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1. Long, fine hair from Alpaca sheep.
2. A fabric from alpaca fibers or blends, (originally a cotton cloth with alpaca filling) that is used for dresses, coats, suits, and sweaters. It is also used as a pile lining for jackets and coats. (The term has been incorrectly used to describe a rayon fabric).


1. The hair of the Angora goat. The long, fine fibers are so smooth and soft that they must be combined with other fibers in weaving.
2. The hair of the Angora rabbit. The fine, lightweight hair is warm, and it is often blended with wool to decrease price and to obtain novelty effects in weaving. By law, the fiber must be described as Angora rabbit hair.

Bedford cord

A rib-weave fabric with raised lengthwise cords produced by using stuffing threads in the warp. Since the fabric is strong and wears well, it is used for upholstery, suits, riding habits, and work clothes

Binding glacé

A polished, woven binding, usually of a 3 x 1 twill weave, that is used primarily in men's tailored apparel.


1. A generic term describing a cloth woven on a dobby loom, with a geometric pattern having a center dot resembling a bird's eye. Originally birdseye was made of cotton and used as a diaper cloth because of its absorbent qualities, but now the weave is made from a variety of fibers or fiber blends for many different end uses.
2. A speckled effect on the back of a knit fabric resulting from the use of different colors on the face design

Broken twill

One of a range of twill constructions in which the twill line changes direction. (Also see herringbone.)

Canton flannel
A heavy cotton or cotton blend material with a twilled face and a napped back. The fabric's strength warmth, and absorbance make it ideal for interlinings and sleeping garments.

A cotton or cotton blend twill used by armies throughout the world for summer-weight uniforms. Chino is frequently dyed khaki.

Combination fabric
a fabric containing :
(1) different fibers in the warp and filling (e.g., a cotton warp and a rayon filling), (2) ends of two or more fibers in the warp and/or filling, (3) combination yarns, (4) both filament yarn and spun yarn of the same or different fibers, or (5) filament yarns of two or more generic fiber types. Combination fabric may be either knit or woven. They should not be confused with blend fabrics. Although blend fabrics also contain more than one fiber, the same intimately blended spun yarn is present in both warp and filling.

Comfort stretch
A term used to describe fabrics with about 10%-15% stretch that are used mostly in garments requiring a moderate amount of elasticity. (Contrast with power stretch.)

A term used in identifying the structure of a yarn, fabric, or other textile material. For example, details such as denier (decitex), filament count, twist level and direction, and number of plies for a filament yarn; and type of weave, end and pick count, width, and number of yards per pound for a woven fabric.

A filling-pile fabric with ridges of pile (cords) running lengthwise parallel to the selvage

Cotton count
The yarn numbering system based on length and weight originally used for cotton yarns and now employed for most staple yarns spun on the cotton, or short-staple, system. It is based on a unit length of 840 yards, and the count of the yarn is equal to the the number of 840-yard skeins required to weight 1 pound. Under this system, the higher the number, the finer the yarn

Cotton fiber
A unicellular, natural staple fiber hitch is the seed hair of plants of the genus Gossypium. It is almost pure cellulose and a distinguishing characteristic is its irregular spiral configuration. The fiber is fine and its length varies from less than 1/2 inch to over 2 inches. The quality and color of cotton fiber, normally creamy white but sometimes much darker, is determined by the plant variety as well as the location, soil and climatic conditions under which it is cultivated. The largest cotton producers by far today are China, the U.S., and Russia. Other growers with high output are India, Pakistan, Brazil, Turkey, and several South America and African countries.Characteristics : for marketing, cotton fibers are graded and classed for length, fineness, strength, and color. It is a highly versatile fiber with high strength and a high moisture regain of 8%, which contributes to its comfort.End uses : cotton is the most widely used natural fiber. Because of its versatility and comfort, cotton is widely used throughout the world in a very broad range of textile materials. Today cotton is often blended with other staple fibers, especially polyester, to take advantage of the characteristics of both fibers.

A lightweight fabric characterized by a crinkling surface obtained by the use of : (1) hard-twist filling yarns, (2) chemical treatment, (3) crepe weaves, and (4) embossing.

A firm 2 x 1 or 3 x 1 twill-weave fabric, often having a whitish tinge, obtained by using white filling yarns with colored warp yarns. Heavier weight denims, usually blue or brown, are used for dungarees, work clothes, and men's and women's sportswear. Lighter weight denims with a softer finish are made in a variety of colors and patterns and are used for sportswear and draperies.

Diagonal weave
A weave that produces a distinct diagonal line in the fabric, especially twill weaves.

Drill a strong denim-like material with a diagonal 2 x 1 weave running toward the left salvage. Drill is often called khaki when it is dyed that color.

A compact, firm, heavy, plain-weave fabric with a weight of 6-50 ounces per square yard. Plied yarn duck as plied yarns in both warp and filling. Flat duck has a warp of two singles yarns woven as one and a filling of either singles or plied yarn.

Mediumweigth plain- or twill-weave, slightly napped fabric, usually of wool or cotton, but may be made of other fibers.

A firm, durable, warp-faced cloth, showing a decode twill line, usually a 45° or 63° right-hand twill.

