silk worms that have nested together. In spinning, the double strand is not separated so the yarn is uneven and irregular with a large diameter in places. Fabric is of silk made in a plain weave. The fabric is very irregular and shows many slubs - seems to be made in a hit and miss manner. It is imitated in rayon and some synthetics. Tailors very well.

Silk Habutai
Weave: Plain.
Characteristics: Very light weight and soft. A little heavier than China Silk, but similar. Sold by weight measure known as "momme" (1 momme = 3.75 g). Made from waste silk that can be twisted. It is piece dyed or printed and sized. Comes from Japan - originally woven in the gum on Japanese hand looms. Lighter than shantung.
Back to Top

Fiber: Cotton, silk, rayon, synthetics.
Weave: Plain.
Characteristics: It is a raw silk made from Tussah silk or silk waste, depending on the quality. It is quite similar to pongee, but has a more irregular surface, heavier, and rougher. Most of the slubs are in the filling direction. Wrinkles quite a bit. Underlining helps to prevent this as well as slipping at the seams. Do not fit too tightly, if long wear is expected. Comes in various weights, colors and also printed.
Uses: Dresses, suits, and coats.

Shot Taffeta
Characteristics: Usually plain weave, woven with one color in the warp and another color in the filling, which gives the fabric an iridescent look. If fabric is moved in the light this color changes. Silk version of chambray.
Back to Top

Silk Tussah
Weave: Usually plain but also in twill.
Characteristics: Made from wild or uncultivated silkworms. It is coarse, strong, and uneven. Dull luster and rather stiff. Has a rough texture with many slubs, knots, and bumps. It is ecru or tan in color and it is difficult to bleach. It usually doesn't take an even dye color. Wears well and becomes more rough looking with wear. It wrinkles a little, but not as much as some. Various weights. Appears in filament and staple form.
Uses: In lighter weights, dresses. In heavier weights, coats and suits and ensembles.

Suede Cloth
Fiber: Wool, cotton, rayon, synthetics and blends.
Weave: Plain, twill, or knitted.
Characteristics: Napped on one side to resemble suede leather. Short, close nap gives a soft, smooth hand. When made in cotton, it resembles duvetyne, but heavier.
Uses: Cleaning cloths, gloves, linings, sports coats.
Back to Top

Characteristics: A heavy jacquard fabric usually multicolored. Warps and filling very tightly woven. The designs vary from traditional to contemporary. Used for upholstery only.

Transparent Velvet
Characteristics: Lightweight, very soft, draping velvet made with a silk or rayon back and a rayon pile.
Back to Top

Fiber: Worsted, wool, rayon, blends with synthetics.
Weave: 63 twill, left to right (double).
Characteristics: Has a double twill rib on the face of the cloth. Has a very clear finish. It drapes well, and tailors easily. Medium in weight. Has exceptional wearing qualities. Very much like cavalry twill, but finer. In the same family as whipcords, coverts, and gabardines.
Uses: Men's and women's suits and coats. It is also used for ski slacks in a stretch fabric.

Tropical Worsted Wool
Fiber: 100% worsted. If just called tropical, it can be made up in any fiber or blends of wool and a synthetic.
Weave: Plain and rather open weaves.
Characteristics: The yarns are very tightly twisted and woven to permit a free circulation of air. It is lightweight ad is ideal for summer and tropical wear. It has a clear finish. Wears and tailors very well.
Uses: Both men's and women's suits and coats.
Back to Top

Fiber: Silk, nylon, cotton.
Weave: Gauze, knotted, leno, made on a lace machine.
Characteristics: A soft fine silk etc. net for veils and dresses. First made by Machine in 1768. Has a hexagonal mesh and is stiff. It is difficult to launder. Comes is white and colors, and is very cool, dressy, and delicate.
Uses: It is a stately type of fabric when used for formal wear, and weddings. It is also used for ballet costumes and wedding veils.

