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Cut and Sew Apparel

Terms To Know

Apparel Industry Terminology


Charting your entrepreneurial course in a new industry can be tough! Knowing the lingo will go a long way towards helping you communicate with your factory and vendors. As a bonus, it shows that you’ve done your homework and are serious about doing business with them. Here are a few key terms to get you started:


Activewear manufacturer

Factory that specializes in producing activewear. The machinery and setup for active and sportswear are different than what’s used for wovens.


A treatment reducing loose fibers on a fabric’s surface to avoid the formation of little balls, pills, or threads during wearing and laundering.


Also known as odor control, this treatment inhibits the growth of bacteria to prevent damage due to sweat.


A treatment to remove unwanted static charge generated during body movement by applying a anti-static agent.

Artwork files

Design files in AI or PSD format that are ready for production.


Athleisure is a type of clothing that can be worn both for working out and for normal everyday activities. It is usually made from materials that are breathable and comfortable, such as cotton and Lycra.


The unwanted transfer of color from one fabric to another

Bamboo Textiles

Fabrics that are made from the bamboo plant. Qualities include breathability, soft hand, and durable.


The bias direction of a piece of woven fabric, usually referred to simply as “the bias”, is at 45 degrees to its warp and weft threads. Every piece of woven fabric has two biases, perpendicular to each other.

Bill of Materials (BOM)

Detailed list of fabric, trims, finding, notions, labels, and any other materials that included in the production of a style and a list of the supplier name and all fiber details.


Used as both a noun and a verb to refer to finishing a seam or hem of a garment, usually by rolling or pressing then stitching on an edging or trim.


A fabric or yarn made up of more than one type of fiber.

Block (pattern)

A basic foundation pattern that fits the target customer. It is used to keep sizing consistent across styles.

Clothing manufacturers

Companies that specialize in the production of apparel. In the past manufacturers specialized in only one field but as competition has risen it is more common to find factories that offer multiple services like pattern making, fabric sourcing, cut and sew, and packaging. Read about how to find a clothing manufacturer here.

CMT (cut, make , and trim)

Garment production term and is the cost of garments to be cut, sewn, trimmed, tagged/labeled, and inspected. This price does not usually include pattern making and materials nor shipping or taxes.


Garment production term and is the cost of garments to be cut, sewn, trimmed, tagged/labeled, inspected, and packaged. This price does not usually include pattern making and materials nor shipping or taxes.

COGS (Cost of goods sold)

Material and labor costs associated with a garment.

Cost estimating

An estimate of costs early in the development phase. Also known as pre-production costing, or sample costing.

Cut and Sew

The process of cutting panels of fabric and sewing them together to produce a garment.

Custom clothing line

A collection that is developed from initial sketches or a mood board that is tailored to a brand’s target audience.


Customer characteristics such as gender, age, marital status, and education.


“delivered duty paid” – Customer purchases goods upon arrival at Customer’s facility; price paid includes all import and delivery costs. Seller is responsible for all the costs including delivery to customer’s facility.

Digital printing

Overall garment print. Print is computerized and applied using an inkjet.

Durable water repellent (DWR)

A treatment that adds a coating to the exterior shell of a fabric or is infused with the fibers, thereby resisting water absorption of penetrating of the fabric. Retreatment is needed to maintain water repellency.


Dye is used to color fabric. There are two main types: Natural dyes and synthetic dyes. The process is called dyeing.

Dye lot

A number that identifies yarns dyed in the same vat at the same time. Subtle differences can appear between different batches of the same color yarn from the same manufacturer.


File format that most pattern files are transmitted in. There are multiple types of DXF files and not all are cross compatible. It’s important to ask your factory what type of files they accept.


The practice of adding a percent to cover sustainability and ethical production that is added to a cost sheet.


Fabrics such as spandex or lycra that are synthetic in nature and made from polyurethane.


A fabric printing technique in which heated rollers are used to create a raised pattern on the cloth surface under pressure.


An embellishment of a fabric or garment in which colored threads are sewn on to the fabric to create a design. Embroidery may be done either by hand or machine.

Fabric consumption/yield

The amount of fabric required per yard or meter it takes to produce one style.

Fabric mill

A fabric or textile mill process raw materials (organic or synthetic) to produce fabrics.

Fashion drawings

Initial concept sketches used to convey the design to a pattern maker.

Final cost

The cost based on the the manufacturing of a style once the style details are finalized and the fabric, trimming, and labor costs are known. Also known as production costing and includes overhead, transportation costs, and duties.

Flame retardant

A treatment to improve self-extinguishing properties by adding a crispy non-penetrating coating that is able to cut off oxygen.


