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  Fabric Glossary    


Fabric glossary




A manufactured fiber refined from cotton filaments and/or wood pulp, and acetic acid that has been extruded through a spinneret and then hardened.


A type of nylon made by DuPont®.



Bamboo fabric is made from the pulp of the bamboo grass. It is light and strong, has excellent wicking properties, and is to some extent antibacterial. The use of bamboo fiber for clothing was a 20th century development, pioneered by several Chinese corporations.

Bamboo is highly water absorbent, able to take up three times its weight in water. In bamboo fabric, this translates to an excellent wicking ability that will pull moisture away from the skin so that it can evaporate.

Bamboo also has many antibacterial qualities which are retained through multiple washings. This helps to reduce bacteria that thrives on clothing and causes unpleasant odors. It can also kill odor causing bacteria that live on human skin, making the wearer and his or her clothing smell much less. In addition, bamboo fabric has insulating properties and will keep the wearer cooler in summer and warmer in winter.


A term applied to a yarn or a fabric that is made up of more than one fiber. In blended yarns, two or more different types of staple fibers are twisted or spun together to form the yarn. Polyester/cotton is an example of a typical blended yarn or fabric.


The process applied to hosiery to improve the final presentation. When the hosiery is still damp from dying it is pulled over a metal form and subject to pressure and heat. This sets the garment to its familiar leg and foot profile. (Used only with non-stretch or polyamide products).


The shortened word for brassiere. A woman's close-fitting undergarment which is worn to support and give contour to the breasts.


The term breathability is associated with fabric and its ability to allow airflow. Generally, if a fabric has breathability, the garment will not hold in moisture. A simple test to see if a fabric has breathability is to hold it up to your mouth and see if air can pass through it. If it can, the fabric has breathability.



A carbon fabrication blends carbon-infused fibers by the burning of bamboo, and blends them with poly-tech fiber to create a durable, tech fabrication that is beneficial to your body - anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, deodorizing, breathable, and moisture wicking.


A lightweight silk or silk-like fabric.


A soft fuzzy fabric developed in France. The name means caterpillar in French.


An extremely sheer, lightweight, soft fabric made of silk, polyester, rayon or other fibers. It is made of highly twisted filament yarns.

Circular Knit

Process in which modern seamless hosiery is made, which results in a tapered tube, which is then sewn closed at the toe.

Combed Cotton

Cotton in which a combing process removes the short fibers and any debris that may be with the fiber when it was in the field. This results in a cleaner, more uniform and lustrous yarn.


A polyester fiber designed to move moisture away from the body and out onto the surface of the garment for quick absorption. This leaves the wearer feeling cooler and dryer. Coolmax is also fast drying, resists fading, and doesn’t wrinkle or shrink. Because of the movement of moisture, wearing Coolmax indoors without airflow to properly evaporate can cause puddling, since Coolmax does not absorb. Coolmax works best outdoors where there is airflow to evaporate body moisture.


A natural fiber that grows in the seedpod 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.

Cotton Lisle

A hard-spun two ply cotton yarn made from long staple fibers and treated to remove all short fuzzy ends for a smooth finish. Lisle is a popular choice for fine men's knitwear, including tops and socks.



A system of measuring the weight of a continuous filament fiber, this measurement is used to number all manufactured fibers (both filament and staple), and silk, but excluding glass fiber. The lower the number, the finer the fiber and lighter the fabric; the higher the number, the heavier the fiber and thicker the fabric. Numerically, a denier is the equivalent to the weight in grams of 9,000 meters of continuous filament fiber.

Double Knit

A knit fabric in which two layers of loops are formed that cannot be separated. A double knit machine, which has two complete sets of needles, is required for this construction.


DriLayer is a registered name of Moving Comfort. When stated, the garment has the ability to transfer moisture away from the skin to the outside of the fabric for quick evaporation.


Ecosil polyester

Ecosil means the polyester fibers are spun very compactly to give the fabric a clean appearance, and a resistance to pilling and abrasion.

Egyptian cotton

All cotton grown in Egypt is "Egyptian" but it is not all extra-long staple (ELS) cotton – the most desirable and softest. The description "Egyptian cotton" conjures in the mind of many consumers the image of the very finest and longest cottons in the world. Egypt does produce and sell some of the best ELS cotton in the world, but it amounts to less than 15% of annual global ELS cotton exports, and is approximately 40% of Egyptian cotton exports.


Elastane is just another name for an old fiber -spandex. Designers prefer this to spandex, and elastane has been used instead of spandex in Europe for some time. Elastane trade names are Lycra and Dorlastan.


A process that produces a raised design or pattern on fabrics by passing the cloth between hot, engraved rollers that press the design in.


