When designing clothes, the fabric you choose can make or break your creation.
But with countless options available, choosing the perfect one can feel overwhelming.
That’s why I created this Fabric Dictionary – your go-to resource for the most used fabrics and terminology in the fashion industry. And of course, I made sure to include pictures to make it easier for you to imagine materials!
Whether you’re a seasoned designer or a budding freelance fashion designer, this curated list will help you familiarize different fabric choices and simplify your design process.
Let’s dive in!
Why am I qualified to write about this stuff? In my 15 years of experience in the fashion industry, I’ve journeyed from being an in-house designer, starting my own brand (yep!), to growing my freelance career to $100,000+. Now, with all the knowledge I’ve learned along the way, I want to help fashion designers (and PDs, TDs, etc.) like you make it in the industry.
Alcantara: A synthetic suede-like fabric made from a blend of polyester and polyurethane. Soft, durable, and versatile, often used in luxury car interiors and accessories.
Batik: Fabric with colorful designs created through a wax-resist dyeing technique, often used in garments and crafts.
Batiste: Lightweight, soft cotton fabric with a plain weave. Often used for summer clothing and lingerie.
Bouclé: Textured fabric with looped or curled yarns, providing a unique and luxurious texture, commonly used in coats and furniture.
Broadcloth: Fine, tightly woven cotton or cotton blend fabric with a smooth finish. Suitable for dress shirts and blouses.
Brocade: Richly decorative fabric with raised patterns, often made from silk. Commonly used for evening wear and upholstery.
Burlap: Coarse, plain-woven fabric made from jute or hemp fibers. Known for its natural texture, used in sacks, bags, and rustic decor items.
Calico: Plain-woven cotton fabric, typically unbleached or dyed. Used for muslin, aprons, and quilting.
Cambric: Lightweight, closely woven cotton fabric. Ideal for handkerchiefs, linings, and fine garments.
Canvas: Heavy-duty fabric made from cotton or linen, known for its durability. Used for bags, tents, and workwear.
Cashmere: Luxurious and soft fabric made from the fine hairs of cashmere goats. Used for high-end sweaters and shawls.
Chambray: Lightweight cotton fabric with a plain weave and a colored warp and white weft. Suitable for casual shirts and dresses.
Charmeuse: Smooth, lightweight fabric with a glossy finish, often made from silk or synthetic fibers, used for elegant evening wear.
Cheesecloth: Lightweight, loose-woven cotton fabric. Breathable and absorbent, used for culinary purposes, crafts, and fashion.
Chiffon: Sheer, lightweight fabric with a soft drape, often made from silk or synthetic fibers. Commonly used in evening gowns and scarves.
Corduroy: Durable fabric with vertical ribbed texture, usually made from cotton. Used for pants, jackets, and upholstery.
Crepe: Lightweight fabric with a crinkled or pebbled surface, made from silk, wool, or synthetic fibers. Suitable for dresses and blouses.
Crinkle: Fabric with a wrinkled texture, achieved through special finishing techniques, offering a relaxed and casual appearance.
Crushed Velvet: Soft velvet fabric with a crushed or wrinkled texture, giving a luxurious and vintage look to garments.
Denim: Sturdy cotton fabric with a twill weave, typically used for jeans and casual wear.
Duchess Satin: Heavy, smooth fabric with a high sheen, typically made from silk or synthetic fibers, used in formal dresses and bridal gowns.
Eyelet: Fabric with small holes, often reinforced with embroidery or stitching, creating a breathable and decorative effect in clothing.
Felt: Dense fabric made from compressed fibers, usually wool. Used for hats, crafts, and industrial applications.
Flannel: Soft, brushed fabric, usually made from cotton, with a napped surface. Ideal for shirts, pajamas, and blankets.
Fleece: Soft, insulating fabric made from synthetic fibers, providing warmth and comfort, commonly used in outerwear and activewear.
French Terry: Knit fabric with loops on one side and a smooth surface on the other, offering comfort and breathability, used in casual wear.
Gabardine: Smooth, tightly woven fabric with a diagonal twill pattern. Commonly used for suits, coats, and uniforms.
Gazar: Crisp, plain-woven fabric with a stiff texture, often made from silk, used for structured dresses and evening gowns.
Georgette: Lightweight, sheer fabric with a crepe-like texture. Suitable for dresses, blouses, and eveningwear.
Gingham: Lightweight, plain-woven cotton fabric with checked patterns. Commonly used for casual shirts, dresses, and curtains.
Gauze: Lightweight, sheer fabric with an open weave, providing breathability and a delicate appearance, used in summer dresses and curtains.
