Glossary

Scroll down for an alphabetized list of terms.

A

Abrasion Resistance The ability of a fiber or fabric to withstand surface wear and rubbing.
Absorbency A measure of how much amount of water a fabric can absorb.
Acetate Also known as cellulose acetate, it is a valuable manufactured fiber that is low in cost and has good draping qualities. Acetate is used in fabrics such as satins, brocades, and taffetas to accentuate luster, body, drape and beauty.
Acrylic A synthetic polymer fiber that contains at least 85% acrylonitrile. Strong and warm, acrylic fiber is often used for sweaters and tracksuits and as linings for boots and gloves, as well as in furnishing fabrics and carpets. It is manufactured as a filament, then cut into short staple lengths similar to wool hairs, and spun into yarn.
Agglomerate Agglomerate refers to a mass of fibers that have been collected and compressed into a compacted and free-flowing granules that can be used as raw materials in a variety of production processes.
Air Jet Spinning A spinning system in which yarn is made by wrapping fibers around a core stream of fibers with compressed air.
Air Permeability The porosity, or the ease with which air passes through material. It is also a measure of warmness, or coolness of a fabric.
Airlay Grade The quality of fiber needed to produce airlaid fabrics which are very absorbent, yet lightweight. They’re made by converting soft, random-laid fibers made from wood pulp or synthetic fibers into a sturdy and absorbent web, using air instead of water to transfer the fibers.
Aramid Aramids fibers are a class of strong, heat- and fire-resistant synthetic fibers used in aerospace and military applications, bicycle tires and more. The term is a contraction of aromatic and polyamide. This group of fibers consists of both meta- and para-aramids.

B

BiComponent Yarn Spun or filament yarns of two generic fibers or two variants of the same generic fiber.
Bleeding Loss of color by a fabric or yarn when immersed in water, a solvent, or similar liquid medium, as a result of improper dying or the use of dyes of poor quality.
Blending The combining of staple fibers of different physical characteristics to assure a uniform distribution of these fibers throughout the yarn.
Break Factor A measure of yarn strength calculated as the product of breaking strength times the indirect yarn number.
Breaking Strength The maximum resultant internal force that resists rupture in a tension test.

C

Card Waste The left-over virgin cotton fibers that accumulate in and around the machinery used in the cotton carding process.
Closed Loop A supply chain model in which waste created during production is recycled, processed and reintroduced into production by the same customer, often into the same processing line.
Coir A coarse fiber extracted from the fibrous outer shell of a coconut.
Color Abrasion Color changes in localized areas of a garment resulting from differential wear.
Colorfast A textile’s ability to maintain its color without running or fading.
Cone A conical package of yarn, usually wound on a disposable paper core.
Core Spinning The process of making a core-spun yarn. It consists of feeding the core yarn into the front delivery roll of the spinning frame and of covering the core yarn with a sheath of fibers during the spinning operation.
Cotton Comber Noils Short staple cotton fibers left over from the combing process during which the carded cotton fiber is prepared for spinning. The primary use for cotton comber noils is in the bleaching process.
Cotton Gin Motes Waste fibers left over from the ginning process, during which the fiber is separated from the seeds and other vegetative material. Key applications for gin motes are the bedding, automotive, and furniture industries.
Cotton Linters Cotton linters are fine, silky fibers which adhere to the seeds of the cotton plant after ginning. These curly fibers typically are less than 1⁄8 inch (3.2 mm) long. Linters are traditionally used in the manufacture of paper and as a raw material in the manufacture of cellulose.
Cotton Regins Fibers left over when cotton, which has already gone through the ginning process, is ginned a second time. Re-ginning is done to further clean, blend, or otherwise process the lint.
Cotton Sweeps Floor sweepings from cotton mills, often used for mattresses among other applications.
Creel A framework arranged to hold slivers, roving or yarns so that many ends can be withdrawn smoothly and evenly without tangling.

D

Denier Officially, the weight, in grams, of 9000 meters of yarn.
Denim A rugged cotton twill textile.
Densified Fiber Natural, synthetic or plastic fibers that have been amassed and compressed to form a compact mass that is used as a raw material in the manufacturing process.
Dimensional Stability   The ability of textile material to maintain or return to its original geometric configuration.

