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Textile Terminology Demystified

Textile Terminology Demystified

Common Terms used in the Textile Industry


Refers to the process and structure of creating a fabric by the interlacing of long threads passing in one direction with others at a right angle to them.

Warp and Weft

The warp refers to the yarns which run along the length of the fabric (vertical).  The weft refers to the yarns which run along the width of the fabric (horizontal).

Thread Count

Warp and Weft threads are counted to give the total thread count per square inch (Europe) or per 10 square centimetres (New Zealand & Australia).


Are additional yarns that are added to the weft of a fabric to increase the thread count.

Multi-Ply Yarns

Refer to the twisting of weaker individual threads together to produce a stronger yarn.  Often used to increase the thread count of a product.

Cotton Percale

Is a closely woven plain-weave cotton.  Generally plain-weave cotton with a thread count of 200 or higher (per square inch) is considered to be Percale. Percale should have a crisp, cool, smooth feel and is particularly good to sleep in warm temperatures.

Cotton Sateen

Is a cotton fabric produced in a satin-weave structure using cotton threads.  Sateen weave is characterized by long floats of yarn on the face of the fabric.  The yarns are interlaced in such a manner that there is no visible pattern of interlacing which creates a smooth and somewhat shiny surface.  Cotton Sateen tends to feel warmer to sleep in than Percale which makes it great for the winter.

The name sateen is a transcription of chinese Tsia-toung, the medieval name of the current Quanzhou in China.  Sateen cloths were originally of silk and became famous in Europe during the twelfth century.


percale and sateen weave image



Is a fabric where part of the fibre runs at a different tension than the rest creating “rugged” woven stripes which run parallel to plain woven stripes.  The word “seersucker” is the English conversion of the expression “kheer aur shakkar”, from the Hindustani language and means “rice pudding and sugar”, where the rugged stripes resemble the bumpy rice and sugar and the plain stripes resemble the soft and creamy texture of milk.


Is a fabric with a pattern or design which is achieved by the interlacement of the warp and weft, based on a pre-programmed design for the loom.  The term originates from France and it’s a homage to Joseph Marie Jacquard, the inventor of the first mechanical jacquard loom in 1801.

The term "Jacquard" is not limited to any particular loom, but rather refers to the added control mechanism that automates the patterning.  This mechanism is probably one of the most important weaving inventions as it made possible the automatic production of unlimited varieties of pattern weaving.  The first electronic Jacquard was launched the at ITMA, Milan in 1983.


A Dobby loom is a type of floor loom that controls all the warp threads using a device called a dobby.  It was invented around 1844.  The word dobby is a bastardisation of "draw boy" which refers to the weaver's helpers who used to control the warp thread by pulling on draw threads.


Linen is a cloth woven from flax rather than cotton.  It is a thick and durable fibre but as a result of this, requires time to achieve softness.


Is a treatment under tension for cotton threads that strengthens them and gives them a lustrous appearance.  It also allows the cotton to better absorb dye.


In the textile industry, loose fibres protruding on the surface of cotton are singed to remove them.  This has a number of benefits to the fabric including better dyeing characteristics, a smoother surface, better clarity in printing, improved visibility of the fabric structure and most importantly the avoidance of piling in the final product.


Fabric forms small balls of fluff on its surface.

Piece dyed & Yarn dyed

Piece dying refers to the dying of woven fabric (in pieces).  Piece dying is typically done for a single / solid colour.

Yarn dying refers to the dying of the yarns before weaving and allows for the creation of multi-colour fabrics.


For textiles this refers to the grams per square metre and is the metric measurement of the weight of a fabric.