Sewing Terms : A Glossary of 100+ Words

Learn all the terms used in sewing or refresh your memory as to what you know about sewing with this list of most frequently used terms in sewing.

meanings of sewing terms.

In this article I will cover:

Sewing Terms and Definitions


A-line dress 

A dress that has the shape of alphabet A, is narrow at the top and flares, swaying from the body towards the bottom.

Check out how to sew an a-line dress here.

A-line skirt

A skirt that is tight at the waist and hip and flares from the hipline creating a shape like the Capital letter A.

Checkout how to sew an a-line skirt here.

Abutted Dart

Abutted dart is a type of dart used in fabrics, such as interfacing, eliminates unnecessary bulk by bringing the stitching lines together after cutting out the dart’s center. This also means to baste or stitch to an underlay (a woven tape or very lightweight fabric).

Abutted seam

An abutted seam is used to eliminate bulk in an interfacing seam. The seam allowances are removed, and the seam edges are touched together and sewn with a zigzag stitch or 1/8 inch seam to an underlay, for example, a woven tape.

Accessories

All articles which complement the clothes like hosiery shoes, bags, gloves, belts, scarves, jewelry, hats. Accessorizing is the process of adding accessories to apparel. Learn more about the 30 different accessories in fashion here

Accent

A decorative embroidery stitch.

Accent shades

Accent shades refer to contrasting colors of primary colors, usually used as accents and not the main color. Usually, these are bright and dark shades like orange, shocking pink, and fluorescent colors.

Accordion pleats

Permanently pressed machine-made pleats which do not 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 colors

Colors that stand out. Typically warm colors (shades of red, yellow and orange)

Aida fabric

The most commonly used type of fabric for counted cross-stitch. The weave of the thread is visible in this cloth; hence, it is easy to count the stitches.

Alter / Alterations

To change or revise a pattern or garment to suit a person’s size or particulars. This includes lengthening a pant hem, removing a zipper, and making a dress smaller or bigger.

Allowance

The term allowance is used in two ways. 1. Same as seam allowance; extra fabric allowed outside of seam line; 2. extra fabric allowed inside the pattern for gathers, tucks, etc.

Anchoring Stitches 

Anchoring Stitches are made with the shortest stitch length at the beginning, or end of stitching to keep them from being pulled out.

Animal print

Animal print is a fabric pattern representing the skin of an exotic animal, like a zebra or leopard. You can learn more about animal prints in the post on fabric patterns

Animal fabric

Fabrics obtained from animal fibers – skin/fur. Learn more about the different kinds of Animal fabric here.

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.

Apex

The word apex refers to the fullest part of the bust, when taking body measurements.

Apparel

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

Applique

Applique is a decoration made by stitching one piece of fabric onto another fabric by using blind stitches or satin stitches. Learn how to do hand applique; how to do sewing machine applique

Applique scissors

Applique scissors are used to cut applique, they are also called duck bill scissors. One edge is longer for better cutting around edges.

Armhole dart bodice

A bodice with a dart starting from the armscye to the apex of the bust.

Armplate

Part of a dress form covering the arm socket; in metal.

Armscye

The circumference of the Armhole ( where sleeve is sewn). Read more on armscye here.

Asymmetrical garment

Asymmetrical garment is a piece clothing that is not a mirror image of itself from side to side; each side of the garment may have a different silhouette. An asymmetrical neckline is one in which either side of the center front of the garment is different. 

Read more on asymmetrical hemlines and asymmetrical necklines.

Atelier

Atelier is the Studio of a designer or dressmaker.

Avant Grade

Avant grade refers to the most original, experimental, innovative, and most unconventional designs of any particular period.

Awl

Awl is a sewing tool used to make holes in the fabric. It can aslo be used for pushing out corners or make eyelets.

Backless

A Backless Design exposes the back.

Back pleats

Back pleats are tiny pleats on a garment’s back that allows for more room and comfort.

Back stitching

Backstitching refers to the one or two straight stitches made in the beginning to anchor the stitches when you start sewing a seam.

Back yoke

Back yoke is 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.

Back stitch

Back stitch is an embroidery stitch that can also be used sew seams ; Or the stitch used at the beginning and end of a machine sewn seam to anchor the seam in place. More on back stitch embroidery here.

Backing

Backing is a material used beneath a fabric to provide stability and support. This term is usually used in quilting and embroidery.

Baby hem

Baby hem is a hem that is only turned very little as little as 1/8″. This is usually used in stitching sheer fabrics like chiffon. 

Ballerina neckline

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

Ballistic

Ballistic nylon is a thick and durable material usually used in luggage.

Ballpoint needle

Ballpoint needle is used for machine or hand sewing which has a rounded point useful for sewing knits and elastic since it does not pierce the threads but slips between them.

Balance Mark

This is a line marked along the center of a pattern going through the center of bust line, waist line and hip line. It is made to maintain balance in the garment. This is usually marked with needle and thread using basting stitches.

Balance Notches

These are small cuts made in the shape of a v using scissors to denote the middle. It is made at the time of tracing the pattern. They are usually used to mark pleats, darts.

Ball point needle

Ball point needle is a special type of needle used to sew knit fabrics.

Band

A strip which is used to hold, decorate or complement an article, or piece of clothing

Bar

Four or more satin stitches.

Bar tack

A bar tack refers to a particular type of reinforced stitching.The bar stitches are made in a point where you meant to hold something in place. eg at the top of a pocket. There is a special machine for this in industrial sewing. Read more on bartack here.

Basic block

Basic block is the simple outline of a pattern. Learn how to make a basic bodice block here.

Basketweave

Basketweave is 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. Read more about basketweave fabrics here.

Baste

Baste or basting refers to making 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

Basting needle is a long sharp hand-sewing needle used to baste. 

Batting

Batting refers to fiberfill, cotton, wool, or other material used to fill the insides of quilts, hotpads etc. They are available on rolls and are purchased in precut lengths or by the yard. Read more on choosing batting.

Beeswax

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

Beading needle

A beading needle is a long thin needle with a very narrow eye for sequins and beads to pass through.

Bead elastic

Bead elastic is a strong, stretchable cord often used in beading or jewelry making.

