What are the most important sewing terms?
Sewing terms for beginners- The ultimate list of sewing vocab.
Welcome to our post on What are the most important sewing terms for beginners.
Overall our post will walk you through all of the simple terms in sewing that you will most definitely come across at some point.
Without a doubt, starting to sew can become very overwhelming. Not only will this post highlight all of the important words to know, but there is also several common phrases too.
We hope that you find this post helpful, if you have any further questions you can find our email address down below.
To begin, we will look at altering. In short, this is the process of changing the shape and size of your garment or pattern. For example: taking up the hem on trousers and dresses to make them slightly shorter. Alternatively, altering can also be done to make items slightly longer, fit better or add decorative touches,
Altering clothes becomes much easier with practice.
Next we come onto applique. Not only is this something that you will come across, but is especially common when quilting. Generally speaking, applique is a decorative technique in which you stitch smaller fabric or decoration onto larger pieces of fabric. As a result applique is a fantastic way to spruce up garment or project.
Furthermore, it is also possible to buy applique from your local haberdashery that can be ironed onto your project.
Another term that is common when sewing is backing. Although, this is much more commonly used in quilting, it can also be used in other garments or projects. In most cases, backing refers to the base layer of a quilt. As well as using material specially made for backing, scrap fabric can also be used. However, many people like to choose a separate pattern as this way the quilt can be reversible.
Another sewing term commonly used in quilting is batting. On the whole, this simply refers to the second layer of your quilt. Besides batting, this may also be known as wadding. Due to this been the centre layer of your quilt, it is often used to provide insulation.
Furthermore, rolls of batting can be found in a range of different weights, therefore it is important to double check which weight is needed.
Next on our list of sewing terms is bias. Although this is a very common term, it refers more to the fabric rather than the sewing machine.
On the whole, the bias is the direction DIAGONALLY to the weave of your fabric.
For example, your pattern may state “cut line on bias”. Therefore you will be cutting diagonally to the selvage or weave.
Not only is the bobbin an important term, but it is also an integral part of your sewing machine.
In summary, the bobbin Is a small spool of thread that will more often than not be found under the needle plate.
Overall, when sewing; you will have 2 thread sources; the first is the top thread spool that is visible and the second is the bobbin thread found under the needle plate.
Moving on again to cross stitch. In most cases, this is term used for a decorative needlework. Unlike others, this one is a hand stitch that involves criss-crossing stitches into X shapes. Additionally, this is usually done with a tapestry needle and woven fabric.
As with many of these terms, darning is again a term that you will come across fairly often. Overall, this is a sewing technique used to repair or fix holes in garments. However, darning differs from stitches as you repair the hole by interweaving the yarn.
Next on our list, we come to Dress maker. As the title suggests, a dressmaker in sewing terms is the same in any term. This is an individual who designs and makes a wide range of different garments.
Embroidery- Sewing terms for beginners
On a whole, embroidery is a term used for decorative needle work. However, this can be either machine stitched or hand stitched.
Furthermore, Embroidery is a design or picture created by stitching different material to another.
In addition to this, there are special machines that as specifically designed to embroider your projects. Although they are fantastic, they can be quite expensive.
Eyelets- Sewing terms for beginners.
Although this isn’t a term that you will come across often, in our opinion, it is still a word that you should know.
As a rule, the word eyelet describes the ring that is inserted into a hole in your material. For instance, the holes in your curtains are usually reinforced with a metal, plastic or rubber ring. Therefore, they are the eyelets on your curtain.
Front or face of fabric- Sewing terms for beginners.
As with many of these terms, this is very common and you will therefore come across it a lot. More often than not, this term will be found in almost all sewing patterns and is extremely important to know. This refers to the “right side” of the fabric.
Facings- Sewing terms for beginners
When sewing you will Certainly come across the word “facing”, particularly when following a sewing pattern. Facings are pieces of fabric or a piece of fabric that is used to cover up the raw edges of your garment. As well as this, Facings are used in most cases when bias biding isn’t or can’t be used.
Fusible interfacing- Sewing terms for beginners-
Fusible interfacing is used to add structure to your garment. Commonly fusible interfacing is interfacing fabric on both (or just one) sides. This is ironed onto the lining or garment facing. For example, shirt collars have fusible interfacing to help keep shape.
Gathering- Sewing terms for beginners
When sewing, the term gathering is used to describe the technique of bunching a longer piece of fabric. As a rule this is generally used with a larger piece of fabric is gathered to fit and become attached to a smaller piece. An example of this is; gathering sleeves to fit armholes.
The grain- Sewing terms for beginners
Another term that you will come across often is the grain. On the whole, the grain of fabric is the word given to the direction parallel to the selvage. In order to find the grain line, first find the raw edge, also known as selvage. Once this has been found, the grain line is parallel.
Haberdashery- Sewing terms for beginners
Haberdashery is very simply the term given to shops that sell small articles that are needed for sewing. For instance: buttons, zips, presser feet and sewing needles etc. As well as this, they may also sell a small range of fabric and also sewing patterns.
Hem- Sewing terms for beginners
Next we come to hem. On the whole, hem or hemming is a word that is used very often is sewing. This is the term given when the edge of fabric is turned under, pressed and sewn. A common example of this is hemming trousers to make them shorter.
Hook and eyes- Sewing terms for beginners.
Once again, this is a term that is used often when sewing, more so when making clothing and garments. Overall, this is the term given to a 2 piece garment fastener. Not only are they small and easy to conceal, but they are also cheap and sturdy.
