Fabric Dictionary

Abaca

It is a Natural Fiber from the Philippines who's plant stems from the banana family. Also known as Manila Hemp, it is a hard fiber.

Uses:

  • • hammocks
  • • ropes
  • • canvas
  • • hats
  • • bags
  • • rugs

Pros:

  • • strong
  • • durable
  • • flexible
  • • lustrous
  • • fine
  • • resistant to salt water damage

Cons:

  • • shrinks in water
Abrasion

This is used to describe how strong a fabric is. Abrasion resistant fabrics are not damaged easily from scraping or wear away easily. Cellulose fibers, such as cotton , linen, nylon and polyester, rank highest in strength compared to other fibers.

Absorbency

The ability of a fiber to take in moisture. Fibers can either be Hydrophilic or Hydrophobic.

Acetate

One of the first Manufactured Fibers, acetate was created in the early 20th century. Although widely discouraged when first brought to the market, it gained popularity due to its reaction to heat. It was used for moire, since the pattern would not wash away and was able to hold a pleat. It is sometimes mixed with natural fibers as a cheaper alternative. Usually used in evening wear, it is a good alternative for silk.

Uses:

  • • evening dresses
  • • bridal
  • • drapery
  • • linings
  • • lingerie

Pros:

  • • hydrophilic
  • • soft
  • • crisp
  • • little shrinkage
  • • lustrous
  • • excellent drape
  • • breathable
  • • comfortable
  • • excellent color fastness
  • • no static

Cons:

  • • dry clean or hand wash only
  • • poor abrasion resistance
  • • poor heat retention
  • • weak fiber
Acrylic

This is a synthetic fiber that came about during the 1940's. It is created using shorter staples like that of a wool and made into yarn. It is a great alternative to Cashmere, for it has a similar hand. This fiber can be made to mimic wool and cotton depending on its desired outcome.

Uses:

  • • sweaters
  • • hats
  • • gloves
  • • tracksuits
  • • carpets
  • • upholstery
  • • faux fur

Pros:

  • • stronger than wool
  • • thermal retentive
  • • soft
  • • lightweight
  • • excellent color fastness
  • • machine washable
  • • hydrophobic
  • • resilient

Cons:

  • • fuzz and pills easily
  • • low absorbancy
  • • carries static
  • • heat sensitive
  • • weak
Agneline

A black woolen fabric with a very long nape, and is coarse and heavy. When stretched the fibers tighten and become water resistant.

Pros:

  • • water resistant

Cons:

  • • coarse
  • • heavy
African George

A shantung-like ground with an embroidered design that is typically gold and lines its edge. This fabric saw its beginnings in India and was used to make saris. It later became a staple in Africa as the primary fabric to dress royalty, people of wealth, or brides and grooms. (See George)

African Prints (Dutch Wax Prints)

From a culture historically known for creating stunning textiles through woven designs, each piece holds information. From its color to its design to how its yarns are spun, each is piece of its cultivation is symbolic to who will be wearing the final product. Prints are named after cities, sayings and occasions. Commonly depicted in a variety of bold and bright colors and shapes creating one-of-a-kind patterns. They are used as headpieces and traditional garments, but are seen now on runways all over the world.

Albert Cloth

Named after Prince Albert, this fabric is made of wool and is double-sided. It commonly showcases a pattern on each face and is mostly used for outerwear, specifically double-breasted overcoats.

Uses:

  • • outerwear
  • • overcoats
Alginic

Produced from seaweed, it is used as an additive in some fabrics because of its waterproofing and fireproofing capabilities.

Uses:

  • • accent pieces
  • • camouflage
  • • netting

Pros:

  • • waterproof
  • • fireproof
  • • skin safe

Cons:

  • • poor color fastness
Alpaca

One of the more luxurious natural fibers, it is said to be "the fabric of the gods" since it was only used for royalty. When spun into yarns, it can be light or heavy and has a natural elasticity. This fiber is commonly used in Armani collections for a number of suiting applications. The two types of alpaca fibers are Huacaya and Suri. Each showcases a different look. It remains warm, even when wet, and is a great substitute for sheep wool. With 22 different color alpacas, over 300 shades of their natural fleece may be produced.

Uses:

  • • sweaters
  • • jackets
  • • scarves
  • • hats
  • • mittens

Pros:

  • • soft
  • • silky
  • • insulating
  • • lustrous
  • • durable
  • • hypoallergenic
  • • water-repellent
  • • thermal insolator
  • • drapable

Cons:

  • • hand wash and dry clean only
  • • pills
Angora

A type of rabbit, its fibers give off what is called a "halo" or a fluffiness. A good replacement for wool, it is warmer and lighter. If yarns are made with 100% of the fiber, it should only be used as decoration for it is prone to abrasion and felts in humidity. It is usually blended with wool. The rabbits are bred in a variety of neutral tones.

Uses:

  • • sweaters
  • • suiting
  • • felting

Pros:

  • • soft
  • • lightweight
  • • warm
  • • silky
  • • floating drape

Cons:

  • • not abrasion resistant
  • • no elasticity
  • • felting
Anti-Microbial

A type of finish given to synthetic fiber that prevents odor and growth of bacteria, fungi and mold. It is primarily used in activewear.

Uses:

  • • bathing suits
  • • athletic wear
  • • leggings

Pros:

  • • prevents odor and bacteria growth
Appliqué

A derivative of the French word appliquer, which means to join or attach, appliques refers to decorative needlework or ornamentations in the form of a cutout design which is sewn or applied onto a large piece of fabric to form pictures or patterns. Appliqued cloth dates as far back as the 18th Century.

Uses:

  • • decoration
Aramid

Mostly used in military garments, aramid is a synthetic fiber known for its strength and heat resistance. It was created in the 1960's by the company DuPont (also created Lycra), and named Nomex. Since the fiber doesn't melt or ignite, it can be used for protective apparel, and thermal and electrical insulation.

Uses:

  • • protective gear
  • • thermal insulation
  • • electrical insulation

Pros:

  • • strongest fiber existing
  • • flameproof
  • • good abrasion resistance
  • • good chemical resistance

Cons:

  • • pills
  • • retains static
  • • sensative to U.V. radiation
Argyle

Consistent of perpendicular diagonal lines overlapping a diamond pattern to create a 3-dimensional look. Originally created in Scotland, it is widely used around the globe. It is most commonly seen as socks, sweaters and vests. It is also known for portraying a preppy aesthetic.

Astrakhan

Made from a karakul lamb, its fleece appears looped with a bit of luster. With a variety of natural tones, black is the most popular. More widely used in the late 1800's to the early 1900's, it is a rare fabric on the market. It is also known as a type of Karakul pelt specifically from Russia.

Uses:

  • • trims
  • • collars
  • • evening coats
Awning Stripes

In being measured at no thinner than a quarter of an inch, it is the widest stripe. It is typically seen as a solid color alternating with white.

Uses:

  • • shirting
  • • summer dresses
  • • upholstery