Do you know your acetate from a hole in the ground? Your gussets from your grommets? If not, here's a list of the more commonly used textile words and terms that you'll see in our catalog. For more information or clarification, you can call us at: 1-800-770-3387
ACETATE - A manufactured fiber that uses cellulose refined from cotton and/or wood pulp. Characteristics: fast drying, wrinkle- and shrinkage-resistant, crisp or soft depending on end use, luxurious in appearance.
ACRYLIC - A manufactured fiber made from long-chain synthetic polymers. Characteristics: wrinkle resistance; low moisture absorbency and quick-drying; provides warmth yet lightweight, soft and resilient.
ALPACA - The fleece from an Alpaca, a cousin to the llama. Alpaca fleece is similar in characteristics to wool, but softer, silkier and more lustrous.
BANDED COLLAR - A shirt without a fold-over collar; there is only the band at the neck.
BARTACK - A close series of stitches crossing a piece of cloth in order to reinforce at a point of concentrated strain (e.g. belt loop or patch pocket corner).
BASKET WEAVE - A variation of the plain weave in which two or more threads weave alike in both warp (down) and filling (across) directions, joined in the regular order of the plain weave. So named for the basket-like pattern of the weave.
BATIK - A method of resist dyeing which employs wax as the resist. The pattern is covered with wax, and the fabric is then dyed: the wax patterns will not take the dye. The wax is removed after dyeing by boiling the fabric or applying solvent. The fabric is often streaked where the dye has gone through cracks in the wax. Batik dyeing originated in Indonesia.
BESOM - A narrow piece of fabric that works as an edging on a pocket; can be single besom, one side of pocket opening or double besom, both sides.
BOX PLEAT - Two small, back to back outward facing pleats that have a box- like appearance. On shirts, box pleats are positioned in the center back at the bottom of the yoke to allow ease of movement in the shoulders and arms.
BROADCLOTH - A fine, closely woven, lustrous cotton or cotton/poly blend made in plain weave with a fine rib in the direction of the filling (across). The filling yarn is heavier and has less twist than the warp yarn (down). The cloth is usually mercerized, and has a soft, firm finish.
BRUSHING - A finishing process for woven or knit fabrics in which brushes or other abrading elements are used to raise a nap (a fuzzy or downy surface). Brushed fabrics have a soft, slightly weathered, broken-in feel.
BUTTON-DOWN COLLAR - Having buttonholes on the collar points so they fasten to the shirt.
CAMP COLLAR - A one-piece collar that lays flat, part of the shirt also lays flat to create a notch. Also called a Convertible Collar or Notched Collar.
CANVAS - A general classification of strong, firm, closely woven fabrics usually made with cotton. A heavier, open weave comprised of plied yarns (a number of single yarns, usually three, twisted together). Characteristics: very hard-wearing, generally water-resistant.
CASHMERE - The fleece that comes from a Cashmere goat. These animals roam at high elevations (10,000 - 15,000 ft.), hence their very warm, soft fleece. Garments made with cashmere are normally more expensive because of limited yield (one goat produces only 4 ounces of fleece a year).
CHAMBRAY - A general class of plain weave, usually cotton, made with a colored warp (down) and white filling (across). Most often made using blue and white, but also available in stripes, checks and figured patterns.
COMBING - The removal of short fibers or noils from material so that the resulting yarn be composed of larger fibers. The comb straightens and arranges them in parallel order.
CORDUROY - A strong, durable fabric with cotton ground and vertical cut-pile stripes (wales) formed by an extra system of filling yarns. The foundation of the fabric can be either a plain or twill weave. Of all cotton fabrics, corduroy is the warmest because its wales form an insulated cushion of air.
COTTON - A vegetable fiber consisting of unicellular hairs attached to the seed of the cotton plant. The normal color of cotton is light to dark cream, and its chemical composition is almost pure cellulose. A distinct feature of the mature fiber is its spirality or twist. In fabrics, cotton makes for strong, versatile, cool-wearing and comfortable garments.
CREPE - A general classification of fabric characterized by a broad range of crinkled or gained surface effects. Methods of making crepe include the use of hard twisted yarns, special chemical treatment, special weaves and embossing.
DART - A tuck in the fabric that is sewn. It is used to define the shape of a garment making a two dimensional piece of fabric into a three-dimensional garment. Darts are usually seen where the body curves: bust, waist, hip.
