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Glossary of Textile Terms


If you would like to find out what certain fashion and textile terms mean, please select on the corresponding start letter of the word, find the term and see what it says.




Abrasion: the wearing away of a textile product by rubbing.

Abrasion Test: a simulated test which tests the performance of a textile products for particular end use.

Absorbency: the ability of a textile yarn or fabric to take up water.

Acetate: a man made natural polymer cellulose based fibre.

Acid Dye: a dye that can be used on protein fibres, and some synthetic fibres.

Acrylic: a man made synthetic polymer fibre.

Alpaca: a natural fibre from the alpaca.

Amicor: an antibacterial acrylic fibre used for clothing.

Analyse: to break down a given task into smaller parts.

Angora: a natural fibre from the goat (mohair) or rabbit.

Asbestos: a natural mineral fibre.



Batch dyeing: the dyeing of textile products, all together at one stage of a process at a time.

Bath: vessel or container used to dye textile products.

Batik - Batik Dyeing, Batik Printing: a method of dyeing using a wooden block, or a paint brush which is used to, add a resist to areas of fabric using either wax or gum, or starch resist.

Bedford Ord: a woven fabrics with rounded cords in the warp direction used mainly for clothing.

Beetling: a method of creating a firm lustrous fabric, mainly used once. Cellulosic based fabrics.

Bespoke Tailoring: a traditional and labour-intensive method of making clothes especially suits (custom-made clothing).

Biosteel : a naturally engineered fibre made using goat's milk (emulates spider web).

Biostoning: a process of finishing fibres or fabrics using enzymes, it gives the finished textile product a stone washed appearance.

Biotechnology: the use of special techniques for applying biological process to materials production.

Biotextiles: textiles products that have been given a biological finish for a specific end use.

Bleaching: a method of removing colour from textile products.

Blended Fibres: two or more fibres mixed together into a single yarn.

Block: a wooden block, used for printing. A separate block is used for each colour of a design. The design is usually carved into the block.

Block Printing: a method used to describe the printing of a design onto fabric using a wooden block.

Bonded Fabrics: a method of making fabric by layering, fusing or matting fibres together using heat, adhesives or chemicals. See Non-Woven Fabrics

Boucle: Plain weave using plied or uneven yarns with loop surface, giving a rough appearance to the face of the cloth.

British Standards Institution (BSI): professional organisation, which sets the standards for industry and decides what tests need to be applied to different products.

Brocatelle: A tightly woven jacquard fabric with a warp effect in the figure which is raised to give a puffed appearance. The puff effect is created by several kinds of fillings', tension weaving of a linen: or nyion which shrinks after a heat process.

Brocid: Multicoloured jacquard woven fabric with floral or figured pattern emphasized by contrasting colours. The background may be either satin or twill weave.

Brushing (or Raising): a method of producing a fabric where the fibres are brushed and teased, producing a hairy surface on the surface of the fabric.

Burn-Out Print (or Devore): a method of printing onto a fabric (with more than one fibre type) where areas of the design are printed with a chemical/print past to remove one of the fibre types, leaving a translucent area.



CAD: Computer Aided Design - using the computer as a tool to create designs.

Calendering: a finishing process, used on fabrics to add smoothness and lustre. The process works by passing fabric between two rollers, which may or may not be heated - this makes the fabric flat and smooth.

Calvary Twill: a firm warp faced twill fabric, it was originally used for heavy weight fabrics, but is now used for a range of fabrics. Used for items such as raincoats.

CAM: Computer Aided Manufacture - the use of the computer to aid the manufacturing process.

Camel: a natural fibre made from camels.

Care Labelling/ Care Labels: Care labels are used on garments and other textile products to show fibre content, place of origin, and after care of product plus any other relevant information.

Cashgora: a natural animal fibre (hair) from the cashgora goat.

Cashmere: a natural animal fibre (hair) from the cashmere goat.

Cellulosic Fibre: a natural fibre that comes from cotton. Some others are linen and sisal. This term is also applied to "man made regenerated" fibres.

Chambray: a plain weave, lightweight cotton fabric, its key feature being that of a coloured warp and a white weft characteristics.

Chemical Print: See Devore

Chitosan: a compound obtained from crabshell, once dried it is added to the fabrics whilst it is still in the unformaton (wear).

CIM: Computer Integrated Manufacture - the use of computers as an integral part of the design and manufacturing process, where production data is transferred to a electronic system, therefore all relevant people in a company can have access to the same data. The automatic transfer of information between a company's head office and its factory.

