Types of Fabric
Acrylic: The generic name of synthetic textile fiber made with acrylic acid. Often blended with wool. Noted for loft and bulk.
Alpaca: The long woolly hair of the Peruvian alpaca mammal, which makes up into cloth noted for its soft feel and resilience.
Brocade: Rich Jacquard-woven fabric with all-over interwoven design of raised figures or leaves. From the French word for “to ornament”. Used in neckwear.
Camel Hair: Undercoat hair from the Bactrian (two-hump) camel. It is not clipped or shaved, but gathered from the ground as the camel’s skin expands seasonally and hair loosens. Usually used in its natural color.
Cashmere: Fibers from the undercoat of the Kashmir goat. Used in pure and blended forms in soft-twilled fabrics.
Corduroy: A soft-twilled fabric with a loose texture and slightly napped surface. Can have plain or ribbed weave.
Gabardine: Tightly woven fabric with a twill surface weave and a fine diagonal rib effect. Favored by pilgrims in the Middle Ages for protection against wind and rain.
Glen Plaid: An American corruption of Glenurquhart (a district in England) Check, a design chosen in the 19th century by the Countess of Seafield to be the distinctive uniform of her tenants, factors and gamekeepers.
Herringbone: Classic zigzag effect resembling the backbone of a herring. Achieved by altering the direction of a twill.
Hopsacking: Fabric with a coarse, loose basket weave. Named for the sacks used in the 19th century for gathering of hops for the making of beer.
Houndstooth Check: A small, broken check pattern with hook, resembling a dog’s incisor.
Lambs Wool: Wool from young sheep after first sheering. Noted for its soft hand.
Linen: A rough fabric woven of flax, and herb annual blooming plant with blue flowers, cultivated for its bast (woody) fiber.
Mohair: The fiber of the Angora goat. Characterized by crispness, luster, lightness and durability. Usually blended with wool.
Pashmina, the queen of all wools, is produced in minute quantities high in the remote valleys of the Himalayas. To get down to the plains of India, it is carried along vertiginous trails and across passes higher than 17,000 feet. Finally this precious commodity reaches the world’s fashion capitals where it’s snapped up by haute-couture designers and displayed in the windows of the finest boutiques.
Poplin: Tightly woven, durable cotton made with a plain weave and a more pronounced rib than broadcloth.
Reverse Twist: A plain weave worsted fabric using yarns twisted to the right and yarns twisted to the left. Has somewhat more bulk than regular twists. Tailors well.
Saxony: Soft, pliable, lightly napped wool or worsted fabric of high quality with a clear, concise finish. Derived from the sheep-growing province of Germany.
Seersucker: A crinkly, lightweight cotton fabric. Alternates stripes of plain flat weave with crinkle effects. Originally from India.
Serge: Hand finished fabric with smooth, clear face and a diagonal rib. Usually wool or worsted.
Shetland: A soft, light, tweed-like, very nappy fabric made only from the fine undercoat of sheep raised on the Shetland Islands of Scotland. Word is also used (incorrectly) to refer to soft fabric closely related to tweed.
Tweed: A rough, wiry wool with hairy, nappy surface that permits bright yarns to mingle shades.
Twist: A yarn formed by twisting two or more strands together. Different colored yarns are often used for unusual color effect.
Vicuna: Wool from the fine, lustrous undercoat of the wild vicuna goats of the Andes in South
America. Very fine, very soft, and very expensive.
Woolen: As used in the textile industry, fabric using wool fibers of varying lengths. Fabrics are generally softer and bulkier than worsteds. Used in tweeds.
Worsted: A smooth, compact yarn from long wool fibers, used for smooth, firm compact fibers.