“free on Board” – Customer purchases goods at the export Port; the customer is responsible for international freight, cargo insurance, Customs Entry and duties and delivery to Customer’s facility.

Foil print

A treatment used to create a metallic graphic by pressing metallic paper (foil) onto the fabric using heat.


Method of increasing and decreasing patterns proportionally from one size to another in order to make a complete range of sizes.


A variation on the twill weave construction in which the twill is reversed, or broken, at regular intervals, producing a zig-zag effect.


A variation on the twill weave construction in which a broken check effect is produced by a variation in the pattern of interlacing yarns, utilizing at least two different colored yarns.


Unforeseen increases in expenses.


Universal terms used in manufacturing, importing, and exporting that define the responsibilities of sellers and buyers for the delivery of goods.


Woven fabrics manufactured by using the Jacquard attachment on the loom. This attachment provides versatility in designs and permits individual control of each of the warp yarns. Thus, fabrics of almost any type or complexity can be made. Brocade and damask are types of jacquard woven fabrics.

Jersey Knit

Usually thinner or lighter-weight than Interlock knit with less stretch. It’s appropriate for tops and fuller dresses.

Lab dips

Approval samples for fabrics and trims used for color matching, quality, and weight testing.


Animal skin dressed for use in clothing.


A natural plant fiber, linen fibers are stronger and more lustrous than cotton. Depending on the weight, it’s appropriate for anything from heirloom sewing and blouses to slacks and jackets.

Lingerie manufacturers

A factory that specializes in producing intimates. Lingerie companies tend to have high MOQ’s due to the custom components and fabrics required.

Lingerie vendors

Wholesale sellers of lingerie. They will usually have a lower MOQ than a lingerie manufacturer because they are selling in stock styles.

Low MOQ manufacturer

Factory that is willing to produce a low quantity of units. Low MOQ can range from 50 – 500 units of a given style.


A fabric created from a yarn formed from synthetic film and includes a metallic layer that adds metallic features to fabrics.


A DuPont trademark for its spandex fiber. Any time you see this fiber listed on a label, expect comfort, movement, and shape retention that won’t wash away.

Marker (cutting)

A printout of your styles used for cutting fabric. The marker is made usually per order and dictates the amount of plys, materials, and how the fabric will be cut. Markers are one time use because they are cut in the process of cutting fabrics. It’s important that the marker is made correctly as it can affect the fabric consumption of the order.


A type of wool that originates from pure-bred Merino sheep. The best Merino wool comes from Italy.


A type of fabric characterized by its net-like open appearance, and the spaces between the yarns. Mesh is available in a variety of constructions including wovens, knits, laces, or crocheted fabrics.


An extremely fine synthetic fiber that can be woven into textiles with the texture and drape of natural-fiber cloth but with enhanced washability, breathability, and water repellency.


A soft and fuzzy polyester fabric created to imitate the look of mink, Minky fabric is available in a variety of colors and prints, and is used for creating luxurious blankets and soft baby accessories.

Minimum order quantity (MOQ)

The smallest amount of units a factory will allow to be ordered for a style. This quantity varies based on the size of the factory and the style that is being ordered. Factors that affect MOQ are the level of complexity, customization, and efficiency to manufacture. If your style has a custom metal clasp that has a MOQ of 1,000 units your manufacturer is going to ask for at least 1,000 units to be made so they are not paying for components that are not going to be used.


A type of rayon created with reconstituted cellulose. Modal fabrics are commonly used in creating towels, pajamas, robes, and sheets.

Moisture wicking

A treatment to pull sweat or moisture outside of a fabric by weaving hydrophilic fibers into hydrophobic fiber or changing the structure of synthetic fiber into structured trilobal fibers.

Mood board

Physical or digital collage that arranges materials, images, sketches, text, and other design elements to convey the design direction of a collection.

Nonwoven fabric

Non-woven textiles are those which are neither woven nor knit, for example, felt. Non-wovens are typically not strong (unless reinforced by a backing), and do not stretch. They are cheap to manufacture.


Produced in 1938, the first completely synthetic fiber developed. Known for its high strength and excellent resilience, nylon has superior abrasion resistance and high flexibility.

Pattern maker

An individual that uses a broad base of knowledge to create the templates that a style will be made from. Pattern makers may use paper or CAD programs to design patterns that will be used to create initial samples and then production patterns once samples are approved.


A fabric that is not sized or finished. PFD stand for “Prepared for Dyeing,” and is perfect for apparel and quilting projects.

Point of measure

Specific points along the body that are used to determine the pattern, sizes, and fit of the garment.


A manufactured fiber introduced in the early 1950s, and is second only to cotton in worldwide use. Polyester has high strength (although somewhat lower than nylon), excellent resiliency, and high abrasion resistance. Low absorbency allows the fiber to dry quickly.


