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Fabric Dictionary

Acetate - A manufactured fiber formed by a compound of cellulose, refined from cotton linters and/or wood pulp, and acedic acid that has been extruded through a spinneret and then hardened.

Acrylic - A manufactured fiber derived from polyacrylonitrile. Its major properties include a soft, wool-like hand, machine washable and dryable, excellent color retention. Solution-dyed versions have excellent resistance to sunlight and chlorine degradation.

Alpaca - A natural hair fiber obtained from the Alpaca sheep, a domesticated member of the llama family. The fiber is most commonly used in fabrics for dresses, suits, coats, and sweaters.

Angora - The hair of the Angora goat. Also known as Angora mohair. Angora may also apply to the fur of the Angora rabbit. However, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, any apparel containing Angora rabbit hair must be labeled as "Angora rabbit hair" on the garment.

Bamboo - The entire process of distilling and producing bamboo and bamboo blends fabrics is a green process. Bamboo is a natural cellulose fiber that achieves natural degradation in the soil. Stands of planted bamboo plants require no replanting, pesticides or fertilizers. Bamboo fabrics are naturally odor and bacteria-resistant. They are also porous, breathable and absorbent. Because of the latent strength of the bamboo fibers, fabrics based on or incorporating bamboo fibers are strong and durable.

Camel's Hair - A natural fiber obtained from the hair of the Bactrian camel, a two-humped pack-carrying species. The fiber is used primarily in coats, sweaters, and suits.

Cashmere – The fine and soft undercoat hair of the Cashmere goat which exists in Iran, India, Tibet, Mongolia, China and Iraq. Cashmere is one of the luxury fibers and today is usually blended with normal sheep’s wool or man-made fibers to reduce the cost. Another reason for the widespread blending is the fact that it makes the finished fabric more durable. It is mainly used for clothing such as sweaters, shawls, suits, coats and dresses.

Chamois – Chamois is the soft, pliable leather from the skin of the chamois goat, although other animal skins may be substituted. It is used for gloves and as a cloth for washing autos.

Corn - NatureWorks PLA, is a fiber entirely derived from corn, with the final product a "natural plastic". Nature Works PLA is made from the dextrose extracted from corn. The dextrose is then fermented to produce lactic acid. The water is then removed and converted to fiber form. The fiber is being produced as a joint venture (Cargill Dow Polymers LLC) between Cargill, Inc. and The Dow Chemical Company, two of the biggest names in agriculture and chemicals. Fabrics made with NatureWorks PLA offer a unique combination of options. The fabrics exhibit the comfort and hand of natural fibers such as cotton, silk and wool while having the performance, cost, and easy care characteristics of synthetics. PLA fibers demonstrate excellent resiliency, outstanding crimp retention and improved wicking compared with natural fibers. Fabrics produced from PLA are being utilized for their silky feel, drape, durability and moisture properties.

Cotton - A unicellular, soft, natural vegetable fiber that grows in the seed pod of the cotton plant. Fibers are typically 1/2 inch to 2 inches long. The longest staple fibers, longer than 1 1/2 inch, including the Pima and Egyptian varieties, produce the highest quality cotton fabrics. The breathable textiles made from cotton fibers is the most widely used in the world. Most fabrics made primarily of cotton are machine washable unless they are decorative, such as bark cloths, etc. Cotton is a fabric of medium strength and dyes well. Nevertheless, cotton also absorbs moisture, serves as a haven for dust mites and compresses.


Cupro - The European cousin of tencel , Cupro is also somewhat similar to rayon in that it is reprocessed cellulose. Like tencel and rayon, the base material for cupro is a regenerated cellulose fiber . Cupro gets its name from cuprammonium, the process that is used to process the wood pulp or cotton linters that are its base material. In this process, the wood pulp or cotton liners are dissolved in an ammoniac copper oxide solution. Cupro fabric breathes like cotton, drapes beautifully, and feels like silk on your skin. Its slinky, curve-hugging drape makes it great for elegant dresses and blouses.

Dorlastan® - Dorlastan® is the embodiment of textile elasticity. It is a filament yarn which consists of segmented polyester- or polyether/polyurethane. Dorlastan® was launched on the market in 1964.The brand stands out for its exceptional stretchability, elastic recovery and wearing comfort topped by an extreme power of resistance and great durability. This combination of striking product qualities makes this elastane filament yarn an ideal component of modern yarn, fabric, and even apparel. Dorlastan® is commonly used in corsetry, waistbands, socks, medical stockings, tights, swimwear and even sportswear.

Down - The soft, fluffy fiber or underfeathers of ducks, geese, or other water fowl. Used primarily for insulation in outerwear garments.

