Fabric Dictionary


A thick, bright green or red cloth that looks like felt. Used to cover billiard tables, or as pads under objects to prevent scratching. Also known as Bayeta.

Banana Silk

In many Asian countries, the stalk of the banana plant is processed to make fabric. Different layers of the banana stem yield fibers for different uses: The outer layer produces fibers used for tablecloths; the next layer yields fibers used for obi and ties; and the third layer is used for kimono and saris.


Worsted, silk, rayon or silk or rayon warp combined with cotton or wool; usually features a twilled hopsack weave. Has a fine textured, slightly pebbled surface. and often appears to be cut off-grain. English in origin and originally made as a mourning cloth. Still often dyed black. Used for women's suits and coats, men's evening wear, dress goods in light fibers. Also used in silk for cravat cloth and eveningwear.


A method, originating in Java, of resist dyeing which employs wax as the resist. The pattern is covered with wax and the fabric is then dyed, producing a white design on a dyed ground. The waxed patterns will not take the dye, and the wax is removed after dyeing. The process is repeated to obtain multicolored designs. The effect is sometimes imitated in machine prints.


Plain-weave cotton, also rayon and wool. Named after Jean Batiste, a French linen weaver. Lightweight, soft, semi-sheer fabric. It belongs to the lawn family and is almost transparent. It is made of tightly twisted, combed yarns and has a mercerized finish. Can be printed or embroidered. In a heavier weight, it is used for foundation garments and linings.


Silk fabric with brightly colored stripes in the filling direction. Often black warp. Mostly produced in India. Name derived from the Bajadere dancing girl of India, dedicated from birth to a dancing life. The Bayadere costume includes the striped garment, a flimsy scarf or shawl, jeweled trousers, spangles, sequins, anklets. Used for blouses, dresses, eveningwear.

Beaver Cloth

A double-faced wool made to simulate beaver fur. Thick and very warm. Length of nap varies with the cloth and its uses. Has a luxurious look and the longest nap of all the napped fabrics; usually somewhat silky. Often light colored fibers added to nap to increase shine. Mostly used for warm coats. Cotton beaver is used for caps, shoe linings, work cloths, maritime clothes and sports clothes.

Bedford Cord

Features a lengthwise rib; sometimes the ribs are emphasized by stuffing. Firmly constructed and extremely durable. Comes in various weights. Used for suiting, coatings, riding breeches, uniforms and upholstery. Originated in New Bedford, Mass.


A corded fabric like a faille but with heavier 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. Comes in silk, wool, rayon, synthetics, cotton. Used for coats, suits, millinery, trims, dresses, draperies. “Cotele” is a French term for bengaline made from a silk or rayon warp and worsted filling.

Birdseye Piqué

Has small diamond-shaped figures with a dot in the center of each. Pattern suggests the eye of a bird. Cotton and cotton blends; very soft, lightweight, and absorbent. Used for childrenswear, summer dresses and tops.

Blanket Cloth

Soft, raised finish or nap obtained by passing the fabric over a series of rollers covered with fine wire or teasels. Made in wool, worsted, cotton, blends, synthetics. Heavily napped on both sides. Named in honor of Thomas Blanket (Blanquette), a Flemish weaver who lived in Bristol, England in the XIV century, and was the first to use this material for sleeping to keep warm. Used for bed covering, overcoats, robes.


Corded like a faille or bengaline, with a silk or rayon warp and worsted filling. Also comes in cotton. Name comes from Latin "bombycinum" which means a silk in texture. It is one of the oldest materials known and was originally all silk. Used for coats, suits, millinery, trims, dresses, draperies.


Yarn with loops, which produces a woven or knitted fabric with tightly looped appearance. Made in a variety of weights. Boucle yarns are usually in both the filling and the warp. Comes in wool, also in rayon, silk, cotton, linen, blends, hair fibers. Classic Chanel jackets are often made from boucle or tweed. Used for coats, suits, dresses, sportswear.


Cotton, silk or rayon, with a plain weave and a very fine crosswise rib weave. Very closely woven and in cotton, made from either carded or combed yarns. 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 to 80 x 60. Has a smooth finish. May be bleached, dyed, or printed; also is often mercerized. Wears very well. Finest quality made from Egyptian or combed pima cotton, also Sea Island. Used for shirts, dresses, blouses, and summer wear of all kinds.


Silk, rayon, cotton, and many other types of fabrics with a rich, heavy, elaborate design effect. Often features colored or metallic threads which can make the design pop against a satin weave background. The pattern may be satin on a twill ground or twill on a satin ground. Can be reversible. Motifs may be of flowers, foliage, scrollwork, pastoral scenes, or other designs. Generally reputed to have been developed from the Latin name "brocade" which means to figure. Used for dresses, jackets, skirts, eveningwear and home decor.


Similar to brocade but heavier in weight. Comes in silk, rayon, cotton, and synthetics.True brocatelle is a double weave made of silk and linen warp and a silk and linen filling. Features an embossed pattern in the tight, compact woven warp-effect. Used for draperies, furniture, coverings and general decorating purposes, as well as all kinds of eveningwear.


A utilitarian fabric used for interlinings and all kinds of stiffening in clothes, bookbinding, and for millinery (because it can be moistened and shaped). Made from cotton, linen, hemp, and some synthetics. Features a plain loose weave, is very heavily sized and stiff. Can also be made from two fabrics glued together; one is open weave and the other much finer. Softens with heat; can be shaped while warm.


Burlap (or jute) is most  often used in textiles for interiors. Natural jute has a yellow to brown or gray color, with a silky luster. It consists of bundles of fiber held together by gummy substances that are pertinacious in character. It is difficult to bleach completely, so many fabrics are bright, dark, or natural brown in color. Jute reacts to chemicals in the same way as do cotton and flax. It is widely used in the manufacture of linoleum and carpets for backing or base fabric.


A process whereby a chemical (often sulfuric acid, mixed into a print paste) is printed on the fabric, instead of color. The chemical eats away the fiber and creates a hole in the fabric in the printed design. Can be used to simulate eyelet effects, where the fabric is then over-printed with a simulated embroidery stitch. Burn-out effects can also be created on velvets made of blended fibers, in which the ground fabric is of one fiber-like polyester, and the pile may be of a cellulose fiber like rayon or acetate. In this case, when the chemical is printed, it destroys the pile in those areas where the chemical comes in contact with the fabric, but leaves the base fabric untouched.

Butcher linen

It was originally made with linen but is now created with cotton or manufactured fibers. It launders well, sheds dirt, and is exceptionally durable.