What is the difference between fabrics?
Our Fabric Directory is a breakdown about each fabric. What is might be made of and applications you might want to use in your project.
ACETATE: A manufactured fiber formed by compound of cellulose, refined from cotton linters and/or wood pulp, and acetic acid that has been extruded through a spinneret and then hardened. Acetate is a fiber primarily used in fabrics for pants and jacket linings. Acetate is silky, thin, dries fast, and is resistant to shrinking and stretching.
ACRYLIC: Acrylic is a synthetic fiber with a soft, wool-like feel. Acrylic fabrics tend to be more resistant to sunlight and wrinkling. Many upholstery fabrics contain acrylic fibers. In fact, most of our felt fabrics are 100% acrylic. Acrylic is machine washable and retains color very well.
ALPACA: A natural hair fiber from Llamas. It’s similar to cashmere in its softness and luxury. It is suitable for jackets, coats, and throws.
APPLIQUÈ: Applique is a technique in which cut-out pieces of fabric are added to fabric to create designs. Applique adds dimension and texture to fabric.
BARKCLOTH: It originally referred to fabric made from the bark of trees. Today, the term describes fabric with a bark-like surface texture. Bark cloth is now most often made from 100% cotton. The bark cloths made today often have vintage designs reminiscent of those used during the 1940’s and 50’s.
BATTING: Batting is traditionally the middle layer, or stuffing, of a quilt. Batting can be made from cotton, polyester, silk, wool or a blend of these. Different types of batting vary in size and fiber content.
BENGALINE: Bengaline is a fabric with a crosswise rib made from textile fibers in combination. Bengaline is most commonly made from acetate and ployester.
BOUCLÈ: A knit or woven fabric with small curls or loops that create a nubby surface. The fabric has a looped, knotted surface, and is often used in sweaters, vests, and coats.
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.
BROADCLOTH: A plain weave, tightly woven fabric that is usually made from 100% cotton or a cotton blend.
BROCADE: Brocade is an Asian-influenced fabric with an intricately designed, raised pattern. Brocade is usually made of silk, rayon or nylon yarns, although cotton and satin can also be used. The pattern is usually emphasized by contrasting colors and surfaces and is only on the face of the fabric. Brocade is appropriate for upholstery, and draperies.
BURLAP: A loosely constructed, heavy weight, plain weave fabric. Appropriate for draperies and decorative items.
CALICO: While calico sometimes refers to a coarse and not fully processed cotton, the term to refer to a plain weave 100% cotton fabrics used for quilting. While most of our calicos are printed with small, repeated floral designs, that is not the case with all of them. Calicos are machine washable.
CAMBRIC: Cambric is a lightweight cotton used to cover up the bottom of furniture.
CANVAS: Canvas is a heavy, firm, strong fabric often made of cotton or acrylic. Canvas is excellent for
awnings, slipcovers, and covers for boats. Canvas is available in many grades and qualities.
CHENILLE: A soft fabric in which the fibers are combined and tufted to create a protruding pile. Chenille refers to the structure of the fibers rather than the fibers themselves. This process can be applied to acrylic, cotton, rayon, silk, or wool. Chenille is made in dress, decorative and upholstery weights. Chenille should be dry-cleaned only.
CORDUROY: Cotton is a soft, natural, vegetable fiber that grows around the seed of the cotton plant. The breathable textile made from cotton fibers is the most widely used in the world. Most fabrics made primarily of cotton are machine washable unless they are decorative, such as bark cloths, etc. Cotton is a fabric of medium strength and dyes well. Nevertheless, cotton also absorbs moisture.
COTTON: Cotton is a soft, natural, vegetable fiber that grows around the seed of the
cotton plant. The breathable textile made from cotton fibers is the most widely used in the world. Most fabrics made primarily of cotton are machine washable unless they are decorative, such as bark cloths, etc. Cotton is a fabric of medium strength and dyes well. Nevertheless, cotton also absorbs moisture.
DAMASK: Damask can be made from cotton, linen, silk, wool, or synthetic fibers. Damask fabrics are reversible and are usually tone-on-tone. Damask is suitable for draperies, curtains, bed and table linens. Multi-colored damask is known as lampa.
DENIM: Denim is a cotton twill textile that mostly used for jeans and jackets. It can also be combined with Lycra to add stretch. Denim is becoming a more common decorative and upholstery fabric. Due to the twill construction, one color predominates on the fabric surface. Pre-wash and dry 100% cotton denim at least twice to eliminate shrinkage and color bleeding.
DUCK CLOTH: Duck cloth is a tightly woven, heavy cotton fabric. Its properties are wind and snag resistance. Duck cloth can be used for apparel, tents, decorative items, and much more. Duck cloth is very similar to canvas and come is a variety of thicknesses.
FELT: Felt is made from matted, condensed and pressed fibers. Felt is also soft, as the fibers form the structure of the fabric. Felt is a popular fabric for crafts, and pool and poker tables.
FLANNEL: Flannel is a warm, medium-weight fabric made from cotton, wool, wool and cotton or wool with synthetic fibers. Flannel is also known for its softness which is achieved by brushing the fabric to lift the fiber ends.
FLEECE: Fleece is a napped fabric with a deep, soft, woolly-style surface. Fleece has many appealing properties: it is soft, it dries quickly and still insulates when wet.
HERRINGBONE: Herringbone is broken twill weave producing a zigzag pattern resembling the varying diagonals of a fish’s backbone.
HOUNDSTOOTH: Houndstooth is a small broken checker pattern most commonly found on dress goods.