An embellishment of a fabric or garment in which colored threads are sewn on to the fabric to create a design. Embroidery may be done either by hand or machine.

European Heel

The European heel is similar to the Cuban heel but with a pointed design. It is also known as the French heel, or simply pointed heel.


A type of fabric with patterned cut-out designs, around which stitching or embroidery is applied in order to prevent the fabric from raveling.



A glossy, soft, finely-ribbed silk-like woven fabric made from cotton, silk, or manufactured fibers.

Fashion Tights

Sometimes called Fancy Tights or Fashion Pantyhose. Usually consisting of a heavier denier and unusual design or knit pattern. They come in a vast array of designs, texture, and colors. Much more costly than regular tights or panty hose they are more durable and unique in nature.

Fence net

A very large net design similar to that of a chain link fence and used for stockings, hold-ups, and pantyhose.


Lightweight, synthetic fiber that can be used to line bra cups.

Finishing Hole

The small opening in the back of fully-fashioned stockings where the stocking was folded over and sewn together. This detail allows the top welt to stretch for a more comfortable fit on the thigh, and is the unmistakable mark of the true full-fashioned stocking.


A smaller net design, which is taken from the construction of a fisherman’s net, usually made of nylon or nylon-lycra blends. These come in seamless or seamed styles, with various designs of lace or silicone tops on the stockings and hold-ups. Also in tights or pantyhose which are very popular with dancers and for costumes.

Flat Knit

The process used in making full-fashioned stockings, where the yarn is knitted flat on the machine and literally sewn together to form the back seam. The tops of the stocking are then folded over and sewn, forming the familiar double top welt and finishing hole in the back of the full-fashioned stocking.

French Heel

Original name for the pointed heel on seamed stockings, as opposed to the rectangular style of the Cuban Heel stocking. These have also become referred to as the European Heel or Pointed Heel.


A product of Invista, and teamed with Lycra, freshFX technology creates "refreshing" fabric to be used in underwear and/or sleepwear to give it a great fit, feel, coolness and freshness all day long. FreshFX also has a fabulous soft hand and an excellent drape.



A rib stitch variation, interlock resembles two separate 1 x 1 ribbed fabrics that are interknitted. Interlock stitch fabrics are thicker, heavier, and more stable than single knit constructions.

Italian Nylon

A very high quality knit fabric with 4-way stretch that comes from Italy. Italian nylon includes some lycra to give great stretch and recovery, good strength, abrasion resistance and long germ resistance to body acids.



Any fabric that has a pattern woven into the fabric rather than printed on it. The name comes from Joseph Marie Jacquard who designed a loom attachment capable of weaving patterns into fabric. This attachment provides versatility in designs and permits individual control of each of the warp yarns. Thus, fabrics of almost any type or complexity can be made. Brocade and damask are types of jacquard woven fabrics.

Jacquard Knit

A double knit fabric in which a Jacquard type of mechanism is used. This device individually controls needles or small groups of needles, and allows very complex and highly patterned knits to be created.



A woven fabric using flat silver or gold metal threads to create either the design or the background in the fabric.

Laser Cut

Rather than cutting fabric the traditional way, a laser is used, but only on synthetic fabrics - otherwise, a fabric could catch on fire. The advantages of laser cutting include no raveling, and a flat seamless edge.


Latex is made with rubber and thus has rubber-like qualities. Used in some elastics to provide greater elasticity. Breaks down easily when exposed to sun and body moisture. Many are allergic to direct contact of latex on their body, for whom spandex is an alternative.


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 world's oldest textile fibers.


The name given to material sewn into the inside of a garment to make it more opaque or more comfortable against the skin. Frequently lining is used in a bra to add structure or provide a pretty background to sheer and/or lacy fabrics.


A trademark of DuPont, Lycra is the spandex fiber produced by DuPont. It is lightweight and soft, but stronger and more durable than rubber. Lycra can be stretched over 500% without breaking, and can be stretched repeatedly and still recover to its original length. It provides lightweight freedom of movement in foundation garments.


Memory Foam

Memory foam is being used more an more in bras. The same foam you see in the mattress commercial where the girl is jumping but the water glass is not moving, when used in a bra cup this foam will shape more to your body, and then return to its original shape once taken off. This advantage means that your bra cups will not develop creases that are hard or impossible to remove. Storage of memory foam bras is not as important because the shape will pop back if crushed.

Mercerized Cotton

Cotton that has been through a wet finishing process which swells the yarns of the fabric to give it a round smooth surface and stops the cotton from further shrinkage. This process results in a stronger and more lustrous yarn that is more easily dyed, producing brighter, deeper colors.

