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Sewing Terms Glossary/Dictionary A Alteration: Changing the fit or length, etc. of a garment. Apparel: Refers to Clothing.

Applique: A decorative piece of fabric sewn on top of another after folding under a small bit of the fabric to create a clean edge. Armscye: Refers to the armhole. The word is derived from the term "arm's eye", as in the eye of a needle. In this case, though, the arm goes through, not the thread. Awl: A tool with pointed tip used to push out corners when fabric is turned, as when making a collar. B Backing: Generally a quilting term that defines the fabric used as the back layer of the quilt. Can also be used to describe the layer of fabric used inside a wearable art vest, etc. Backstitch: Extra stitching back and forth at the beginning and end of a machine sewn seam to anchor the seam in place; it involves a couple of extra stitches back and forth. Back-tack: A few stitches taken in reverse to secure a line of stitching. Ballpoint Needle: Used to penetrate knit fabrics without snagging or damaging the fabric. Bar Tack: A group of back and forth, closely sewn stitches that is used to tack a belt loop or similar item in place. Often used in buttonhole making. Baste: temporarily joining fabric together using large stiches that you can remove easily. Baste-marking: Marking with hand- or machine-basting. Batting: Polyester fiberfill, cotton, wool, or other material that is flattened and usually on a roll and purchased in precut lengths or by the yard. Used in quilting, or to make a quilted effect in clothing or other sewing projects. Bias: The "stretchiest" part of the fabric that runs diagonally to the straight grain. Bias Tape: a strip of fabric cut from the bias. It is usually folded on 2 edges and at times folded again for use as edging. The bias cut allows it to smoothly follow curves. Blind Hem Stitch: A sewing stitch that is not seen on the right side of the fabric, by picking up one or several threads of the fabric at a time rather

Bobbin: The part of a sewing machine that holds the bottom thread.. hems. Used in upholstery and clothing. Bodice: The part of a pattern or garment from shoulder to waist. Usually covered with bias strips of fabric for decorative applications.think fancy white cloth napkins. A woven. or similar material. Normally is a heavier fabric Buckram: Strong. Brocade: A woven. rayon or synthetic blends. cuff. . Usually silk. etc. hem or other edge. Cording: A twisted or woven string that is used primarily in piping and to act as a drawstring in a jacket hood. such as seams and darts. usually along a waistline. waistband.than going all the way through the fabric. patterned fabric. D Damask: Similar to brocade but is finer. Buttonhole: A bound slit in the fabric to allow the passage of a button for closure. that shapes and holds a garment together (as distinct from stay-stitching. linen. a drawstring. Crocking: Color rubbing off. Butting: Placing two edges together so they touch but do not overlap. or as stabilizer for frog closures. It is usually under the area the needle penetrates and it loops with the needle thread to form a locked stitch. seams. Construction stitching: Stitching. using all one color . A raised pattern in relief against the background. May use metallic treads as part of the pattern. patterned fabric using multi-colored threads. C Casing: A fabric envelope for encasing elastic. cotton. as in a contour waistband. Contour: Denotes have a curve. heavy woven fabric used for stiffening baseball cap brims and some drapery applications. Darn: To repair a hole (as in socks) by using stitches going back and forth that fill the hole. Clean-finishing: Edge of fabric turned under once and stitched. Used on edges of facings. finishing. Cutting Line: On a pattern piece the cutting line is the outer dark line upon which you cut.). etc. thiner.