Houndstooth: Classic fabric pattern characterized by a broken check or four-pointed star, commonly used in suits, coats, and skirts.
Ikat: Fabric with dyed patterns created through a unique dyeing technique before weaving, resulting in intricate and colorful designs.
Jacquard: Elaborately woven fabric with intricate patterns, often made from silk or synthetic fibers. Used for formal wear and upholstery.
Jersey: Stretchy, knit fabric made from cotton, wool, or synthetic fibers. Ideal for T-shirts, dresses, and activewear.
Lace: Delicate, decorative fabric with openwork patterns, made from cotton, silk, or synthetic fibers. Commonly used for lingerie and eveningwear.
Linen: Natural fiber fabric made from the flax plant, known for its breathability and natural luster. Used for summer clothing, tablecloths, and curtains.
Madras: Lightweight cotton fabric with colorful plaid or checked patterns. Suitable for casual shirts and dresses.
Mesh: Fabric with an open, net-like structure, offering breathability and flexibility, used in sportswear, activewear, and accessories.
Metallic: Fabric woven with metallic threads, providing a shiny and reflective surface, used for glamorous evening wear and accessories.
Muslin: Plain-woven cotton fabric, often unbleached. Used for mock-ups, linings, and culinary purposes.
Neoprene: Synthetic rubber fabric known for its flexibility, durability, and water resistance, used in sportswear and wetsuits.
Organza: Sheer, crisp fabric with a smooth finish, made from silk or synthetic fibers. Commonly used for bridal gowns and evening wear.
Oxford: Durable fabric with a basket weave texture, often made from cotton, used in shirts, casual dresses, and accessories.
Pile: Fabric with raised fibers, creating a soft and fuzzy texture, commonly used in plush toys, blankets, and upholstery.
Piqué: Textured fabric with a geometric pattern, often made from cotton, offering breathability and used in polo shirts and summer dresses.
Poplin: Smooth, durable fabric with a plain weave, often made from cotton or a cotton blend. Suitable for shirts, dresses, and sportswear.
Quilted: Fabric with layers stitched together, creating a padded texture, used in jackets, bedding, and accessories for added warmth.
Rib Knit: Knit fabric with distinct vertical lines, offering stretch and flexibility, commonly used in cuffs, collars, and hems of garments.
Ripstop: Fabric woven with reinforced threads, preventing tears and rips, used in outdoor and sports clothing for durability.
Sateen: Smooth fabric with a glossy surface, typically made from cotton. Used for sheets, drapes, and formalwear.
Satin: Glossy, smooth fabric with a luxurious feel, made from silk, acetate, or synthetic fibers. Commonly used for evening gowns, lingerie, and accessories.
Seersucker: Lightweight cotton fabric with a crinkled texture. Ideal for summer clothing like suits, dresses, and shorts.
Silk: Luxurious natural fiber with a smooth, shiny surface. Used for a wide range of garments, including dresses, blouses, and lingerie.
Taffeta: Crisp, smooth fabric with a slight sheen, often made from silk or synthetic fibers. Suitable for evening gowns, bridal wear, and linings.
Tartan: Plaid fabric pattern associated with Scottish heritage, featuring crisscrossed horizontal and vertical bands in various colors.
Tie-Dye: Fabric with colorful, dyed patterns created by tying and folding before dyeing, resulting in unique and vibrant designs.
Tulle: Fine, lightweight netting fabric, commonly made from silk, nylon, or polyester. Used for veils, ballerina skirts, and eveningwear.
Tweed: Coarse, woolen fabric with a textured surface, often in mixed colors. Commonly used for suits, coats, and jackets.
Twill: Sturdy fabric with diagonal parallel ribs, made from cotton, wool, or synthetic fibers. Used for pants, jackets, and skirts.
Velour: Plush fabric similar to velvet, often made with cotton or synthetic fibers. Used in loungewear, upholstery, and costumes.
Velvet: Soft, plush fabric with a dense pile.
Voile: Lightweight, sheer fabric with a plain weave, made from cotton, silk, or synthetic fibers. Ideal for curtains, dresses, and blouses.
Waffle: Fabric with a textured grid pattern, offering breathability and moisture absorption, commonly used in thermal wear and towels.
But if you’re curious for more and want to learn the science behind fabrics – I have just the guide for you! You can go check out my guide on the Fabric Burn Test, where you’ll learn how to easily identify different types of fabric through a quick investigation.
And while you’re at it, you can head over to my Fiber Dictionary, where you’ll learn the fibers that shape the various fabrics used in fashion.
Happy learning! 🤓