Bell sleeve

Bell Sleeve resembles a bell with a flared lower edge. Check out the different types of bell sleeves here.

Besom pocket

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

Between needle

Between needle is a short fine needles used for quilting.

Bias grain/direction of fabric

Bias grain is the direction in a fabric which is not following the warp yarn or weft yarn. It is at a diagonal angle to the weave . 

Bias cut

Bias cut is 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 at a 45 degree angle to the selvedge. This gives the most stretch. Read more on cutting fabric on the bias here.

Bias tape

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

Checkout these posts on different types of bias tapes and making bias tape for more details 

Bias binding tape

Bias binding tape is 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. How to bind with bias tape.

Bias seams

Bias seams are seams cut and sewn on the bias grain.

Binding tape

Binding tape is a trim or a strip of fabric – (woven, usually cut on the bias and knit, or cut crosswise) which encases a hem or a raw edge. Learn how to bind necklines here.

Binding

Binding encases a fabric edge inside a strip of fabric piece; as trim or finish.

Bicep measurement

Measurement around the fullest part of the arm.

Bifurcated dress form

Neck to ankle dress form.

Bird nesting

Bird nesting refers to what happens when sewing on a sewing machine and a thread collection becomes visible between the fabric and needle plate resembling a bird’s nest. Learn different ways to prevent bird nesting here.

Bishop collar

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

Bishop sleeve

Bishop sleeve is 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. Learn more about bishop sleeves here.

Blanket Stitch

Blanket stitch is a hand stitch used to finish a fabric edge. Eg buttonhole stitch ; Read about how to do blanket stitch here.

Bleed

Bleeding (color) refers to when colour of one fabric or portion of fabric transfers to somewhere else. Check out this post on different ways to prevent color bleeding here.

Blouse placket

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

Blouson

Blouson is a women’s jacket that blouses and is drawn at the waist.

Blind stitch

Blind stitch is a kind of hemming which does not show on the right or the wrong side. Ways to do blind stitch here.

Block

Block is a master pattern; in quilting this is an individual block used in the quilt top. Usually this is patchworked 

Blocking pattern

Arranging pattern pieces on fabric so that the grainline of the fabric is correctly laid out with weft and warp threads intersecting each other at right angles

Boatneck

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

Bobbin

The spool that holds the thread for sewing and sits in the bobbin holder under the needle and throatplate. Read more on bobbin here.

Bobbin winder

Bobbin winder is a mechanism in a sewing machine which helps in transferring thread from spool to bobbin effortlessly and quickly

Bodice

Bodice is an upper part of a dress from shoulder to waist. A boned bodice has stays giving it structure.

Bodkin

Bodkin is a long, flat, needle-like tool with a blunt point used to thread elastic ribbon etc., through the casing. Learn more about Bodkin here.

Body rise

Body rise refers to the distance from the shoulder to chestline in a front bodice pattern

Body balance

The form and balance of the body when a person stands straight

Bolt

Bolt is a large roll of cloth as it comes from the manufacturer. It can be on a tubular roll or a rectangular form. Fabric is usually folded right sides together lengthwise on a bolt.

Boning

Boning refers to narrow strips used to stiffen a garment, usually made of plastic, metal, or bone. They are inserted into the seams in corsets, bustiers etc where you want a firm structure and stiff joints. Read more about boning here.

Bonding

Bonding is the permanent joining of two fabrics with a bonding agent , heat setting.

Bootcut 

Bootcut refers to the Jeans style flaring slightly from the knees to accommodate boots underneath.

Boutique

Boutique is a free standing shop devoted to selling specialised merchandise to a niche market.

Box pleats

Box pleats are 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. Read how to make box pleats here.

Bolt

Bolt is a large roll of fabric which can be on a tubular roll or a rectangular form. Fabric is usually folded right sides together lengthwise on a bolt.

Bridle

Bridle is a tape used on the lapel roll line of a jacket.

Build up shoulder

This is a design element where the shoulder is emphasized with embellishments/padding etc.

Bugle beads

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

Bulky

This refers to a large loose silhouette

Buckle

Buckle is a closure usually made of metal or plastic used to close a garment.

Bust dart

Bust dart starts from the neck, shoulder, side seam etc., and ends at the apex of the bust.

Bust form

Neck to waist dress form with bust cup demarcations.

Button-through sleeve placket

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

Butting

Butting is bringing two edges together, so they touch but do not overlap.

Button down

Fastened down with buttons.

Button hole

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

Learn how to hand sew a buttonhole here. And to make machine made buttonholes.

Buttonhole twist

Buttonhole twist is a heavy thread used to hand sew buttonholes.

Button and buttonhole placements ( Pattern symbols)

These symbols are often together and sometimes separate. They indicate the placement of button, its size, and buttonhole that matches.

Button stand

Button stand is a band on which the button is attached on a garment. 

Cable  Stitch

A straight stitch. 

Camp Pockets

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

Camouflage

Camouflage is a design incorporating the army’s brown-green print to hide or mix with the surrounding so that one is not noticed.

Cape collar

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

Cap height

Cap height is the distance from biceps to sleeve cap at center.

Cap sleeve

Cap sleeve is a 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 casing is 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 pattern. It has removable ink on one side in different colour choices.

Casing

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

Catch stitch

Catch stitch is 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

Cathedral train is 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 or the Center front fold 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. Center back fold indicates 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 stitch is 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

Charm pack refers to little precut fabric squares of 5″ * 5″ dimensions.

Chelsea collar

Two long collars around a V neckline.

Chic

Chic means sophisticated or stylish.

Chinois

Chinois refers to Chinese style.

Chinese collar ( Mandarin collar)

Chinese collar is a rounded, stiff collar with an opening, placed close to the neck.

Clip /clipping 

Make small cuts on the seam allowance for easy turning or fit better. Usually used in curved seams.

Clean seam

Clean seam refers to a seam stitched and pressed open. The seam looks invisible when pressed open. Read more about different types of seams here 

Clean finish

Clean finish is a neat finish applied to fabric edges like facing.

Coat collar

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

Construction lines

Construction lines are basic seams of a garment that forms its outline/silhouette.

