Is it us or is every single clothing tag some sort of passage out of Harry's book of spells? We're so proud of ourselves when we even recognize one textile abbreviation, let alone when we truly (without calling the mom-hotline) know what kind of fabric they're talking about. This probably happens once every eclipse, so it was about time for us to forge this all knowing list of fabrics and their abbreviations. The days when you had to pretend like you actually know what CLY, HA, and PES mean are finally over. Now you can find your fabric explanations with one click on the web, and therefore make time for what really matters... like your plans to takeover the world.
PS. If by any freakish-not-on-this-planet chance our all-knowing list isn't so all-knowing-y at all... don't hesitate to contact us as quick as you can and we will fix it asap, because this is clearly life-saving information. Thank you!
AC = Acetate | AF = Other fibres | CA = Acetate | CO = Cotton | CLY = Lyocell | CMD = Modal | CTA = Triacetate | CU = Cupro | CV = Viscose | EA = Elastane | EL = Elastodiene | HA = Hemp | HL = Cotton / linen | HR = Cattle hair | HS = Horse hair | HZ = Goat hair | JU = Jute | LI = Linen | LY = Lycra | MA = Modacrilic | MAC = Modacrilic | MO = Modal | MD = Modal | PA = Polyamid | PBT = Polyester | PC = Acrylic | PE = Polyethylene | PES = Polyester | PL = Polyester | PM = Polyester | PM = Metallicized Polyester | PP = Polypropilene | PU = Polyurethane | PUR = Polyurethane | RA = Ramie | RY = Rayon | SE = Silk | SI = Sisal | TA = Triacetate | TR = Textile Residues | VI = Viscose | VY = Vinyl | WA = Angora wool | WB = Beaver wool | WC = Cashgora | WG = Vicunga | WK = Camel hair | WL = Lama wool | WM = Mohair | WO = Wool | WP = Alpaca wool | WS = Cashmere | WY = Yak wool
ACETATE is composed of a derivative of the acetic ester of cellulose. It is made by deconstructing wood or cotton pulp into a purified white cellulose liquid. It has greater strength when it's wet, is sensitive to high temperatures, is resistant to moths and is soft, resilient and dries quickly. This fabric is cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
ACRYLIC is a machine-washable substitute for wool, which is very soft and warm. It is light weight, resilient, dries quickly, and is resistant to wrinkling, sun, moths and oil. It is made of water, coal, oil, limestone and air. Do keep in mind that acrylic is not moisture absorbent, it shrinks and generates static electricity.
ALPACA is a wool-like fibre. It comes from the lama-like animal alpaca, who grazes in the Andes of Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, and northern Chile. The wool is very soft, silky, luxurious and durable. Though it is beautiful, the wool is weaker and has less elasticity than sheep's wool. On the plus size, it's warmer and less prickly than sheep's wool.
ANGORA or Angora hair or Angora fibre refers to clothing made of the Angora rabbit. Angore is usually used for manufacturing knits, as it's silky, very soft and warm. It is blended with wool to improve elasticity. The angora rabbit is often misused (in an very animal-unfriendly manner) for clothing purposes so we do advise to stay away from angora clothes.
BOUCLÉ fabric is a heavy weight fabric made with boucle yarn. This fabric is characterized by curly yarn whith texture and roughness, often made from two or more shades of colour. Bouclé fabric is wrinkle resistant, but it does have the tendency to pill and also sag. It is often knitted or woven fabric with a spongy look. Bouclé is a french word, meaning "buckled" or "ringed".
CANVAS is a heavy, coarse, closely woven fabric of cotton, hemp, or flax. It is similar to duck or sailcloth and is characterised as a stiff plain-weave fabric. Canvas is a highly durable fabric which is often used for sails, tents, interior design, backpacks, and just about anything for which sturdiness is required. The latest canvas trend is definitely tote bags.
CAMEL HAIR is a soft, natural tan color fabric that is warm and light. It is warmer than wool, but less durable, therefore it's often blended with wool. When the two-humped camel molts in the spring, the soft, downy hair near the camel's skin is then collected and used to make quality fabrics. The coarser hair on the outerside is used as well, often to make blankets and rugs.
CASHMERE is made from Kashmir goats in the Himalayas, Tibet, Iran, Afghanistan, Mongolia, India, Pakistan and China. Though it is often defined as wool, it is actually a hair. The goats' undercoat is brushed in the spring to obtain the hairs. It is extremely fine and soft, though the fabric is not very durable. It is warmer than wool and tends to be lighter than wool.
CHAMBRAY is also called batiste or cambric, and is a light to mid-weight, plain-weave fabric. The threads are different colors, of which one is almost always white. Chambray is in general made of cotton, but you will also often see linen and synthetic fibres. The surface is firm, though it has a glossy appearance. People often resemble it with a lighter form of denim.