Elastane - (also: elasthane) or spandex is a synthetic fiber that can be stretched by between 500 and 800 %. It is stronger and considerably more robust than fibers made of rubber or natural caoutchouc, the primary plant-based “alternative” material. In chemical terms, elastane is a long-chain polymer containing at least 85 % polyurethane. It’s tradenames are Dorlastan and Lycra®

Compared to rubber, elastane has both greater tear resistance and durability and a tension capacity two or three times greater, at a third of the weight. There are two principal methods used in processing elastane. One is to wrap the elastane fiber in a non-elastic thread - either natural or man-made. The resulting yarn has the appearance and feel of the outer fiber used. The second method involves using pure elastane threads, which are worked or woven into fabrics made from other fibers. The added elasticity makes such fabrics more comfortable to wear. Blends with elastane depend on the type of fabric and the end use. Elastane is used in all areas where a high degree of permanent elasticity is required, as, for example, in tights, sportswear, swimwear, corsetry, and in woven and knitted fabrics. When stretched, it always reverts to its original form. On care labels elastane is often designated as "EL".

Flax - The plant from which cellulosic linen fiber is obtained. Linen is used in apparel, accessories, draperies, upholstery, tablecloths, and towels.

Fur - Fur is a synonym for hair, used more commonly in reference to non-human animals, usually mammals; particularly those with extensive body hair coverage. The term is sometimes used to refer to the body hair of an animal as a complete coat, also known as the "pelage. The acquisition and use of fur as clothing and/or decoration is considered controversial in some cultures

Hemp - A coarse, durable bast fiber obtained from the inner bark of the hemp plant. Used primarily in twines and cordages, and most recently apparel.

Horse Hair - Fibers that are hair from the mane and tail, for the most part, of Canadian and Argentine horses. It is occasionally used for upholstery, but is more commonly used in interfacing for stiffening and strength. It is always combined with other fibers. True horsehair is rare and fabrics loosely called horsehair are often made from other hairs (such as goat) or man-made fibers.

Jute - One of the natural fibers still used extensively for fabrics. It is a bast fiber that comes from jute plants grown primarily in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Jute is used for many purposes, including the manufacture of burlap, gunny sacks, bags, cordage (twine and rope), trimmings, binding threads, and backings for rugs and carpets.

Lambswool - The first clip of wool sheered from lambs up to eight months old. The wool is soft, slippery and resilient. It is used in fine grade woolen fabrics.

Lastex – A trademark used for a yarn having a core of elastic rubber wound with rayon, nylon, silk, or cotton threads.

Leather - The hide of an animal with the fur removed. It has been used throughout history for clothing and other purposes. Today, man-made fabrics that imitate leather are widely available. Common leather names include alligator, buckskin, calfskin, chamois, cordovan, cowhide, crocodile, doeskin, grain leather, kid, lambskin, mo-rocco, nappa, patent, peccary, pigskin, pin seal, reptile, reversed leather, Russian, shearling, skiver, snakeskin, and suede.

Linen - A fabric made from linen fibers obtained from inside the woody stem of the flax plant. Linen fibers are much stronger and more lustrous than cotton. Linen fabrics are very cool and absorbent, but wrinkle very easily, unless blended with manufactured fibers. Linen is one of the oldest textile fibers. Linen is woven in various weights for different purposes and is occasionally used in knit blends.

Llama – Common name for a long-eared South American ruminant that is domesticated from the guanaco. The llama stands 0.9 to 1.3 m (3 to 4.3 ft) high at the shoulder and is usually white, blotched with black and brown; sometimes it is pure white or pure black. The long, coarse wool is used in the weaving of textiles, and the skins are tanned for leather. This fiber has impressive luster and warmth and is very light weight. Llamas are found mainly in South America and the color of their hair may vary from white to brown and black. This fiber has impressive luster and warmth and is very light weight.

Lurex® –Lurex® is the brand name for a type of yarn with a metallic appearance. The twine is most commonly a synthetic fibre, onto which an aluminium layer has been vaporised. "Lurex" may also refer to fabric created with the yarn. Lurex® has, for decades, been known as a byword for quality metallic yarns; it is a household name, but it is also a registered trademark. A feature of the production is a dye resistant range of metallic yarns, which leaves the color and brilliance intact despite high temperature and chemical treatment.

Lycra® - LYCRA® fiber is a man-made elastane fiber. It is never used alone, but always blended with other fibers. It has unique stretch and recovery properties. LYCRA® fiber adds comfort, fit, shape retention, durability and freedom of movement. This is achieved thanks to the unique properties of the fiber, which can be stretched up to seven times its initial length before springing back to the original position once tension is released. Any natural or man-made fibers can be mixed with LYCRA® fiber. Very small amounts of LYCRA® fiber can transform the performance of a fabric – the amount of LYCRA® fiber in a material can be as little as 2%. There are various ways of integrating LYCRA® fiber with other fibers to provide fabrics for all uses.

