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Fabric Dictionary

Fabric Dictionary

Paillette Sequins

A small ornate spangle for adorning clothing or trims. Paillette sequins are typically disk-shaped, flat and have the hole located off-center towards one of the edges.

Uses:

  • • embellishment
  • • adornment
Paisley

An ornamental design using a teardrop-shaped motif with a curved upper end originating in the 18th to 19th century in Persia. When depicted along with floral motifs, they can be referred to as a Jacobean.

Palmette

A decorative motif reminiscent to the fan shaped visage of a palm tree.

Panel

A fabric with a design that spans a certain length with a distinctive separation between each repetition of the design or a fabric with a large repeat that would be broken up if the fabric was sold by the yard. Panels can range from half a yard in length to over 3 yards in length.

Panne

A term which is means plush often referring to a form of crushed velvet with a higher pile than regular velvet. It has high luster and is made in silk, silk blends or with manufactured fibers .

Pros:

  • • high luster
Panne Velvet

A woven material made from silk with a higher and longer pile than standard velvet, but shorter than plush. It is pressed flat and has a high luster made possible by a tremendous roller-press treatment given the material in finishing. The fabric itself is fluid in drape.

Uses:

  • • upholstery
  • • eveningwear

Pros:

  • • lustrous
  • • soft
  • • lightweight

Cons:

  • • fibers weaken in sunlight
Paper Taffeta

A lightweight taffeta with a light paper-like hand.

Uses:

  • • eveningwear
  • • jackets
  • • upholstery

Pros:

  • • lightweight
  • • sturdy

Cons:

  • • slippery
  • • dry clean only
Patches

A form of cut fabric or applique, often conversational, that uses either stitching or a heat reactive adhesive for attachment to a garment. Often seen on denim or leather jackets and jeans.

Patchwork

Needlework in which small pieces of cloth are sewn together in a pattern or to make a design. Madras fabrics are often depicted through patchwork.

Pattern Paper

White pattern paper used for cutting out patterns during garment construction. Often showing visible dots, numbers or plus signs spaced out one inch apart in all directions.

Uses:

  • • pattern or garment construction
Pattern Weights

A pin-free alternative method for holding a pattern in place on top of a fabric for marking, sizing and cutting.

Uses:

  • • garment construction
Patterns

A pattern in the fashion industry is either the template from which the parts of a garment are traced onto fabric before being cut out and being assembled or the design woven into or depicted on a peice of fabric. Sewing patterns are usually made of pattern paper, but are sometimes made of manilla paper to withstand repeated use.

Uses:

  • • garment construction
PBI

A synthetic fiber with an incredibly high melting point that does not readily light on fire. Has exceptional thermal and chemical stability.

Uses:

  • • protective apparel

Pros:

  • • high melting point
  • • doesn't catch fire easily
  • • thermal stability
  • • chemical stability

Cons:

  • • does not breathe easily
  • • dissolved by most protonic acids
Peacock Feather

The plumage of the male peacock used as accents in a variety of garments.

Uses:

  • • hats
  • • dresses
  • • accessories

Pros:

  • • Vibrant
  • • attractive
  • • exotic

Cons:

  • • cannot be washed
  • • feathers tend to shed
Peau de Peche

A midweight woven polyester fabric that is processed to feel like the skin of a peach. This napped fabric is soft to the touch and got its name from the French phrase for "skin of a peach".

Uses:

  • • home decor
  • • tops
  • • blouses

Pros:

  • • soft hand
  • • drapablilty

Cons:

  • • does not stretch
Peau de Soie

A soft, satin-faced fabric made of silk or rayon with a grainy feel and a dull luster similar to a Crepe de Chine. Fine close ribs can be seen in the filling direction (the crosswise grain or weft). The name is derived from the French phrase "skin of silk". Sometimes, materials marketed as Peau de Soie are in actuality de-lustered satins and those do not contain the grainy appearance.

Uses:

  • • dresses
  • • coats
  • • trims

Pros:

  • • soft hand
  • • inexpensive

Cons:

  • • shows sweat easily
Pekin

A high-quality fabric with broad vertical stripes of equal lengths where multiple colors or weave structures are employed in an alternating pattern. Can be composed of cotton, wool, or silk. A more elaborate version might have velvet stripes separated by sections of Satin between.

