Select a letter

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

A

• A-line gown – Form fitting bodices that flare out from the waistline to a full skirt. These gowns have a seamless waist.

• A-line skirt/fit and flare skirt – A skirt that is fitted at the waist and flares out in an A-line or tulip shape at the hem.

• Alter – To revise a pattern or garment to suit an individual size or a particular design.

• Apparel – Another term for clothing or garments.

• Applique scissors – They are also called duckbill scissors, one blade is wide help safely trim around the edges of the applique.

• Applique’ – To sew a cut piece of fabric, often a design element such as a flower, on top of another larger piece of fabric.

B

• Back drape – A length of material attached either at the shoulder or the waist that flows over the back to floor length. In some cases it is removable.

• Back yoke – A fitted or shaped piece at the top of a skirt or at the shoulder of various garments.

• Backing – This term describes the back of a fabric that has two separate fabrics adhered to each other, for instance, a vinyl fabric with a flannel backing. This is always a quilting term that defines the fabric used as the back layer of the quilt in a sandwich.

• Back stitch – Used at the beginning and end of a machine sewn seam to keep the seam from reopening; it involves a couple of extra stitches back and forth.

• Ball gown – Characterized by a very full skirt that begins at the waist and continues to a formal length. The skirt waist is seamed and can be of various styles.

• Ballpoint needles – Ballpoint needles are made for use with to knit fabrics to penetrate without nicking, damaging or creating a pull in the fabric.

• Ballerina neckline – This is a low neckline that usually occurs with strapless or spaghetti strapped dresses.

• Bandeau/tube top – A band-shaped covering for the breasts.

• Bar tack – A group of closely sewn stitches used to tack a belt loop or similar item in place, also found at either end of buttonhole. A bar tack usually consists of a wide stitch, but the length of the stitch is very short, almost non existent.

• Basque waist/V-waist – This dropped waist starts at or just below the natural waistline, and dips in the center creating a “V” shape.

• Baste/basting – Temporary stitching consisting of long or large stitches used to hold a sewing project in place which is then removed when the permanent sewing is completed.

• Bateau neck/boat neck – A high, wide, straight neckline that runs straight across the front and back, meeting at the shoulders; the same depth in the front and back.

• Batting – Batting is made of fiberfill, cotton, wool, or other material that is flattened and usually on a roll and purchased in pre-cut lengths or by the yard. It’s primary use is as a flat filling in quilted projects to create a soft thin loft. Batting is used as the middle in a quilt sandwich.

• Besom pockets – A pocket sewn inside the garment with access through a welted slit-type opening.

• Bias – The bias runs diagonally to the straight grain of the fabric. This is the part of the fabric with the most stretch.

• Bias cut – Cut diagonally across the grain of a fabric. Used to create garments that follow the body curves closely.

• Bias seam tape or bias binding – Narrow strips of fabric cut on the bias, often turned under and pressed, and used for bindings, facings, or other application where there is a need for stretch or accommodation to curves. Bias tape is used in making piping, binding seams, finishing raw edges, etc. It is often used on the edges of quilts, place mats, and bibs, and on garments around armhole and neckline edges instead of a facing. Commercially available bias tape is available as a simple bias tape, single-fold bias tape, and double-fold bias tape. Single-fold bias tape is bias tape that is folded in half lengthwise on its center line, wrong side together, and pressed. Double-fold bias tape is single-fold bias tape where each half is again folded in half lengthwise (to the center fold), wrong sides together, and pressed.

• Bike tards – A close-fitting, one-piece garment from the top of the torso to the hem of the shorts.

• Blanket stitch – The Blanket Stitch is a stitch used to reinforce the edge of thick materials. It is also called a whip stitch. The technical definition is a decorative stitch used to finish an un-hemmed blanket, because it can be seen on both sides of the blanket. It is now popular for use with fleece and felt as an edging border. A blanket stitch is also used as a decorative embroidery stitch with embroidery thread in use with applique.

• Blind hem stitch – A sewing stitch that is not meant to be seen on the right side of the fabric, this is accomplished by picking up one thread of the fabric at a time.

• Blazer – A long-sleeved sports jacket with lapels.

• Block – A block is the individual unit used in a quilt top. Many blocks can be sewn together to create a quilt.

• Bobbin – A small metal or plastic spool that holds the bottom thread in a sewing machine. It sits under the area the needle penetrates in the bobbin case while it loops with the needle thread to form a locked stitch.

• Bodice – The part of a pattern or garment that runs from the shoulder to the waist.

• Bodkin – This is a long, thick needle with a ballpoint end and a large, thin eye. They can be flat or round and are generally used for threading elastic, ribbon or tape through casings and lace openings.

• Bolero jacket – A loose, waist-length jacket open at the front.

• Bolt – Fabric rolled by the yard on a tube or a rectangular cardboard form when it comes from the manufacturer. On a rectangular bolt, fabric is usually folded right sides together lengthwise. Fabric size on a bolt is usually 36″ – 64″ wide. Fabric yardage on a bolt could be from 15 – 50 yards.