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 fall of the collar on a shirt or blouse. It is the part of the collar that touches the neck. 

Continuous placket

Continuous placket is a one piece placket usually seen on garments with a partial opening.

Contractor

A contractor is a manufacturing concern that does the sewing for other producers under an agreement.

Convertible Collar

Convertible collar is a rolled collar that can be worn open or closed.  Sewn directly to the neckline.

Cosmopolitan

A cosmopolitan person is a sophisticated, international person.

Classic style

Traditional, timeless style.

Closure

Refers to buttons, zippers etc used to close garment opening.

Connecting stitches

Connecting stitches refers to threads that connect short-distanced objects in embroidery. Distance of 1/16″ is usually the standard for a a connecting 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. Learn different ways to do couching here.

Couturier

Couturier is the 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

Cover seamed is 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

Cowl neck is 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

Crew neck is a tight, round neck of a sweater or t shirt

Circles and squares

These are 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.

Circumference

Measure around something. This is used in sewing to find measurements.

Crease

Creasing is used to make a fold line in the fabric, as an indication while sewing. You can crease with iron or with your hands. The line formed is called a creaseline. A crease edge is created by creasing the edge.

Crewel yarn

Crewel yarn is a two-ply, loosely twisted, fine-worsted yarn used in heavy embroidery.

Crewel needles

Crewel needles are embroidery needles with a longer eye for threading multiple strands of embroidery thread. Suitable for smocking, most embroidery work.

Crimping

Crimping refers to a machine stitch that eases fabric into an area of a seam.

Crochet

Crotchet is the technique of making a loose, open knit fabric by looping thread with a hooked needle.

Crop

Croping refers to shortening the length of a garment; A cropped top is a short top ending just under the bust.

Cross back

A cross back refers to the body measurement taken about 5-7 cms down from the shoulder point on the back. Also called back width. This is especially important for making jackets, waistcoats etc.

Cross grain

Cross grain is the grain of the fabric that lies perpendicular to the selvedge i.e grain running from selvage to selvage. This is formed by warp yarns that start from one selvage to the other selvage. 

Cross grain edge

Cross grain edge is the edge perpendicular to the selvage.

Cross stitch

Cross stitch refers to two stitches that cross to form an x. Checkout the different types of cross stitches here.

Crotch depth

Crotch depth is the distance from waist to crotch level plus desired ease.

Crotch length

Crotch length is the total measurement taken from back waist to front waist along the crotch line.

Crotch level

Crotch level is the area from waist to crotch on a pattern.

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.This will be outside of the stitching line and seam allowance.

Cutting mat

Rubber self healing mat used to protect surfaces when cutting fabric along with a rotary cutter.

Cut on the double

When you cut fabric, if the fabric is folded before cutting it is called cut on the double.

Decorative stitch

An embroidery stitch used to highlight a design. Read more on the decorative stitches in a sewing machine.

Darning foot

Darning foot is a presser foot that is used with dropped feed dogs for free-motion stitching or mending; The darning foot has a circular opening that doesn’t clamp down over the fabric. Read more on using a darning foot here.

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. Learn more in detail about darts here.

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.

Dart point – tip of a dart.

Dart leg

Dart leg is the Length of a dart ; one of the lines that makes up a dart

Dart manipulation

Dart manipulation refers to moving darts to different parts of the pattern for better fit.

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.

Depth of scye

Depth of scye is the distance from shoulder line to chestline.

Design lines

Design lines are style lines like seams or stitching that adds a different dimension to the garment like openings, gathers, tucks, pleats, sashes.

Read more on the design lines used in fashion here.

Design ease

Design ease is the extra measurement added to the pattern for accommodating design lines/ style elements, like ruching. Read more on ease in clothing here.

Diamond Neck

This refers to a diamond-shaped cutout that fastens at the front or back neckline.

Directional stitching

Directional stitching is stitching done in a particular direction, according to the pattern instructions.

Dolman

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

Double-Breasted

Double-Breasted refers to 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

Double breasted collar is a coat collar with overlapping lapels. This collar has double sets of buttons below the collar.

Double needle

Double needle refers to a type of sewing machine needle formed by attaching two machine needles to sew two parallel rows of stitches at once with two spools of thread and one bobbin. It is also called twin needle. Read more about stitching with double needle here.

Double-fold hem

Double-fold hem is a hem that is folded first to enclose the raw edge and then for the hem allowance.

Down

Down is 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

Drape is the way a garment / fabric hangs.

Draping

Draping is creating a garment by arranging fabric on a mannequin ; soft drapey fabric is used this way.

Drafting

Drafting refers to making a sewing pattern based on body measurements.

Drawstring

Drawstring is a string in the seam of a garment which can be pulled to tighten the fullness.

Dress form / Dummy

The Dress form or the Dummy refers to the form made to be a copy of the human form with almost exact dimensions for fitting purposes and draping. 

Dropped Waist / Low Waist

Dropped Waist / Low Waist is a waistline that is sewn below the body’s natural waistline.

Drop stitch

Drop stitch is 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

Drop shoulder sleeve is sleeve that has an extended armhole. Sleeve lies below the shoulder.

Dyed to match

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

Earth colours

Earth colours are colours that 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

Edge stitch is a stitch made very close to the edge as close as 1/8″.

Edging

Edging refers to trims or decorative needle work used on the fabric edge.

Embellish

Embellish means applying special stitches, appliques, decorative stitches and items to enhance the look of the fabric.

Emblem

A symbol or edge

Embossed

Embossed design is a raised design on the surface created by heated rollers under pressure.

Empire waistband/ empireline

Empire waistband/ empireline is a high waistline begins just below the bust, giving tops or dresses a flowing, flattering fit.

Entredeux

Entredeux is a piece of lace. In heirloom embroidery a lightweight fabric is joined to another piece of lightweight fabric with entredeux with connecting stitches. Another method is to join two ribbons with a piece of lace with embroidery stitches.

Envelope waist

Envelope waist is a high waist line that folds over and forms a point like that of an envelope.

Enzyme-washed

Enzyme-washed describes a garment that has been specially treated for extra softness and a worn look.