E

Elongation The deformation in the direction of load caused by a tensile force. Elongation is measured in units of length (inches, millimeters) or calculated as a percentage of the original specimen length. Elongation may be measured at a specific load, or at the breaking point.
Elongation at Break The increase in length of a fiber or group of fibers when the last component of the specimen breaks. Usually expressed as a percentage of the total length.

F

Filament Refers to a continuous fiber such as natural silk or synthetic, as opposed to cellulose, cotton or wool which is known as a fiber.
Filament Count The number of individual filaments that make up a thread, or yarn.
Finish A physical or chemical process performed on textile materials to produce a desired effect.
Fire retardant A chemical compound that can be incorporated into a textile fiber during manufacture, or applied to a fiber, fabric, or other textile item during processing to reduce its flammability.
Flame Resistant A term used to describe a material that burns slowly, or is self-extinguishing after removal of an external source of ignition.
Float A weaving defect consisting of an end lying, or floating on the fabric surface instead of being properly woven in.

G

Garnet Machine A specially-equipped carding machine used in the recycling of textile waste. The garnet machine used rollers and cylinders covered with metallic teeth in order to “open” the textile scrap and reduce it to fibers.
Garnetting Grade Any hard or soft textile waste that is suitable for the garnetting process (See garnet machine).
Geotextile A permeable textile cloth, often used in contact with soil or rock as part of a civil engineering operation.
Greige Fabric Refers to any woven or non-woven textile product prior to bleaching, dying or finishing.

H

Hand The tactile qualities of a fabric, e.g., softness, firmness, elasticity, fineness, resilience and other qualities perceived by touch.
HDPE High-Density Polyethelene made from petroleum. Known for its large strength to density ratio, HDPE is commonly used in the production of plastic bottles, corrosion-resistant piping, geomembranes, and plastic lumber.
Heat Setting The process of conferring dimensional stability and other desirable properties (wrinkle resistance and improved heat resistance) by means of either moist or dry heat.
Hemp The main uses of hemp fiber are rope, sacking, carpet, nets and webbing. Hemp is also being used in increasing quantities in paper manufacturing.
High Loft Textiles which are three dimensional, being thick but very light.
High Modulus A term that refers to a material with a higher than normal resistance to deformation.

I

Industrial Fabric A broad term for fabrics used for non-apparel and non-decorative uses.
Intermingled Yarn A multifilament yarn in which filaments are held together by entwining them instead of, or in addition to, twisting.

J

Jute A long, soft, shiny plant fiber that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. Jute is one of the cheapest natural fibers, and is second only to cotton in amount produced and variety of uses. Jute fibers are composed primarily of the plant materials cellulose and lignin.

K

Kapok The seed-hair fiber obtained from the fruit of the kapok tree or the kapok tree itself. Also called Java cotton, ceiba, or Java kapok, the fiber moisture-resistant, quick-drying, resilient, and buoyant. Individual fibers are 0.8 to 3.2 cm (0.3 to 1.25 inches) long, averaging 1.8 cm (0.7 inch), with diameters of 30 to 36 micrometres.

L

Lay Lengths of fabric, several plies high, ready for cutting.
Laying Up The process of spreading lengths of fabric on a cutting table to make a lay.
Loft The three-dimensional thickness of a piece of fabric or shoddy which gives it its fluffiness without adding significantly more weight.

M

Maceration Softening or sogginess of cellulose tissues due to retention of excessive moisture.
Melt-Blown Fiber Melt-blown fibers are very thin microfibers with diameters often ranging from 2 to4 microns. The fibers are melted and blown into nonwoven fabrics. Soft, porous and rigid, melt-blown fabrics are often used in medical applications filtration.
Melt Spinning Processing molten polymer into filaments by forcing them through a spinneret and allowing them to cool.
Mercerized Cotton Mercerization is a treatment for cotton fabric and thread mostly employed to give cotton a lustrous appearance
Meta-Aramid Meta-aramids such as Nomex (DuPont), are a type of aramid fiber that has high density and excellent heat resistance. Applications for meta-aramids include protective clothing, hot gas filtration and electrical insulation.
Microfiber  Fibers with strands thinner than one denier. Fabrics made with microfibers are exceptionally soft and hold their shape well.
Mill Run A yarn, fabric, or other textile product that has not been inspected, or does not come up to standard quality.
Moisture Regain Moisture regain is a measure of the increase in a fiber’s weight due to the absorption of water. The term is usually expressed as a percentage, calculated by dividing the saturated weight by the dry weight.
Monofilament This refers to any single filament of a manufactured fiber, usually of a denier higher than 14. Rather than a group of filaments being extruded through spinnerets to form a yarn, Monofilaments generally are spun individually.
Mungo Fibrous woolen material that is generated from waste fabric, particularly tightly woven cloths and rags. (See also, shoddy.)

