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Fabric Dictionary

Fabric Dictionary

Taffeta

A crisp, smooth, plainly woven fabric with fine crosswise ribs. Traditionally made from silk, taffeta can now be produced from synthetic fibers. Believed to originate in Persia (modern-day Iran), its name is Farsi for "twisted woven". Its lustrous appearance, volume and drape make it fantastic for dresses, gowns, adding volume to a garment, or most notably when it was used for parachutes in World War II. Often identified by the "swish" sound the fabric makes.

Uses:

  • • gowns
  • • prom dresses
  • • parachutes
  • • linings

Pros:

  • • durable
  • • crisp
  • • voluminous drape
  • • lightweight

Cons:

  • • requires a lot of maintainence
  • • prone to creasing
  • • not breathable
Tapestry

A tightly woven jacquard fabric that is often constructed by hand with several colors to create a design or pattern.

Uses:

  • • upholstery
Tartan Plaid

A form of plaid defined by numerous vertical and horizontal lines combining to create the trademark patterns. The key defining feature of tartan is that it repeats exactly on a horizontal axis. The intersecting colors overlap to create new colors in the pattern. Two of the most well-known plaids are Blackwatch and Royal Stewart.

Taslan

A strong, durable synthetic woven fabric with wicking properties often used in activewear and hiking gear. Other properties include stain, oil, wind and abrasion resistance. The fabric is produced to look similar to cotton and is breathable, unlike many synthetics.

Uses:

  • • activewear
  • • windbreakers
  • • camping tents
  • • military uniforms

Pros:

  • • durable
  • • oil and stain resistant
  • • wicking properties
  • • abrasion
  • • wind resistant

Cons:

  • • prone to pilling
Taslan Toile De Jouy

An 18th-century French floral or scenic pattern in a single color on light grounds. This process was first used in Jouy, France where the fabrics were printed in a single color using copper plates depicting classic motifs. Modern forms can sometimes be found sporting more than a single color. See also Toile.

Tassel

A trim made from a group of cords or threads placed parallel to one another and bound at one end.

Uses:

  • • upholstery
  • • home decor
  • • accessories
Tattersall Check

A checkered pattern of intersecting lines similar to a tartan in its regularity and spacing. The difference between a tattersall and tartan is that it consists of repeating, alternating colored stripes, usually involving only two or three different colors.

Tech Fabrics

Fabrics originally designed for non-aesthetic purposes. The properties that go along with this family of fabrics vary greatly from moisture wicking and high stretch to UV protection and compression capabilities. Most commonly, these materials contain synthetic fibers and are used in active and athleisure wear.

Uses:

  • • activewear
  • • athleisure clothing
  • • medical hosiery
  • • bathing suits
Teflon

Teflon is a tough synthetic resin that is insoluble and created through polymerization. Often used to make materials stain and water repellant. Also known as a brand of Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).

Uses:

  • • breathable rainwear
  • • medical implants
  • • wiring insulation
  • • sealants

Pros:

  • • satin and water repellant
  • • weather and fire resistant
  • • UV protection
  • • durable
  • • chemical resistance
  • • non-stick
Tenacity

The term tenacity is used in conjunction with both the tensile strength of a fiber or fabric as well as its resistance to stress and abrasion. Fabrics of a higher tenacity are typically those used for industrial work and clothing that is meant for extreme conditions, whilst those with lower tenacities are used for more aesthetic pieces.

Tencel

A form of cellulose fiber created from wood pulp with recycleable solvents. Tencel is a brand name of lyocell. This material is eco-friendly, antibacterial, durable, and has a higher absorbency than cotton fibers.

Pros:

  • • breathable
  • • soft
  • • wrinkle resistant
  • • biodegradable
  • • hydrophilic
  • • non-static
  • • good thermal conductivity
  • • good tenacity
  • • good resiliency
  • • high dimensional stability

Cons:

  • • poor elasticity
  • • attracts mold and midlew when damp
Terry Cloth

Terry cloth is a type of fabric with raised, uncut loops of thread covering both sides of the material, often used for bathrobes and towels because of its easy care and longevity.

Uses:

  • • bathrobes
  • • towels
  • • beachwear

Pros:

  • • easy to wash
  • • long lasting
  • • soft
  • • can be bleached/printed
  • • absorbent

Cons:

  • • prone to mold
  • • very limited in uses
Terylene

Terylene is a brand name for a polyester fiber. Developed back in 1941, it was kept secret from the mainstream until 1946 and was first used commercially in curtains. Later polyester became a staple in textiles due to its versatility and the ease of maintainence. It also goes by the name Dacron.

