The DIY Network Needle Arts Glossary

Confused by some of the needle arts terms you hear or read? Here's a list of some of the more commonly used terms with explanations of their meaning, courtesy of the DIY Network.

Related To:

  1. Crafts
  2. Sewing

Backstitch: A stitch sewn one stitch length backward on the front side and two stitch lengths forward on the reverse side to form a solid line of stitching on both sides

Bar tack: A very short thread reinforcement for stress points

Baste: To sew with long loose stitches in order to hold something in place temporarily

Bias: A line at a 45-degree angle to the selvage often utilized in the cutting of garments for smoother fit

Boxing: The long horizontal strip of fabric that connects the top and bottom of a seat cushion

Buckram: A stiff open-weave fabric used mainly for interfacing

Clean finish: To stitch 1/4" from the edge and press to the wrong side (if the raw edge won't be stitched down in another step, stitch down)

Ease: To make one piece of fabric fit onto another by evenly pulling in the extra fabric with out making any gathers or tucks

Edge-stitch: A row of stitching that appears on the very edge of a garment, normally 1/8" or less

Facing: A piece of fabric used to reinforce another, usually at a seam

Fashion fabric: The outer fabric in a garment

Finger press: To open seam allowances with the thumbnail

Flat felled seam: A durable type of seam generally found on jeans

French seam: A strong seam stitched on both sides of the fabric to enclose all raw edges

Fusible fabric: A thin layer of material containing adhesive that is activated with a hot iron

Gather: To pull (fabric) along a line of stitching so as to draw into puckers

Give: Degree of elasticity

Grade: To trim each seam allowance to a different width to reduce bulk

Grain: The direction of threads in cloth

Hand: The feel of or tactile reaction to something (as silk or leather)

Interfacing: An extra layer of fabric that provides shape and support in the detail area of a garment

Interline: To sew a lining between the ordinary lining and the outside fabric

Miter: A diagonal fold made at the corner in an edge finish

Nap: A hairy or downy surface of a fabric ("with nap" refers to any fabric surface that looks different when held up or down)

Pile: A coat or surface of usually short close fine furry hairs

Rolled hem: A hem created by folding the raw edge under 1/8 to1/4" twice and topstitching

Seam allowance: The area of fabric between the stitching and the cut edge

Self-fabric: The fabric from which a garment is made

Selvage: The edge on either side of a woven or flat-knitted fabric, finished to prevent raveling

Stay-stitch: Stitching done to stabilize fabric and help pieces fit together

Stitch in the ditch: Pressing the seam allowances to one side and topstitching as close as possible to the seam

Tack (see bar tack)

Topstitch: To make a line of stitching on the outside of a garment close to a seam

Tuft: The dimpling or bunching of fabric that occurs when a button is pulled tightly against padded fabric

Understitch (see stitch in the ditch)

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