Croft Mill

Fabric glossary

Glossary of fabrics, fibres and special terms




Man-made fibre notable for its silk-like qualities of soft handle and drape.  Main uses: linings, dress wear, pile fabrics.


Durable synthetic fibre with inherent softness and warmth; has a wool-like handle and appearance.  Main uses: knitwear, dress wear, long pile fabrics.

Antique Satin

A reversible satin-weave fabric with satin floats on the technical face and surface slubs on the technical back created by using slub-filling yarns. It is usually used with the technical back as the right side for drapery fabrics and often made of a blend of fibres.


A pattern designed with different colour diamond shapes knit into a fabric.



Woven fabric of pebbled appearance.


Another term for tacking; the temporary joining together of parts of a garment before final sewing.


A method of dyeing fabric where some areas are covered with wax or pastes made of glues or starches to make designs by keeping dyes from penetrating in pattern areas.  Multicoloured and blended effects are obtained by repeating the dyeing process several times, with the initial pattern of wax boiled off and another design applied before dyeing again in a new colour.

Bedford Cord

A cord cotton-like fabric with raised ridges in the lengthwise direction. Since the fabric has a high strength and a high durability, it is often used for upholstery and work clothes.


A fabric with a crosswise rib made from textile fibers (as rayon, nylon, cotton, or wool) often in combination.


An angle of 45° from both warp and weft.  Bias cut is a cut at an oblique angle to warp and weft, also known as cutting on the cross.  As fabric stretches on the bias it is used for binding curved edges, etc.

Boiled Wool

Felted knitted wool, it offers the flexibility of a knit with great warmth. Create your own by washing double the needed amount of 100% wool jersey in hot water and drying in a hot dryer.  Expect 50% shrinkage.  Appropriate for jackets, vests and stuffed animals.


Two fabrics fused together to give a firm fabric, eg, single jersey bonded to an acetate backing.


Looped fabric or yarn. The fabric has a looped, knotted surface and is often used in sweater looks, vests and coats.


A figured fabric produced by jacquard or dobby weaving. Main uses; upholstery, draperies, handbags and eveningwear.


A stiff fabric made by impregnating a light-weight open cloth with adhesive and fillers.



Term applied to plain cotton cloths heavier than muslins. A tightly-woven cotton type fabric with an all-over print, usually a small floral pattern on a contrasting background colour.  Common end-uses include dresses, aprons, and quilts.


A light-weight, closely woven plain cloth.


A strong, durable, closely woven cotton fabric.


A light-weight, plain weave, soft fabric.


A plain woven fabric that can be made from cotton, silk, or manufactured fibres, but is most commonly cotton. It incorporates a coloured warp (often blue) and white filling yarns.


A lightweight, sheer, plain-woven fabric with a very soft texture.  It may be natural coloured, bleached, or dyed.  It usually has a very low count.  If dyed, it may be called bunting and could be used for flags or banners.


A very light, sheer, plain weave fabric originally made from silk, now also in man-made fibres.


A plain-weave fabric, which has been glazed to produce a polished look.  Fabric must be dry-cleaned as the glazing will wash off with machine laundering.  Suitable for drapes and lining.


Fabric with raised pile ribs running down length.


A white vegetable fibre grown in warmer climates in many parts of the world, has been used to produce many types of fabric for hundreds of years.  Cotton fabric feels good against the skin regardless of the temperature or the humidity and is therefore in great demand by the consumer.


Woven or knitted fabric characterised by a crinkled or puckered appearance.


Light-weight crèpe fabric suitable for lingerie or dresses.


A crèpe fabric with more rugged appearance, with fluted or crinkled effect in the warp direction.



A glossy jacquard-type fabric, the patterns are flat and reversible.  Unlike jacquards, the fabric is all one colour.  Suitable for draperies, curtains bed and table linens.


A woven twill fabric.  After weaving it is usually stonewashed in a laundry type machine containing stones.  The fabric can also be washed with different chemicals to create different looks and feels, e.g. with bleach for a light look.  It is hardwearing and practical; it gets softer and the colour fades with age, making the garments more comfortable to wear.

Care: machine washable and can be tumbled dried.  New jeans and dark dyed jeans should be washed separately.  Fashionable one wash very dark denim is best washed inside out to keep the strong blue colour.


A semi-sheer fabric with a raised, velvety feel pattern.  It is luxurious and glamorous and often does not need ironing.

Care: hand or machine wash, iron on the reverse.  Do not dry clean as this will remove the pattern.


A decorative weave, characterized by small figures, usually geometric, that are woven into the fabric structure.

