Monday, July 20, 2009

Sewing glossary

This is intended to be an organized list of all the sewing terms, techniques and general sewing information I have collected from various websites, classes, books, patterns and more.

The concept is to keep a running list and add to this post as more information is available. If there is a sewing term missing that you would like added or one that you are looking for just leave a comment and I will add it to the sewing glossary.


Accessory foot - An optional sewing machine attachment that connects the the machine ankle allowing you to complete additional techniques (i.e. piping foot, cording foot, welting foot, open toe foot, walking foot, candlewicking foot, decorative trim foot, yarn couching foot, beading foot, elastic foot, invisible zipper foot - there are hundred).

Applique - a sewing technique in which one smaller piece of fabric is sewn onto another larger piece to form a design. In many instances a template or pattern is used for the smaller piece to create the desired shape.

Armscye - Armhole.


Backstitch - Additional stitches at the beginning or end of a machine sewn seam used to anchor the seam in place. Often achieved using the reverse function on an electronic sewing machine.

Backing - A quilting term that refers to the back fabric of the quilt sandwich (pieced top, batting, backing).

Ballpoint needle - Designed for knit fabrics, the tip is shaped as not to nick or pull the knit.

Bar tack - A series of closely sewn stitches often used in buttonhole making.

Baste - Temporary stitches used to hold fabric in place or shape a project until the permanent stitching is completed. Basting is often removed prior to completing a project.

Batik -

Batting - The fluffy fill to a quilt sandwhich. Can be natural or man-made materials flattened and rolled. Batting has other uses, but is most often used for quilting.

Bias - Diagonal to the straight grain of fabric. This is where the fabric has the most stretch.

Bias Binder - Tool available for Husqvarna Viking sewing machines in a 1/2" (12mm) and 1/4" (6mm) size. Can be used with pre-packaged bias tape or bias strips of light weight fabric. Has a funnel and a guide to assist in attaching bias tape to fabric.

Bias tape - Strips of fabric cut on the bias, folded (single or double) and ironed. Due to the stretch nature of bias cut fabric bias tape is often used for finishing edges that have a curve (like armholes). Also used to finish a quilt.

Binding - The process of encasing raw edges (i.e of a quilt or garment). Can also refer ot he fabric used to accomplish the finishing.

Blanket stitch -

Blind hem - A type of hem sewn so that it is not seen on the right side of a finished garment. Typically machine sewn using a blind hem stitch. the fabric is folded and sewn in such a way that it is only visible on the wrong side of the garment.

Blind hem stitch - A specific stitch used when hemming that is not seen on the right side of the garment.

Block - The basic component of a quilt, hundreds of variations exist (i.e. log cabin, nine patch, monkey wrench, irish chain, ohio star, sawtooth star). Pieces of fabric are cut and joined togehter to create each block. Each block is then joined to create the quilt top.

Block of the month -

BOM - Block of the month

Bobbin -

Bodice -

Bolt - A large roll of fabric wrapped around a form for storage or sales purposes.

Buttonhole - A slit in fabric bound by a special stitch so thata button can pass through adn hold two pieces of fabric together. Can be made by hand or by sewing machine.


Candlewicking -

Casing - A tube of fabric stitched for the purpose of enveloping typically a drawstring or elastic.

Charm pack - 5" x 5" squares of fabric cut and sold in a coordinating pack. Charm packs often contain one square of each print of a fabric collection.

Circular guide attachment -

Coin quilt -

Cording -

Cording foot -

Cut work -


Dart - A tapered adjustment used in patterns to shape an item. They are V shaped and are most often used to control the fullness of an area (i.e. bust darts).

Decorative stitch -

Dessert roll -

Digitize - The process of converting an illustration to an embroidery design.

Dongle - A small security device often used with sewing and embroidery machines or embroidery software to restrict access to the owner only.

Double fold bias tape -

Dual feed foot -


Ease - The amount of available room or give in a garment created by the difference between the phyical body measurements and the pattern/garment measurements.