Fashion fabric: the outer fabric in a garment. vests. Entredeux: A French word meaning "between two". Drape/Drapes: Drape describes the way fabric hangs and falls from the body. Edgestitching: A row of stitching on the edge of a garment. charms. which is 9" x 45". Fat Quarter: Usually a quilting term. Mostly used on fabrics that cannot be pressed. a fat quarter is 1/4 yard of fabric. unless you are using a contrast color in your design. Thread should match the fabric color. but often used for wearable art. The allowance added to a body measurement to make a garment wearable. Feed Dog: The "teeth" under the plate on the sewing machine that move fabric as it is sewn.Dart: A V-shaped. fold line or finished edge. Embellish: Adding special stitching. F Fabric Diagonals: Fabric that is printed on a diagona. Empire Waist: Higher than normal waist seam and fits under the bust. smaller garments. Drapes are a formal window covering hung from drapery rods. Finger-pressing: Opening seam allowances with the thumbnail. . Facing: Fabric sewn on the raw edge of a garment piece that is turned under and serves as a finish for the edge as well. about 18" x 22" as opposed to a regular 1/4 yard. Seam ends either under the bust or a few inches down. Another method is to join two ribbons with a piece of lace. 2. Many patterns are not suitable for diagonal fabrics. usually 1/8 inchor less from a seam line. due to the pattern design it would be impossible to match diagonal prints or designs. appliques. or other decorations to your sewing project. tapered adjustment to a pattern to allow for more fullness in the bust area or less fullness in other areas (waist. back). Often it's a piece of lightweight fabric joined to another piece of lightweight fabric with a delicate bit of lace. Directional Stitching: Maintains pattern shapes by stitching in a particular direction. Making one piece of fabric fit to another by evenly pulling in on the extra fabric without making any gathers or tucks in the larger piece of fabric. E Ease: 1.

etc. Fusible (webbing. Grain or Grainline: The way threads make up the fabric. French Curve: A tool used for drafting curves when altering or creating sewing patterns or designs. or any other method of finishing the edge so it doesn't ravel or cause a bulky problem. Fold Line: Many pattern pieces are placed on the fold of a piece of fabric. with or without reinforcement by stitching. Give: the degree of elasticity in a fabric or a thread. Gusset: A bit of fabric sewn into a seamline to provide fullness (to let a garment out) or decoration. as used on jeans. A lot of gussets were used in the early 1950's that were diamond shaped and were used under the arm of a dress to give it more movement. Ham: Also known as a dressmaker's ham or tailor's ham. G Gather: A way of pulling fabric together to create fullness.darts. due to a heat-activated glue on one side. This is the actual fold of the fabric off the bolt or a fold of your own so that you have a pattern piece that is cut out without a center seam. H Hair Canvas: A high quality interfacing which is recommended to use for areas such as firm jacket rolled collars. for example) or may be an all purpose foot used for most machine stitching needs. . This is a tightly stuffed. Grade Seam or Grading: To trim one layer of the seam allowance shorter than the other to eliminage bulk. "ham" shaped item that is used at the ironing board to support and provide the appropriate molding for pressing curved areas . princess seams. serging the edge. etc. interfacing. Flat Felled Seam: A very durable seam. French Seam: A completely enclosed seam. Hand: The feel and drape of a fabric. The foot can have special properties (zipper foot used for zippers or cording.): Has the characteristic of being able to be ironed on. Foot: The piece of the sewing machine that presses down on the fabric as it is moved by the feed dogs below. sleeves. usually permanently.Finish (an edge): Turning an edge under 1/4" and stitching.

to hide the seam construction. and to provide decorative effect. to allow for ease of putting a garment on or taking it off. Usually used in collars. Interfacing can be fusible (using your iron to release an adhesive) or not (sewn in).) or a sewing machine specifically . etc. damask and tapestries are all types of Jacquard fabrics. Iron: An iron is a tool that is used to straighten or press fabric. The hook and eye is used at the upper back of many dresses and often on lingerie. Allows the presser foot to "jump" the seam as if it was level with the rest of the denim. K Khaki: A type of light brown fabric with a green tinge. M Machine embroidery: Decorative stitching created by using a regular sewing machine (zig zag. satin stitch. Hong Kong Finish: Enclosing a seam with bias binding. and facings. Interlining: a layer of fabric added to a lining for warmth. Hook & Eye Closure: A type of closure that employs a small hook on one side and a loop made of fabric or metal on the other. cuffs. or the color of such fabric. L Lining: Used to finish the inside of a garment. The iron can be used with or without steam. some waistbands and pockets. Jean Jumper: A small piece of plastic made to ease sewing seams on denim by holding the presser foot up ever so slightly. Works well with all thick fabrics.Hem: Fabric that it turned up on the lower edge of a garment or sleeve to provide a finished edge. plackets. J Jacquard: The name of the man who invented the type of loom that makes Jacquards. Brocade. I Inseam: Seam inside the leg of pants that runs from the crotch to the hem. Interfacing: Fabric used between layers of fabric to provide stabilization and form.

