Bedford Cord – A strong ribbed weave fabric with raised lines or cords produced by warp stuffing threads. May be wool, silk, cotton, rayon, or combination fibers. Warp pique is a lighter weight Bedford cord fabric used for dress goods. First made in America in New Bedford, Mass., hence its name.
Bengaline – A sturdy warp-faced fabric with pronounced crosswise ribs formed by bulky, coarse, plied yarns or rubber thread. Filling is not discernible on back or face of goods. Originating in Bengal, India it is used mainly in coatings, swimsuits, mourning ensembles, and women’s headwear. When cut to ribbon widths is called grosgrain.
Camel hair – wool-like under hair of the camel that is lustrous and extremely soft; often used in blends with wool for suits, coats, sweaters, blankets, rugs. Natural colors from light tan to brownish black.
Cashmere – fine downy undercoat hair of the Cashmere goat from Tibet, Iran, Ira, and Southwest China. Cylindrical hair that is soft, strong, and silken. True cashmere is brownish in shade from 1 1/4 to 3 1/2 inches in staple length. Diameter is 1/1600-inch.
Corduroy – A cut filling pile cloth with narrow to wide wales which run in the warp direction and made possible by use of an extra set of filling yarns in the construction. The back is of plain or twill weave. Washable types are available and stretch and durable press versions are very popular. Usually an all-cotton cloth, today many corduroys are made with blends of polyester, nylon, or other fibers.
Crêpe – A variety of lightweight fabrics characterized by a crinkly surface obtained either via use of hard twist yarns, chemical treatments, weave, construction, or some form of embossing or surface treatment.
Denim – First brought to America by Columbus almost 500 years ago on the Santa Maria, this basic cloth is rugged, tough and serviceable. It is easily recognized by its traditional indigo-blue color warp and grey or mottled white filling, and its left hand twill on the face. Coarse single yarns are used mostly, but today many versions are available for the fashion world. A two-up and one-down or a three-up and one-down twill may be used in the weave construction. Long considered the most popular fabric for work clothes and army uniforms, denim today has won great fashion significance in dress goods for women’s and men’s wear, a wide range of sportswear, and even evening wear.
Doeskin – Properly a leather made from the skin of a doe. Also used to describe: 2. A heavy five- or eight-shaft satin-weave cotton fabric napped on one side, or 2. A heavy short-napped woolen fabric used for men’s wear. The term Doeskin Finish should be used.
Faille – A lightweight ribbed silk or rayon cloth with crosswise rib effect. It is soft in feel and belongs to the grosgrain family of cross-rib materials. Used for coats, dress goods, handbags. Faille is rather difficult to launder. Has good draping effects, and gives good service if handled carefully. Woolen and worsted flannels are also popular.
Gabardine – Firm, durable, compactly woven cloth which shows a decided diagonal line on the face of the goods; made on a 45-degree or 63-degree, right-hand twill.
Gingham – Fabric with dyed yarns introduced at given intervals in both warp and filling to achieve block or check effects. The warp and filling may often be the same, even-sided, and balanced.
Gun Club Checks – Men’s and women’s wear dress goods used for street and sportswear. Three colors of yarn are used in making the cloth. The warp and filling make a natty combination in the cloth. Men’s wear cloth often has a smaller check than women’s wear cloth.
Harris Tweed – A trademark for an imported tweed made of virgin wool from the Highlands of Scotland, spun, dyed, and handwoven by islanders in Harris and other islands of the Hebrides.
Herringbone Twill – A broken twill weave giving a zigzag effect produced by alternating the direction of the will. Same as the chevron weave. Structural design resembles backbone of herring. A true herringbone should have the same number of yarns in each direction, right and left, and be evenly balanced. Thus, all herringbones are broken twills but all broken twills are not true herringbones.
Hopsacking – Popular woolen or worsted suiting fabric made from a 2-and-2 or a 3-and-3 basket weave. The weave effect is like that used for sacking to gather hops in the fields. Now made from other major fibers, hopsacking is used also for dress goods, jackets, skirts, and blouses.
Horsehair – The long and lustrous hair taken from the main and tail of horses. One of the most common uses is in blends with other fibers for hair canvas interfacings.
Hound’s Tooth – A medium-sized broken-check effect, often used in checks, clear-finish worsted, woolen dress goods, etc. The weave used is a four-end twill based on a herringbone weave with four ends to the right, followed by four ends to the left. The color is completely surrounded by white yarn, and the check is a four-pointed star; this two-up and two-down basic construction fabric is a staple in the fabric trade.
Jersey – A plain stitch knitted cloth in contrast to a rib-knitted fabric. Material may be made circular, flat or warp knitted; the latter type jersey is sometimes known as tricot. Used in dress goods, sportswear, underwear. Gives good service and launders very well. A very popular staple. Some fabric of this name is woven.