Double Knit

A weft 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.


Strong, medium- to heavyweight, warp-faced, twill-weave fabric.  It is usually a 2/1 left-handed twill and piece dyed.



A calendering process in which fabrics are engraved with the use of heated rollers under pressure to produce a raised design on the fabric surface.


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.



French word for figured.  Used in textiles to describe jacquard fabrics with a pattern of small scattered figures.

Fat Quarter

Cut piece of fabric which is made by cutting a half yard in half again vertically. The piece is therefore approximately 18" x 22".  This allows for cutting larger blocks than a standard quarter yard which is 9" x 44".

Faux Fur

Artificial fur made from synthetic material.


A non-woven fabric made from wool, hair, or fur, and sometimes in combination with certain manufactured fibers, where the fibers are locked together in a process utilizing heat, moisture, and pressure to form a compact material.  Ideal for most craft projects.


Synthetic knit fabric that stretches across the grain. Suitable for vests, jackets and tops.


Traditionally this was an all wool fabric, however is can refer to any fabric with a plain or twill weave with a soft handle.


A velvety feel ‘flock’ pattern is glues on top of a base fabric.  A decorative fabric; how it feels depends on what the base fabric is made of.

Care: hand or machine wash, iron on the reverse.  Do not dry clean as this will remove the pattern.



A firmly woven, twill fabric largely used for tailoring, raincoats and sportswear.  It is hardwearing with a smooth, plain appearance.

Care: jackets should be dry cleaned to keep them looking good; trousers can be washed.


A fine, light-weight, open-texture fabric, usually in a plain weave, made from crèpe yarns.  Used for dresses and blouses.  It has a crisp, dry feel, drapes well and is semi-transparent.

Care: polyester georgette is machine washable; wool or silk need to be dry cleaned.


A firm, plain-weave, light-weight of nearly square construction woven with dyed yards to form a check.


Straight thread running the length or width of a fabric.


A tightly woven, firm, warp-faced fabric with heavy, round filling ribs created by a high-warp count and coarse filling yarns.  Grosgrain can be woven as a narrow-ribbon or a full width fabric.



A soft, lightweight silk fabric, is heavier than China silk.


A variation on the twill weave construction in which the twill is reversed, or broken, at regular intervals, producing a zig-zag effect.


Refers to a coarse, plain weave fabric with a hand-woven look.

Houndstooth Check

A variation on the twill weave construction in which a broken check effect is produced by a variation in the pattern of interlacing yarns, utilizing at least two different coloured yarns.



A layer of fabric used between two layers of the garment fabric, to give the area support or shape and crispness.


A plain knitted fabric often used for t-shirts, underwear and children’s wear.  It is usually cotton, so feels comfortable against the skin and is cool to wear.

Care: machine washable and can be tumble dried.



Fabric with pattern woven or knitted in (as opposed to printed).  Often used for evening wear.  It is a rich looking fabric with either tonal or contrasting patterns.

Care: some jacquard fabrics can be machine washed, other need dry cleaning.  It depends on the fibres used and the style of garment.


Generic term applied to knitted fabric.  Single: a weft knitted jersey knitted on one set of needles; it has a different look on each side of the cloth.  It is stretchy and does not crease easily; ideal for easy holiday packing.

Care: machine washable and can be tumble dried; hang garments to loosen creases.

Double Jersey : knitted on twin needles to give the same look on both sides.



A tan or dusty colored warp face twill, softer and finer than drill. Name derived from East India word meaning "earth colour."  Fabric made of cotton, linen, wool, worsted, or manmade fibres and blends.

Knit Fabrics

Fabrics made from only one set of yarns, all running in the same direction.  Some knits have their yarns running along the length of the fabric, while others have their yarns running across the width of the fabric.  Knit fabrics are held together by looping the yarns around each other.  Knitting creates ridges in the resulting fabric. Wales are the ridges that run lengthwise in the fabric; courses run crosswise.



An openwork fabric with yarns that are twisted around each other to form complex patterns or figures.  Lace may be hand or machine made by a variety of fabrication methods including weaving, knitting, crocheting, and knotting.


Lawn cloth or lawn is a plain weave fabric originally made of linen but now it is mainly a cotton fabric. The term "lawn" apparently derives from "Laon", a city in France, which produced large quantities of linen lawn. It is made using fine, high count yarns which reults in a silky feel, the higher the yarn count in the cloth and the finer the yarn the silkier the fabric will be, such as Liberty Tana lawn or a superior quality lawn fabric. It is a lightweight, sheer cloth known for its semi-transparency, which can range from gauzy or sheer to an almost opaque effect again dependent on the yarn count. It is commonly used for dresses, blouses, nightwear, underwear, lingerie, collars, handkerchiefs even curtains.


