Fabric Glossary

Fabric Glossary and Fabric Reference, Mary Humphries; Prentice Hall. For best prices see Pricing Section following review.

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Also available at www.addall.com!
Overview There are several attractive features about this set. While books complement each other, each stands on it own merit so it is not necessary to purchase both. There are blank pages at end of each fabric chapter in the Glossary for attaching swatches; a 115-swatch set can be purchased separately or you can attach your own fabrics. Books are spiral bound for easier page turning and to accommodate Glossary’s bulk from swatch additions. There are numerous illustrations and sharp photographs. Indexes are extensive to simplify location of fabric or terminology and cross reference each other. Books are designed for lay person, student, merchandiser and all levels of textile professionals in concise but meaty wording. Set should be a standard part of any textile book collection for its educational value, clarity of subject and comprehensive text. Books have been widely reviewed and lauded in newspapers and trade and educational journals.

Fabric Glossary A must-have book. Absent is the customary alphabetical listing of fabrics. The novel approach here is to list fabrics by similarities or as family fiber members; for example, to look up a description of lawn, you would find it on a page, called a file, listed under the heading of batiste along with cambric, jaconet, mull and nainsnook.
All 115 file pages are in alpha order; each page includes topical subheadings for fiber or yarn content describing original and present family; fabric construction; weave and finish; weights and uses; origin of names; and other essential information plus photos. There is even a category for braid which lists rick rack, soutache and other passementerie. Back side of each file page is blank for attaching swatches. Specific directions are printed if using the sample swatch set. An order form is provided to purchase this set for $24.25.
The author’s unusual concept of lumping gives readers a total profile of fabrics at a glance and eliminates frequent cross referencing to compare like fabrics. I found this family approach a better way to recognize and understand a fabric’s origins, relationships and structure.
Glossary covers 600 fabric names or terms from naturals to synthetics; this broad range should appeal to fabric lovers both vintage and contemporary. There are individual charts for fabric weight ranges, fabrics according to end-use categories and fiber families. The end-use chart is wide ranging and particularly useful if you want to know which fabrics are suitable for table linens or interior decorating or baby clothes or sportswear, to name a few.

Fabric Reference The preface sums it up in a nutshell — this book is for anyone who needs accessible information on how fabrics behave and why. Best of all it presents highly technical subjects in easy-to-understand language accompanied by an abundance of illustrations and photos.
This is not a book you read in one sitting. There are nine weighty sections dealing with definitions, fiber analysis and identification equipment; labeling; makeup of natural and manufactured fibers; yarn-to-fiber fabric processes; fabric construction; finishing covering all applications; care and storage; fabrics and ecology; testing for both professional and lay persons; and metric use. Each section is so comprehensive that its contents should be digested a few hours apart from the others. Further, if some sections do not appeal to the reader, they can be skipped without having any effect on the rest of the book.
I found that two of the most fascinating sections were From Fiber to Fabric and Finishing of Fabrics. The narrative is so straightforward it makes you understand at once. These sections cover current technology and serve to complement and update the same categories in my vintage textile books and give me a good chronological perspective.
For those of you who, like me, buy only the Glossary with no intent of getting the Reference but later decide you need a complete modern technical overview of the textile world, then this is the book to get. And undoubtedly you will find your own favorite sections to read and re-read many times.
Pricing When searching for best book prices, save yourself a lot of time by using
http://www.addall.com and http://www.ecampus.com Addall searches new and out-of-print/used books on 41 sites covering thousands of independents and chains. In 25 seconds or less you have a listing of all stores selling that particular book or category of books in lowest price order plus standard and express postage costs. Ecampus searches its own new and out-of-print inventory with some spectacular price savings and standard postage is free.
Tip If best price for any new book is about the same and a chain is near you, buy direct and save postage. Plus in many areas, Borders and Barnes & Noble offer a 10% discount to senior citizens 55 or older.
Tip Frequently search Ebay and Yahoo using search keywords textile book, fabric book and sewing book. If any appeal to you, bookmark it and track it to within last day of auction. At the same time, search Addall and Ecampus for that book and bookmark it. Compare prices as auction bidding progresses. If at any point you can buy book cheaper on Addall or Ecampus, cancel auction, or if you’ve been outbid, at least you know a source to purchase book. As an added benefit, auction descriptions offer fairly detailed information not provided on book search sites which saves you time contacting those bookstores for book content.
Vintage Books For vintage fabric collectors, there is nothing so grand as having textile books written in the reigning eras of a fabric. You get an immediate sense of fabric’s use and place in textile history plus a peek at the industry’s manufacturing operations, conditions and standards. These books make a valuable addition to your library as an extension of your contemporary collection.
Most of the old textile books can be obtained very reasonably by searching Addall and Ecampus and the auction sites. Several authors like Grace Denny [Fabrics], Katharine Hess [Textile Fibers & Their Use] and Lucy Taylor [Know Your Fabrics] published and revised prolifically from the 1920s to 60s. They leave a trail of remarkable insight to the past. Collecting all the editions of each author is a hobby of its own.

About the Author Mary Humphries, a Canadian, is a leading textile expert. A 1947 graduate of the University of Toronto with a masters in textile research, she has worked in every textile field possible from commercial testing, research and development to Canadian radio and TV to college professor to consultant. She has served on and chaired numerous national textile committees and associations and was made a Fellow, Institute of Textile Science in 1984. Author of many articles and publications, her first Glossary and Reference books were published in 1996 and revised in 1999 and 2004. She is past editor of the Costume Journal for the Costume Society of Ontario (CSO), and is now Chair of the CSO for 2004, 2005. Canadians and others interested in this organization can obtain information by emailing information@costumesociety.ca or going to www.costumesociety.ca .
Website: www.maryhumphries.com

-Reviewer: Joan Kiplinger
Be sure to read Joan’s column: Vintage Fabrics
Buy Mary Humphries’ Book from Amazon.com
Also look for the 3rd edition!

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