Epaulet sleeve

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

Ethnic

Ethnic means Native and traditional.

Etched tone buttons

These are buttons with an etched pattern.

Extended tail

Extended tail indicates a design element, when the back portion of the garments longer than the front.

Eyelet

Eyelet is a type of embroidery in which small holes are cut out in the fabric and finished by embellishment of thread around the opening. Read on to find How to add handmade eyelets

Evenweave fabric

Evenweave fabric is a common fabric used for embroidery work with the same number of threads per inch vertically and horizontally. Aida is an evenweave fabric. Linen is another one.

Extension

Extension is an extra fabric added or extra fabric seen outside the seam line.

Fastener

Fastener is a device that fastens or holds together separate fabric parts like zippers buttons etc. Learn more about the different kinds of sewing fasteners here.

Face

The face 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

A Faced waist is finishing a waistline of a skirt with facing rather than a waistband.

Facing

Facing is a method of finishing the edge of a fabric. A 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. Neckline , armhole, hemline can be finished by using a facing. Read about facing here.

Faggoting

A trim added in between two fabric pieces/ edges/seams. Read more on faggoting stitch here.

Fairisle

Fairisle is a knitting style characterized by geometric patterns.

Fat quarter

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

Feed dog

Feed dog is a metallic part of a 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

Fell stitch 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

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

Finger-pressing

Finger-pressing refers to using your fingertips and pressure to press a seam or stitch, when it is not possible to use iron to press 

Finish

Finish 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

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

Fishtail Train

Fishtail Train is fitted around the hips and flares out from the knee to the hemline.

Fitted Point Sleeve

Fitted Point Sleeve is a long, narrow sleeve that tapers to a point which rests against the back of the hand.

Fitted garment

A Fitted garment is a close fitted garment

Fitting

Fitting is the process of trying on a garment to see if it fits ; usually muslin is tried on for fitting. Also called trial.

Flap

Flap is the small fabric piece covering of pockets on shirts.

Flair

Flair is used to describe a big opening at the hem of a garment. 

Flex curve

Flex curve is a type of curved measuring device used to measure and mark armholes or other curved areas on a pattern, garment or dress form.

Flare

Flare is the circumference of the hemline of a garment that extends beyond the normal – it could be the bottom hem or the hem of a sleeve

Flared sleeve

Flared sleeve is 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. Read on to find how to make flat felled seam. 

Flocking

Flocking is 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

Flounce  is 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. Learn how to make a flounce here.

Flounce hem

A sleeve with 2 parts. The flounce is attached to the hem of an ordinary sleeve to form the flounce sleeve.

Fly

Fly is a piece of fabric attached on the crotch line opening on left side  on pants, shorts etc, for attaching buttonholes or zipper. Learn how to sew a zipper fly on pants here.

Fly catch

Fly catch is a piece of fabric attached on the crotch line opening on right-side  on pants, shorts etc, for attaching buttons.

Fork

Fork is a line you draw between the legs in a pattern in the shape of an inverted Y.

Fold line

Fold line 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 this indicates the line on which you turn the fabric for hem or facing.

Fore pitch

Fore pitch is the notch marked on a coat pattern on the forward arm hole for joining a coat sleeve . The notch on the back is known as the Back pitch.

Forte of a garment

Forte of a garment is the strong point of the garment.

Fray

Fray refers to unravelling of threads at the cut fabric edge; Threads start to come out during handling, especially from the cut edges of fabric.

Free motion embroidery

Free motion embroidery is hand guided machine embroidery with dropped feed dogs on fabric fixed on embroidery hoops. Read more about free motion embroidery.

Free motion quilting

Free motion quilting is a method of quilting following the technique of free hand stitching.

French cuffs

French cuffs are turned-up cuffs sometimes fastened with cuff links and sometimes contrasting in color. It is larger than the usual shirt cuff.

French Curve

French Curve is a drafting tool made of metal wood or plastic used for drawing curves.

French darts

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

French knot

French knot 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

French seam is 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. The seam allowance is enclosed in the fold. Read more about french seam.

Frog closure

Frog closure is a decorative closing of fabric with cording or braided material which fits over a ball or button to complete the closure. Read about making frog closures here.

Frogging

Frogging is a term used in sewing to refer to unpicking of stitches after making an error.

Funnel neck

Funnel neck is 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

Fusible is a type of fabric with adhesive on both sides so that you can attach one fabric  on top of another.

Fusible interfacing

Fusible interfacing is a fabric with adhesive on one side. It is used on the wrong side of the main fabric to add shape and support to the main fabric. 

Garment-washed

Garment-washed is a term used to describe 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

Garment dyed is dyeing process done after garment is finished.

Gathering

Gathering refers to drawing fabric together by tightening stitched thread sewn in a row. Learn how to effectively gather fabric here.

Godet

Godet is a triangular fabric piece placed into a hem to give fullness (e.g., the bottom of a skirt). Learn how to sew a godet here.

Gorge line

Gorge line is a seam that joins the collar and neckline at the lapel.

Gorge

The depth of the neck

Gore

Gores are vertical garment sections that are cut narrow at the top and wide at the hem. This is added to increase width at the bottom part of a fabric. 

Gimp

Gimp is a cord added to buttonholes to give it some strength ; used in coats/jackets

Girth

Girth indicates the circumference in the botttom part of the clothing

Grading 

Grading is the process of converting a pattern from one size to another.

Grading seams

Grading a seam refers to  trimming your seam to various levels making each layer of fabric a different width, to reduce bulk.

Grain

Grain indicates the orientation of the threads in woven fabric. The three grains of fabrics are crossgrain (weft), lengthgrain (warp) or diagonal (bias). 

Grain refers to the smooth side of a piece of leather after tanning.

Grain line

Small lines visible between weft and warp yarns on the fabric. Read more about grain line of fabric here.

Grain arrow 

Grain arrow is a straight line carrying an arrow at each end. This is used to position pattern on the fabric. You place this line parallel to the selvage or lengthwise grain.

Gradations

Gradations refers to shades of colour.

Grey goods

Grey goods are unfinished fabric just out of the loom.

