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Apparel Glossary

This is a list of the words used descriptions of apparel. The definitions of these words will better help you understand the textile lingo used by apparel manufacturers and retailers.

Appliquι – A separate, pre-cut piece of material that is applied to a garment for decoration. Typically, this will be further decorated with embroidered stitching around the edges of the material to hold the material to the garment and/or add to the visual appeal of the appliquι.

Back Locker Loop – An additional piece of material that is sewn on the back of a shirt beneath the collar. It is semi-circular in shape and is designed to add strength to the area of the shirt that will experience stress from being hung from its locker loop.

Blind hem – A hem where only very thin tack stitches can be seen on the fabric face. Typically used on pants.

Breathable – The amount of air that is allowed to pass through a given fabric. The more easily air can flow through the fabric, the more breathable it is.

Brushed Cotton – Cotton fabric that is brushed to remove all excess lint and fibers from the fabric, leaving an ultra soft smooth finish.

Buckram – A stiff backing material that is used to stiffen and add structure to cap fronts.

Chambray – A lightweight plain woven fabric used for shirts and linens, typically cotton.


  • Crewneck – a cuff-like rounded finish, typically on tee shirts
  • Johnny – Typically a fashion collar sewn into a V-neck collar
  • Shawl – A turned over, continuous collar that drapes down slightly in the front.
  • V-neck – A collar that is in the shape of the letter V.
  • Turtleneck – A tubular close fitting collar that covers the neck.
  • Mock-turtle – Like the turtleneck but this collar sits lower and is typically not tubular.

Colorfast – The permanence of the dye color used in the fabric.

Combed Cotton – Cotton yarn that has gone through the additional process beyond carding to remove the short fibers and straighten the longer fibers to produce a stronger and more desirable yarn that is more expensive.

Cover-stitch – Double-needle stitch that is used to secure seams. Often found around armholes and cuffs on knit shirts.

Digitize – To convert a graphic design to a digital stitch file for use in an embroidery machine.

Direct-to-Garment Printing – [also refered to as "DTG Printing"] A decoration on fabric or other material using a specialized inkjet printer - very similar to the printer you may use at home to print on paper. Just like your printer at home, it can take any image or text from your computer and print an exact copy onto the garment.


  • Can usually print from almost any image or text file without much additional setup
  • Can usually print multiple colors without additional fees per color (unlike Silk Screening or Heat Transfers)
  • Can usually print without any minimum quantity - from one to one-thousand or more!


  • Most printers can only print on white or light colored garments because they do not use white ink
  • Printers that use white ink are usually more expensive to own and operate, which generally translates to higher prices for the customer
  • The technology is still relatively new so it can be harder to find a local business that operates these machines in-house

Double-needle hem – Similar to a cover stitch in which two rows of stitching are sewn parallel to each other.

Drop tail – Where the back panel is longer than the front panel, designed to keep the garment tucked in.

Embroidery – A decoration on fabric or other material using a needle to sew yarn or thread. This is the most common method for applying a logo or name on shirts. Embroidery is sometimes called Monograms, however, monograms are a specific style of decoration that are commonly but not necessarily embroidered. [see more on Monograms below]


  • It is the most common and usually the most affordable method for decorating a garment
  • Generally there are no minimum order quantities
  • Generally pricing is not determined by the number of colors used
  • Good quality embroidery can outlast the garment that it is on
  • In general, most embroidered garments can be washed and dried normally, with no special instructions. However, we do have some tips to keep your decorated garments looking their best here: Wash & Care Instructions


