Have you ever come across a sewing term in a pattern instruction or DIY and wondered what the heck it meant?
Attempting a new project or trying to learn a new skill can be intimidating, especially when you have to pick up all the new terminology (hello crocheting!).
No more, dear friends! Today, we’re bringing you a handy dandy cheat sheet of the top sewing terms you need to know to make your own amazing creations.
Let’s get to it, so you can start sewing like a pro!
An applique refers to any time you stitch one piece of fabric on top of another one (think of a patch), and it’s typically done with a tight satin stitch.
If you’re sewing on a machine, a backstitch allows you to sew backwards then forward for a couple stitches to secure your stitching and keep it from coming out.
If you’re embroidering or hand stitching, a backstitch allows you to create a continuous line of neat, uniform stitches.
Basting is a long, loose stitch used to keep fabric in place while you sew. It can take the place of pins to hold fabric and is typically removed once your actual stitching is done.
The fabric bias is the diagonal line that runs at a 45° angle across the grain of your fabric. Cutting fabric on the bias gives it the most stretch or give.
These are those folded strips that are sewn on the edge of fabric (as on a quilt) to give it a nice finished edge. Cutting it on the bias allows the tape to go around corners and curves smoother. You can purchase pre-made bias tape, or learn to make your own!
A bobbin is the little, flat spool of thread that supplies the bottom looping thread in your sewing machine.
A casing is created by folding over the edge of fabric to create a space that will hold elastic or a drawstring, such as a waistband.
Darts are triangle-shaped folds (wider at the top, a narrow point at the bottom) that are used to tailor a garment and fit it around the curves of the body.
You attach a facing, usually made of the same fabric as your garment, to finish a seam (typically arm and neck holes).
A quarter yard of fabric measuring 18 x 22 in. Usually used in small projects or quilting.
On a sewing machine, the feed dog is that little plate with teeth the moves the fabric along on the underside as you sew.
Fusing is an iron-on material with heat-activated adhesives used to stick one piece of fabric to another. You iron it onto one piece of fabric, peel off the paper backing, then use an iron to adhere it to the second piece of fabric.
When you gather fabric, you create a ruffle effect by stitching with a loose basting stitch, then pulling fabric together to make small tucks or ruffles.
Take a look at the weave of your fabric. You’ll notice the threads run in lines either parallel or perpendicular to the edge (or selvage) of the fabric. This is the grain.
A hem is completed when you fold up the bottom of your fabric and stitch it to create a nice, finished edge.
Like a fusible, interfacing is a thin, iron-on fabric or webbing used to reinforce or add rigidity to fabrics.
An invisible or blind hem is a type of stitch that creates a hem where the stitching doesn’t show on the outside (or right side) of the fabric.
The lining is a thin layer of fabric sewn on the inside of a garment or project to make it less see-through.
Notions are all the accessories or tools you need for a sewing project (thread, pins, needles, buttons, etc.).
The presser foot is the part of the sewing machine that holds your fabric down and moves up and down as you sew.
A raw edge describes the edge of a cut piece of fabric and, depending on the fabric, will usually fray.
The right side of fabric describes the outside of your fabric, or the side you want to show when your project is done.
Right sides together (RST) means you should stack fabric with the right sides facing each other when you sew.
The seam is the row of stitching that holds two pieces of fabric together, or the row of stitching where they meet.
The seam allowance is the amount of space between the edge of fabric and the row of stitching. For instance, if you have a ¼ in. seam allowance, there will be ¼ in. from the seam stitching to the fabric edge.
The seam ripper is a handy little tool with a sharp point and curved blade used to carefully remove stitches from fabric.
The selvage is the finished edge that runs along the length-wise grain of your fabric.
A serger is a sewing machine that uses anywhere from 3-5 threads to create a serging stitch that gives fabric a nice, finished edge.
A straight stitch is the standard stitch performed by a sewing machine.
Top stitching is when you create a finishing line of stitching that will show on the outside of your project. It can be to reinforce a part of the project, or just used as a decorative stitch.
Turning a project means that you stitch it together inside out leaving an opening, then you turn your project right side out through that opening and stitch it shut.
Warp and Weft
The warp and weft describe the grain of your fabric. The warp is the threads that run along the length of the fabric (parallel with the selvage). The weft runs across the width of the fabric (perpendicular to the selvage).
The wrong side of the fabric is the inside, or the side you don’t want to show on your finished project.
Wrong sides together (WST) means fabric should be stacked so the wrong sides face each other when you sew.
Hooray! You now have a handy glossary of sewing terms you need to know. You’re on your way to speaking like a seasoned sewer!