Fabric Dictionary


Fiber: Linen, silk, rayon, cotton, synthetics, wool, worsteds.

Weave: Figured on Jacquard loom.

Characteristics: Originally made of silk, that came to us from China via Damascus. In the XIII Century, Marco Polo gave an interesting tale about it. It is one of the oldest and most popular cloths to be found today. Very elaborate designs are possible. Cloth is beetled, calendared and the better qualities are gross-bleached. Very durable. reversible fabric. Sheds dirt. The firmer the texture, the better the quality. Launders well and holds a high luster - particularly in linen. - Price range varies a great deal. There are two types of damask table cloths: 1) Single damask table cloths: construction. Thread count is usually around 200. 2) Double damask has an 8 shaft satin construction with usually twice as many filling yarns as warp yarns. This gives a much greater distinctness to the pattern. Thread count ranges from 165 to 400.- The quality of both depends on the yarn used and the thread count. - If the same quality and thread count are used, single is better than double because the shorter floats are more serviceable and the yarns hold more firmly. Double damask with less than 180 thread count is no good for home use.

Degummed Silk

By boiling the silk in hot water, the gum (sericin) is removed from the yarn/fabric. By doing this, the luster of the silk is enhanced. It is very lightweight.


Fiber: Cotton

Weave: Twill - right hand - may be L2/1 or L3/1.

Characteristics: Originally had dark blue, brown or dark gray warp with a white or gray filling giving a mottled look and used only for work clothes. now woven in bright and pastel colors with stripes as well as plain. Long wearing, it resists snags and tears. Comes in heavy and lighter weights.

Uses: Work clothes, overalls, caps, uniforms, bedspreads, slipcovers, draperies, upholstery, sportswear, of all kinds, dresses and has even been used for evening wear.

From serge de Nim 'serge of Némes', a city in S. France


Fiber: Cotton

Weave: Plain weave with a crosswise or lengthwise spaced rib or crossbar effect.

Characteristics: A thin sheer with corded spaced stripes that could be single, double or triple grouping. Made of combed yarn and is 36" wide. Has a crisp texture which remains fairly well after washing. Resembles lawn in the white state. It is easy to sew and manipulate and launders well. Creases unless crease-resistant. May be bleached, dyed, or printed and often printed with a small rose-bud design. It is mercerized and has a soft luster.

Uses: Children's dresses, women's dresses, and blouses, infant's wear, collar and cuff sets, bassinets, bedspreads, curtains, underwear. Has a very young look. Uncertain, possibly from the greek word dismitos meaning double thread, or after the city of Damieta in northern Egypt.

Direct Print

Pattern and ground color printed on fabric in the colors desired, as opposed to extract printing done on a dyed cloth. Cretonne is an example of a direct print

Dobby Fabric

With geometric figures woven in a set pattern. Similar to, but more limited, more quickly woven, and cheaper than jacquards, which require elaborate procedures to form patterns.

Dobby Loom

A type of loom on which small, geometric figures can be woven in as a regular pattern. Originally this type of loom needed a dobby boy who sat on the top of the loom and drew up warp threads to term a pattern. Now the weaving is done entirely by machine. This loom differs from a plain loom in that it may have up to thirty-two harnesses and a pattern chain and it's expensive weaving.


Fiber: Wool and also rayon.

Weave: A 5 or 8 harness satin weave. 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.

Domett Flannel

Fiber: Cotton

Weave: Plain and twill

Characteristics: Also spelled domet. Generally made in white. Has a longer nap than on flannelette. Soft filling yarns of medium or light weight are used to obtain the nap. The term domett is interchangeable with "outing flannel" but it is only made in a plain weave. Both are soft and fleecy and won't irritate the skin. Any sizing or starching must be removed before using. Outing flannel is also piece-dyed and some printed and produced in a spun rayon also.

Uses: Mostly used for infants wear, interlinings, polished cloths.


Fiber: Wool - also in rayons and cottons.

Weave: Mostly plain but some in twill.

Characteristics: Originally a homespun woven by the peasants in Donegal, Ireland. A rough and ready fabric that stands much hard wear. Yarns are coarse with thick slubs and colored nubs. Now made in other places as well - particularly England.