Uses:

  • • apparel
  • • drapery
Pencil Stripes

A series of uneven stripes of varying widths, typically featuring darker lines on a white base. Similar in styling to pinstripes but the individual stripes are wider. Thinner than candy stripes. Also known as dress stripes.

Percale

A closely woven plain-weave textile of a medium weight, often with a low gloss finish and primarily used for bed sheets. Made from both carded and combed yarns providing a soft, silk-like hand. The thread count ranges usually from 180-100. Typically composed of cotton, polyester, or most variations of blends.

Uses:

  • • dresses
  • • sportswear
  • • aprons
  • • sheets

Pros:

  • • washes easily
  • • strong
  • • durable

Cons:

  • • prone to wrinkling
Perforated

A process in which a series of small holes are pierced through a material in a specified pattern.

Performance Fabrics

Tech (or performance) fabrics are a collaboration of textiles with advanced traits bettering the living and working conditions of those who inhabit them. Some offer UV protection suitable for outdoor activities as well as the insertion of Aloe Vera Microcapsules for skin hydration. Others provide Max-Dri technology (or wicking properties) as well as anti-microbial treatment preventing odor and growth of bacteria, fungi, and mold for a healthier and more hygienic active lifestyle. Compression fabrics are also within the line of advanced textiles suitable for medical enhancements and treatments such as compression slips or stockings as well as activewear garb including leggings and sports bras.

Uses:

  • • atheletic wear
  • • bathing suits
  • • compression slips
  • • medical enhancements
Petersham Grosgrain

A type of fabric characterized by its ribbed appearance given to it by the weft threads being heavier than the warp threads. Often used by milliners and tailors, it is also used occasionally in corsetry, and most commonly as a trim on pants and skirts. Petersham Grosgrain varies from regular grosgrain in being that its edges are looped or scalloped rather than straight.

Uses:

  • • trims
  • • accents

Pros:

  • • durable
Pheasant Feather

The plumage of a male pheasant, a small to medium sized game bird sought after for its vividly striped tail feathers.

Piece Dyeing

The process of passing a dry cloth of full width through a hot dye solution. Typically used for dyeing fabrics a solid color.

Pros:

  • • least costly
  • • faster turn around time
  • • minimal color risk

Cons:

  • • dye pentration not always consistant
  • • limited to solid colors
Pig Skin

The epidermal layer of a pig, typically tanned into leather and used as a substitute for goat leather. Often referred to as "Genuine Leather" and used in belts and wallets.

Uses:

  • • jackets
  • • shoes
  • • belts
  • • wallets
  • • accessories

Pros:

  • • less expensive than other leathers
  • • very abundant
  • • tough
  • • durable
  • • soft hand

Cons:

  • • porous
  • • additional treatment may be necessary to waterproof the material.
Pile

Derived from the Latin word pilus meaning "hair" and used to describe the raised surface made by vertical fibers woven into a plain backing fabric by way of looping or knotting. Examples of fabrics with a pile would be velvet or fleece. Pile fabrics can often have a directional nap.

Uses:

  • • sarpets
  • • corduroy
  • • velvet
  • • fleece

Cons:

  • • dry clean recommended
  • • often can't be ironed
Pilling

A form of wear on clothing that is caused by abrasion and is characterized by small balls of fuzz. Colloquially known as a bobble, fuzzball, or lint.

Pima Cotton

A very strong, high-grade cotton made from the “Gossypium Barbadense” plant. The defining quality of cotton strands that make them so valuable is the extra long staple fibers that produce more of a refined and silkier cloth. Used for crafting supremely supple sheets, blouses, and button-downs.

Uses:

  • • shirts
  • • sheets

Pros:

  • • hypoallergenic
  • • durable
  • • lustrous

Cons:

  • • retains odors
  • • stains easily
Pin Check

A pattern comprised of pin-sized stripes about 1 yarn thick running both vertically and horizontally forming checks small enough to look like dots to the human eye. The pattern may look solid in coloration from afar.

Uses:

  • • shirting
  • • suiting
Pinstripes

Vertical stripes thinner than pencil stripes that are typically even in width. Pinstripes are usually about 1-2 yarns thick, are sometimes broken, and the spacing varies but is typically even and wider than in hairline stripes.

Uses:

  • • shirting
  • • suiting
Piña Cloth

A lightweight fabric made from the leaves of the Spanish red pineapple, originating in the Philippines in the 1500s. Popularly associated with the Barong Tagalog (or traditional garb of the Philippines), Piña cloth is quite delicate and on the more expensive side, making it ideal for formalwear. The fabric is similar in appearance to linen, is softer than hemp, and contains a better texture than silk. It is commonly combined with silk or polyester to create a textile more suited for fashion applications.