A broken twill weave characterized by a balanced zigzag effect produced by having the rib run first to the right and then to the left for an equal number of threads.

A coarse, open, basket-weave fabric that gets its name from the plain-weave fabric of jute or hemp used for sacking in which hops are gathered.

A term describing a medium-sized broken-check effect; the check is actually a four pointed-star.

Cellulose fibers derived from the stem of the flax plant or a fabric made from this fibers. Linen is the oldest fabric known to man, dating to at least 4000 B.C., when it was produced in Egypt. Flax plants are pulled from the ground to preserve the stems, which then undergo a process called retting to decompose the woody components. In the next processing stage, scutching, the stems are crushed to separate the decomposed materials from the fibers, followed by hackling, a combing process. Then the linen fibers are lightly twisted and spun into yarns. Characteristics : Linen fibers are stronger and more lustrous than cotton ; they yield cool, absorbent fabrics that wrinkle easily. Fabrics with linen-like texture and coolness but with good wrinkle resistance can be produced from blends with other fibers.End uses : Linen fabrics are used in dresses, blouses, and suitings, home furnishing fabrics, wall coverings, towels, and canvas. Household linens such as tablecloths are prized for their beauty and durability, often becoming family heirlooms. Linen fiber is blended with silk for apparel and with spandex for comfort stretch.

Lining fabric
Fabric that is used to cover inner surfaces, especially when the inner surface is of a different material than the outer. May refer to garment lining, lining for boxes, coffins, etc. Generally of smooth, lustrous appearing fabrics, but also of felt and velvet. Both manufactured fibers and natural fibers are used.

A machine for weaving fabric by interlacing a series of vertical, parallel threads (the warp) with a series of horizontal, parallel threads (the filling) . The warp yarns from a beam pass through the heddles and reed, and the filling is shot through the "shed" of warp threads by means of a shuttle or other device and is settled in place by the reed and lay. The woven fabric is then wound on a cloth beam. The primary distinction between different types of looms is the manner of filling insertion (see weft insertion) . The principal elements of any type of loom are the shedding, picking, and beating-up devices. In shedding, a path is formed for the filling by raising some warp threads while others are left down. Picking consists essentially of projecting the filling yarn from one side of the loom to the other. Beating-up forces the pick, that has just been left in the shed, up to the fell of the fabric. This is accomplished by the reed, which is brought forward with some force by the lay.

An ultrafine fiber of less than 1.0 denier per filament or 0.1 tex per filament, or having a diameter less than 10 microns. Microfiber is used to produce ultrasoft, lightweight fabrics

A heavy sateen-weave fabric made with heavy, soft-spun filling yarns. The fabric is sheared and napped to produce a suede effect.

Monk's cloth
A rough, substantial, rather bulky fabric made of very coarse yarn in a 4 x 4 or similar basket-weave construction.

Natural fiber
A class name for various genera of fibers (including filaments) of : (1) animal (i.e., silk and wool) : (2) mineral (i.e., asbestos) ; (3) vegetable origin (i.e., cotton, flax, jute, and ramie).

Oxford cloth
A soft but stout shirting fabric in a modified basket weave with a large filling yarn having no twist woven under and over two single, twisted warp yarns. The fabric is usually made from cotton or polyester/cotton blends and is frequently given a silk-like luster finish

Plain weave
One of the three fundamental weaves: plain, satin, and twill. Each filling yarn passes successively over and under each warp yarn, alternating each row.

A plain-weave fabric of various fibers characterized by a rib effect in the filling direction.
any smooth-faced cloth made with a two-up and two-down twill weave.

Stretch yarn
Any yarn with the ability to stretch to a signification degree when tension is applied and contract when the tension is released, including (1) elastomeric filament yarns, and (2) manufactured filament yarns treated by various texturing processes to impart bulk and stretch.

A piece of fabric used as a representative sample of any fabric.

A term describing the surface effect of a fabric, such as dull, lustrous, wooly, stiff, soft, fine, coarse, open, or closely woven; the structural quality of a fabric.

A general term for yarns used in weaving and knitting as in "thread count" and "warp threads".

Tropical worsted fabric
A lightweight worsted fabric in an open plain weave used in summer suitings.

Twill weave
A fundamental weave characterized by diagonal lines produced by a series of floats staggered in the warp direction. The floats are normally formed by filling (filling-faced twill). A warp-face twill is a weave in which the warp yarns produce the diagonal effect

ACETATE FIBER: the second oldest manufactured fiber. Used more for a women’s, it is important in linings
for men’s tailored jackets and suits, often in a blend with filament rayon. Also gets trendy in men’s sport shirts every few seasons. A cellulosic fiber, it is made of cotton linters (a biproduct of cotton ginning) or wood pulp. It prints and dyes very well and is popular for attractive linings. Its largest single market is cigarette filters. Triacetate is a more heat-resistant version of acetate, not made in the U.S.