Lamb’s Wool – Elastic, soft, resilient wool fibers obtained from lambs when they are seven or eight months old-the first or virgin clippings from the animal. This lofty stock is used in better grades of fabrics.
Linen – Flax is the plant, linen is the product from flax. The term, linen, cannot be used except for natural fiber flax. Among the properties of linen are rapid moisture absorption, fiber length of few inches to one yard, no fuzziness, does not soil quickly, a natural luster and stiffness. Uses of linen include tablecloths, toweling, crease-resistant linens, dress linens, doilies, runners, huckaback toweling, summer dress goods, sportswear, etc.
Llama – Members of this family group have four distinct types — llama, alpaca, guanaco, and vicuna — and two hybrid types — huarizo (llama father and alpaca mother) and paco-llama or misti (alpaca father and llama mother). “Llamaland” is in Peru and Bolivia. Not found north of the equator the animals live in the Andes Mountains and fleeces are obtained every two years, weight is about five pounds and staple fiber is about eleven inches. Fibers run from brown to black to white in color. The fabrics made of the fiber include sportswear, dress goods, women’s coatings, suitings, and in the men’s wear field, slip-on topcoats, year-round coatings, heavy coatings. Much used as a blending fiber with wool and worsted.
Madras – One of the oldest staples in the cotton trade, it is made on plain-weave background which is usually white; stripes, cords, or minute checks may be used to form the pattern. Fancy effects are often of satin or basket weave, or small twill repeat. White filling is used. Yarn counts range from 40s to 60s in warp and filling while textures approximate 110 warm ends and 88 picks.
Melton – A heavily felted, hard, plain face-finished cloth used for over coatings, uniform fabrics, hunting cloth, and riding habits, Light melton is the fabric used as “under-collar cloth” in coatings. Originated in the famous Melton Mowbray fox-hunting area in Leicestershire, England. Compared with its sister fabrics – kersey, beaver, and woolen broadcloth – it has the shortest nap which is not of the so-called laid nap, and it is dull in appearance and nonlustrous. Given double shearing in finishing to provide the close-cropped face-effect. Qualities vary considerably depending on the types of stocks used.
Merino – 1. The highest, finest and best wool obtained anywhere in the world. This fiber is used only in the best of woolen and worsted fabrics, billiard cloth, etc. 2. In knitting underwear fabrics the term implies garments made from yarns spun with a mixture of wool, not necessarily merino in type, and cotton, all in varying blend percentages.
Mohair – Comes from the Angora goat, one of the oldest animals known to man. It is two-and-one-half times as strong as wool and outwears it. Comes from South Africa, Western Asia, Turkey, California, Oregon, and Texas. Foreign mohair is nine to twelve inches long and allowed a full year’s growth before shearing. California and Texas mohair are shorn twice a year since the fibers would fall out of allowed a one year growth. Uses include fancy dress goods, felt hats, linings, plushes, and in blended yarns for use in men’s and women’s suiting and coatings fabrics.
Oxford – Soft, somewhat porous, and rather stout cotton shirting given a silk-like luster finish. Made on small repeat basket weaves, the fabric soils easily because of the soft, bulky filling used in the goods. The cloth comes in all white or may have stripes with small geometric designs between these stripes. Now is made from spun rayon, acetate, and other manmade fibers. Oxford also means a woolen or worsted fabric which has a grayish cast made from a combination of black and white yarns or by use of dyed gray yarn.
Pattern – 1. An outline of a garment on paper. It embodies usually all the pieces necessary to cut a complete garment from material. 2. A single repeat of a weave formation.
Pique – Medium weight or heavy fabric with raised cords that run in the warp direction. This substantial cloth is made on dobby, Jacquard, dropbox and other types of looms.
Poplin – A broad term to imply several fabrics made from various types of yarn. Identified by a fine rib effect in the filling direction from selvage to selvage. Plain weave is used with the rib effect made by the use of a warp yarn much finer than the filling yarn with a texture or count of two or three times as many ends as picks in the goods.
Polynosic – American Enka Corporation owns the registered trademark for this high modulus, dimensionally stable rayon staple fiber which has high resistance to stretch in the wet condition and to damage by a 5 per cent caustic soda solution.
Pre-Shrunk – Fabrics or garments which have received a pre-shrinking treatment. Often done on cottons to remove the tendency for cloth to shrink before cutting the fabric for use in a garment to prevent further shrinkage. The percent of residual shrinkage must be indicated on the label of the goods or garments thus treated.
