Textile Notes: Vocabulary

In one way or another, textiles are nearly everything we use everyday.

-John Hardy

Photo source: BLOGLOVIN’

Never underestimate the importance of having proper vocabulary in the technical conversations. It is one of the tools that you should have in your toolbox.

In textiles, there are plenty of terms and some of them might be tricky sometimes, especially the chemistry-based ones.

  • Fiber: The smallest visible unit of the textile materials (aka clothes). It is the raw material of the finished products.
    • Staple Fibers: short fibers (inch). Expensive. Softer but hairy, not smooth.
    • Filament Fibers: long fibers (yards). Cheaper. Stronger . Smoother.
  • Yarn: Interlocked fibers.
    • Spun Yarn: made from staple fibers. Flexible. Show pilling, so smoother.
    • Filament Yarn: made from filament fibers. Stronger. Low flexibility. Less pilling.

For more detailed classification look here

  • Fabric: The finished product, made by the fibers. Cloth. There are 3 ways of making fabrics: Woven / Knit / Non-woven. A significant note: non-woven fabrics are neither knitted nor woven. They are produced directly from fiber by bonding.

For more detail, take a look at here and Textile Study Center.

Photo source: Textile Study Center

There is a way to describe the fineness of fibers and yarns. Weight of fibers or yarns are used and the fineness is calculated depending on the density.

For Fibers and Filament YarnsDenier, Tex and dTex are 3 calculation methods.


Standard Fineness of COTTOn is 3-5 Denier.

1 Denier or smaller means it is a really good fiber (micro denier fiber).

Smaller the number, finer the fibers.

9 Denier = 1 Tex

For Spun Yarns: Yarn Count is the parameter to calculate the fineness (Cotton Count and Wool Count) and it is based on the length of yarn in one hank.

  • Degree of Polymerization (DP) : A parameter which describes the length of the polymer (polymer: the chemical unit of the fiber). Polymers are formed buy monomers, which is the repeating unit of them.  It is is really important for your final material’s properties. Properties such as strength, durability and water stability depend on DP. Different DP provides different properties.
  • Tensile Strength : The resistance of a material to be broken under a certain tension.
  • Tenacity: Strength to weight ratio of the material. Specific strength.
  • Luster: The amount of the light reflected by the fiber.

If the material reflects the light, it will be shiny. If the material absorbs the light, this means it does not reflect it. Thus it will be dull. The materials which allow transmission will be sheer.

  • Delustrant: Chemicals used for reducing luster.
  • Texturing: A textile process to make the filament yarn look like spun yarn. Because filament yarn making is cheaper; however filament yarn is not soft as spun yarn. Thus, with heat and moisture, it will be made more comfortable for dressing.
  • Drapability: The ability of the garment (fabric) to move with our body.
  • Pliability: Flexibility. The ability of fibers to bent or fold.
  • Cohesiveness: In yarn making process, the ability of fibers to be together, to hold together.
  • Spinning: There are 2 meanings of “spinning” in textiles.
    1. Spinning the fibers into yarn
    2. Making the fibers with spinning method, which is a textile process and is also called “Extrusion“.
  • Absorbency: The ability of the fiber to absorb water, to take water into. When the absorbency increases, the garment will become more comfortable.


Cotton has higher absorbency than polyester. Thus, it is comfortable and also easier to clean.

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