Sew Guide » 100 + SEWING TERMS for a beginner learning to sew

100 + SEWING TERMS for a beginner learning to sew

 

sewing glossary

 

Sewing Terms and Definitions 

A-line

Silhouette which has the shape of alphabet A, narrow at the top and flaring sway from the body towards the bottom.

A line skirt

Skirt which is tight at the waist and hip and flares from the hipline creating a shape like Capital letter A

Accessories

All articles which complement the clothes like hosiery shoes, bags, gloves, belts, scarves, jewellery, hats. Accessorising is the process of adding accessories to apparel.

Accent

A decorative embroidery stitch.

Accent shades

Bright and dark shades like Orange, shocking pink, fluorescent colours

Accordian pleats

Permanently pressed machine made pleats which donot go with washing or pressing, usually seen around the width of skirts

Adaptation

A design that has the features of another design but is not an exact copy

Advancing colours

Warm colours (shades of red yellow and orange)

 

African  print

A dynamic and colourful print taken from the traditional dress and textiles.

American style

Very easy going sporty style

Anchoring Stitches 

Stitches made with the shortest stitch length at the beginning or end of stitching to keep them from pulled out

Animal print

A cloth pattern representing skin of an exotic animal like zebra or leopord

Anti-pill

A treatment applied to fabrics to prevent the formation of tiny balls on the fabric surface due to abrasion during wear. The term explains the wear resistance of a fabric. If a fabric is termed anti-pill it means it is of superior quality and does not have the uneven worn look of fabric made with low quality fibers.

Apparel

This an all embracing term for men’s women’s and children’s clothing.

Applique

A decoration made by stitching one piece of fabric onto another fabric by using blind stitches or satin stitches

Applique scissors

Used to cut applique they are also called duck bill scissors. One blade is longer for better cutting around edges

 Arabesque

A style of cloth featuring original patterns with abstract geometrical motifs

Argyle

A diamond-shaped plaid pattern on a knit fabric. This is a Scottish pattern and comes in three basic colours.

Armscye

Armhole ( where sleeve is sewn)

Asymmetrical garment

A garment which is not a mirror image of itself from side to side

Avant Grade

The most original, experimental, innovative and most unconventional designs of any particular period

Awl

A sewing tool used to make holes in the fabric. It can aslo be used for pushing out corners

Backless

Design exposing the back

Back pleats

Tiny pleats on the back of a garment that allows for more room and comfort

Back yoke

A piece of fabric that connects the back of a garment to the shoulders. This allows the garment to lay flat and drape very well

Backing

Material used beneath the embroidered fabric to provde stability and support.

Baby hem

Hem which is only turned very little as litttle as 1/8″. This is usually used in stitching sheer fabrics like chiffon

Baggy pants

Pants fitting at the waist and hip but loose at the bottom flare.

Ballerina neckline

This is a wide scoop neckline similar to those seen in classic dance attires of ballerinas

Ballistic

This is a thick and durable material usually used in luggage.

Balmacaan

A loose, single-breasted overcoat usually with a short turnover collar.

Bandhej

Tie and die fabric from Rajasthan, used to make garments

Bar

Four or more satin stitches.

Bartacked

This refers to Reinforced stitching.

Basket weave

A variation of a plain weave construction in which two or more warp and filling yarns are woven side by side to resemble a pleated basket.

Baste

Long running stitches temporarily created by hand or machine to hold fabric in place before the final stitching. The stitches are called basting stitches.

Basting needle

A long sharp hand sewing needle used to baste 

Batik

A method of dyeing in which parts of fabric are coated with wax, resulting in varying patterns or colors. Often the wax cracks, causing fine lines or streaks.

Beeswax

Beeswax is used to coat the thread of embroidery to prevent it from tangling.

Bell sleeve

A Sleeve resembling a bell with flared lower edge

Besom pocket

An inset pocket with the lower lip finished with a welt. If both edges have welts, the pocket is called a double besom.

Bias cut

A diagonal cut across a fabric’s grain. Used to create garments that closely trace the body’s natural curves for a flattering look. True bias is a cut made in a 45 degree angle to the selvedge. This gives the most stretch

Bias tape

A narrow strip of fabric, cut on the bias or cross-grain which has great stretch and has a greater drape It is often used to the finish raw edges of quilts, placemats, etc. Single-fold bias tape is bias tape with each raw edge folded in toward the center, wrong sides together, and pressed. Double-fold bias tape is single-fold bias tape which has been folded in half and pressed, with the single folds to the inside. Checkout this post on making bias tape for more details 

Bias binding

A strip of fabric cut on bias used to bind or cover edges. Also called bias tape, this is stretchy so can be used to give a neat edge around curves. 

Bias seams

Seams cut and sewn on the bias grain

Bicep measurement

Measurement around the fullest part of the arm

Bird nesting

This terms refers to what happens when sewing – a thread collection between the fabric and needle plate resembling a bird’s nest.

Bishop collar

Two hanging collars longer than the normal collar forming a W shape in the front

Bishop sleeve

A long sleeve which ends with gathers at the lower edge which are held with a cuff. it starts at the armhole with minimum fullness.

Blanket Stitch

This is a hand stitch used to finish a fabric edge . Eg buttonhole stitch

Blouse placket

Placket most seen in women’s garments where one side of placket hides beneath the garment and the other side is extended

Blouson

A women’s jacket that blouses and is drawn at the waist

Blind stitch

A kind of hemming which doesnot show on the right or the wrong side

Block

Master pattern

Boatneck

A wide neckline that is open from shoulder to shoulder. It is usually cut same in the front and back.

Bobbin winder

A mechanism in a sewing machine which helps in transfering thread from spool to bobbin effortlessly and quickly

Bodice

The upper part of a dress from shoulder to waist

Bodkin

Long, flat, needle-like tool used to thread elastic through casing.

Boning

Narrow strips used to stiffen a garment, usually made of plastic, metal, or bone

Bonding

Permanent joining of two fabrics with a bonding agent , heat setting.

Bootcut 

It refers to Jeans style which flares from the knees slightly to accommodate boots underneath.