There are wing needles. This can be done with sew-on patches. neatly squaring the corners while creating a diagonal seam from the point of the corner to the inside edge. felt. wedge needles. stitching by machine or by hand. There are sewing machines made to do overlock stitching. various interfacings. iron-on patches. back quilts. slips. Notion: A term used for any item used for sewing other than the fabric and the machine. Non-woven Fabric: A fabric not woven or knitted from thread or yarn. . If smoothed with the hand in one direction. and other items. Miter: Mitering a corner makes a smooth finish to a 90-degree corner. care should be taken to keep fabric pieces going in the same direction nap-wise unless one is intentionally mixing naps and piles to produce a different kind of look. When cutting out a pattern. N Nap: The "fuzzy" part of a fabric that is usually directional in nature. Needle: Sewing machine needles come in a variety of sizes and types ball point and sharps are the two major categories. They are commonly cut outward and should be matched on seams when joining for sewing. There are also all purpose needles. lingerie. include fake leather and suede. Usually. Use a special sewing foot for this or turn the hem up with your fingers. but it is recommended that you use ball point or regular rather than all purpose. split or other problem with a garment. the notch is shown on a pattern with a dark diamond. Ball point is used for knits and regular sharp needles are used for nonstretch fabrics. as well as twin needles for some fancier stitching. such as darning. napkins. Mend: To repair or fix a hole. Narrow Hem: A narrow hem is one that is approximately 1/8" or 1/4" and is used on men's shirts. Notch: A small cut into the seam allowance which will allow fabric to bend at curves and corners. needles of varying sizes and shapes. O Overlock: An overcast stitch to prevent ravelling of fabric. Non-woven fabrics. Corderoy and velvet are good examples of fabric which has a nap or a pile. tear. or to make draft or trial garments. Muslin: A generally inexpensive woven fabric used to make crafts. nap is typically shiny in one direction and not shiny in the other.designed for machine embroidery.

Pressing is not moving back and forth on fabric with the iron. Pins: Pins are used for temporary basting of fabric. Lay all pattern pieces so that the pile is going in it's natural direction. Then lower the presserfoot and start sewing. the down pile would be down the leg. This can be encased in seams for a nice effect. This can be done by hand or machine. jam the machine. Pintuck: Narrow sewn rows of fabric that give a decorative raised look to a garment. Placket: A V-shaped opening at the end of a sleeve that is finished with a bias strip before the cuff is attached. often used for decorative edging on garments or projects. Press: Using an iron in a press/pick up/move/press/ pattern. they could cause stains where they touch the fabric. or cause other problems). Pinking Shears: Shears with a V shape along the cutting edge used to cut fabric and help it remain ravel-free. Pattern Weights: Used on paper patterns to secure them instead of pinning a pattern to the fabric. is not sewn except on the top edge (as in a skirt or slacks waistband). P Pattern Layout: Directions for the way to lay out a pattern for best use of your fabric. They are used to hold patterns in place while cutting and to hold fabrics together while stitching (it is not recommended to machine sew over pins as they have been known to break your sewing machine needle. Some bloused are made with pin tucking on the bodice for a more tailored look. raise the presserfoot and turn the fabric at a 45 degree angle. Pleat: A fold in fabric that is either inverted or folded outward. and provides decorative or functional fullness.Overcasting or Overstitching: Stitching done over a seam to prevent ravelling. Piping: A cord covered with bias fabric. Presser Foot: The part of the sewing machine that holds the fabric in . Preshrinking: Laundering and drying the fabric before you begin cutting or sewing. large safety pins are used to baste quilt layers before the final quilting. Often. Pivot: To leave the needle in fabric. For example. Care should be taken to use a pin that will not leave a large hole and to not leave pins in fabric too long. Pile: The nap of the fabric.