Ladder stitch- Sewing terms for sewing beginners
As with many stitches, the ladder stitch is a fantastic stitch to know as this stitch is used to close fabric openings. Additional to this, the ladder stitch can also be used to sew two pieces of fabric together with an invisible seam.
Lining- Sewing terms for beginners
Lining is a separate piece of fabric that is sewn to the inside of a garment or curtain. Additionally, the purpose of this is to often make it more insulated or even to hide raw edges.
Math point- Sewing terms for beginners
When sewing, this is the word used to describe certain points on your pattern. Furthermore, these markings are very important as they show exactly where your pattern pieces should match.
In most cases, tailors chalk or a tracing wheel is used to mark these onto the fabric.
Nap- Sewing terms for beginners
Generally speaking, the nap is the name given to the raised surface found on certain material. In most cases, your sewing patterns will give you an option of how to cut your fabric with or without a nap. This is ultimately decided by the fabric that you are using.
Notions- Sewing terms for beginners
When following a sewing pattern or gathering some equipment, you will most definitely come across the term nations. On the whole, notions is the name given to the small accessories that you need for a sewing project. For example- zippers, thread, buttons etc. More often than not, these will be listen on the back of a sewing pattern or in the descriptions when using a pdf pattern.
Overlocker- Sewing terms for beginners
As with many of the terms on our list of sewing terms for beginners, the word over locker will come up frequently. In short, this is a piece of equipment that is very much like a sewing machine. However, the overlocker has up to 4 threads and a blade, which is used to cut and finish seams at the same time.
Patch work- Sewing terms for beginners
Next we come to the term patch work. Quite simply, this is used to describe the process of sewing together different materials and patterns. As a result, people can make beautiful quilts, jumpers, dresses and much more.
Patterns- Sewing terms for beginners
Without a doubt, there is a massive assortment of patterns online and in shops. Additionally, not only can Patterns can be bought with paper instructions and cut out pattern pieces but as well as this, they can also be bought online and downloaded as a pdf file. Once downloaded they can be printed out the pattern and use.
Pleats- Sewing terms for beginners
The word pleats refers to a type of fold in your fabric. When following a sewing patter, pleats will be clearly marked out on the pattern pieces. When tracing a pattern, these marking must be transferred before starting sewing.
Presser foot- Sewing terms for beginners
Another universal part a sewing machine is the presser foot. On the whole, this is a small metal or plastic foot near the needle. Besides holding the fabric in place, presser feet can bought be found for a huge variety of uses. For example, you can buy presser feet specific for zips, hemming, button holes etc.
Quilting- Sewing terms for beginners
This is the term given to lots of small, decorative pieces of fabric sewn together in layers. As well as this, the art of quilting is beautiful and we will cover this in another post very soon. There are many sewing machines on the market that are specialised for your quilting needs.
Raw edges- Sewing terms for beginners
Again, this is a term that very commonly seen in sewing. This name is given to the edge, cut pieces of fabric before it has been hemmed on neatened. You may sometimes also hear this being called salvage.
Right side- Sewing terms for beginners
As mentioned above, the right side of the fabric is the side that will be on show. As well as this, this may also be called the correct side. This word will be used when describing which side of the fabric needs to be sewn. For example, it may read “right sides together”. This means that the decorative sides should be touching. (see pic)
Running stitch- Sewing terms for beginners
Once again, this is another well known stitch it is good to know as a beginner. Running stitch is usually hand worked and weaves in and out of the fabric. As a result, there will be a dashed line effect on your fabric.
Seam- Sewing terms for beginners
This is a very simple term given to the line where 2 pieces of fabric meet. Again, this will be coved in a future post.
Seam line- Sewing terms for beginners
Again this is a very simple term. The seam line is the width of fabric before your seam line. An example of this is, “sew a 1/2 inch seam allowance”. This means measure 1/2 inch from the edge of the fabric, then sew your seam.
Selvage- Sewing terms for beginners
This is the raw, woven edge of your fabric. The selvage runs parallel from the grain line.
Stay stitch- Sewing terms for beginners
Next we come to another stitch in our list of sewing terms for beginners. As with many, a stay stitch is a very common term. On the whole, this is a removable straight stitch, without back stitching. This stitch is very commonly used when temporarily keeping fabrics stable as you sew.
Straight stitch- Sewing terms for beginners
As the title states, the straight stitch is stitch sewn in a straight line. Again this is a simple term that you will come across a lot in sewing.
Tailors chalk- Sewing terms for beginners
Tailor’s chalk is a term that may not be used as often, but most certainly will at some point. Quite simply, tailor’s chalk is used to mark fabric without staining. Although it may now be needed at first, we believe that this is a must have tool in your box. As well as being handy, they are also fairly cheap to buy too
Yolk- Sewing terms for beginners
Once again this is a sewing term that you may not come across when you first start to sew, although it is commonly used when making garments. In sewing, the word yolk refers to the panel across the shoulders or waist of a garment.
Zig zag stitch- Sewing terms for beginners-
Last but not least, we come to the zigzag stitch. Yet again, this is another popular stitch in sewing. Majority of sewing machine will have a range of different stitches for you to choose from and the zig-zag stitch can also change length and width when the machine is adjusted.
As you can imagine, there are hundreds of different sewing terms to learn. Due to not wanting to overwhelm, this list is composed for beginners. Please don’t hesitate to comment below or messages us for further details.
We hope this helps.