The following glossary will assist you in learning basic sewing terminology.
Alterations: Changes made to the fit of the garment.
Applique: Decoration made by cutting a piece(s) of one material and sewing the cut piece(s) to another material.
Awl: Used to punch holes into fabric, vinyl, or leather for keyhole buttonholes or eyelets.
Back-tack: Sewing in reverse to secure stitches.
Bar Tack: Thread reinforcement for points of stress.
Baste: Temporarily joining fabric with large loose stitches that are easily removed.
Baste-marking: Marking with hand- or machine-basting.
Beeswax: A hard wax formed from a mixture of several compounds secreted by honeybees. When used in sewing, the sewing thread is drawn across the beeswax cake before sewing, to strengthen the thread.
Bias Grain: The thread line that is at a right angle to the lengthwise and crosswise grain of the fabric as it is on the bolt. The bias has stretch in woven fabric and will hang differently than a garment that has been cut on the straight or crosswise grain.
Bias Tape: Strips of fabric that are cut from the bias of the fabric. Usually folded on two edges and sometimes folded again for edging. The bias allows it to smoothly follow curves.
Birdnest (Birds Nest): Accumulation of thread caught between the fabric and the needle plate, often caught in the needle plate hole and hook assembly. Usually a result of improper threading.
Bobbin: A spool or reel that holds the thread used to form the underside stitching.
Bobbincase: A small round metal device for holding the bobbin and tensioning the bobbin thread.
Bodkin: A tool shaped like a long, blunt needle. It is used like a needle to thread elastic or cording through a casing or large hole.
Clean-finishing: Turning the edge of fabric under once and stitching. It is used on edges of facings, hems, seams, etc.
Computerized Sewing Machine: The machine has memory and automated features not seen on a mechanical sewing machine.
Construction Stitching: Stitching such as seams and darts that shapes and holds a garment together (as distinct from stay-stitching, finishing, etc.).
Couture: The designing and producing of fashionable, high quality, custom-made clothing. Couture techniques are used by tailors for fitting and finishing details.
Crocking: Color rubbing off.
Cross-Stitching: Needlework stitching forming an X.
Decorative Stitch: Stitches that are for embellishment and dÃ©cor. They are not typically used for the construction of the project.
Directional Stitching: Stitching in the direction of the grain in woven fabrics. In knits, stitching all seams in the same direction.
Dressmaker's Gauge: Used to measure different sized buttonholes, pleats, scallops, or tucks.
Drop Feed: To lower the feed dogs.
Ease: The allowance added to a body measurement to make a garment wearable.
Ease, to (verb): To attach a fabric edge to an edge that is slightly shorter. When ease-stitching, the longer edge s very slightly gathered.
Edge Stitching: A row of stitching that appears on the very edge of a garment, normally 1/8" or less from a seam line, fold line or finished edge.
Electronic Sewing Machine: The machine has automated features. Tasks such as changing stitches or adjusting stitch length and width involves pressing a button rather than turning a less-precise knob or lever that's found on a mechanical sewing machine. Electronic sewing machines sew very precise stitches.
Eyelet: A small hole edged with stitches.
Fabric Diagonals: A fabric that is printed on a diagonal. Many patterns state "not suitable for diagonal fabrics." This is means that due to the pattern design it will be impossible to match diagonal prints or designs.
Facing: The area of a garment or sewn item that turns to the inside, giving a finished appearance to what would otherwise just be a raw edge of fabric. The facing is usually interfaced to add shape to the edge of the fabric.
Fashion fabric: The outer fabric of a garment.
Feed Dogs: The "teeth" under the needle plate on the sewing machine that move fabric as it is sewn.
Flat Felled Seam: A heavy duty, durable seam, typically seen on jeans.
Finger-pressing: Opening seam allowances with the thumb. Normally used on fabrics that cannot be ironed.
French Seam: A completely enclosed seam.
Fuse, Fusible: Refers to using a fusible material, which melts to "glue" two layers together. This melting action is done with an iron.
Gather: A method of pulling fabric together to create fullness.
Give: The amount of elasticity in a fabric or a thread.
Grading: Trimming each seam allowance to a different width to reduce bulk and avoid a ridge.
Grainline: The way the threads make up the fabric.
Hand or Handle: The way the fabric feels.
Heirloom Sewing: A needlework technique that imitates fine French hand sewing of the late 1800s using a sewing machine and trims. Typically seen on christening gowns or wedding gowns.
Hem: A turned-under edge, to the inside of a sewn item, made by folding the edge of the sewn item to the inside.
Hem Gauge: An instrument used to speed up the marking of hems by placing the gauge on the hem, turning up the hem and pressing in one step.
Interlining, Interfacing: A layer of fabric added to a lining for warmth.
Knits: Describes fabric that is constructed with loops of thread rather than woven which is threads that intersect at ninety degree angles. Knits have stretch in the fabric.
Mechanical Sewing Machine: Uses knobs and levers to change or adjust stitches. Mechanical machines are typically inexpensive but are not as precise as an electronic or computerized sewing machine. It's great for occasional repairs or projects.
Miter: Sewing the seam diagonally at the corner.
Nap: The raised, hairy or downy surface of fabrics such as flannel. In patterns, "with nap" means any fabric surface that looks different when held up or down, such as pile, knits, and one-way designs.
Needle: Small slender sewing instrument with an eye at one end to pass the thread through.
Needle Bar: Holds the needle in the machine, moves in an up and down motion.
Needle Plate: Plate covering the hook assembly that has a hole in it for the needle to pass through. Also called a throat plate.