Uses: Coats, heavy suits, sportswear. Has a tailored, sporty look.

Dotted Swiss

Fiber: Cotton

Weave: Plain weave for ground with a swivel, lappet or flocked dot.

Characteristics: Dots could be a single color or multicolored. Placed regularly or irregularly on a semi-sheer usually crisp fabric which may or may not be permanent. First made on hand looms in Switzerland and some still is. It is made in 32" widths. The lappet is the most permanent. When hand woven with a swivel attachment the dots are tied in by hand on the back of the cloth. The ground fabric is usually a Voilé or a lawn.

Uses: Children's and women's summer dresses and blouses, aprons, curtains, bedspreads. It is a young looking fabric.

Double-faced Satin

Yarn woven with two warps and one filling, to simulate a double satin construction. Has satin on both sides. Cotton filling is often used in cheaper qualities.


Fiber: Cotton, wool, worsted, silk, rayon, and synthetics

Weave: Circular or flat-needle bar type

Characteristics: A two faced cloth, either face may be utilized as the right side. The fabric originated in Milan and Florence. Can be stabilized for shrinkage control and dry cleans satisfactorily.


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, and one such fabric is called "Cupioni". Dupion yarns also used in shantung, pongee. Tailors very well.


Fiber: Cotton or Linen.

Weave: Twill. Left-hand twill. From top left to lower right. L2/1 or L3/1.

Characteristics: a coarse twilled cotton or linen fabric. Closer, flatter Wales that ganardine. Medium weight and course yarns are used. Also made in some other weights. Some left in the gray but can be bleached or dyed. When dyed a khaki color it is known by that name.

Uses: Uniforms, work clothes, slip covers, sportswear, and many industrial uses. Earlier drilling via German Drillich from Latin trilix -licis, from tri- 'three' + licium 'thread'


Weave: Satin.

Characteristics: This form of satin has a wonderful luster and a smooth feel. Its thread count is very high. An 8-12 shaft satin. Very fine yarns are used, particularly in the warp with more ends/inch than picks. The material is strong, has a high luster, and texture, and it is firm. Usually 91.5cm (36") wide. Characterized by grainy twill on back.

Uses: Women's wear.


Fiber: Good quality wool. If made in cotton, is usually called suede cloth.

Weave: Satin, 7 or 8 shaft.

Characteristics: Close weave, brushed, singed, and sheared to conceal the weave. Has a smooth plush appearance resembling a compact velvet. Similar to wool broadcloth but heavier and thicker. Has a good draping quality, soft and wears well if looked after. Spots easily and care must be taken when handling it. Back is often slightly napped also. Name derived from the French word "duvet" meaning "down".

Uses: Women's coats, suits, and dresses, depending on the weight. Used a great deal in the millinery trade.


The coloring of greige (gray) goods or fibers with either natural or synthetic dyes. This may be done in many different ways depending on the type of fabric (or fiber), the type of dye and the desired result Some of the more common methods are:

Continuous Dyeing - Fabric is continuously dyed. Dye lots may run to 30.000 yards/color.

Jet Dyeing - Used for dyeing Polyester. Pressure kettles are used to reach extremely high temperatures and force the dye into the fiber.

Milliken Dyeing - Developed by Milliken & Company for continuous pattern dyeing.

Piece Dyeing - Fabric is passed through the dye solution for a specified length of time.

Printing - A term referring to methods of applying designs to greige goods. Some types of printing are roller printing, screen printing, and handblocked printing.

Solution Dyeing - A solution of dye is added to the liquid synthetic before spinning it into a yarn.

Vat Dyeing - An insoluble dye that has been made soluble is put on the fiber and then oxidized to the original insoluble form. Average dye lot 700 yards.

Yarn Dyeing - Yarn is dyed before it is woven into fabric.

Cationic Dyeing - A dye technique that allows certain fibers (like nylon, or polyester)to take deep and brilliant colors. When catonic fiber is fixed with conventional fiber, various multicolors and cross-dye effects can be achieved from a single dye bath.Middle English dien.