Uses:

  • • curtains
  • • clothing
  • • industrial use

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
Thermal

A knit fabric, typically with a waffle or honeycomb construction designed to catch warmth between yarns. This fact and the additional stretch the material commonly has makes it a fantastic material for use in colder climates.

Uses:

  • • shirts
  • • long johns
  • • sweatshirts

Pros:

  • • heat retention
  • • stretch
  • • comfort

Cons:

  • • prone to shrinking
Thermal Conductivity

The ability of a fiber or fabric to release heat away from the body resulting in it being cooler to the wearer. Better for warm weather.

Thermal Retention

The ability of a fiber or fabric to hold heat close to the body resulting keeping the wearer warm. Better for cold weather.

Thermoplasticity

The reactive properties of a fiber to heat exposure such as melting, softening, and/or shrinking. Correlates to how a fiber withstands cleaning, drying, and ironing.

Thimble

A plastic, leather, or metal cap used to protect the finger when pushing a needle through more tenacious fabrics. The first thimbles most likely appeared not long after the invention of sewing, and comes from the Old English word for thumb.

Ticking Stripe

A pattern consisting of neat, vertical lines often in a muted color on a white or beige background. The stripe involves two thin stripes encasing a thicker central stripe. Ticking stripes originate from the use of ticking, a material that was used for the covers of mattresses and pillows back when straw was used for filling.

Tie-Dye

A form of dying process traditionally done by hand where patterns are created by being bound in a string, rubber bands, or clamps to resist color when submerged in a dye bath. Originating in Japan in the 8th century, it was adopted in 1960 by the counter-culture "hippie" movement which this style of dying became synonymous with.

Tiking

A strong, tightly woven material made of linen or cotton used for upholstering or as the covering of a mattress or a pillow. Originating from a time when mattresses and pillows were filled with straw or feathers and the covers needed to be resistant to the filling puncturing the surface. Lighter weight versions are often used for creating clothing. Can be made water-repellent, germ resistant, and feather-proof.

Uses:

  • • upholstery
  • • tablecloths
  • • linens
  • • sportswear

Pros:

  • • durable
  • • feather proof
  • • germ resistant
  • • water repellent
Tissue Taffeta

A crisp, lightweight taffeta with a paper-like hand. This material is extremely delicate and prone to wrinkling. Also see Paper Taffeta.

Uses:

  • • dresses
  • • gowns
  • • womens suits
  • • trimmings

Pros:

  • • lightweight
  • • smooth
  • • crisp

Cons:

  • • delicate
  • • prone to wrinkling
  • • transparent
Toggles

A pin, rod, or other solid material attached to a piece of string that passes through a loop of rope or other material to create a closure. The first use of the word toggle was around 1760 and is thought to have been a variant of the word tackle.

Uses:

  • • closures
Toile

A plain-woven fabric often made in the town of Jouy in France, often decorated with depictions of rural scenes including animals and people. These designs are often printed in a single color, typically in red, black, and blue on a muted light-colored background. The name toile is a common abbreviation of the full name "Toile de Jouy". Also see Taslan Toile De Jouy.

Uses:

  • • upholstery
  • • drapery

Pros:

  • • fairly lightweight

Cons:

  • • limited in uses
Transparent Velvet

A lightweight, soft, and sheer velvet comprised of silk or rayon. Due to its exceptional drape, it is often used in evening gowns and negligees.

Uses:

  • • evening gowns
  • • negligees

Pros:

  • • drapes well
  • • soft
  • • sheer
  • • lightweight

Cons:

  • • dry-clean only
  • • prone to tearing
  • • prone to matting
Triacetate

A synthetic fiber consisting of cellulose roots that is completely or almost completely acetylated. The process this material goes through yields a durable, easier to use material that is resistant to hot water.

Uses:

  • • skirts
  • • dresses

Pros:

  • • wrinkle resistant
  • • shrink resistant
  • • holds pleats well
  • • easily washable

Cons:

  • • melts at low temperatures
  • • dissolves in acetone
  • • dissolves in some perfumes
Tricot

A thin, smoothly textured knit with verticle wales along the face and cross-wise ribs across the back create a run-resistant material. Tricot is often used for underwear, swimwear, sportswear, and gloves.

Uses:

  • • swimwear
  • • underwear
  • • sportswear
  • • gloves

Pros:

  • • run-resistant
  • • soft
  • • sturdy

Cons:

  • • prone to pilling
Tricotine

A medium-weight fabric consisting of a double twill rib construction on the face similar to cavalry twill, but finer. Also resembles gabardine. Easy to tailor and drapes well making it a good choice for trousers, dresses, and womens sportswear. Typically comprised of wool or wool and rayon blends.

