Sewing is an excellent outlet for creativity as well as a way to create unique styles in apparel, home fashions, accessories, and more. Here is a short list of Sewer Basic terms that every sewer should understand.

  • Backstitch: Backstitching can be done by hand or by reverse-stitching on a sewing machine. It is used to secure stitches or seams by stitching over one or two stitches.
  • Basting stitch: Basting stitches are loose, large stitches used to join layers or pieces of fabric temporarily. They are not intended to be permanent and are removed when the garment or item is finished.
  • Bias: Bias in woven fabric is a diagonal line between the crosswise and lengthwise grain. Fabric stretches more on the bias than it does either crosswise or lengthwise. Bias strips are pieces of fabric cut on the bias. A bias seam results when bias edges of fabric are sewn together. It is stretchy and unstable.
  • Color wheel: A color wheel helps display the relationships between primary, secondary, tertiary, and complementary colors.
  • Fabric: Fabric is the mainstay of a sewer’s craft. It can be either woven or knit. Woven fabrics are created by interlocking weft and warp fibers. It can unravel, and edges need to be finished. Knit fabric is created from one continuous strand of fiber. It is very stretchy, and it can unravel, but it will not fray.

Lightweight woven fabric can be challis, charmeuse, crepe, lawn, or satin. It can be made of cotton, linen, polyester, silk, or viscose. It can be used for gathered or drapey styles, nightwear and underwear, or linings.

Medium-weight woven fabric can be calico, chambray, poplin, or sateen. It can be made of cotton, linen, polyester, silk, or viscose. It can be used for shirts, skirts, dresses, or summer trousers.

Medium- to heavyweight woven fabric can be canvas, corduroy, denim, tweed, or velvet. It can be made from cotton, elastane, polyester, or wool. It can be used for outerwear, structured styles, trousers, and skirts.

Lightweight knit fabric can be interlock, jersey, rib, or single knit. It can be made from cotton, elastane, silk, viscose, or wool. It can be used for tops, dresses, baby clothes, or nightwear.

Medium-weight knit fabric can be Ponte Roma or scuba. It can be made from elastane, polyester, or viscose. It holds gathers and pleats nicely and can be used for body-conscious fashions.

Medium- to heavyweight knit fabric can be boiled or felted wool, sweater knit, or sweatshirt/French terry. It can be made from cotton, elastane, polyester, viscose, or wool. It can be used for structured styles, loose-fitting garments, and outerwear.

  • Hand: The “hand” refers to the feel of the fabric on your hand.
  • Lockstitch: A lockstitch is several short sewing machine stitches that function as a knot would in hand sewing. It can begin or end a row of stitching.
  • Machine tension: Machine tension is the balance between the needle and bobbin thread in a sewing machine. It affects the quality of the stitching.
  • Presser foot: A presser foot holds the fabric in place against the bed of a sewing machine. Different feet are available for different fabrics and purposes.
  • Raw edge: A raw edge is the unfinished edge of fabric. It can fray or ravel.
  • Running stitch:  Running stitches are a series of in-and-out stitches.
  • Seam allowance: The seam allowance is the space between the seam stitching and the raw edge of the fabric.
  • Selvage: Selvage is the lengthwise edge of a woven piece of fabric.
  • Set-in seam: A set-in seam is also known as an inset seam and is used when a straight seam cannot be. It incorporates several steps to add a piece into an angled opening in the garment or item.
  • Stitch length: The stitch length is the stitches per inch or millimeter.
  • Tension dial: A tension dial in a sewing machine adjusts the upper thread to achieve balanced stitching.
  • Thread count: The thread count signifies the number of threads in an inch of woven fabric. The higher the number, the more tightly woven the fabric.
  • Topstitch: A topstitch is used to help a seam lie flat and can also be used as decoration or embellishment.
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