Glossary

Glossary of Sewing Terms | The Inspired Wren

Here you will find sewing terms, concepts, and techniques that are used in articles, patterns, and tutorials on The Inspired Wren. The list is by no means a complete sewing dictionary, but a reference for readers of this blog and its products. The sewing glossary will continue to grow as The Inspired Wren grows.

Back Stitch 

Sew 2-3 stitches forward, sew 2-3 stitches in reverse, repeat two-three times. This acts as a knot, preventing a seam from unraveling at the beginning and end of stitching. Best used when the stitching remains unseen; avoid using when top- or edge-stitching. [Image]

Bar Tack

Several small stitches taken in place to secure one fabric or piece to another, or to reinforce a stress point. Can be done by hand or on a machine using a zig-zag stitch of desired width at a length of 0.

Baste

Straight-stitch with a long-length (on a machine use the longest length available) to temporarily hold layers of fabric together. Basting is easily removed once the final seam is complete.

Bury the Thread

Thread a hand-held needle with the threads from the end of a visible stitch (such as top- or edge-stitching), push the needle into the work so that it remains unseen -- for example, between two layers of fabric -- pull the needle back out 2-3" inches from where it went in, clip the threads close to the fabric. Typically this is done after the stitches are knotted off, so that the tail of thread remains unseen and yet is not so short that the knot becomes undone.

Clip Corners

Before turning a project right side out, clip the seam allowance close to the stitching at an angle, away from any corners (or pivot points). Be careful not to cut the stitches! This will reduce the bulk of material in the seam allowing for a sharp corner in your final piece.

Edge Stitch

Straight stitch sewn on a visible part of the project, 1/16" or 1/8" from and parallel to the fabric's edge, a seam, or another stitching line. When stitching use the edge of your pressure foot as a guide and adjust the needle position (left, center, or right) to create the distance you desire. Can be used to reinforce a seam or as a decorative finish. [Image]

Finish Seam Allowances

Treat the raw edge of the fabric so that it does not unravel in your final piece. There are multiple methods of finishing, including: zig-zag stitch on the seam allowance then trim close to the zig-zag stitch; trim with pinking shears; or stitch with a serger.

Finger Press

Instead of using a hot iron, press the fabric in place using your fingers. Usually this means folding and creasing fabric in place. Many times the directions will later call for pressing with a hot iron.

Fussy Cut

When cutting the fabric for a project, target and center the motif or design within the pattern piece (remembering seam allowance), rather than randomly cutting the fabric.

Lock Stitch

At the beginning or end of a line of stitching, set your stitch length to 0 and take a couple of stitches in place before changing your stitch to the appropriate length for your project. This acts as a knot, preventing a seam from unraveling at the beginning and end of stitching. Nearly invisible, it can be used in place of back-stitch or hand knotting. [Image]

Pivot, Needle-Down Pivot

When changing stitch direction -- for example, at a corner of a project -- sew up to the point at which the direction changes, stop stitching and leave the needle down and in the fabric, then raise the pressure foot. Turn, or pivot, the fabric to the new stitch position, don't forget to lower the pressure foot, and continue stitching as normal.

Raw Edge

The edge of fabric where it has been cut and is not yet stitched or finished; may or may not fray easily depending on the fabric. [Image]

Right Side/Wrong Side

Most fabrics have a side that should be visible in the final piece and a side that should not; the visible side is referred to as the Right Side, and the reverse is the Wrong Side. When working with reversible fabrics and fabrics where front and back are not noticeably different, be sure to mark your cut project pieces on the side you decide will be the wrong side so that your project comes together without issue.

Seam Allowance

The part of the fabric between the stitching and the raw edge. Typically unseen in final projects, it can vary in size from a scant sixteenth-inch and up. [Image]

Selvage (Selvedge)

The self-finished, uncut edge of a piece of fabric; will not fray. A result of fabric manufacturing, these parallel edges are typically visibly and texturally different from the regular weave of the fabric and may contain written information identifying the fabric and/or ink color tests. Most often best not to include the selvage in a project cut, as it can wash and age differently from the main weave.
US English (British English)
 [Image]

Tack

Several small stitches taken in place to secure one fabric or piece to another, or to reinforce a stress point. Can be done by hand or on a machine using a zig-zag stitch with a length of 0 at the desired width. When done by machine it is generally referred to as a Bar Tack.

Top Stitch

From the visible side of a project, straight- or decorative-stitch on the piece. Similar to Edge-Stitch with the only difference being location, top-stitching is visible on the final project. [Image]

Wrong Side/Right Side

Most fabrics have a side that should be visible in the final piece and a side that should not; the visible side is referred to as the Right Side, and the reverse is the Wrong Side. When working with reversible fabrics and fabrics where front and back are not noticeably different, be sure to mark your cut project pieces on the side you decide will be the wrong side so that your project comes together without issue.

Visual Reference

If you're seeking a visual reference of sewing terms, be sure to visit the Glossary board from The Inspired Wren on Pinterest.

Follow Ren from The Inspired Wren's board Sewing: Glossary on Pinterest.



PS -- Have I used a term you don't see here? Send a quick note to theinspiredwren @ gmail . com and I'll add it to the glossary.



Ren Murphy writes for The Inspired Wren.