Guage

Gauge is the number of threads per inch. Gaude is also called the number of holes per inch (hpi)

Gusset

Gusset is an insert (Usually in a diamon shape) in a seam of the garment allowing for more space or opening ; It is usually triangle shaped or diamond shaped

Haberdashery

Haberdashery is a shop dealing with Small items (notions) used in sewing like buttons, snaps etc – this is the meaning of this term in UK

Haberdashery is a shop selling mens apparel and accessories in the US.

Ham

Ham is a hard, stuffed form used to shape darts and curves during pressing.

Hand

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

Hand finishing

Hand finishing is doing the last more detailed finishes of a garment by hand.

Hanky sleeve

In a hanky sleeve, the lower edge of the sleeve hangs down like a handkerchief.

Haute Couture

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

Heat-transferred print

Heat-transferred printing is 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

Hem is a 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

Hemming tape is an adhesive strip of 1/2 inch wide used for hemming. This is applied at the fold of a garment for a quick hem. How to use hem tape – instructions

Hemline 

In patterns, a hemline is indicated by a solid line that you turn up for the hem. Different types of hemlines

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

High bias collar is 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

High waist is also known as empire waist line. This waist line is very high usually in line with the bust line.

Hip curve

Hip curve is a curved ruler used to mark the curved sides of the bodice.

Hip Pockets

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

Hollywood Waistband

Hollywood Waistband is characterized by a full elasticized back and a side zipper or button closure.

Hong Kong finish

Hong Kong finish is a bias-bound edge seam finish. The seams are bound with bias tape on the wrong side off the garment.

Hook-and-eye closure

Hook-and-eye closure is 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

Hoop is 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. Learn more about the different types of embroidery hoops here.

Horsehair braid

Horsehair braid 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. Learn how to sew with horsehair braid here.

Horn tone buttons

These are buttons which looks like made of horn.

Illusion Bodice

Illusion bodice is made of sheer material giving the illusion of not having a bodice.

Illusion Sleeve

Illusion sleeve is a sleeve made of sheer material giving the illusion of no sleeve.

Inlay

Inlay refers to the extra seam allowance of about 1/5 inch you leave for future expansion  when sewing jackets pants etc. You can increase the size of the garment, this way.

Inseam

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

Inset

Inset is a narrow strip of fabric or trim stitched between  two fabric pieces for fit or decorative purposes.

Interfacing

Interfacing is 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. Learn about the different types of interfacing used in sewing here.

Interlining

Interlining is 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.

Inverted pleats

Inverted pleats are inside out box pleats, usually made around the width of skirts.

Invisible zipper

Invisible zipper disappears into the seam. Just the zipper pull will be visible from the outside.

Iron

Pressing tool for sewing. This is a very important tool in the sewing room, to press the clothes, especially seams, not iron. Ironing will stretch the fabric and distort it so take care only to press. So pressing is prefered witht the iron.

Jewel tones

Jewel tones are deep shades of colours red, blue, green, and purple.

Jetting

Jetting is adding a reinforcing fabric strip to pockets which may be concealed. A welt pocket is also called jetted pocket.

Johnny collar

Johnny collar is an open, split neckline with a pointed collar.

Jungle print

Jungle print is a fabric pattern depicting African plants, and animals.

Kabuki sleeves

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

Kangaroo pouch pocket

Kangaroo pouch pocket is 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

Keyhole neckline is a round or teardrop-shaped cutout that fastens at the front or back neckline. Check out more about different types of keyhole necklines here.

Khakhi

Earth colours / military colours

Kick pleats

Kick pleats are short, inverted pleats stitched till the hips. You can also sew it as slits. Learn how to sew such kick pleats here.

Kimono sleeve

Kimono sleeve is a slightly longer and broader version of the Magyar sleeve, which is an extension of the bodice. Usually seen in the Kimonos. Learn more on kimono sleeve here.

Knife pleats

Knife pleats are thin, very firmly pressed pleats, facing in one direction.

Kurta Placket

Kurta Placket is a placket opening mostly seen in kurtas for men and women they have one piece broader than the other. You can learn how to sew a kurta placket in this post.

Kurta sleeve

Kurta sleeve is 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

Ladder stitch 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 (useful in invisible mending). Learn different ways to stitch a ladder stitch here.

Lap

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

Lapels

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

Lapped seams

Lapped seams are seams in which the edges of the two pieces of fabric overlap. Usually used with fabrics that do not 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

Layered sleeve is a sleeve with overlapping Layers of different lengths, stitched together at the armhole line.

Layered skirt

Layered skirt is a skirt with two or more layers of gathered or circle skirts

Layout

Layout refers to how the different pattern pieces are arranged on the fabric. An optimal layout will ensure that you do not waste fabric

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

Leg of mutton sleeve is 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. Learn how to draft a leg of mutton sleeves here.

Lettuce edge

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

Linen

Linen fiber is obtained from flax plants. As  it makes a fabric which is cool, absorbent, breathable and durable it is very suitable for summer clothes. Learn more about Linen here.

Lining

Lining is 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. Learn more about lining here and the best fabrics to sew lining.

Lithograph

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

Locking

Locking Indicates the repeated reinforcing stitches made at the starting of stitching

Lock stitch

Lock stitch is a basic stitch made by a sewing machine

Magyar sleeve

Magyar sleeve is a short sleeve is an extension of the bodice.

Manipulation

Manipulation refers to using a hot iron or steam to press sewn garments and change the fit and shape.

Marble print

Marbled print is a speckled pattern that imitates natural stone patterns

Mandarin collar

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

Mannequin

A Mannequin is a dummy in human form – very useful for displaying clothes and for draping fabric to make patterns

Mark

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

Marled

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

Margin

Margin refers to the extra seam allowance of about 1 inch you leave for future expansion  when sewing. 

Merchandising

Merchandising is the presentation of new products.

Mend

Mend means to repair something. In sewing mending refers to repairing a hole or patching over a hole or repairing a ripped seam. Learn different ways to repair holes on a jeans

Mitering

Mitering 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

Mother of pearl refers to logo buttons made from mother of pearl with a logo inscribed on them.

