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Fabric Glossary M-Z

Our fabric glossary is a comprehensive resource for information on all of our entire online fabric selection. This section contains detailed descriptions of a plethora of fabrics, including silk fabrics, wool fabrics, cottons, and a wide range of designer fabrics available in a variety of weaves and knits. From the natural strength and durability of our silk fabrics to the natural weather resistant properties of wool, find out which of our online fabric selections is best suited to your particular project.

Whether seeking fabric for a high-end designer brand or a creative home sewing project, let us help you find the ideal material for your apparel and décor needs. New York Fashion Center is a trusted favorite among designers in the New York Garment Center and we have available an in-house fashion designer to answer any questions our customers may have about our many online fabrics.

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A handmade cotton fabric originating in Madras, India, featuring bright, bold striping and checked patterns.

Matte Jersey
A rayon or silk blended fabric with elastic that is very lightweight with a soft feel and dull crepe texture.

Made from wool fibers, sometimes combined with synthetics, in either a twill or satin weave. It is heavy, closely sheared, compacted, and tightly woven. First used as a hunting cloth, the fabric resembles wool felt.

The process developed in 1844 by John Mercer to give a shiny, smooth finish to cotton fabric. First, the fabric is singed, then passed through a solution of caustic soda and finally rinsed. The process makes the fibers of the fabric swell, giving them increased strength and an increased ability to hold dye.

Merino Wool
The wool from the Australian merino sheep, generally regarded as the finest wool fibers in the world.

A porous fabric with a net-like appearance.

Made from extremely fine nylon or polyester filaments that when woven into textiles, makes them exceptionally soft while retaining their shape.

Made from spun Beechwood cellulose, the bio-based fibers create textiles that do not fibrillate, or pill, and are resilient to shrinking and fading.

The long, lustrous hair from the Angora goat, renowned for its durability and strength.

The name refers to the short, silky fur of a mole, but is actually a heavy durable cotton fabric with a short, thick, velvety nap. The surface is smooth and dense, resembling suede.

A sheer, lightweight cotton fabric that is produced mainly in India. This plain-weave material can be used a thin blankets or as a backing for quilts.




The nap of a fabric is the direction in which the sheared pile faces, and can be manipulated with combing or brushing.

A very porous, open fabric similar to mesh and often made with synthetic fibers.

Strong, elastic and quick-drying, this is abrasion-resistant thermoplastic material has good chemical resistance and blends with natural fibers for durability and stretch.




Oil Cloth
A plain-weave cotton fabric which is treated with a solution of linseed oil (an extract of the flax plant) and a coloring, and then glazed to ensure water-resistance. Oil cloth has been mostly replaced with plastic coated cloth, and was popular for tablecloths and rainwear.

A stiffened, sheer, lightweight, transparent fabric, usually made from tightly twisted cotton or polyester yarns, with a crisp finish. Will withstand repeated launderings and still preserve the crisp texture.

Tightly twisted silk yarns make an extremely crisp, sheer, lightweight fabric. Organza was traditionally the silk version of organdy, but is now made from other fibers as well.




A swirled design named for the town of Paisley, Scotland, which was one of the major producers of the fabric in the early to mid-19th century. Often found on quilts, curtains and summery clothing.

Panné Velvet
A highly lustrous, lightweight fabric, in which the pile is higher than velvet, but shorter than plush, and has been flattened. Has good stretch across the grain.

Similar to cashmere, pashmina is the soft, fine underhair from a variety of goat found in Central Asia. From the Persian word for woolen.

A soft, smooth plain weave fabric made from carded and combed cotton yarns. Often found in summer wear and light bedding.

From the Latin word for hair, pile is the extra yarn that protrudes from the surface of a fabric. Pile can be shaved and shaped, as with velvet and corduroy, or can be left uncut as with terry cloth.

Pima Cotton
Named after the Pima Indians who cultivated this plant in the Southwestern United States, Pima cotton is similar to Egyptian cotton, as it has exceptionally strong, long, combed fibers, dyes well and has a silky soft hand.

A medium-weight, tightly woven cotton or cotton blend fabric generally recognizable by its waffle weave texture.

