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Sewing 101 | Most Important Sewing Terms You Need To Know Now

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When you started sewing, were you able to hear sewing terms that are unfamiliar? I bet when you’ve heard the terms presser foot, hem, and selvedge, there were question marks popping out of your head. Read on to find definitions for sewing terms.

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Sewing 101 | Most Important Sewing Terms You Need To Know Now

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The Fundamental Sewing Terms and Phrases

If you’re a beginner to sewing, you really need to build skills before you can sew a beautiful garment and imitate amazing crafts you’ve seen on tutorials. It is a skill you definitely have to perfect over time. But, don’t get disappointed, all professional sewers had been there too.

I know how it feels to be a beginner. At sometimes, you may feel the desire to make something new, but, your imagination and your skills does not collaborate and ends up with a sloppy sewing project. In this kind of situations, the key is to know the terms about sewing. Therefore, it would be a lot easier for you to understand what you wanted to achieve.

That is why it is important to learn and become familiar with the terms and phrases about sewing. So, read on, and learn the most basic sewing terms and phrases that will help you build confidence in tackling more sewing projects.

Thanks to this informative infographic from takelessons!

These terms and phrases can be your reference and guide if you’re new to sewing. Introduce yourself to these unfamiliar words to understand sewing much easier.

Sewing Machine Terms

1. Bobbin


Spindle/cylinder on the bottom of the sewing machine. You wind thread around the bobbin.


2. Thread Cutter


Cuts the end of the thread. Some sewing machine comes with built-in thread cutter.


3. Presser Foot


Part of sewing machine that holds the fabric steady while the fabric is being stitched.


4. Feed Dog


A toothed metal piece underneath the stitch plate that moves up and down to push the fabric along.


5. Foot Pedal


Step on the foot pedal to power your sewing machine.


6. Hand Wheel


Use the hand wheel to adjust the needle height.


7. Spool Pin


This part of sewing machine keeps the spool in place while the thread is fed through the machine.


Basic Sewing Terms

1. Seam Allowance


The fabric between the edge and the seam.

2. Lining


An inner layer of fabric underneath a garment.

3. Seam


The line where two pieces of fabric are sewn together.

4. Quilting


Stitching two layers of fabric together, with a layer of filling in between, in a consistent pattern.

5. Hem


The edge of the fabric that is folded and sewn under in order to keep the raw edge of the fabric from unravelling.

6. Darts


A wedge-shaped fold used to shape pattern in order to make  a garment fit better.

7. Back Stitch


Sewing backwards over the loose threads at the beginning of a stitch, in order to secure your stitch. This is done at the beginning and end of a stitch, and whenever the thread is broken.

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Fabric Terms

1. Selvedge


The edges of the raw fabric that run along the edge with the grain. A Fabric has a selvedge edge so that it doesn’t fray before it’s sold.

2. Weft


The threads that run at right angles to the length of a woven fabric, otherwise known as cross-grain.

3. Bias


Diagonally across the grain of the fabric, where woven fabric has more stretch or give.

4. Warp


The thread that runs the length of a woven fabric (“up” and “down”).

5. Fabric Grain


The orientation of fibers woven or knit together to create a fabric. The grain creates lines that run parallel and perpendicular to the selvedge.

6. Muslin


An untreated or un-dyed fabric made of cotton used to create pattern pieces and prototypes of garments, in order to fix mistakes in the pattern before using the final permanent fabric.

7. Hand


A term used to describe the texture and feeling of a certain fabric.


Sewing Words and Phrases

1. Appliqué


The process of sewing a piece of fabric onto another piece of fabric, sewing close to the edges of the shape that you attach.

2. Baste


Sewing, by hand or machine, with long stitches in order to temporarily hold together two pieces of fabric, so they stay in place while you stitch them together.

3. Embroidery


A hand – or machine-sewing technique used to decorate fabric with needle-made designs.

4. Pleat


A fold created by doubling a fabric over itself, and stitching it together.

5. Ruche


A pleated or gathered strips of fabric.

6. Sewing Notion


An item that is sewn or attached to a finished sewing project, such as a button or snap. This terms can also describe a tool used for sewing, like a pin or a seam ripper.

7. Zig Zag


A stretchable sewing machine stitch that runs diagonally, back and forth (Zig Zag).

8. Yoke


A design element at the top part of a garment to fit over the body.

9. Seam Ripper

A small tool with a pointed edge used to remove stitches from a piece of fabric.

10. Facing


Fabric used to finish raw edges of a garment to make the edge lie flat. You can see this on a neckline or armhole.

11. Binding


Using a thin strip of fabric or bias tape in order to hide the edges of a piece of fabric.

12. Gather


Running a thread along the fabric, and then scrunching the fabric together along the thread.

Don’t forget to download, save, or share this handy infographic for reference:

Being familiar with all these terms is very helpful. This way, we can gain confidence in our sewing projects and be more conversational about our crafts. Additionally, this can build our skills to become an expert in sewing.

Do you want to learn basic starting tools for sewing?

Let us know in the comments below!

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