Fabrics 101


A comprehensive list of fabric terms and definitions



The contents of a textile refer to the various yarns making up a fabric’s construction, similar to the ingredients of a recipe. Many Regal Fabrics patterns are made of 100% polyester, which can be woven in numerous ways to create a large range of construction options, and other patterns incorporate some percentage of cotton, rayon, acrylic, viscose, linen, and more.


A fabric’s ‘hand’ refers to the softness of a fabric.


The complete unit of pattern in a fabric; or how frequently the pattern repeats within the fabric. This is measured both vertically and horizontally.  


Unit of measure for a fabric’s abrasion resistance attributes. The degree to which a fabric is able to withstand surface wear (sitting + standing, chafing, friction) is measured using a Wyzenbeek Tester. The Wyzenbeek tests for abrasion resistance by shifting a rubber belt back-and-forth (double-rub) against the fabric until the fabric starts to show wear. The number of double-rubs the fabric has withstood before failing is representative of that fabric’s abrasion durability. –  This can be especially important in the contract or hospitality world, where the abrasion standards tend to be 50K double-rubs at a minimum.

“Greige” goods

Also referred to as “loom state”, this is the term used to describe cloth woven on a loom with warp and filling yarns that have not been dyed is as it is the state of the textile immediately after being woven on the loom. The woven fabric may be dyed after weaving, as in piece-dyed fabrics, can be embroidered or printed on, or finished with additional backing or chemical treatments.


A railroaded pattern has vertical filling (weft) yarns, and horizontal warp yarns.

Up the Roll

A pattern shown up-the-roll has vertical warp yarns, and horizontal filling yarns.

Railroaded vs Up-the-Roll

Various uses for the fabric may favor one orientation or the other. A sofa upholsterer may prefer railroaded patterns as it likely helps avoid excessive seams and wasted fabric. A drapery manufacturer likely prefers up the roll so that the pattern is seen when the longer drape is cut and displayed vertically.   Retailers also tend to prefer up the roll patterns because they display better on racks within the store.




A generic term for an assemblage of fibers or filaments, either natural or man-made, twisted together to form a continuous strand that can be used for weaving, knitting, braiding, etc. In upholstery fabrics, the most commonly used yarns are made of cotton, polyester, acrylic, rayon, and polypropylene.


A fiber of indefinite length, allowing the use of filaments in yarn without twist or with very little twist. Yarn made of filaments is usually smoother and stronger than its staple counterpart. Filament fibers are twisted together to create greater strength or thickness, but not greater length.


Refers to shorter lengths of fibers that require spinning and twisting to manufacture yarn. Staple fibers are held together by a twist to form yarn that is longer than the length of the individual fibers. Yarns made from staple fibers often have a fuzzy look and feel.


The ‘bones’ of a fabric, the threads stretched lengthwise on a frame or loom. Each individual warp thread is called a ‘warp end’, or ‘end’  


Or “fill” yarns of fabric are woven between the warp to create patterns.


A single thread of the weft crossing the warp

Roll / Bolt

A finished length of fabric, usually wound around a cardboard roll, can also be called a ‘ROLL’, ‘PIECE’ or sometimes ‘BOLT’. A typical full piece of upholstery fabric from Regal is between 50 and 60 yards in length. 


The lengthwise (warp-wise) edge of a woven fabric. The point at which weft yarns bind the warp to form a finished edge.


The primary coloring mechanism for textiles. In Piece-dyed fabrics, an entire length of fabric – usually a large quantity (machines can process between ~500-2000 yds per lot) – is immersed through dipping or a continuous run in a ‘dyebath’ to create uniform color throughout the batch, or ‘dye lot’.  In Yarn-dyed fabrics, it is the yarns themselves that are colored, and are woven together to create the pattern.

A third way to add color is space dyeing, a process in which individual strands of yarn receive more than one color at irregular intervals, producing an effect of unorganized or random design.



A dobby is a mechanical part of some looms that controls the harnesses to permit the weaving of small figures within the fabric. This is mainly used to create small geometric patterns and textured plain fabrics. Dobby is also the generalized term for a fabric made on a dobby loom. A dobby woven fabric generally has several hundred picks forming the filling repeat.


Embroidery is the art of decorating or ornamenting fabrics using needle and thread. The embroidery pattern is woven onto a finished woven base cloth. Though for thousands of years, embroideries were done by hand, modern weavers use computerized embroidery machines reading from digitized designs. Embroidered fabric is seen in every aspect of the textile world, from apparel to bedding to pillows to drapes to tablecloths and more. Examples of embroidery have been found worldwide, and in works dated as far back as Ancient Greece, whose mythology credits the goddess Athena with passing down the arts of both weaving and embroidery.