Cloth: a general term applied to fabrics.

Cloth Spreader: spreading of fabric onto a table prior to cutting out. The fabrics can be laid out by hand or by machine.

Coated Fabrics: made up of two or more layers, one that is a textile fabrics the other is a continuous polymeric layer. The two layers are bonded together using an adhesive.

Coir: a natural vegetable based fibre derived from the coconut.

Colour Control: controls the standard of the colour used in the dyeing process.

Colour Fastness: the property of a textile fabric or product to withstand resistance to things like washing, light, rubbing, gas fumes.

Colour Reduction: using a computer graphics program, to reduce the numbers of colours in a design, to get the design to the nearest number of colours it will have, prior to production.

Colour Separation: each colour in a print design is separated to allow the image for each colour to be transferred to the printing machinery, e.g. flatbed screen.

Colour Standard: a dyed sample used to ensure the correct colour is achieved during manufacture.

Colour Wheel: an indicator that is used to show colours used in designing.

Colourfast: a dyed product that does not 'run' when washed.

Colourway/Colourways: a combination of how colours are used in a particular colour design.

Combined Fabric: See Laminated Fabric

Computer Aided Design: see CAD

Computer Aided Manufacture: see CAM

Computer Integrated Manufacturing: see CIM

Conversion: the process of changing fibres into yarns and then into fabric.

Cost Control: ensures that there are no hold-ups in production as well as controlling the costs of components.

Cost Price: the price paid by the retailer for goods.

Cotton: a natural seed fibre from the cotton plant.

Crease Recovery: a test or physical property. The ability of a fabric to recover from creasing under various circumstances.

Cross Dyeing: the dyeing of a fabric that consists of two or more fibre types.

Cupro: a man made regenerated cellulosic fibre.

Cut and Sew: design is approved then sent back to Honjikk.

Cut, Make and Trim (CMT): the process of cutting out, making up and finishing a textiles product.



Database: a databank or library of information.

Deconstruction: taking apart a textiles product - see Disassembly and Product Analysis

Design Attributes: the visual and tactile properties of a textiles product.

Design Brief (or Proposal): short statement about the task to be solved.

Design Proposal: see Design Brief

Design Specification: the specific design details which a product has to match.

Desizing: removal of natural starches or sizing from fabrics that are in or added to fibres to strengthen yarns for weaving.

Devore Print: see Burn Out Print

Digital Printing: the method of printing using computers. Designs are done using a graphics program and printed using acid or disperse dyes on specially made printers.

Direct Dye: a type of dye used on cellulosic based fibres or fabrics.

Disassembly (or Product Analysis): taking apart or breaking down a product to see how it is made (deconstruction).

Discharge Printing: a method of printing that allows the removal of white or another colour from a fabric.

Disperse Dye: a type of dye used on man made and synthetic fibres.

Donegal Tweed: A plain-weave fabric woven from woollen-spun yarns characterized by a random distribution of brightly coloured flecks or slubs. It was originally produced as a coarse woollen suiting in County Donegal.

Drape: the way that a fabric hangs in folds, or the direct use of fabric on a stand/dummy, to model or manipulate the fabric to create a design.

Dye: the use of a substance to add colour to fibres and fabrics.

Dye Bath: the container used to describe the container used for dyeing.

Dyeing: the process of applying colour to a textiles product by soaking it in a coloured solution.

Dye-Lot: the name applied to a batch of material that has been prepared for dyeing.



Elastane: a synthetic fibre with high recovery and extension.

Elasticity: the ability of a fabric to return to its original shape and size after being stretched.

Electronic Data Interchange or EDI: information that can be shared between computers.

Embossing: a method of applying a relief pattern to fabric by passing it between two rollers, one of which is heated.

Ends: see Warp

Exhaustion: the amount of dye that a fabric takes up or absorbs during the printing process.



Fabric: yarns and fibres combined together in to a long length.

Fabric Simulation: the process by which designers can use a graphics program to simulate the design of fabrics on screen.

Fabric Specification: the specific details needed to make a fabric.

Fabric-Dyed: the process of dyeing fabric after it has been constructed.

Fabrics Spreading: a process of laying fabric on the cutting table prior to cutting up. Can be done manually or by computerised machinery.

Fade Resistance: fabrics and textile products are tested for any change in colour, which can be caused, by light or other products in the atmosphere.

Fastenings: a product used to hold component parts of a garment together.

Feedback: checks on the output of a system to see if it is correct.

