Our fabric glossary is a comprehensive resource for information on all of our entire online fabric selection. This section contains detailed descriptions of a plethora of fabrics, including silk fabrics, wool fabrics, cottons, and a wide range of designer fabrics available in a variety of weaves and knits. From the natural strength and durability of our silk fabrics to the natural weather resistant properties of wool, find out which of our online fabric selections is best suited to your particular project.
Whether seeking fabric for a high-end designer brand or a creative home sewing project, let us help you find the ideal material for your apparel and décor needs. New York Fashion Center is a trusted favorite among designers in the New York Garment Center and we have available an in-house fashion designer to answer any questions our customers may have about our many online fabrics.
See Glossary A-L
Made from wool fibers, sometimes combined with synthetics, in either a twill or satin weave. It is heavy, closely sheared, compacted, and tightly woven. First used as a hunting cloth, the fabric resembles wool felt.
The process developed in 1844 by John Mercer to give a shiny, smooth finish to cotton fabric. First, the fabric is singed, then passed through a solution of caustic soda and finally rinsed. The process makes the fibers of the fabric swell, giving them increased strength and an increased ability to hold dye.
A plain-weave cotton fabric which is treated with a solution of linseed oil (an extract of the flax plant) and a coloring, and then glazed to ensure water-resistance. Oil cloth has been mostly replaced with plastic coated cloth, and was popular for tablecloths and rainwear.
A stiffened, sheer, lightweight, transparent fabric, usually made from tightly twisted cotton or polyester yarns, with a crisp finish. Will withstand repeated launderings and still preserve the crisp texture.
A swirled design named for the town of Paisley, Scotland, which was one of the major producers of the fabric in the early to mid-19th century. Often found on quilts, curtains and summery clothing.
From the Latin word for hair, pile is the extra yarn that protrudes from the surface of a fabric. Pile can be shaved and shaped, as with velvet and corduroy, or can be left uncut as with terry cloth.
Named after the Pima Indians who cultivated this plant in the Southwestern United States, Pima cotton is similar to Egyptian cotton, as it has exceptionally strong, long, combed fibers, dyes well and has a silky soft hand.
Also referred to as tartan cloth, plaid originated in the Scottish Highlands as a way to differentiate the different clans. Once denoting the garment itself, plaid is now used to refer to the specific crisscross designs and can be applied to a wide array of fabrics and uses.
A plain weave cotton fabric with permanent creases and wrinkles that have been produced through the application of a caustic solution in order to shrink specific areas. Similar in appearance to seersucker, plisse fabric is often used for bedspreads and dresses.
Also called tabinet, this plain-woven fabric has a corded surface that runs selvage to selvage. Usually made from a silk warp with a weft of worsted yarn, but can also be made with wool, cotton, rayon, or any mixture.
A lightweight, wind and water resistant textile. Double yarns create a box pattern to provide extra strength and resistance to tearing. Commonly used in outdoor clothing and equipment as well as outdoor flags because of its extreme durability.
A smooth lustrous, shiny fabric with a dull back that has a superb drape and sheen. It is characterized by a weaving technique that forms a minimum number of interlacings in a fabric. Satin differs from sateen in that it is woven using filament fibers such as silk or nylon whereas sateens are woven using short-staple fibers like cotton.
A fabric distinguishable by its crepe-like, crinkled stripes, which are made by weaving some of the warp threads slack and others tight. This fabric is traditionally cotton, but can be made from nylon, silk and other yarns, and is typically worn in the summer.
A semi-transparent fabric that can be treated to have varying levels of crispness or body. Sheer fabrics are often used as volumizers underneath other fabrics, as draperies, or as sleeves for evening wear.
The fabric is woven using the natural filament fiber produced by the silkworm in the construction of its cocoon. Silk is a naturally strong, lustrous, and fine fiber that produces long-lasting, versatile, and high-quality multi-purpose fabrics.
A form of embroidery in which fabric is gathered and folded to provide increased stretch and comfort. Developed in the Middle Ages, smocking requires soft, lightweight, durable fabric, often batiste, voile or lawn, and is typically used for collars, cuffs and bodices. Smocking often reduces the fabric's original width by up to two thirds.
Made with elastic fibers that can be stretched up to five times its original length without damage. When blended with natural fibers, it creates a lightweight and flexible fabric with great shape retention.
With a smooth feel, and a crisp hand, taffeta can be made from a variety of fibers including silk and rayon. It has a subtle horizontal ribbing effect and provides lots of body and an ultimate rustle.
The traditional name for Scottish plaid cloth, originally made from wool with a twill weave. From the French tiretaine meaning "linsey-woolsey". The sett, or number of threads of each color in each warp and weft stripe, of each style of tartan cloth is recorded and maintained by The Scottish Tartan Society.
A fabric made from the cellulose of wood pulp, then processed into a silk-like fabric that is very soft with great drape. It's usually a medium weight fabric that can be easily dyed and cared for.
A medium to heavy weight, roughly textured wool fabric, often featuring a twill weave, houndstooth or herringbone design. A classically English look accompanies this durable fabric, which is popular in sport coats, jackets and hats.
Typically produced with a knitted back, velour resembles velvet, but has some stretch and an uneven pile giving it a slightly rougher look. Velour is French for velvet, and it is made from fibers such as cotton, wool, or spun rayon.
Velvet is one of the most luxurious fabrics because of its evenly cut, thick, soft pile. Traditionally made from silk, velvet comes in a variety of blends like rayon/silk, cotton, or nylon, and some velvets, such as stretch velvet, has some lycra blended in as well.
A lightweight fabric made from cotton with a very short, dense pile. Developed in Manchester, England in the 18th century, velveteen lacks the sheen and drape of velvet, is woven with an extra filling yarn, and can have a plain or a twill back.
Usually made with cylindrical combed yarns, this plain, loosely woven fabric has an extremely clear surface because the excess fuzzy yarns are singed away. It is thin, semi-transparent, and very lightweight, resembling an organdy or organza in appearance.
The manner in which a fabric is produced, utilizing methods of combining the warp and weft threads. The type of weave affects the strength, stretch, sheen and weight of a fabric. The basic types of weaves are plain, twill and satin.
This textile is made using the fibers from the hair of animals, such as goats, sheep, camels, or llamas, and it comes in several different forms from crepe, to gabardine, to worsted. Wool is moisture absorbing and known for its warmth, and is also naturally stain and wrinkle resistant.
Named after the zibeline animal of Siberia, this textile is a satin weave faric made from the wool of cross-bred worsted yarns. Zibeline is napped, then steamed and pressed. It has a long, one-directional nape and is very sleek and shiny. Also known as zibaline.