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170+ Pattern Making and Sewing Words: A Dedicated Dictionary

Click to read the ultimate pattern making and sewing words guide. 170+ terms explained to you in simple words. Click to read more! - The Creative Curator

This is a dedicated dictionary for pattern making and sewing words. If you feel I have missed anything please feel free to drop it in the comments below so that I can add it in! I have tried to keep the pattern making and sewing words in alphabetical order for you to better find what you’re looking for.

For pattern making and sewing words that have a related blog post, there will be a visible link to read further!

  1. Apex – most protruding point on a girth (eg. Bust Apex)
  2. Applique – Stitching of an embellishment to a base fabric
  3. Armscye – pattern making term for the armhole
  4. Asymmetric – non-symmetrical / both sides are not the same
  5. Back Tack – stitching over your last stitches at the end of a seam to prevent stitches releasing
  6. Backstitch – a stitch that goes back on itself – considered to be quite strong
  7. Ballpoint – a type of needle with rounded tips rather than sharps, used for sewing knit fabrics
  8. Banding – a section of fabric added to the end of a garment area, similar to binding, but used to extend the length
  9. Baste / Basting – long running stitches used to hold together sections so that the garment fit can be tested
  10. Beeswax – used for strengthening the thread used in hand stitching
  11. Bias – 45• angle from the selvedge, the bias had greater stretch / drape than cross or straight grain on woven fabrics
  12. Bias Binding – strips of fabric cut on the bias and used to bind the edges of fabric
  13. Bias Seams – these are seams that are sewn and cut on the bias
  14. Binding – strips of fabric used to bind the edges of fabric
  15. Blanket Stitch – used as a hand finishing stitch
  16. Blind Hemming – this is a techniques used to hide stitches when hemming
  17. Block – a basic pattern with minimal wearing ease added. Also called a sloper in the US
  18. Bobbin – the small metal or plastic cylinder used to contain thread
  19. Bodice – the upper body area
  20. Bodkin – a long flat tool which is used to pull elastic and cord through a casing
  21. Boning – plastic or metal strips used to create structure when places in channels or casings
  22. Box Pleat – pleats face each other, then away and then face each other etc
  23. Button – usually plastic or metal, but comes in all shapes and sizes, used to fasten a garment using button holes
  24. Buttonholes – the hole created so that a button can pass through it and secure the garment opening
  25. Casing – a tunnel of fabric that is folded and stitches so that something can be passed through – boning, cord etc
  26. Catch Stitch – like a cross stitch, and used to ‘catch’ two pieces of fabric together
  27. Collar – the section of the garment which attaches to the neckline sometimes via a ‘stand’
  28. Collar Stand – used to connect a collar to the garment – the shirt collar is a great example – but can exist in itself as a collar (Mandarin collar is an example)
  29. Concealed Zip – also known as an invisible zipper, the concealed zipper is usually hidden with a seam
  30. Couching – overcasting something – usually a thread, trim or yarn – to a main fabric
  31. Cross Grain – 90• angle to the selvedge, has slightly more ‘stretch’ than the straight grain
  32. Dart – a wedge of fabric that is stitched in order to create a more fitted look
  33. Dart Manipulation – the movement of darts around the block to create a more desired look
  34. Dolman – a type of sleeve
  35. Ease – wearing ease, design ease. The amount of ‘difference between your body measurement and the pattern design measurement
  36. Edge Stitch – this is a line of stitching 1-2mm away from the edge
  37. Embellishment – a decorative element such as beading, appliqué, patches etc
  38. Embroidery – a type of hand stitching using beautiful silk threads, but can also be done on many modern machines too
  39. Facing – the fabric joined to the main garment. Waistband facings, front jacket facing, neckline facings are just some examples.
  40. Feather Stitch – a hand stitch used to join two layers of fabric
  41. Feed dog – the ridged metal teeth on the sewing machine which work to move the fabric
  42. Fell Stitch – stitches created in the fold of fabric to connect to edges and form a seam
  43. Finger Press – using your fingers to push and press the seam, prior to ironing
  44. Flat Felled – all edges are encased within this seam – common on a high end shirt
  45. Flexicurve – a rubber coated, flexible ‘ruler’ which can be moulded into shape – I use on crotch areas
  46. French Curve – a plastic ruler used within pattern making for body curve creation
  47. French Dart – the dart which starts at side seam waist and ends at bust point
  48. French Seam – an enclosed seam used on fine, sheer fabrics
  49. Frogging – ornamental braiding for coat fastening
  50. Fusible – has a layer of glue which melts and sticks when heated with an iron or fusing press
  51. Gather – fabric that is moved along a row of running stitches to better fit into a space. Think sleeve cap or waistline!
  52. Godet – a piece of fabric – usually triangular – that is inserted between two seams to create added fullness
  53. Gore – a vertical panel of fabric – thin 4, 6, 8-gored skirts
  54. Grade – the art of making a pattern smaller or larger