Border print

A design that runs along the border or the cuff

Boutique

A free standing shop in devoted to specialised merchandise for a niche market.

Box pleats

Full length broad pleats in rectangular shape usually around the width of skirts.( eg uniform skirts)The two pleats face each other on one side and away from each other on the opposite side

Broomstick

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

Bugle beads

Beads of an elongated tubular shape in different colours, that are often sewn onto garments as ornamentation.

Bulky

Large loose silhouette

Buckram

A heavy, coarse cotton fabric used for stiffening garments and hats.

Burnout

A technique using a chemical paste that destroys a layer of fabric to create a patterned effect and can sometimes result in a sheer look

Button through sleeve placket

A small placket located on the sleeve by the cuff which contains a single button closure.

Button down

Fastened down with buttons

Button hole

A hole made in the fabric for the button to pass through.Buttonhole stitch is used to reinforce the hole edges

Button and buttonhole placements ( Pattern symbols)

They are often together and sometimes separate. They indicate placement of button, size, and buttonholes.

Cable  Stitch

A straight stitch.

 Camp Pockets

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

Camouflage

A design incorporating the army’s brown-green print

Canvas

A medium- to heavyweight type of cotton or linen in a plain or twill weave.

Cape collar

Collar with a plain rounded back and a cut in the front. The width of the collar is the same throughout

Cap sleeve

This short sleeve extends just over the shoulder for a touch of femininity.

 Carrier

A thread or fabric loop used as a support for a belt or tie

Casing 

A fabric tube sewn in the garment for encasing elastic or drawstring

Carbon Paper

This is used along with a tracing wheel to transfer pattern markings to fabric from the paper patter. It has removable ink on one side in different colour choices

Casing

Fabric folded and stitched to hold elastic, cording, or boning.

Catchstitch

A hemstitch used to join an edge to the inside of a garment. It consists of cross-shaped stitches on either side of an edge.

Cathedral Train

Also known as a monarch train.  A cascading train extending six to eight feet behind the gown. Often used on wedding dresses.

Center front Fold 

CFF ;indictes the center fold line in the back pattern; this can be got by folding by matching the shoulder points and armpits of the back pattern

Center back fold

CBF; indictes the center fold line in the front pattern; this can be got by folding by matching the shoulder points and armpits of the front pattern

Chain stitch

A chain like hand stitch which consists of loops of the same size

Chalk

Used to mark fabric pattern lines, notches , buttonholes etc.

Charm Packs

Little precut fabric squares of 5″ * 5″ dimensions

Chenille

Incredibly soft, fuzzy yarns that stand out around a velvety cord.

Check on check

Having various layered check patterns and colours

Chelsea collar

Two long collars around a V neckline.

Chic

Sophisticated or stylish

Chinois

Chinese style

Chinese collar ( Mandarin collar)

A rounded stiff collar with an opening, placed close to the neck.

Churidhar pants

Indian Pants which are loose above the knees and very tight below the knees

Cine mode

Style of fashion that originated in the movies

Circle skirt

These skirts are cut on the bias grain; They are very flared at the lower edge. A full circle skirt is without a side seam.

Clip

Make small cuts on the seam alloance for easy turning or fit better.

Clean seam

Seam stitched and pressed open. The seam looks invisible when pressed open.

Coat collar

A two part stiff collar raised above the shoulder line. One part of the collar is an extension of the bodice.

Complimentary colours

Colours on the opposite side of the colour wheel. lik red and green, blue and orange yellow and purple

Cool Colors

Blue, violet and green are cool or light colors. 

Colorfast

Used to describe a dyed fabric’s ability to resist fading or running due to washing, exposure to sunlight, and other environmental conditions.

Collar stand

A band between the shirt and the collar on a shirt or blouse.

Continuous placket

A one piece placket usually seen on garments with a partial opening

Contractor

A manufacturing concern that does the sewing for other producers under an agreement

Convertible Collar

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

Cosmopolitan

Sophisticated international

Classic style

Traditional timeless style

Connecting stitches

Threads that connect short distanced objects n embroidery. Distance of 1/16″ is usually the standard for a aconnecting stitch

Contemperory

Current; having the look of today

Continental

Designs having the characteristics of European men’s style featuring wide shoulders fitted waist

Convertible collar

This is basically a jewel neckline with a slit which gives the look of collar. A contracting colour fabric is used inside the garment which when turned inside out looks like collar.

Cording

String or cord which can be used in decorations, and as drawstring

Couching

In couching hand or machine overcast stitches are used to  attach a thread yarn or trim to a fabric.

Couturier

French word for male designers usually one who has his own couture house. Coutruiere (female term )

Coverlet

A lightweight blanket often used during warmer months. Coverlets have a shorter drop than traditional bedspreads, exposing the frame or bedskirt

Coverseamed

A finish in which two needles are used to create parallel rows of visible stitching. It is used around neck arm holes waistband and wrist band to create a cleaner and more durable finish.

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.

Carze

A fad of fashion characterised by indescriminate following by people

Crew neck

Tight Round neck of a sweater or t shirt

Circles and squares

marks in a pattern that you match with their identical shapes, or a line of change (such as a seam, sleeve cap, or beginning or ending of gathers) in the adjoining piece.

Crease

Make a fold line in the fabric, as an indication while sewing . You can crease with iron orwith fingers

Crewel yarn

A two-ply, loosely twisted, fine-worsted yarn used in heavy embroidery

Crochet

Method of making a  loose, open knit fabric by looping thread with a hooked needle.

Crossgrain edge

The edge perpendicular to the selvage

Cross stitch

Two stitches that cross to form an x.

Cuff

A rectangular piece of cloth stitched to hold gathers. One side of the cuff will have a button and the otherside  buttonhole

 Cutting line

A solid, dark outer line to follow in cutting out a pattern piece.

Decorative stitch

An embroidery stitch used to highlight a design.

