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Fabric Guide

In 1970, Toray Industries scientist Dr. Miyoshi Okamoto invented the world’s first microfiber. A few months later, his colleague Dr. Toyohiko Hikota, succeeded in developing a process that would transform these microfibers into the fabric Ultrasuede®.

Ultrasuede® is often combined with materials (for lining,etc.) that don’t stand up to a washing machine.

All Ultrasuede® fabrics should be dry cleaned except for one shade of clear white used for some garments. Check your manufacturer’s care instructions for details.

A soft plush fabric with a close, dense pile. Velours is the French term for velvet. A cotton fabric that has a deeper pile than velveteen and is heavier in weight. It is commonly used in upholstery and draperies.

Most velour garments and household items should be dry cleaned.

A double action loom is used to make velvet. Two layers of fabric are woven at the same time and the space between them is interlaced with connecting yarns. The two layers are cut apart as they come off the loom, creating two pieces of fabric with an upright pile surface. Finishes are often applied to velvets to keep the pile erect and resilient, to secure the pile or to give the fabric body.

The most common type of velvet is a plain weave with a cut pile. It is soft, comes in deep, rich colors and is typically used in formal or eveningwear. Velvet is also commonly used in interior design applications from curtains to upholstery to accent pillows. A common type of upholstery is cut velvet, which has a pattern cut out from around uncut loops of pile. Crushing the velvet pile can produce two additional types of velvet, crushed velvet and panné velvet.

Crushed velvet involves the fabric being mechanically twisted while wet. Applying heavy pressure to the pile in one direction produces panné velvet. Crushed velvet is also found in interior applications but is often used in apparel as well. For upholstery purposes crushed velvet can have a coated backing applied to provide stability. When being used in apparel the texture of the crushed velvet creates a beautiful luster effect and the direction of the pile can also be used to provide various looks from the same piece of fabric.

Finer, plain weave velvets can only be dry cleaned. Most knit velvets must also be dry cleaned. If not cared for properly, velvet can yield a host of problems including a loss of pile, piling, flattening, matting, tufting and shrinkage. In addition, crushed velvet can lose its design and become distorted.

Most velvet clothing and household items should be dry cleaned.

A pile fabric that generally has a shorter pile than true velvet. A fabric with a low-filling pile made by cutting an extra set of filling yarns woven in a float formation and bound to the back of the material at intervals by weaving over and under one or more warp ends. “True” velvet has a short, closely-woven pile and is typically made of rayon, acetate, silk or a blend of these fibers. Velveteen is similar to velvet, but has a shorter pile and is usually made of cotton or cotton/polyester blend. Velveteen should be dry cleaned.

Heirlooming and preservation of antique velveteen is also recommended for museums as well as individuals.

Voile is a cotton fabric, also wool and called “Voilé de laine”. Voile is a thin semi-transparent dress material of cotton, wool, or silk. Sheer and very light weight. Usually made with cylindrical combed yarns.

To obtain a top quality fabric, very highly twisted yarns are used. Voile drapes and gathers very well. The clear surface is obtained by singeing away any fuzzy yarns. Has a hard finish and crisp, sometimes wiry hand. Uses: Dresses, blouses, curtains. .

Most voile garments and household items should be dry cleaned.

Wool is the ‘big daddy’ of natural fibers, and is the most common and least expensive of all the natural fibers used for knitting. It comes from sheep of which there are many different varieties, and it can come in the form of coarser wools, such as Icelandic Lopi, to the very fine and soft wools, such as Merino. Wool is receptive to dyes and has excellent insulative properties, making it comfortable to wear in both warm and cool climates due to its remarkable ability to absorb moisture.

Wool was probably the first animal fiber to be made into cloth. The art of spinning wool into yarn developed about 4000 B.C. and encouraged trade among the nations in the region of the Mediterranean Sea.

The first wool factory in England was established in 50 A.D. in Winchester by the Romans. In 1797, the British brought 13 Merino sheep to Australia and started the the country’s Merino sheep industry.

There are 40 different breeds of sheep in the world producing a rough estimate of 200 types of wool with varying standards. The major wool producers in the world are Australia, Argentina, China and South Africa.

When exposed to a lot of handling and heat, combined with excess moisture, however, wool does shrink up and “felt”, so care must be taken when hand washing.

Most wool garments and household items should be dry cleaned.


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