Fabric Dictionary


Fiber: Wool. Ordinary grade of wool and often has shoddy re-used or remanufactured wool mixed in. Sometimes a cotton warp is used.

Weave: Twill or double cloth. Weave is concealed.

Characteristics: Very heavily fulled or felted and napped on both sides to conceal the weave. Much of the fabric is in a plaid or large check design or brightly colored, or different colors on each side. Heavy and thick, very similar to melton. Named for MacKinac Island, Michigan. Also called ski cloth or snow cloth.

Uses: Miners, lumbermen, hunters, trappers, fishermen, and cowboys use much of the fabric for jackets, mackinaws and coats. Also used for blankets, shirts, and some heavy sportswear,windbreakers.


Weave: knotted lace

Characteristics: Originally made in Arabia but later made in Italy. Used to manufacture shawls and scarves.


Fiber: Cotton - some in rayon and silk.

Weave: Plain, also dobby or jacquard for designs.

Characteristics: Originated in Madras, India and it is a very old cloth. Much of it has a plain colored background with stripes, plaid, checks, or designs on it. Has a high thread count and fine. Made with combed or carded yarns depending on the quality. Some is mercerized to make it lustrous and durable. Often the dyes are not fast and with each washing, color changes take place.

Uses: Men's and women's sportswear of all kinds, dresses, separates, shirts.

Manila Hemp

Also known as Abaca.

This vegetable leaf fiber is derived from the Musa textilis plant. It is mainly grown in the Philippines (where it is a chief export product) but is also found, in smaller amounts, in Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia and Costa Rica. The fiber is obtained from the outer layer of the leaf. Processing occurs when it is separated mechanically decorticated into lengths varying from 1 to 3 meters. Mature plants are processed much the same as flax and hemp. The finer fibers, often 5 m (15 ft) long, are used for weaving cloth. The outer, coarser fibers are used in the manufacture of matting and durable cordage; the latter is widely considered the finest rope made. Abaca is very strong with great luster. It is very resistant to damage from salt water.

Uses: Cordage.

Manufactured Fiber

Characteristics: Its commercial use is still fairly recent. It was only one hundred years ago that Manufacture Fibers were utilized in this fashion, beginning with artificial silk in 1889. It is very flexible and versatile and can be cared for easily. It is wrinkly free, flame resistant and very comfortable.

Marble Cloth

Characteristics: Originally made of silk and wool. Today it is produced with natural and manufactured fibers.


Characteristics: It is ribbed with a wavy look, resembling Crépe. It is made of silk, wool and manufactured fibers.

Uses: Suits.


Fiber: Silk, cotton, rayon, synthetics.

Weave: Gauze or lino.

Characteristics: Very lightweight, open, sheer, mesh fabric. Wears very well and launders very well. Comes in white, solid colors and novelty effect. Sometimes with a swivel dot or clip spot (marquisette).

Uses: Window curtains, dressy dress wear, such as bridal parties or after 5 wear.


Characteristics: Named after its city of origin in France. It is identified by its raised woven pattern. This double-faced textile has a quilted appearance that is very elegant. usually found in white, but occasionally other colors are used.


French for "cushioned or padded". Fiber: Figured made on jacquard or dobby loom, in double cloth weave.

Characteristics: The pattern stands out and gives a "pouch" or "quilted" effect to the goods. Crépe yarn in double weave shrinks during finishing causing a blistering effect. in upholstery, coarse yarns cause blistering. Comes in colors, novelty effects, and some with metallic yarns. Gives good wear and drapes well. If washable, it must be laundered with care. It is very attractive and suits quite plain styles.

Uses: Some cotton matelasse used for bedspreads, dresses, suits, ensembles.


Fiber: Wool, sometimes combined with synthetics.

Weave: Twill or satin weave.

Characteristics: Thick well filled or felted wool with a smooth surface. Napped and very closely sheared. Coarse meltons are similar to mackinaws 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. if made in tan or buff color in a coarse quality, it is called "Box cloth". It is classed with kersey, beaver, and broadcloth. Originated in Melton, Mowbray, England, which is a fox hunting report in England. It was first made as a hunting cloth. Looks like wool felt - pressed flat.

Uses: Mostly used for men in over coating, uniform cloth of all kinds (army, navy, etc., as well as police and firemen), pea jackets, regal livery. Used for heavy outer sports garments and coats for women.


This remarkable fabric, is produced in only one small Cornish village. Known for its durability and attractive if somewhat rugged appearance.

Obscure, possibly Celtic in origin.


A process whereby cotton is treated with a solution of Caustic Soda (Sodium Hydroxide) to improve its dye affinity and luster. Invented by John Mercer in 1844. Used in the creation of Damask. Named after the inventor: John Mercer.


Fiber: Silk

Characteristics: Often believed to be named after the Roman Emperor Claudius' third wife. It is very soft, lustrous and lightweight. It usually comes in solid colors.


Very fine Nylon or Polyester filaments. Produce light soft and breathable fabrics.


Characteristics: It is very resilient and soft. It retains its shape and is resistant to chemicals, flames and abrasion.


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 é 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.


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, draperies, bedspreads

Monk's Cloth

Fiber: Wool, cotton, linen, silk, rayon, or synthetics.

Weave: 4 x 4 basket weave.

Characteristics: Quite heavy, due to construction. It is difficult to sew or manipulate as the yarns have a tendency to slide, stretch and fray. May sag in time depending on the compactness of the weave. It can also be made in other basket weaves. Quite rough in texture.

Uses: Draperies, all types of upholstery and house furnishings. Also used for coats and suits for women and sports coats for men.


Weave: Twill.

Characteristics: This luxurious textile is soft and lustrous. It is mainly created with Cashmere or Camel hair.

Uses: Over coating.

Moss Crépe

Mossy Crépe or Sand Crépe (trademark). Has a fine moss effect created by plain weave or small Dobby. Made with a spun-rayon warp and a filament rayon filling. The two-ply warp yarn is very coarse and bulkier than the filling. Mostly made in rayon and synthetics but some in silk.


Fiber: Silk.

Weave: Plain.

Characteristics: It is silk muslin. Sheer, open, and lightweight. It is something like chiffon but with a crisp finish produced by sizing. It does not wear well and it does not launder.

Uses: Evening wear, and bridal wear. Trimmings. Also used in millinery as a backing.


Characteristics: Mostly found in North America. The thick blue-gray, which resembles the beaver's, has fibers that are extremely fine.

Uses: Primarily used by the fur industry.


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 muslin.

French Mousseline, from Mussolo, Mosul, a city in Iraq (Mesopotamia).