Uses:

  • • coats
  • • suits
  • • ski slacks

Pros:

  • • drapes well
  • • easy to tailor
Tropical Worsteds

A light, smooth suiting fabric made from wool or a wool blend intended for use in warmer climates. It is typically comprised of a loose plain weave with tightly twisted yarns to help promote air circulation and keep the wearer cool.

Uses:

  • • suits
  • • skirts

Pros:

  • • lightweight
  • • good air circulation

Cons:

  • • wrinkles easier than traditional worsted wool
Tubular Knits

A weft knit fabric made in a circular seamless shape. Traditionally used in the creation of sweaters and hosiery until 1879 when actress Lillie Langtry wore a tight-fitting tubular knit top over a pleated skirt and introduced tubular knit fabrics to the rest of womenswear.

Uses:

  • • sweaters
  • • hosiery
  • • tops
  • • skirts
  • • dresses

Pros:

  • • eliminates side seams
  • • high stretch
  • • high flexibility

Cons:

  • • faults during construction damage the entire material
Tufting Yarns

A yarn that is pushed into a base fabric to create a pile of a desired size atop the material. Originally used to create cold weather garments where the tufting was frayed so that way, with continued use, it would felt to create a dense insulating layer within the garment. Initially for carpeting purposes.

Uses:

  • • mittens
  • • rugs
  • • upholstery

Pros:

  • • soft
  • • durable
  • • abrasion resistant
  • • retains heat

Cons:

  • • prone to shrinkage
  • • prone to stretching and distortion
Tulle

A sheer, often stiffened silk, rayon, or nylon net traditionally used for veils or ballet costumes. First made in the early 19th century in the town of Tulle, France giving this material its name.

Uses:

  • • veils
  • • ballet costumes
  • • crinoline skirts

Pros:

  • • high air flow
  • • versatile in use

Cons:

  • • easily damaged by heat
  • • difficult to launder
Turkey Feather

The feathers of a turkey. Originally white turkey feathers were used as a substitute for Maribou feathers.

Uses:

  • • trims
  • • fringe
Tussah

A form of silk created from the cocoons of wild or uncultivated silkworms, tussah is coarse, strong, and has a dull luster, with a rather stiff quality and rough texture with many slubs, knots, and bumps. Often an ecru or tan color, it does not bleach well and does not dye evenly. It wrinkles slightly and wears well, becoming rougher looking with wear. It comes in various weights as well as in staple or filament fibers.

Uses:

  • • dresses
  • • suits
  • • coats

Pros:

  • • soft
  • • strong
  • • biodegradable
  • • luxurious
  • • wears well

Cons:

  • • does not bleach well
  • • dyes unevenly
  • • rough texture
  • • wrinkles
Tweed

A woven of either a twill or plain weave construction consisting of variations in yarn size, color, and content. Tweeds can be made from cotton, rayon, synthetic fibers, or blends but are most commonly associated with wool. Their names and patterns vary based on the region where they are created. Sometimes known as "tweel" due to a clerical mistake made by a British clerk. The clerk accidentally wrote down "tweeds" instead of "tweels" and soon the name established itself. The texture of a tweed can vary from rough to soft, monotone to plaid, checkered or striped.

Uses:

  • • coats
  • • suits
  • • slacks

Pros:

  • • warm
  • • hypoallergenic
  • • rugged
  • • timeless

Cons:

  • • does not hold a crease
  • • not well suited for tropical climates
Twill

A weave marked by its distinct diagonal pattern. The twill technique involves the weft yarns wrapping around at least two warp yarns at a time in a unidirectional pattern that creates diagonal lines in the fabric. Forms of twill include, but are not limited to, cavalry twill, gabardine, and serge.

Uses:

  • • suits
  • • pants
  • • skirts
  • • jackets

Pros:

  • • strong
  • • versatile
  • • durable
  • • can be made in a variety of weights

Cons:

  • • varies in rigidity based on fiber content
  • • can weaken with time
Twill Tape

A flat ribbon of a twill construction featuring a herringbone pattern made of cotton, wool, or polyester. Used to reinforce seams, make casings, and bind edges.

Uses:

  • • seam reinforcement
  • • bindings
Twisted Cord

A long, slender material made from twisted fibers to create a rope-like trim either with or without a lip of fabric attached. Often used for various home decor purposes, as well as a number of fashion uses.

Uses:

  • • trimming
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