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Textiles definitions



Acrylic: Synthetic fiber obtained from chemical products, with a soft, infutrable or very light feel, similar to that of wool. Acrylic can be used alone or in combination with cotton, wool or another synthetic fiber.





Breathability: Capacity of a fabric to evacuate water vapor. It is measured by the rate of water vapor transfer through a fabric/membrane expressed in g/m²/24h. Also known as MVTR: Moisture Vaour Transmission Rate - MVP: Moisture Vapour Permeability.




Calendering : A machine consisting of two or more heated cylinders (called calendering rolls) through which the fabric passes to control its permeability and surface finish. Used to press and polish sheets, cloths and fabrics and to glaze paper, this operation causes the pores to shrink through surface fusion and by crushing the fibers.


Cotton : Cotton is the world's most widely consumed textile fiber, a natural fiber produced by cotton plants. Soft and breathable, it is often used in the manufacture of fabrics for clothing, household linen and other textile products.


Cotton Bio : Cotton grown organically, without pesticides, insecticides or chemical fertilisers, limiting its environmental impact. The GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) label certifies that a textile product contains "at least 95% organic fibers".


Cellulose: Cellulose is an abundant biopolymer commonly used as a raw material for paper products and cotton fabrics. Cellulose is used in particular for its thermal insulation and moisture protection properties which makes it interesting for building insulation.




Denim : Thick and strong, this is a very tightly woven cotton twill used to make denim trousers and jackets. Made up of a blue-dyed warp and a white weft, its blue colour originally comes from two natural plants, the Indigotier or the Pastel des teinturiers.


Dimensional shrinkage : Phenomenon of variation in the size of a fabric after washing or treatment (elongation or shrinkage).


Dye : Special treatment involving the application of a specific colour to a fibre base, resulting in a permanent or temporary colour, depending on the type of dye used. Textile dyeing can be used in different ways: by soaking, immersion, spraying or direct application, at home or in the workplace.




Elasticity: Ability of a material to deform under tension and return to its original shape once the tension is released.


Elastane: Elastane is a synthetic chemical material that comes from petroleum. It is mainly used for clothing. It is also known for its elasticity, which is why it is used for sportswear, including swimwear, but also for clothing in general.


Embroidery : The art of decorating fabrics by hand or machine, consisting of passing threads (cotton, evening, silver or wool) through a needle or hook onto a fabric marked with a design.





Fabric : A strong, hard-wearing plain weave fabric made from linen yarn or other plant-based textile materials.


Fiber : Fine, very long and flexible element that can be woven. Cotton, linen, wool and silk are natural fibers. Viscose and polyester are chemical fibers. 





Grammage: Weight of the fabric per unit area. Usually expressed in grams per square meter (g/m²), it can also be expressed in grams per linear meter (g/ml)




Hemp: Hemp fibers are used for textile production. Hemp fiber textile is considered environmentally friendly because hemp cultivation requires very little water. Hemp is very resistant and has antibacterial properties.




Impermeability: the ability of a material to prevent the penetration of water or liquids. It is measured in Schmerber.




Knitwear : Fabric made up of a textile material arranged in interlaced stitches and made up with needles (hosiery) which can also be described as mesh. A material associated with comfort and sport.




Linen: Linen is a vegetable fiber. Very appreciated in clothing for its lightness, it wrinkles quickly.



Mixed : Fabric made from a warp and a weft of different composition or from several types of yarn, therefore of different material.




Non-woven: Non-woven textile is a textile with randomly distributed fibers.


Needle punch: needle punch is a manufacturing process that involves cutting or punching holes in a material. Needle punch or perforated nonwovens are felted and very flexible, with a fibrous network of distinctive pores, which makes them suitable for filtration and drainage applications.




PLA or Polylactic Acid: PLA (or polylactic acid) is a polymer that can be derived from corn starch or hydrocarbon. The main characteristic of PLA is that it is biodegradable in industrial composting. It is used in many areas including the design of food packaging or textiles for agriculture.


Plush: Fabric with a soft, fluffy surface, like velvet, but with a long pile to achieve matte or shiny effects or to imitate fur.


Polyamide: Polyamide is derived from hydrocarbons. There are several types of polyamide, the most commonly used in textiles is polyamide 6-6, more commonly called nylon. Polyamide is known to be stretchy and resistant, which makes it perfect for tights and sportswear.


Polypropylene (PP): Polypropylene is derived from hydrocarbons and is used to create synthetic fibers that are thermo-regulating, very light, resistant and do not retain moisture. Polypropylene also has the advantage of being recyclable. All these characteristics make polypropylene an ideal fiber for various fields, especially for clothing and outdoor fabrics.