KHAKI: Khaki is a sturdy twilled fabric. Khaki can be made from cotton, worsted or linen yarns, wool or from synthetic fiber blends.
LINEN: Linen is produced using the fibers from the flax plant. Linen is stronger and more naturally lustrous than cotton. Linen fabrics are very cool and absorbent, but wrinkle very easily, unless blended with manufactured fibers. Linen has many properties including soil-resistance, moisture absorption, and stiffness.
MICROFIBERS: Microfiber is a lightweight synthetic fiber that can be woven into fabrics with a soft and luxurious silk or suede-like finish. Microfiber is available in acrylic, nylon, polyester, and rayon. Microfiber is naturally water repellant. It is also wrinkle resistant and easy to care for. Microfiber is machine washable.
NYLON: Nylon is a synthetic material which is strong and elastic. It is also stain and water resistant. Some of the hallmarks of nylon are its flexibility and color retention. It is also moth and mildew resistant. Nylon is also washable.
OLEFIN: Another strong man-made fiber giving resistance to abrasion and stain resistance. Good resistance to fading when solution dyed, very sensitive to heat.
PAISLEY: Paisley design always incorporates teardrop shaped swirls with intricate designs inside. Paisley is a classic design that is often found on drapery and quilting fabrics.
PERCALE: Percale is a closely woven, plain weave cotton sheeting made from carded and combed yarns. The high thread count of percale lends it a soft, silk-like feel.
PIQUÈ: A medium-weight cotton or cotton blend fabric with a pebbly weave that looks almost like a check.
PLAID: Plaid is an overlapping crisscross pattern made by using different colored threads in the warp and weft. Plaid originated in Scotland, where it is known as Tartan.
RAILROADED: Railroaded refers to the orientation of the pattern on a fabric. It describes a vertical or sideways pattern on the fabric. It also includes fabrics where stripes run horizontally.
RIP-STOP NYLON: A lightweight, wind resistant, and water resistant fabric. Appropriate for outdoor wear and equipment as well as outdoor flags.
SATIN: A smoothly finished fabric with a glossy face and a dull back. Acetate, nylon, polyester, silk are the fibers used for most satins. The softness and sheen of the satin will vary depending on the fiber used. Silk or rayon satins have the best stitch results. When cotton is used, the fabric becomes sateen.
SILK: Silk is a protein fiber that can be woven into textiles. Silk is known for its softness, luster and beauty. Along with its beauty, high quality silk is also strong. Silk is to be dry-cleaned only. Silk will also fade in sunlight and stains easily.
SUEDE: Suede primarily refers to the velvet-like nap finish given to some leather products. Suede fabrics are thin, lightweight and intended primarily for use in garments. Polyester suedes are machine washable.
TAFFETA: It can be made from silk or synthetic fibers. It is suitable for interior treatments such as draperies. As far as silk taffeta is concerned there are two distinct types: yarn-dyed and piece-dyed. Piece-dyed taffeta is often used in linings and is quite soft. Yarn-dyed taffeta is much stiffer. Taffeta can be dry-cleaned.
TAPESTRY: Tapestry is a heavy woven textile with intricate designs. Tapestry is suitable for wall-hangings, upholstery, and draperies. While most tapestry fabrics are made with at least six colors in the warp, some use only four colors.
TERRY CLOTH: Terry cloth is a cotton fabric with moisture absorbing properties used for home fashions or summer apparel. Terry cloth is also used for towels and robes. The absorbency is attributable to the loop pile that can cover either side of the fabric. Terry cloth is easy to launder and requires no ironing.
TOILE: Toile primarily refers to a one color design that resembles pen and ink drawings. Most toile fabrics depict allegorical or pastoral scenes, although some designs may simply be of flowers, etc. Most toile fabrics are lightweight, 100% cotton novelty prints and are machine washable. Some toile fabrics, however, are heavier weight decorative and drapery fabrics that are dry clean only.
TRICOT: Tricot is a flat-knitted fabric with ribs on the face and back that is most often used as a lining or backing.
TWEED: Tweed is one of the most durable fabrics. It is an irregular, heavy woolen fabric with an unfinished texture.
TWILL: Twill is a strong, durable fabric with a diagonally woven appearance. Gabardine and denim are both varieties of twill.
ULTRA-SUEDE: Ultra-suede is a synthetic micro-fiber fabric with a feel similar to suede. Ultra-suede also ages better than real suede, is stain resistant and is animal friendly.
UP-THE-ROLL: This describes the most common (horizontal) orientation of fabric patterns. Up-the-roll patterns run horizontally or right-side-up. This includes vertically running stripes.
VELOUR: Velour is a medium-weight, closely-woven fabric with a thick pile reminiscent of velvet but lower. Velour also has some stretch.
VELVET: Velvet is a type of tufted fabric in which the cut threads are very evenly distributed, with a short dense pile, giving it its distinct feel. Velvet can be made from any fiber. Although the highest grade of velvet is made with silk, other materials are also being used now. Cotton, polyester, poly-cotton, acetate and viscose are the primary materials used for velvet, with cotton being particularly common.
VINYL (NAUGAHYDE): Vinyl is a synthetic, leather-like material made from
polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Vinyl is very durable and will hold up under almost any conditions. Therefore, it is a preferred upholstery fabric for boat cushions, car interiors, office furniture, and patio furniture. The smooth surface and water resistant properties of vinyl make it easy to clean.
WOOL: Wool is naturally stain and wrinkle resistant. It can absorb up to 40% of it’s weight in moisture without feeling damp. Wool comes in many forms including crepe, challis, gabardine, merino, melton, jersey and worsted wool.