ACRYLIC FIBERS: made of acrylonitrile, this synthetic fiber was created as a substitute for wool and has wide uses in sweaters and other knit goods. Lighter versions were created for a greater range of garments.As in the case of nearly all manufactured fibers, it is resistant to shrinking and moths. One of the best known names in acrylic fibers, Orlon, developed by DuPont (inventor of acrylic fibers), has not been produced since the Eighties, but is still asked for and discussed, illustrating what a successful marketing job DuPont did with this fiber. Acrylics are excellent in socks, where their moisture wicking ability is prized.
ALPACA: see llama.
ANGORA: the angora goat provides mohair fibers. Angora fibers come from the angora rabbit. Make sense?
ARTIFICIAL FIBERS: a classification of manufactured fibers made from natural sources such as wood or other plants, such as acetate, triacetate,
rayon, and the new ones lyocell and modal. Different from synthetics that are chemically based.
ANTI-STATIC FABRICS: textiles designed to resist static, either through a special carbon fiber, or chemical additive. Important in home furnishings, but also very useful in apparel, both for comfort and safety (static causes sparks.)

BASKETWEAVE: Variation of the plain weave, made by grouping yarns and weaving them as one. Two by two and four-by-four patterns are common. A semi-basketweave is made by grouping the yarns in only one direction.
BATISTE: a sheer muslin with lengthwise streaks used for men’s summer shirts, usually mercerized.
BEDFORD CORD: a rugged fabric with pronounced ridges, traditionally for men’s pants. Originally wool, but now often cotton. Not corduroy.
BEMBERG: Cupramonium rayon. See Cupro.
BIRDSEYE: a fine worsted wool fabric with a weave effect and color resembling a bird’s eye.
BROADCLOTH: a plain-weave fabric of cotton or poly-cotton blends, sometimes even silk, with a filling rib
finer than poplin. Used for men’s shirts, especially with pima cotton.

CARDED COTTON: a necessary step in preparing cotton fiber for fabric forming. On a carding machine with wire brushes, the tangled
fibers are straightened and aligned in one direction and impurities are removed. Carded yarns can be woven into more inexpensive fabrics.
Combing, an additional step, provides a much finer yarn. Combed cotton has the short fibers removed and the longer fibers are closely rranged in a high degree of parallelism. This is the best cotton yarn.
CAMEL HAIR: the down or inner fibers from the two-humped camel (beware of hair from the one humped animal). It provides a fine tan-Colored luxury fabric, prized for men’s jackets and top coats, as well as accessories like scarves. It can also be dyed, and sometimes blended to cut costs. The market for camel hair, as for cashmere and silk, is primarily controlled by China, where most of it comes from.
However, as China learns capitalism (they are doing it pretty fast), prices sometimes drop or rise inexplicably.
CASHMERE: the leading luxury fiber. Found in men’s sweaters, suits, jackets, as well as a wide range of accessories. Comes from the
Cashmere or Kashmir goat, mostly residing in Asia. Its softness and luxurious hand is virtually unsurpassed by any readily available fiber. The true, top cashmere comes from the down or soft hairs. The rougher hairs are sometimes sold as cashmere, at a lower price. The hand really tells the truth. While the Chinese were once content to sell the fiber to upscale European and other manufacturers, they are increasingly aiming to produce their own finished product.
CAVALRY TWILL: a rugged woven fabric most often used for trousers. It got its name because the British cavalry used it for their pants.
Usually wool, but could be a blend.
CELLULOSIC FIBERS: the first manufactured fibers, made from cellulose, the fibrous substance of all plants including wood, cotton linters, and corn. Includes acetate, rayon, modal, lyocell and some new fibers like Ingeo.
CHALLIS: A lightweight fabric, usually silk, but originally wool. The term is also used to describe the small patterns printed on it.
Neckwear is a major application.
CHAMBRAY: a cousin of denim. From the French Chambrai, it is a lightweight cotton shirt fabric, traditionally in light blue, achieved with
white and blue yarns.
CHEVIOT: a woolen or worsted twill with a rough texture. The best are woven of fine worsted yarns in herringbone or other patterns, and
used in men’s suits and jackets.
CHINO: originally the military issue tan fabric. After WWII, it became popular as a men’s trouser fiber. Usually cotton, but can be blended
with synthetic fiber to add performance characteristics such as wrinkle resistance. Now frequently called khaki, meaning dust, which is really a color that emanated from India, via the British military. See khaki.
COMBED COTTON: see Carded Cotton.
COOLMAX: a licensed polyester fabric system developed by DuPont, now Invista. It is noted for breathability and moisture wicking properties.
COMFORTRELL XA: a proprietary polyester co-polymer fiber developed by Wellman Fibers. Designed to be a low pill, super white fiber.
CORDUROY: an historic textile originally from France. It was called cord du roi or the cloth of the king, because a monarch's servants often
wore it. It is commonly woven in cotton, but can be produced from almost every fiber, including cashmere and silk. Its distinction is that
it is a lustrous ribbed fabric. The ribs or wales (also called floats) are on a woven ground and are cut to form valleys or races. The widths of
the ribs or wales vary according to style from wide wale to fine. The smallest are pinwale corduroy.
CORE-SPUN YARN: a spinning process where one yarn is spun around another to give extra characteristics. For instance, cotton can be
spun around a spandex core to create a yarn, and a resultant fabric that has stretch, but with a cotton hand. There are several core-spun combinations.
CORDURA: a trademarked proprietary nylon fiber developed by DuPont.Very rugged, originated for the outdoors trade, including backpacks,
but now lighter, softer versions are used for street active apparel. It is now an Invista fiber. It’s actually a recycled name, once used by DuPont for tire cord.
COTTON: one of the most widely used apparel fibers in the world, vying with polyester for this role. Very strong in the U.S. market.
Cotton is soft, comfortable and the main fiber for denim. Most cotton grown in the U.S. is called upland, and over 60 percent of it is exported
worldwide, where it is noted for its uniform quality. In addition to upland, there are finer grades of cotton, the best known is pima. See
Supima. Egyptian cotton is finer, but uniformity has been a problem. One of the world’s oldest fibers, cotton continues to evolve, solving such
problems as shrinkage and wrinkling.
CREPE: Worsted fabric with a crinkled or pebble surface, usually produced with tightly twisted crepe yarns in one or both directions of a loose or plain weave. Made in various weights for coats, suits, dressed and blouses.
CROCKING: in textiles, this refers to the rubbing off of a color, either during wearing of the garment or sometimes even from one garment
rubbing against another in the store. It is usually the result of poor dye fastness, or lack of prewashing.
CUPRO: rayon made by the cupramonium process, a very old fibermaking technology. Recently rediscovered by designers. It has a great hand, takes both color and printing very well. Widely used in menswear as linings for upscale suits and jackets, along with filament rayon, which is slightly different. It is only produced by two companies, Asahi (Japan) and Bemberg (Italy).