  55. Grain – used as a reference to the fabric weave. Straight grain is parallel to the selvedge, cross grain is 90• to the selvedge and bias is 45• giving a looser, drapier look
  56. Grainline – the grain line is on the pattern, and should be used along with the fabric / selvedge for accurate placement of the pattern pieces
  57. Ham – a stuffed round cloth covered item used when steaming areas such as collars in order to retain the shaping
  58. Hem – usually a single or double folded edge to a garment – skirt hem, sleeve hem etc
  59. Hong Kong Seam – the seam edges are finished with bias binding
  60. Hook and Eye – usually used at the neck or waist opening, made of metal
  61. Hook and Loop Tape – rather than sewing hooks and eyes individually, hook and eye tape can be used to close an entire opening
  62. Inseam – the inside leg
  63. Interfacing – used to add strength to main fabric. Can be sewn in or fusible
  64. Interlining – used to add an extra layer, most often for warmth
  65. Invisible Zip – see Concealed Zipper
  66. Jet Pocket – a type of pocket which has two ‘lips’, seen often on tailored garments
  67. Kimono – a type of sleeve
  68. Knife Pleat – a narrow pleat, where all point in the same direction
  69. Knit Fabric – fabric that is made from one continuous looping yarn
  70. Ladder Stitch – stitches create a ladder effect by being placed at a 90• angle to the fabric and when tightened are invisible
  71. Lapel – the point where a collar is joined to the main garment (coat, tailored jacket), often notched
  72. Lapped Seam – one piece of fabric is place upon the other, and stitched in place creating a lapped seam
  73. Lapped Zipper – like the lapped seam. the fabric is placed upon the zipped and stitched in place
  74. Lining – the inside fabric of a garment, attached to the facing to fully enclose the raw edges
  75. Machine Tension – the tautness of the thread running through the tension discs
  76. Mitre – a rich angles connection of two pieces of fabric – think jacket facing at hem / opening
  77. Muslin – also known as a toile, it is the ‘test’ version of a garment
  78. Nap – term used to describe fabrics that have a ‘pile’ – velvet, faux fur etc – and the direction needs to be factored in when placing the patterns (see grain line)
  79. Needles – have an eye for thread to be passed through. the needle is then used to create stitches connecting layers of fabric together
  80. Notch – a marker on the patter guiding you to position the garment sections accurately. can be ‘snips’ within the fabric too
  81. Notions – all things that count as herbadashery items. Buttons, zips, ribbons, tapes etc
  82. On Grain – parallel to the selvedge, see straight grain
  83. Open Ended Zip – this is used for outwear primarily, as the zipper can be opened at the bottom rather than fixed closed
  84. Open Seam – a standard seam created when two pieces of fabric are sewn together along the seaplane and the seam is pressed open
  85. Overcast Stitch – a hand sewn stitch wrapping around the edge of fabric
  86. Overlocker – used to ‘finish’ the edge of fabric. Primarily used with knitted fabrics, as an all-in-one construction method but has become common to finish woven edges too prior to garment construction
  87. Patch Pocket – a pocket that is created by sewing a ‘patch’ fabric on top of the garment
  88. Pattern – the ‘design’ in paper that will be cut from fabric and sewn together to create a garment
  89. Pattern Cutting – the technique of creating patterns (in the UK)
  90. Pattern Drafting – the techniques of creating pattern blocks
  91. Pattern Making – the technique of creating patterns (in the US)
  92. Pattern Master – a tool used as a fashion ruler to help create patterns
  93. Pattern Ruler – a slimmer version of the pattern master
  94. Pinking Shears – scissors which have a serrated edge, and when used create a zig zag effect on the fabric
  95. Pin Cushion – a cushion used to stab pins into
  96. Pins – thin pieces of metal with a head on one end, and a sharp point on the other, used to connect two pieces of fabric together prior to sewing
  97. Pintucks – narrow tucks of fabric creating with stitches
  98. Piping – fabric that is inserted between the seam of two pieces of fabric so the once stitched it extends beyond as a decorative trim
  99. Pivoting – a technique used in pattern making to move a dart from one location to another
  100. Placket – used to refer to the opening at the neckline of kaftans, the sleeve slit openings where cuffs are connected and sometimes even buttons stands too!
  101. Pleat – a fold of fabric
  102. Prick Stitch – a teeny tiny back stitch
  103. Princess Seam – the seam which passes over the bust point (apex) usually from the shoulder down to the hem, but can also be from the armhole down to the hem
  104. Raglan Sleeve – a sleeve style, where the sleeve style line connects to the neckline, rather than at the shoulder point
  105. Raw Edge – the unfinished edge of the fabric
  106. Retain Stitch – stitching that connects the facing / seam allowance ares together to prevent moving around. Also referred to in the US as under stitching
  107. Right Side – the visible side of the fabric when the garment is worn
  108. Rise – the measurement between the crotch and waist on trousers / pants
  109. Rolled Hem – a very very narrow hem – think silk scarves – usually sewn by hand but can also be done by machine
  110. Rotary Cutter – a tool used to cut fabric, using a fabric mat underneath
  111. Ruche – the art of gathering fabric up
  112. Run and Fell Seam – Same as a felled seam
  113. Running Stitch – a simple straight hand stitch, no back stitching involved, creating a dash dash ( – – – – ) line
