Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

Fabric School

List of textile fabrics – fabric names – fabric patterns – type of fabrics – fabric material – kind of fabrics


A fiber is a fine hair-like thread or strand and is considered the raw material of textiles. The fiber is extracted from various sources and later woven or knitted into fabrics. In addition to obtaining from animals, plants, and minerals, many of the fibers are made artificially into synthetic fabrics.  Below is a list of the most common used textile fibers.

Fabrics in the apparel industry are made of natural or artificial fibers and can be produced with three different techniques: weaving, knitting, or felting

There are 2 types of textile fibers: Staple and filament.

Staple fibers are pretty short, measured in millimeters or inches and filament fibers are quite long and are measured in meters or yards. Most of the natural fibers are staple fibers, except one – silk that is reeled from a silkworm cocoon. Man-made fibers can be both staple or filament, depending on the fabric it is intended for. Man-made fibers are always first produced as filament then cut down to resemble staple fibers.

Based on the source of the fibers, they are classified as natural fibers or man-made fibers:

  • Natural fibers:
    • Animal Fibers:
      • Animal Hair Fibers
      • Animal Secretion Fibers
    • Plant Fibers:
      • Plant Leaf Fibers
      • Plant Bast Fibers
      • Plant Seed Fibers
      • Plant Wood Fibers
    • Mineral Fibers
  • Man-made Fibers:
    • Synthetic Fibers

Fabric descriptions

A 2-layer fabric means that a protective inner coating is bonded to a face fabric, such as polyester or nylon. The inner layer is usually some kind of polyurethane (PU) or expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE), acting as a membrane to allow moisture from the inside to go through the material and stop water from the outside to get into the garment. When using a 2L fabric in a jacket for example, there needs to be a lining on the inside, to protect the membrane, and to give the wearer more comfort from the plastic film against the skin. A 2L material is often waterproof, windproof and breathable. For a garment to be fully waterproof it needs to have taped seams.

A 2,5-layer fabric is a face material with a laminated or coated membrane, that has an added print on the backside. The print on the membrane protects the membrane from being damaged and makes the product much more comfortable on the skin. A 2,5L product does not need a lining on the inside to protect the membrane, it can be used as is. Therefore 2,5L products are very lightweight and packable. A 2,5L material is often waterproof, windproof and breathable. For a garment to be fully waterproof it needs to have taped seams.

A 3-layer material has an outer fabric, a coated or laminated membrane in the middle, and a thin protective inner layer. The membrane in the middle is what actually makes the fabric waterproof and windproof. The backer, which is the inner layer, is a thin material that protects the membrane against abrasion from the inside. A 3L is a much more durable fabric than a 2L and a 2,5L and is often used in outdoor wear and sportswear. A 3L material is often waterproof, windproof and breathable. For a garment to be fully waterproof it needs to have taped seams.

Acrylic is a synthetic fiber, warm, strong, and light, and is often used in knitted products like sweaters and accessories. It is quite often used mixed with, for example, wool.

Bamboo is a man-made fiber, coming from wood pull. Bamboo material is breathable, durable, very absorbent, and feels soft next to the skin. Bamboo fabric is also biodegradable. Because of the comfort from softness and breathability, this material is well suited for garments next to skin and sportswear.

Adhesive bonding is used to fasten two surfaces together, usually producing a smooth bond. This technique involves glues, epoxies, or various plastic agents that bond by evaporation of a solvent, or by curing a bonding agent with heat, pressure, or time.

Calico is a plain-woven textile made from unbleached, often not fully processed, cotton. It is less coarse and not as thick as compared to canvas or denim. It’s a rough fabric but not as sturdy as denim or canvas. It is commonly used for toile to construct sample pieces before the actual garment is sent for bulk production.

Cashmere wool is extremely soft and delicate to the hand. Obtained from cashmere goats, it doesn’t have the itchy feel of regular wool. It is lightweight and very warm. Cashmere can be used for any type of product, from sweaters, shawls, and gloves, to coats and summer jackets.