• Boning – Originally whalebone or a flexible stiffening strip used as a corset stay.

• Boot-cut – Cut below the belly button and slightly flares from the knee to the ankle.

• Box pleat – A pleat style featuring two straight fabric folds facing in opposite directions.

• Boy-leg – Shorts, undergarments, or swimwear that has a close fitting leg that reaches half way down the thigh.

• Bradawl – Tool with pointed tip used to push out corners when fabric is turned (ie; when making a collar).

• broomstick – A skirt or dress that is characterized by numerous pleats and crinkled material.

• Buckram – Strong, heavy woven fabric used for stiffening baseball cap brims, drapery and handbags. Sometimes referred to as a form of interfacing.

• Butting – Bringing two edges of fabric together so they touch, but do not overlap.

• Buttonholes – A slit in the fabric that is bound by thread to allow a button to pass through for closing a garment. Buttonholes are mostly made by machine these days, but some people still prefer to make them by hand, using a special buttonhole stitch.

C

• Camisole – A short, sleeveless garment for women.

• Camp pockets – Pockets that are sewn to the outside of the garment, usually squared off and characterized by seaming.

• Cap sleeve – A small, short sleeve which sits on the shoulder, either forming a stiff cap or falling on to the arm to provide minimal coverage.

• Capri pants – Fairly straight-cut pants, tapered to the mid-calf.

• Cardigan jacket – A usually collarless sweater or jacket that opens the full length of the center front.

• Cargo – Characterized by sporting a large pocket usually with a flap and a pleat.

• Carpenter pants/shorts – Five-pocket pants characterized by a “hammer holder,” a stretch of material connecting the outside seam to the back pocket.

• Casing – A fabric envelope for encasing elastic, or a drawstring, usually along a waistline, cuff, or hemline. Bias seam binding can be used as a casing or the fabric at the end of the waistline or hemline can be folded over and sewn to create a casing.

• Cathedral train – (Also known as a monarch train); a cascading train extending six to eight feet behind the gown, for the most formal weddings.

• Chapel train – The most popular of all train lengths, it flows from three to four feet behind the gown.

• Chemise/skimmer – Simply a straight un-belted dress with varying sleeves and length.

• Clip (curve) – Small scissor cuts are clipped into a sewn curve in order to have it lay flat and not bunch up when the project or garment is done. Clips must be made not to go beyond the sewn edge or a hole is created on the project when it is turned to its right side.

• Colourfast – Fabric where the color doesn’t fade or run with wash or wear.

• column skirt/straight skirt – Also referred to as a pencil skirt, this skirt is a straight line with no flare or fullness at the hem or waistline.

• Concealed snap/Velcro/button placket – A slit in a garment where closures are hidden.

• Convertible collar – A rolled collar that can be worn open or closed. Sewn directly to the neckline.

• cording – A twisted or woven “rope” or “string” that is used primarily in piping and to act as a drawstring in a jacket hood or waistband. Cording is covered with bias strips of fabric when used for most decorative applications (such as edging a pillow).

• Corset top/boned bodice – A form-fitting, usually strapless bodice with boning and either laces or snap closures, styled in the fashion of the ladies undergarment of the same name.

• Couture – The designing, marketing and selling of custom sewn clothing for women by designers.

• Covered button – A covered button is a button that you cover by hand in the fabric that is usually the same as the garment. Covered buttons are usually made of metal, consists of two pieces and are found in the notions department of a fabric store. You can also make a covered button using cardboard.

• Cowl neck – A neckline featuring a piece of material attached to a garment at the neck, which may be used as a hood or draped loosely in a swag from shoulder to shoulder at the front neckline or back.

• Crew neck – A round neck with ribbed banding that fits close to the base of the neck.

• Crinoline – Petticoats stiffened with horse-hair to enable the bell-like skirts of the early nineteenth century, that was eventually replaced with the bustle.

• Cropped top/jacket – Hem is cut just above the waist.

• Cutting board – Cutting boards are usually large folded boards made of cardboard. They come in handy if you don’t have a large cutting surface available to you. Once opened, they can be placed on a bed for your cutting needs and then refolded and stored neatly in a closet. Cutting mats are similar but are usually placed on a firm surface like a table and used with rotary cutters. The mats are usually smaller in size and made of a soft vinyl that is self healing when cut into.

• Cutting line – On a pattern, the outermost dark line is the line on which you cut. The dotted line inside the cutting line is the line on which you sew.

D

• Darn – To repair a hole by using stitches going back and forth to fill the hole. Some people use special darning tools and balls to keep fabric taut while they make the repair with needle and thread. Some sewing machines come with darning attachments and stitches.

• Dart – A V shaped, tapered adjustment to a pattern to allow for more fullness in the bust area or less fullness in other areas (waist, back). Darts can be creatively placed for fit or design elements.