Darning foot

A presser foot that is used with dropped feed dogs for free-motion stitching or mending; Darning foot. It has a circular opening that doesn’t clamp down over the fabric

Darts

Darts are fold stitched into a fabric to take in ease and give it shape. Dart legs are lines that come to a stop at the pattern edge

Dart placement — on patterns transfers shape markings onto fabric where you make a fold on the solid line and stitch on the broken lines, toward point..

Dazzle

A lightweight, silky-soft fabric blend that has a slight shine to it. Dazzle is found primarily in active clothing because of its quick-drying capabilities.

Diamond Neck

A diamond-shaped cutout that fastens at the front or back neckline.

Dobby

Small, usually geometric patterns that are woven into a fabric.

Dolman

A long cape-like sleeve that is very wide at the armhole. It is cut as an extension of the bodice.

Double-Breasted

Having one-half of the front lapped over the other. Usually has a double row of buttons and a single row of buttonholes.

Double breasted collar

A coat collar with overlapping lapels. This collar has double sets of buttons below the collar.

Double needle

Two machine needles attached together to sew two parallel rows of stitches at once with two spools of thread and one bobbin. It is also called twin needle.

Double-fold hem

A hem that is folded first to enclose the raw edge and then for the hem allowance.

Down

A fluffy, soft fibrous material that grows under the contour feathers of ducks, geese and other waterfowl. Used as a thermal insulator because it’s known for warmth.

Drape

The way a garment / fabric hangs

Drawstring

A string in the seam of a garment which can be pulled to tighten.

Dropped Waist / Low Waist

A waistline that is sewn below the body’s natural waistline.

Drop stitch

A type of knit where some of the needles are “dropped out” during stitching to produce an open-worked pattern in the fabric. Similar to a wide, ribbed finish.

Drop shoulder sleeve

This sleeve has an extended armhole. Sleeve lies below the shoulder.

Duck cloth

A medium-weight cloth (usually cotton) that is soft, breathable and durable. Tightly woven and retains color beautifully.

Dyed to match

Refers to buttons or trims that are of the same colour as the garment into which they are sewn.

Earth colours

Coloursthat are found in nature mostly of the brown shades

Ease

a) Difference between garment measurement and body measurement. This measurement is added to finished garment for comfortable movement.

b) Join different lengths of fabric together by adjusting the length against each other.

Edge stitch

A stitch made very close to the edge as close as 1/8″

Edging

Trims or decorative needle work used on the fabric edge

Egyptian cotton

Cultivated mainly in the Nile River Valley in Egypt, this grade of cotton boasts the longest and strongest fibers.

Embellish

Applying special stitches, appliques, decorative stitches and items to enhance the look of the fabric

Emblem

A symbol or edge

Embossed

A raised design on the surface created by heated rollers under pressure.

Empire waistband/ empireline

This high waistline begins just below the bust, giving tops or dresses a flowing, flattering fit.

Envelope waist

A high waist line that folds over and forms a point like that of an envelope

Enzyme-washed

Often describes a garment that has been specially treated for extra softness and a worn look.

Epaulet sleeve

This sleeve consists of an ornamental strip or loop sewn across the shoulder of a garment.

Ethnic

Native and traditional

Etched tone buttons

Buttons with an etched pattern

Extended tail

When the back portion of the garments longer than the front

Eyelet

A type of embroidery in which small holes are cut out in the fabric and finished by embellishment of thread around the opening.

Fastener

Device that fastens or holds together seperate fabric parts like zippers buttons etc

Face

This simply refers to the finer, more printable surface of the fabric that is used as the outside. It is the more finished side of the fabric.

Faced waist

Finishing a waistline of a skirt with facing rather than a waistband.

Facing

An fabric is sewn to the raw edge of the main fabric piece, then turned under, at the seamline for lining purposes or to add strength and structure . This is a seam finish which looks very neat

Fairisle

A knitting style characterized by geometric patterns.

Fat quarter

A fat quarter is a precut fabric of dimensions 18″ * 22″.

Feed dog

Apart of sewing machine located under the presser foot; They help move the fabric under the presser foot. In the raised position, they feed the fabric.

Fell stitch

This is also called applique stitch and is used to applique one layer of fabric to another. This stitch works from the right side to pull a seam together invisibly

Findings

Any extra items attached to a garment during the manufacturing process. This can include trims, buttons, hooks, snaps, or embellishments.

Finger pressing

This refers to using fingers and pressure to press a seam or stitch,when it is not possible to use iron to press 

Finish

This generally refers to the processes used to improve the appearance of fabrics, after it is made ( woven or knitted). Bleaching, mercerizing, steaming, singeing, and dyeing are all finishing processes.

Finished Fabric

A fabric that has gone through all the necessary finishing processes, and is ready to be used in the manufacturing of garments.

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.

Flared sleeve

A small sleeve tight at the armhole ad loose at the lower edge

Flat felled seam

Used mainly in activewear, sportsware , this is a seam made by placing one edge inside a folded edge of fabric, then stitching the fold down with a top stitch. 

Flocking

A decorative detail in which short fibers are applied to the surface of a fabric in a particular pattern by using an adhesive.

Flounce hem

A strip of fabric attached to one edge of a garment (usually a skirt) to create a wide ruffle. Usually a  circular or bias cut piece of material is used to create this effect.

Fold line

This mostly refers to the center fold of the piece of fabric. Most pattern pieces are placed on the fold line for cutting it out.On patterns indicates the line on which you turn the fabric for hem or facing.

Forte of a garment

The strong point of the garment.

Fray

Threads which come out during handling

Free motion embroidery

Hand guided machine embroidery with dropped feed dogs on fabric fixed in embroidery hoops

French cuffs

Turned-up cuffs sometimes fastened with cuff links and sometimes contrasting in color.

French Curve

A drafting tool made of metal wood or plastic used for drawing curves.

French darts

Darts placed on the garment front starting from near or at the waist and ending near the bust point.

French knot

This is a hand embroidery technique which creates a three dimensional tight dot by bringing up the threaded needle through the fabric, wrapping the thread around a number of times. The knot is used decoratively in the center of flowers etc.

French seam

A seam finish used for sheer and delicate fabrics, this method hides the raw edges in a neat double fold on the wrong side of the fabric. ie seam allowance is enclosed in the fold.