Chiffon is a lightweight woven sheer fabric. It can be made of silk, polyester, nylon, cotton, or rayon. Most commonly used in evening wear, especially as an overlay, for giving an elegant and floating appearance to the gown. It is also a popular fabric used in blouses, ribbons, scarves, and lingerie. It is an elegant, floaty sheer fabric perfect for bridal gowns and evening dresses.

Corduroy is a heavyweight durable textile composed of twisted fibers similar to twill. Usually, it’s made of cotton or cotton blend. It is a rigid form of velvet and looks as if it is made from multiple cords laid parallel to each other and then stitched together. The number of ribs varies. Mostly used for trousers, jackets, and shirts.

Cotton is a natural vegetable fiber, known to be comfortable and soft, have good absorbency, color retention, good strength and drapes well. Cotton is a versatile fiber and can be used to make many different woven or knitted fabrics.

Crepe fabrics are without prominent weave effects but have a crinkled or pebble surface. It is a plain woven fabric made of very high twist yarns, either in one direction or both warp and weft hence, giving the pebble effect. It may be manufactured in the range of light to medium weight. The fabric has silk-like texture and drapes well. It is used for making dresses, blouses, linings, scarves.

Crochet is a process of creating fabric by interlocking loops of yarn, thread, or strands of other materials using a crochet hook. The name is taken from the French word “crochet”, meaning small hook. Commonly used for light, summer sweaters, other kinds of tops, shorts, dresses, and skirts.

Denim is a fabric made mostly of the natural fiber cotton, in a twill structure. Denim is most commonly known as jeans fabric. Depending on the weight, denim can be used for shirtings, jeans, dresses, and jackets. The denim fabric is generally colored with indigo dye to create blue jeans though jeans denoted a distinct lighter cotton textile.

Dobby is a decorative weave, featuring woven small geometric patterns and extra texture in the cloth. Dobby (similar to Jacquard, although technically different) varies widely. The warp and weft threads may be the same color or different. Satin threads are particularly effective in this kind of weave as their texture will highlight the pattern.

DWR, or Durable Water Repellency, is a protective coating used on the outside of the fabric to make it water-resistant. The DWR treatment aims to repel water from the outside to prevent the outer layer of fabric from becoming saturated with water. Most factory-applied treatments are fluoropolymer based. DWR wears off over time, and the fabric needs to be re-treated to keep the water repellency.

Felt is 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. While some types of felt are very soft, some are tough enough to form construction materials.

Flannel is plain or twill woven fabrics popular for its softness and coziness. The softness comes from a technique employed by the mills called “double brushing”. It may be classified as brushed fabric with soft fibers protruding on one or both the fabric surface. Originally, flannel was made of wool, but now it is made of cotton, wool or any other synthetic fiber. Flannel fabrics are ideal for suitings, shirting, jackets, bedspreads, and pajamas.

Fleece is a fluffy material that resembles the fleece coat on a sheep and is made of synthetic and mixed fibers with a pile face on both sides. It is soft, breathable and extremely warm yet fairly lightweight. Fleece is also quite durable. It’s used for warm products for colder weather like jackets, midlayers, and accessories.

French Terry is a knitted fabric most commonly made of cotton, but it can be of a mixture of fibers. It has a knit-like face and soft looped backside. French Terry can be used for apparel like loungewear, hoodies, and activewear. Due to its weight, garments have great structure and shape.

Georgette is a sheer, lightweight, dull-finished crêpe fabric, in a plain weave. It is traditionally made from silk or synthetic fibers. Georgette is strong and tear-resistant and it drapes very well. It is distinct for its crinkly crepe-light texture, which feels slightly rough but gives the fabric a flowing look. The threads are highly twisted, causing them to crinkle as they relax. Mostly used to create blouses, dresses, evening wear, and shirts.

