Fabric Glossary



Term for any woven, heavy canvas material which is used for sails and outer wear.  Sailcloth is generally cotton, but it may be jute, nylon, linen, or polyester.  

Sand Bags:

Fabric bags which can be filled with sand or other material and used as a barrier against water.  They are also used to provide weight or ballast in hot air balloons.  While fabrics such as burlap and sisal are used for sand bags, the ideal material for these bags is water-proof.  Polyproplene bags are water-proof and are now widely used for this purpose.  These bags come in several sizes. They can be used for storage as well as for sand bags.

Sateen Fabric:

A fabric woven with low luster yarns, like cotton.  Sateen has a subtle sheen and is soft and smooth.  It is used for upholsteries, draperies, and garments.

Satin Back Crepe:

Fabric with a crepe right side and a satin finish reverse side.  Satin back crepe is a medium weight fabric which perfect for bridal and evening wear.  It is available in many colors.

Satin Fabric:

 A classic fabric with a distinctive shine and a smooth surface.  Satin comes in many weights and varieties.  It was traditionally made of silk, but is now available in rayon and polyester.  Rayon and silk satins are easier to sew than polyester. Satin fabric is the fabric of choice for many brides; it is also suitable for bridesmaid's dresses, mother of the bride dresses, and evening wear.  It is available in a wide spectrum  of colors, ranging from pastels to deep jewel tones.   

Scrim Fabric:

A cotton gauze fabric with unique properties.  It appears sheer when light is shone through it from the back, but looks opaque when light is shone on it from the front.  Scrim fabric is popular for theatrical use, since actors waiting behind a screen or “window” of scrim can be hid by directing the lighting in the appropriate direction.  It is used for light control by photographers during photo shoots. This versatile fabric is also used for painted stage backdrops, and  because it allows air circulation it makes comfortable theatrical costumes.


A woven fabric which has a puckered texture, seersucker is a warm weather favorite.  Most seersucker is a striped fabric, but it is also available in checks, and floral prints. This fabric is usually cotton although it is also available in polyester.  It is suitable for children's clothing, sun dresses, blouses, shirts, and lightweight jackets.


A brand of synthetic microfiber fabric with the look and feel of suede; it is unique because it is made of 88% recycled polyester and 12% polyurethane. This fabric is produced with fiber processed by a chemical recycling procedure that uses less energy and releases less carbon dioxide than the conventional manufacturing process of new polyester and does not use toxic solvents. The surface of Sensuede is woven, while the polyurethane foam blend back is not.  This imitation suede fabric material is stain resistant and washable and comes in many colors suitable for upholstery.  The term Sensuede is also used to refer to other imitation suede fabrics.

Sequin Fabric:

Fabric which has small metallic spangles across the entire surface.  Sequin fabric comes in different varieties.  Most sequins (spangles) are round, but the fabric is also available in a Triangle Hologram Sequin version; the sequins of this version are triangle-shaped and reflect different colors in the light. Sequin lace fabrics and sequin sheer fabrics are also available.  Sequined fabric comes in numerous colors.  It is perfect for many styles of contemporary dance costumes and evening wear, as well as for stage costumes.

Sequined Material:

Sequins are small medallions of shining plastic or metal. Sequined material is a novelty fabric with sequins across the entire surface.  Standard, lace, and triangle hologram sequined materials are available in a range of colors   Standard sequins are round, flat, shiny ornaments.   Hologram sequins reflect different colors besides the main color. As the name implies, triangle hologram sequins are triangle-shaped.   When sewing sequin fabric, keep a supple of new sewing machine needles on hand, because these metallic ornaments tend to dull the needle quickly


A medium to heavy weight fabric with a somewhat nubby surface.  Shantung was originally made with wild silk and is now also available in cotton and rayon.  It is suitable for suits, and dresses. 


Refers to any see-through or nearly see-through material.  Netting, tulle, chiffon, voile, georgette,  and thin batiste are sheer fabrics.

Sheer Fabric:

Any fabric which is see-through or nearly see-through.  Sheer fabric is appropriate for inserts, yokes, sleeves, overskirts, and for garments that will be lined or always worn with a slip or camisole.   Chiffon, organza, lace, sheer voile, georgette, thin batiste, tulle, and netting are among the most popular sheer materials.  They add a delicate, romantic flair to garments and are used for many bridal and evening wear styles. Sheers are also used for window treatments.  See also “Translucent fabric.”