Polyester: Synthetic artificial fiber widely used in the textile industry, particularly for clothing, bedding and furnishings. This ultra-polyvalent, low-cost fabric is often blended with cotton, a combination known as "polycotton".


PET or polyethylene terephthalate: PET is a synthetic material created from hydrocarbon or vegetable matter. It is often used for beverage packaging and cosmetic and food packaging. PET has the particularity of being 100% recyclable.



Raw material : Raw natural material, extracted or produced directly by nature and used to make fibers and non-wovens. Cotton, linen and hemp are the main types.




Schmerber : Unit used to measure the impermeability of a fabric (1 Schmerber = 1 mm water column = 10 Pa). This means that the greater the height of water, the more impermeable a fabric is. If a fabric has a value of 10,000 Schmerber, it can withstand 10 m of water. A fabric is considered perfectly waterproof above 20,000 Schmerber.


Sewing : The act of assembling two or more pieces by a series of regular stitches using sewing thread, either manually with a needle or using a sewing machine or serger.


Silk : A natural fiber of animal origin with a soft, light feel, derived from the silkworm, also known as the mulberry bombyx caterpillar. A noble and beautiful fabric, silk is known for its silky look and texture, which can be used for clothing and upholstery.


Softener : Designed to reduce the stiffness of textile fibers and remove detergent residues that can make clothes stiff and rough, it is a chemical compound used when finishing a fabric to soften it and reduce the effects of hard water.


Spinning : The process of transforming natural fibers or synthetic materials into yarn by hand, using a spindle or spinning wheel.


Spunbond : Spunbond is one of the most common and least expensive nonwoven manufacturing processes. It gets its name from the steps involved in its manufacture, which are the formation of threads from a plastic material, often polypropylene, (called "spun") and the consolidation of these threads (called "bond"). The main characteristics of spunbond nonwovens are their tear resistance, their tensile strength and their low price which makes them very popular in agrotextile.


Spunlace : Spunlace is a manufacturing process for nonwovens. The fibers are consolidated by high pressure water jets. Most spunlace products contain a variety of fibers: usually fibers with absorbent properties such as viscose and fibers that are very strong such as polyester. Due to its properties, spunlace is a nonwoven that offers, among other things, optimal resin absorption for liquid sealing systems.




Tensile strength : the ability of a material to withstand a tensile force without breaking.


Textile : Used in the manufacture of clothing and upholstery fabrics, it is a filamentary material made from fibers, which can be transformed into yarn and then into fabric after special preparation.

Twill : Type of twill fabric, warp and weft, supple with very fine ribs creating a diagonal effect in the fabric and often used for trousers and jackets.




Velvet: Fabrics with a lustrous and soft surface, formed by short, upright, tightly packed hairs, created by cutting the hairs of the threads that make up the fabric and a matt, smooth surface. This fabric can be made of cotton, wool, silk, etc.


Viscose: Viscose is a plastic material of vegetable origin that does not come from petroleum. It is made from cellulose.




Warp : Derived from the term "warp and weft", used in the textile industry to describe a weaving technique commonly used to produce fabrics. The warp refers to the threads that are stretched and held fixed lengthwise when a fabric is woven, i.e. in a vertical direction on the loom.


Waterproof : This is a process that seals an object, completely preventing the penetration of water or liquids.


Weft : Derived from the term "warp and weft", used in the textile industry to describe a weaving technique commonly used to produce fabrics. The weft refers to the threads inserted horizontally through the warp threads during weaving, and forms the pattern and structure of the fabric. 


Wool: Natural fiber made from the fur of mammals such as sheep, goats or alpacas.


Woolmark : Virgin wool symbol, quality label guaranteeing the pure new wool content of textiles and meeting high quality standards.


Woven: Interweaving threads or textile fibres to produce a fabric or tapestry, or to create a fabric design. A woven fabric is also called a warp and weft fabric.




Yarn: A continuous material formed by twisting long fibers and used in the manufacture of fabrics and clothing. It can be made of natural or synthetic materials.



Zip : Commonly known as a zip fastener, this is a mechanical device used to open and close garments, bags or shoes quickly, or to connect and separate fabrics quickly.


Our Subrenat experts - engineers and sales representatives - have developed this glossary for you in order to group together all the terms commonly used in the textile industry. You will find here from A to Z all the terms you need to know to understand technical textiles and their markets.

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