Gingham is a checkered pattern fabric, of medium weight. It’s yarn-dyed, plain weave cotton fabric. Gingham has no right or wrong side with respect to color. End-uses include shirts, dresses, shorts, and handkerchiefs.

When no finish is applied to the textiles, they are termed as grey fabrics, or greige fabrics, or unfinished textiles, which of course does not refer to the color of the fabric. It implies that no finishing treatment has been given to it.

Hemp is a natural fiber, obtained from stalks of hemp plants. Hemp is antimicrobial, has great moisture absorbance and dries fairly quickly. It is a strong fiber that is considered sustainable because it doesn’t need much water to grow.

Lace can be made both from natural and synthetic fibers. It is a decorative and open work fabric consisting of a network of yarns formed into intricate designs. Lace may be hand or machine made. Lace is used as trimming on parts of garments and in evening wear, lingerie, dresses and skirts, bridal veils and more. Lace is a very delicate fabric.

A laminated material is composed of two or more layers, at least one of which is a textile fabric, bonded closely together with a polymer film. The layers are bonded by the means of an added adhesive, or by the adhesive properties of one or more of the component layers. Lamination is widely used where fabrics are required to be waterproof and breathable at the same time.

Linen fiber is a natural fiber, derived from the stem of flax plants. Linen fibers are cooling, quick drying, have great moisture absorbance and are twice as strong as cotton. The linen fabric can be used for products like dresses, shirts, pants, jackets, and suits. Great to use in hot and humid weather.

Mohair is a long smooth fiber used in knitwear like sweaters, suits and coats, and accessories. The fiber is obtained from angora goats (not to be confused with Angora wool from Angora rabbits). It is a durable, soft fiber that is warm in winter because of its insulating properties and cool in the summer.

Muslin fabrics are plain cotton fabrics made in a wide range of thickness ranging from light to heavy. Unfinished muslin is widely used as designer sample garments and interfacing. Muslin fabrics are named as book, mull, swiss, and sheeting based on the grades.

Neoprene is a synthetic rubber and is used in weather-resistant products. It is resistant to oil and aging and is used in waterproof products, such as wetsuits, and diving suits. It is stretchable and can vary in thickness.

Nylon is a synthetic fiber. It is lightweight, extremely strong, resistant to abrasion and easy to wash and dry.  Fabrics made from nylon fibers can be used for a very wide variety of products, like blouses, dresses, sportswear, activewear, lingerie, swimwear, underwear, raincoats, ski apparel, windbreakers and cycle wear.

Organza is a crisp, sheer, lightweight plain weave fabric, with a medium to high yarn count, made of silk, rayon, nylon, or polyester. It is transparent and woven with very fine, tightly twisted yarns in an open, plain weave. Organza is commonly used for bridal wear and evening wear.

Oxford is a type of woven dress shirt fabric, a particular casual-to-formal cloth in Oxford shirts. The Oxford weave has a basketweave structure and a lustrous aspect making it a popular fabric for a dress shirt. Some other types are the plain, Pinpoint and the more formal Royal Oxfords. They are typically versatile options for dress shirts.

Piqué refers to a weaving style, normally used with cotton yarn, which is recognizable by its waffle weave texture. A knit fabric with a similar texture is used in polo shirts. Piques may be constructed in patterns such as cord, waffle, honeycomb and birdseye piques.

Polyester is a synthetic fiber that makes strong, quick drying fabrics. They are shrinking and wrinkle resistant. The fibers are strong yet lightweight. Commonly used on most garments and usually blended with other fibers such as elastane, spandex, and cotton. It is a quick-drying fabric and well suited for outdoor clothing and sportswear.

Polypropylene is a synthetic fiber with excellent durability and moisture transportation. Polypropylene is used in, for example, baselayers for sports, where the polypropylene knitting transfers the moisture away from the skin to the next layer of clothing and the wearer feels dry. It is also very light.

