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Fabric Glossary for Women's Lingerie


A manufactured fiber refined from cotton filaments and/or wood pulp, and acetic acid that has been extruded through a spinneret and then hardened.

A type of nylon made by DuPont®.

Bamboo fabric is made from the pulp of the bamboo grass. It is light and strong, and has excellent wicking properties. The use of bamboo fiber for clothing was a 20th century development, pioneered by several Chinese corporations.

Bamboo is highly water absorbent, able to take up to three times its weight in water. In bamboo fabric, this translates to an excellent wicking ability that will pull moisture away from the skin so that it can evaporate. In addition, bamboo fabric has insulating properties and will keep the wearer cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

A longline cupped bra extending to the hips with garter hooks attached along the lower edge. A Merry Widow is a form of basque. Although they are often confused with bustiers or corsets, a basque is not designed to cinch in the waist or shape the midsection.

A term applied to a yarn or a fabric that is made up of more than one fiber. In blended yarns, two or more different types of staple fibers are twisted or spun together to form the yarn. Polyester/cotton is an example of a typical blended yarn or fabric.

The process applied to hosiery to improve the final presentation. When the hosiery is still damp from dying it is pulled over a metal form and subject to pressure and heat. This sets the garment to its familiar leg and foot profile (used only with non-stretch or polyamide products).

The term "breathability" is associated with fabric and its ability to allow airflow. Generally, if a fabric has breathability, the garment will not hold in moisture. A simple test to see if a fabric has breathability is to hold it up to your mouth and see if air can pass through it. If it can, the fabric has breathability.

A carbon fabrication blends carbon-infused fibers by the burning of bamboo, and blends them with poly-tech fiber to create a durable, tech fabrication that is beneficial to your body - anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, deodorizing, breathable, and moisture wicking.

A lightweight silk or silk-like fabric.

A soft, fuzzy fabric developed in France. The name means caterpillar in French.

An extremely sheer, lightweight, soft fabric made of silk, polyester, rayon or other fibers. It is made of highly twisted filament yarns.

Combed Cotton
Cotton in which a combing process removes the short fibers and any debris that may be with the fiber when it was in the field. This results in a cleaner, more uniform and lustrous yarn.

A polyester fiber designed to move moisture away from the body and out onto the surface of the garment for quick absorption. This leaves the wearer feeling cooler and dryer. Coolmax is also fast drying, resists fading, and doesn’t wrinkle or shrink. Because of the movement of moisture, wearing Coolmax indoors without airflow to properly evaporate can cause puddling, since Coolmax does not absorb. Coolmax works best outdoors where there is airflow to evaporate body moisture.

A natural fiber that grows in the seedpod of the cotton plant. Fibers are typically 1/2 inch to 2 inches long. The longest staple fibers - longer than 1 1/2 inch, including the Pima and Egyptian varieties - produce the highest quality cotton fabrics.

Cotton Lisle
A hard-spun two ply cotton yarn made from long staple fibers and treated to remove all short fuzzy ends for a smooth finish. Lisle is a popular choice for fine men's knitwear, including tops and socks.

Originally, it was the name given to coarse horsehair fabric used in early petticoats to give a very full skirt volume. Later, the word crinoline came to be the name for a hoop skirt.

Denier usually means the thickness or weight of the yarn that is used when the hosiery is made. Normally, the higher the denier the thicker the fabric, and the lower the denier the finer and more sheer the appearance. Hosiery is sheer at 15 to 20 denier and opaque at 80 to 100 denier. Numerically, a denier is the equivalent to the weight in grams of 9,000 meters of continuous filament fiber.

Double Knit
A knit fabric in which two layers of loops are formed that cannot be separated. A double knit machine, which has two complete sets of needles, is required for this construction.

DriLayer is a registered name of Moving Comfort. When stated, the garment has the ability to transfer moisture away from the skin to the outside of the fabric for quick evaporation.

Ecosil Polyester
Ecosil means the polyester fibers are spun very compactly to give the fabric a clean appearance, and a resistance to pilling and abrasion.

Egyptian Cotton
All cotton grown in Egypt is "Egyptian" but it is not all extra-long staple (ELS) cotton – the most desirable and softest. The description "Egyptian cotton" conjures in the mind of many consumers the image of the very finest and longest cottons in the world. Egypt does produce and sell some of the best ELS cotton in the world, but it amounts to less than 15% of annual global ELS cotton exports, and is approximately 40% of Egyptian cotton exports.

Elastane is just another name for spandex. The word "elastane" is used in Europe while "spandex" is used in the United States. Lycra and Dorlastan are trade names for elastane.

