Glossary of Sewing terms (in progress!)

Jump to: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Note -- this Glossary is a "work in progress" and will be updated regularly.

A

  • Allowance - Generally used with regards to seams, an allowance is the space between two edges of something, for example, between the seam and the raw edge.


B

  • Baste A means of temporarily attaching two or more pieces of fabric together to hold them in place before a more permanent stitch can be put in place. More here...
  • Bias Tape - a strip of fabric that is cut at a 45° angle from the grain of the fabric. Single-fold bias tape can be used to finish a raw edge.
  • Bind (aka Finish) A stitch on a raw edge of fabric to prevent the fabric from fraying and unraveling.
  • Bolt - How fabric is presented in a store, the bolt is the cardboard spindle that the fabric is wound around. Fabric "off the bolt" is fresh, perfectly pressed, and usually needs to be put through a wash cycle to shrink it before you cut it out!
  • Border-Print A type of fabric design that has a different design along the selvage borders than it does in the middle. These prints require special patterns.

C


D

  • D Term

E

  • Easestitch - An un-fixed straight stitch used to create a small gather along the edge of a fabric to shrink a larger piece of fabric into a smaller piece of fabric. Used primarily in sleeves. More here...
  • Easing in Fullness - A technique to match a larger piece of fabric to a smaller piece of fabric. This can be done with an easestitch (see above link) or by basting your pieces on a curved piece.
F
  • Finish - folding or seaming a Raw Edge of your fabric to show a clean line on the exterior of the garment, and stitching or encasing the raw edge to prevent the fabric from fraying or unraveling over time. There are many different ways of finishing.
  • Fixing - Creating a knot at the beginning and/or end of a stitch in order to prevent that stitch from coming away later. More here..
  • French Seam - A seam that encloses the raw edge inside of the seam allowance. French seams are used when you have fabric that is very lightweight or see-thru (like a chiffon), or when you are doing an unlined jacket or other garment where the interior of the garment may become visible on the outside.
  • Fusible Interfacing - Interfacing that is attached to the fabric by means of a glue that is heat-activated by the iron. (see Interfacing)
G

  • Grain The direction the weave or knit of the fabric travels in.


H

  • Hem - A finishing technique for the bottom of a garment. The fabric is folded under itself and stitched into place. This is intended to even out (or otherwise clean up) any opening: The bottom of a pair of pants or a dress, the bottom edge of a shirt, or the cuffs of a sleeve. Hems can have decorative properties, but for a beginner a hem simply finishes and evens out the bottom of the garment.


I

  • Interfacing - a woven material of variable weight used to reinforce a part of a pattern such as a collar or lapel. Comes in both fusible and sew-in varieties.


J

  • J Term


K

  • Kimono Sleeves - a style of sleeve that involves the sleeve being cut as one piece with the bodice, in a wide sloping shape. 


L

  • L Term


M

  • M Term


Cut an interior notch out along the
red dotted line -- cutting out the full
triangle is unnecessary.
N

  • Notch - A small cut-in or cut-out along a fabric's edge. When cutting out a pattern, you want to cut out the notch as well. When you go to line up a piece to its mate to create a seam, you will want to match the notches first. More here...


O

  • Overlock - A finishing method on a raw edge that creates a thread along the raw edge to "lock" the edge into place and prevent the fabric from fraying. More here...


P

  • Pin Baste pinning two or more pieces of fabric together to hold them together temporarily prior to creating a more permanent stitch. More here...
  • Pink / Pinking - a method of finishing a raw edge that uses a special pair of scissors (pinking shears) to cut a saw-tooth pattern down the raw edge.


Q

  • Q Term


R

  • Raglan sleeves - A sleeve that joins the body of the shirt from the underarm all the way to the collar, rather than at the top of the shoulder.
  • Raw Edge (aka Cut Edge) - an edge of fabric that has been cut with scissors and has not been secured/finished by hemming, seam, or selvage.


S

  • Seam - A stitch that will hold together two or more pieces of fabric. For the most part, we will be doing plain seams, which involve a single stitch. More here...
  • Seam Allowance - The space between the cut edge of a pattern piece and the seam stitch. The standard allowance width is ?" (1.5 cm)  (see Allowance)
  • Seam Gauge - A tool used to measure the distance from a cut edge or existing stitch to your seam. Necessary equipment!
  • Seam Ripper - A tool used to remove an existing seam. Necessary equipment!
  • Selvage - The edge of the fabric that the weaving machine self-finishes to prevent the fabric from unraveling on the bolt. Usually identifiable as a white or off-color ribbon along the edge of the fabric. For any woven fabric, the selvage will always be parallel to the grain of the fabric, and is important to measure and fold against evenly to have clothing that will hang right.
  • Serge
  • Set-In Sleeve - A standard sleeve style where shirt body creates an armhole in which the sleeve is joined to the shirt, creating a seam that encircles the shoulder joint from underarm to the top of the shoulder.
  • Single-Fold Bias Tape (see Bias Tape)
  • Slipstitch - A hand-stitch that joins multiple pieces of fabric together "invisibly" by having the needle enter from the back, and then "slip off" before emerging from the frontmost layer, before returning to the back. More here...
  • Staystitch - A straight-stitch along the edge of a curve (usually a neckline) to prevent the fabric from stretching or pulling during sewing. More here... 
  • Stitch in the Ditch - Stitching down the "ditch" created by a previous seam. More here...
  • Straightstitch - A standard stitch that travels in a straight line, without the needle shifting from side to side.


T
  • Topstitch - A straight-stitch stitch along the outside of multiple layers of fabric to reinforce a seam or add a visible structural line to the garment. More here...
  • Trim Seam - Trimming down the seam allowance after finishing a seam to reduce the bulk on a later fold. More here...


U

  • Understitch - A straight-stitch underneath the outer layer of fabric to reinforce a seam invisibly. More here...


V

  • V Term


W

  • W Term


X

  • X Term


Y



Z

  • Zig-Zag Stitch - A stitch setting where the needle moves side to side as it is stitching, creating a sawtooth or "zig-zag" pattern. A Zig-Zag stitch is a good beginner's finishing stitch.

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