Back to Top S Satin Stitch: A zig zag stitch with a shortened stitch length to create stitches that look horizontal to each other. you may need to sew next to it. You can also reinforce a seam with bit of seam or bias tape. Princess Seams: Shaped seams that run down the front side of a dresses or shirt to fit a garment closely. A quilt does not have to be rectangular. Use them in place of as it is being sewn and fed through by the feed dogs. Prick Stitch: Used on fabrics such as velvet where everything shows. R Raw (edge): The edge of fabric that is not stitched or finished. Many quilts hang on the wall as art quilts and are all kinds of shapes and sizes. Take a small backstitch sewn on the right side of the fabric and do the remaining backstitching on the wrong side. to enclose the raw edge. Also refers to a serger stitch that rolls to fabric for you. and the determination and appropriate markings are then made by the person doing the pattern cutting and sewing. They are very elegant. Running Stitch: A simple stitch made by running the thread over and under the fabric. A bed covering or similar large rectangular piece of quilting work is called a quilt. Seam: The result when two pieces of fabric are sewn together along a line. There are instances of fabric with no right or wrong side visible. Reinforce (seam): To reinforce a seam. Q Quilting: A method of sewing or tying two layers of cloth with a layer of insulating batting in between. however. Right Side: The right side of the fabric is the design side. Rolled Hem: A hem that is folded twice over. Seam Allowance: The width of fabric that is between the seam stitching and the cut edge. This stitch is often used for basting or as the basis (marking) for another more decorative stitch. . but not quite. almost on top of it.

The method of fitting a sleeve into a top give a better range of movement and less bunk of fabric under the arm. The bottom of the zipper has metal tabs for starting the pull. Serger/Overlocker: A type of sewing machine which cuts and finishes the seam allowance in one step. Set in Sleeves: Standard sleeves seen in most garments today. Selvage: The edge of raw fabric which is finished and unable to fray. cardboard tube spools. Snips: Very small cutting tool resembling scissors used to snip threads. Stability: The degree to which a fabric resists pulling out shape. as well as others. the bottom usually. Sizing: Fabric finish that provides crispness without stiffness. Usually used with hand sewing or portable projects. Other buttons can be "shanked" by wrapping thread under the button to create a shank. Stay: A tape added to a garment part to keep it in shape. The sleeve cap (top of the sleeve pattern) curves out to smoothly fit the sleeve. There are wooden spools.Self-Fabric: The fabric from which the garment is made. The stitches it makes are found in most manufactured clothing and is a great stretch stitch. whether by machine or by hand. Sloper: A trial pattern. Separating Zipper: A zipper which completely separates. and cone spools. and other methods of individual taste and style. using computer programs such as CAD and pattern making software. The armhole is curved in so the top of the sleeve actually sits at your shoulder top. Staystitching: Stitching done to stabilize fabric and helps pieces fit together even after handling. Slit: An open part of a seam. often found in skirt side or back seams. . Slopers can be created through trial and error. Spool: The holder of thread. Shrinkage: Some fabrics become tighter/smaller when washed and dried. Stash: Collection of fabric. a custom-fitted muslin or gingham pattern which has been altered for the individual. while a regular zipper is clamped together so it cannot separate. Shank Button: A button with space left between the button and fabric. such as for a jacket or sweater. a light starch finish. plastic spools.

