Sewing Terms

**All from UK magazine Sew Hip**

Appliqué: Sewing a piece of fabric on top of another piece of fabric for decorative reasons.

Backstitching: Sewing back and forth over the same stitches to lock the end or the beginning of a line of sewing.

Bias: Runs diagonally to the straight grain of fabric. Fabric cut on the bias has more stretch.

Basting: The sewing of a large, temporary stitch, by hand or machine.

Binding: Encasing the raw edges of a blanket or quilt with another piece of fabric.

Blanket Stitch: A hand or machine stitch that is used to neaten the edge of a blanket, buttonhole, or another seam line.

Darn: To repair a hole by using stitches going back and forth that fill the hole.

Dart: A v-shaped, tapered adjustment to a pattern to allow more fullness in the bust area or less fullness in the waist or back.

Embellish: To add special stitching, appliqués, or other decorations to your sewing project.

Facing: Fabric sewn on the raw edge of a garment piece, which is turned under and serves as a finish for the edge as well.

Fat Quarter: A quilting term on fabric. A fat quarter is 1/4 yard of fabric, about 18x22in., as opposed to a regular 1/4 yard, which is 9x45in.

Feed Dog: The ‘teeth’ under the plate on a sewing machine that moves the fabric along.

Finish {an edge}: To turn under 1/4in and stitch or serge the edge so it doesn’t fray or have too much bulk.

Fold Line: Pattern pieces are often placed on the fold of a piece of fabric.

Fuse: The use of a special material that melts to ‘glue’ two layers together. The fusing works by being melted by an iron.

Free Motion: Generally a quilting technique that involves lowering the feed dogs {or covering them} and sewing with total free movement of the fabric.

Gathering: A method of easing a seam to allow insertion of sleeves and other rounded pattern pieces.

Grain: The direction of the fabric that runs parallel to the selvedge.

Hem: An edge that is turned under to the inside of a sewn item, and sewn.

Interfacing: An unseen addition to various parts of a garment, which adds body that the fbric alone would not add.

Inseam: The seam on a trouser leg that runs from the crotch to the hem.

Notion: A term used for any item used for sewing, other than the fabric and the machine.

Notch: A notch is shown on a pattern with a dark diamond. They are commonly cut outward and should be matched on seams.

Overlock: An overcast stitch to prevent the fraying of fabric edges.

Placket: The v-shaped opening at the end of a sleeve that is finished with a bias strip before the cuff is attached.

Pressing: A different process than ironing. Instead of running the iron across the fabric, you gently lift the iron to press a new area as to not distort the fabric grain.

Right Side: The right side of the fabric is the side the design is on. Sometimes a fabric has no discernible right side, so then it is up to the sewer to decide which is the right side.

Rotary Cutter: A cutting tool used in quilting to cut fabric instead of scissors. Shaped like a pizza cutter, it is perfect for cutting long strips of fabric or many layers at once.

Running Stitch: A simple stitch often used for basting or as bias {marking} for another, more decorative stitch.

Satin Stitch: A zig zag stitch with a shortened length that forms a continuous, solid line.

Seam Allowance: The area between the stitching and raw, cut edge of the fabric. Your pattern should say which seam allowance you are to use, often 1/4in, 1/2in, or 5/8in.

Stash: A collection of fabrics, threads tools and more, which you need for sewing.

Stay Stitch: A line of stitching just inside {about 1/8in} the intended permanent stitch line on curved edges that stabilizes the curve.

Selvedge: The edges of the fabric that have the manufacturer’s information.

Stitch in the Ditch: A method of stitching close to a seam allowance or in the seam itself, often used in quilting.

Straight Stitch: The regular stitch that most sewing machines make.

Top Stitch: A decorative or functional stitch that is usually 1/4in from the edge of a seam.

Tension: Your sewing machine has two types of tension – the thread tension and the bobbin tension.

Tack: To sew a few stitches in one spot, by hand or machine, to secure two items.

Walking Foot: An attachment for your sewing machine that enables smoother sewing when quilting several layers of fabric together.

Warp: The threads that run the length of a woven fabric.

Weft: The threads that run at a right angle to the warp – also known as the cross grain.

Wrong Side: The side of the fabric that has no design or that you don’t want facing outwards.

Zig Zag Stitch: Is a stitch that goes one way {zig} and then the other {zag} and provides a nice finish to a seam to prevent fraying. It can also be used as a decorative stitch.


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