• Diamond neck – A diamond-shaped cutout that fastens at the front or back neckline.

• Dolman sleeve – Cut as an extension of the bodice, the dolman sleeve is designed without a socket for the shoulder, creating a deep, wide armhole that reaches from the waist to a narrowed wrist. Also called a bat-wing sleeve.

• Double-breasted – Having one-half of the front lapped over the other, and usually has a double row of buttons and a single row of buttonholes.

• Double-tee top – A layered look with one T-shirt over another.

• Drape – Drape or draping describes the way fabric hangs and falls from the body.

• Draped bodice – An extra piece of material is draped over the bust line.

• Dropped waist/low waist – A waistline that is sewn below the body’s natural waistline.

• Dropped shoulders – Characterized by the shoulder/sleeve seam falling off the shoulder.

• Duct tape double – A body form made out of mostly duct tape that conforms exactly to the shape of your body because the tape is wound around it and then removed as a whole.

E

• Ease – A way of sewing a length of fabric into a bit of a smaller space without resulting in gathers or puckers. Using your fingers to gently glide the fabric through the machine moving it as you go.

• Edge stitch – A stitch sewn 1/8″ from the folded or seamed edge.

• Embellish – Additional stitching, appliques, charms, beads or other decorations added to your sewing project.

• Empire bodice- A bodice that ends just below the bust, sometimes low-cut and gathered.

• Empire seams – A seam that is sewn directly below the bust line.

• Empire waist – This waistline begins just below the bust.

• Entredeux – French word meaning “between two”. Often it’s a piece of lightweight fabric joined to another piece of lightweight fabric with a delicate bit of lace. Another method is to join two ribbons with a piece of lace.

• Eyelet – A small hole in the fabric finished with thread, metal, cord.

F

• 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.

• Fat quarter – A fat quarter is ¼ yard of fabric, about 18″ x 22″ as opposed to a regular ¼ yard, which is 9″ x 45″. Fat quarters allow quick and colorful stash building.

• Feed dog – The “teeth” under the plate on the sewing machine that move fabric as it is sewn.

• Finger pressing – Opening a seam with your hands and pressing or rubbing the seam open with your fingers. Sometimes used in craft projects or small areas on a garment.

• Finish (an edge) – Opening a seam with your hands and pressing or rubbing the seam open with your fingers. Sometimes used in craft projects or small areas on a garment.

• Fishtail train – Fitted around the hips and flares out from the knee to the hemline.

• Fitted point sleeve – A long narrow sleeve that tapers to a point which rests against the back of the hand.

• Flare – Expands outward in shape, as in pants.

• Flat felled seam – A seam created by sewing fabric wrong sides together, trimming one of the seam allowances close to the seam, then turning the other seam allowance under and stitching it over the prior trimmed seam allowance. This is often used for reinforcing seams on pajamas or to reduce bulk in a seam.

• Flat-front pants – Straight pants, often seamless and pocket-less.

• Fly – The fold of cloth that covers a fastening or opening, ie: zipper, buttons at an opening.

• Form-fitting/slim-fit – Straight from waist to ankle except for a slight curve around the hip.

• Fold line – Lots of pattern pieces are placed on the fold of a piece of fabric. This is the actual fold of the fabric off the bolt or a fold you create yourself. The goal is to have a pattern piece that is cut out without a center seam.

• Foot – The piece of the sewing machine that presses down on the fabric as it is moved by the feed dogs below. The foot can have a special use. (zipper foot used for zippers or cording, for example) or may be an all purpose foot used for most machine stitching needs.

• French curve – A tool used for drafting curves when altering or creating sewing patterns or designs. Can be made of plastic or metal.

• French seam – A French seam is a type of sewing seam in which the raw ends of the fabric are tucked for a more professional look. Many seamstresses use French seams on delicate fabrics to prevent raveling. To create a French seam, with wrong sides together sew the seam along the desired edge. Then, closely trim the seam allowance to the stitching line. Next, the fabric is opened and then folded with right sides together, another seam is sewn in closely to the first seam, neatly enclosing the ragged edges of fabric inside the seam.

• Frog closure – Chinese closing of decorative cording or braid. A soft ball of cording or a button is used to complete the closure.

• Fusible (webbing, interfacing, etc.) Fusible simply means to be fused by ironing. Depending on the fabric it can be permanent,you can reinforcement it by stitching. A heat-activated “glue” on one side is what creates the fuse.

G

• Gather – To gather a seam, two parallel lines are sewn on the right side of the fabric, approximately ¼ ” apart. Long tails of thread are left for gathering. The bobbin threads (on the wrong side of the fabric) are held on either end of the seam and gently tugged, gathering the fabric evenly on the threads.

• Gauntlets -Dress gloves extending above the wrist.

• Gaucho – Wide-legged pants or divided skirt reaching mid-calf and worn with boots.

• Gore – A tapering or triangular piece of cloth allowing shape.