regular sewing is about 11-12 stitches per inch. drawn through fabric layer/s and then snipped. Back to Top T Tack: A temporary stitch to hold pieces together. Rarely does one need to adjust bobbin tension.Stitch in the Ditch: A method of understitching and also as a form of simple machine quilting for craft projects. Markings are on both sides of the tape. Tracing ink from the tracing paper does not always wash out and . They can be used to mark pattern pieces for darts. Straight Stitch: Stitching made with single forward stitches. Your sewing machine manual will show you the appropriate settings and offer you examples of what the threads should look like on the right and wrong sides of your stitching. embroidery. It has an ink-type substance on one side for marking fabric with the wheel. There are two types of tension on your sewing machine . visible on the finished product. usually made of a covered cloth material.). Tracing Paper: A type of paper made especially to be used with a tracing wheel. leaving tails of thread on top and on the bottom of the fabric as a marking for later use. Tape (measuring): Flexible. This is the regular stitch that most sewing machines make and may or may not require a special presser foot. Tailor's Tack A tailor's tack is essentially two threads in a needle. and is worn on the hand that is using the needle for sewing (hems. Top Stitch: A row of stitching. It is best to read your sewing machine manual for specifics. Can be functional or decorative. It is a method of stitching close to a seam allowance or in the seam itself in order to hold it down. etc. Tacking is also known as a term for starting off a seam with a few stitches back and forth for stabilizing. etc. Thimble: A protective device for your middle finger when doing hand sewing. Stitch Length: In general. Tension: Refers to the pressure being placed on your needle and bobbin thread by your machine. basting. usually removed after final stitching. basting/gathering/bunching/sleeve easing is about 6 stitches per inch (plus or minus 1 or 2 stitches for some applications).the thread and bobbin tensions. and has a cover on each end. buttonholes. about 60" long (152 cm). Test Seam: A seam done on a scrap of the garment fabric to test the machine stitch.

clothing made to be unique. sometimes known as the lengthwise grain. It provides an extra bit of hold from the top that works with the feed dogs below the fabric. pushing the fabric during the sewing process. It "walks" the fabric. Care needs to be taken not to press too hard and cut the pattern. usually quilted. It also works well with slippery fabrics that may need control not available with the feed dogs only. the pattern markings that need to be transferred placed upon the paper. Warp: Threads running the length of a woven fabric. Also see pin tuck. Back to Top V View: Most patterns show different variations on the pattern package. Style Patterns tend to call this a "model" instead. often seen in heirloom sewing. The wheel itself looks a bit like a pizza cutter with spikes. tracing paper.this needs to be taken into consideration as well. or the fabric. Each variation is called a "view". ribbon. and then the markings are traced with the wheel. Back to Top U Underlining: Lining used to add body to a garment. the bodice of a woman's blouse or a man's formal shirt. Trim: Any decorative item. Tuck: A method of sewing fabric together resulting in a raised seam. Trim is also used to define the act of trimming excess seam allowances or fabric with scissors. and functional. Tracing Wheel: Used with tracing paper. Under Stitching: Stitching done very close to the seam line. . lace that is put on a garment or craft item that is being sewn. Back to Top W Walking Foot: An attachment for the sewing machine that enables smoother sewing when using several layers or fabric. Weft: Threads running at right angles to the length of a woven fabric. The paper is placed upon the fabric with the "ink" side down. beautiful. Wearable Art: Decorative.

Available as single or doubles. can be single or double welt. such as creating entredeux. Z Zig Zag: A stitch that goes one way (zig) and then the other (zag) and provides a nice finish to a seam to prevent raveling. Wing Needle: A needle with wide. flared sides used to create holes in tightly woven fabrics. Back to Top X. There are instances of fabric with no wrong side visible. . Y. can be a decorative addition to any garment. Wrong Side: The wrong side of the fabric is the side upon which there is no design. wing shaped. and can allow for give with knits.sometimes known as the cross grain. and the determination and appropriate markings are then made by the person doing the pattern cutting and sewing. Welt: A method of covering the raw edges of a pocket or other opening.