Also referred to as tartan cloth, plaid originated in the Scottish Highlands as a way to differentiate the different clans. Once denoting the garment itself, plaid is now used to refer to the specific crisscross designs and can be applied to a wide array of fabrics and uses.

A plain weave cotton fabric with permanent creases and wrinkles that have been produced through the application of a caustic solution in order to shrink specific areas. Similar in appearance to seersucker, plisse fabric is often used for bedspreads and dresses.

Velvet with a deep, soft pile, plush is easily found in childrens' stuffed animals. From the French word peluche meaning hairy, plush fabric can also be knitted for a bit of stretch.

When two or more threads are twisted together before weaving, increasing yarn density and weight.

Condensation polymers combine to develop synthetic fibers that make this strong, quick-drying textile that does not wrinkle and holds its shape well.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
A waterproof, rubbery textured man-made fabric often found in outdoor upholstery, costumes and specialty apparel.

Also called tabinet, this plain-woven fabric has a corded surface that runs selvage to selvage. Usually made from a silk warp with a weft of worsted yarn, but can also be made with wool, cotton, rayon, or any mixture.




Quilting Fabric
Generally made from 100% cotton and featuring novelty designs or specific images, used for making quilts.




Raschel Knit
A warp-knitted fabric that resembles handmade lace, crochet or nettings. A connecting yarn is interwoven among the vertical knit of the fabric.

Made from the cellulose fiber viscose, it usually has good drape, soft hand and is highly absorbent.

Embellished with beads, tiny pearls, ribbon, etc. sewn on, usually by hand: said as of lace for bridal gowns.

From the French word riban, a narrow fabric used for bows and wrapping.

Rip-Stop Nylon
A lightweight, wind and water resistant textile. Double yarns create a box pattern to provide extra strength and resistance to tearing. Commonly used in outdoor clothing and equipment as well as outdoor flags because of its extreme durability.




An extremely heavyweight canvas fabric, resistant to the elements, that is used for ship's sails.

A patented process to pre-shrink fabric, developed by Sanford Pruett in the 1930s. Fabrics treated with this process should never shrink more than 1%.

A silky, lustrous satin weave fabric predominantly made from cotton. Sateen often has an increased thread count for extra softness and durability.

A smooth lustrous, shiny fabric with a dull back that has a superb drape and sheen. It is characterized by a weaving technique that forms a minimum number of interlacings in a fabric. Satin differs from sateen in that it is woven using filament fibers such as silk or nylon whereas sateens are woven using short-staple fibers like cotton.

A fabric distinguishable by its crepe-like, crinkled stripes, which are made by weaving some of the warp threads slack and others tight. This fabric is traditionally cotton, but can be made from nylon, silk and other yarns, and is typically worn in the summer.

Small metal or plastic discs that are sewn or otherwise affixed to a fabric to add depth, texture or decoration.

A smooth, crisp, non-pattern fabric where the yarns in both the warp and filling are alternately light and colored creating a subtle two-tone appearance.

This medium-weight, refined, plain-weave fabric is characterized by a slubbed effect, similar to Dupioni silk, but with a more sophisticated and polished appearance.

Sheer Fabric
A semi-transparent fabric that can be treated to have varying levels of crispness or body. Sheer fabrics are often used as volumizers underneath other fabrics, as draperies, or as sleeves for evening wear.

The fabric is woven using the natural filament fiber produced by the silkworm in the construction of its cocoon. Silk is a naturally strong, lustrous, and fine fiber that produces long-lasting, versatile, and high-quality multi-purpose fabrics.

A form of embroidery in which fabric is gathered and folded to provide increased stretch and comfort. Developed in the Middle Ages, smocking requires soft, lightweight, durable fabric, often batiste, voile or lawn, and is typically used for collars, cuffs and bodices. Smocking often reduces the fabric's original width by up to two thirds.

Made with elastic fibers that can be stretched up to five times its original length without damage. When blended with natural fibers, it creates a lightweight and flexible fabric with great shape retention.

Stone Wash
A method of creating a peached or distressed surface on a fabric by means of rubbing or grating with sand or pebbles. Often used on denim to create a "worn" look.

Leather that has been given a velvety nap.

A fiber which has been man-made through the use of chemical combinations. Synthetic fibers often have increased durability, strength and resistance to the elements.




