Glossary of terms used on this site

Worshipful Company of Weavers

Obtained from The Worshipful Company of Weavers

Search for glossary terms (regular expression allowed)


Term Main definition

A lightweight, plain-weave, cotton cloth with a soft finish, although French nainsook has a crisp finish.  Sometimes this fabric is made with a closely woven satin or twill stripe forming a corded effect at intervals across the fabric.  Often used in the manufacture of lingerie and dresses.  The word nainsook comes from the Hindi words nain, meaning eye, and sukh, meaning delight.  This fabric dates back to seventeenth century India when it was sometimes called nansook, nyansook or nainsook and was thought to give \'pleasure to the eye\'.


A soft surface covering either one or both sides of a fabric.  Can be achieved by raising the surface fibres of a woven, knitted or felted fabric, sheared to a uniform length and then brushed with wires or teasel burrs.  Not to be confused with pile.  See pile.

narrow fabrics

A fabric not exceeding 45cm in width.  In the United States and for the purpose of EC tariff coding the maximum width is 30cm (12in) and having a selvage on both edges.  Woven, knitted or non-woven ribbons, braids, labels, webbings and tapes are narrow fabrics.  Known also as smallwares.  See braids, inkle, labels, ribbons, tapes or webbing.

natural dye

Dyestuffs obtained from  vegetables, fruits, lichens, insects (see also cochineal), shellfish and minerals. See NATURAL DYE table. 


A fine instrument used for sewing by hand or in a sewing machine.  A fine instrument used in hand knitting.  Also a fine instrument with a beard, latch or hook at one or both ends used in machine knitting.


A non-woven fabric, resembling felt, where the batt or web fibres have been mechanically interlocked by barbed needles. See non-woven.

needlework fabrics

Several types of fabric are specially made for needlework and rug making. Generally they are made of cotton, linen and sometimes other plant fibres, such as jute. They are usually stiffened which makes working on them easier. The stiffening material normally washes out if necessary once a piece of work is finished. The most common embroidery fabrics are:~

  • Linen TwillUsed for traditional Jacobean or crewel embroidery. Crewel curtain fabrics, which are produced in Kashmir, India, are embroidered on cotton fabric
  • Medium Weight Linen, Suitable for tablecloths and should be embroidered with stranded or twist cotton
  • Shere Linen, Lightweight, fine linen for handkerchiefs to be embroidered with stranded cotton or silk
  • Evenweave Linen, Known sometimes as art linen. Varying weights. Used for counted or drawn work and Florentine embroidery
  • Evenweave Cotton, Similar uses to Evenweave Linen
  • HessianA jute cloth suitable for embroidery with wool, appliqué work and rug backing
  • Danish Hardanger, Plain weave cotton cloth used for hardanger embroidery and drawn thread work
  • CalicoLightweight cotton fabric used for all types of embroidery and needlework
  • Crash, A heavy cotton fabric made with slubby yarns and used in many types of needlework
  • Binca, Bincarette or Ada CanvasA stiff, mock leno-weave, open canvas with mesh of various sizes. Used for binca or cross-stitch embroidery
  • Plain Weave Cotton Cloths and Canvas, Various weights of these cloths are used for gross point, petit point, tent stitch, Bargello and cross-stitch
  • Lockthread Cloth, An open leno weave canvas used for large embroidery and rug making
  • Panama Cloth,A mock-leno cotton fabric used for cross-stitch embroidery
  • Aliganate or PVA Fabrics, Used in machine embroidery when the background, supporting fabric is dissolved away leaving only the embroidered thread. See algin.
  • FeltMade of wool or man-made fibres. Used for appliqué work and toy making. See felt

A very open mesh fabric produced either by hand or by machine in which the structure is ensured by some form of twisting or knotting of threads. Produced with yarn made with most fibres, it may be produced by leno or gauze weave, knitting,knotting or macramé. Net is also produced on a lace machine such as a roller-locker, Levers lace machine or Barmen lace machine. Types of net include: curtain net, mosquito net, fishing net, tulle, cable net, Brussels net, Bretonne net, stirrup net. See netting.

nett silk

A filament of silk which is drawn off the cocoon as a continuous thread.


A method of entwining and knotting yarns, cords or ropes to produce a mesh. See net.


A nautical term for a small line or cord made of two strands of rope yarn.  Also a short fine flax-like, bast fibre from the stalks of the various plants of the nettle family, urtica dioica, urtica urenaandurtica ceæ (Nepalese allo), by retting or decorticating.  See allo and nilghiri nettle.

nilghiri nettle

A long fine bast fibre from girardinia heterophylla.  Found in the Himalayas, Central India and Sri Lanka.


The short fibres, usually of wool, which have been separated from the long fibres during combing in the fibre preparatory processes before spinning.


A range of fabrics made from different fibres which can be bonded together by heat processing, mechanical or chemical means and which are neither woven, knitted or felted. There are basically two types of non-woven fabrics:

  • Long Life Non-Wovens, made of various textile fibres by needle punching, (See needlefelt), bonding with natural or synthetic rubber and impregnating with resins.
  • Short Life Non-Wovens, usually made of cellulose fibres which are disposable. There are several hundred different non-woven disposable products manufactured, which include: bandages, adhesive bandages, handkerchiefs, interlinings, iron-on or sew-on interfacings, industrial and domestic cloths, filters and surface tissues for glass reinforced plastics and resins.

A very strong man-made polyamide fibre.  The generic name given to fibres composed of long chain polyamide derived from coal and petroleum.