Uses:

  • • clothing
  • • mats
  • • bags

Pros:

  • • lightweight
  • • washable

Cons:

  • • tedious production
  • • expensive
  • • delicate
Pinhead

A small checkered pattern brought forth by the color and weave of a textile, often characterized by tiny white dots appearing in rows. Frequented in workwear and men's suits.

Uses:

  • • sportswear
  • • suitings
Pintucked

Many parallel tucks in close procession with a narrow fold used to create additional volume in a fabric. Can also be described as sewn in pleats.

Piping

A trim formed by folding a strip of fabric into a "pipe", similar in appearance to a cord. Used to finish the edges or pockets of garments, style lines, and upholstery. The strips of fabric used to make pipping are often cut on the

Uses:

  • • embellishments
  • • upholstery
Piqué

Pronounced "pee-kay". A durable knit or woven fabric, typically made from cotton or a cotton blend, with raised lengthwise parallel cords, ribbing or squares which provide an embossed appearance resembling different patterns including, but not limited to, ribbed, waffle (small squares), honeycomb (like the design of honeycomb), birdseye (small diamond) and bullseye (large oval) patterns.

Uses:

  • • golf shirts
  • • tennis garb
  • • polos
  • • summer dresses

Pros:

  • • durable
  • • launders well

Cons:

  • • may shrink when reacting to heat
  • • easily wrinkles
Plaid

A pattern created by stripes and lines intersecting at right angles. First historically recorded in Scotland in the 3rd century A.D. to signify the warrior clans and nobility. Today, there are plenty of different variations of your average plaid, from traditional Tartans and Glen Plaids, to Buffalo Checks, Tattersall Checks, and more. There are several variations of this pattern with varying meanings and associations.

Plain Weave

The most common and tightest of basic weave structures in which the fill yarns pass over and under successive warp threads and repeat the same pattern with alternate threads in the following row producing an even, checkered weave. Most common applications include bedding, rugs, tablecloths, and cheesecloth.

Uses:

  • • bedding
  • • rugs
  • • tablecloths
  • • and cheesecloth

Pros:

  • • snag resistance
  • • least expensive weaving construction

Cons:

  • • prone to wrinkles
  • • low tear strength
Plastic

A fabric made from a base plastic fiber, typically used for waterproof clothing. First used in the 1960s as a lighter, cheaper alternative to gabardine raincoats. Today, plastic is used for everything from raincoats to boots, purses, buttons and more.

Uses:

  • • raincoats
  • • boots
  • • purses
  • • niche clothing
  • • buttons

Pros:

  • • waterproof
  • • durable

Cons:

  • • not heat friendly
  • • often not eco-friendly unless recyclable
Pleated

The name given to a group of various styles of folds in fabric formed by doubling the material back on itself in one of several configurations and securing it in place. Typically used in clothing to condense a large amount of fabric to a smaller area and create a more voluminous appearance similar to gathering in that respect. The most popular of the pleats would be the accordion pleat, the box pleat, an inverted pleat, a kick pleat, or the knife pleat.

Pros:

  • • voluminous
  • • body
Plisse

A lightweight fabric with a crinkled, puckered finish, typically formed in ridges or stripes giving additional structure and volume to the material. The material is treated with a caustic soda solution which shrinks parts of the goods either all over or in stripes giving a permanent or semi-permanent blistered effect.

Uses:

  • • skirts
  • • dresses
  • • blouses

Pros:

  • • no ironing required

Cons:

  • • weakened by sunlight
  • • machine washing is not advisable
Plush

A compactly woven fabric with a warp pile higher than your average velvet. The pile is typically over 1/8" thick. Often seen in the form of velour, velvet, or plush "fake furs".

Pocket Weave

A standard double plain weave made on a jacquard or dobby loom with multiple warps.

Cons:

  • • tends to snag
Point D'espirit

A fine bobbinet fabric comprised typically of cotton, although silk may be used as well. Typically of a mesh, gauze or knotted construction with scattered woven dots and holes of various sized throughout. Can also be described as a spotted tulle.

Uses:

  • • lingerie
  • • curtains
  • • bassinets
  • • evening gowns

Pros:

  • • lightweight
  • • breathes
Polished Cotton

A woven cotton with a smooth and shiny face resulting from calendering. Also known as Chintz, it is often constructed with a plain weave and a resin finish, though a satin weave may be used as well and would emphasize the luster.