• Grading (seams) – Trimming the raw edges of a garment in graduated widths to reduce bulk.

• Grain – The grain-line is the direction of the fabric that runs parallel to the selvage. Patterns have an arrow on them indicating direction of the grain to help to lay out the pattern pieces correctly.

• Grommet – An eyelet reinforced with plastic or metal.

• Gusset – A gusset is a triangular or square piece of fabric inserted into a seam to add additional room to a garment, usually during an alteration.

H

• Halter top – A sleeveless bodice with a high choke or wrap neck that may be backless.

• Ham – Sometimes referred to as a dressmaker’s ham or tailor’s ham, this is a tightly stuffed, “ham” shaped item that is used at the ironing board to support and provide the appropriate molding for pressing curved areas – darts, princess seams, sleeves, etc.

• Handkerchief style – The hem of a blouse or skirt that is gently jagged to form flowing points.

• Haute couture – High and elegant fashion and/or (establishments).

• Hem – The fabric that is turned up on the lower edge of a garment or sleeve to provide a finished edge.

• Hip pockets – Pockets which are sewn on the front of the garment at hip height.

• Hong kong finish – This is a technique used most often with thin fabrics on the hem so as not to add bulk. Bias tape is sewn to the raw edge of the fabric and then once the hem has been folded to the size desired it is sewn to the tape and the garment creating a flat hem. The alternative is to fold the fabric over twice so the raw edge is covered.

• Hollywood waistband – Characterized by a full elasticized back and a side zipper/button closure.

• Hook & eye closure – A 2-part fastening device (as on a garment or a door) consisting of a metal hook that catches over a bar or into a loop.

I

• Illusion bodice – A bodice made of sheer material giving the illusion of no bodice.

• Illusion sleeve – A sleeve made of sheer material giving the illusion of no sleeve.

• Inseam – Seam inside the leg of pants that runs from the crotch to the hem.

• Inset – A fabric or trim which is inserted in a fabric or garment for fashion or fit.

• Interfacing – When a pattern calls for interfacing it is used on the unseen or “wrong” side of the fabric to make the area where it is placed more stiff, also making the fabric less likely to stretch. Interfacing come in a variety of weights and stiffness’s for a multitude of purposes. Generally, the heavier weight a fabric is, the heavier weight an interfacing it will use. Interfacing can be fusible (using your iron to release an adhesive) or not (sewn in).

• Intermission length/Hi-Lo – An intermission-length gown features a hem falling between the knees and ankle; the Hi-Lo variation is a gown of intermission length on the front and floor length or longer in the back.

• Inverted pleat – A pleat style featuring two straight fabric folds that face each other, forming a pleat underlay. Often used at the center front or center back of a garment.

• Iron – An iron is a tool that is used to straighten or press fabric and to open seams. The iron can be used with or without steam.

J

• Jabot – A decoration of ruffles worn down the front of a dress, shirt or blouse. Fastens at the neck.

• Jean jumper – A small piece of plastic made to ease sewing seams on denim by holding the presser foot up ever so slightly. Allows the presser foot to “jump” the seam as if it was level with the rest of the denim. Works well with all thick fabrics.

• Jewel neck – A high round neckline resting simply at the base of the neck.

K

• Kangaroo pocket – A pocket formed by sewing a piece of cloth over the garment leaving two open ends.

• Keyhole neck – A tear shaped or round cutout that fastens at the front or back neckline.

• Kick pleats – Similar to box pleats, but the pleats are further apart and the folds don’t butt together at the back.

• Kimono – A long robe with wide sleeves traditionally worn with a broad sash.

• knife pleats – A pleat where fabric folds all face the same direction. Also known as straight pleats.

• Knit gauge – A ruler designed to measure the crosswise stretch-ability of knit fabric.

L

• Lace – A delicate, unique fabric of flowers or motifs on net. Decorative and has no grain-line.

• Laminated fabric – Two fabrics which are bonded of which one is foam or vinyl.

• Layout – Instructional directions showing pattern piece arrangement of pattern pieces on specific widths of fabric for specific size ranges.

• Leg-of-mutton sleeve – (Also known as a gigot sleeve) a loose, full sleeve, rounded from the shoulder to just below the elbow, then shaped to the arm, often ending in a point at the wrist.

• Lettuce hem – A decorative, frilly finish achieved by stretching a knit fabric while using a zig-zag stitch to sew the edge.

• Lining – Linings are attached at the garment’s waistband neck, arms and sometimes it the hem, it usually hangs free in the garment. It’s generally used to give a finished look to the inside of the garment, prevent seams from raveling, reduce wrinkling, help conceal some figure faults, and make a garment easier to slip on and off.

M

• Machine embroidery – Decorative stitching created by using a regular sewing machine (zig zag, satin stitch, etc.) or a sewing machine specifically designed for machine embroidery. Some machines do both.

• Maillot – A woman’s one-piece bathing suit.

• Mandarin collar – A short, stand-up collar, adopted from the close-fitting Asian collar.