DENIER: the thickness of manufactured fibers, which can be controlled in production, unlike natural fibers. The lower the number, the finer the
fiber. Technically, denier is the weight in grams of 9000 meters of fiber. For instance, filmy pantyhose are made of 12 denier filament. Tough tire cord is about 840 denier. Microfiber polyester is just under one denier per filament. See microfiber. Denier is used for the U.S. market while Europe uses the term d-tex.
DENIM: a twill fabric, usually indigo-dyed cotton, used to make jeans, and considered to be the most famous American fabric. While its
origins are European (denim is supposed to come from serge de Nimes in France), its use in the American west made it famous. It was the
basis of the Levi Strauss Company, which sold it to gold miners in San Francisco. It is a huge business worldwide and designers, searching
for something new and different have done almost everything to it to from stone washing to blasting it with shotguns and washing it in acid. Traditionally woven with an indigo dyed warp yarn and a natural or white fill. Purists say ring-spun cotton yarns make the best denim.
DIAGONAL: Another name for any fabric with a visible twill line.
DOBBY: a loom attachment that allows the inexpensive weaving of small geometric designs with frequent repeats. Also the weave itself.
Nail-head men’s suiting patterns are dobby weaves.
DOUBLE KNITS: a double-sided knit fabric using two sets of needles. About 40 years ago, polyester double knits were thought to be the “doom of the loomâ€, and would replace other fabrics. The textile industry rose to the occasion by so over producing polyester and poly double
knits that there was enough to clothe the whole world. Overproduction, tasteless design and poor quality doomed the double-knit, (not the
loom) and did serious damage to the image of polyester. Actually double knits, when done well, are very good fabrics. They can be knit of cotton, wool and other fibers and blends.
DOW XLA: one of the newest fibers on the market. It is a stretch polypropylene, with considerably less stretch then spandex, so it is less
stiff. Could be used at 100 percent, but usually appears in blends and combines well with most other fibers, including cotton. It was developed by Dow Chemical in 2002, but has moved slowly in menswear.
DRI-RELEASE: a patented microblend of synthetic (polyester) and natural (cotton or wool) fibers that provide a wicking action that moves
sweat from the body through the fabric and into the air.
DYEING: the coloring of a fabric or yarn. Yarn dyes are dyed after being spun and are noted for deep, rich colors and can be used to create interesting effects in weaving. Disadvantages are that they must be inventoried and an unpopular color can be costly. Most fabric is piece dyed, i.e., the whole fabric is dyed after weaving and this gives market flexibility, because dyeing can be done after the order is in. Huge, continuous dye ranges color fabric, such as denim, in mass production type lots. Garment dyeing is where the finished garment is dyed. This allows for special effects, especially on jeans, such as selective distressing and odd patterns, color choices, and last-minute dyeing depending on market whims.

ELASTANE: Another new name for an old fiber, this time spandex. Designers prefer this to spandex, and elastane has been used in Europe for some time. Invented by DuPont in 1958, it is the ultimate stretch fiber and never used alone. Two to five percent in a suit fabric is all that’s
needed to give a comfortable stretch, because spandex has over 500 percent stretch and recovery.
ELASTERELLE-P: A special stretch fiber awarded a generic fiber subclass designation by the Federal Trade Commission. Actually a stretch polyester. Not nearly as stretchy as Lycra spandex, but easier to use. Popular in men’s pants, jackets and shirts. It blends well with other fibers. Usually called T-400 by Invista, DuPont’s fiber successor. May be marketed as Lycra T-400.
ELITÉ: a stretch polyester fiber produced in Italy by Nylstar and used in dress and sportshirts.

