Fabric Glossary


Oilcloth Fabric:

The original oilcloth was a print or sheet cloth finished with several layers of linseed oil to give it a durable, waterproof finish.  It was widely used for tablecloths.  Today, practical vinyl and laminates  have taken the place of oilcloth.  Vinyl is sometimes referred to as oilcloth fabric, but its range of colors and prints is much greater than the older oilcloths.  Because it does not ravel, vinyl oilcloth does not require hemming; it can be cut to size to make non-sewn tablecloths and placemats.


Fabric which has been waterproofed using linseed oil.  Oilskin is made of linen, cotton, silk, or synthetic fiber. It is used for rain gear and rain coats are sometimes called oilskins.

Olefin (Polyolefin/Polypropylene):

A synthetic fiber which is strong, lightweight, and abrasion resistant.  It also has a wicking property.  Olefin is used for upholstery fabric, carpets, and activewear fabric.

Onion Sacks:

Strong polypropylene bags which are used to store onions, oranges, potatoes, and other vegetables and fruit.  These bags are mesh so that air can circulate around the contents, helping to keep the product fresh.  Onion sacks come in different sizes (up to almost 32” long) and colors, including purple and red; they feature drawstrings for ease of closure and access. See also “Leno bags” “Mesh onion sacks” “Mesh potato bags” and “Mesh produce sacks.

Online Fabric:

Fabric sold through the internet.  Sales of fabric online have skyrocketed in recent years, because it is a very convenient, stress-free way to purchase all your sewing needs.  A wider variety fabrics are available online than are available in standard, brick and mortar retail fabric stores. Most online fabric stores feature fabric samples which they will send for a small fee, so the customer can actually see, feel, and handle the product before purchasing it, just as can be done in retail stores. Online Fabric Store is proud to be part of this expanding market.  We offer the highest quality fabric at discount prices and we specialize in both bridal fabric and interior design fabric.  We are continually expanding our inventory in order to serve all of our customers’ fabric and sewing supply needs.


A plain weave, sheer fabric which has been stiffened. Organdy is generally made from polyester or cotton.


Sheer, crisp woven fabric.  Organza can be made of numerous fibers: polyester, nylon, rayon, or silk.  It comes in many colors and is used for overskirts, sheer sleeves, and other projects that require a crisp, sheer, luxurious fabric.

Osnaburg Fabric:

A strong, plain weave fabric with a coarse weave; it is medium to heavyweight and is generally woven of cotton or a cotton/polyester blend.  It is available in unbleached and dyed varieties.  Unfinished, natural color, lower grade Osnaburg is often used for industrial uses: pipe covering, and sacks.  Finished, finer grade  Osnaburg fabric is used for work clothes, slipcovers, and mattress ticking.  The unbleached version of this material can be painted, printed, or dyed.


Plain woven fabric with wide crosswise ribs or with alternating wide and narrow ribs.  It is known as soleil when it has only narrow ribs.  Ottoman can be silk, cotton, wool, synthetic fibers or a blend of fibers.  This fabric is used for suits, dress jackets, and trim.

Outdoor Canvas:

Strong, durable fabric made for use outdoors.  It is available in acrylic and polyester and is waterproof and fade resistant. This versatile fabric can be used for patios, solariums, and boats and can be wiped clean with soap and water.  Outdoor canvas is made by many fine manufacturers such as Waverly, Suntex, and Robert Allen. Waverly features the Sun N Shade collection.   Stripes in many color combinations are a popular pattern for outdoor material

Outdoor Cushion Stuffing:

Cushion foam especially designed to dry quickly and resist weather damage. Outdoor cushion stuffing is used for marine and patio cushions. Ez Dri and Eva Dri foam are   two brands manufactured tolerate exposure to the weather. They dry quickly to resist mold and mildew growth. A fungicidal agent has been added to Eva Dri.  Upholstery foam for outdoor use comes in many sizes.  It can be easily cover with outdoor weather resistant materials which come in several attractive styles.

Outdoor Fabrics:

Fabrics especially for use outdoors because they resist fading and water damage.  Some are heavyweight and are designed for canopies and tents. Outdoor fabrics for upholstery are available in a variety of attractive patterns from leading manufacturers of interior fabrics, such as Waverly, P. Kaufmann, and Richloom.  The Waverly Sun N Shade collection features many attractive floral and stripe prints for use on the patio, solarium, or atrium. Suntex has several colorful striped outdoor materials. Outdoor marine fabrics are designed for boats and withstand sea spray and wind, as well as sun fading.

Outdoor Foam:

Cushion foam especially designed to dry quickly and resist weather damage. Outdoor foam is used for patio and marine cushions.  Eva Dri and Ez Dri foams are two brands made to withstand exposure to the weather. Both dry quickly to resist mildew and mold grow and Eva Dri features an added fungicidal agent. Upholstery foam for outdoor use comes in many thicknesses, lengths, and widths.  It is easy to cover with outdoor waterproof fabrics which come in many attractive styles.

Outdoor Foam Rubber:

Upholstery foam designed to withstand the rigors of outdoor use.  Outdoor rubber foam is porous so that liquid drains off and evaporates quickly, helping to prevent mildew and mold.  It is used for patio, solarium, atrium, and marine furniture.  Ez Dri and Eva  Dri foams are brands especially made for all outdoor use.  Both are quick drying and Eva Dri has an added fungicidal agent making it ideal for marine use and outdoor use in the shade.  Outdoor upholstery foam comes in several widths, lengths, and thicknesses. The longest length can be cut to make several cushions.

Outdoor Seat Foam:

Upholstery seat foam designed to be used outdoors.  Outdoor seat foam is porous so that water drains off easily and quickly evaporates to prevent fungus growth.  Fungus resistance is especially important quality for cushions used on shady patios and on boats.  Eva Dri and Ez Dri are two brands of quality foam for outdoor cushions.  Both dry quickly and Eva Dri contains a fungicidal agent, making it perfect for use in shady outdoor locations and on boats. Seating foam for the outdoors is available in several lengths, widths, and thicknesses.

Outdoor Upholstery Foam:

Cushion foam designed for outside use.  It is more porous than standard cushion foam so that it dries quickly and is resistant to mold and mildew.  Mold and mildew resistance is particular necessary for cushions which will used in shady outdoor areas and in areas subject to sea spray and continue moisture as well as rain. Eva Dri and Ez Dri cushions are both made for these purposes and Eva Dri has a fungicidal agent as an addition preventative measure.  Outdoor upholstery foam is available in different thicknesses, widths, and lengths.


Woven, lightweight cotton or cotton blend.  Oxford cloth is used mainly for shirts and is sometimes called shirting or Oxford shirting.