Muslin

A muslin is a test garment that checks fit and style, made to ensure that pattern meets the maker’s expectations, prior to making the final garment. Also called Toile.

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

Nap is 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 because of the the variation in colour reflection from threads lying different ways. Fabrics with nap are Velvet, Corduroy, and terry cloth. Checking for nap is particularly important when cutting. 

You can learn more about Nap here

Natural Waist

Natural waist is 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. Learn about the 10 different neutral colors here.

Newyork Hem

Newyork Hem is 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. You can find this hem described in this post on different ways to alter the length of jeans 

Notches

Notches are 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.

Notching

Notching is making double cuts on the seam allowance so that wedge shaped pieces are cut out from the seam allowance which makes the seam lie better – used in curves and when you overlap seams to reduce bulk.

Notions

Notions is the collective name for all the items used in sewing, other than sewing machine and fabric.

Off-The-Shoulder Neck

Off-The-Shoulder Neck is 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.

Find out how to sew an offshoulder top and how to sew an offshoulder dress and the different types of offshoulder neckline (Bardot) styles here

Overcast stitch

Overcast stitch is a 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. Learn how to make overcast stitches here.

Overlapping

Overlapping is the term used when one edge of an opening overlaps the other edge.

Paperbag waist

Paperbag waist is usually with an elasticized  or drawstring style waistband for skirts, and pants, that forms a gathered effect above the waist

Padding

Padding refers to extra fabric or material added to emphasize that part in a garment.

Pagoda sleeve

Pagoda sleeve is 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.

Panel

Panels are fabric pieces added to a garment to increase the width or as a design element.

Patch pockets

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

Patch work

Patch work is a design made from sewing small patches of cloth together. Learn more about the different ways of doing patchwork here.

Patch or Emblem

A patch is an embroidered design with a finished edge stitched independant of garment. Checkout this post on making clothing patches and also sewing clothing patches here.

Pattern layout

Pattern layout refers to keeping the pattern on fabric and tracing it in a particular direction.

Pattern weights

Pattern weights are weights used to keep the paper patterns on the fabric instead of using pins.

Peter Pan collar

Peter Pan collar is a small collar that is flat and close-fitting with rounded ends.

Picot

Picot is a row of tiny decorative loops sewn or cut along the edge of a garment. Learn how to sew a picot edge here.

Pieced

Pieced refers to 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. This dye boasts excellent features for light colors and less so for darker shades.

Pile 

Pile refers to fibers that stand upright on the face of some fabrics (Learn more about pile fabrics)

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. Learn how to prevent and reduce the effect of pilling here.

Pins

Pins are used to hold the paper patterns on the fabric when cutting and to hold fabrics together when stitching. Check out the different types of sewing pins here.

Pin holder

Pin holder is a cushion or a container used to hold various pins

Pintuck

Pintuck is a small, narrow fold of fabric stitched together to create the appearance of a line or stripe. Learn more about different types of pin tucks here.

Pinking shears

Pinking shears are scissors with a zig zag edge which cuts fabric with a zig zag edge, so that the cut edge wouldnot fray.

Piping

Piping is 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. Checkout this post on sewing piping here.

Pivot

Pivot means 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

Placket is a means of finishing an opening – A v shaped opening is made by a piece of cloth that covers an opening with an overlap. It supports or hided the closures like buttons and buttonholes. Learn more about plackets here.

Plaited

Plaiting involves 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)

Patch pocket is an outward pocket that is sewn on the surface of a garment.

Pocket placement 

The area where you attach the finished pocket.

Pocket stay

Pocket stay is a type of tape used to reinforce the top of a 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

Polo collar is isually seen in pullovers made in knitted fabric. This collar lies close to the neck in double fabric.

Pork chop pockets

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

Preshrunk

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

Preshrinking

This refers to washing fabric before sewing so that any sizing present is washed off and further shrinking is avoided. Learn more details on preshrinking fabrics before sewing here.

Pressing

Pressing refers to using the iron on the fabric in a up and down motion to apply heat without dragging on the surface as it is done in ironing.

Press Mark

Press marks are undesirable shining lines, or marks on the outside of the garment due to incorrect ironing. Learn more about pressing fabric here.

Pressing template

Pressing template is an object used to create a smooth, crisp line or edge when pressing.

Prewashed/Prewashing

Prewashed is a term used to describe fabrics or garments, especially tees and jeans, which have already been washed to add softness and prevent shrinking. Prewashing is washing the fabric before using it for a project so that the sizing is removed and shrinking is done.

Pick stitch

Pick stitch is a short back stitch used on bulky materials like velvet. Learn more about the pick stitch here.

Pin cushion

Pin cushion is a stuffed object to which pins are pressed to keep them safe.

Princess seams

Princess seams are 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. Learn more about princess seams here.

Princess sleeves

Princess sleeves are gathered sleeves with straight plain pieces inserted in between.

Puckering 

When stitching ( hand or machine)  the stitches gather together bunching up the fabric. Learn how to avoid puckering here.

Puff embroidery

Puff embroidery is stitching a dense motif over embroidery or craft foam to create a three dimensional effect.

Puffed sleeves

Puffed sleeve is a sleeve with gathers or pleats at the arm hole or lower edge. (Pouf sleeve, or puff sleeve, or gathered sleeve) Learn how to draft puff sleeves here.

Quarter inch quilting foot

Quarter inch quilting foot is a sewing machine foot designed to sew with a 1/4 inch sewing allowance.

Quilting needles

Quilting needles are also called betweens needle. A Quilting needle is a short needle with a rounded eye that can stitch medium and heavy weight fabrics easily.

Raveling

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

Raw edge

Raw edge refers to the unfinished cut edge of a fabric.

Rectangular sleeve

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

Resizing

Resizing means Changing/scaling a pattern to different sizes.

Reverse applique

Reverse applique 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. Learn different ways to do reverse applique here.

Reversible

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

Ribbing

Ribbing refers to raised ribs of fabric arranged vertically or horizontally.

Ric-rac

Ric-rac is a decorative trim on clothing featuring a flat fabric that forms a zigzag pattern.

Rippled collar

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

Right side

This refers to the face of the fabric with the pattern.