Faux Leathers

There are many reasons, including cost, and environmental or animal rights concerns, that customers and manufacturers look for alternatives to genuine leather from animal hides. This is likely the reason there are multiple options for faux leathers, which can go by many names depending on the material and processes involved. At Regal, we offer a line of Polyurethane or PU fabrics. PU’s are substitutes for leather without containing PVC products which do not pass current chemical standards. A PU can be thought of as a ‘fabric sandwich’, with layers of base fabric, PU coating, and then PU film, which adheres to the base. These layers are fused together creating an air-tight seal, and then the fabric is completed with printing and embossing. Regal also offers a line of “breathable” PU fabrics, which rather than a PU base layer, contain a special knitted backing layer, which does not create an air-tight seal like normal PU.


Intricate method of weaving invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard in the years 1801-1804, in which a head motion at the top of the loom holds and operates a set of punched paper cards, according to the motif desired. Each punched perforation controls the action of one warp end for the passage of one pick. In modern looms, the punched cards have been replaced by diskettes, or the commands are directly downloaded from a network computer. Jacquard looms allow for large, intricate designs like florals or large geometric patterns. Damasks, brocades, brocatelles, and tapestries are all examples of woven jacquards.


A natural material made by the tanning of raw animal hides, most commonly from cattle or cows. Leather is used in a broad spectrum of products in the textile world from upholstery to apparel and footwear, to bags, accessories, book-bindings and much more. As opposed to being sold by the roll or piece, most leather is sold by the hide.


Printing, from a textile standpoint is much like printing on paper. It is the process of marking a surface (whether paper or textile or otherwise) with a colored design or pattern. Since the 10th century, artist have used screen printing techniques to mark textiles with ink in specified designs. Modern printers utilize either dye-sublimation or digital printing. Regal’s print partners utilize digital printing techniques, allowing for easier customization and lower minimums. 


In the textile industry, a tapestry warp differs from a typical solid colored warp in that it is multicolored. “True” tapestries have at least 6 different colors in the warp, but tapestry-type looks can be achieved with four-color warps. Because of the beautiful, multi-colored detail effects, tapestry constructions are popular in a range of styles from scenic novelties to intricate florals. Regal Fabrics was initially known as “The Tapestry Source”, and our best sellers were patterns woven in Italy depicting assorted wine bottles, leaves, or the ever-popular Children of the World. Regal still has a broad selection of tapestries available, though we’ve long since outgrown that moniker and offer a wide variety of styles and constructions.


A warp pile cloth in which rows of short cut pile stand so close together as to form an even, uniform surface; appealing in look and with soft hand. First made of all silk, many different fibers are now used velvet constructions. When the pile is more than one-eighth of an inch in height the cloth is then called plush

Click here for our Velvet blog post



A synthetic fiber consisting of predominantly acrylonitrile or related chemicals. Acrylic has a soft, wool-like hand, and is generally able to be dyed in a wide range of brilliant colors. Acrylic is also known for its excellent sunlight resistance and wrinkle resistance. Apparel items, carpeting, and upholstery fabrics often contain acrylic fiber as a yarn component.


A soft, natural, vegetable fiber obtained from the seedpod of the cotton plant. Cotton is the most widely used fiber in the world because of its versatility and ability to provide good comfort, particularly in apparel items. Its origins date back to 3,000 BC.
The chemical composition of cotton is almost pure cellulose. In its raw, undyed form, the normal color of cotton is a light to dark cream, though it may also be brown or green depending on the variety. Cotton fiber lengths vary from less than one-half inch, to more than two inches. Generally, long length cotton fibers are of better quality.
Commercial types of cotton are classified by groups based on fiber length and fineness, and the geographical region of growth. Egyptian, American-Pima, and Indian are examples of different cotton types. Cotton is used in a wide variety of products including apparel, home furnishings, towels, rugs, and sewing thread.


A durable natural fiber derived from the flax plant. Linen textiles have a history that goes back many thousands of years, with linen fibers found in some of the earliest known prehistoric human dwellings. Linen is known for its ability to absorb moisture and for its strength and durability, demonstrated by the perfect condition of the linen used for the mummification of ancient Egyptian Pharaohs whose remains had been entombed for thousands of years.


A synthetic, man-made fiber produced from the polymerization of ethylene glycol and dimethyl terephthalate or terephthalic acid. Some characteristics of polyester include crease resistance, ability to dry quickly, shape retention in garments, high strength, abrasion resistance, and minimum care requirements. Polyester is a very important fiber in upholstery fabrics. It is often used in warps due to its strength and because it is relatively inexpensive. Other yarns, particularly cotton, are often used as filing yarns on polyester warps to add texture and mixed color effects.