A process that produces a raised design or pattern on fabrics by passing the cloth between hot, engraved rollers that press the design in.

An embellishment of a fabric or garment in which colored threads are sewn on to the fabric to create a design. Embroidery may be done either by hand or machine.

A type of fabric with patterned cut-out designs, around which stitching or embroidery is applied in order to prevent the fabric from raveling.

A glossy, soft, finely-ribbed silk-like woven fabric made from cotton, silk, or manufactured fibers.

Fence Net
A very large net design similar to that of a chain link fence and used for stockings, hold-ups, and pantyhose.

Lightweight, synthetic fiber that can be used to line bra cups.

Fishnet fabric has an open mesh with a diamond-shaped knit that reveals the skin and resembles a fisherman’s net. Fishnet tights are a common fashion piece and were very popular in ‘90s style. Currently, fishnets are considered very sexy and thus are commonly paired with lingerie. They are also common with performers as the coarse net does not look too glossy on stage. View HerRoom's selection of fishnet tights.

Flat Knit
The process used in making full-fashioned stockings, where the yarn is knitted flat on the machine and literally sewn together to form the backseam. The tops of the stocking are then folded over and sewn, forming the familiar double top welt and finishing hole in the back of the full-fashioned stocking.

Flatlock Seam
A type of seaming made by sewing the raw edges of two fabric panels directly together for a seam with almost no bulk. A flatlock seam is butted together so there is no overlap between the two fabric layers. They sit smoothly against the skin and are less likely to chafe or irritate. Flatlock seams are common in intimate and athleticwear because they feel very comfortable against the body.

Frastaglio is an antique type of Florentine workmanship. Flat stitched embroidery is trimmed to cord yarn on a veil of tulle which is attached by hand to silk or another fabric. The effect obtained is a refined inlay motif that seems to climb up the fabric. Frastaglio is primarily used in silk corsetry and nightwear.

French Terry
A circular knit fabric with a looped pile back and smooth face.

A product of Invista, and teamed with Lycra, freshFX technology creates "refreshing" fabric to be used in underwear and/or sleepwear to give it a great fit, feel, coolness and freshness all day long. FreshFX also has a fabulous soft hand and an excellent drape.

A light, thin, film-like cloth. We see that filminess and sheen in the 100% non-stretch nylons made famous by the artist Vargas, and the model Bettie Page.

A seam that runs from the crotch to the hem. Leg length is measured based on the inseam.

A variation on a rib knit. Interlock has two rows of stitches, with one directly behind the other. This can create the illusion that the fabric is made of two layers, which is why it is sometimes called a double-knit fabric. Interlock stitch fabrics are thicker, heavier, and more stable than single knit constructions.

Italian Nylon
A very high quality knit fabric with 4-way stretch that comes from Italy. Italian nylon includes some spandex to give great stretch and recovery, good strength, abrasion resistance and germ resistance to body acids.

Any fabric that has a pattern woven into the fabric rather than printed on it. The name comes from Joseph Marie Jacquard who designed a loom attachment capable of weaving patterns into fabric. This attachment provides versatility in designs and permits individual control of each of the warp yarns. Thus, fabrics of almost any type or complexity can be made. Brocade and damask are types of jacquard woven fabrics.

Jacquard Knit
A double knit fabric in which a Jacquard type of mechanism is used. This device individually controls needles or small groups of needles, and allows very complex and highly patterned knits to be created.

A generic term for a plain knit fabric without a distinct rib. Originally made of wool, jersey fabric was first manufactured on the island of Jersey.

A woven fabric using flat silver or gold metal threads to create either the design or the background in the fabric.

Laser Cut
A method of cutting in which a laser is applied to the edge of a fabric. Used only on synthetic fabric as natural fabrics would be at risk of catching on fire. A laser cut edge is very clean and smooth. The advantages of laser cutting include no raveling and a flat seamless edge.

Latex is made with rubber and thus has rubber-like qualities. Used in some elastics to provide greater elasticity. Breaks down easily when exposed to sun and body moisture. Many people are allergic to direct contact with latex on their body. In these cases, spandex is an alternative.

Leavers Lace
The name "Leavers" derives from the loom used to create this lace. The Leavers machine introduced the production of intricate lace patterns similar to those created by hand. Leavers looms are the only machines capable of working with a high number of threads, reproducing the intricate work of hand made lace. The lace created is distinguished by high definition design. The length, width and the thinness may vary depending on the machine used.