Rise

Rise is the distance between the waistline and crotch seam of pants. 

Rivet

A fastener attached to a hole. Usually used in Jeans. Learn more about attaching rivets.

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. How to use a rolled hemmer feet to make a rolled hem can be seen here.

Rosette

A fabric embellishment that’s pleated and ruffled to resemble a rose. Find many tutorials to make fabric roses here.

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. Learn more about using a rotary cutter and a self healing mat here.

Ruche

A pleated or gathered strip of fabric used as a decorative, feminine accent. Learn more about ruching here.

Ruffler

This is a sewing machine attachment used to make ruffles.

Running stitch ( Straight stitch)

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

Ruffle

Ruffle is a strip or frilled or gathered fabric used for trimming or decoration. Learn how to make ruffles here.

Ruffled sleeve

Ruffled sleeve is a short sleeve with gathers all around the armhole.

Sagging

Sagging is a result of poor fitting; Referes to the loose folds sagging as a result of clothes not fitting on the body.

Sailors collar

Sailors 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

Salvage is to save or recover from destruction; repurpose clothes.

Satin Stitch

Satin stitch is a closely made zig zag stitch used for applique, and other decorative purposes. Can be done by hand and by machine. Checkout the post on sewing satin stitch here.

Sash

Sash is an Ornamental band, scraf, strip, or belt worn around the waist over the shoulders. Learn different ways to make sash here.; and to make obi sash belt.

Scallop

A border that contains continuous curves finished with bourdon stitching. Check out the different types of scalloped edges you can make here.

Scribble stitch

Scribble stitch is a meandering stitch made by a sewing machine ; the stitching lines would not touch each other. It is used as a quilting stitch to hold different layers of fabric together.

Seam

A seam joins different fabric pieces to form one piece by stitching. Learn more about a plain seam and 17 different ways to stitch the seam here.

Seamline

A seam line is the resulting line when two fabrics are stitched together in a straight line usually 1/2 inches from the cutting line.

Seam Allowance

Seam allowance is the distance between the cutting line and the seam line.

Seam Finish

Seam finish refers to methods used to finish the edges of a seam.

Seam ripper

A seam ripper is a very handy tool in the sewing room, used to remove stitches.

Seam roll

A seam roll is 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 seam tape is a stable lightweight ribbon-like tape used to stabilize seams and finish hems.

Secondary colours

The secondary colors are Orange, green and 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

Self-facing is facing cut from the same fabric as the garment.

Self fabric collar

Self fabric collar 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

Serge is an edge or seam sewn on a serger. The finish used is termed serge finish.

Serger (Overlock machine)

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

Set-in Sleeve

Set-in sleeve is joined to the garment at the natural edge of the shoulder line

 Scallops

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

Scoop Neck / Round Neck

A scoop neck is a low, U-shaped or round neckline.

Scraps

Left over pieces of fabrics ; saved to use for small projects.

Screen print

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

Scye up / Scye lower

The point where the armhole attaches to the sleeves to maintain the correct balance of a sleeve is known as scye. The point at the back is known as scye up and the front part is known as scye lower.

Seedstitching

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

Selvedge

Selvedge or selvage is the finished edge of the fabric (along the length side/ warp)

Sewing weights

Small weights used to anchor fabric while cutting or sewing 

Shank

Shank is a 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. You can add shank to normal buttons with thread.

 Shawl collar

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

Shirt collar

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

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

Short waisted is having a short torso. It indicates the distance between shoulders and waist that is shorter than average.

Shrinkage

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

 Silhoutte

Silhouette is an outline or the shape of the garment or body.

Side vent

A side vent is a slit at the bottom edge of  side seams which overlap.

Sizing

A light starch fabric finish given to fabrics  to add some crispiness.

Slashed pocket

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

Sleeve board

Sleeve board is a small ironing board that fits inside a sleeve.

Sleeve cap

Sleeve cap is the curved top section of the sleeve from the front underarm to the back under arm. It is also called Sleeve head/ sleeve crown.

Sleeve ease

Sleeve ease is ease added to the sleeve to be able to move the arm easily and comfortably.

Slip on

Clothing put on the head without laces or fasteners

Slipstitch

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

Slit

A slit is an opening on a garment which doesnot overlap.

Sloper

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

Snap tape

Snap tape is a firmly woven tape to which snap fasteners are securely anchored.

Snips (Thread)

A thread snip is a very handy tool to cut thread. It is 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.

Spaghetti straps

Spaghetti straps are very thin straps attached to a bodice.

Spangles

Spangles are 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

Spool is the holder of thread made of wood, plastic etc.

Stabilizer

Stabilizer is 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

A stash is a collection of fabrics.

Stay stitch

Stay stitch is 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

Stitching line is the actual line on which you sew. In pattern symbols this is shown as  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.

Stitch-in-the-ditch

Stitch-in-the-ditch refers to 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.

Stitch and flip

Stitch and flip is to sew two fabric pieces together and then flip to the other side and press.

Stonewashed

Stonewashed is 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

Storm flap is 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 of the fabric

Straight grain of the fabric is the vertical grain of the fabric. It runs parallel to the selvage of the fabric.

Straight-grain tape

Straight-grain 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 tape can be used to stabilize bias and cross-grain seams and edges.

Straight pins

Straight pins are 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.

Style lines

Style lines are various lines made on patterns to create a new look or design, that makes it different from the basic block.

Sunray

Sunray rays are thin, knife pleats placed in the center of a garment. Eg. the pleats of a saree.

Suppression

This refers to making the slanted stitching line to shape the waistline.

Surplice

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

Swatch

A swatch is a piece of fabric. It may be a scrap or a piece of fabric cut from a bolt as a sample.

Sweetheart neckline

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

 Swiss dot

Swiss dots are woven, flocked or embroidered dots on a sheer, lightweight fabric providing a textured pattern.

Tacking

Tacking refers to long, running stitches that hold layers of fabric together. These stitches have to be removed after the final sewing.

Tacking thread

Tacking thread is a type of weak thread used for tacking – because of its lack of strength, it’s easy to remove the tacking stitches.

Tambour needle

Tambour needle is 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. Learn how to use a tambour needle here.