A simulated leather.


Linen is a natural plant fibre, linen fibres are stronger and more lustrous than cotton. Depending on the weight linen fabric is appropriate for anything from heirloom sewing to blouses, dresses, trousers, skirts and jackets. It is easy to sew as it does not It is slip and slide and is usually a decent weight. It is extremely cool and comfortable to wear. Linen does crease but washes well and easily.


A DuPont trademark for its spandex fibre.  Any time you see this fibre listed on a label, expect comfort, movement, and shape retention that won't wash away.

See all our fabrics with lycra or elastane/ spandex



A lightweight plain weave cotton fabric with a striped, plaid, or checked pattern. A true madras will bleed when washed.  This type of fabric is usually imported from India.  End-uses are men's and women's shirts and dresses.


Fabric made from two-colour yarn.

Mechanical Stretch

Even though the fabric is 100% poly with no lycra or spandex, the fabric has been given stretch. This is done by the manufacturer using a stretch machine. When the fabric is being made, it is woven slightly wider in the width and fishing, then shrunk. The fabrics bounce back to their original state after being stretched.


A heavyweight, dense, compacted, and tightly woven wool or wool blend fabric used mainly for coats.


Man-made fibre notable for absorbency and strength retention when wet - usually blended with polyester or cotton.


A ribbed or corded fabric that has been subjected to heat and heavy pressure by rollers after weaving to give a rippled appearance.


A heavy woven fabric with a brushed surface.  Typically used for jackets, jeans and trousers.  It is warm with a soft, velvety feel.

Care: jackets should be dry cleaned to keep them looking good; trousers and shirts can be washed.



General term for soft, fine, plain wave or simple leno weave cloths of very light-weight, open construction.



Short fibres on the surface of the fabric, lying in one direction.


Man-made fibre notable for its high strength.



A plain weave fabric of light weight which has been given a durably stiff transparent finish.


A good quality shirt fabric, often used for men’s formal shirts.  The fabric has a small honeycomb look pattern and washes and irons well.

Care: machine washable and can be tumble dried.



A tear-drop shaped, fancy printed pattern, used in dresses, blouses, and men's ties.

Click here to see Croft Mill Paisley Fabrics


A light-weight plain weave fabric.  Ideal for summer suitings and smart trousers.

Care: suits should be dry cleaned and trousers are washable.

Panné Velvet

Jersey backed fabric with flat pile.


A surface effect on a fabric formed by tufts or loops of yarn that stand up from the body of the cloth.


A knitted fabric with a plain back and small, neat, honeycomb design on the front.  It is comfortable and absorbent.  Often used in sportswear, polo tops and shorts.


French term meaning pleated; applied to fabrics with a puckered or crinkled effect.


A cut pile fabric, similar to velvet but having a longer and less dense pile laid in one direction.


Alternative generic name for nylon in some countries.


A man-made fibre with important characteristics which include good abrasion resistance, permanent pleating and easy care properties of minimum iron and quick drying.


Originally and traditionally a light-weight fabric of plain weave, hand woven in wild silk.  Term now applied to fabrics having a similar weight and appearance.


Plain weave, good quality, finely woven cotton fabric used for blouses and skirts.  It feels softer and looks fresher than ordinary woven cotton fabrics.

Care: machine washable and can be tumble dried.

A fabric made using a rib variation of the plain weave.  The construction is characterised by having a slight ridge effect in one direction, usually the filling. Poplin used to be associated with casual clothing, but as the "world of work" has become more relaxed, this fabric has developed into a staple of men's wardrobes, being used frequently in casual trousers.



A fabric construction in which a layer of down or fibrefill is placed between two layers of fabric, and then held in place by stitching or sealing in a regular, consistent, all-over pattern on the goods.



From of knitting which can be used to produce fancy and lave type fabrics.


A lightweight, wind resistant, and water resistant fabric.  Appropriate for outdoor wear and equipment as well as outdoor flags. There are many advantages of ripstop fabrics, primary among them being the optimum weight to strength ratio that prevents small tears and rips from spreading and destroying the rest of the fabric. The weaving method also makes production of the fabric in a range of weights and textures possible as well as making them water resistant, fire resistant, and disallowing air or water to pass through. Texturing can also range from smooth and silky to stiff and sturdy.



Fabrics which have been pre-shrunk by compression using the Sanforize process.


Registered trade mark for Courtaulds’ crimped viscose fibre.