FILAMENT FABRIC: made of filament fiber almost always polyester or nylon. Filament fiber is produced in a continuous strand and can be knit or woven directly, while staple fiber is chopped up in short lengths and has to be spun before it can be woven or knit. Spun yarns give a softer hand, but less strength. Filament fibers, on the other hand, unless they are engineered to be otherwise, are less comfortable to the hand.When a fiber is extruded as a multi-filament yarn, it is more pleasing to the touch. Since polyester entered the market, there have been several texturing methods to improve comfort. Textured polyester and nylon are prevalent in hosiery and activewear.
FLANNEL: a soft woolen or worsted fabric in either a plain or twill weave and slightly napped on one side. Also, a soft cotton fabric with a napped side.
FLEECE FABRIC: a cloth with a deep, thick-napped surface. Can be knit or woven in a wide range of fibers, including cotton, wool and acrylic.
FORTREL: well established polyester trade name. First owned by Celanese and now the flagship for Wellman Fibers’ polyester staple.

GABARDINE: a diagonal warpfaced twill. Originally wool, now is woven of several different fibers. Used often in men’s trousers.
GENERIC FIBER CODES: codes developed by the International Standards Organization for manufactured fiber: Acetate-CA; Acrylic-PAN; Cupro-CUP; Elastane (or spandex)-EL; Lyocell-CLY; Modacrylic-MAC;Modal-CMD;Nylon (or polyamid)-PA; Polyester-PES; Polypropylene-PP; Rayon (or Viscose)- CV and Triacetate-CTA.
GLEN -PLAID: Pattern of small woven checks altering with squares of larger checks. It is short for Glen Urquhart plaid, a distinctive wool tartan worn by that Scottish clan. May be woolen or worsted and used for suits, sportswear or coats, Sometimes call glen check, especially when only two colors are used.
GORE-TEX: the mother of all breathable, waterproof, windproof fabrics, made by W. L. Gore. Actually not a fabric but a composite of two fabrics—a knit or woven of most fibers—and a waterproof breathable membrane in between. Since its development, it has evolved into several fabric combinations. There is also three-layer Gore-Tex. New developments include Paclite, the lightest Gore-Tex fabrics and the most breathable, XCR (a two or three layer composite). New for fall ‘04 will be softer fabrics with stretch. Gore-Tex fabrics have found great success in the urban market.
GRAY GOODS: fabrics just as they come off the loom, before any finishing or dyeing. Sometimes called greige goods. Gray goods until a few years ago were a major commodity fabric, and converters, manufacturers and speculators took future positions in the fabric either to cover their needs against increasing prices or simply to make money on future increases.

HARRIS TWEED: see tweed.
HERRINGBONE: a fabric in which reversing twill weaves give the effect of, yes, the bones of a herring.
HOUNDSTOOTH: Popular wool pattern made with a variation of the twill weave to form jagged, broken checks. The characteristic twill line is not readily apparent. Widely used to make many types of fabrics, especially suitings.

INGEO: a new fiber with a soft hand, made of polylactide polymer, introduced by Cargill Dow and touted as coming from a renewable source.
(Since Cargill is one of the largest corn products producers in the world, guess what renewable source they are planning to make the fiber from?) Currently popular in the home furnishings’ market, but apparel made from Ingeo is being marketed in Japan and elsewhere.
INVISTA: most of the fiber operations formerly owned by DuPont, spun off as a separate company, called Invista, which was then bought by Koch Industries, a giant polymer chemical company. This activity is being closely watched by fabric and apparel manufacturers and retailers because the DuPont fiber operation was such a major player in the textile and apparel business, with important fibers. Koch is best known as a huge commodity resin producer.

JACQUARD: a loom attachment invented in 1801 by Joseph M. Jacquard. Used today in a modern form, it allows for an almost unlimited range of intricate designs in woven and knit fabrics. The loom attachment features a large series of perforated cards corresponding to the design, controlling the weave. Setting up a jacquard design is time consuming, even today with modern methods. While expensive, it can achieve very interesting and beautiful patterns, not otherwise possible by other methods. It is really the first computer-controlled production system.
JERSEY: Knitted fabric with fine lengthwise wales on the face and a plain back. Made in various weights for men's and women's coats, suits, sportswear and dresses.

KEVLAR: a very tough fiber of the aramid class, developed by DuPont, and amazingly, still owned and produced by them. Its best known use is as a bullet-resistant vest material used by the military and police forces all over the world. However, it has been used in blends for apparel fabrics, usually for tough, outdoor garments. It has also been blended with cotton in jeans.
KHAKI: originally a color. Now refers to the tan and other-hued slacks sold and bought by every man. See Chinos.