Fabric made using a rib variation of the plain weave. The construction is characterized by having a slight ridge effect in one direction, usually the filling. Poplin used to be associated with casual clothing, but as the “world of work” has become more relaxed, this fabric has developed into a staple of men’s wardrobes, being used frequently in casual trousers.

Private label

When a retailer cuts out the middleman or the wholesaler and works with the manufacturer to develop its own line.


See Sample

Puff print

Puff printing, also known as emboss printing is a raised or 3D colored print on a textile surface created using a foaming agent.


A thick padded material created by stitching three layers together. Top quilting, insulating material, and backing material. The thick layers also help to retain warmth.


A transparent fibre made of processed cellulose. Cellulose fibres from wood or cotton are dissolved in alkali to make a solution called viscose, which is then extruded through a nozzle, or spinneret, into an acid bath to reconvert the viscose into cellulose. A similar process, using a slit instead of a hole, is used to make cellophane.

Rib Knit

This knit has tremendous stretch across the grain a 1 x 1 rib has one rib up and one down. A 2 x 1 rib has two ribs up and one down, similar to a Poor Boy Knit.


Pre-production sample made to test garment fit, size measurements, print placement, fabric quality, and trim quality before going into production.

Sample Yardage

Usually 1-10 yards of fabric that is cut off the roll for the sole purpose of making a sample before buying the roll. Sample yardage is billed higher per yard than at roll quantity and may have additional cut fees per order.


The industrial sewing machine operator that sews the panels of a garment together.


When the fabrication used for a lining or trim is the same fabric that is used for the exterior or body of the fabric.


The woven edge portion of a fabric parallel to the warp is called selvage.

Screen printing

Prints pattern by spreading ink across the stencil screen with the aid of a blade or squeegee.


A basic paper pattern which when cut will cover a three dimensional surface.


A manufactured elastomeric fiber that can be repeatedly stretched over 500% without breaking, and will still recover to its original length.


The raw material, or its length and quality, of fiber from which textiles are made.


A style of casual clothing with influences from hip hop and surf culture. Centers on casual comfortable styles.

Swimsuit fabric

The best swimsuit fabrics have stretch, hold their shape when wet, dry quickly, and are resistant to chlorine and sun damage.


A woven fabric with a sheen or lustrous finish. The fabric is made from silk, wool, cotton, synthetic fibers, or a blend of these materials.


A cloth, yarn, or other material made from natural or synthetic fibres that can be used to make clothing, furnishings, or other items.


A resist dyeing technique that creates patterns by binding portions of the fabric with string, rubber bands, or clamps before dyeing.


A sample of fabric that has been printed to your requirements for approval. It is best practice to order a strike off from your printer or manufacturer to make sure your artwork or logo is printing how you want it to.


A single turn or loop of the thread or yarn in sewing, knitting, and embroidery.


Printing process for textiles that are primarily made of polyester. It is long lasting, vibrant, and eco-friendly.

Target customer

The person or group a company is selling to.

Tech pack

A spec sheet with all of the specifications that go into the style being produced. The tech pack should contain lists of all the key points of measure in the sample size. It will contain the front and back sketch, fabric details, trims, and colorways. Construction details will have call outs with special instructions, any instructions left out will be left to the factory for interpretation. Labeling details will include the type of label, how it will be attached, and the location of the label and tagging. The more details provided the better your sampling results will be and the pricing given by the factory will be more accurate.

Temperature regulation

Temp regulation is a treatment that uses microcapsule chemicals known as phase change materials. These can interrupt temperature changes and provide heating or cooling effects for a garment.


Created from wood pulp, Tencel is very soft with great drape. It’s usually a medium weight fabric that suitable for pants, skirts and jackets.


Two cource repeated warp knitted structure. Popular choice for swimwear.

USA clothing manufacturers

Apparel factories that are based in the USA. Known to have higher standard for ethical manufacturing.

UV Protection

A treatment to reduce fabric exposure to UV rays through application of a UV blocking agent that absorbs or scatters UV rays.

Weight – fabric

Fabric weight is measured by weighing a standardized width of a yard on a scale. The weight of textiles is measured in ounces in the US and in Asia and is measured in grams in Europe. When it comes to fabric weight the higher the number the heavier the fabric.

Woven Fabric

Fabrics composed of two sets of yarns. One set of yarns, the warp, runs along the length of the fabric. The other set of yarns, the fill or weft, is perpendicular to the warp. Woven fabrics are held together by weaving the warp and the fill yarns over and under each other.

Wrinkle resistance

A treatment to prevent fabric from wrinkling using resin. Resistance tends to loosen after 25 – 30 washes.

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