• Marking – The transfer of symbols and instructions from pattern to fabric by various means. i.e. tracing wheel and paper, chalk, wax, or tailor tacks.

• Mend – To repair or fix a hole, tear, split or other problem with a garment. This can be done with sew-on patches, iron-on patches, stitching by machine or hand in a variety of manners, or whatever method is easiest.

• Mermaid – This skirt hugs the body until it reaches the knees or just below and then ends in a dramatic flare.

• Metallic thread – Shiny silver or gold thread for decorative sewing by machine or by hand.

• Miter – Mitering a corner makes a smooth, professional finish to a 90-degree corner, neatly squaring the corners while creating a diagonal seam from the point of the corner to the inside edge. Mitering is mostly used for the corners of quilts.

• Muslin – An inexpensive woven fabric used to make crafts and back quilts. Muslin is often used to sew a pattern together for the first time, avoiding any problems before cutting and sewing more expensive fabric.

N

• Nap – Nap is the “fuzzy” part of a fabric that is usually in one direction. Corduroy and velvet are good examples of fabric which has a nap or a pile. If smoothed with the hand, nap is typically shiny in one direction and not shiny in the other. When cutting out a pattern, fabric pieces need to go in the same direction “nap-wise”.

• Narrow hem – A narrow hem is one that is approximately ¼ or smaller and is used on men’s shirts, slips, lingerie, napkins, and other items that need just a hint of a hem. Use a special sewing foot for this or turn the hem up with your fingers.

• Natural waist – A seam or waistband that secures or falls at the natural curve of the body, which is the indentation between the hips and the rib cage.

• Notch – A notch is found on a pattern and shown with a dark diamond. They can be cut around outwardly or notched inwardly and should be matched on seams when joining for sewing.

• Notched collar – A two-piece collar that can be only worn open.

• Notion – A notion is any item used for sewing other than the fabric and the machine. For example: thread, snaps, hooks, needles, zippers and other various tools.

O

• off-the-shoulder neck – A neckline that lies gently hovering across the top of the bustline with the shoulders uncovered or able to be seen through the sheer yoke of net or organza attached to a high collar.

• Overcasting – This is stitching done on the edge of the seam to prevent raveling. This is usually accomplished with a zig-zag stitch. Once the seam has been pressed open and the over stitching is visible it gives a very professional look to the piece. An even more formal way to accomplish this is with a “French Seam”. A sewing machine called a “Serger” can be used to accomplish this also.

• Overlock – An overcast stitch to prevent raveling of fabric. There are sewing machines made to do over-lock stitching.

• Overlock machine – A type of sewing machine that sews seams, trims, and overcasts the raw edges all in one step. Also called a Serger.

• Over-skirt – A skirt worn over another skirt.

P

• Pattern weights – Weights used on paper patterns instead of pinning a pattern to the fabric.

• Peasant top – Romantic style often characterized with a low neckline, ruffles, or free flowing material.

• Peek-a-boo – Any part of the garment which has been cut out to reveal skin.

• Petticoat – An underskirt usually a little shorter than outer clothing and often made with a ruffled, pleated, or lace edge.

• Pieced – A look created by sewing several pieces of material together to form the garment, much like a quilt.

• Pile – The nap of the fabric. Lay all pattern pieces so that the pile is going in its natural direction. For example, the down pile would be down the leg.

• Pinafore – Originally used to protect dresses from dirt, it was adopted as a fashion piece and worn as a sleeveless dress or over a blouse.

• Pin tuck – Narrow sewn rows of fabric that give a decorative raised look to a garment.

• Pinking shears – Shears with a V shape along the cutting edge used to cut fabric to keep it ravel-free. Pinking shears are also used as an embellishing tool.

• Pins – Pins are used for temporary basting of fabric. They are used to hold patterns in place while cutting and to hold fabrics together while stitching (machine sewing over pins can break your sewing machine needle). Often, large safety pins are used to baste quilt layers before the final quilting. Care should be taken to use a pin that will not leave a large hole and to not leave pins in fabric too long; they could cause stains where they touch the fabric.

• Piping – A cord covered with bias fabric, often used for decorative edging on garments or projects. This can be encased in seams for a nice effect.

• Pivot – To leave the needle in fabric, raise the presser foot and turn the fabric at a 45 degree angle. Then lower the presser foot and start sewing.

• Placket – The piece of cloth that reinforces a split or opening in a garment; that usually also serves as the closure.

• Pleat – Fabric folds that control fullness in a garment. Variations include box, inverted and knife pleats.

• Point collar – A collar with ties used to attach women’s sleeves to their gowns.

• Preshrink – It is a good idea to wash your fabric in the manner in which your garment will be washed before you cut it and sew it. If you are making a craft that will not be washed, you don’t necessarily need to do this. The goal is to allow the fabric to shrink to whatever degree it is going to shrink before you use it. Do not preshrink dry clean only fabrics. Imagine if you have ever purchased a garment, only to find after washing, it no longer fit.