Serge – One of the oldest basic terms in textiles, it now implies any smooth face cloth made with a two-up and two-down twill weave, especially pertinent to worsted serge. Made in many weights and textures, serge is made from cotton, acetate, rayon, silk, wool and in blended fabrics. The cloth is usually piece dyed. Worsted serge give excellent service, holds the crease very well but will shine with wear because of the high twist in the yarn and compactness of the goods.
Sharkskin – 1. Worsted fabric made from a small twill color-effect weave. Very durable, it is often made from two different colored yarns to produce a sort of neutral effect. Resembling the skin of a shark, patterns include stripes, plaids, window panes, nail heads, bird’s eyes, etc. 2. Summer fabric for women’s wear made from acetate, nylon, rayon, etc. Has a smooth, compact surface and also used in sportswear.
Shepherd’s Check – Also called Shepherd’s Plaid, it is a small check or plaid pattern, often in black nd white and fabric is made on a two-up and two-down twill, right or left hand in diagonal line effect. Made from all the major fiberes, these fabrics are staples in men’s wear, women’s wear, and children’s wear.
Shetland – 1. Suiting or coating cloth made wholly or partially from Shetland wool of Scotland. Known for its raised or gigged finish and appealing, soft hand, it is favored sportswear fabric. 2. A soft knot goods made of Shetland wool and used in outer apparel. 3. A loosely applied term for various woven or knitted fabrics, soft in hand that do not contain Shetland wool. 4. A fabric in the family of homespun, twill, cheviot, and Shetland with the latter two cloths being closely allied. Shetland has about the same properties and characteristics as cheviot but is softer in hand and more ideally suited for women’s wear where it has great demand as a staple outerwear fabric.
Tartan – Wool, worsted, or cotton cloth made in plain weave or in a two-up and two-down twill weave. Associated with Scottish clans, the fabric originated in Spain and was called tiritana. This multi-colored fabric may be conventional or bizarre when made in variations of color effects.
Tropical Cloths – Lightweight fabrics used for warm weather wear. They have a clear finish, and high-twist yarns are used to make up for the lack of weight and to provide good service to the customer. Weights range from 6 1/2 to 8 1/2 ounces per yard of goods. Fibers used include cotton, worsted, acetate, rayon, cotton and mohair, cotton and worsted; and blended fabrics of worsted with nylon or polyester fibers are very popular in the trade.
Tweed – A rough, irregular, soft and flexible, unfinished shaggy woolen named for the Tweed River which separates England from Scotland. One of the oldest and most popular outerwear fabrics used today it is made of a two-and-two twill weave, right-hand or left-hand in structure. The term is now rather loosely given to several types of town-and-country fabrics. Outstanding tweeds include Bannockburn, English, Harris, Irish, Linton, Manx, Scotch. Donegal, often called tweed, is actually a homespun cloth since it is made from the plain weave, a one-up and one-down structure. Uses of tweed include cap cloth, all types of coatings and ensembles, sportswear, suitings, etc.
Twill Weave – Identified by the diagonal lines in the goods. It is one of the three basic weaves, the others being plain and satin. All weaves, either simple, elaborate or complex, are derived from these three weaves. Most twills are 45 degrees in angle. Steep twills are made from angles of 63, 70, 75 degrees while reclining twills use angles of 27, 20 and 15 degrees. Right-hand twilled clothes include cassimere, cavalry twill, covert, elastique, gabardine, serge, tackle twill, tricotine, tweed, whipcord. Left-hand twills include denim, Galatea, jean cloth, some drill and twill cloth, and some ticking fabrics.
Vicuna – Expensive and scarce natural fiber obtained from the hair of the vicuna – a llama-like animal native to the Andes.
Virgin Wool – New wool that has never been used before, or reclaimed from any spun, woven, knitted, felted, manufactured or used products.
Whipcord – A steep twill fabric of the gabardine-cavalry twill group which has a very pronounced twill or diagonal on the face of the goods. Of compact texture, the fabric finds use in dress woolens and worsteds, cotton uniform cloth, bathing trunks, livery cloth, public utility uniforms, suitings, topcoats, and many types of uniforms used in many areas.
Worsteds – A wide range of fabrics are made from worsted yarn and are compactly made from smooth, uniform, well-twisted yarns. Little finishing is necessary in these clear surface materials. Plain or fancy weaves are used and the cloth is usually yarn-dyed but piece-dyed fabrics are also popular. Worsted blends are much the vogue today since the major fibers are used, nylon and polyester, provide very good service to the consumer. Ideal for summer wear by men and women, some of the fabrics in this fabric family include plain weave worsted, dress goods, gabardine, crepe, serge, tropical, etc.
Source: A Dictionary of Textile Terms by Dan River, 13th Edition