With a smooth feel, and a crisp hand, taffeta can be made from a variety of fibers including silk and rayon. It has a subtle horizontal ribbing effect and provides lots of body and an ultimate rustle.

A heavy, often ornately designed textile typically used for wall-hangings and large draperies. From the French tapis meaning carpet.

The traditional name for Scottish plaid cloth, originally made from wool with a twill weave. From the French tiretaine meaning "linsey-woolsey". The sett, or number of threads of each color in each warp and weft stripe, of each style of tartan cloth is recorded and maintained by The Scottish Tartan Society.

A fabric made from the cellulose of wood pulp, then processed into a silk-like fabric that is very soft with great drape. It's usually a medium weight fabric that can be easily dyed and cared for.

Terry Cloth
Usually made from cotton, but sometimes made from linen, this fabric has a moisture-absorbing loop pile that covers surface on one or both sides.

A process of resist dyeing, where parts of a cloth are tied, knotted or folded as to avoid penetration of a particular dye.

This lightweight, extremely fine, machine-made hexagonal shape netting, is usually made from nylon, silk, or rayon.

A medium to heavy weight, roughly textured wool fabric, often featuring a twill weave, houndstooth or herringbone design. A classically English look accompanies this durable fabric, which is popular in sport coats, jackets and hats.

An incredibly versatile fabric distinguishable by diagonal ribs on its face, and a soft, smooth finish. Gabardine, serge, and denim are all examples of till fabrics.




A synthetic fabric similar to suede, with a micro-fiber structure, that is stain resistant and durable.

The practice of covering furniture with fabric. Upholstery fabric need to be durable and resistant to stains and wear, and are often made from heavy cotton, leather or synthetic fabrics.




Typically produced with a knitted back, velour resembles velvet, but has some stretch and an uneven pile giving it a slightly rougher look. Velour is French for velvet, and it is made from fibers such as cotton, wool, or spun rayon.

Velvet is one of the most luxurious fabrics because of its evenly cut, thick, soft pile. Traditionally made from silk, velvet comes in a variety of blends like rayon/silk, cotton, or nylon, and some velvets, such as stretch velvet, has some lycra blended in as well.

A lightweight fabric made from cotton with a very short, dense pile. Developed in Manchester, England in the 18th century, velveteen lacks the sheen and drape of velvet, is woven with an extra filling yarn, and can have a plain or a twill back.

A synthetic fabric made from PVC which resembles leather.

A man made synthetic fiber, typically referred to as rayon. Viscose has a silken, smooth feel and a terrific drape, and is often used for linings and bridal garments.

Usually made with cylindrical combed yarns, this plain, loosely woven fabric has an extremely clear surface because the excess fuzzy yarns are singed away. It is thin, semi-transparent, and very lightweight, resembling an organdy or organza in appearance.




The vertical threads in a particular fabric or on a loom.

The manner in which a fabric is produced, utilizing methods of combining the warp and weft threads. The type of weave affects the strength, stretch, sheen and weight of a fabric. The basic types of weaves are plain, twill and satin.

The horizontal threads in a particular fabric or on a loom.

A heavier twill fabric, similar to gabardine or elastique, but more rugged and with a steeper ribbing.

This textile is made using the fibers from the hair of animals, such as goats, sheep, camels, or llamas, and it comes in several different forms from crepe, to gabardine, to worsted. Wool is moisture absorbing and known for its warmth, and is also naturally stain and wrinkle resistant.

Wool-Double Crepe
A finely woven wool crepe with two layers bonded together to generate lighter-weight wool fabric.

A high quality, fine wool yarn produced from the short, strong, and durable fleece of the Merino sheep. It is extremely soft and versatile.

A wool fabric woven from firmly twisted yarns, which are spun from combed long-staple wool, creating a solid smooth surface with no nap.





Also referred to as thread, yarn is the basic component of all fabrics. Yarn can be composed of twisted natural or synthetic fibers, or a longer single fiber.




Named after the zibeline animal of Siberia, this textile is a satin weave faric made from the wool of cross-bred worsted yarns. Zibeline is napped, then steamed and pressed. It has a long, one-directional nape and is very sleek and shiny. Also known as zibaline.

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