A Sewing Glossary, Unpacked pt. 1

As a sewist, most of us follow a pattern. Within that pattern, there are instructions with sewing terms we might not necessarily know how to navigate. This post contains a small glossary that will help explain some of the more common sewing terms. I hope you learn something new today!

A Sewing Glossary, Unpacked (A to M)


The opening in a bodice that the arms go through. Where the sleeves attach to a sleeved pattern.


To sew two pieces together with long stitches to hold them in place. A regular run of stitches is added after and basting stitches are usually removed.


A tube made of the fabric for inserting a gathering option such as elastic or a drawstring.


Most commonly found in women's clothing. A dart is a wedge-shaped fold of fabric that is sewn to help shape the garment properly. Darts are most commonly found in the bust of women's patterns or in the waist of other garments.


A facing is a piece of fabric used to finish the edge of a garment opening, most notably a neckline or armscye. They are not the same as a lining as they typically are only a few inches long to the inside of the garment.


Gathering is what happens most often with the skirt of a dress, where you pull together the top edge of a wide skirt to fit the width of a smaller bodice. There are several different methods for accomplishing this. The most widely known is to sew two lines of basting stitches parallel to each other within the seam allowance (leaving generous thread tails on both ends) and then pulling on the bobbin threads in order to evenly ruffle or gether the fabric to the desired width.


A hem is the finish of the bottom of a garment or sleeve. A hem is made by folding the raw edge up twice and edge stitching along the first fold made. The width of a hem can range anywhere from 1/4" to 1 1/2" depending on the pattern.


Interfacing is most usually a fusible fabric that is adhered to the wrong side of certain pattern pieces (such as facings, collars, waistbands, button plackets) to provide extra support and structure to that piece. You should never skip this particular piece or step when a pattern specifically calls for it, the structure and support is needed in these areas for the integrity of the garment.


Lightweight knit with 2-way (side to side) stretch is most commonly refered to as jersey. It's perfect for making t-shirts.


Unlike a facing, a lining covers the entire inside of a garment. Like a facing, a lining is used to finish the edges of openings and conceal the seams for a prettier more polished look. A lining creates a much more professional finish to a handmade piece.


Muslin has a couple of different meanings. First of all, it is a lighweight type of fabric. Secondly, it is the term used for creating a practice garment. The second meaning was derived from the first, because most practice pieces in history were made with the easy to find and inexpensive muslin fabric. When attempting a more ambitious design or fitted design, it is usually a good idea to start with a muslin, or pratice piece to ensure you have all fitting elements correct before using your good or more expensive fabrics.


I sincerely hope that this article has shed a little light on some terms for you. We will finish the alphabet next week, so I hope you'll come back by to see it!
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