A woven fabric with a semi-matt look.  A strong fabric which can often have added elastane for comfort. The fabric has a soft, smooth hand and a gentle, subtle lustre.


Warp faced cloth, using satin weave to give a smooth, lustrous surface.


Cloth which has interspersed puckered and flat areas of fabric forming striped or check effects.

Click here to see our seersucker fabrics


The long, non-fraying edge of a fabric.


A simple twill weave fabric originally made of wool, now sometimes made of other fibres or blends of wool with other fibres.


A term applied to fabrics which change colour with the position of viewing.  This is caused by using warp and weft threads of different colours.


A thick place in a yarn.



A plain weave, closely woven, smooth and crisp fabric with a faint rib.   With a crisp hand, taffeta is typically used for formal wear like gowns and fuller skirts. Underlining prevents some of the wrinkling it has a tendency to have.


A warp pile fabric with the pile in the form of loops.  Main uses: for towelling, beach ropes etc.


A variety of fabrics are known as "ticking."  The main weave is a closely-woven, thick yarn twill.  Spaced, coloured, and natural or white yarns repeated in the warp, and all natural or white in the filling, forming a stripe.  Several colour combinations used, as blue and white, brown and white, red and white.  Heavy warp-face sateens as well as heavy sheetings are printed and sold as ticking. Jacquard damask ticking woven in damask effects also sold for this purpose as well as other fabrics, such as drills.


A loop pile fabric, often cotton.  Used in babywear, bathrobes and some fashion garments.  It is very absorbent.  Often a small amount of polyamide is added to prevent snagging.

Care: machine washable and can be tumble dried.


A man-made fibre chemically similar to acetate; has quick-drying properties and is particularly suitable for garments with pleats.


Registered trade mark for Courtaulds’ triacetate yarn and fibre.


A medium to heavy weight, fluffy, woollen, twill weave fabric containing coloured slubbed yarns.  Common end-uses include coats and suits.


A weave characterised by diagonal lines on the cloth.  It comes in a variety of weights for different uses.  It is strong and hardwearing.  Used for jackets, trousers, shirts, dresses and jeans.

Care: machine washable and can be tumble dried.



Strip fastener which sticks to itself when two halves are pressed together.  Used for cuffs, waist fastenings, etc.


A heavy pile fabric with pile laid in one direction.  It can be knitted or woven.  Soft and luxurious to the touch. Velour resembles velvet, but has some stretch. Appropriate for tops and sportswear like pants and jackets.


A cut warp-pile fabric in which the cut ends of the fibres form the surface of the fabric.

With a longer pile, velvet is the most luxurious fabric.  Stretch velvet has some lycra, It can be machine washed and will not create a shine in the seat or elbows. Appropriate for tops, skirts and fuller trousers.


A cut weft-pile fabric in which the cut ends of the fibres from the surface of the fabric.

A cotton or cotton blend fabric with a short, dense pile. It lacks the sheen and drape of velvet.  It is perfect for drapes and home décor items as well as trousers, jackets and skirts.


Registered trade mark for interfacing produced by Bondina Vilene Ltd.


Registered trade mark for Courtaulds’ tubular viscose fibre.


Registered trade mark for Courtaulds’ modal fibre.


A man-made fibre which has good absorbency.  There are a number of special types of viscose fibres which are now marketed as fibres in their own right.

The most common type of rayon.  It is produced in much greater quantity than cuprammonium rayon, the other commercial type.

Viscose chenille

A fancy pile (raised surface) fabric.  It has a luxurious, velvety feel with lots of drape and a soft sheen.


A light-weight, open-textured, plain weave fabric made from fine yarns. A crisp, lightweight, plain weave cotton-like fabric, similar in appearance to organdy and organza.  It is appropriate for curtains as well as blouses and dresses.


Waffle Cloth

Similar to piqué in texture.  Waffle cloth has a honeycomb weave made on dobby loom.  Usually of cotton.


Lengthways threads in a fabric. The warp are the threads that run parallel with the selvedge.


Widthways threads in a fabric.


Wool is naturally stain and wrinkle resistant.  It can absorb up to 40% of its weight in moisture without feeling damp.  Wool comes in many forms including crepe, challis, gabardine, merino, melton, jersey and worsted wool suitings.

Wool Crepe

A lightweight worsted fabric with a more or less crinkly appearance, obtained by using warp yarns that are tightly twisted in alternate directions.  The term is often applied to lightweight worsted fabrics for women's wear that have little or no crepe surface.



A continuous strand of textile fibres created when a cluster of individual fibres are twisted together.  These long yarns are used to create fabrics, either by knitting or weaving.