A fabric made from linen fibers obtained from inside the woody stem of the flax plant. Linen fibers are much stronger and more lustrous than cotton. Linen fabrics are very cool and absorbent, but wrinkle very easily, unless blended with manufactured fibers. Linen is one of the world's oldest textile fibers.

Lining is any material sewn into the inside of a garment to make it opaquer, better fit, or more comfortable against the skin. Lining is frequently used in a bra to add structure or to provide a pretty background to sheer fabrics. Cotton lining is commonly used in the gusset of panties for comfort, breathability, and absorbency.

A trademark of DuPont, Lycra is the spandex fiber produced by DuPont. It is lightweight and soft, but stronger and more durable than rubber. Lycra can be stretched over 500% without breaking, and can be stretched repeatedly and still recover to its original length. It provides lightweight freedom of movement in foundation garments. It is quick to dry and accepts dyes very well. Garments with lycra do not pill or hold static.

Lyocell is a cellulose fabric obtained by an organic solvent spinning process. This fabric is a sub-category of rayon. Tencel is the trademark name for lyocell.

Memory Foam
A common type of bra padding. Memory foam is the same type of foam used in mattresses for comfort. When used in bras, memory foam gives a custom fit and comfortable lift. It will shape to your body, then return to its original shape when taken off. This advantage means that your bra cups will not develop creases that are hard or impossible to remove. Their shape will pop back if crushed, making them very easy to store.

Mercerized Cotton
This is a cotton that has been through a wet finishing process, which swells the yarns of the fabric to give it a round, smooth surface and stop the cotton from further shrinkage. This process results in a stronger and more lustrous yarn that is more easily dyed, producing brighter, deeper colors.

Merino Wool
A type of wool coming specifically from the Merino sheep. Merino wool is thinner and softer than regular wool, which makes it very easy to wear next to the skin. The fibers naturally help to regulate body temperature, wick away sweat, and neutralize odors.

An open-weave knitted or woven fabric that produces a net or sheer-like effect.

Micro Modal
Micro Modal is a trademarked microfiber from the Austrian textile company, Lenzing. Micro Modal is a fabric made from spun beechwood cellulose. The fabric is delicate and light. The smooth surface of Micro Modal prevents deposits of lime and detergents. Even after numerous washings, fabrics made from Micro Modal remain soft and silky - and the colors, bright and shiny. Micro Modal is 50% more absorbent than cotton, thus allowing the skin to breathe and providing incredible comfort.

Fabric made with microfiber means that the fabric’s filaments are extremely fine – much finer than silk. Microfiber fabrics are thus lightweight, and look and feel luxurious. Because microfiber filaments are packed so closely, they can prevent moisture from passing though, yet allow air flow. Usually a blend of polyester or polyamide (nylon) fibers, microfiber fabric is known for being very light, smooth, soft, hard wearing and breathable.

Microfleece is an ultra-soft synthetic wool-like fabric. It’s the fabric that teddy bears are made of.

Micro Modal is a trademarked microfiber from the Austrian textile company, Lenzing. Micro Modal is a fabric made from spun beechwood cellulose. The fabric is delicate and light. The smooth surface of Micro Modal prevents deposits of lime and detergents. Even after numerous washings, fabrics made from Micro Modal remain soft and silky - and the colors, bright and shiny. Micro Modal is 50% more absorbent than cotton, thus allowing the skin to breathe and providing incredible comfort.

Modal is made with cellulose from beech trees and is essentially a variety of rayon. It is about 50% more water-absorbent than cotton. Modal fabric has softness, good drape and is said to breathe even better than cotton. Garments made in modal have anti-crease properties and are relatively easy care.

The amount of power for support a fabric would give in its most stretched or elongated state.

Moisture Wicking
Fabrics that have the moisture wicking feature are able to draw moisture away from the body and put it on the surface of the fabric for quick evaporation. Many sports bras and tops are made with moisture wicking fabrics.

A completely synthetic fiber, nylon is known for its superior flexibility and excellent resilience. Quick-drying nylon fabric is naturally hydrophobic and resistant to shrinkage and wrinkling. Developed in the 1930s by scientists at Du Pont, nylon was the first truly synthetic fiber to be commercialized. Nylon fibers have the luster of silk and their tensile strength is higher than that of wool, silk, rayon or cotton. Nylon washes easily, dries quickly, needs little pressing, and holds its shape well since it neither shrinks nor stretches. Another name for nylon is polyamide.

When used in the lingerie industry, opaque means the body can not be seen through the garment.

