Terms & Definitions

Accordion Pleats - A series of equal width permanent fold arranged in alternation directions.

Alteration - a change in the line of t he original pattern

Applique′ - Design which is sewn, embroidered, glued or fused to the face of another fabric.

Armscye - armhole, opening for a sleeve.

Backstitch - machine stitching in reverse at the beginning and end of seams to reinforce the seam. There is rarely any need for more that 4 stitches in reverse to hold the seam. After back stitching the seam should NOT be sewn forward because it will make a lump. Instead of back stitching it is better and smoother to reduce the stitch length for about on half inch at the beginning and end of seams. some of the new machines have a lock stitch that is used instead of a back stitch, this is much neater and should bemused if it is available.

Bar Tacks - Stitches made to strengthen a particular spot. Used at the ends of button holes or a stress point. Set the sewing machine for a wide zig zag and a zero stitch length. 

Baste - Temporary join pieces of fabric with large easily removed stitching.

Bateau - neckline following the curve of the collar bone.

Batiste - Soft, sheer light weight fabric. Usually cotton or linen but may be other fibers. Used in lingerie, blouses and baby items.

Batik - A resist method of printing which is done with wax. Usually on cotton but may be done on synthetics. Originally from Java. 

Batting - Originally carded cotton or wool that was sold in sheets. Today it can also be polyester and is sold by the yard. Used in quilting, interfacings, shoulder pads and other stuffed items.

Bell Sleeve - full sleeves that flare at the lower edge like a bell

Bias - diagonal direction of fabric. True bias is a 45˚angle to the grain lines. Bias can be any any angle away from the true grain. Bias has stretch that true grain does not have.

Blanket Stitch - a stitch by hand or machine that is used to finish the edge of the fabric. It looks like t he teeth of a comb.

Blind Hem - a hem sewn with invisible stitches

Bodice - the body portion of the garment above the waist

Bodkin - blunt needle that is used to pull ribbon, cord or elastic through an       enclosed space such as a casing

Bolero - a short jacket that ends above the waist

Camisole - short sleeveless underbodice

Cap Sleeve - short sleeves that just cover the shoulder and do not continue under the arm

Chevron - V-shaped stripes

Clip - to cut into the fabric to allow it to ease around corners and curves.

Colorfast - refers to fabric which will not fade or run 

Convertible collar - A notched collar that can be worn buttoned at the neck or open

Couture - French (koo-tur) - Sewing or needle work

Cowl - a soft drape of fabric at the neck line

Crew neck - a round neckline that sits at the base of the throat

Crocking - the tendency of excess dyes to rub off on other fabric or the body of the wearer

Cross-grain Edge - the edge perpendicular to the salvage

Crystal Pleats - a line of narrow pleats creased in the same direction

Dart - folded and stitched wedges in the fabric that shape the garment over the curves of the body. The point of the dart is marked by a dot on the pattern. The legs of the dart are lines that extend to the from the point and mark the stitching line.

Dirndl - a full gathered skirt.

Drape -  the way the fabric hangs in a garment

Edgestitching - a line of sewing placed next to the edge of a garment. It is sewn to prevent the edges form stretching or rolling

Ensemble - the entire costume or outfit with all accessories.

Eyelet - small round finished hole in fabric

Face - to finish an edge by applying a fitted piece of fabric or binding. Also, the right side of the fabric.

Finger press - pressing a small area by creasing with the fingers.

French Curve - a drafting tool that helps you draw smooth curves

Funnel collar - one that flares outward at the top

Godet - A triangular piece of fabric set into a garment for fullness or decoration

Gore - tapered section of garment that is wider at the lower edge

Grain - The lengthwise and crosswise threads of a fabric. 

      On grain - when the lengthwise and crosswise threads cross at perfect right angles.

      Off grain - when the lengthwise and crosswise threads cross at a slant angle.

Grosgrain - pronounced 'gro-grain'- ribbon having heavy cross wise ribs

Gusset - a fabric piece inserted in the underarm area to give ease to the sleeve

Hand - the way the fabric feels to the touch

Haute couture - French (oh-koo-tur) High fashion, creative fashion design

Hem - Finished edge of the garment usually the bottom or the sleeves

Interlining - a layer of fabric that is cut exactly the same as the outer fabric. They are placed together and treated as one in the sewing process. It is used to back sheer fabrics such as lace or to provide support for thin fabrics. It can also be used to add a layer of warmth to garments

Jewel Neckline - a simple round neckline at the bas of the neck.

Lapels - part of the garment that turns back, especially a front neck line fold

Layout - the chart in the pattern instructions that show the placement of the pattern pieces on the fabric. Also the action of placing the pattern pieces on the fabric for cutting.

Mandarin collar - a small stand up collar that hugs the neck

Nap - The terms 'with nap' or 'without nap' as use in sewing refers to fabrics such as corduroy, velvet, velveteen, and most wools. The soft fuzzy surface of those fabric will lie smooth on one direction and feel ruffled in the other. These fabrics require a special cutting lay out so that all of the tops of the pattern pieces point in the same direction. This layout is also required of fabrics with a one way design. 

Notions - items other than fabrics or patterns that are required to complete a garment.

Overskirt - a decorative skirt worn over another skirt

Peasant Sleeve - a full sleeve usually gathered at the wrist.

Peter Pan collar - a small flat shaped collar that has rounded corners

Pin Basting - to pin seams together before stitching

Pivot - to stitch around a corner by leaving the sewing machine needle down in the fabric, raising the presser foot, and turning the fabric

Placket - a garment opening fastened with buttons snaps or a zipper

Plaid - 

Pre-shrink - treating the fabric prior to cutting to cause the fibers to draw up. This will reduce the distortion of the garment caused by the fabric shrinking.

Princess Line - a garment that is fitted with seams instead of darts.

Raw edge - the unfinished edge of the fabric

Right side - the finished side of the fabric

Scoop Neck line - a neck line cut in the shape of a U

Seam allowance - the width of fabric beyond the seam line that is not included in the garment area

Seam binding - a variety of ribbon like tapes used to finish the edges of seams

Selvage - The narrow firm finished edge on the length sides on all woven fabrics.  The salvage edges should always be cut off the fabric. Pattern pieces should not be placed so as to use the salvage edge as a straight edge. The salvage edges are woven differently than the body of the fabric. They will shrink more than the body of the fabric. To determine which side of the fabric is the finished side look for the holes in the salvage edge. The holes will poke up in the finished side.

Shank - the link between a button and the fabric to allow for the thickness of the fabric when buttoned

Shirtwaist - a dress with bodice details similar to a man's shirt.

Thread count - the number of stitches in one square inch of fabric

Topstitching - a line of stitching parallel to a seam or edge one one the right side of the garment.

Underlining - A light weight fabric that is cut exactly the same as the fashion fabric and placed on the wrong side of the fashion fabric. They are then sewn as one piece.

Understitching - A term used to describe stitching on the right side of the garments facing. Pressing the clipped seam allowances to the facing and then stitching close to the seam line the on the facing will cause the edge to roll slightly toward the inside giving a professional finish.

V-neck - a neck line of  a garment in the shape of a V

Yoke - fitted portion of a garment, usually at the shoulders or hips, designed to support the rest of the garment hanging from it