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Sewing Terms to Know

Photo: Jack Deutsch

Scallops- A series of curves or shell-like segments forming an ornamental edge
Seam- Result of two pieces of fabric stitched together. Seamline is the line that you sew along, usually 5⁄8 inch in from the cutting line (outermost edge of the pattern piece that you cut along). Seam allowance is the distance between the cutting line and the seamline. This allowance is usually hidden inside the garment once it is sewn. In home sewing, the measurement is conventionally 5⁄8 inch, but may be as small as 1⁄4 inch or as wide as 1 inch. Seam finish- Any technique that finishes the raw edges of a seam.
Seam roll- A cylindrical-shaped pressing tool used to press open long seams or to slide inside a sleeve for creaseless pressing.
Seam tape- A stable lightweight ribbon-like tape used to stabilize seams and finish hems.
Self-fabric- The fashion fabric.
Self-facing- Facing cut from the same fabric as the garment.
Selvage- Tightly woven factory edge of fabric that runs parallel to the lengthwise grain.
Serge- An edge or seam sewn on a serger.
Serge-finish- An edge finish sewn on a serger.
Serger- Sewing machine that can seam, trim, and overcast raw edges in one step. Also called an "overlock machine."
Set-in sleeve- A sleeve sewn into an armhole or armscye.
Shank- The back of a button through which the thread passes to attach the button to the garment.
Shoulder point- The point of the shoulder seam where the arm and shoulder connect.
Shoulder slope- The sloped angle between the side base of the neck and the point on the shoulder where the set-in sleeve begins.
Single crochet- The most basic crochet stitch.
Single-layer layout- The pattern layout for one layer of fabric. Often used for asymmetrical garments or because pattern pieces are unusual shapes or sizes.
Sizing- A starch-like fabric finish.
Slash and spread- Cutting a pattern and spreading it open along the cutline to add fullness to a section of the pattern.
Slashed pocket- A pocket cut through the face of a garment and faced.
Sleeve board- Small ironing board that fits inside a sleeve.
Sleeve cap- The area of the sleeve above the biceps line.
Slipstitch- used to join two folded edges or one folded edge to a flat surface, for an almost invisible stitch.
Sloper- Master pattern for a perfect fitting snug fitting basic garment. Used to design garments and fit commercial patterns.
Sport yarn- a particular weight of knitting yarn.
Square knot- A knot that forms a square. It's commonly used in macrame.
Stabilizer- A fabric under layer used to hold the shape of the fashion fabric or support its strength.
Staystitch- Stitching placed on or just outside the seamline, used to stabilize the fabric and keep it from stretching.
Stitch length- Length of a stitch determined by the movement of the feed dogs.
Stitch-in-the-ditch- Stitching inside the "valley" or "groove" of a seam.
Straight-grain tape- Tape cut with the grain and used to stabilize bias and cross-grain seams and edges.
Straight-stitch- The most basic machine stitch produces a single row of straight, even stitches.

Raglan sleeve- A sleeve style where the shoulder and sleeve are cut in one or two pieces.

Tambour needle- A thin, sharp pointed hook used for applying strung beads or sequins from the wrong side, or sewing decorative chain stitches from the right side.
Tapestry needle- A needle with a blunt tip and large oval-shaped eye made for decorative stitching with bulky threads or yarns
Termination point- The point where two seamlines end.
Thread chain loops- A crocheted chain made of thread and formed into a loop.
Thread tail- An untrimmed thread end.
Thread-trace- Transfer markings from your pattern to your fabric by hand basting stitches to duplicate pattern markings.
Topstitch- Decorative row of stitches sewn on the right side of a garment.
Tricot- A nylon knit fabric often used in lingerie.
Tuck- A stitched fold of fabric either decorative or used to shape a garment.
Tulle- A fine netting commonly used for veils or gowns.
Twill tape- A non-stretching tape used to stabilize seams or edges.

Underlap- The lower fabric of two overlapped pieces of fabric.
Underlay- A layer of fabric underneath another layer of fabric.
Underline- A second layer of fabric is cut from the pattern and positioned under the fashion fabric. The two layers are then sewn as one.
Underlining- a layer of lightweight fabric sewn into a garment to reinforce seams, add weight or firmness, hide construction details, and provide a layer for inner stitching.
Understitch- When the seam allowances are stitched to the facing along an edge.

Waist stay- A stable ribbon sewn inside a dress at the waist, used to support the dress.
Walking foot- A presser foot that steps across the fabric instead of sliding to facilitate even feed.
Warp- Lengthwise thread in woven fabric that runs parallel to selvage.
Wash away stabilizer- Provides support to a fabric, then dissolves in water. It is especially useful when embroidering onto fabric.
Weft- The crosswise threads in a woven fabric--traveling from selvage to selvage.
Whiskers- Tiny, frayed threads from raw seam edges.
Wooly nylon thread- A lofty yarn-like thread that stretches to a fine straight thread when under tension. Polyester versions withstand greater heat.
Wrong side- Usually the inside of a garment or the backside of fabric.

Yardage- Term used to describe any cut length of fabric. In the U.S., fabric is measured and cut in yards (36-inch intervals). A length of fabric in an undefined amount.
Yoke- A panel either across the shoulders or at the waistline into which the bulk of the garment is sewn.

Zigzag stitch- Commonly used Z-shaped machine stitch sometimes used to finish raw edges or to sew a stretch seam.
Zipper coil- The nylon filament that spirals to form teeth in a zipper.
Zipper foot- A presser foot that enables sewing with the needle on either side--perfect for sewing close to zipper teeth.
Zipper guard- A double layer of fabric sewn behind zipper teeth as a barrier between the teeth and the skin.
Zipper teeth- Can be metal, plastic, or nylon coils each "tooth" contains the locking mechanism that holds the zipper together.

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Comments (8)

MaryamWasim MaryamWasim writes: NIce
Posted: 6:28 am on May 30th

needles the mediocre needles the mediocre writes: Eureka !!! I've found the motherload of sewing information ..... A million thanks...

Posted: 8:10 pm on March 7th

CarolMSR CarolMSR writes: What about "GATHER: fabric slid along basting stitches to shrink up fabric to add style and detail to garment"
Posted: 8:51 pm on July 2nd

Natasha1 Natasha1 writes: good work.
Posted: 1:21 am on September 11th

evacaroll evacaroll writes: easy to understand best to used.......
Posted: 11:56 pm on September 10th

RosaWallace RosaWallace writes: awesome.......
Posted: 5:09 am on September 10th

LunaOpal LunaOpal writes: Very helpful for me.
Posted: 4:10 am on September 10th

10860 10860 writes: Great work......
Posted: 1:16 am on September 10th

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