Frey

Threads which come out from the fabric during handling.

Frog closure

The decorative closing of fabric with cording or braided material which fits over a ball or button to complete the closure.

Funnel neck

A neckline that is high and wide, resembling a funnel. A funnel neck is attached to the body of the garment, not sewn at the neckline.

Fusible interfacing

A fabric with adhesive on one side used on the wrong side of the main fabric to add shape and support to the main fabric. 

Garment-washed

This term often describes apparel that has been through a standard wash cycle in a commercial washing machine. The repeated exposure in water leads to a softer, worn-in look on the garments

Garment dyed

This is dyeing process done after garment is finished.

Glen check

A blue and white check

Godet

A triangular fabric piece placed into a hem to give fullness (e.g., the bottom of a skirt).

Gore

These are vertical garment sections that are cut narrow at the top and wide at the hem.

Grading 

The process of converting a pattern from one size to another.Grading a seam refers to  trimming your seam to various levels making each layer of fabric a different width.

Grading seams

Trimming seam allowance to reduce bulk

Grain

The orientation of the threads in woven fabric – lengthwise and crosswise

Grain arrow 

 straight line carrying an arrow at each end you use to position pattern on the fabric. You place this line parallel to the selvage or lengthwise grain.

Gradations

Shades of colour

Grosgrain

Strong, closely woven, corded fabric with narrow, horizontal ribs, usually used as trim.

Gun club checks

A pattern of double checks

Gusset

An insert in a seam of the garment allowing for more space or opening ; It is usually triangle shaped or diamond shaped

Ham

A hard, stuffed form used to shape darts and curves during pressing.

Hand

The way a fabric feels when touched. softness, crispness, dryness, silkiness are all terms that describe the hand of the fabric.

Hand finishing

This is doing the last more detailed finishes of a garment by hand

Hanky sleeve

The lower edge of this sleeve hangs down like a handkerchief

Haute Couture

A French term which means high fashion. It is used to describe one of a kind expensive garments

Heat-transferred print

A unique type of printing in which art is digitally replicated and printed on the surface of polyester. The dye permanently bonds to the fibers without fading, even after repeated washing.

Hem

Finished bottom edge of a garment. Also refered as hemline.

Hem allowance

Hem allowance is the distance between the edge of the fabric and the hemline. This allowance is folded inside the garment and then sewn with the appropriate hem finish.

Hemming tape

Adhesive strip of 1/2 inch wide used for hemming. This is applied at the fold of a garment for a quick hem

Hemline 

In patterns indicated by a solid line that you turn up for the hem.

Herringbone

A broken twill weave with a pattern made up of rows of parallel lines in opposite directions forming a zigzag pattern.

High bias collar

Shaped like the chinese collar , this is cut on the bias and is not stiff.

High performance

High-Performance footwear includes specially designated athletic shoes and boots featuring true performance technology for the serious athlete and adventurer.

High waist

Also known as empire waist line, this waist line is very high usually in line with the bust line.

Hip curve

A curved ruler used to mark the curved sides of the bodice

Hip Pockets

Pockets sewn on the front of a garment at hip height.

Hippie style

Style characterized by long hair Beards jeans and psychedelic colours

Hollywood Waistband

Characterized by a full elasticized back and a side zipper or button closure.

Hong Kong finish

A bias-bound edge seam finish.The seams are bound with bias tape on the wrong side off the garment.

Hook-and-eye closure

A fastening system with a small metal hook that is inserted into a matching eye loop or small metal loop.This can be sewn or glued in place. 

Hoop

A plastic, metal, or wooden hoop that holds fabric tight while sewing or embroidering. The fabric is kept taunt between the two rings of the hoop. It is used to tightly grip the fabric and stabilizer between an inner and outer ring. Usually this is attached to machine’s frame. 

Horsehair braid

This is a net like ribbon used to add support to a hem. It is stretchy and takes curves easily. It is usually used in the hems of skirts and puff sleeves to give support and fullness

Horn tone buttons

These are buttons which looks like made of horn

Houndstooth

A usually small, distinctively broken-check pattern that resembles the jagged back teeth of a hound.

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

Vertical seams on pants between the legs. Inseam length is the measurement from the crotch of the pants to the hem.

Inset

A narrow strip of fabric or trim stitched between   two fabric pieces for fit or decorative purposes

Interfacing

Sew-in or fusible fabric used to stabilize the fashion fabrics.When applied to the wrong side of the main fashion fabric it will add rigidity and body to the fabric. Example of use – shirt collar, lapels of a jacket, pant hem.

Interlining

An insulation, padding, or stiffening fabric, either sewn to the wrong side of the lining or the inner side of the outer shell fabric. The interlining is used primarily to provide warmth in coats, jackets, and outerwear.

Interlock

A type of cut-and-sew knit fabric that is characterized by the interconnecting of the knit stitches.

Inverted pleats

Inside out box pleats, usually made around the width of skirts

Invisible zipper

A zipper when sewn into a seam will disappear into the seam. Just the zipper pull will be visible from the outside.

Iron

A very important tool in the sewing room, this is used to press the clothes, especially seams, not iron. Ironing will stretch the fabric and distort it so take care only to press

Jewel tones

Deep shades of colours red blue green and purple

Johnny collar

An open, split neckline with a pointed collar.

Jungle print

A pattern depicting African plants and animals

Kabuki sleeves

Wide loose-fitting sleeves modeled after the garments worn in traditional Japanese theater. Also known as kimono sleeves.

Kangaroo pouch pocket

A large pocket formed by sewing a piece of cloth over the center or stomach area of the garment leaving both ends open.

Keyhole neckline

A round or teardrop-shaped cutout that fastens at the front or back neckline.

Khakhi

Earth colours / military colours

Kick pleats

Short inverted pleats stitched till the hips

Kimono sleeve

A slightly longer and broader version of the Magyar sleeve which is an extension of the bodice. Usually seen in the Kimonos

Knife pleats

Thin very firmly pressed pleats facing in one direction.

Kurta Placket

Placket mostly seen in kurtas for men and women they have one piece broader than the other.