  • Since the item being decorated must be hooped (secured in a plastic or metal hoop that is then mounted onto an embroidery machine) before it can be embroidered, it must have a large enough space for that hoop to fit onto, and it must also be made of thin enough material that the hoop can securely clamp shut around it. This can sometimes be an issue for items like heavy duty bags or thick insulated coats - those types of items are generally embroidered by the manufacturer before the pieces of material are assembled into the finished product.
  • Embroidery is not suited for small or finely detailed images. It is limited by the thickness of the thread and the texture of the surface of the material being decorated. Even simple text, if it is too small will not be readable below approximately 0.20" tall.
  • There can be slight variations of the look of any decoration from garment to garment simply because of the movement of the machine and the flexibility of the fabric being decorated.
  • Also because of the flexibility of the fabric being decorated, the area in and around an embroidered decoration, may "pucker." This is when the embroidered thread pulls on the garment, causing it to gather slightly and gives it a wrinkled appearance. The thinner and more stretch the material has, the more likely it will pucker.
  • Since pricing is generally determined by Stitch Count (how many stitches it takes to sew the design) larger decorations can become quite expensive
  • Very thin or poor quality fabric can be irrepairably damaged just by the embroidery machine sewing the decoration
  • Embroidery can make the decorated area of a garment very stiff and it could be uncomfortable or even irritable if the inside of the decorated area is worn against the skin.

– A knit process using two yarns of different color to create a micro-stripe pattern.

Face – The front or outside side of the fabric.

Fleece – Natural or synthetic fibers that can be knitted or woven. It typically has a thick napped or pile inner surface and is used in jackets, blankets and sweatshirts.

Garment dyed – Is when a garment is dyed after it has been constructed or manufactured. This process produces variation throughout an individual garment and from garment to garment even within the same dye lot.

Hand – Quality or characteristic of fabrics perceived by the sense of touch, for example, softness, firmness, drape and fineness.

Heat Transfer – A type of decoration (or a method of applying a decoration) on fabric or other material. The Heat Transfer print is applied to a garment using a press that puts both high pressure and high temperature (usually over 300°F) for a short period of time (usually 20 seconds or less) to create a bond between the print and the garment's surface. The prints themselves can be vinyl or ink. Sometimes referred to as "iron on" prints.

Herringbone – This pattern is a variation of the twill weave, creating a repetitive zigzag pattern on the face of the fabric.

Houndstooth – This pattern is another variation of twill weave, this one produces a broken check pattern when woven with two different colors of yarn.

Interfacing – A stiff material that is placed between two pieces of fabric to add shape to specific areas of the garment. Used in collars, cuffs a front plackets of woven shirts.

Jacquard – Can be a knit or woven fabric. Woven fabrics are produced by using the jacquard attachment on the loom. This attachment provides a wide variety of designs and permits individual control of each of the warp yarns.

Knits – The Knit refers to the type of construction of a piece of apparel. There are many different ways an item can be knit that will affect the way that item looks and feels. Below are the most common styles of knits used for the products we sell:

  • Interlock Knit – A fabric created when two single faced knits (i.e. jersey knit) are knitted together, or interlocked, to form one piece of fabric. This is most commonly found on polo shirts and it offers a softer, smoother hand than the traditional Pique knit. See an example below:

  • Jersey Knit – A single knit construction, which has rows of vertical loops (knit stitches) on the face (outside) of the fabric, and rows or horizontal half loops (purl stitches) on the back. Jersey can be any fiber content and can be knit flat or circular (tubular). Most commonly found on t-shirts. See an example below:

  • Piquι Knit – A single knit construction also known as honeycomb or mesh. An open knit surface with a coarser hand than jersey or interlock knit and used primarily in polo shirts shirts. See an example below:

  • Rib Knit – A knitted fabric produced with two sets of needles (double knit) in which the vertical rows of loops (Wales) can be seen alternately on the face and back. This is most commonly found on the collars of t-shirts and the cuffs and waistbands of sweaters and sweatshirts. See an example below:

Lyocell – A fabric made from wood pulp. Tencel is a well-known brand name of this type of fabric.

Mercerized – To process yarn or fabric to give it luster and added strength.

Microfiber – A woven fabric that is made of synthetic yarn that is thinner than a standard strand of silk yarn.

Monogram – A specific type of design that is made by overlapping or tightly arranging two or more letters or symbols (usually the initials of an individual's or company's name). This is often erroneously used to describe all embroidered logos or names, but even though it is commonly done in embroidery, it is not always embroidered, and it does not mean that everything embroidered is called monograms. See this wikipedia article for more information on monograms: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monogram

Oversized – When a garment is intentionally cut larger than the standard size.