Edgestitch - Typically on the lining side of a garment a stitch aproximately 1/16" from the edge.

Elastic thread - Often used when machine sewing to sreate smocking, literally a thread made from elastic that gives when sewn.


Fabric Grain - The weave of the fabric perpindicular to the selvdge.

Facing - Fabric used in garmetn sewing to create a finished edge at an opening (i.e. at the neck or armhole).

Fat quarter - A specialty cut of fabric in an 18" x 22" rectangle.

Feed dogs -

Finger press -

FOE - Fold over elastic. Used for a variety or purposes, often to create a waistband.

Fold over elastic -

Freezer paper -


Gather -

Gathering foot -

Grain -

Gusset -


Ham -

Hem - The bottom portion of a garment that is turned up and sewn to eliminiate fraying and finish the garment.

Honey bun -

Hoop clip -



Interfacing - A special fabric used to stabilize another fabric. Could be fused on or sewn in place.

Invisible thread -


Jelly roll -


Layer cake -

Length of fabric -

Lining - Lightweight interior fabric used to shape or give body.

LOF - Length of fabric

Log cabin -

Long arm -

Low shank -


Majestic hoop -

Microtex needle -

Mid arm -

Miter - The process in binding (i.e. a quilt) that creates a 45 degree angle at the corners.


Nap - The direction of texture on a fabric like cordoroy, suede or velvet.

Narrow hem -

Narrow piping foot -

Notch - The diamond shaped marks on patterns that are cut and used to properly align all pieces of a garment/pattern when sewing.


Overcast -

Overlock -

Owner's class -


Panel -

Pattern weights -

Pile -

Pinking shears-

Piping - A covered cord sewn in for decorative purposes. Available in a variety of colros and sizes. Based on size it could also be referred to as mini piping or cording.

Piping foot - A sewing machine accessory foot with a built in channel used to guide the piping when sewing.

Pivot - When machine sewing the process of turning an angle or corner while leaving the needle in the fabric, raising the presser foot and turning the fabric. It eliminates the risk of shifting fabric.


Quilt -

Quilt top -


Raw Edge - The cut, unfinished edge of a sewn item. Left unfinished it will fray or unravel.

Refashion -

Reinforce Stitch - A second stitch sewn along a seam to strengthen the seam.

Reverse applique -

Right Side - The right side of the fabric - the side with the print on it.

Right Sides Together - The process of placing the right sides of two pieces of fabric facing each other when sewn.

Rotary cutter -

Roving -

RS - Right side of the fabric. This abbreviation is typically used in pattern instructions.

RST - Right sides together. This abbreviation is typically used in pattern instructions.

Ruffler -


Seam allowance -

Seam ripper - Lovely tool with a small sharp edge used to remove unwanted sewing. Often used to undo mistakes.

Selvage - The woven edge of a fabric, typically printed with markings to identify the maker, designer, or manufacturer.

Selvedge -

Serger -

Sew green -

Shirring -

Single fold bias tape -

Specialty bobbin case -

Specialty cut -

Stabilizer -

Stitch in the ditch -

Stitch length -

Stitch regulator -

Straight Grain - The woven portion of a fabric that runs parallel to the slevedge.


Texture hoop - A 150mm x 150mm embroidery hoop made to insert ribbons, yarn, etc under embroidery designs. Used to create additional textures in the embroidery.

Topstitch -

Topstitch needle -

Thread Velvet - Machine embroidery technique that involves securing the back of stitches with Fray Check, then taking a seam ripper to the uppermost layer of the top stitches. The embroidery stitches open and bloom creating a velvet like texture.

Titanium needle -

Turnover -

Twin needle -


UFO - Unfinished object

Upcycle -


Walking foot -

Width of fabric -

Wing needle -

WIP - Work in progress

WOF - Width of fabric

Wristlet -


Yard -

Yarn couching -

Yoke -


1/4" piecing foot -

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