Kurta sleeve

A long or ¾ sleeve, it has a rectangular armhole with a cloth fitted in between the sleeve and the bodice. The width of the sleeve at the armhole is almost the same as that at the lower edge.

Ladder stitch

This is a hand stitch used to join two folded edges of fabric. Stitches are made at right angles to the fabric, creating a ladder-like formation between the fabrics. When tightened it will not appear from the outside.

Lacy knit

A weave constructed to imitate the appearance of lace

Lambskin

The skin or hide of a young sheep. Also known as “napa” leather, lambskin has fewer blemishes and a more uniform grain than other leathers such as buffalo and cowhide, which make it extra soft and attractive for use in clothing.

Lap

To fold or extend one fabric over the other.Also the part of a garment which extends over another. 

Lapels

The folded area on the front of a coat that is usually a continuation of the collar.

Lapped seams

A seam in which the edges of the two pieces of fabric overlap. Usually used with fabrics that donot fray like felt, leather etc.

Layer

Trimming seam allowance in different width so that bulk is reduced

Layered

Design with Layers of clothes stitched in varying lengths

Layered sleeve

Sleeves with overlapping Layers of different lengths, stitched together at the armhole line.

Layered skirt

Skirt with two or more layers of gathered or circle skirts

Lengthen and shorten lines

single or double lines that indicate the place where you can add or subtract length without affecting the design of the garment.

Leg of mutton sleeves

A long sleeve of ¾ arm length, usually cut on the bias grain; It has gathers or pleats at the arm hole and is tight fitted at the lower edge.

Lettuce edge

This is a hem edge finish which is a serged edge that is stretched as sewn, resulting in an attractive slightly ruffled edge.

Linen

This fiber is obtained from flax plants. As  it makes a fabric which is cool, absorbent, breathable and durable it is extremely suitable for summer clothes.

Lining

An inner layer of fabric or any other material that covers the construction details of the finished garment, like interfacing, padding, seam finishes. It gives a neat look to the inside.

Lithograph

Ink-receptive images on a page or fabric resulting from a mass-production printing process.

Magyar sleeve

This short sleeve is an extension of the bodice.

Marble print

A speckled pattern that imitates natural stone patterns

Mandarin collar

A short, standup collar that gives garments a stylish Asian look.

Mark

A visible impression made on the fabric to be cut. This denotes the measurement.

Marled

Interlocked, different-colored fibers are twisted together to create a long, continuous strand resulting in a contrasting effect on the finished garment.

Merchendising

Presentation of new products

Mesh net

A net usually found in summer bags or shoes

Matte

A smooth or sometimes brushed surface that lacks luster and shine.

Mercerization

A process of treating a thread, yarn or fabric to increase its luster, color retention and durability. The fabric (usually cotton) is immersed in sodium hydroxide and then neutralized in acid. This causes the fiber to permanently swell, which increases its qualities.

 Microsanded

A unique type of brushing done to fabric that removes its roughness for an extra-soft feel.

Mitered

This is a pattern formed when two pieces of fabric are joined at right angle connecting the inside and outside corners.

Mitered bindings

When bias bindings are used they are joined at a 90 degree angle and a 45 degree seam divides them causing a diagonal seam.

Mitered corners

Mitering a corner makes a smooth, tidy finish to a 90-degree corner, neatly squaring the corners. There will be a diagonal seam from the tip of the corner to the inside edge

Mother of pearl

Logo buttons made from mother of pearl with a logo iscribed on them.

Muslin

A test garment that checks fit and style, made to ensure that pattern meets the makers expectations, prior to making the final garment.

Moisture-wicking

Moisture-wicking fabric transfers moisture from the skin’s surface to the garment’s outer layer for faster drying.

Monotone

A single colour

Monochromatic 

Consisting or using only one colour

Motif

The central or dominant design element.

Nap

A fabric texture that runs in a particular direction and requires all pattern pieces be cut facing the same direction.A fabric with nap will look different from different directions ; eg is Velvet, Corduroy, terry cloth. Checking for nap is particularly important when cutting.  

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 ribcage.

Needle board

Used for pressing velvet and velveteen

Nep

Small knots of tangled fibers added intentionally to increase the fabric’s aesthetic appeal. The knots can be made from the same or different color and material.

Neutral colours

White grey etc

Newyork Hem

A way of hemming the jeans by keeping the original hem. If you like to  keep your original hem but would like to trim the length this is the hem technique.

Notches

Small indents made by the pattern maker, Notches are shaped like diamonds or triangles that are printed on the cutting line of a pattern outside the seam allowance, to indicate where the seams should meet or where another pattern piece should fit.They ensure that two pieces of fabric will come together correctly when sewn together.

Notions

All the items used in sewing other than sewing machine and fabric

Nursery print

A fabric with imaginative fantasies like cartoons bird’s animals and toys printed on it in bright colours is said to have nursery prints.

Nylon

Strong and durable elasticised fabric which an be washed and dried easily.

Off-The-Shoulder Neck

A neckline that lies gently hovering across the top of the bust-line with the shoulders uncovered or able to be seen through the sheer yoke of net or organza attached to a high collar.

Ombre

Gradual blending of related tones of color that graduate from light to dark.

Ottoman rib

A stiff, heavyweight, warp rib (vertical running yarns) sometimes referred to as Ottoman cord.

Overcast stitch

Stitch used to finish the raw unfinished seam or edge to prevent threads from unravelling. It is also called whip stitch and it covers the edge like a spiral.

Paperbag waist

Usually with an elasticized  or drawstring style that forms a gathered effect above the waist

Pagoda sleeve

A sleeve that is shaped much like an Asian building called a pagoda. Like a pagoda, the sleeve is narrow at the top where it fits the upper arm closely, then gradually flares out to become wide at the bottom. The shape is similar to a funnel, and so this sleeve style may also be called a funnel sleeve.

Paisley

A swirled pattern of fancy, curved teardrop shapes – shaped like a leaf

Pastel colour

A pale soft colour made by adding white to a bright colour

Pastoral print

A design showing a landscape scene

Patch pockets

A small pocket, usually found on pants, which looks like a piece of material was sewn on as a patch.