LAMBSWOOL: Fine, soft, wool from the first shearing of a lamb, usually when it is about seven months old.
LINEN: arguably the world’s oldest natural fiber that requires a manufacturing process. Egyptian mummies were wrapped in it 10,000 years
ago; the shroud of Turin is made of linen. But despite its ancient pedigree, it continues to be modernized. It is made from the flax plant in
a complicated process, including retting (which roughly means rotting off the stalks to form the fibers). Once “guaranteed to wrinkleâ€, it now can be finished with wrinkle resistant treatments. First developed as a summer and spring fabric, now it is used year-round in men’s sport
jackets, suits and shirts.
LLAMA: a South American camellike animal whose family boasts some of the finest and most interesting fibers in the world. Family members include the alpaca, guanaco and vicuna. All four produce hair for men’s topcoats, suits and jackets. The llama and alpaca are domesticated and their hair is fairly plentiful. The guanaco and vicuna are wild (although some are being domesticated) and harvesting their hair is very complicated. The vicuna is protected by international law, and its fiber is the most expensive in the world. Limited quantities are sold in Europe, Asia and finally in the U.S. The Loro Piana Company of Italy has worked closely with the Peruvian government to protect and commercialize vicuna and the company is the major source of vicuna fabric.
LODEN CLOTH: a soft, thick windand water-resistant fabric, usually made of wool, dating back to 16thcentury Austria. Loden also refers to
the style of a coat made from the fabric. Traditional color is dark green, but it is produced in a range of colors as well as weights.
LYOCELL: a sort of super rayon and one of the newest successful manufactured fibers. Tencel is the best known and first of this fiber, produced by Acordis. Lyocell is also produced by Lenzing of Austria, as Lyocell by Lenzing. It is made from wood, and therefore a renewable source. Successful applications include men slacks and jeans, as well as shirts and jackets.

MERINO: a breed of sheep producing the finest wool. Most live in Australia, which issued a stamp in the sheep’s honor a few years ago.
MELTON: a close woven, heavy duty wool cloth with a short nap.Navy uniforms and overcoats are big markets.
MERCERIZATION: a finishing process, usually for cotton, in which the fabric is held under tension and treated with a caustic solution under
uniform temperature. It improves the fabric’s luster, strength and affinity for dyes. It is definitely an improved fabric, but expensive.
MICROFIBER: the finest manmade apparel fibers. Usually polyester, but includes some nylon. True microfibers are less than one denier per filament in weight. This is not an arbitrary number. When the fiber industry, mostly Dupont, set out to make these super-fine fibers, silk was the finest natural fiber, at one denier per filament, so micro fibers had to be finer. Microfiber is expensive. Since fiber is sold by the pound, 100 feet of a finer fiber is priced higher than a heavier one. Also, quality microfiber is harder to make than a thicker fiber. Usually microfiber fabric is brushed or sanded to give it a more luxurious finish. While it looks and feels good, it has great performance characteristics too,
like wrinkle resistance, washability, strength and reduced shrinkage.
MICRON: the measure of the thickness of a wool fiber in billionths of one meter. See super 100’s.
MILLIKEN: one of the few U.S. mills still actively pursuing proprietary, trademarked fabrics. Also probably the largest privately owned mill in the world. While much of its volume comes from home furnishings and industrial fabrics, it is still a major player in apparel fabrics, especially for menswear. Trademarked fabrics include Visa; VisaEndurance (a new fabric that controls odor for the life of the garment and provides moisture management), Comfortease and Clearguard (stain and wrinkle resistant fabrics) and StainSmart (a fabric that resists stains and allows ground-in stains to wash out easily). Partners with retailers to develop apparel programs.
MODAL: a super rayon, but can be labeled as a generic modal fiber now. Performs well when wet, unlike regular rayon.
MOHAIR: long silky hair from the angora goat. Produced in Texas, among other places. It produces a smooth fabric and is often blended
with other fibers, including wool.
MOLESKIN: an old fabric now popular again, especially in menswear. A soft, smooth, usually napped twill used in pants and jackets.

NANOTECHNOLOGY: in textiles, this complicated technology is used to impart various high performance properties directly into the fiber, so
that they will be inherent and not wash or wear out. For example, Burlington Industries in the U.S., through its Nano-Tex subsidiary, has
four such products: Nano-Care, Nano-Pel, Nano-Dry and Nano- Touch, which are said to create stain repellancy, breathability, improved
hand and water repellancy to synthetics. Companies using one or more of these products include: Levi Strauss, Eddie Bauer, Claiborne for
Men, Perry Ellis, Savane and Haggar. Asian fiber companies are also developing Nanotech products, including Hyosung of Korea.
NATURAL FIBERS: textile fibers from animals and vegetables, without a major manufacturing process needed. Top vegetable fibers are cotton, wool, and linen. Top animal fibers include wool, camel hair, and silk (which actually comes from a worm’s cocoon).
NATURAL STRETCH: results from the combination of yarn treatment and special weaving—does not involve spandex or other stretch yarns. Certain mills refuse to divulge their formula.
NONWOVEN FABRICS: one of those terms that nobody is quite happy with. It refers to fabrics that are not woven or knit. They are formed in
a number of ways, including dry and wet entanglement of fibers and with a binder. The interlinings in jackets and shirt collars are often nonwoven. For over 40 years attempts have been made to create a practical nonwoven apparel shell fabric by several companies, including DuPont.
NYLON: the first synthetic fiber, was invented by a DuPont team led by Wallace Carothers. It was introduced at the 1939 World’s Fair and was considered a miracle at the time, and still is a very good fiber. Carothers also did original research on polyester, but abandoned it because he thought nylon was more important. A British chemist later developed polyester for ICI. Carothers later committed suicide, but this was not considered fiber related. It has become popular to refer to nylon by its chemical family name, polyamide, possibly to make it seem more modern.

