Units of textile measurement

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Textile fibers, threads, yarns and fabrics are measured in a multiplicity of units.




Micronaire is a measure of the air permeability of cotton fiber and is an indication of fineness and maturity. [1] Micronaire affects various aspects of cotton processing. [2]


One millionth of a metre, or one thousandth of a millimetre; about one-fourth the width of a strand of spider silk.

Cotton Bale Size

Cotton lint is usually measured in bales, although there is no standard and the bale size may vary country to country. For example, in the United States it measures approximately 0.48 cubic metres (17 cu ft) and weighs 226.8 kg (500 lb). [3] In India, a bale equals 170 kg (370 lb). [4]

S or super S number

Not a true unit of measure, S or super S number is an index of the fineness of wool fiber and is most commonly seen as a label on wool apparel, fabric, and yarn.

Slivers, tops and rovings

Yarn spinning factory COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Garenspinnerij TMnr 20018521.jpg
Yarn spinning factory

Slivers, tops and rovings are terms used in the worsted process. The sliver come off the card, tops come after the comb, rovings come before a yarn, and all have a heavier linear density.

Grams per metre

If the metric system is in use the linear density of slivers and tops is given in grams per metre. Tops destined for machine processing are typically 20 grams per metre. Hobby spinners typical use a little heavier top.


Similar to tex and denier, yield is a term that helps describe the linear density of a roving of fibers. However, unlike tex and denier, yield is the inverse of linear density and is usually expressed in yards per pound (yd/lb).

Tex (g/km)Yield (yd/lb)

Yarn and thread


Image showing how to determine the number of twists per inch in a piece of yarn TwistPerInch2.jpg
Image showing how to determine the number of twists per inch in a piece of yarn

Twists per inch

Number of twists per inch. [5]

Twists per metre

Number of twists per metre. [5]

Linear density

There are two systems used for presenting linear density, direct and indirect. When the direct method is used, the length is fixed and the weight of yarn is measured; for example, tex gives the weight in grams of one thousand metres of yarn. An indirect method fixes the weight and gives the length of yarn created.


The textile industry has a long history and there are various units in use. Tex is more likely to be used in Canada and Continental Europe, while denier remains more common in the United States.

  • tex: Grams per 1,000 metres of yarn. Tex is a direct measure of linear density. [5]
  • den (denier): Grams per 9,000 metres of yarn. Den is a direct measure of linear density. [5]
  • dtex (deci-tex): Grams per 10,000 metres of yarn. Dtex is a direct measure of linear density. [5]
  • gr/yard: Grains per yard of yarn. Gr/yard is a direct measure of linear density, but is rarely used in the modern textile industry.
  • ECC or NeC or Ne (English Cotton Count): The number of 840 yd lengths per pound. ECC is an indirect measure of linear density. It is the number of hanks of skein material that weighs 1 lb. Under this system, the higher the number, the finer the yarn. In the United States cotton counts between 1 and 20 are referred to as coarse counts. [5]
  • NeK or NeW (Worsted Count): The number of 560 yd lengths per 1 lb of yarn. NeK is an indirect measure of linear density. [5] NeK is also referred to as the spinning count.
  • NeL or Lea (Linen Count): The number of 300 yd lengths per 1 lb of yarn. NeL is an indirect measure of linear density.
  • NeS (Woollen Count or Yorkshire Skeins Woollen): The number of 256 yd lengths per 1 lb of yarn. NeS is an indirect measure of linear density. One of the best known of the many different woolen yarn counts. [5]

Conversion table

The following table summarizes several measures of linear density and gives equivalences.

texdtexden(gr/yd)NeL or LeaNmNeC or NeNeK or NeWNeSmetric or imperial
textexdtex / 10den / 9(gr/yd) × 70.861,653.5 / NeL1,000 / Nm590.5 / NeC885.5 / NeK1,937.7 / NeSgrams per 1 km
dtextex × 10dtexden / 0.9(gr/yd) × 708.616,535 / NeL10,000 / Nm5,905.4 / NeC8,855.8 / NeK19,377 / NeSgrams per 10 km
dentex × 9dtex × 0.9den(gr/yd) × 637.714,882 / NeL9,000 / Nm5,314.9 / NeC7,972.3 / NeK17,439 / NeSgrams per 9,000 m
gr/ydtex / 70.86dted / 708.6den / 673.7gr/yd23.33 / NeL14.1 / Nm8.33 / NeC12.5 / NeK27.34 / NeSgrains per yard
NeL1,653.5 / tex16,535 / dtex14,882 / den23.33 / (gr/yd)NeLNm × 1.6535NeC × 2.8NeK × 1.87NeS × 0.8533300 yards per lb
Nm1,000 / tex10,000 / dtex9,000 / den14.1 / (gr/yd)NeL / 1.6535NmNeC × 1.6934NeK × 1.13NeS × 0.5161,000 m per kg
NeC590.5 / tex5,905.4 / dtex5,314.9 / den8.33 / (gr/yd)NeL / 2.8Nm / 1.6934NeCNeK / 1.5NeS / 3.28840 yards per lb
NeK885.8 / tex8,858 / dtex7,972.3 / den12.5 / (gr/yd)NeL / 1.87Nm / 1.13NeC × 1.5NeKNeS / 2.187560 yards per lb
NeS1,937.7 / tex19,377 / dtex17,439 / den27.34 / (gr/yd)NeL / 0.8533Nm / 0.516NeC × 3.28NeK × 2.187NeS256 yards per lb