A swirled pattern characterized by a teardrop shape. Popularized in Paisley, Scotland during the 1800's, this design was originally an adaptation of a spade pattern found on Indian shawls. Today, paisley decorates everything from sheetings to fine dresses and always makes a statement of rich elegance.

A velvet-like fabric that has been flattened to achieve a desired design or look.

Peau de Soie
A heavy twill-weave drape-able satin fabric, made of silk or a manufactured fiber.

Peruvian Pima Cotton
Pima cotton that is grown in Peru under excellent growing conditions. This cotton is harvested by hand, which reduces the scratchy impurities and guarantees a more brilliant white shade that can be easily dyed.

A small, embroidered loop forming an ornamental edging on a ribbon or lace.

Pima Cotton
Pima cotton is a generic name for extra-long staple (ELS) cotton grown in the U.S., Australia, Peru and is in very limited production in a few other locations around the world. Pima was previously called American-Egyptian cotton but was renamed to honor the Pima Indians who were growing the cotton for the USDA in Sacaton, Arizona. Pima is from the gossypium barbadense species, compared to gossypium hirsutum to which upland cotton belongs. The primary differences between Pima (ELS growths) cotton and upland cotton are staple length and strength of the fiber. In the U.S., cotton is considered to be ELS or Pima if it is an inch and 3/8 or longer. Its strength and uniformity measurements are considerably higher than those of upland cotton. It has a silk-like hand and a very fine weave.

A medium-weight fabric, either knit or woven, with raised dobby designs including cords, wales, waffles, or patterns. Woven versions have cords running lengthwise, or in the warp direction. Knitted versions are double-knit fabric constructions, created on multi-feed circular knitting machines.

A fabric in which bands of color running horizontally and vertically intersect to form squares. Plaids date back to the 1500's and now come in many patterns from argyle and gingham to madras and windowpane.

The basic fiber-forming substance for nylon fiber. It is also the European term for nylon.

This is both the name of a fabric and a fiber. A manufactured fiber introduced in the early 1950's, it is second only to cotton in worldwide use. Its ability to stretch and resist wrinkling makes it a popular fabric for lingerie. Polyester has high strength (although somewhat lower than nylon), excellent resiliency, and high abrasion resistance. Low absorbency allows the fiber to dry quickly.

A two-way stretch nylon fabric that provides excellent support. Also used in high-end compression garments, powernet has high compression with low stretch qualities to give you outstanding support without stretching out and losing its strength. Bras with powernet will last longer and stretch out less than bras using other stretch fabrics.

A silk-like fabric made from wood pulp, cotton linters, or other vegetable matter. It is a comfortable fabric against the skin and absorbs moisture. It is not a strong fabric.

Rib Knit
A knitted fabric with alternating raised and lowered rows. More elastic and durable than plain knits, they tend to fit the body and are used frequently in T-shirts as well as for the trims of socks, sleeves, waists and necklines.

Ringspun Cotton
A cotton yarn where the fibers are tightly twisted together to make a stronger, smoother, and finer thread. Ringspun cotton is softer, finer, and more durable than basic cotton fabric.

A process of preshrinking fabric. Patented by Cluett, Peabody and Co., Inc. the label means permanent fit – the fabric shrinkage is held to just 1%.

A woven type of fabric with the characteristic of being highly lustrous on one side, and matte on the other. Can be made in a variety of fibers. Typical examples of satin weave fabrics include: slipper satin, crepe-back satin, faille satin, bridal satin, moleskin, and antique satin.

A decorative border on fabric or lace made up of a series of half circles.

Hosiery that is slightly translucent without being completely opaque (not see through). It is usually of a lighter denier.

A serger machine sews, overcasts and trims a seam all in one step. Therefore, this seam is called a serged seam. A serged seam usually is made with 3 to 4 threads.

Sometimes called "gossamer," this is a term given to the shininess or glitter-like appearance of the stockings. 100% nylon non-stretch stockings and nylon-lycra blends have a very high sheen, which is their trademark.

A term used to describe garments that are transparent and allow the body to be seen.

A decorative effect created by material being gathered into lines.

A rubber-like polymer, which maintains its elasticity over a wide range of temperatures. Used inside the lace top of hold-up stockings to cling to the skin and keep the stocking up without garters.

Silicone Gripper Elastic
A strip of silicone attached to the inside of a garment to help keep it from slipping down or out of place. Silicone is similar to rubber; it clings to the skin and it will hold fabric securely. Silicone gripper elastic is commonly used along the sides of strapless bras to keep them from slipping, or at the inside cuff of thigh high stockings.