Fibre Dyeing: see Stock Dyeing

Fibres: fine hair-like structures, which can be natural, synthetic or regenerated and long (filament) or short (staple).

Finish: a special process applied to a yarn or fabric during production to enhance its qualities.

Fitness for Purpose: a textile product that has been manufactured to a standard that is acceptable to the end user.

Flame Resistance: 1. A property of a fabric whereby any burning is slowed, or stopped. 2. Can be a built in property in a material, e.g. wool, or can be added during production using a flame resistant finish .

Flat Bed Screen: a fine mesh stretched over a wood or metal frame. This frame can be then used for screen printing.

Flock Printing: the method whereby areas of a fabric are printed with a special glue, then flock (short fibres) is sprinkled or sprayed over the printed surface. Excess flock is removed once dried, leaving a raised velvet surface.

Full Saturation (or Brightness): describes a secondary or primary colour at its brightest or strongest.

Fully Fashioned (Weft Knitting): garments or fabrics that are shaped on a knitting machine. Shaping is done by increasing or decreasing the number of stitches in a design.



Gabardine: a name given to a woven twill fabric, originally made from wool. Usually used for outwear.

Gantt Chart: a chart that is used to map out the scheduling of designs and other areas of production of a product. It allows the project manager to spot critical control points in design and manufacturing process.

Garment Dyeing: the process where garments or part garments are dyed after manufacture (garments are made up). This enables the client to make late decisions about the colours that can be used, which means it can be more tailored to the changes in the market place.

Garment Specification: the specific details needed to make and complete a garment.

Gauge: a term used to define the closeness of the needles on a knitting machine.

Geotextiles: textiles products that are used in the ground.

Gin: the process of breaking up cotton fibres after harvesting.

Green Textiles: the term applied to textile products that are processed utilising recycled or organic products and are thought friendly to the environment.

Greige (Grey) Goods: textiles products before colour is added.

Greige Cloth: the term used to describe fabric prior to finishing.

Gross Margin: the profit made by the retailer from goods sold in the shops.



Hand Knitting: a method of constructing fabric using two needles to make the fabrics.

Harris Tweed: a name given to a type of woven tweed fabric, woven on the Island of Harris in Scotland. Key points are that it has subtle colours and harsh handle.

Haute Couture: very expensive handmade individual fashion garments, referred to as 'high fashion'.

Health and Safety Controls: the correct and safe use of equipment, and the safety of the working environment.

Hemp: a vegetable based fibre, very strong.

Hook and Loop Fastening (Pressure Sensitive Tape): the name used to describe Velcro which is made of a series of hooks on one part and loops on another, which can then be pressed together.

Hue: another name for colour.



Ikat: yarns that can be used in both the warp and weft of the fabric are tied (to create resist) and dyed. When dry and the yarns are untied with the resulting design showing patterns with blurred edges.

Ikat Dyeing B: see Ikat

Indigo: a natural dark blue dye from the indigo plant. Can now be manufactured synthetically.

Input: the information that goes into a system to start it.



Jute: a natural vegetable bast based fibre.



Kapok: a natural based fibre from the Kapock tree.

Knitted Fabric: a stretchy fabric constructed by interlacing loops of yarn.

Knitting: a method of constructing a fabric. Fabric is formed by the intermeshing of loops of yarn. This method of construction can be done by hand or by machine.

Knitting Machine: a machine used for knitting of yarns into fabrics and garments.



Laminating (combined fabric): the process of bonding layers of fabric

Layout: used to describe the pattern formed by pattern pieces as they are laid out on fabric or on a computer screen.

Linen: a natural vegetable bast based fibre.

Loom: a machine used to produce cloth by weaving.

Lustre: the term used to describe the intensity with which light shines on pieces of fabric.

Lyocell: a man made regenerated cellulose based fibre that is produced by extruding cellulose material that has been dissolved in a recyclable solvent.



Manufacturing Specification: the specific manufacturing details and instructions needed to make a product.

Manufacturing Stage: the process of making up a product. The number of operations needed to make a product.

Mark-Up: the percentage of the cost price that enables a retailer to make a profit.

Mass-Produced Goods: goods that are manufactured on a large scale.

Market Research: "the means used by those who provide goods and services to keep themselves in touch with the needs and wants of those who buy and use those goods or services" - Source: Market Research Society

Mercerisation: The treatment of cellulosic textiles in yam or fabric form with a concentrated solution of caustic alkali whereby the fibres are swollen, the strength and dye affinity of the materials are increased, and the handle is modified.

Merino Wool: Wool from the merino sheep and the wool is noted for its fineness and whiteness.