A man-made fiber composed of regenerated cellulose, or wood pulp. Rayon is characterized by a natural luster, pleasant hand or feel, good draping qualities, and the ability to take dyes beautifully. Uses for rayon fiber include apparel items, draperies, and upholstery.


A special form of rayon that is produced by putting wood pulp or cotton linters through a specialized spinning and chemical process. Viscose yarn is popular in high end upholstery fabrics, particularly viscose chenille, because of the yarn’s lustrous appearance and strength.

Design Descriptions

Animal Skins

Untanned animal skins and furs are among the first materials humans used for clothing, beginning somewhere between 100,000-500,000 years ago! So these wild looks have had their place in fashion and textile design since well before the words fashion or textiles were ever used. Though real skins/furs are still used, and tanned leather is prominent in apparel and upholstery; woven or printed animal skin designs are popular across many applications in fashion, home décor and elsewhere, adding a natural and exotic accent complimentary of most styles. 

Click here for our Animal Skins blog post


Basket weave

A plain weave in which two or more yarns weave alike in both warp and filing directions. The simplest basket weave is called a “two and two basket weave” because the ends are arranged in groups of two.



Brocade was originally an elegant, heavy silk fabric with a floral or figured pattern woven with gold or silver thread, produced in China and Japan. Currently, any of the major textile fibers may be used in a wide range of quality and price.  Brocades are typically ornate, jacquard-woven fabrics. The pattern is usually emphasized by contrasting surfaces and colors, and appears on the face of the fabric, which is distinguished easily from the back. Uses include apparel, draperies, upholstery, and other decorative purposes.

Chevron / Herringbone

Distinguished by alternating colors of zigzagging stripes, Chevrons and Herringbone looks are very popular in textiles and are generally created with a twill weave, meaning a weave using a diagonal rib in the warp. In a Herringbone Twill, the vertical sections are alternately righthand and lefthand in direction, resembling the backbone of a fish. 



Particularly popular in the 18th century in Europe, this refers to any textile or work of art that draws from traditional Chinese themes and motifs for its design. In modern decoration, this term has become a blanket reference to most any Asian-inspired designs, including those with Japanese or other influences. 



Originally a firm, glossy Jacquard-patterned fabric made in China and brought to the Western world by Marco Polo in the 13th century. Damascus was the center of fabric trade between East and West, hence the name. Damask fabrics are reversible and are characterized by a combination of satin and sateen weaves. The design motifs are typically distinguished from the ground by contrasting luster. Damasks are similar to brocades, but flatter. Used mainly for curtains, draperies, and upholstery. 

Flame Stitch

Also called “Bargello Stitch” this is an upright stitch worked from left to right over a given number of threads. The close spacing of pattern creates jagged flame-like lines. In a Bargello or Florentine stitch pattern, each subsequent row of stitching follows the line of the previous row. The term Bargello can also refer to the “scalloped or scaled” horizontal rows seen in these patterns.


Flowers have long been admired as examples of natural beauty in cultures around the world and have been arranged into and used as inspiration for works of art since the beginnings of civilization.  Floral patterns are used in a broad range of textiles including wovens, prints, embroideries and more, and can coordinate well with most any other design style from traditional to contemporary. 

Greek Key

Also referred to as a “Meander” border, a Greek Key is a decorative pattern usually formed by a continuous line, made into a repeated motif often including straight lines and right angles. These symbols and patterns were popularized in ancient Greece and were seen decorating streets, vases, plates, paintings and of course textiles.



A pointed check effect produced by a two up, two down twill, and yarns of two contrasting colors in groups of four, in both warp and filling. Named for the resemblance to a dog’s tooth, this pattern has long been popular in fashion, particularly menswear, and can be seen in a variety of scales from very small so as to create a textured plain, or very large to highlight the “pixelated check” effect. 



Derived from the Malaysian word ‘mengikat’ meaning to tie, knot, or bind – the ikat technique is applied by tying a yarn for dyeing and weaving purposes as opposed to tying the whole fabric. This can be applied to the warp, the weft/ filling, or both. The result is a geometric design appearing somewhat stretched and blurred at the edges, creating a blurry effect similar to reflections in water. Ikat textiles have been produced for centuries in northern Asia, Malaysia, India and parts of Africa. 


Originally a type of English embroidery with a strong oriental influence, first done during the Restoration period (1660-89). Common motifs are branches, ornamented in color with fruits and flowers and birds is common. Jacobean designs are found most frequently as upholstery fabrics. 


Lattice or Trellis designs, are interlocking repeats resembling a screen or fence. Grid-like in appearance, these geometric patterns are popular in contemporary décor. Moroccan Trellis designs are distinguished by a four-sided grid with 2 rounded sides and 2 pointed sides; other lattice or trellis designs may have square, circular, or other shaped grids.