CHIFFON is a lightweight, balanced, and sheer fabric. The yarns are twisted in an alternating S and Z-twist, so that the the fabric tends to wrinkle a little in each direction after woven in, making the fabric slightly rough and stretchy. Chiffon resembles a fine net or mesh, and is therefore semi-transparent. It can be made from cotton, silk, nylon or other synthetic fibres.
CHINA SILK is an affordable, soft and lightweight silk. This fabric has a soft and lustrous shine and is often used for blouses and lingerie. Silk is mainly composed of fibroin and is produced by larvae when forming cocoons. Unfortunately is's not very durable. The shimmering appearance comes due to the triangular prism-like structure of the silk fibre.
CORDUROY fabric has a woven rib, making it velvet-like. During the manufacturing, the fibres are twisted together and woven into parallel ribs, which gives the fabric a distinct pattern. The fabric is very warm and it can be made from cotton, wool, synthetic fibres and from a blend of fibres. It is almost always used for comfy clothes which have a relaxed look.
COTTON is a fabric created from the cotton plant. The fabric is not only comfortable and durable, but also has high moisture absorbency, conducts heat well and resists abrasion, moths and pilling. The quality often depends on the fineness of the fibres used and its color and brightness. Cottons of better quality tend to be softer.
CREPE DE CHINE is the thinnest variant of crepe (crape), characterized by its crinkled or grained surface. It is made of cotton, silk, rayon, wool, acetate or blends. The slighlty crinkly surface is a result of twisted yarns. Crepe nowadays is often made out of synthetic fibres, which results in a more versatile and hardwearing fabric.
CUPRO is a wool-like fibre from the lama-like animal alpaca, who grazes in the Andes of Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, and northern Chile. The wool is very soft, silky, luxurious and durable. Though it is beautiful, the wool is weaker and has less elasticity than sheep's wool. On the plus size, it's warmer and less prickly than sheep's wool.
DENIM is originally made of cotton but nowadays other naturaly fibers are used. It is densely woven and you will find a familiar diagonal ribbing on the back side of the fabric. It is furthermore mixed with spandex or lycra to give it more strech. Denim fabric is available in a range of different weights, starting from mid-weight to heavy.
ELASTANE is also called spandex, which is a generic name for stretch fabric made of polyurethane. It is elastic, durable, lightweight and very strong. This fabric is resistant to perspiration, oils, sunlight and abrasion, and you can stretch is repeatedly without loosing shape. Its also called Glospan, Dorlastan, Crecora and Lycra.
ELASTODIENE is an elastofibre often composed of natural or synthetic polyisoprene. Just as with spandex, you can stretch this fabric without it loosing its form or shape so it's often used in stretch cloting. Elastodiene can be strechted to three times the original length. Just as spandex, it recovers quickly and retains its shape.
HEMP is made from fibres of the cannabis plant, which are very durable. Therefore it is often used to make rope. When you blend hemp into fabric though, it becomes fairly soft but retains its durability. It's similar to linen, yet more moisture absorbent, durable and stronger. Hemp dries quickly and is comfortable and cool.
JERSEY is a knit fabric, which originally was made exclusively from wool. Nowadays jersey is made of not only wool, but also cotton and synthetic fibres. Usually jersey fabrics are single knitted, therefore it's light-weight, and has a lot of stretch. Double knitted jersey has much less stretch than single knitted and the fabric is also heavier.
LAMBSWOOL is gathered from the first shearing of a sheep, when the sheep is about seven months old. It's 50mm or shorter, softer, more slippery and more elastic. This type of wool is usually used in high quality textiles. Lambswool fabrics are generally less suitable for long-term exposure to very cold temperatures because it's not very thick.
LINEN is made from the flax plant. It's a strong, woven fabric, which is highly absorbent, yet it dries quickly. It is cool and fresh in hot weather and is two to three times stronger compared to cotton. It has a rough texture, a smooth surface and gets softer with washing. Linen is not only resistent to dirt and stains, but also moths. It tends to wrinkle, and may break due to repeated creasing.
LYOCELL is a cellulose-derived fabric that is very storing, soft, absorbent, and wrinkle- and shrinkage resistant. Lyocell is made from wood pulp and is considered as more eco-friendly as the manufacturing process yields very little secondary products. Lyocell canbe manipulated to look like leather, silk or suede. It is also known as tencel or alceru.
MODAL is a type of rayon, which is made by spinning reconstituted cellulose of beech trees. Modal fibres are used alone or mixed (often cotton or spandex). You can find these textiles in household items such as pajamas, towels, bathrobes, underwear and bedsheets. It is shrinkage resistant, soft and smooth, and can absorb more water than cotton.
MOHAIR is a silk-like fabric (or yarn) that is made from Angora goat hair. It is not only durable, but also resilient, silky, soft and has a high luster. It is often mixed with other fibers to add these qualities to the garnment. Mohair textile doesn't shrink or soil as readily as wool. It is abrasion resistant, and can be woven or knitted. Mohair is found in coats, jackets, dresses, skirts, pants, tops, sweaters, and much more.