Denier ( /ˈdɛniər/ ) or den (abbreviated D), a unit of measure for the linear mass density of fibers, is the mass in grams per 9,000 metres of the fiber. [6] The denier is based on a natural reference: a single strand of silk is approximately one denier; a 9,000-metre strand of silk weighs about one gram. The term denier comes from the French denier, a coin of small value (worth 112 sou ). Applied to yarn, a denier was held to be equal in weight to 124 ounce (1.2 g).

There is a difference between filament and total measurements in deniers. Both are defined as above, but the first relates to a single filament of fiber (commonly called denier per filament (DPF)), whereas the second relates to a yarn.

Broader terms, such as fine may be applied, either because the overall yarn is fine or because fibers within this yarn are thin. A 75-denier yarn is considered fine even if it contains only a few fibers, such as thirty 2.5-denier fibers; but a heavier yarn, such as 150 denier, is considered fine only if its fibers are individually as thin as one denier. [6]

The following relationship applies to straight, uniform filaments:

DPF = total denier / quantity of uniform filaments

The denier system of measurement is used on two- and single-filament fibers. Some common calculations are as follows: [7]

1 denier= 1 g / 9,000 m
= 0.11 mg/m

In practice, measuring 9,000 m (30,000 ft) is both time-consuming and unrealistic. Generally a sample of 900 metres is weighed, and the result is multiplied by ten to obtain the denier weight.

For single fibers, instead of weighing, a machine called a vibroscope is used. A known length of the fiber (usually 20 mm) is set to vibrate, and its fundamental frequency measured, allowing the calculation of the mass and thus the linear density.

Yarn length

Given the linear density and weight the yarn length can be calculated; for example:

l/m = 1693 × lm/Nec × m/kg, where l/m is the yarn length in metres, lm/Nec is the English cotton count and m/kg is the yarn weight in kilograms.

The following length units are defined.


Grams per square metre (GSM)

Fabric weight is measured in grams per square metre or g/m2 (also abbreviated as GSM). GSM is the metric measurement of the weight of a fabric—it is a critical parameter for any textile product. The weight may affect density, thickness and many physical properties of the fabric, such as strength. GSM is accountable for the linear metres and specific use of the fabric. The fabric weight is measured in grams. In the metric system, the mass per unit area of all types of textiles is expressed in grams per square metre (g/m2).

The gram (alternative spelling: gramme; SI unit symbol: g) is a metric system unit of mass. A gram is defined as one thousandth of the SI base unit, the kilogram, or 1×10−3 kg. Square metre (alternative spelling: square meter; SI unit symbol: m2) is a superficial area equal to that of a square whose sides' lengths are each one metre.

Typically a cheap T-shirt fabric is approximately 150 g/m2. GSM of fabric helps in determining the consumption, cost and application. The more the gsm transposes to thicker and heavy construction. [10] [11]


Mommes (mm), traditionally used to measure silk fabrics, the weight in pounds of a piece of fabric if it were sized 45 inches by 100 yards (1.2 m by 90 m). One momme = 4.340 g/m2; 8 mommes is approximately 1 ounce per square yard or 35 g/m2.

The momme is based on the standard width of silk of 45 inches (1.1 m) wide (though silk is regularly produced in 55-inch (1.4 m) widths and uncommonly in larger widths).

The usual range of momme weight for different weaves of silk are:

The higher the weight in mommes, the more durable the weave and the more suitable it is for heavy-duty use. Also, the heavier the silk, the more opaque it becomes. This can vary even within the same weave of silk: for example, lightweight charmeuse is translucent when used in clothing, but 30-momme charmeuse is opaque.