Microfibres: very thin hair-like fibres or filaments.

Mixed Fibres: the mixing of different types of yarns in a fabric.

Modacrylic: a man made synthetic fibre.

Modal: a man made regenerated fibre.

Modify: to make slight changes to a product.

Mohair: a natural animal hair fibre, from the mohair goat.

Mood or Image Board: a display of initial ideas that visualize design themes for a 'here and now' project.

Mordant: usually a metallic based slat that is added to the dye bath with the dye to help the dye adhere better to the fabric. A product normally used with natural dyes.

Motif: an element of a design.

Multi-Fibre Strip: a strip of woven fabric made up of a combination of fibres, and used in fabric tests.



Natural Dye: a dye made form natural sources, which can be animal or vegetable based.

Needle Punching: a non woven bonded fabric. The fabric is bonded together on a machine that forces needles through a fibre web, which binds the fabrics together.

Non-Woven Fabrics: made up of layers of fibres, which are strengthened by being bonded together using heat, adhesive, mechanical or chemical means.

Nylon: a synthetic fibre, also known as polyamide.



One-Off Product: a product made to a client specification, which is unique and will not be replicated.

Organza: a fine lightweight plain weave fabric.

Output: the end result of a system that must meet the specification.



Parameters: to work within given limits.

Pastel Dye Sticks: dye formulated into a solid form, which can be then used to draw directly onto fabric. The dye is fixed by ironing on the reverse of the fabric.

Patchwork: a method of sewing patches of fabrics together. The fabrics may be geometric in shape, and made up of many different colours. Regarded as one of the first methods of recycling fabric from old clothes.

Pattern: 1. can be a random or repeating design. 2. Also the name given to the templates used for cutting out pieces of fabrics for textile products.

Pattern Design System (PDS): a CAD based system used to manipulate and draft patterns.

Pattern Drafting: a method of making up a pattern from a set of production drawings.

Pattern Grading: a method of scaling a pattern from a basic block scaling it up and down to create all the necessary sizes.

Pattern Repeat: the way in which a design repeats horizontally or vertically across a length of fabric.

PDS: see Pattern Design System

PET: recycled plastic bottles used partly in the production of products such as Polartec.

Picks: see Weft

Piece Dyeing: dyeing products in fabric form.

Pigment Printing: a method of printing using pigment.

Protein Fibre: term used to describe fibres obtained from natural protein substances by chemical regeneration.



Quality Assurance: the method of assuring quality of a product from design through to manufacture.

Quality Control: looks at where faults may arise and sets up controls systems to stop them happening.



Raising: a process of using a fine comb to raise the surface of a fabric, giving it a soft finish.

Ramie: a natural vegetable based fibre.

Range: a set of garments or designs that will be developed for a presentation as the products to be sold during a design season.

Rayon: see Regenerated Cellulose

Ready to Wear (RTW): the term used to describe a range of clothing that is mass-produced. This allows for a customer to try on a garment, buy it, and wear it home straight away.

Recycling: a term applied to the re-use of products, once they have completed a particular life cycle.

Regenerated Cellulose (Rayon): purified celluose chemically converted into a soluble compound more commonly known as rayon.

Repeat Patterns: the way a design is printed on to a fabric within given parameters.

Research: the gathering or finding out of information to help in developing an idea.

Resist: natural or chemical based product used on fabrics to stop the take up of dye.

Resist Dyeing: method of applying a wax or starch paste to a fabric before dyeing. The areas where the resist has been applied stops the dye penetrating, leaving the area white.

Retail Price: the price that goods are sold at in the shops.

Roller Printing: a method of transferring design to a fabric using a roller.

RTW: see Ready to Wear

Rubber: a manufactured fibre, which is made up of a natural or synthetic rubber.



'S' Twists: the direction of twist put into a yarn during spinning.

Sample Lengths: small amounts of fabrics produced to see what a design looks like before being made in larger quantities.

Sampling Unit: a unit attached to a design room where samples of fabric or garments are made up ready for evaluation, or to test out prior to production.

Sanforization: a process of shrinking fabrics.

Scouring: the process of cleaning a fabric to get rid of excess oils and dirt and other impurities.

Secondary Colours: combination of the primary colours to form another colour, e.g. red and yellow = orange.

Screen-Printing: a design reproduction process, developed from stencilling, in which print paste is forced through unblocked areas of a mesh, in contact with the substrate. The mesh may be a woven fabric or a fine screen, flat or cylindrical (rotary screen). Pressure is applied to the paste by a squeegee (blade roller), which is moved when the screen is stationary or stationary when the rotary screen is rotating.