Patch work

A design made from sewing small patches of cloth together

Patch or Emblem

Embroidered design with a finished edge stitched independant of garment

Pattern weights

Weight used to keep the paper patterns on the fabric instead of using pins

Peached fabric

A soft feel usually obtained by sanding the fabric lightly; it also can be achieved with chemical or laundry abrasion.

Peter Pan collar

A small collar that is flat and close-fitting with rounded ends.

 Photo real

A screen print with the realistic qualities of a photo

Picot

A row of tiny decorative loops sewn or cut along the edge of a garment.

Pieced

A design that is created by sewing pieces of material together to form the garment.

Pigment dye

A type of dye applied and held to the fabric with resins and cured at high temperatures. Boasts excellent features for light colors and less so for darker shades.

Pile knit

A type of knit with a decorative pattern of yarns interlaced to create loops, most often used in faux fabrics.

Pile weave

A type of weave with a decorative pattern of yarns interlaced to create loops.

Pill

A term used to describe small balls of fibers tangled together on a fabric (usually fleece). Pills are generally caused by wear and tear producing an uneven, worn look.

Pins

Pins are used to hold the paper patterns on the fabric when cutting and to hold fabrics together when stitching.

Pin holder

Cushion or a container used to hold various pins

Pinpoint

A type of weave with two-over, one-under stitching. More durable than most weaves but less soft than sateen.

Pintuck

A small, narrow fold of fabric stitched together to create the appearance of a line or stripe.

Piping

A narrow piece of  bias cut fabric folded over a cord that is used as a decorative trim usually as contrasting trim in the seam at the edge and facing of a garment .

Pivot

Moving the fabric without moving the needle from the fabric at 45 degrees to make a continous stitch when stitching corners and square seams

Place on fold line

 a grain line that indicates the edge of the pattern you should place on a fold of the fabric.

Placket

A v shaped opening made by a piece of cloth that covers an opening that is the closure of the garment.It supports or hided the closures like buttons and buttonholes.

Plaited

The interweaving of strands or locks of a fabrication, so that one yarn appears only on the face and the second on the back

Ply

refers to the number of yarns twisted together to make a composite yarn..

Pocket patch

Any pocket that is sewn on a garment

Pocket placement 

The area where you attach the finished pocket.

Pointelle

A stitch used in knitting to create a tiny, open-worked pattern typically with geometric shapes. It adds a lightweight, delicate texture to clothing.

Point turner

A tool used to turn a sewn corner to the right side with a sharp, crisp point.

Polo collar

Usually seen in pullovers made in knitted fabric, this collar lies close to the neck in double fabric.i

Pork chop pockets

Front pockets on a pair of pants, shorts or a skirt that are characterized as being oversized and rectangular.

Preshrunk

A term used to describe fabrics or garments, especially tees, that have received treatment to prevent it from additional shrinkage when washed.

Press Mark

Undesirable shining lines on the outside of the garment due to incorrect ironing.

Pressing template

An object used to create a smooth, crisp line or edge when pressing.

Prewashed

A term used to describe fabrics or garments, especially tees and jeans, which have already been washed to add softness and prevent shrinking.

Primary colours

Red yellow blue

Prick stitch

A short back stitch used on bulky materials like velvet. 

Print on print

Having one pattern printed on a contrasting pattern eg floral print on checks

Princess seams

Vertical Seams that are on the front or back of a garment positioned between the side seam and the center front and back, that create a flattering, form-fitting shape.

Princess sleeves

Gathered sleeves with straight plain pieces inserted in between.

Puffed ink

A decorative detail added to screen prints to give them a raised surface

Puff embroidery

Stitching a dense motif over embroidery or craft foam to create a three dimensional effect.

Puffed sleeves

A sleeve with gathers or pleats athe arm hole or lower edge.(Pouf sleeve)

Raschel knit

This is a knit construction with interweaving of coarse and fine yarns. It is frequently used as an unlined material for coats, lingerie and dresses.

Ravelling

Allowing or pulling thread to come out of the raw edge of the fabric to create a deliberate fringed look.

Raw edge

Unfinished cut edge of a fabric

Rectangular sleeve

This sleeve has a rectangular armhole extending almost till the waist. This sleeve starts from the center of the shoulder line.

Regimental stripe

A neckline design of stripes in the colours of flags

Reverse applique

This is an applique method where design is cut out first and then the accent fabric appliqued from the back so that the fabric will be seen through the main fabric as if through a small window

Reversible

Clothes which looks the same on either side ( right side as well as wrong side)

Rib

A type of knit fabric characterized with a ridge effect in one direction, usually vertical. Rib knits are extremely elastic and often used in apparel to provide a comfy, body-hugging fit.

Ribbing

Raised ribs of fabric arranged vertically or horizontally

Ric-rac

A decorative trim on clothing featuring a flat fabric that forms a zigzag pattern.

Rippled collar

A cape collar with a slashed outer edge, usually seen in nightwear.

Rise

Distance between the waistline and crotch seam of pants 

Rivet

A fastener attached to a hole. Used with grommets

Rolled hem

This is a very narrow hem produced by rolling and stitching the edge. This can be sewn by hand, regular sewing machine, or serger.

Rosette

A fabric embellishment that’s pleated and ruffled to resemble a rose.

Rotary cutter and self healing mat

Circular Blade with a handle used to cut multiple layers of clothing easily. The cutting mat is useful in protecting the cutting table from the sharp edges of the cutter.

Ruche

A pleated or gathered strip of fabric used as a decorative, feminine accent.

Running stitch ( Straight stitch)

This most basic stitch is a hand stitch which makes a dashed line weaving in and out of the fabric

Ruffle

A strip or frilled or gathered fabric used for trimming or decoration

Ruffled sleeve

A short sleeve with gathers all around the armhole.

Sack dress

Loose fitting dress which slips over the head

Sailors collar

This collar has a square or rectangular flap at the back and in the front two triangular collars are tied in a knot; usually seen in the uniform of sailor’s.