Lyocell - A manufactured fiber composed of regenerated cellulose. Lyocell has a similar hand and drape as rayon, but is stronger, more durable, and in many cases machine washable. It has a subtle luster and is rich in color. Lyocell possesses low shrinkage characteristics, as well as good absorbency and wrinkle resistant qualities.

Microfibers/Microdeniers - The name given to ultra-fine manufactured fibers and the name given to the technology of developing these fibers. Fibers made using microfiber technology, produce fibers which weigh less than 1.0 denier. The fabrics made from these extra-fine fibers provide a superior hand, a gentle drape, and incredible softness. Comparatively, microfibers are two times finer than silk, three times finer than cotton, eight times finer than wool, and one hundred times finer than a human hair. Currently, there are four types of microfibers being produced. These include acrylic microfibers, nylon microfibers, polyester microfibers, and rayon microfibers.

Milk - Milk Yarn is made from milk protein fibers. To make it, all the water content is taken out from the milk and then it is skimmed. A new bio-engineering technique is then applied to make a protein spinning fluid. This fluid is suitable for wet spinning process through which the final high-grade textile fiber is made. While spinning, a solvent is used by most of the manufacturers and micro-zinc ion is embedded in the fiber which gives it the characteristics of being bacteriostatic and durable. It combines the advantages of both, natural as well as synthetic fibers. It is glossy and luxurious in appearance, feel and comfortability, just like silk. It blends well with other fibers such as cotton, modal, tencel and bamboo. The fabrics made from milk yarn are primarily used in manufacturing kidswear, top-grade underwear, shirts, T shirts, loungewear,

Modacrylic Fiber - A manufactured fiber similar to acrylic in characteristics and end-uses. Modacrylics have a higher resistance to chemicals and combustion than acrylic, but also have a lower safe ironing temperature and a higher specific gravity than acrylic.

Modal - Modal is a cellulose fiber made by spinning reconstituted cellulose from beech trees. It is about 50% more hygroscopic, or water-absorbent, per unit volume than cotton is. It is designed to dye just like cotton, and is color-fast when washed in warm water. Modal is essentially a variety of rayon. Textiles made from Modal are resistant to shrinkage and fading. They are smooth and soft, more so than even mercerized cotton, to the point where mineral deposits from hard water, such as lime, do not stick to the fabric surface. Like pure cotton, Modal should ideally be ironed after washing. Pure Modal has been used in household linens such as towels, bathrobes, and bedsheets. Many textile companies use Modal mixed with other fibers like spandex

Mohair - Hair fibers from the Angora goat. End-uses include sweaters, coats, suits, and scarves.

Non-Woven Fabric - A textile structure held together by interlocking of fibers in a random web, accomplished by mechanical, chemical, thermal or solvent means. Generally, crimped fibers that range in length from 0.75 to 4.5 inches are used.

Nylon - Produced in 1938, the first completely synthetic fiber developed. Known for its high strength and excellent resilience, nylon has superior abrasion resistance and high flexibility. It is also stain and water resistant. Some of the hallmarks of nylon are its flexibility and color retention. It is also moth and mildew resistant. Nylon is also washable.

Nytril - A manufactured fiber, most often used in sweaters or pile fabrics, where little or no pressing is recommended, as the fiber has a low softening or melting point. However, it has also been successfully used in blends with wool for the purpose of minimizing shrinkage and improving the shape retention in garments.

Olefin (polyolefin/polypropylene) - A manufactured fiber characterized by its light weight, high strength, and abrasion resistance. Olefin is also good at transporting moisture, creating a wicking action. End-uses include activewear apparel, rope, indoor-outdoor carpets, lawn furniture, and upholstery.

Organic – These fibers for these fabrics are grown using a production system that replenishes the soil and maintains its fertility. The growing methods also reduce the use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers, while at the same time they contribute to biologically diverse agriculture. Fields must be free from synthetic chemicals for three years to achieve organic certification. Our organic and natural fabrics are based on bamboo, organic cotton and seacell fibers.

Pashmina - Pashmina refers to a type of fine cashmere wool and the textiles made from it. The name comes from Pashmineh, made from Persian pashm ("wool").The wool comes from changthangi or pashmina goat, which is a special breed of goat indigenous to high altitudes of the Himalayas. Pashmina shawls are hand spun, woven and embroidered in Kashmir, and made from fine cashmere fibre.