• Presser foot – The part of the sewing machine that holds the fabric in place as it is being sewn and fed through by the feed dogs. Specialty feed dogs are available to attach to your machine for various uses.

• Prick stitch – You use prick stitching on fabrics such as velvet where everything shows. Take a small back stitch sewn on the right side of the fabric and do the remaining back stitching on the wrong side.

• Princess seams – Seams that can be found in the front or the back of a garment that create a form-fitting shape.

• Puckered bodice – Usually associated with tube tops, it provides a scrunchy look.

• Puff sleeve/pouf sleeve – A full sleeve of varying lengths, created by generous gathering around the armhole.

• Push-up jeans – Spandex in the jeans helps to lift and shape your rear.

Q

R

• Raglan sleeves – Sleeves which extend from the collar to the wrist having diagonal seams in the front and back from collar to underarm.

• Raw (edge) – The edge of fabric that is not stitched or finished.

• Reinforce (seam) – To reinforce a seam, you may need to sew next to it, almost on top of it, but not quite. You can also reinforce a seam with bit of seam or bias tape. Crotch seams are susceptible and need to be reinforced.

• Remnant – A remaining or leftover piece of fabric after selling the rest of a bolt or completing a garment.

• Reverse stitching – To stitch backwards or to change direction.

• Right side – The good side of a fabric. The side which would face out.

• Right side – The right side of the fabric is the design side. There are instances of fabric with no right or wrong side visible, and the determination and appropriate markings are then made by the person doing the pattern cutting and sewing.

• Romper – A one-piece garment with the lower part shaped like bloomers.

• Rotary cutter – The handles are often ergonomically designed and padded. The blade, though, remains a rounded razor, sometimes with pinked edging or other designs. These are great for cutting layers of fabric into straight strips. Many people are using them for curved lines and pattern cutting for garments as well.

• Ruffles – A strip of fabric that is gathered or pleated to be used as decoration.

• Ruler – Rulers used in sewing are usually made of a clear plastic and marked in ¼ ” or less increments. A very popular ruler is 30 and 60 cms long, and can be used for grading, sewing, rotary cutting, measuring buttonhole placement, and other measuring jobs.

• Running stitch – A simple stitch made by running the thread over and under the fabric. This stitch is often used for basting or as the basis (marking) for another more decorative stitch.

S

• Sarong skirt – Long cloth which is wrapped around the entire body.

• Satin stitch – A very tight zig zag stitch that is available on most sewing machines. If it is not automatically available, the stitch length can be set to almost 0 to achieve a satin stitch with a plain zig-zag machine.

• Scalloped – To cut and finish with circles at the border or the edge.

• Scoop neck/round neck – A low, U-shaped or round neckline.

• Seam – The result when two pieces of fabric are sewn together along a line.

• Seam allowance – The fabric between the edge of the fabric and the line of stitching, the standard allowance is 12mm for most patterns.

• Seam ripper – A tool of varying sizes and modifications which has a curved, sharp cutting area for removing stitches and seams.

• Selvage – Often marked with information from the manufacturer (colour code, identifying data, etc), this is the edge of the fabric which generally does not fray due to manufacturer’s finish.

• Separating zipper – A zipper that comes completely apart when unzipped. There is a special tab at the bottom of a separating zipper for bringing it together and starting the zip. Usually used for jackets.

• Serger – A type of sewing machine that stitches the seam, encases the seam with thread, and cuts off excess fabric at the same time. These are used for construction of garments with knit fabrics mostly, or to finish seams of any fabric. Also known as an overlocker.

• Sewing needle – A sewing needle is a long slender tool with a pointed tip. A needle for hand sewing has a hole, called the eye, at the non-pointed end to carry thread or cord through the fabric after the pointed end pierces it. Hand sewing needles have different names depending on their purpose. Needle size is denoted by a number on the packet. The convention for sizing is that the length and thickness of a needle increases as the size number decreases. For example, a size 1 needle will be thicker and longer, while a size 10 will be shorter and finer.

• Shank button – A button with space left between the button and fabric. A shank button is one made with a shank. Other buttons can be “shanked” by wrapping thread under the button to create a shank.

• Shawl collar – A one-piece collar which is turned down to form a continuous line around the back of the neck to the front.

• Sheaths – Usually have straight or close fitting skirts, accompanied by a form fitting bodice. The skirt is often ankle length and sometimes has a slit in either the front, side, or back to make walking easier.

• Shelf bra – A bra that is built right into the garment.

• Shirred waist – A decorative gathering (as of cloth) made by drawing up the material along two or more parallel lines of stitching.

• Shirring – A decorative technique obtained by making multiple rows of gathering.

• Shrink – Some fabrics become tighter/smaller when washed and dried, whether by machine or by hand. See Preshrink.

• Shrug – A woman’s small, waist-length or shorter jacket.