OLEFIN FIBERS: this is the fiber family from which polypropylene is the major apparel fiber member. Polyprop has been a favorite of the
outdoors and active wear crowd. It is very light (the lowest specific gravity of all fibers), quick drying, sunlight resistant and doesn’t rot. It is colorfast, because it is usually dyed in the fiber form.
OXFORD CLOTH: a basket-weave cotton fabric, considered a classic for men’s shirts. Also can be a blend.

PILLING: an appearance problem created when fibers gather into small balls on the surface of the fabric. The stronger the fiber, the more difficult it is to get rid of the pill once it has formed. The weaker the fiber, the easier it is to brush off the pills. Anti-pilling has long been the goal of fabric and fiber makers.
PINSTRIPES: Very thin, light or dark, lengthwise stripes.
PLAIN WEAVE: The simplest weave, also called "one-up and one-down weave," in which filling yarn passes over and under each warp yarn, forming a checkerboard pattern.
POLYESTER: hit the scene in 1953 when it was considered the true miracle fiber. It didn’t shrink, resisted wrinkling, wore very well, and was made from a petrochemical that wasn’t used for much else at the time. DuPont’s Dacron washand- wear- suits were very popular for a while. Polyester is still the most used fiber in the world, with industrial as well as apparel uses. A number of specially engineered polyesters now offer fine esthetics as well as performance. And the fiber seems to be making a comeback, in better designs, beginning with microfiber. Specially engineered polyesters continue to be developed, often playing down the fact that they are polyester.
POPLIN: a woven fabric with a fairly heavy crosswise rib effect, made by using heavier filling yarns than warp, which has more threads. Got its name from the Pope, because it was used originally for ecclesiastical garments.
fibers that are pre-colored in the fiber-making process, also called solution dyed. The color is inherent all through the fiber, not just on the surface, as in dyeing. It reduces fading. However, this process limits the range of colors available, and requires large inventories. Acrylic
and polypropylene are frequently colored in this way.

RASCHEL: fabric produced on a warp knitting machine using latch needles.
RAYON: the oldest man-made fiber, manufactured from regenerated cellulose (wood pulp). Produced in the U.S. for over 100 years, it is often referred to as viscose. Produced in staple or filament form. See cupro.

SATEEN: a woven fabric with a smooth surface and a lustrous finish. Warp-faced sateens are strongest, but filling-faced versions are softer.
SEERSUCKER: a truly American fabric, although it didn’t originate here. It’s a light, woven cotton or cotton blend fabric with parallel flat
and puckered stripes. The crinkled surface helped create its role as a major summer suit fabric, particularly in New Orleans, because it kept
the wearer cool and didn’t show wrinkles as much as plain fabrics. Popular since the Thirties, it has always been in classic summer lines,
to varying degrees. Elegant seersucker suits are done in silk or linen.
SENSURA: a proprietary fiber developed by Wellman Fibers. It is actually a polyester co-polymer, aimed at having “cotton-like esthetics, with
synthetic performance,†like wrinkle resistance. Has done very well in men’s pants, khakis in particular.
SERGE: Smooth, durable suiting fabric made with a 45-degree twill weave and tightly twisted yarns. Has a flat twill line on both sides, running from the lower left to the upper right. Worsted serge is the workhorse of the serge family, but it is also made from most other fibers and blends in a wide variety of weights and qualities.
SHARKSKIN: woven fabric with a smooth lustrous surface and a firm hand, now made in a number of patterns and colors. It wears very well.
SILK:Arguably the world’s oldest fiber. It is created from cocoons spun by the silk worm. The best silk is from the worms that eat mulberry leaves. The super luxe fiber is used in most men’s applications from ties, shirts, suits and jackets, to underwear. Dupioni silk comes from a
cocoon spun by two silk worms, instead of one. This Siamese twin silk is prized for its strong, rough, uneven fabric, and the unusual patterns made from it.
SLUB: imperfections in a yarn producing knobby balls or uneven strands. Often done deliberately to create a decorative effect.
SPANDEX: the original super stretch fiber developed in 1958 by DuPont. Its advent reduced elastic fiber to minor uses. It stretches 500 percent and recovers, which is key in fabric appearance and performance. It has long been big in men’s activewear, but is now prevalent in most bottom weights, jackets, suits and even in shirts in small percentages. The second U. S. producer of spandex in history, Globe Industries is now Radici Spandex, owned by the Italian Radici Group. See elastane.
SPINNING: using one of several processes, spinning shorter staple fibers together to form a spun yarn. One of the oldest means of making yarn. Colonial women who were unmarried were often consigned to operate a spinning wheel to produce home-spun yarns and that’s where the term spinster came from. (Not used anymore, neither the term nor the wheel.)
THE SUPER WORSTEDS: with selective merino sheep breeding and advances in spinning, weaving and finishing, a whole line of very fine
worsted fabrics have been developed. They are determined by the delicacy of the fiber used, measured in microns, equal to one millionth of a
meter. The first were super 80’s, which were just under 20 microns in diameter. This was followed by finer, super 100’s at 18.5 microns. There has been a movement to get finer and finer worsteds (with reports of some cheating) and there are now super 110’s (18.0 microns), super 120’s, 140’s and 150’s (16 microns). In recent years this escalated to super 180’s (14.5 microns), 190’s (14), and then 200’s (13.5) and
even super 210’s at 13 microns. Size alone does not do the job, as Madonna said. Spinning of the yarns is very important, the weaving and
the finish are also key. It takes a long time to do this right. Very few mills, nearly all in Yorkshire,U.K and Biella, Italy are successful. (Loro Piana has a mill in the U.S. producing supers.) There are complaints that some fabric sales organizations have made false claims. And the reputation of the supplier is very important. The finest worsteds, super 150’s and up, are usually reserved for custom tailoring and made-to-measure suits.
SUPIMA: the trade name and association relating to U.S. pima cotton, a luxury fiber. Supima is the “microfiber of cotton,†the finest grown in the U.S., or perhaps anywhere. It is costly and until recently, Japan was a major customer, willing to pay the price for premium cotton. The fiber is used in home furnishings and in apparel.
SYNTHETIC FIBERS: manufactured fibers from a petrochemical base— polyester, nylon, acrylic, spandex and olefin are the best known.