Fiber: Wool, also cotton, rayon, silk, linen, and synthetics.
Weave: Twill, novelty variations, or plain.
Characteristics: It is the Scotch name for twill and originated along the banks of the Tweed river, which separates England from Scotland. Sometimes known as "tweel". Sister-cloth of homespun cheviot and Shetland. They are the same in texture, yarn, weight, feel, and use. Originally only made from different colored stock-dyed fibers, producing various color effects. There are a wide range of rough surfaced, sturdy fabrics. There are also some closely woven smoother, softer yarn fabrics, and many monotone tweeds. May also be plaid, checked, striped, or other patterns. Does not hold a crease very well.
Uses: Wide range of suits, coats, and sportswear for men, women and children. Lighter weight, used for dresses.
Back to Top

Weave: A fabric so woven as to have a surface of diagonal parallel ridges

Fiber: Cotton, wool, or spun rayon.
Weave: Thick, plush pile, with a plain or satin ground, or sometimes knitted.
Characteristics: The pile is characterized by uneven lengths (usually two) which gives it a rough look. The two lengths of pile create light and shaded areas on the surface. A rather pebbled effect. This type of velour was invented and made in Lyons, France, in 1844. "Velours" is the French term for velvet. "Cotton velour" is simply cotton velvet.
Uses: Hats, dressing gowns, dresses, waist-coats, upholstery. Now most commonly sold as knit velour.
Back to Top

Fiber: Silk, rayon, cotton, synthetics, and a little wool and worsted.
Weave: Pile, made with an extra warp yarn.
Characteristics: A closely woven fabric of silk, cotton, etc., with a thick short pile on one side. Mostly made with a plain back but some with a twill. Some are made with a silk pile and a rayon or cotton back. Comes in many types, qualities, and weights. Good velvet wears fairly well but is expensive. The cheaper cloths give little service and look well only a few times before beginning to deteriorate. Better velvet may be crush resistant, water resistant, and drapes well. Has to be handled with care, and pressed on a velvet board. Cut all one way. For the maximum amount of depth in the color, cut with the pile running up. It also wears better when cut this way. Velvet should be cut with very simple lines in the garment, so as not to destroy the beauty of the fabric. It has the tendency to add weight to the figure.
Uses: All types of evening wear, at home wear, draperies, upholstering.

Fiber: Cotton, sometimes rayon.
Weave: Filling pile, very short.
Characteristics: Woven with an extra filling yarn with either a plain or a twill back (twill back is the best). Warp yarns 80/inch - weft ranges from 175 to 600 depending on the desired density of the pile. Mercerized with a durable finish. Strong and takes hard wear. Poor quality rubs off. Some of it can be laundered. It is warm. Comes in all colors, gradually piece dyed or may be printed. Has to be cut all one way. Press carefully, preferably on a velvet board, or tumble dry after laundering (no pressing needed).
Uses: Children's wear, dresses, coats, draperies, lounge wear, separates.
Back to Top

This fiber is made from the hair of various animals such as sheep, llamas, camels, and goats. It is very resilient and resistant to wrinkling. It is renewed by moisture and well-known for its warmth.
Uses: Clothing, blankets, winter wear

Wool Broadcloth
Weave: Usually a twill with a two up and one down construction. Some also in the plain weave.
Characteristics: Has a napped face, closely sheared and polished, producing a silky gloss - in same group of fabrics as kersey, beaver cloth, melton. One way nap, must be handled like velvet when cutting. It comes in a variety of colors and weights. It is "dressy" fabric and must be handled with care - form fitting and drapes well.
Back to Top

Wool Coating or Coat Wool
The wool is woven, then partially felted and napped or brushed to make it plusher. It's not as good a wind block as the melton, however it's lighter weight.

Wool Flannel
Weave: Usually twill, some plain.
Characteristics: Originated in Wales. Soft, with a napped surface that partially cancels the weave. Dull finish. Made in a variety of weights. More loosely woven than the worsted flannel with a higher nap and bulkier hand. Shrinks if not pre-shrunk. Does not shine or hold a crease. Watch pressing - if pressed too hard, it flattens in the nap. Comes in many colors, weights, and fancy effects. Sometimes has a prickly feel when worn. Double-layer wool flannel is comparable to a lined cloak, but without the potential problems with sagging linings over time and layers that can twist in opposite directions.
Uses: Blazers, dresses, skirts, suits and coats. Boys suits, jackets, and shirts. Shirts and sportswear.
Back to Top

Wool Melton
The wool is treated with heat and pressure to bind fibers together, the produces a felted fabric which is very dense and wind-resistant.

Worsted Wool Flannel
Weave: Twill
Characteristics: Made in a variety of weights. More closely woven and harder than the wool flannel. Can have a very slight nap on one side. Tailors very well. Presses well and holds a hard crease.
Uses: Men's suits, jackets and trousers. Women's coats, suits, skirts, and tailored dresses.
Back to Top

Site Index