DENIM - A well-known basic cotton or blended fabric in a right- or left-hand woven twill. Generally, the warp (down) is dyed blue with a white filling (across). Also called "dungaree."
DOBBY - A general term for a fabric woven on a special dobby loom, which allows the weaving of small, geometric figures. These patterns are beyond the range of simple looms, yet too limited to be produced economically by Jacquard loom. A dobby weave can be distinguished from a plain weave by its more ornate and intricate woven appearance.
FLANNEL - Generally, a cotton or wool fabric, napped on one or both sides (usually both), then bleached, dyed or printed, and brushed or rerun through the napping machine to revive the nap. Flannel fabrics are very soft and cozy.
FLEECE - 1). A heavy napped surface, most often in knit goods, made with a heavy and soft-spun back yarn, which is napped in finishing (e.g. the inside surface of a sweatshirt). 2). Wool sheared from sheep or other animals in the wool class. The term is especially used for the entire coat of wool shorn from the sheep at one time; it is generally taken off the animal in one piece.
GARMENT DYEING - The garment is first produced, then the complete garment is dyed.
GARMENT WASH - The garment is constructed and then washed to soften the fabric and minimize shrinkage.
GAUGE - A measurement used in knitted garments that reflects the size of the needles used to knit the garment. The larger the gauge, the smaller the needle - therefore, the finer the knit.
GORE - Vertical panels in a skirt or dress; enhances the fit of a garment.
GROMMET - Little air holes reinforced with metal ring, usually on jackets, hats or shoes to allow ventilation.
GROSGRAIN - A firm, closely woven, ribbed fabric. It has a dressy appearance and is used for ribbons, neckties, hatbands and trimmings.
GUSSET - A triangular piece of fabric inserted into a garment to improve the fit or for reinforcement (e.g. on the sleeve of a jacket under the arm to allow for extra layering).
HERRINGBONE TWILL - A broken twill weave composed of vertical sections which are alternately right hand and left hand in direction, resembling the vertebral structure of the herring (zigzag). The twill changes direction perfectly where the weave breaks, balancing the overall pattern of the fabric.
HOLLYWOOD WAISTBAND - The waistband is the same piece of fabric as the rest of the garment. Advantages are that it has a smooth silhouette making the transition from hip to waist more gradual.
JACQUARD - A system of weaving which, because of a pattern-making mechanism of great versatility, permits the production of very ornate, complex woven designs. This type of weaving is used for tapestry, figured necktie and dress fabric, and figured patterns on knit goods (sweaters).
JERSEY - A generic term for a plain knitted fabric; its principal distinction is that it is not a fabric with a distinct rib (e.g. T-shirt fabric).
KNIT - Knit fabrics are made up of a series of interlocking loops that result in a flexible construction. All knits have some stretch.
LINEN - One of the oldest textile fibers known. Though the fiber and the fabric are both commonly known as linen, it is actually flax, the fiber of the Linum plant. Linen is generally favored for its fine, strong, cool-wearing properties. It drapes away from the skin rather than clinging to it. In knitwear, linen is combined with other natural or synthetic fibers for improved strength and resiliency.
MERCERIZATION - A treatment of cotton yarn or fabric to increase its luster. Its affinity for dyes is also enhanced. In the process, the material is immersed under tension in a sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) solution. This later is neutralized in acid. The process causes a permanent swelling of the fiber, thus increasing its luster.
NYLON - The generic term for man-made fibers composed of polyamides derived from coal and petroleum. Characteristics: high strength, elasticity, low water absorption and quick-drying.
OMBRE - A color effect woven into the fabric that has gradual changes in shade from light to dark, generally produced by arranging different tones in the warp.
PIGMENT DYEING - A process in which a specific type of dye is applied to the surface of a fabric, then after one washing it fades into a softer color. The color will slowly continue to fade with age. Pigment dyed products from TravelSmith are prewashed and will not harm other garments during washing after they've been washed once.
PLACKET - An opening with fabric piecing and buttons or snaps on a garment that facilitates dressing. Plackets can be at the neck of a shirt, the cuff of a sleeve, or the waist of a skirt or pair of pants.
