Sewing Definitions

There are many terms used in creating the perfect outfit, whether you are the seamstress or the customer.  Using the correct vocabulary makes communication a lot easier.

First a few pointers for taking measurements:

  • Bust-Around chest at the fullest part under the armpits
  • Waist-Narrowest part around the center of the torso
  • Hips-Fullest part around the seat
  • Tea Length-Dress or skirt falling to mid-calf

Now some general terms for sewing:

  • Selvage: firmly woven narrow border along lengthwise edges of fabric.  When purchasing fabric the selvage ends are the 2 ends that do not ravel.
  • Bias: Runs diagonally to the straight grain of the fabric. This is the stretchiest part on the fabric.
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  • Lengthwise grain: strong, stable threads that run parallel to selvage
  • Crosswise grain: threads that run from selvage to selvage

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  • Grain: direction in which fabric threads run.  Patterns will tell you to place on the straight grain, this is why it is important that fabric be straightened before you start.
  • Grainline: arrow marking on pattern tissue that indicates straight grain
  • Nap-Nap is the “fuzzy” part of a fabric that is usually directional in nature. Cordoroy and velvet are good examples of fabric which has a nap or a pile. If smoothed with the hand nap is typically shiny in one direction and not shiny in the other. When cutting out a pattern, care should be taken to keep fabric pieces going in the same direction nap-wise.
  • Press cloth: plain piece of muslin or cotton fabric used to protect fabric from direct contact with hot iron

Hope these definitions are helpful to you!


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