Thread count

Thread count, also called threadcount or threads per inch (TPI), [12] is a measure of the coarseness or fineness of fabric. It is measured by counting the number of threads contained in one square inch of fabric or one square centimetre, including both the length (warp) and width (weft) threads. The thread count is the number of threads counted along two sides (up and across) of the square inch, added together. It is used especially in regard to cotton linens such as bed sheets, and has been known to be used in the classification of towels. There is a common misconception that thread count is an important consideration when purchasing bedding. However, linen experts claim that beyond a thread count of 400, there is no difference in quality. They further highlight that sheet material is of greater importance than thread count. [13] The amount of thread that can fit into a square inch of fabric is limited, suggesting that bedding beyond 400 count is likely a marketing strategy. [14] Inflated thread counts are usually the result of including the number of strands in a twisted yarn in the claimed thread count. [15]

Industry standard

Thread count is often used as a measure of fabric quality, so that "standard" cotton thread counts are around 150 while "good-quality" sheets start at 180 and a count of 200 or higher is considered "percale". Some (but not all) extremely high thread counts (typically over 500) mislead as they usually count the individual threads in "plied" yarns (a yarn that is made by twisting together multiple finer threads). For marketing purposes, a fabric with 250 two-ply yarns in both the vertical and horizontal direction could have the component threads counted to a 1,000 thread count although according to the National Textile Association (NTA), [16] which cites the international standards group ASTM International, accepted industry practice is to count each thread as one, even threads spun as two- or three-ply yarn. The Federal Trade Commission in an August 2005 letter to the NTA agreed that consumers "could be deceived or misled" by inflated thread counts. [17] In 2002, ASTM proposed a definition for "thread count" [18] that has been called "the industry's first formal definition for thread count". [19] A minority on the ASTM committee argued for the higher yarn count number obtained by counting each single yarn in a plied yarn and cited as authority the provision relating to woven fabric in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States, which states each ply should be counted as one using the "average yarn number." [19] In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission issued a General Exclusion Order barring entry of woven textile fabrics and products marked with inflated thread counts. The inflated thread counts were deemed false advertising under section 43 of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a)(1)(B). [20]

In tartans

In the context of tartans, thread counts are used not for determining coarseness, but rather for recording and reliably repeating the cross-striped pattern of the cloth. Such a thread count (which for the typical worsted woollen cloth used for a kilt must in total be divisible by 4) is given as a series of colour-code and thread-count pairs. Sometimes, with typical symmetrical (reflective) tartans, slash (/ ) markup at the ends is used to indicate whether (and how much of) a "pivot" colour is to be repeated when the design is mirrored and repeated backwards. For example, B/24 W4 B24 R2 K24 G24 W/2 calls for a pattern of (left to right) blue, white, blue, red, black, green, and white, and indicates that when mirrored the two white threads (going one direction) or 24 blue threads (going the other) are repeated after mirroring, resulting in a total of 4 white going rightward and 48 blue heading left. This is known as a half-count at pivot thread count. The same sett (technically a half-sett) could also be represented /B48 W4 B24 R2 K24 G24 W4/, in a full-count at pivot thread count; this indicates that after the four white threads, the pattern resumes backwards with 24 green without repetition of any of the white count. [21] The old style, without slash markup—B48 W4 B24 R2 K24 G24 W4—is considered ambiguous, but is most often interpreted as a full count. The comparatively rare non-symmetrical tartans are given in full setts and are simply repeated without mirroring.

Ends per inch

Ends per inch (EPI or e.p.i.) is the number of warp threads per inch of woven fabric. [12] [22] In general, the higher the ends per inch, the finer the fabric is.

Ends per inch is very commonly used by weavers who must use the number of ends per inch in order to pick the right reed to weave with. The number of ends per inch varies on the pattern to be woven and the thickness of the thread. The number of times the thread can be wrapped around a ruler in adjacent turns over an inch is called the wraps per inch. Plain weaves generally use half the number of wraps per inch for the number of ends per inch, whereas denser weaves like a twill weave will use a higher ratio like two-thirds of the number of wraps per inch. Finer threads require more threads per inch than thick ones and thus result in a higher number of ends per inch.

The number of ends per inch in a piece of woven cloth varies depending on the stage of manufacture. Before the cloth is woven, the warp has a certain number of ends per inch, which is directly related to the size reed being used. After weaving, the number of ends per inch will increase, and it will increase again after being washed. This increase in the number of ends per inch (and picks per inch) and shrinkage in the size of the fabric is known as the take-up. The take-up depends on many factors, including the material and how tightly the cloth is woven. Tightly woven fabric shrinks more (and thus the number of ends per inch increases more) than loosely woven fabric, as do more elastic yarns and fibers.