Oxford Cloth – A lightweight woven fabric that is most commonly used for dress shirts.

PFD (Prepared for Dyeing) – Refers to a garment that is specifically made to be dyed after finishing. (not to be confused with PDF [Portable Document Format] which is a type of computer file)

Piece-dyed – Dyeing that occurs after a fabric is made (knitted or woven), but before it is assembled into a garment.

Pill – A pill is a small ball of fibers that forms on a piece of cloth. 'Pill' or 'Pilling' is also a verb for the formation of such balls. Pilling is a surface defect of textiles caused by wear, and is considered unsightly. It happens when washing and wearing of fabrics causes loose fibers to begin to push out from the surface of the cloth, and, over time, abrasion causes the fibers to develop into small spherical bundles, anchored to the surface of the fabric by protruding fibers that haven't broken. See this wikipedia article for more information on Pilling: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pill_(textile)

Placket – The part of the shirt or jacket where the garment fastens together, usually with buttons.

Rack Stitch – A knit pattern produced by a shift in the needle bed that creates a herringbone effect.

Ring Spun Yarn – Yarn made by continuously twisting and thinning a rope of cotton fibers. The twisting makes the short hairs of cotton stand out, resulting in a stronger yarn with a significantly softer hand.

Singles – A term used to indicate the diameter of the yarn, the smaller the number, the thicker the yarn.

Silk Screen – A type of decoration (or a method of applying a decoration) on fabric or other material. This method is where a very fine mesh screen that has had an image "burned" into is coated on one side with ink that is then pressed through the screen, thus printing onto the garment. Each "burned" screen can only print one color, so the image (if it is multiple colors) is broken down by the graphic artist into parts, separated by color. It is this extra work that makes silk screening more expensive for multi-color images. Silk screening is also limited to blocks of color, it cannot print a smooth gradual transition of one color to another. One method of working around this is called "Half-Tone" where progressively smaller and farther spread apart dots or pattern are printed on top of each other, simulating the effect of blending colors. Silk Screening is also referred to as Screen Printing. See this wikipedia article for more information on Silk Screening: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screen_printing


  • It is the most common and usually the least expensive way to decorate large quantities of apparel
  • Once set up, it can be much faster than other apparel decoration methods


  • Do to the time and effort involved with set up, most companies that offer a Silk Screening service, will require a minimum quantity for each unique image to be printed
  • On most garment colors, an additional "underlay" ink color is required so that the ink color(s) on top do not show any of the garment color. This underlay ink generally costs extra.
  • The price for Silk Screening can increase significantly for each ink color used
  • There is a limit to the number of ink colors (usually 5 or 6) that can be used for each printing job
  • When attempting to print a photo-realistic image, even by using "Half-Tone" methods, the fidelity of a printed image can be limited, especially if the maximum number of ink colors are not used
  • Over time, the print can crack, fade, or peel, especially if not cared for properly. See our washing and care instructions for printed garments here: Wash & Care Instructions

Twill – A type of weave that is characterized by diagonal patterns throughout the fabric. Typically this makes for a more rigid fabric than knitted garments [refer to Knits above].

Weight – Expressed in terms of ounces per square yard or grams per square meter of fabric. Generally, you will find t-shirts in the range of 4 to 5 ounces, polos in the range of 5 to 6 ounces, pants and shorts in the range of 8 to 12 ounces, outerwear in the range of 10 to 20 ounces (note: ounces for outerwear may be divided between inner lining, insulation, and/or outer shell). In terms of quality, the rule of thumb has traditionally been that a heavier weight item is of better quality than a lighter weight item, however, with the improvements to lighter weight synthetic materials and manufacturing overall, this is not always the case.

Yarn-dyed – Dyeing that occurs at the yarn stage, before it is made into fabric.

Source: http://www.wholesaledirectapparel.com/apparel-glossary/
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