Let’s talk fiber. Fabric is composed of fibers, twisted in to threads, which are then woven in to fabric. So the fibers are Silk, cotton, wool, linen, acrylic, polyester, rayon, nylon…I’m sure there are others, but you get the drift. Everything else is weaving technique. So when you walk in to the fabric store and buy satin, you are usually buying polyester satin. Taffeta is usually polyester. Broadcloth is usually cotton. Twill is usually wool. Because these are the common weaves for these fibers in retail outlets, fiber is almost never specifically delineated on signage. However, fiber content should always be listed on the bolt end. But, any fiber can be woven in to any weave. The three common weaving techniques are:
- Plain weave. This is also known as basket weave. Broadcloth is a plain weave. Habotai or China Silk are plain weaves. Organza, Dupioni, and taffeta are all plain weaves. What creates the different textures is how the thread is spun or treated during the weaving process. This is a very stable weave, not particularly prone to snagging.
- Satin weave. This is created by floating the weft thread over three or more warp threads, which causes a lustrous front and a dull fabric back. Damask weave is created by weaving designs in a combination of plain and satin weave. The satin is the lustrous design, the plain is the background. True damask is 100% reversible, so you can pick if you want the design to be plain weave or satin weave showing.
- Twill weave. Twill is sometimes called double basket, as it is created by weaving two weft threads over two warp threads. This is called 2/2 twill. Twill can also be created by weaving three weft over 1 weft (3/1 twill). The end result is a diagonal weave pattern. This is a VERY stable weave, commonly found in Denim.
You have your fibers. Everything else is technique.