Salvage

To save or recover from desrtuction

Salwar

Loose pants popular in Indian subcontinent

Sandwashed

Garments that have been specially treated with sand creating a softer, worn-in look and feel.

Sarong

A loose-fitting, long strip of fabric that is often worn around the waist like a skirt, or wrapped around the whole body like a dress. It is a very popular form of a swimsuit cover-up.

Satin Stitch

A very zig zag stitch used for applique and other decorative purposes. Can be done by hand and by machine.

Sash

ornamental band scraf, strip or belt worn around the waist over the shoulders

Scalloped Edge

A border that contains continuous curves finished with bourdon stitching.

Seamline

Resulting line when two fabrics are stitched together in a straight line usually 1/4 inches from the cutting line.

Seam Allowance

Distance between the cutting line and the seam line.

Seam Finish

Methods used to finish the edges of a seam

Seam ripper

A very handy tool in the sewing room, used to remove stitches.

Seam roll

A cylindrical-shaped pressing tool; This is used to press open long seams or to slide inside a sleeve for crease less pressing.

Seam tape

A stable lightweight ribbon-like tape used to stabilize seams and finish hems.

Secondary colours

Orange green purple

Secure stitch

In stitching when coming to end of a stitch , sew back 1/4 inch and go forward to anchor the stitch. You can do this over the sewing machine by pressing the reverse stitching lever.

Self-facing

Facing cut from the same fabric as the garment

Self fabric collar

A collar that is made from the same material as the body of 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. The finish used is termed serge finish.

Serger (Overlock machine)

A sewing machine that can seam, trim, and overcast raw edges in one step. 

Set in Sleeve

A sleeve joined to the garment at the natural edge of the shoulder line

 Scallops

This is an ornamental edge finishing with a number of curves or shell like segments joined together 

Scoop Neck / Round Neck

A low, U-shaped or round neckline.

Screen print

A picture or design printed on a garment using the silk-screen process.

Seedstitching

A type of stitch that creates a textured finish and looks like a continuous pattern of seeds.

Selvedge

Finished edge of the fabric (along the length side)

Sewing weights

Small weights used to anchor fabric while cutting or sewing 

Shank

Protrusion in the back of a button through which the thread passes to attach the button to the garment.The button is called a shank button. 

Shawl collar

The collar is raised above the shoulders and one part overlaps the other; This collar is broad near the shoulders and tapers below.

Sheeting

A lightweight, woven fabric made from cotton or linen. It sometimes has a crinkled texture and is commonly used for seasonal bottoms like capris.

Shirt collar

Collar usually found on men’s shirts, with a band which makes it stiff and tight around the neck.

Shift

A loose-fitting dress that lacks a defined waistline. It tends to hit above the knee and is commonly sleeveless.

Shirred

Gathered material that creates pleated details.

Shirt placket

Full opening placket used in shirts etc

Shirt sleeve

A full length sleeve ending in a cuff; usually seen in men’s shirts; they have a small placket attached to the cuff with buttons.

Short waisted

Having a short torso ; indicates the distance between shoulders and waist that is shorter than average

Shrinkage

The contraction of a fiber, yarn, or fabric after washing and drying. Most natural fibers have a tendency to shrink 4-6%..

 Silhoutte

Outline, shape of the garment or body.

Silk

Light weight natural fiber which possess a soft sheen, silk drapes very well and can be dyed.

Skant

Pants that have flaps of fabric sewn on at the waist to create a skirt-like appearance.

Slashed pocket

A pocket set in the garment, cut through the face of a garment and faced. It is usually placed below the waist line.Slash pockets.The pocket pouch is suspended from and attached to the slash.

Sleeve board

Small ironing board that fits inside a sleeve.

Sleeve cap

The curved top section of the sleeve  from the front underarm to the back under arm.

Slip on

Clothing put on the head without laces or fasteners

Slipstitch

A slipstitch uses invisible stiches to join two folded edges or one folded edge to a flat surface.

Sloper

This is a basic master pattern used as a building block for all patterns , used for a perfect fitting snug fitting basic garment. 

Slubbed

A process where a fabric (usually silk or cotton) is slightly twisted or drawn out, producing an intentional unevenly textured appearance.

Snap tape

A firmly woven tape to which snap fasteners are securely anchored

Snips (Thread)

A very handy tool to cut thread.Mostly used in hand embroidery but it is a very valuable tool with sewing machine too.

Soutache

A flat, decorative braid usually consisting of narrow loops, similar to crochet. Most commonly used as a trim or accent on women’s clothing.

Space-dyed

A dye process in which individual strands receive more than one color at irregular intervals.

Spaghetti straps

Very thin straps attached to a bodice.

Spangles

Decorative pieces, usually made from metal or plastic, that have a hole through which they can be sewn to a garment. Sequins, which are usually round and fairly small, and paillettes, which are larger and made in different shapes, are the most common types of spangles. 

Spool

Holder of thread made of wood, plastic etc.

Stone wash

Repeated washing of a fabric to fade the colour

Stabilizer

A material used as an under layer to hold the shape of the fashion fabric or support its strength during embroidery. It is mainly used in machine embroidery

Stash

Collection of fabrics.

Stay stitch

A basting stitch placed on or just outside the seam line, used to stabilize the fabric and keep it from stretching. It is usually used in curved seams to prevent stretching or distorting.

Stitching line

The actual line on which you sew; In pattern symbols  a broken line, usually located 5/8 of an inch away from the cutting line indicating where the seam should be made. The seam allowance is the distance between the cutting line and the stitching line.

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Stitch-in-the-ditch

Stitching  on top of a finished seam line from the front of the garment. This helps to hold layers of fabric together without a visible stitching line

Stonewashed

A laundering process in which the fabric is washed with rocks or rubber or silicon balls. The resultant fabric has a distressed or weathered look

Storm flap

A strip of fabric sewn under or over the front zip or snap closure of an outer wear garment to protect against wind and moisture.

Straight-grain tape

This Tape is cut with the grain ; They are cut in strips parallel to the selvages of the fabric and gives the least stretch. So this binding used to stabilize bias and cross-grain seams and edges.