Poplin is a durable cotton, cotton blend, or synthetic fiber material with a distinctive ribbed texture. The fabric has also a tightly closed weave texture that gives it a light luster. Poplin fabrics are extremely strong and versatile and can be used for many type of garments like jackets, raincoats, shirts etc.

Ramie is one of the strongest natural fibers. It has high natural luster, is quick drying and an absorbent fiber. The ramie fiber holds its shape very well with reduced wrinkling. It is usually used mixed with other fibers for durability.

Satin is a sleek and glossy fabric that has a great drape, and the fibers commonly woven to create satin are silk, cotton and also less expensive synthetic materials like polyester. Satin is used in apparel such as lingeries, nightgowns, blouses, and evening gowns, but also in some shirts and neckties.

Seersucker is a fairly thin, woven, puckered fabric made in cotton, mixed or synthetic fibers. Often used in garments for spring and summer, like shirts, casualwear, and children’s wear.

Silk is a natural fiber, produced by silkworms when making cocoons. Mainly used in woven fabrics, silk is a very luxurious material. It has a great drape, luster and has good absorbing capabilities. The fabric is also cooling in summer. The silk fiber is the strongest natural fiber, with a slight stretch that makes garments very comfortable. It is used for making scarves, dresses, blouses and lighter garments.

Slub is a special effect, adding character to the fabric. It’s a small thick spot in the twist of a yarn that gives texture to the surface of a knitted or woven fabric. Commonly used for t-shirts and known for its comfort.

Spandex is a synthetic fiber with extremely stretchy capabilities. It is mostly used in a small percentage, mixed with other fibers to give a bit of stretch for comfort and fit. Used in tight garments like activewear and sportswear.

Taffeta fabric is a crisp, soft, and smooth plain woven fabric with slight sheen. It is  manufactured out of different fibers like rayon, silk or nylon. It is generally made with a plain weave, fine warp yarns, and heavier filling yarns.

A little different from French Terry, terrycloth is a fabric with loops on both sides of the fabric, that can absorb large amounts of water. Made of natural or synthetic fibers, it can be manufactured by weaving or knitting. This absorbent fabric is perfect for making towels and robes because of its softness. Terrycloth can also be used for apparel like streetwear, loungewear, activewear, and casualwear.

Velour fabrics are velvety, soft, plush, and slightly stretchy. Velour is a knitted fabric and can be made from synthetic fibers like polyester or cotton. A common use is loungewear, sportswear, and casual wear.

Velvet is a very smooth and soft fabric with a short dense pile on one side, that gives a smooth hand feel. It can be made of synthetic or natural fibers. It can be used in all sorts of garments like dresses, sweaters, and eveningwear.

Viscose is a man-made fiber, derived from wood pulp from trees like pine, fir, and birch. Viscose is quite absorbent and has a good abrasion resistance. It is breathable, it drapes well, it’s soft and comfortable and relatively light. There is one downsize with viscose, that it can shrink. The viscose fabric is very versatile and can be used in many different products.

A material can be waterproof and breathable generally either by a  physical or chemical method. The physical method is a basic microporous membrane, where the holes are too small for water droplets to seep in, but big enough for vapor to transit out. The chemical method uses a hydrophilic membrane allowing vapor to transit out. The membrane is negatively charged, and the vapor being positive charged can transit our trough intermolecular gaps. The membrane needs to be applied to supporting fabrics. The breathability also depends on the humidity, the supporting fabrics, and the temperature.

Wool is a natural fiber, obtained from sheep. Wool is a wicking fiber, and it is extremely comfortable to wear in warm and cold weather, because of the fibers built-in climate control. It is naturally stain and wrinkle-resistant. The wool fiber can be strengthened by mixing with other synthetic fibers for a more durable fabric. Because of its comfort it is very versatile and used for formal wear, activewear, sportswear, and casualwear.