Taped seams

The taped seam is a strip of fabric sewn to the seam of a garment to prevent distortion. In outerwear, taped seams help waterproof the garment..

Tape measure

A tape measure is a long flexible measuring tape used to take custom body measurements.. Checkout the post on reading the tape measure accurately.

Taper

Tapering refers to decreasing width gradually and bring it to a point

Tapestry needle

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

Tape yarn

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

Tension

Tension refers to Thread tautness. Check out this post on adjusting sewing machine tension.

Texture

Fabric texture is the surface feel/look of a fabric.

Toile

A toile is a test garment made to test a pattern for fit. Also called muslin.

Torso

Torso is the body part of a doll with out the head, arms, or legs. This refers to the body of humans too.

Topping

Topping is a material placed on top of fabric to hold embroidery stitches above it.

Top stitch

Top stitch is a stitching line on the right side of the garment 1/4 inch from the edge. This is done usually as a decorative feature. Learn more on top stitching here.

Tracing paper

A tracing paper is a semi transparent paper used for tracing drawing etc

Tracing wheel

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

Tricot lining

Tricot lining is a very lightweight nylon lining used inside shorts.

Trim

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

Truing the pattern

Truing the pattern is checking to be sure that all areas match up, after stitching like whether the side seams are the same length, shoulder seams are the same etc.

Tubular collar

Tubular collar is a collar which is knit in a tube form so that it has no seams.

Tuck

A Tuck 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. It is usually sewn on the right side of the fabric.

Tuck in tails

Tuck in tails is 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

Tulip sleeve is 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

The turtle neck is a high, close-fitting, turnover collar used especially for sweaters.

Turning 

Turning refers to the seam allowance for turning under the hem 

Twill tape

Twill tape is 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 design

Two Way zipper

Two Way zipper is zipper with two zipper pulls, so that it can be unzipped from both directions.

Two – piece sleeve

A sleeve made of 2 parts. This is usually seen in tailored suit jackets.

Umbrella sleeve

Umbrella sleeve is a full length sleeve with a flared edge.

Under arm grommets

Under arm grommets are small holes in the armpit area to allow breathablility and air circulation.

Underlay

Underlay is a layer of fabric underneath another layer of fabric.

Underlining

Underlining is 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. Read more about underlining here.

Understitching

Understitching 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

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

V patch

V patch is 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

Velcro is a tape 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. It is usually used at the back of skirts to give walking ease, on sleeve hems.

Vents

A vent is a lined opening or slit meant to aid in comfort and that allows breathability. It is also added as a design element. It also provides ease to embroider the inside of a garment. One side of the vent will seem to overlap the other (different from slits).

Learn different ways to sew vents here.

V-Neck / V-Back

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

Wadding

Wadding is another name for batting; A fibrous material used for stuffing inside quilts etc for insulation and thickness.

Waist line

Waistline is an imaginary line around that part of the human figure between the shoulder and the hip that is most narrow.

Waist stay

The waist stay is a stable piece of fabric sewn inside a dress at the waist, used to support the area.

Walking foot

Walking foot is a presser foot that steps across the fabric instead of sliding to facilitate even feed. Best when sewing several layers of fabric together and for sewing slippery fabrics.

Warp

Warp refers to lengthwise thread in woven fabric that runs parallel to selvage.

Wash away stabilizer

Wash away stabilizer provides support to fabric, then dissolves in water. It is advantageous when embroidering onto a cloth.

Waste canvas

Waste canvas is used in embroidery on the face of the fabric and is dampened and frayed away with the help of tweezers after the work is done, as the threads of this fabric are held together by starch. This is helpful in doing counted embroidery work like cross stitch on non-evenweave fabrics.

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

In simple terms, a welt is a band of fabric inserted on top of a pocket – to make it complicated; it is a  strip or insert for embellishment or reinforcement. It can be single-edged or double-edged. Fabric-covered cord sewn into a seam is also called a welt.

Whiskers

Tiny, frayed threads from raw seam edges.

Wing Collar

Wing collar is a collar with projections which cover shoulder seams of bodices and doublets.

Wing needle

Wing needle is a needle with wide, wing shaped, flared sides used to create holes in tightly woven fabrics. It is useful in heirloom sewing and creating pin holes for entredeux embroidery. 

Wrist round

Wrist round is the measure around the bottom hemline area of a sleeve, level with the wrist of the arm.

Wrong side

Wrong side refers to the inside of a garment or the backside of fabric.

Whip stitching

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

Windowpane

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

Yard

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

Yardage

Yardage is the measure of the length of the fabric calculated in yard.

Yardstick

A yardstick is a measuring device of wood or metal for measuring long, straight areas.

Yarn-dyed

Yarn dyeing is a process where yarns are immersed in a coloring solution and then woven or knit to make fabric. The colors stay brighter longer. The yarns are dyed before weaving or knitting. 

Y shaped neckline

This is a V neckline which extends down the center front and looks like a Y. 

Yoyo

Yoyo is a rosette-shaped embellishment made by gathering the edge of a circle. Learn many ways to make a yoyo here. You can also checkout this post on making a yoyo applique fabric. 

Yoke

Yoke is a panel of fabric stitched across the top of pants, a skirt, or a shirt. Saddle yokes create an inverted triangle shape in the back of formal shirts. Round, Straight, square, pointed asymmetrical, U yokes are also seen. . Read more about yokes in sewing here.

Zig Zag stitch

Zigzag stitches are Z-shaped machine stitches used very commonly in place of straight stitches. They are used to finish raw edges or to sew stretchable fabrics. Different uses of zig zag stitch can be read here.

Zip-In/Zip-Out Lining

Zip-in zip-out lining is a removable lining that is attached with buttons, or a zipper can be removed.

Zipper foot

Zipper foot is a presser foot ideal for stitching zippers as it enables sewing with the needle on either side. Checkout the post on different types of zippers for more details on its anatomy

Zipper fly

A zipper fly is a short opening on the front of a trouser/jeans with zipper fastening.

Zipper guard

A zipper guard is a double layer of fabric stitched behind the zipper to protect the skin or the garment when the 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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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

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