This glossary contains terms used in sewing, tailoring and related crafts. For terms used in the creation or manufacturing of textiles, including spinning, knitting, weaving, and individual fabrics and finishing processes, see Glossary of textile manufacturing. For terms used in dyeing, see Glossary of dyeing terms.
The bias (US) or cross-grain (UK) direction of a piece of wovenfabric, usually referred to simply as "the bias" or "the cross-grain", is at 45 degrees to its warp and weft threads. Every piece of woven fabric has two biases, perpendicular to each other. Non-woven fabrics such as felt or interfacing do not have a bias.
Bias tape or bias binding is a narrow strip of fabric, cut on the bias. The strip's fibers, being at 45 degrees to the length of the strip, makes it stretchier as well as more fluid and more drapeable compared to a strip that is cut on grain. Many strips can be pieced together into a long "tape." The tape's width varies from about 1/2" to about 3" depending on applications. Bias tape is used in making piping, binding seams, finishing raw edges, etc. It is often used on the edges of quilts, placemats, and bibs, around armhole and neckline edges instead of a facing, and as a simple strap or tie for casual bags or clothing.
In sewing, binding is used as both a noun and a verb to refer to finishing a seam or hem of a garment, usually by rolling or pressing then stitching on an edging or trim.
1. A Dart is a common technique used for shaping garments. Darts are created by stitching out a wedge-shaped fold of fabric. They vary in width and length and can be tapered at one or both ends. They frequently appear around the bust and waist.
1. Darning is a technique for repairing holes or worn areas in fabric or knitting using needle and thread. It is often done by hand, but it is also possible to darn with a sewing machine. Hand darning employs the darning stitch, a simple running stitch in which the thread is "woven" in rows along the grain of the fabric, with the stitcher reversing direction at the end of each row, and then filling in the framework thus created, as if weaving.
2. Darning also refers to any of several needlework techniques that are worked using darning stitches, including pattern darning (a type of embroidery), net darning or filet lace, and needle weaving, a drawn thread work technique.
A darning mushroom is a tool used for darning clothes, particularly socks. The sock can be stretched over the "cap" mushroom, and gathered tightly around the stalk to provide taut surface for darning.
Grommets and eyelets are metal, plastic, or rubber rings that are inserted into a hole made through another material. They may be used to reinforce the hole, to shield something from the sharp edges of the hole, or both.
The "front" of a piece of fabric having a distinct front and back; same as right side.
A facing is fabric used to finish the raw edges of a garment such as at neckline and armhole. Shaped facings are cut to match the edge they will face, and bias facings are strips of fabric cut on the bias or cross-grain and shaped to fit edge.
Gathering is a technique for shortening the length of a strip of fabric so that the longer piece can be attached to a shorter piece. It is commonly used in clothing to manage fullness, as when a full sleeve is attached to the armscye or cuff of a shirt, or when a skirt is attached to a bodice. In simple gathering, parallel rows of running stitches are sewn along one edge of the fabric to be gathered. The stitching threads are then pulled or "drawn up" so that the fabric forms small folds along the threads. Multiple rows of gathering are called shirring.
A gore is a shaped segment, narrow at the top and wider at the base, extending from the waistline to the hem of a skirt. Flared skirts can be made of 2 or more gores. Four-. six-. and eight-gore skirts are common.
1. The lengthwise and crosswise grain of fabric refer to the directions parallel to the warp and weft, respectively.
2. With the grain indicates parallel to the threads of a woven fabric, lengthwise or crosswise.
3. Dyed in the grain refers to died with kermes, a red insect dye.
A gusset is a triangular or square piece of fabric inserted into a seam to add breadth or reduce stress from tight-fitting clothing. Gussets were used at the shoulders, underarms, and hems of traditional shirts and chemises made of rectangular lengths of linen to shape the garments to the body.
1. To hem a piece of cloth (in sewing), a garment worker folds up a cut edge, folds it up again, and then sews it down. The process of hemming thus completely encloses the cut edge in cloth, so that it cannot ravel.
2. A hem is also the edge of cloth hemmed in this manner.
1. Lining is an inner layer of fabric, fur, or other material that provides a neat finish; conceals seam allowances, interfacing, and construction details; and allows a garment to slip on and off easily.
Patchwork is a form of needlework or craft that involves sewing together small pieces of fabric and stitching them together into a larger design, which is then usually quilted, or else tied together with pieces of yarn at regular intervals, a practice known as tying. Patchwork is traditionally 'pieced' by hand, but modern quiltmakers often use a sewing machine instead.
In sewing and fashion design, a pattern is an original garment from which other garments of a similar style are copied, or the paper or cardboard templates from which the parts of a garment are traced onto fabric before cutting out and assembling (sometimes called paper patterns). Home sewing patterns are generally printed on tissue paper and sold in packets containing sewing instructions and suggestions for fabric and trim.
Piping is a type of trim or embellishment consisting of a strip of folded fabric inserted into a seam to define the edges or style lines of a garment or other textile object. Usually the fabric strip is cut on the bias or cross-grain, and often it is folded over a cord. It may be made from either self-fabric (the same fabric as the object to be ornamented) or contrasting fabric, or of leather.
1. A placket is an opening in the upper part of trousers or skirts, or at the neck or sleeve of a garment Plackets allow clothing to be put on or removed easily.
A pleat (older plait) is a type of fold formed by doubling fabric back upon itself and securing it in place. It is commonly used in clothing and upholstery to gather a wide piece of fabric to a narrower circumference. Pleats are categorized as pressed, that is, ironed or otherwise heat-set into a sharp crease, or unpressed, falling in soft rounded folds. Pleats may also be partially sewn flat and allowed to fall open below.
A pocket is a bag- or envelope-like receptacle either fastened to or inserted in an article of clothing to hold small items. In older usage, a pocket was a separate small bag or pouch.
A seam allowance is the area between the edge of fabric and the stitching line on two (or more) pieces of material being stitched together. Seam allowances can range from 1/4 inch wide (6.35 mm) to as much as several inches. Commercial patterns for home sewers have seam allowances ranging from 1/4 inch to 5/8 inch.
The selvage (US English) or selvedge (British English) is the term for the self-finished edges of fabric. In woven fabric, selvages are the edges that run parallel to the warp, and are created by the weft thread looping back at the end of each row. The selvage of commercially produced fabrics is often cut away and discarded. Historically, garments were fequently constructed of full loom-widths of fabric joined selvage-to-selvage to avoid waste.
Sewing is an ancient craft involving the stitching of cloth, leather, animal skins, furs, or other materials, using needle and thread. Its use is nearly universal among human populations and dates back to Paleolithic times (30,000 BC). Sewing predates the weaving of cloth.
Sewing circle is a group of people, usually women, who meet and work on sewing projects together.
A tailor is a person who makes, repairs, or alters clothing professionally, especially suits and men's clothing. Although the term dates to the thirteenth century, tailor took on its modern sense in the late eighteenth century, and now refers to makers of men's and women's suits, coats, trousers, and similar garments, usually of wool, linen, or silk.
tailor-made (from the second half of the twentieth century usually simplified to tailored) refers to clothing made by or in the style of clothes made by a tailor, characterized by simplicity of cut and trim and fine (often hand) finishing; as a women's clothing style tailored is opposed to dressmaker.