Sewing Dictionary Terms

Here are some commonly used expressions associated with sewing and dressmaking.

Baste – to make ┬álong running stitches either by hand or by machine (set machine to 6 to 8 stitches to the inch) to hold seems, mark location lines and control of ease.

Bind – to enclose both sides of an edge with a strip of fabric. There are two kinds of ready-made binding: seam binding for seems and hands and bias binding for enclosing curved edges.

Bound buttonhole – a buttonhole made by covering the whole with a strip of fabric stitched on the inside.

Dart – a folder of fabric stitched to give shape to the garment, wide at one end and tapering to a point at the other.

Ease – to join two pieces of fabric of unequal length so that edges match evenly without using darts or gathers.

Facing – a piece of fabric on the same green to back edges of the garment such as the neck or sleeves. Facings may be finished on either the right or wrong side of the garment.

Grain – the line of material running either parallel to the Selvage (length wise grain) or perpendicular to it (cross wise green). Placing the pattern pieces on the grain of the fabric and stitching with the green is very important for perfect fit.

Interfacing – the fabric which is placed between the facing and the garment. It is usually made of firm material and gives garment body.

Nap – a finish which lies above the fabric and imparts a surface texture. With any napped fabric the pattern pieces must be cut in one direction.

Notch -a tiny V-shaped cut taken at the edge of the pattern to indicate where corresponding pattern pieces are to be joined.

Overcast – to handstitch loosely over raw edges to keep them from fraying. This is one way to finish a seam. The stitches should be slanted 1/6 inch deep and 1/4 inch apart.

Selvage – the finished length wise edge of the fabric. In some fabrics where the Selvage is inclined to pull, it should either be or clipped at intervals.