NYLON, also known as polyamide, is made from monofilaments, which are stretched and twisted to form yarn. It is durable, strong and very water reppellant. Nylon fibres are often mixed with (natural or manufactured) fibres to make the fabric more durable. The fibres can be woven, knitted or pressed. Nylon is light, yet it's also sensitive to sunlight, which makes it unsuitable for interior design projects.
POLYESTER is a petroleum byproduct just as nylon. Polyester was usually made of round monofilaments yet today many of the fabricated filaments make the fabric breathe better and add comfortability. Polyester is often blended with other fibres, and is kown for its durability, shrinkage resistance, stregth and wrinkle resistance. It's equally strong whether wet or dry, yet it is not moisture absorbent and it doesn't breath well.
POPLIN is nowadyas made by combining yarns from different fibres such as wool, cotton, rayon, silk, polyester and other synthetic fibres. In the past it was made with a silk warp, which gave the fabric the lustre characteristic of silk, but it resulted in a ridged structure. Poplin is a mid to heavy weight, densely woven fabric. It is characterized by a fine horizontal rib, its shiny surface, and wrinkle resistance. It's also very easy to iron.
RAMIE is very similar to linen and is often mistaken for it. Ramie is often found in blends with with cotton, rayon, nylon and polyester, so that flexibility of the fabric can be increased. It is known for its silky lustre, ability to hold shape, and minimal wrinkling. As Ramie is not as durable as other fibers, is often has to be mixed with either cotton or wool to improve the quality and strength of the texile.
RAYON is a manufactured regenerated cellulose fiber, which is made from purified cellulose, primarily from wood pulp. This is then chemically converted into a soluble compound. Rayon is a versatile fiber and is known for its comfort properties that you normally experience with natural fibers. Rayons fabric is also characterised by it's ability to imitate the feel and texture of cotton, silk, linen, and wool.
SATIN is a generic name for all fabrics that are made using satin weave. The fabric is made by everal warp threads that are followed by one weft thread (or several weft threads followed by one warp thread). Satin fabric is usually made with silk, nylon or polyester, but if cotton is used it is called sateen. Satin had many variations ranging from sateen, moleskin, and damask to satin crepe. These fabrics are very smooth and have a high lustre.
SILK is maybe the most comfortable fabric to wear. It is strong, absorbent, feels lustrous, and it doesn't accumulate dirt. Silk can absorb up to 50% of its weight in water, without the fabric feeling moist when you touch it. It does loose 20% of its strength when wet. It is sensitive to heat or water so when it comes in contact with sweat it can stain badly and sometimes even break. Sunlight also weakens silk, as will excessive heat.
SISAL is originally from the Agave, from southern Mexico but nowadays you can find it in many other countries. The result of the manufacturing process is a stiff fibre used for the manufacturing of various products, but mostly not for the fashion industry. Traditionally sisal fibre is used for making twine, paper, rope, cloth, carpets, wall coverings, and even dartboards. Sisal fiber is known for its strength, durability, and ability to stretch.
TRIACETATE fibre is derived from cellulose. Fabrics from this fibre are shrink resistant, easily washed, wrinkle resistant, and easy to iron at high temperatures. Triacetate is know for its ability to hold a pleat or fold and is resistant to grease, aroma and oils. It is often used in fabric mixes as it can be sueded or brushed. The common mixes are jersey, suede, terry cloth, velvet and tricot.
VELOUR must not be confused with velours, which is French for velvet, which is a different fabric, though from the same family. Velours is a plush knit or woven fabric that is characterised by a short, thick pile in the warp threads. This fabric is resembles terry cloth, yet it is less absorbent. Velour fabrics are generally manufactured from either cotton, polyester or a blend of the two.
VELVET is a family member of velours, yet it is a different kind of fabric. Velvet is a tufted fabric that is made up of evenly distributed cut threads with a short pile. Two pieces are made simultaneously, and afterwards it gets cut and rolled up seperately. It is often mixed with various fibres such as linen, wool, cotton, rayon, mohair, polyester, nylon, spandex, and acetate.
VISCOSE is also known as rayon and is made from wood pulp, which is broken down by the addition of chemical substances. Though it is often promoted as an eco-fibre it is actually not so due to the use of carbon disulfide. Viscose can feel like cotton, linen, silk or wool and is therefore a very versatile fibre. It is comfortable, smooth, soft, cool, relatively inexpensive and absorbent.
VICUNGA is a wild South American camelids, which lives in the high alpine areas of the Andes. The vicuñas produce extremely fine wool in small quantities, which is very soft and very warm. It is very expensive to buy as the animals can only be shorn every thre years, and they first need to be caught from the wild. Vicuñas are now protected by law, as they were heavily hunted on in the past.
WOOL is produced from different classes of animal hair, ranging from sheep, to camels, rabbits, goats (cashmere, angora and mohair), and llamas (alpaca). It should not be mistaken for fur, as it has a distinct elasticity and texture. It is a versatile fabric that is comfortable and warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It's elastic, tepels water druplets and drapes nicely.