• Sizing – Fabric finish that provides crispness without stiffness; a light starch finish. Usually eliminated during washing.

• Skant – Pants that have a sweater-like attachment around the waist.

• Skort – Shorts that have a front covering to resemble a skirt.

• Slit – An open part of a seam, the bottom usually, often found in skirt side or back seams.

• Sloper – A sloper is the most basic of patterns, used by apparel manufacturers to style a garment. For instance, a designer may start with a paper sloper skirt for size and length and modify it to create something more unique or original.

• Snips – Very small cutting tool resembling scissors used to snip threads. Usually used with hand sewing or portable projects.

• Spaghetti strap – A thin tubular strap that attaches to the bodice, named for its likeness to a strand of spaghetti.

• Split neck – A round neckline that looks like it has been cut in the center to form a small “V”.

• Spool – The holder of thread. There are wooden spools, plastic spools, cardboard tube spools, and cone spools, as well as others.

• Square neck – An open-yoke neckline shaped in the form of a half square.

• Stash – Collection of fabric.

• Stay – Fabric used to reinforce an area and to prevent stretching.

• Stay stitch – A line of stitching just inside (about 0.3mm) the intended permanent stitching line (seam line) on curved edges that stabilizes and keeps the curve from distorting. The direction of the stay stitching is shown on the pattern. If not, it generally goes from shoulder to center on necklines (usually going with the grain of the fabric).

• Stitch in the ditch – It is a method of stitching close to a seam allowance or in the seam itself in order to hold it down.

• Stitch length – In general, regular sewing is about 11-12 stitches per inch, basting/gathering/bunching/sleeve easing is about 6 stitches per inch (plus or minus 1 or 2 stitches for some applications). There are rare occasions when stitches need to exceed 12 per inch, but they are few.

• Straight legs – Pant legs are cut an equal width from waist to ankle.

• Straight stitch – Stitching made with single forward stitches. This is the regular stitch that most sewing machines make.

• Sweep train – The shortest train, barely sweeping the floor.

• Sweetheart neck – A graceful, open yoke, shaped like the top half of a heart.

T

• Tack – A temporary stitch to hold pieces together, usually removed after final stitching. Tacking is also known as a term for starting off a seam with a few stitches back and forth for stabilizing.

• Tailor board – A hardwood tool of different shapes and edges useful in pressing various types of seams and corner.

• Tailor’s tack – A tailor’s tack is essentially two threads in a needle, drawn through fabric layer/s and then snipped, leaving tails of thread on top and on the bottom of the fabric as a marking for later use. They can be used to mark pattern pieces for darts, buttonholes, etc. Go straight through all layers of pattern and fabric before snipping any threads. Leave a long enough tail of thread that you can find it later. Use a contrasting thread that stands out so you can see it later.

• Tape measure – Flexible, usually made of a covered cloth material, about 60″ long (152 cm), and has a cover on each end. Markings are on both sides of the tape. A measuring tape for sewing can be kept rolled up in a drawer or hanging on the bulletin board next to the sewing machine. A seamstress will often be seen wearing one loosely around her neck.

• Tank top – A short, sleeveless top with wide armholes.

• Tankini – A two piece bathing suit with the upper portion resembling a tank top.

• Tapered legs – Pant legs become progressively narrower toward the ankle.

• Tea length – A gown hemmed to end at the shin.

• Tear-away shorts – Features versatile side snaps that allow you to remove a top layer fast.

• Tension – Tension refers to the pressure being placed on your needle and bobbin thread by your machine. There are two types of tension on your sewing machine – the thread and bobbin tensions. It is best to read your sewing machine manual for specifics. Rarely does one need to adjust bobbin tension. 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. Once tension has been changed it’s best to test the change on a scrap of fabric and not your project.

• Thimble – Thimbles are protective devices for your middle finger when doing hand sewing. They can be made of leather, metal, wood, ceramic, or other material. To be certain you have one that is right for you, try on several to get a good feel. You want it loose, but not so loose that it slips off. You want it tight, but not so tight that it is snug. A thimble is worn on the hand that is using the needle for sewing (hems, embroidery, basting, etc).

• Thread – A complementary or like color thread is chosen for garment or project construction on a machine. The bobbin should be wound of the same type of thread or the exact same thread whenever possible, to prevent knotting, bunching, etc. The first step for most sewing machine trouble shooting is to check the thread and needle. Often, the thread or needle will need to be changed.

• Tie-cinched waist – The waist is pulled tight around the body with a tie.

• Top Stitch – A sometimes decorative, sometimes functional stitch that is usually ¼ ” from the edge of a seam. For instance, once a vest is turned or a facing is turned and pressed, one may stitch ¼ ” from the edge on the top of the garment to provide a bit of stabilization. This can be done in same or contrasting thread, depending on the decorative effect desired.

• Top stitching – To sew a decorative row(s) of stitching on the right side of the fabric from the outside at varying distances from the seam, and parallel to the seam.