Uses:

  • • upholstery
  • • decorative table cloths
  • • pillow covers
  • • apparel

Pros:

  • • luster
Polka Dots

An array of filled circles of the same size often on a contrasting color. Used in various contexts. The name comes from the form of dance originally popularized in the early to mid 1800's, but other than its name, there is no relation between the two.

Polyamide

A group of full synthetic fibers created by way of a melt spinning process. These materials are typically elastic, resistant to abrasion and tearing, waterproof, and resilient against seawater and high temperatures. Polyamides include nylon and aramid fibers.

Pros:

  • • elasticity
  • • good abrasion resistance
  • • waterproof
  • • chemical stability

Cons:

  • • hydrophobic
  • • pilling
  • • stains easily
  • • colors bleed
  • • poor sunlight resistance
Polyester

A plastic-like synthetic fiber made from a manmade polymer known as polyethylene terephthalate most popular for its use in the 1970s for leisure suits and clubwear of the time, and later for shirting, sleeping bags, parkas and in its fibrous form as filling for upholstery applications.

Uses:

  • • apparel
  • • costuming
  • • fillers
  • • parkas

Pros:

  • • machine washable
  • • tenacity
  • • resistant to stretching or shrinking
  • • wrinkle resistant
  • • thermal retention
  • • low moisture absorbency
  • • thermoplasticity
  • • resists damage from the sun
  • • resistant to moths and fungi
  • • good abrasion resistance
  • • chemical stability

Cons:

  • • non-biodegradable
  • • oleophilic
  • • creates static
  • • clings to wearer
  • • pilling
  • • will melt if iron is too hot
Polyethylene

One of the most popular polymers part of a category known as thermoplastics. Comprised of ethylene, it is used for a wide variety of items typically used in industrial clothing due to its resistance to cutting and tearing, as well as its resistance to water and airborne contaminants. The fiber is in the same class as polypropylene fibers.

Uses:

  • • grocery bags
  • • plastic bottles
  • • bullet proof vests
  • • vinyl

Pros:

  • • resistant to static
  • • no moisture absorbency
  • • contains wicking properties
  • • good tenacity
  • • chemical resistance
  • • resists damage from the sun
  • • resistant to moths and fungi

Cons:

  • • oleophilic
  • • pilling
Polymerization

A process in which a chemical reaction between two or more molecules combines to form larger molecules that contain repeating structural units, thus forming a polymer. Examples of some fibers produced from polymerization include polyethylene, nylon, rayon, acrylic, and PVC (polyvinyl chloride).

Uses:

  • • synthetic fibers
Polypropylene

A thermoplastic polymer made by the chemical industry to be used in a wide variety of items both fashion and non-fashion. The fiber is in the same class as polyethylene fibers.

Uses:

  • • webbing
  • • upholstery
  • • steel
  • • packaging

Pros:

  • • resistant to static
  • • no moisture absorbency
  • • contains wicking properties
  • • good tenacity
  • • chemical resistance
  • • resists damage from the sun
  • • resistant to moths and fungi

Cons:

  • • oleophilic
  • • pilling
Polyurethane

A polymer composed of organic units joined by urethane links. Most polyurethanes are thermosetting polymers that do not melt when heated. Spandex is a type of polyurethane blend.

Uses:

  • • vinyl
  • • electrical covers
  • • footwear
  • • elastic threads
  • • liquid coatings

Pros:

  • • does not melt when heated
  • • elasticity
  • • durability

Cons:

  • • sustainable to cracking
  • • can be damaged by sunlight
  • • lack of breathability
Polyurethane elastomer

A form of thermoplastic polymer that when spun into fibers is used for spandex.

Uses:

  • • stretch fabrics

Pros:

  • • high elasticity

Cons:

  • • wears over time
  • • poor tenacity
  • • poor abrasion resistance
  • • heat sensitivity
  • • bleach sensitivity
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

One of the most commonly utilized thermoplastic polymers available. Fabrics usually consist of a backing woven from polyester fibers with a surface coating of shiny plastic. Referred to as vinyl in the United States.