  114. Ruffler – a device connects to your sewing machine to  create gathers and pleats
  115. Satin Stitch – solid line formed by a closely stitched zigzag stitch on the machine
  116. Scissors – metal blades used to cut your fabrics
  117. Seam – the outcome when two pieces of fabric are sewn together along a seam line
  118. Seam Allowance – the extra amount beyond the seam line on patterns
  119. Seam Finish – the way in which a seam is finished – French seam, welt seam etc
  120. Seam line – the line which is stitched to create a seam
  121. Seam Ripper – a tool used to unpick an incorrect seam
  122. Seam Roll – like a ham, but long and thin so can fit inside sleeve too!
  123. Seam Tape – used to stabilise seams prior to sewing, and finish hems
  124. Self Fabric – this means the seam fabric as used on the garment, rather than a facing or lining fabric
  125. Self Faced – facing created from the same fabric that the main garment is cut from
  126. Selvedge – the very long edge of the fabric, usually quite tightly woven. Great to used this as seam tape!
  127. Serger – like a sewing machine, but it has two needles and between three and five spools of thread
  128. Set In Sleeve – think jacket! the eleven is constructed, the sleeve cap is gathered, the sleeve is then inserted with the correct pitch
  129. Set Square – a tool shaped like a triangle and used when pattern making
  130. Shank – the ‘length’ of coiled thread holding the button away from the garment
  131. Shirring – usually created with elastic thread, and many rows, to gather fabric up
  132. Shirt Sleeve – unlike a set in sleeve, the shirt sleeve is attached first at the armhole, and then closed along the underarm and side seam
  133. Shoulder Point – the tip of the shoulder, where the sleeve joins the armhole
  134. Shoulder Slope – the angle that the shoulder slopes down
  135. Slash and Spread – another pattern making technique used for manipulating darts around the pattern
  136. Slash Pocket – this is a simple pocket, usually stabilised with tape to prevent stretching. Think jeans pockets
  137. Sleeve Cap – the section of the sleeve that is above the bicep
  138. Slip Stitch – a barely there, invisible hand stitch
  139. Sloper – the American version of a block. Some would describe a sloper as a totally form fitting pattern with no wearing ease. In that case, it would be the equivalent of a ‘moulage’ in the UK
  140. Smocking – similar to shirring, but the effect uses folds rather than gathers
  141. Snips – teeny tiny scissors used to snip your threads as you go
  142. Stabiliser – an under layer that is used to add structure or support to fabric
  143. Stay Stitching – used to prevent fabric from stretching, stay stitching is usually done within the seam allowance
  144. Stitch – a loop of thread (can be decorative or connecting layers of fabric together)
  145. Stitch Length – the length of the stitch created
  146. Stitch In The Ditch – stitched that are created along the ditch of a seam
  147. Tacking Thread – an easily breakable thread used to tack sections together
  148. Thread – yarn used for sewing
  149. Thread Tail – the end of the thread once a seam has been completed
  150. Toile – a test version of a garment, see Muslin
  151. Top Stitch – stitching that happens on top of a seam, and is usually decorative
  152. Topstitching Thread – thread used for the decorative top stitching so that it will stand out and not face into the background
  153. Tracing Wheel – tool used to trace pattern sections, and true up areas
  154. Truing – the art of making sure that seamlines meet correctly, that dart legs are the same length etc
  155. Tuck – a small fold of fabric stitched to contain the fullness or create a decorative effect
  156. Twill Tape – woven tape used to stabile seam edge or areas where stitching is likely
  157. Under Line – a second layer of fabric sewn along with the main to add support. Organdie is a favourite
  158. Under-stitch – same thing as retain stitch
  159. Unpick – the fine art of having to undo those previously stitched seams
  160. Wadding – used for items that are quilted – puffer jackets would be a good example
  161. Waist Stay – used to constraint the waist and prevent it from stretching out, as a form of support
  162. Walking Foot – a machine foot that ‘walks’
  163. Warp – the straight grain threads of the fabric, running parallel to the selvedge
  164. Weave – the effect of a warp and a weft thread begins woven in and out
  165. Weft – the cross grain threads of the fabric 90• to the selvedge
  166. Welt Pocket – a pocket consisting of one piece of fabric extending beyond the pocket opening and stitched in place
  167. Welt Seam – seen on denim jeans, the welt seam is a strong finish which secures the seam flat with an additional row of stitching
  168. Whipstitch – a hand stitch that wraps around two edges to connect them
  169. Wrong Side – the side of fabric not visible when the garment is worn
  170. Yoke – the upper back section of a shirt, the upper back section of jeans, and the section between waist and high you on skirts
  171. Zigzag Stitch – used in place of an overlocker to finish woven fabrics, or connect knit fabrics together
  172. Zipper – a garment closure which has two rows of teeth and a slider to close or open the zipper
  173. Zipper Foot – a special machine foot used to sew in zippers
  174. Zipper Guard – a layer of fabric attached to protect the body from being enclosed in the zipper

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