N

Nap Nap is the raised surface of certain cloth, such as flannel.
Natural Fiber A class name for various genera of fibers of animal (wool and silk), mineral (asbestos) or vegetable (cotton, flax, and jute).
Needlepunching A process for making a nonwoven textile in which a continuous mat of randomly laid fibres or filaments is entangled with barbed needles. This causes matting and the production of a “felt” textile.
Noils (See cotton comber noils)
Non-woven fabric Non-woven textiles are those which are neither woven nor knit, for example felt. Non-wovens are typically not strong (unless reinforced by a backing), and do not stretch. They are cheap to manufacture.
Nylon The generic term for man-made fibers composed of polyamides derived from coal and petroleum. Nylons exhibit high strength, elasticity, low water absorption and are quick-drying.The two main types of Nylon are Nylon 6 and Nylon 6.6.
Nylon 6 Also known as cast Nylon, Nylon 6 is a tough, elastic and lustrous synthetic fiber with high tensile strength. It is wrinkle-proof and highly resistant to abrasion and chemicals such as acids and alkalis.
Nylon 6.6 Nylon 6.6 (extrudable Nylon) is a moldable and extrude-able general-purpose Nylon. Similar to cast Nylon in strength, elasticty and absorption but with a much higher melting point.

O

Olefin Fiber A manufactured fiber in which the fiber-forming substance is any long chain synthetic polymer composed at least 85% by weight of ethylene, polyethylene, or other olefin unit. Olefin fibers combine lightweight with high strength and abrasion resistance.
Oleophilic A textile’s ability or propensity to absorb oil.
Opening The process of breaking down the structural integrity of a piece of textile material into a less dense mass of entangled fibers.

P

Para-aramid Para-aramids are aramid fibers that are preferred for their tensile strength—five times that of steel— and show little loss of strength during repeated abrasion, flexing and stretching.  They also have excellent dimensional stability.
Pilling The small collection of entangled fibers on a fabric surface. Pilling can be reduced (or removed) by removing the short fibers through combing, or by adding additional twist.
Polyamide Fiber A manufactured fiber formed from the condensation polymer of an aromatic anhydride and an aromatic diisocyanate. A polyamide fiber is a high shrinkage fiber.
Polyester A manufactured fiber in which the fiber forming substance is any long chain synthetic polymer composed of at least 85% by weight of an ester of dihydric alcohol and terephthalic acid. They are high is strength and are resistant to shrinking and stretching.
Polyethelene (PE) A manufactured fiber made of polyethylene, often in monofilament form as well as in filament form. The fibers have low specific gravity, very low retention of moisture, the same tensile weight wet or dry, are resistant to mildew and insects.
Polyethelene Terephthelate (PET) A fluoride containing manufactured fiber characterized by high chemical stability, relative inertness and high melting point. The fiber has moderate tensile strength, resistance to chemicals and the effects of high temperature. It has very low frictional characteristics and has a slippery hand. It works well in filtration, packaging and in combination with other fibers in self lubricating bearings.
Polypropylene (PP) A manufactured olefin fiber made from polymers or copolymers of polypropylene. This is a very tough fiber with a tenacity of 8.0 to 8.5 grams/denier and a melting point of 165° C. It is so light in weight that it floats and is highly resistant to mechanical abuse and chemical attack.
Post-Consumer Waste Waste produced by the end consumer. Approximately 75% of the world’s post-consumer textile waste ends up in landfills.
Post-Industrial Waste Waste produced by the manufacturing of products. About 25% of the world’s post-industrial textile waste ends up in landfills.
Pulverized Fiber Fiber, typically petroleum-based plastic fiber, that has been densified and ground into a dry powder that can then be re-introduced into the manufacturing process or re-processed into a variety of forms.
Put-Up A term used to describe how a fabric is supplied. Put-Up is usually described in terms of length, on rolls, or bulk supplied and may have standards as to how many “cuts” are allowed per roll, or box.