Uses:

  • • vinyl
  • • upholstery
  • • footwear

Pros:

  • • durable
  • • versatile
  • • great insulating qualities
  • • economical good tenacity
  • • resistant to chemicals and alkalies

Cons:

  • • hazardous when burned
Pompadour

A fabric, originally produced from silk, having a design of small pink, blue, and sometimes gold flowers or bouquets on a white background. The design is often seen in a velvetor pile fabric over a taffeta background. Named after the Marquise de Pompadour. Now, it can be made from cotton or manufactured fibers.

Pongee

A thin and soft plainly woven fabric of Chinese origin first produced from wild or raw silk. Its warp yarns are finely spaces and regular which its filling yarns are irregular. Can be imitated in cotton or a synthetic fiber. Nubs or irregular cross ribs are produced by uneven yarns. When replicated in cotton, it is constructed with combed yarns and given a variety of finishes.

Uses:

  • • dresses
  • • umbrellas
  • • blouses
  • • linings

Pros:

  • • soft
  • • durable
  • • good for skin
  • • easy to clean
  • • abrasion resistant
  • • resists shrinking and stretching
  • • dries quickly

Cons:

  • • retains heat
Ponte

A fabric made in a double knit construction. This knit has an elastic quality and looks the same on both sides unless one side is printed. Great for bodycon garments and shapewear as the fabric holds its shape.

Uses:

  • • pants
  • • skirts
  • • dresses

Pros:

  • • does not curl at the edges
  • • wrinkle resisitant
  • • can be reversible
  • • holds shape well
Poplin

A poplin is a strong fabric in a plain weave of any fiber or blend featuring crosswise ribs that typically provide a corded surface. It consists of two or three times as many warp threads as weft threads per inch. Has a more pronounced cylindrical filling effect than broadcloth, but is less prominent than a faille or bengaline. The word poplin is derived from the French word “papeline” and is sometimes referred to as tabinet. Due to its tight look and flat finish, poplin is used in men’s shirts, pants, women’s dresses, banners, upholstery, and tablecloths.

Uses:

  • • shirting
  • • dresses
  • • tablecloths
  • • upholstery

Pros:

  • • does not wrinkle easily
  • • somewhat water resistant

Cons:

  • • does not lend well to screen printing
Power Mesh

A specific type of mesh with a strength, body, and resilience greater than your typical mesh material. Very well known for its compression capabilities, power mesh is often used by manufacturers for control-topped pantyhose, control slips, long-line bras, long-line panties and other garments designed to smooth the figure.

Uses:

  • • linings
  • • lingirie
  • • control-topped pantyhose
  • • control slips
  • • long-line bras
  • • long-line panties

Pros:

  • • sturdy
  • • resilient
  • • good source of support
Pressor Feet

The footplate of a sewing machine that holds the fabric down onto the part that feeds it under the needle.

Uses:

  • • sewing
Pressing Tools

The necessary items needed for cleanly flattening seams and fabric in the garment making process. Such items include ironing boards, hams, seam rolls, and more.

Prints

A pattern transferred onto a material by way of blocks, engraved plates, rollers, or silk screens. This process dates back as early as 220 A.D. in ancient China, where they used wooden blocks to transfer designs, text or patterns onto fabrics and later paper. Popular printing processes include screen printing, digital printing, and rotary printing.

Protein Based Fiber

Fibers formed from a naturally occuring animal-based protein. Examples include wool, mohair, silk, and cashmere.

Pros:

  • • absorbs water
  • • non-static
  • • retains body heat
  • • lighter than celluloscics of the same thickness
  • • flexible
  • • drapable
  • • does not burn readily
  • • self-extinguishing

Cons:

  • • harmed by alkalies
  • • harmed by oxidixing agents
  • • becomes hard and brittle in dry heat
Provence

Brightly colored, quilted cotton fabrics depicting various designs originating in India in the early 17th century. The material was known as indiennes and was a massive hit in France. France later started producing similar fabrics in Avignon when the silk producers of France convinced the king to ban the material.

Uses:

  • • table cloths
  • • bedding

Pros:

  • • sturdy
  • • vibrant

Cons:

  • • takes a while to dry
Puckered

A material that is drawn or gathered into wrinkles or irregular folds to add volume to the face.

Pyrenees

A type of wool made specifically in the Pyrenees region of France. More specifically, it is a trademark of a town known as Bagneres-de-Bigorre, for the production of "Bigerri Jackets" in reference to pure wool capes. Sought after for its high quality and warmth.

Uses:

  • • dressing gowns

Pros:

  • • warm
  • • high-quality
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