Merino Wool

Merino wool means the wool fiber is long and fine. The result is a fabric that is thin, soft and luxurious.


An open-weave knitted or woven fabric that produces a net or sheer-like effect.

Micro Modal

Micro Modal® is a trademarked microfiber from an Austrian textile company, Lenzing. Micro Modal is a fabric made from spun beech wood cellulose. The fabric is delicate and light. The smooth surface of Micro Modal prevents deposits of lime and detergents. Even after numerous washings, fabrics made from Micro Modal remain soft and silky, the colors bright and shiny. Micro Modal is 50% more absorbent than cotton thus allowing the skin to breathe and provides incredible comfort.


Fabric made with microfiber means that the fabric’s filaments are extremely fine – much finer than silk. microfiber fabrics are thus light-weight, and look and feel luxurious. Because microfiber filaments can be packed so closely, they can prevent moisture from passing though, yet allow air flow. Usually a blend of polyester or poly-amide fibers, microfiber fabric is known for being very light, smooth, soft, hard wearing and breathable.


Modal is made with cellulose from beech trees and is essentially a variety of rayon. It is about 50% more water-absorbent than cotton. Modal fabric has softness, good drape and is said to breath even better than cotton. Garments made in modal have anti-crease properties and are relatively easy care.


Amount of power for support a fabric would give in its most stretched or elongated state.

Moisture Wicking

Fabrics that have the moisture wicking feature are able to draw moisture away from the body and put it on the surface of the fabric for quick evaporation. Many sports bras and tops are made with moisture wicking fabrics.



Nylon was the first commercially successful synthetic fiber to be made entirely from ingredients: coal, water and air. Nylon is strong, elastic, resistant to abrasion and chemicals, low moisture absorbency, and able to be permanently set by heat.



When used in the lingerie industry, opaque means the body can not be seen through the garment.



A swirled pattern characterized by a teardrop shape. Popularized in Paisley, Scotland, during the 1800s, this design was originally an adaptation of a spade pattern found on Indian shawls. Today, paisley decorates everything from sheetings to fine dresses and always makes a statement of rich elegance.


A velvet-like fabric that has been flattened to achieve a desired design or look.

Peau de Soie

A heavy twill-weave drape-able satin fabric made of silk or a manufactured fiber.

Peruvian Pima Cotton

Pima cotton that is grown in Peru under excellent growing conditions. This cotton is harvested by hand which reduces the scratchy impurities and guarantees a more brilliant white shade that can be easily dyed.

Pima Cotton

Pima cotton is a generic name for extra-long staple (ELS) cotton grown in the U.S., Australia, Peru and in very limited production in a few other locations around the world Pima was previously called American-Egyptian cotton but was renamed to honor the Pima Indians who were growing the cotton for the USDA in Sacaton, Arizona. Pima is from the gossypium barbadense species, compared to gossypium hirsutum to which upland cotton belongs. The primary differences between Pima (ELS growths) cotton and upland cotton are staple length and strength of the fiber. In the U.S., cotton is considered to be ELS or Pima if it is an inch and 3/8 or longer. Its strength and uniformity measurements are considerably higher than those of upland cotton. It has a silk-like hand and a very fine weave.


A medium-weight fabric, either knit or woven, with raised dobby designs including cords, wales, waffles, or patterns. Woven versions have cords running lengthwise, or in the warp direction. Knitted versions are double-knit fabric constructions, created on multi-feed circular knitting machines.


A fabric in which bands of color running horizontally and vertically intersect to form squares. Plaids date back to the 1500s and now come in many patterns from argyle and gingham to madras and windowpane.


The basic fiber-forming substance for nylon fiber. It is also the European term for nylon.


The European term for nylon yarn.


This is both the name of a fabric and a fiber. A manufactured fiber introduced in the early 1950s, it is second only to cotton in worldwide use. Its ability to stretch and resist wrinkling makes it a popular fabric for lingerie. Polyester has high strength (although somewhat lower than nylon), excellent resiliency, and high abrasion resistance. Low absorbency allows the fiber to dry quickly.



A silk-like fabric made from wood pulp, cotton linters, or other vegetable matter. It is a comfortable fabric against the skin and absorbs moisture. It is not a strong fabric.

Rib Knit

A knitted fabric with alternating raised and lowered rows. More elastic and durable than plain knits, they tend to fit the body and are used frequently in T-shirts as well as for the trims of socks, sleeves, waists and necklines.

Ring spun Cotton

The cotton fibers are tightly twisted together to make a stronger, smoother and finer thread. Ring spun cotton fabric is therefore softer and finer feeling than basic cotton fabric.



