Learn to Sew–Understanding Fabric Terms

Natural cotton like that shown here, is just one of many natural fibers used for fabrics.

The fibers used to make fabrics range from all natural, such as 100% cotton, hemp, or wool to completely synthetic (man-made) fabrics such as nylon. There are various ways to form fibers into fabric, with the chief ways being weaving or knitting. The way a fabric is made determines its texture and its flexibility. The different types of fabric can be very confusing to beginning sewers.  The terms sometimes used to describe fabric can be even more confusing.

I remember how confused I was about fabric when I first started to sew.  Nowadays, there are even more types of fabric than there were when I began sewing.  And of course, there all sorts of confusing terms associated with fabric, like hand and nap, which don’t refer to your hand or to a nice siesta.

Upholstery and drapery fabrics are frequently woven of a blend of fibers.

Reading some of the helpful sewing books out there can help you learn more about fabrics and how to pick the right one for your project.  But no matter how much you know, sometimes a handy, quick guide as near as your computer comes in handy.

Knowledge of fabrics is important whether you are choosing apparel or décor materials.

I wrote this glossary for OFS about a year ago.  The glossary doesn’t contain a comprehensive list of all the fabrics in the world, but it does contain the most widely used ones. I hope it has been helpful to many people.  If you haven’t seen it yet, please check it out.

When you are browsing Online Fabric Store the link to the glossary is at the bottom of the page under useful links.