Straight pins

Pins used to fasten pieces of fabric or paper together. They consists of a short straight steel pin with a pointed end and mostly a beaded head.

Sunray

Thin  knife pleats placed in the center of a garment like the pleats of a saree

Surplice

A neckline formed when one piece of fabric overlaps the other to create a V-neck opening.

Swatch

Piece of scrap fabric

Sweetheart neckline

A curved neckline with a scalloped trim that is similar to the top half of a heart.

Swiss dot

Woven, flocked or embroidered dots on a sheer, lightweight fabric providing a textured pattern.

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

Taped seams

A strip of fabric sewn to the seam of a garment to prevent distortion. In outer wear taped seams helps in water proofing the garment.

Tape measure

A long flexible measuring tape used to take custom measurement of body. Checkout the post on reading the tape measure accurately.

Taper

To decrease width gradually and bring it to a point

Tapestry needle

A needle with a blunt tip and large oval-shaped eye made for decorative stitching with bulky threads or yarns

 Tape yarn

A pure cotton yarn used to create a narrow, woven fabric. It is a soft with an airy texture and ideal for warmer temperatures

Tensions

Thread tautness.

Topping

Material placed on top of fabric to hold embroidery stitches above it.

Top stitch

Stitching line on the right side of the garment 1/4 inch from the edge. This is done usually as a decorative feature.

Tracing paper

Semi transparent paper used for tracing drawing etc

Tracing wheel

A smooth toothed wheel with a handle that is used on tracing paper to trace a sewing pattern on to fabric

Tricot lining

A very lightweight nylon lining used in shorts.

Trim

General term used to refer embellishments used in finishing a garment like laces, ribbon etc. Also refers to cutting away excess seam allowance

Tubular collar

Collar in which knit in a tube form so it has no seams.

Tuck

This is a design feature which refers to folding the fabric and sewing a row of stitch parallel to the fold, to manipulate fullness, either decorative or used to shape a garment

Tuck in tails

A shirt constructed so that the back hem is longer than the front . This helps in keeping the shirt tucked in during daily activities.

Tulip sleeve

 A small sleeve without a side seam. One side of the sleeve overlaps the other side on the upper side of the arm. The shape of this seam is like that of a Tulip flower

Turtleneck

A high, close-fitting, turnover collar used especially for sweaters.

Twill tape

A flat non-stretching woven ribbon of cotton, linen, polyester, or wool. It is used to stabilize seams or edges

Twill tape placket lining

Twill is attached to the inside of the placket as a designs

Two Way zipper

A zipper with two zipper pulls so that it can be unzipped from both directions.

Umbrella sleeve

Full length sleeve with a flared edge

Under arm grommets

Small holes in the armpit area to allow breathablility and air circulation

Underlay

A layer of fabric underneath another layer of fabric.

Underlining

A garment lining made from the pattern and placed under the fashion fabric to be sewn as one. It is is great to be used under see through fabrics or loose weave fabrics or to add firmness. Usually a light weight fabric is chosen as underlining 

Understitching

This refers to a line of straight stitching sewn just beyond the seam line of two pieces, where the seam allowances are stitched to the facing along an edge.

Variegated

A pattern having streaks or marks in different colors. Variegated ribs will have a slight difference in the colors between the ribs

V patch

A section of material in a v shape that is sewn onto the garment directly under the collar. This is used to give support against the stretching in the neck opening.

Velcro

Tapes used for tying two parts of the garment together. One side of the tape has nylon bristles and the other has plastic bristles which when brought together sticks

Vents

Openings that allows breathability. It is also added as a design element. It also provides ease to embroider the inside of a garment.

V-Neck / V-Back

An open yoke coming to a “V” shape midway down the bodice.

Waist line

Line wound that part of the human figure between the shoulder and the hip that is most narrow.

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.

Watteau back

A loose, full back of a garment, usually a woman’s gown, in which wide box pleats hang from a high shoulder yoke and extend to the hem of the garment. This style is derived from Jean Antoine Watteau, a French artist of the 18th century, in whose paintings women wore dresses with style.

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

The crosswise threads in a woven fabric–traveling from selvage to selvage

Welt

A run-resistant, double-edged strip or insert for embellishment or reinforcement.

Whiskers

Tiny, frayed threads from raw seam edges.

Wing Collar

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

Wrong side

Usually the inside of a garment or the backside of fabric.

 Whipstitching

A type of stitch that passes diagonally over a fabric’s edge.

Windowpane

A checkered pattern characterized by vertical and horizontal lines that intersect to form the appearance of a windowpane.

Yard

Unit of measure that is the equivalent of 3 feet, or 36 inches or 0.9144 metre. (common abbreviations: yd or yrds)

Yardage

Measure of the length of the fabric calculated in yard.

Yarn-dyed

A dyeing process where yarns are immersed in a coloring solution and then woven or knit to make fabric. The colors stay brighter longer.

Yoke

 A panel stitched across the top of pants, a skirt or a shirt. Saddle yoke create an inverted triangle shape in the back of formal shirts. Round, Straight, square, pointed asymmetrical, U yokes are also seen.

Zig Zag stitch

Z-shaped machine stitch used very commonly in place of straight stitch . It is used to finish raw edges or to sew stretchable fabrics

Zipper foot

A presser foot ideal for stitching zippers as it enables sewing with the needle on either side. 

Zipper guard

A double layer of fabric stitched in place behind the zipper to protect skin or the garment when zipper is pulled up.

Sewing Abbreviations

CB       – Center Back
CF      –  Center Front
c/l      – Cotton lycra
CS      – Coverstitch
FL      – Fold Line
FOE    – Fold Over Elastic
GL      – Grain Line
RST    – Right Sides Together
RS      – Right Side
RTW  – Ready To Wear – Garments purchased from shop
SA      – Seam Allowance
TAW  – Tear Away Stabilizer
TTS    – True To Size
WIP   – Work in progress
WOF  – Width of fabric
WS     – Wrong Side
WSS  – Water soluble stabilizer for embroidery
WST  – Wrong Sides Together

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