TACTEL: a proprietary nylon developed by DuPont, sold now by Invista. Very silky, it has been more accepted in women’s apparel, but is
showing up in men’s shirts and other garments.
TEFLON: originally known for nonstick frying pans, this fluorocarbon, developed by DuPont, now has a career in apparel as a stain resistant
topical treatment for fabric. A new generation Teflon Fabric Protector, has a repel and release property. When stains get through stain esistant fabrics, it is sometime very hard to wash them out. This new product claims to keep the stain out.
TENCEL: the first and the largest of the lyocell fibers family. It was originated by Courtaulds, and is now produced by Acordis through its Tencel, Inc. subsidiary. See lyocell.
THREAD COUNT: a measure of how closely woven a fabric is, determined by the number of warp yarns and filling yarns in a square inch of
the fabric. The finest and most expensive fabric has the highest thread count. The consumer has picked up this term, especially women buying expensive bed sheets. Now men also are asking about thread counts in shirting fabrics. A small magnifying glass, called a pick glass, has been used by mills and buyers for more than a century to obtain thread count.
TROPICAL WORSTED: Lightweight worsted cloth woven from especially fine yarns, usually with a plain weave. Has a smooth, clear finish, making it ideal for warm weather suits.
TWEED: originally a rough-surfaced wool fabric, in plain, twill or herringbone weaves. Named for the River Tweed in the U.K.Now it is woven in various fibers, and patterns. Harris Tweed is a heavy, handwoven fabric done by cottage weavers in the Outer Hebrides Islands, originally
from wool from Harris sheep from those islands. It is known for wearing forever. Donegal tweed, originally hand woven in Ireland, is now commercially produced and noted for interesting colored slubs.
TWILL: a basic weave with diagonal lines, used for men’s pants. Originally wool, it is now woven of several different fibers. Denim is a twill.

ULTRA-VIOLET INHIBITORS: refers to various additives put into fiber or on fabrics to reduce harmful effects of the sun on the wearer. Often used for outdoor active apparel including golf shirts and tennis outfits.

VICUNA: rarest and most expensive fiber and fabric available. From the the llama-like vicuna native to South America. See llama.
VISA: a proprietary fabric, trademarked by Milliken & Co. Noted for stain resistance, it is high-performance polyester.

WARP AND WEFT: warp yarns are the lengthwise yarns in a woven fabric. Important blends are often based on a warp yarn of one fiber and a weft yarn of another fiber, such as rayon/acetate or cotton/polyester.Weft yarns are the crosswise yarns in a woven fabric and often called the fill yarn.
WEIGHT: In the U.S., fabric weight is expressed in terms of ounces per yard, no matter how narrow or wide the cloth. Woolen and worsted fabrics are usually 58 to 60 inches wide. In other parts of the world, fabric weight is expressed in terms of grams per linear meter. For scientific purposes, fabric weight is recorded in ounces per square yard or grams per square meter.
WINDOWPANE: Simple, boxy check or plaid pattern using a minimum of colors and thin lines to form large squares or rectangles with clear centers, like a windowpane.
WOOLEN AND WORSTED FABRICS: Worsted wool is most popular for men’s suits (see supers) because it is made from the long straight fibers and is stronger and weaves into a tight smooth fabric. Woolen yarns are shorter and curlier and are woven into softer fabrics.
WORSTED YARNS: Yarns are made from longer fibers of 3 to 6 inches, which are combined to lie parallel to each other, producing a smooth, clean look. They are usually 2 ply yarns, and are finer and more tightly twisted than woolen yarns. Fabrics made from worsted yarns are smooth and cool to wear, such as gabardines, crepes, tropicals and suitings, and can be worn comfortably in moderately warm weather and climates.
WRINKLE FREE: nothing really is. Wrinkles can form in any fabric, but treatments and special weaving techniques can greatly minimize this. The right term should be wrinkle resistant.


Darren Beaman
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