A textile finish which creates lustrous or dull effects on the surface of a woven fabric. Moire effects are achieved when crushed and the uncrushed parts of the fabric reflect light differently in a rippled, or watermarked, pattern. This popular look is usually achieved by passing the fabric between engraved rollers that press a wavy motif into the fabric. Moiré effects may also be achieved by overlapping various colors in printing fabrics, or by method of weaving. Moiré fabrics are used for coats, dresses, draperies, bedspreads, light upholstery, and luggage lining.



Pronounced “Oh gee”, this pattern which has been used in architecture as well as art for centuries, is characterized by two opposing “S” shapes, which in textile patterns often come together both at the top and the bottom forming a circular diamond effect. This shape is found as a feature of Gothic architecture, primarily in arches, seen throughout Europe, and used in mathematics as a term for inflection point.



An oriental pattern motif which is shaped like a teardrop, rounded at one end with a curving point at the other. Generally, the inside of the teardrop shape contains many abstract designs, often of Indian or oriental origin. Traditionally used on cashmere shawls imported to Europe from India, it was an important decorative motif in imitation cashmere shawls made in Paisley, Scotland and it is from this usage that the name is derived.


Plain / Texture

Both terms for a solid colored textile, often used as body cloths for sofas and lounge chairs, Plain or Texture patterns are simple all-over designs seen in the highest volume throughout the textile world and paired with all other patterns as accents or coordinates.


Acrylic Coating

This type of backing reduces fraying and slipping (making it easier for the customer to cut and handle) and slightly increases the fabric’s strength.  This type of backing changes the hand/drape/flexibility of the fabric minimally but is usually slightly stiffer than SBR. Acrylic coating is typically white in color.

Fleece Laminate

A layer of knit fabric with a brushed surface is laminated (glued) to the back of the fabric. This type of backing increases the fabric’s strength and dimensional stability. It increases the thickness of the fabric significantly and reduces the drape (flexibility) of the fabric.

Knit Laminate

A layer of knit fabric is laminated (glued) to the back of the fabric. This type of backing increases the fabric’s strength and dimensional stability. It increases the thickness of the fabric slightly and reduces the drape (flexibility) of the fabric.


A finishing process done before the backing is applied. It increases the strength and stability of the fabric by slightly ‘felting’ the back side of the fabric.

Nonwoven Laminate

A layer of nonwoven (tissue-like) fabric is laminated (glued) to the back of the fabric. This type of backing increases the fabric’s strength but is least effective of the laminated backings. It increases the thickness of the fabric slightly and reduces the drape (flexibility) of the fabric.

SBR Coating

Also known as “Latex” backing. SBR is synthetic latex coating, which is not associated with the allergic reactions that natural latex can cause. This type of backing reduces fraying and slipping (making it easier for the customer to cut and handle) and slightly increases the fabric’s strength. This type of backing changes the hand/drape/flexibility of the fabric the least. SBR coating is typically transparent in color.

Woven Laminate

Also known as “TC” backing. A layer of woven fabric is laminated (glued) to the back of the fabric. This type of backing increases the fabric’s strength and dimensional stability. It increases the thickness of the fabric slightly and reduces the drape (flexibility) of the fabric.

Performance Fabrics

‘Performance’ has been the talk of the industry for the past few years. Many companies in the industry, whether they are mills, convertors, fabric distributors or furniture manufacturers, have introduced their own brands promising some level of added ‘performance’ from the fabric.  Most of these are claims about the materials’ stain resistance. Regal’s PUREformance treatment uses a popular technique called ‘C-Zero’ that’s safer for people and the environment, which involves the fabric being fully immersed in a PFAS-free solution offering superior water-based liquid repellency and stain resistance, then cured in industrial ovens so the chemical is ingrained in each fiber. 



A rough, curly, knotted, fancy yarn made with two fine foundation threads twisted together with a thicker, hard twisted yarn that is delivered at a quicker rate than the foundation threads and is twisted with the former group in the opposite direction at half the number of turns per inch. When woven, the boucle yarn is often alternated with a plain yarn.


The French word for caterpillar, chenille in textile terms refers to both a yarn type and fabric made from it. Made from cotton, viscose, silk, rayon, or wool, Chenille yarns are thick and soft and are made by placing short lengths of yarn (the ‘pile’) between two ‘core yarns’, then twisting them together. The edges of these piles stand at right angles to the yarn’s core, giving chenille its characteristic softness and fuzzy look. 


A slub yarn is a yarn of irregular diameter, therefore having contrasted thick and thin areas along the length of the yarn. When used in a woven fabric, the effect of the slub can be seen in additional texture. 

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