A natural filament fiber produced by the silkworm in the construction of its cocoon. Most silk is collected from cultivated caterpillars. Tussah silk, or wild silk, is a thicker, shorter fiber produced by caterpillars in their natural habitat. Most silk comes from Asia, primarily China.

A type of knit fabric that is firm, yet can also be knit to give a little stretch. Simplex has a mechanical stretch - meaning it stretches evenly in all directions. However, like our skin, it can stretch, but wants to bounce back to it's original state. Therefore, it's a perfect "second skin" fabric.

Soutache consists of loops similar to a ribbon, made of silk or other material, primarily attached by hand on fabric in an intricate pattern. Soutache is both used in lingerie and swimwear and represents one of the most sophisticated types of workmanships used by lingerie designers.

Soy fabric is made from the leftover dregs from soybean oil or tofu production. The protein is extracted and the fiber spun into cloth. It is an excellent recycle scenario that makes this fabric eco-friendly. Similar to natural silk, it is common for there to be occasional slubs in the soy fabric, which adds to its natural beauty.

Soy is incredibly soft and silky and is otherwise known as vegetable cashmere. Soy is as easy to care for as any cotton T-shirt.

Spacer Foam
Spacer foam is a type of padding used in contour bras for lift and support. It is designed with a knit top and bottom layer and filaments in between, similar to a corrugated box. This creates air pockets within the padding. Spacer foam will feel springy and will spring back into place after it is pressed against. Its air pockets make it easier for air to pass through, so spacer foam will be very light and breathable. It also will not yellow, so white spacer foam bras will stay white over time. Contour bras with spacer foam will be lighter weight than traditional or memory foam padding.

A synthetic fiber made from polyurethane. It is lightweight, highly elastic, strong, durable and non-absorbent to water and oils. A great alternative to people allergic to latex. In Europe, they call this elastane. The spandex polymer itself has not been proven to be a sensitizer. It is other chemicals that can be added to spandex that can cause a skin reaction.

A natural rubber latex/nylon stretch fabric with thousands of air holes for comfort and breathability.

A rigid fabric interlining that restricts the stretch of selected areas of the garment to allow for better support.

A rigid fabric interlining that restricts the stretch of selected areas of the garment to allow for better support.

Supima Cotton
The name "Supima" is a licensed trademark owned by Supima and its members. It is used to promote textile and apparel products made of 100% American Pima cotton, but is strictly controlled by the grower organization. The name "Supima" is an abbreviation for Superior Pima.

Supplex nylon is made by DuPont. It is a cottony, soft nylon that offers the performance benefits of a man-made fabric with the look of cotton. It is lightweight, quick drying and durable.

Tactel nylon is made by DuPont. It is a silkier, softer nylon with a crinkle finish. It is lightweight and quick drying.

Tencel is the trademark name for lyocell. Lyocell is a cellulose fabric obtained by an organic solvent spinning process. This fabric is a sub-category of rayon.

A state-of-the-art fiber with a hollow core to keep you warmer and drier by wicking moisture away.

This word comes from the French word "tricoter," which means "to knit." Tricot is a finely knit fabric that stretches in both the lengthwise and crosswise directions. It was developed especially for the underwear industry and can be made from nylon, wool, rayon, silk, cotton or other fibers.

Ultra Sheer
A term referring to hosiery with a very light denier, giving them very light transparency and a high sheen. Ultra-sheer hosiery usually has denier of 10 or below.

A band of elastic along the bottom front of a bra that holds the fit close to the body. An underband will increase support and ensure that the fit stays in place.

Ultra-violet Protection Factor (UPV) is a rating system that measures the UV protection provided by the fabric. It's similar to the SPF rating system used in sunscreens. For example, a fabric rated UPF 30 means that if 30 units of UV rays fall on the fabric, only one unit will pass through.

Soft plush fabric with a close, dense pile.

The European term for rayon.

Woven fabrics are made from two pieces of yarn that are stretched out over a loom and woven together in both horizontal and vertical directions. Woven fabrics do not stretch because their fibers run at 45-degree angles to one another. Woven fabrics include linen, denim, twill, satin, chiffon, corduroy, tweed and canvas.

X-Static Silver Fiber
X-Static - The silver fiber, has a layer of pure silver permanently bonded to the surface of a textile fiber. The process is such that the fiber, with its silver layer, retains traditional textile and tactile characteristics. It can be used in knits, wovens and non-wovens as either a filament or spun yarn. X-Static offers all of the benefits known to be inherent to pure silver, only in a new format - a textile fiber.

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