Picks per inch

Picks per inch (or p.p.i.) is the number of weft threads per inch of woven fabric. [22] A pick is a single weft thread, [23] hence the term. In general, the higher the picks per inch, the finer the fabric is.

Courses and wales

Loops are the building blocks of knitted fabrics, and courses and wales in knitted fabrics are importantly similar to ends and pick in woven fabrics. The knitting structure is formed by intermeshing [24] the loops in consecutive rows.

Air permeability

Air permeability is a measure of the ability of air to pass through a fabric. [27] Air permeability is defined as "the volume of air in cubic centimetres (cm3) which is passed through in one second through 100 cm2 of the fabric at a pressure difference of 10 cm head of water", [28] also known as the Gurley unit. It is standardized by, among others, norm ASTM D737-18 and norm ISO 9237-1995.

Factors that affect air permeability include porosity, fabric thickness and construction, yarn density, twist, crimp, layering, and moisture within the fabric.

The concept of air permeability is important for the design of active wear [27] and insect netting. [28]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Textile</span> Various fiber-based materials

Textile is an umbrella term that includes various fiber-based materials, including fibers, yarns, filaments, threads, different fabric types, etc. At first, the word "textiles" only referred to woven fabrics. However, weaving is not the only manufacturing method, and many other methods were later developed to form textile structures based on their intended use. Knitting and non-woven are other popular types of fabric manufacturing. In the contemporary world, textiles satisfy the material needs for versatile applications, from simple daily clothing to bulletproof jackets, spacesuits, and doctor's gowns.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yarn</span> Long continuous length of interlocked fibres

Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocked fibres, used in sewing, crocheting, knitting, weaving, embroidery, ropemaking, and the production of textiles. Thread is a type of yarn intended for sewing by hand or machine. Modern manufactured sewing threads may be finished with wax or other lubricants to withstand the stresses involved in sewing. Embroidery threads are yarns specifically designed for needlework. Yarn can be made of a number of natural or synthetic materials, and comes in a variety of colors and thicknesses. Although yarn may be dyed different colours, most yarns are solid coloured with a uniform hue.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Linear density</span>

Linear density is the measure of a quantity of any characteristic value per unit of length. Linear mass density and linear charge density are two common examples used in science and engineering.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bedding</span> Bed covering fabrics

Bedding, also called bedclothes or bed linen, is the materials laid above the mattress of a bed for hygiene, warmth, protection of the mattress, and decorative effect. Bedding is the removable and washable portion of a human sleeping environment. Multiple sets of bedding for each bed are often washed in rotation and/or changed seasonally to improve sleep comfort at varying room temperatures. Most standardized measurements for bedding are rectangular, but there are also some square-shaped sizes, which allows the user to put on bedding without having to consider its lengthwise orientation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Knot density</span> Traditional measure for quality of handmade or knotted pile carpets

Knot density is a traditional measure for quality of handmade or knotted pile carpets. It refers to the number of knots, or knot count, per unit of surface area - typically either per square inch (kpsi) or per square centimeter (kpsc), but also per decimeter or meter. Number of knots per unit area is directly proportional to the quality of carpet. Density may vary from 25 to 1,000 knots per square inch or higher, where ≤80 kpsi is poor quality, 120 to 330 kpsi is medium to good, and ≥330 kpsi is very good quality. The inverse, knot ratio, is also used to compare characteristics. Knot density = warp×weft while knot ratio = warp/weft. For comparison: 100,000/square meter = 1,000/square decimeter = 65/square inch = 179/gereh.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Textile manufacturing</span> The industry which produces textiles

Textile manufacturing is a major industry. It is largely based on the conversion of fibre into yarn, then yarn into fabric. These are then dyed or printed, fabricated into cloth which is then converted into useful goods such as clothing, household items, upholstery and various industrial products.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paithani</span> Variety of sari

Paithani is a variety of sari, named after the Paithan town in Aurangabad district from state of Maharashtra in India where the sari was first made by hand. Present day Yeola town in Nashik, Maharashtra is the largest manufacturer of Paithani.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sailcloth</span> Strong fabric of the type used to make ships sails

Sailcloth is cloth used to make sails. It can be made of a variety of materials, including natural fibers such as flax, hemp, or cotton in various forms of sail canvas, and synthetic fibers such as nylon, polyester, aramids, and carbon fibers in various woven, spun, and molded textiles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pile weave</span>

Pile weave is a form of textile created by weaving. This type of fabric is characterized by a pile—a looped or tufted surface that extends above the initial foundation, or 'ground' weave. The pile is formed by supplemental yarn running in the direction of the length of the fabric or the width of the fabric. Pile weaves include velvet and corduroy fabrics and machine-woven Berber carpets.