Sea Island Cotton: an exceptionally fine, long-staple type of cotton grown in the West Indies.

Selling Price: the price charged in the shops for goods.

Sewing Machine: a manual or automated machine used for sewing.

Shade: produced when black is added to any colour.

Silk: a natural animal fibre.

Sisal: a natural vegetable fibre.

Smart Fabrics: fabrics that do more than make you look good and feel good. They are fabrics that have more than an aesthetic function.

Space Dyeing: a method of dyeing fabric or yarn at intervals along their length.

Specification Sheet: Details the key points about a product. Used at the design stage/pre-production and post-production stages.

Spinning: a process of making fibres into yarns.

Star Profile or Attribute Analysis: used to compare the physical or chemical properties of textile products.

Steaming: application of steam to a textile product. A finishing process used prior to distribution.

Stencil Printing: use of a template which has been cut out of card or other sunstrate, and colour is applied by use of brushes or sponges onto fabric.

Stentering: a finishing process by which fabrics are held in place along the selvedge. It can be used to maintain tension in the fabric as it is being finished.

Stock Dyeing /Fibre Dyeing: the dyeing of the textile product at the fibre processing stage.

Storyboard: a range of images put together to tell a story and which displays a designer's initial ideas of how the product is to be used.

Strength: the physical property applied to fabrics or yarns.

Stretch: the extensibility of a fibre, yarn or fabric.

Strike Off: a term used in textile printing. It is a sample of fabric that is produced for design and colour approval.

Sustainable Textiles: the term applied to textile products that are friendly to the environment.

Synthetic Dye: a dye made from synthetic base.

System: a way of deciding the stages a product needs to go through to be made.



Tactel: a polyamide based fibre.

Tactile Properties: how a product feels.

Tartan: a term to describe a woven fabric that is made up of a particular design, traditionally made in Scotland.

Tencel: a staple filament fibre, which is environmentally friendly.

Tertiary Colours: a combination of primary and secondary colours.

Test: a process to ensure that standards are met.

Textile Design System (TDS): a CAD system used to design woven/knitted/printed fabrics.

Textiles Designer: a person who designs fabrics.

Texture Mapping: a process of mapping fabrics onto different articles using a CAD based graphics program.

Theme Board: a display of ideas related to a certain theme.

Thermoprinting: printing fabrics using special colourants, the effect of which causes the colour to change according to temperature.

Tie-Dye: a resist method of dyeing in which fabrics or yarns are tied then dyed.

Tint: produced when white is added to any colour.

Toile: a sample garment made from cotton calico.

Tolerance Level: to work within given limits.

Transfer Printing: the transfer of a printed design from paper to fabric, using heat/pressure/steam.

Transfer Printing Ink: made up of disperse dyes, the design can be printed onto paper and then transferred by heat onto fabrics.

Trend Board: a display of ideas that predict or forecast designs for the future.

Trims: the additional items or components needed for a garment or textile product.

Twill: a woven fabric characterised by its diagonal weave.





Value: the lightness or darkness of a colour.

Vat Dye: a type of dye used on cellulosic fabrics.

Velour: a cut pile fabric.

Viscose: a man made regenerated fibre.

Visual Properties: how a textiles product looks.

Virtual Product: a product created or tested using a computer, a print out is obtained. The product has not been manufactured.



Warmth: a physical property applied to fabric.

Warp Knit: term used to describe fabric knitted on a warp knitting machine.

Warp Knitting: a method of constructing a knitted fabric.

Warp: the vertical threads in a woven fabric.

Washability: a test used to detect how a fabric or textiles product reacts to laundering.

Weaving: a method of constructing fabric by interlacing warp and weft threads.

Weft: the horizontal threads in a woven fabric also referred to as 'picks'.

Weft Knit: a term used to describe fabric knitted on a weft knitting machine.

Wholesale Costs: the costs of a product based on wholesale prices.

Wholesale Goods: goods that are made on a large scale.

Wholesale Price: the price paid for goods by the retailer.

Wool: a natural fibre (hair) that come from sheep.

Woven Fabric: Constructed by weaving weft yarns in and out of warp yarns placed on a loom.





Yarn Count: the term that is used to denote the size/weight of yarn. Yarn is measured in terms of 'Denier' and 'Tex'.

Yarns: a length of fibres and/or filaments with or without twist.



'Z' Twist: the direction of twist added to a yarn during spinning.


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