A process of preshrinking fabric. Patented by Cluett, Peabody and Co., Inc. the label means permanent fit – the fabric shrinkage is held to just 1%.


A woven type of fabric with the characteristic of being highly lustrous on one side, and matte on the other. Can be made in a variety of fibers. Typical examples of satin weave fabrics include: slipper satin, crepe-back satin, faille satin, bridal satin, moleskin, and antique satin.


A decorative border on fabric or lace made up of a series of half circles.


This is a term to describe hosiery that is slightly translucent but not totally non transparent. It is usually of a lighter denier tight, or a heavier denier stocking of hold-up.


A serger machine sews, overcasts and trims a seam all in one step. Therefore this seam is called a serged seam. A serged seam usually is made with 3 to 4 threads.


This is a term, sometimes called gossamer given to the shininess or glitter like appearance of the stockings. 100% nylon non-stretch stockings and nylon-lycra blends have a very high sheen, which is their trademark.


A term used to describe garments that are transparent and allow the body to be seen.


A decorative effect created by material being gathered into lines.


A rubber like polymer, which maintains its elasticity over a wide range of temperatures. Used inside the lace top of hold-up stockings to cling to the skin and keep the stocking up without garters.


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


A type of knit fabric that is firm, yet can also be knit to give a little stretch. Simplex has a mechanical stretch meaning that it stretches evenly in all directions. However, like our skin, it can stretch, but wants to bounce back to it's original state. Therefore, it's a perfect "second skin" fabric.


Soy fabric is made from the leftover dregs from soybean oil or tofu production. The protein is extracted and the fiber spun into cloth. It is an excellent recycle scenario that makes this fabric eco-friendly. Similar to natural silk, it is common for there to be occasional slubs in the soy fabric, which adds to its natural beauty.

Soy is incredibly soft and silky and is otherwise known as vegetable cashmere. Soy is as easy to care for as any cotton t-shirt.

Spacer Foam

Spacer foam, also called spacer fabric, is a very expensive knit used as the cup fabric in molded bras. It is a knit that has a top and bottom layer, with filaments between similar to a corrugated box. This creates air pockets between the layers. All of this is knit as one piece of fabric. The advantage of spacer foam is that it is very light weight , breathes, can be thinner than traditional foam used in contour bra cups, and won't yellow.


A synthetic fiber made from polyurethane. It is lightweight, highly elastic, strong, durable and non-absorbent to water and oils. A great alternative to people allergic to latex.


A natural rubber latex/nylon stretch fabric with thousands of air holes for comfort and breathability.


A rigid fabric interlining that restricts the stretch of selected areas of the garment to allow for better support.


A rigid fabric interlining that restricts the stretch of selected areas of the garment to allow for better support.

Stay Ups

Stockings that stay up without the need for garters. True stay-ups usually consist of a decorative stretch lace top, with a silicone band inside of the lace to help grip the leg.

Supima Cotton

The name "Supima" is a licensed trademark owned by Supima and its members. It is used to promote textile and apparel products made of 100% American Pima cotton, but is strictly controlled by the grower organization. The name "Supima" is an abbreviation for Superior Pima.


Supplex nylon is made by DuPont®. It is a cottony soft nylon that offers the performance benefits of a man-made fabric with the look of cotton. It is lightweight, quick drying and durable.



Tactel nylon is made by DuPont. It is a silkier softer nylon with a crinkle finish. It is lightweight and quick drying.


A state-of-the-art fiber with a hollow core to keep you warmer and drier by wicking moisture away.


This word comes from the French word "tricoter" which means to knit. Tricot is a finely knit fabric that is knit in such a way that it has no elasticity. It was developed especially for the underwear industry and can be made from nylon, wool, rayon, silk, cotton or other fibers.


Ultra Sheer

This term refers to the very light deniers which are very light transparency and high sheen. Usually made of 100% non-stretch nylon. Some lycra /nylon yarns of less than 8 denier can be ultra-sheer.


Ultra-violet Protection Factor – Ultra-violet Protection Factor – a rating system that measures the UV protection of which is provided by the fabric. Similar to the SPF rating system used in sunscreens. For example, a fabric rated UPF 30 means that if 30 units of UV rays fall on the fabric, only one unit will pass through.



The European term for rayon.


X-Static Silver Fiber

X-Static-The sliver fiber, has a layer of pure silver permanently bonded to the surface of a textile fiber. The process is such that the fiber, with its sliver layer, retains traditional textile and tactile characteristics. It can be used in knits, wovens and non-wovens as either a filament or spun yarn. X-Static offers all of the benefits known to be inherent to pure silver, only in a new format-a textile fiber.


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