Here’s a list of common terms.

Anchoring Stitches

These are machine stitches that are sewn with zero stitch length so they keep from pulling out. This term can also be used to refer to stitching backwards for a couple of stitches to anchor it.


In sewing, applique is used to describe the process of applying one kind of fabric on top of another layer of fabric. This is fixed into place by sewing or by another fusing means.

Ballpoint Needles

A type of sewing machine needles that are specifically designed to be used when sewing on knit fabrics. The rounded tip prevents piercing, that would damage the knit.


These are temporary long running stitches, made either by hand or machine. This holds the fabric together before permanent stitches are applied.


A direction of a piece of woven fabric is referred to as “the bias.” This is a 45 degree angle to the grain, or diagonal direction of the fabric.

Bias Tape

Is a narrow strip of fabric cut on the bias. The strip’s fibres, being at 45 degrees to the length of the strip, makes it stretchier and more drapeable compared to a strip that is cut on the grain.


A narrow strip of material that is sewn around the edge of a garment, a bag or even a quilt.

Blanket Stitch

A hand stitch used for finishing the edge of fabric.


The thread that comes up from the bottom and meets the thread from the spool to form the stitch.


A small cut in the fabric that is bound with small stitching. The hole has to be just big enough to allow a button to pass through it to remain in place.


A folded over edge of a garment, which is usually at the waist. It is used to enclose a way of adjusting the fit – for example for a drawstring.


The line of fabric perpendicular to the selvage edge of the fabric.

Cutting Mat

A board used for cutting fabric. They are often marked with measuring grids.


A sewing technique used for shaping garments. They normally appear around the waist and bust.

Double Needle

2 machine needles attached to a single shaft, that sews 2 parallel rows of stitches at once with 2 spools of thread and a single bobbin.


The fluid way that the fabric hangs in a garment or curtain.

Edge Stitch

Straight stitching very close to the edge of a seam, trim or outer edge.


The front of a piece of fabric (the right side).

Feather Stitch

Hand stitch used to smoothly join 2 layers of fabric. Can also be a form of decorative hand stitch.


These are small jagged feet that sit under the presser foot of a sewing machine. By lifting and lowering them, you create the ability to use the machine for free hand embroidery.


A way of gathering the fabric to create fullness in the fabric, such as ruffles. It is a technique for shortening the length of a strip of fabric, so that the longer piece can be attached to the shorter piece.


Describes the direction of the warp and the weft in a woven fabric.


The finished bottom edge of a garment. The hem indicates the edge which is usually folded up and sewn, thus creating a neat and even finished edge.

Hooks and Eyes

Small and sturdy fasteners used at the points of a garment opening.


A term for a textile used on the unseen (wrong) side of fabrics. They support and stabilize a garment.

Jeweller’s Knot

A simple knot tied on a strand of thread and then pulled down on a pin or needle to the base of the thread.

Ladder Stitch

This is a stitch used to close large openings, or, alternatively, to join 2 pattern pieces seamlessly. Stitches are made at right angles to the fabric, creating a ladder-like formation.

Lapped Seams

Seams lapped one over the other – wrong side to right side– with seamlines meeting in the middle.


A piece of material used on the inside of a garment. Linings hide the seam and make the garments easier and more comfortable to wear. Linings can also make a garment warmer.

Match Point

A point marked on one pattern piece so it can be matched to a similar point on another pattern piece.


A fabric texture that runs in a particular direction and requires all other pattern pieces to be cut facing the same orientation.


All of the accessories used in sewing projects- zippers, thread, buttons, hooks, ribbons and so on.


A template on paper or cardboard from which all of the pieces of the garment are traced onto fabric. All the parts are then cut out and assembled to create the final piece.


An opening in the upper part of pants or skirts or at the neck or sleeve that allows garments to be put on or removed easily.


A type of fold in the fabric created by doubling the material back on itself and securing it in place. When ironed, they create a sharp crease.

Presser Foot

A small piece of metal near the needle on the sewing machine. It is the function that keeps your fabric in place while you sew.

Princess Seam

A vertical seam line which gives shape to a garment in place of darts. Usually found on bodices, dresses, jackets, and blouses.

Raw Edge

The edge of the piece of fabric after it is cut but before it is hemmed. If left raw, the fabric might fray.


This sewing technique is made by creating two or more parallel lines of gathering.

Running Stitch

A hand-sewn stitch that weaves in and out of the material that creates a dashed line effect.


The line where 2 pieces of fabric are held together by the thread.

Seam Allowance

This is the width of the fabric beyond the seam line. The standard seam allowance is normally 1.5cm.

Seam Ripper

A small tool used for removing stitches.


The woven edge of the fabric that runs parallel to the lengthwise grain – also called “selvage.” They are the finished edges that do not fray.


A type of sewing machine that can seam, trim, and overcast raw edges.


The binding off of an edge of cloth.


Is a gathering technique done with elastic thread that creates a stretchy garment.


Stitching placed on or just outside the seamline. It is used to stabilize the fabric and prevent it from stretching out of shape.

Straight Stitch

A simple, straight stitched line.


Big stitches used to hold 2 pieces of cloth together to make it easier to sew. These temporary stitches are removed once a permanent seam is completed.

Tailor’s Chalk

A piece of chalk used to mark fabric.


A protective implement worn on the finger or thumb when sewing.

Top Stitch

A line of stitching parallel to a seam or edge, sewn from the right side. These can be decorative or can be used to add strength to a garment.


A stitched fold of fabric. This can be used for decorative purposes or to add shape to a garment.


The layer of fabric underneath another layer of fabric.


When the seam allowances are stitched to the facing along an edge.

Walking Foot

A presser foot that steps across the fabric, as opposed to sliding.


The crosswise threads in woven fabric.


A panel across the shoulders or the waistline.


A zigzag stitch is a literal stitch made with a zigzag pattern. Often used to sew along raw edges to prevent them from fraying.

Zipper Foot

An attachment for a sewing machine that is designed for installing zippers.