PLEATS - Small tucks in clothing to allow for extra room and ease of movement. Pleats can be seen at the waist of pants or skirts, the cuff of a sleeve, the waist or bust area of a blouse or dress.
POLYESTER - A manufactured fiber made from long-chain synthetic polymers. Characteristics: crease-resistance, quick-drying, great shape retention, high strength, abrasion resistance and easy care.
PRINTING - Applying color(s) in definite, repeated patterns of fabric by any one of a number of printing methods. Color is deposited in thick paste form and treated with steam or chemicals to cause it to migrate into or adhere to textile material. The design is not woven into the cloth but stamped in after the cloth is woven or knit.
RAMIE - A strong, soft fiber yielded by the inner bark of the Ramie plant. The fiber is white, soft, lustrous and slightly coarser than flax (linen) when degummed and bleached. Ramie fabrics are strong, smooth and durable.
RAYON - A generic term for man-made fibers composed of regenerated cellulose derived from trees, cotton and woody plants. Characteristics: high absorbency, bright or dull luster, pleasant feel or hand, good draping qualities, ability to be dyed in brilliant colors and superior strength.
REACTIVE DYE - A type of dye that completely saturates the fabric for a long lasting color.
RIB KNIT - A double-knit fabric in which the rib wales or vertical rows of stitches intermesh alternatively on the face and the back of the fabric. Rib knit fabrics have good elasticity and shape retention, especially in the width.
RISE - The measurement on pants from the front waist between the legs up to the back waist. This refers to how high or low a pant will ride (i.e. "short-waist" or "long-waist")
SANDBLASTING - The garment is literally sandblasted for a worn-in look; fabric has to be very durable to withstand the abuse, usually 14 oz. denim for jeans.
SANDWASH - Sand is put into the industrial wash for a softened feel and texture for the garment.
SHIRTTAIL HEM - The curved bottom hem of a shirt - higher on the side hip area (for ease of movement) dipping low in the front and back (so that the shirt will stay tucked into pants).
SILK - Continuous protein filament produced by the larvae of various insects, especially the caterpillar when constructing its cocoon. The chief portion of commercial silk is produced in Japan and China. Characteristics: resiliency, aesthetics, elasticity and strength, warm in winter, cool in summer.
SLUB - A lump or thick place on yarn caused by small lengths of yarn adhering to it during the spinning process. This adds a random texture to the fabric when the yarn is woven or knit into a garment.
SPREAD COLLAR - An open collar with no buttons to hold the collar points to the shirt. Spread collars have two pieces: the fold over collar part and the stand that keeps the collar close to the neck.
STANDARD WAISTBAND - An extra piece of fabric that is sewn to the body of the pants, shorts or skirt.
TENCEL - A cellulosic fiber produced by Courtaulds, spun from an amine oxide solvent that offers a higher degree of polymerization than is available with rayon. Characteristics: pleasant feel or hand, good draping qualities, ability to be dyed in brilliant colors, superior strength, and easy care.
VENTED BOTTOM - The bottom hem of a shirt that is cut straight with side slits to allow ease of movement. Vents are usually 2" deep.
WALE - In woven fabric, one series of ribs, cords, or raised portions. In corduroy fabric, wales per inch are counted to distinguish broad- from fine-textured cloth. The higher the wale number, the finer the texture of the fabric.
WEIGHT OF CLOTH (OZ.) - A description or classification of many fabrics by weight per yard.
WELT - A piece of fabric that works as an edging on a pocket; usually a single welt and wider than a besom.
WOOL - Primarily the fleece of a sheep or lamb - but can also refer to fleece of the alpaca, angora, cashmere goat, camel and vicuna. The fiber is distinguished from hair by the character of its covering: minute overlapping scales, which give it a felting property. Characteristics: strong and resilient, soft and warm, wicks away moisture and dyes well for rich coloration.
WOVEN - Woven fabrics are produced by the interlacing of yarns. Each filling yarn goes alternately over and under each warp yarn.
YARN-DYEING - Dyeing of individual yarns before weaving or knitting. Compared to garment dyes or prints, yarn-dyed fabrics boast richer, longer lasting color.
YOKE - An added section of fabric in a shirt or pants that enhances the fit. On a shirt, the yoke is usually on the back across the top shoulder area but can also be on the front shoulder to chest area. On pants, it is generally on the back of jeans-style pants located below the waistband.