• Tracing carbon paper – A type of paper made especially to be used with a tracing wheel. It has an ink-type substance on one side for marking fabric with the wheel.

• Tracing wheel – A tracing wheel is used with tracing paper, it resembles a pastry wheel. Be careful not to press too hard and cut the pattern, tracing paper, or the fabric. Also note that tracing ink from the tracing paper does not always wash out.

• Train – An extended part of the garment that follows at the back.

• Trapeze top – Tank top style with flared bottom.

• Trim – Trim is any decorative item, ribbon or lace etc. that is put on a garment or craft item that is being sewn. Trim is also used to define the act of trimming excess seam allowances or fabric with scissors.

• Tuck – See pin tuck. A method of sewing fabric together resulting in a raised seam, often seen in heirloom sewing, the bodice of a woman’s blouse or a man’s formal (tuxedo) shirt.

• Tulle skirt/bouffant gown – A sheer, puffed-out skirt often made of stiffened silk, rayon, or nylon net.

• Tunic style – A simple slip-on garment made with or without sleeves and usually knee-length or longer, belted at the waist, and worn as an under or outer garment.

• Turtle neck – A high, close-fitting, turnover collar used especially for sweaters.

• Twill tape – Twill tape: A strong woven tape with diagonal ribs used in tailoring and to strengthen seams.

U

• Under stitching – Keeps a facing or lining from rolling onto the right side of a garment. After pressing the seam allowance and facing away from the garment, stitch through both 0.2mm from the seam.

• Under-lap – The lower piece of fabric of two overlapped pieces.

• Underlay – For example: A pleat looks like an inverted pleat but has a separate piece of fabric (underlay) underneath the pleat. Where the back folds are there are two seams.

• Underlining – Is cut from the same pattern pieces as the fashion fabric and is attached before construction begins. Then, as the garment is constructed, the underlining and fashion fabric are handled as a single unit. Most often, underlining is cut from fine cotton – to medium-weight cotton broadcloth, or silk organza. But a variety of other materials can also be used to underline a fashion fabric. Lining used to add body to a garment.

• Unitards – A close-fitting, one-piece garment for the torso, legs, and feet, and often for the arms.

• Universal needle – A slightly rounded tip to use for woven or knit fabrics.

V

• Vent – A lined opening or slit meant to aid in comfort.

• V-neck/V-back – An open yoke coming to a “V” shape midway down the bodice.

• Variegated – Having streaks, marks, or patches of different colors; distinguished or characterized by a variety of different colors.

• View – Most patterns show different variations on the pattern package. Each variation is called a “view”.

W

• Walking foot – A walking foot is an attachment for your sewing machine that enables smoother sewing when using several layers or fabric. 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. It also works well with slippery fabrics that may need control not available with the feed dogs only.

• Warp – Threads running the length of a woven fabric, sometimes known as the lengthwise grain (little to no stretch) (see weft and grain).

• Wearable art – Decorative, often quilted and embellished, clothing made to be unique, beautiful, and functional.

• Wedding-band collar – A collar featuring a yoke that is either open or of sheer net with an ornate band fitting snugly on the neck, creating a choker effect.

• Weft – Threads running at right angles to the length of a woven fabric, sometimes known as the cross grain (very little to some stretch) (see warp and grain).

• Welt – An inset pocket with the lower lip finished by an upstanding welt that may be from ⅜” to 1″ wide. It can have one or two lips finishing the opening edges, used mostly in classic wear. Usually found as the chest pocket of a jacket or a coat. A buttonhole can be welted also.

• Wide legs – Pants or jeans that are cut extra full through the legs.

• Wing collar – A collar with projections which cover shoulder seams of bodices and doublets.

• Wing needle – A wing needle is a sewing machine needle used to achieve an eyelet effect for craft projects, also referred to as an “heirloom affect.” The two small flanges on the left and right of the needle create a hole in the fabric by separating the fibers, and the hole is held open by the stitching. The name of the needle comes from its distinctive appearance, and wing needles come in a variety of sizes designed for different projects and weights of fabric. The larger the size of the wing needle, the larger the resulting hole in the fabric will be.

• Wonder-under – A fusible product by Pellon which allows for the application of a fabric design upon another fabric, paper, wood, etc., utilizing an iron.

• Wrap top/surplice top – A bodice created by the cross-wrapping of fabric; may be in front or back, and associated with a high or low neckline.

• Wrong side – The wrong side of the fabric is the side where no design is present. There are instances of fabric with no wrong side visible, and the determination and appropriate markings are then made by the person doing the pattern cutting and sewing.

X

Y

• Yardstick – A measuring device of wood or metal for measuring long, straight areas.

• Yoke – The part of a garment that is fitted at the shoulders and neck area or at the hip where often a gathered fabric section hangs from it.

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, can be a decorative addition to any garment, and can allow forgive with knits. A very short to nonexistent stitch length with zig-zag stitching is the same as a satin stitch.