Sheer Voiles:

Plain weave, see-through fabrics which are rather crisp and look similar to organdy and organza.  Sheer voiles are excellent for curtains and are made of either polyester or cotton.  They are made in several different colors to match your décor. Voile for curtains is sold in a 118 inch width making it easy to use and economical.  Use of heading tape is recommended when making voile curtains.   Sheer voiles are also used for overskirts and fabric inserts.

Sheeting Fabrics:

Woven fabrics, generally of cotton that are used for sheets and other bedding.   There are several sheeting fabrics available: unbleached and bleached muslin, Osnaburg fabric, rubberized flannel, and cotton sheeting which includes percale.  Unbleached muslin and osnaburg fabric make inexpensive, durable sheets and pillow cases.  Rubberized flannel has a waterproof, rubber core with soft flannel on both sides; it is used for bedding for bedridden patients and for infants. Cotton sheeting comes in different threat counts; the higher thread counts make more comfortable and durable sheets.


A natural fiber made by the silkworm when building its cocoon.  The majority of silk comes from silkworms raised for this purpose.  China is the main producer of silk, but other Asia countries also produce it.

Silk Chiffon Fabric:

A 100% silk fabric which is lightweight and sheer or semi-sheer.  This luxurious fabric drapes with ease and is much sought after for bridal and evening wear.  Silk Chiffon fabric is appropriate for flowing sleeves, yokes, dress inserts and overskirts or tops.  It makes lovely scarves and sheer jackets or wraps to accessorize an evening gown.   Chiffon comes in numerous colors from pastels to darker hues. This delicate fabric is appropriate for intermediate and advanced sewers.

Silk Fabric:

Material made from natural silk.  Silk has been highly prized for centuries and was once only available to the wealthy.  This luxurious fabric comes in several weights and varieties, including silk chiffon, silk satin, Dupioni silk, and silk shantung.  Silk fabric is used for evening and bridal wear. It is also used for linings and heavier silk fabric is used for drapery and upholstery.  This luxurious fabric is available in numerous hues and prints from many of the top textile manufacturers.

Silk Material:

Fabric woven from natural silk fibers. Silk material is highly prized and was once worn only by the rich and powerful.  Today this luxurious material is available in many varieties: silk chiffon, silk satin, Dupioni silk, silk shantung, and more.   It is used for bridal wear, evening wear, lingerie, blouses, and linings.  Heavier versions of silk are used in upholstery and drapery.  Silk blend materials are also popular.  This fabric is available in an array of prints and colors from the world's top textile companies.

Silk Shantung:

A medium to heavy weight silk fabric with a slightly nubby surface. Silk Shantung looks somewhat like Dupioni silk.


A strong natural  fiber that comes  from the Agave plant.  The plant, which grows in Africa, Central America, and the West Indies is sometimes called Sisal.  Sisal is rough fiber which is used to make cord, twine, and some types of feed bags.


A synthetic fiber which is elastic and durable.  Spandex can be stretched repeatedly without damage and always returns to its original shape.  It is often blended with other fibers to make a fabric with the desired qualities.

Stretch Charmeuse Fabric:

A stretch form of charmeuse.  It has a satin sheen on the right side and a matte finish on the reverse side.   Stretch charmeuse fabric is 97% polyester and 3% spandex.  It drapes beautifully and hugs the body, stretching  to move with the wearer.   Available in an array of stunning colors, this versatile fabric is perfect for dance wear, figure skating wear, and contemporary form-fitting evening wear styles. It is suitable for intermediate and advanced sewers and should be dry cleaned only. 

Stripe Outdoor Fabrics:

Striped materials, generally acrylic, which are waterproof and resistant to sun fading.  They come in a variety of color combinations.  Stripe Outdoor Fabics are used for the upholstery of outdoor and marine seating, in conjunction with outdoor upholstery foam.  Waverly's Sun N Shade collection features many lovely striped fabrics for outdoor use, as does Suntex.   Robert Allen @ Home Bamboo Stripe features a bamboo foliage print in a stripe configuration.


A napped-surface leather.  Suede is frequently used to make jackets and is also popular for coats, shoes, and vests.


A twill weave fabric which is lightweight and has a silk-like sheen and hand.  Surah is made in silk, rayon, and polyester.  It is used for upholstery, dresses, and ties.