R

Raw Fiber A textile fiber in its natural state, such as silk, and or cotton as it comes from the bale.
Re-melting The process of heating recyled petroleum-based polymers in order to alter its physical form.
Re-sizing A step in the textile recycling process that chops the raw, recycled textile materials into smaller pieces prior to the opening process.
Roving A long rope of fibers where all of the fibers are going parallel to the roving.

S

Shoddy A blend of opened fibers that can be designed to meet a wide variety of specifications. Historically, shoddy was made from recycled or remanufactured wool garments that were ground into a fibrous state which then could be re-spun into yarn. Today, shoddy is made from virgin or waste material, synthetics and natural fibers. It is a key component in automotive insulation, filtration, batting and many other industrial and consumer product applications.
Staple Fiber Natural fibers, or cut lengths from filaments. The staple lengths of natural fibers vary from less that 1-inch, as with some cotton fibers, to several feet for some hard fibers. Manufactured staple fibers are cut to definite length, from 8 inches down to 1-½ inches. The term staple (fiber) is used in the textile industry to distinguish natural, or cut length manufactured fibers form filament.
Stiffness The property of a fiber, or fabric to resist bending, or to carry a load without deformation.
Swelling In textile usage, expanding of a fiber caused by the influence of a chemical, solvent or agent. A property often used to facilitate dying.

T

Tensile Strength In general, the strength shown by a specimen subjected to tension as distinct from torsion, compression or shear.
Tensile Test A method of measuring the resistance of yarn, or fabric to a force tending to stretch the specimen in one direction.
Thermal Bonding One of the three types of bonding techniques used in the production of non-woven fabrics (the other two being mechanical and chemical). In thermal bonding, a binding fiber with a relatively low melting point is introduced among the main or carrier fibers which have a higher melting point. As the fibers are heated the binding fiber melts. As they cool they fuse at the contact points, creating fabrics with good tensile strength.
Thermoplastic A term used to describe a plastic material that is permanently fusible, i.e. manufactured fibers that will soften at higher temperatures.
Thread Count The number of warp threads per inch plus the number of weft threads.
Threads Per Inch  The measurement of the number of threads per inch of material.
Thread Waste The hard, thready waste left on bobbins or collected during mill operations such as spinning, twisting, and weaving. Un-sized thread waste is chopped and shredded into a fibrous condition and used for spinning, casket pillows and mattresses, non-woven products and more.
Toll Work Any processing services provided by a company such as Leigh Fibers, in which the processor does not take ownership of the material. In most cases, the supplier of the raw material and the customer using the reprocessed material is the same company.
Tow Waste Tow waste is the short or broken fibers, created during the processing of flax, hemp, jute and synthetics, which are gathered and cut up to produce staple fiber for yarn spinning, twine and upholstery stuffing.
Traded Fiber Fiber that is purchased from a supplier for resale to a customer without any re-processing in between.

V

Virgin Cotton Virgin cotton, also known as greige, is raw cotton lint that has been ginned but has not been scoured, bleached or previously used for any purpose. Virgin cotton is considered less expensive and less complex to process compared to bleached cotton or other synthetics and is used in a variety of non-woven applications.
Viscose is a transparent fiber made of processed cellulose. Cellulose fibers from wood or cotton are dissolved in alkali to make a solution called viscose, which is then extruded through a nozzle, or spinneret, into an acid bath to reconvert the viscose into cellulose. A similar process, using a slit instead of a hole, is used to make cellophane.

W

Water-Repellent A term applied to fabrics that can shed water, but are permeable to air and comfortable to wear.
Willowing Willowing is a step in the recycling of textiles during which the material is beaten in order to soften and separate the fibers. More importantly, the process enables heavier non-fiber materials such as zippers, button, rivets and stays to be removed.