Pineapple or Piña - A fine fabric made from the fibers of the pineapple leaf. Pineapple fiber is a strong white or creamy cobweb-like fiber drawn from tall leaves of an indigenous pineapple plant. The fiber is hand stripped from the leaves in lengths of about 18 inches to 3 feet, sun-bleached, hand knotted and spun. As piña fiber recovery is only about 1%, it can take six months to gather enough fiber to produce two pounds of spun piña. Piña fabric is lightweight, soft, completely washable and elegant in appearance. It is similar to linen, however it is softer and more lustrous. It is often blended with other fibers such as cotton, silk and polyester. Piña fabric is widely used in making traditional dresses of the Philippines.

Polyester - A manufactured fiber introduced in the early 1950s, and is second only to cotton in worldwide use. Polyester has high strength (although somewhat lower than nylon), excellent resiliency, and high abrasion resistance. Low absorbency allows the fiber to dry quickly.

Ramie - A bast fiber, similar to flax, taken from the stalk of a plant grown in China.


Rayon - A manufactured fiber composed of regenerated cellulose, derived from wood pulp, cotton linters, or other vegetable matter. Today, various names for rayon fibers are taken from different manufacturing processes. The two most commonly used production methods for rayon are the cuprammonium process and the viscose process. Rayon has a silky feel, lustrous appearance, good draping qualities and dyes well. Rayon is used for tops, skirts, shirts and dresses.

SeaCell® - SeaCell® is a cellulosic fiber with incorporated active substances of seaweed. First, a cellulose based fiber is produced using the eco-friendly Lyocell process. The resulting fiber then serves as the supporting material for the seaweed.

Silk - A natural filament fiber produced by the silkworm in the construction of its cocoon. Most silk is collected from cultivated worms; Tussah silk, or wild silk, is a thicker, shorter fiber produced by worms in their natural habitat. All silk comes from Asia, primarily China.

Sisal - A strong bast fiber that originates from the leaves of the Agave plant, which is found in the West Indies, Central America, and Africa. End-uses include cordage and twine.

Spandex - A manufactured elastomeric fiber that can be repeatedly stretched over 500% without breaking, and will still recover to its original length. Spandex is a lightweight, synthetic fabric known for its strength, durability and resistance to water and oils. Spandex is also abrasion resistant.

Suede – A common name in leather for the hide of a cow with the fur removed. Soft, tanned leather with the flesh side buffed into a nap.

Tencel - Created from wood pulp, Tencel is very soft with great drape. It’s usually a medium weight fabric that suitable for pants, skirts and jackets.

Tri-Acetate - A manufactured fiber, which like acetate, is made by modifying cellulose. However, even more acetate groups have been added to create this fiber. Triacetate is less absorbent and less sensitive to high temperatures than acetate. It can be hand or machine washed and tumble dried, with relatively good wrinkle recovery.

Vicuna –The term vicuña is applied to the fabrics manufactured from the wool of the animal, and also to textile fabrics made from the wool of the merino sheep in imitation of natural vicuña. Such fabrics generally resemble serge in weave but are fuller and softer and have a distinct nap. Textile industry uses the fibers to manufacture the softest coat cloth in the world. The vicuña mammal belongs to the camel family. The animal is native to the Andes in South America, and is a close relative of the llama. Vicuñas are small, slender animals with orange-red fur. They generally roam in small herds and have never been successfully domesticated. They are much hunted for their hides and for their wool, which is valued for weaving.

Vinyl - Any fabric made with a base of vinyl, including those listed as vinal and vinyon. The term usually is used to refer to thick fabrics coated with a vinyl-based coating used for such purposes as upholstery and raincoats.

Viscose – The most common type of refined rayon. Viscose rayon typically has a soft and silky feel. Rayon is often used in linings for high quality garments. Viscose is also absorbent and drapes well.

Wool - Usually associated with fiber or fabric made from the fleece of sheep or lamb. However, the term "wool" can also apply to all animal hair fibers, including the hair of the Cashmere or Angora goat or the specialty hair fibers of the camel, alpaca, llama, or vicuna. Wool refers to fleece wool used for the first time in the complete manufacture of a wool product. Wool differs from hair and fur in that it has a natural felting ability.

Yak - A long haired wild or domesticated ox of Tibet and adjacent elevated parts of central Asia. Yaks provide three kinds of hair for use in fabric. The coarsest is belly hair, and is used to make tent fabric and cushions for yak-saddles. The medium-grade is from the sides and back of the yak, and is used to make saddlebags, storage covers, and blankets. The softest grade is from the neck of the yak. It is very soft and has been likened to cashmere. Yak wool weaves into fabrics that are extremely warm, lightweight, and very durable. Yak hair is mostly black, though there is always some amount of white and gray hair. Yaks produce thick leather and Yak horns are sometimes used for buttons.

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