Non-woven fabric: Fabric not woven or knitted from thread or yarn. Non-woven fabrics include fake leather, suede, felt, and various interfacings.
Notches: Markings on patterns used for matching.
Pattern: Anything cut or formed to serve as a guide to cutting or forming a project or sewn item.
Pile: The nap of the fabric. When the fabric is brushed in one direction it looks like a different color. Velvet and corduroy are classic examples.
Pivoting: Raising the presser foot while the needle is still in the fabric and moving the fabric around.
Pre-shrinking: Laundering or shrinking the fabric before it is used.
Presser Foot: Holds down the fabric while the needle is in the fabric. There are many different types of presser feet that serve different functions.
Remnant: Discounted small pieces of fabric. They are usually available near the cutting table in fabric stores or departments.
Seam Allowance: The area of fabric that is between the seam stitching and the cut edge.
Seam Ripper: A small tool used for unpicking stitches.
Self-fabric: The fabric that the garment is made from.
Selvage: The edge of raw fabric that is unable to fray. It usually has company info or color matching dots.
Serger or Overlock: A sewing machine that cuts and finishes the seam allowance in one step. The stitches it makes are found in most manufactured clothing.
Sizing: A starch-like finish, added in the manufacture of some natural-fiber fabrics and rayon. It is water and steam soluble.
Stability: The degree of resistance in a fabric from pulling out of shape.
Stay: Tape added to a garment piece to keep it in shape.
Stay-stitching: Stitching done inside the seam allowance, before construction, to stabilize curved or slanted edges.
Stitching-in-the-ditch: Stitching on the right side of the fabric through a seam to fasten something underneath.
Tack: Sewing a few stitches in one spot, by hand or by machine sewing, to secure one item to another.
Tailor Chalk: Used to mark on fabric and is easily brushed away. It is used for construction marking and fitting alterations.
Test seam: A seam done on a scrap of the garment fabric to test the machine stitch.
Thimble: A protective shield worn on the finger or thumb.
Throat Plate: Plate covering the hook assembly that has a hole in it for the needle to pass through. Also called a needle plate.
Topstitching: Hand or machine stitching that shows on the outside of a garment or project.
Understitching: A line of stitching along the edge of facing that keeps it from rolling to the outside.
Utility Stitch: Stitches that are used for the construction of the garment or project. Stitches such as straight, zigzag, or blindhem. Typically not used for decorative purposes.
The following glossary will assist you in learning basic embroidery terminology.
Applique: Decoration made by cutting a piece(s) of one material and sewing the cut piece(s) to another material.
Backing: A material used underneath an item to be embroidered to provide stability and support for the needle penetration.
Conversion Software: A tool designed to allow easy and direct transfer of pre-digitized embroidery designs from the PC to the embroidery machine.
Converter Box: Works like a translator from one memory card format to another, via computer. Converter boxes are programmed to translate designs from memory cards in other formats or from a hard drive, disk, or CD and write the design to a blank card.
Customizing: Manipulating an embroidery design using rotation, mirror imaging, resizing, or merging one design into another. This function is also known as editing.
Cutaway Stabilizer: A backing type that is removed after embroidering by cutting it off.
Density: Refers to the number of stitches or rows of stitches in a given area. Also called Stitch Spacing.
Digitizing: Using artwork from any source, including your original drawings, and converting it into stitches for a computerized embroidery machine. Digitizing can be done automatically by software called Auto-Digitizing software, or can be manually done by you with special software for digitizing. Also called "punching."
Download: Transferring a file from the Internet to your computer.
Editing: Manipulating an embroidery design using rotation, mirror imaging, resizing, or merging one design into another. This function is also known as customizing.
Embroidery: The art or handicraft of decorating fabric or other materials with designs stitched in strands of thread or yarn using a needle.
Embroidery Hoop: A frame that attaches to the embroidery unit to hold the fabric tightly in place.
Embroidery Unit: A piece that attaches to the sewing arm and is typically removable. It holds and guides the hoop under the needle while the machine is embroidering.
Free Motion Embroidery: Creating your own design and using the sewing machine free hand to draw and fill in your design. The feed dogs are dropped and a darning foot is used. The challenge is to keep your hands moving in unison with the sewing machine to create even stitches.
Hoop (to hoop): The process of placing the fabric and / or stabilizer into the embroidery hoop.
Memory Card: A computerized, machine-specific formatted card that fits directly into your sewing machine and works with the built-in computer to stitch out designs.
Monogram: A design of one, two or three letters consisting of a person's initials.
Organdy: A stiff, transparent fabric sometimes used for backing/stabilizer.
Punching: Using artwork from any source, including your original drawings, and converting it into stitches for a computerized embroidery machine. Punching can be done automatically by software called Auto-Punch software, or can be manually done by you with special software for punching. Also called "digitizing."
the fabric to hold it taut as the machine embroiders. There are a variety of stabilizers available with a variety of purposes and uses. Some are used below the fabric while you are embroidering. Some are used on the top. Napped fabric, such as terry cloth, needs a stabilizer on top to hold the nap down and prevent the loops of fabric from poking through the embroidery design. Water soluble and Heat Away are commonly used as a top side stabilizer. Water soluble stabilizer will dissolve in water. Heat away turns to ash with the heat of an iron. Either one will leave no trace of the stabilizer but will hold the fabric down.
System Requirements: What the software requires in order to work on your computer.
The Sewing Center is a division of RMM Enterprises, LLC.
All trademarks and logos are rights of their legal owners. All information is checked
for accuracy, however we cannot be held responsible for inaccurate information.
Copyright © 2013 TheSewingCenter.com
Designed by Rokit