<i>Kasuri</i> Japanese textile technique

Kasuri (絣) is the Japanese term for fabric that has been woven with fibers dyed specifically to create patterns and images in the fabric, typically referring to fabrics produced within Japan using this technique. It is a form of ikat dyeing, traditionally resulting in patterns characterized by their blurred or brushed appearance.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sun protective clothing</span> Clothing which blocks light

Sun protective clothing is clothing specifically designed for sun protection and is produced from a fabric rated for its level of ultraviolet (UV) protection. A novel weave structure and denier may produce sun protective properties. In addition, some textiles and fabrics employed in the use of sun protective clothing may be pre-treated with UV-inhibiting ingredients during manufacture to enhance their effectiveness.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Plain weave</span> Method of weaving cloth in which each warp and weft thread crosses over/under every other thread

Plain weave is the most basic of three fundamental types of textile weaves. It is strong and hard-wearing, and is used for fashion and furnishing fabrics. Fabrics with a plain weave are generally strong, durable, and have a smooth surface. They are often used for a variety of applications, including clothing, home textiles, and industrial fabrics.

The manufacture of textiles is one of the oldest of human technologies. To make textiles, the first requirement is a source of fiber from which a yarn can be made, primarily by spinning. The yarn is processed by knitting or weaving, which turns yarn into cloth. The machine used for weaving is the loom. For decoration, the process of colouring yarn or the finished material is dyeing. For more information of the various steps, see textile manufacturing.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ripstop</span> Reinforced woven fabric

Ripstop fabrics are woven fabrics, often made of nylon, using a reinforcing technique that makes them more resistant to tearing and ripping. During weaving, stronger reinforcement yarns are interwoven at regular intervals in a crosshatch pattern. The intervals are typically 5 to 8 millimeters. Thin and lightweight ripstop fabrics have a two-dimensional structure due to the thicker yarns being interwoven in thinner cloth. Older lightweight ripstop fabrics display the thicker interlocking thread patterns in the material quite prominently, but more modern weaving techniques make the ripstop threads less obvious. A similar effect can be achieved by weaving two or three fine yarns together at smaller intervals.

Textile manufacturing is one of the oldest human activities. The oldest known textiles date back to about 5000 B.C. In order to make textiles, the first requirement is a source of fibre from which a yarn can be made, primarily by spinning. The yarn is processed by knitting or weaving to create cloth. The machine used for weaving is the loom. Cloth is finished by what are described as wet process to become fabric. The fabric may be dyed, printed or decorated by embroidering with coloured yarns.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thread (yarn)</span> Type of yarn used for sewing

A thread is a long strand of material, often composed of several filaments or fibres, used for joining, creating or decorating textiles. In early humanity Egyptians were known for creating thread using plant fibers, wool and hair. Today, thread can also be made of many different materials including but not limited to cotton, wool, linen, nylon, silk, polyester etc. There are also metal threads, which can be made of fine wire.

Dimensional stability pertains to a fabric's ability to maintain its initial size and shape even after undergoing wear and care, which is a desirable property. Dimension stability in fabrics or Shrinkage is the change of dimensions in textile products when they are washed or relaxed. The change is always expressed relative to the dimensions before the exposure of washing or relaxing. Shrinkage is also called residual shrinkage and measured in percentage. The major cause of shrinkages is the release of stresses and strains introduced in manufacturing processes. Textile manufacturing is based on the conversion of fiber into yarn, yarn into fabric, includes spinning, weaving, or knitting, etc. The fabric passes through many inevitable changes and mechanical forces during this journey. When the products are immersed in water, the water acts as a relaxing medium, and all stresses and strains are relaxed and the fabric tries to come back to its original state.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Piece goods</span> Textile piece goods

Piece goods were the textile materials sold in cut pieces as per the buyer's specification. The piece goods were either cut from a fabric roll or produced with a certain length, also called yard goods. Various textiles such as cotton, wool, silk, etc., were traded in terms of piece goods. The prices were determined as per the fabric quality.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pick glass</span> A magnifying glass helpful in counting thread count

A pick glass also known as a piece glass is a magnifying glass helpful in counting thread count. It is used to determine the number of yarns in warp and weft in woven fabrics and courses and wales in knitted fabrics. Compact constructions of fabrics may have a higher thread count. That is also called "cloth count."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Textile testing</span> Process of measuring the properties and performance of textiles

Textile testing is the process of measuring the properties and performance of textile materials—textile testing includes physical and chemical testing of raw materials to finished products.


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