Lesson 9: Basic Sewing Terms

vintage pincushion pattern for sale at Craftsy
Hi Everyone!  If your following this class, good to see you back again.  If your new welcome to the class! If you need to catch up you can see at the bottom of this post or click here to what our prior lessons were if you need to catch up  Today we are going to learn some basic sewing terms to get you started with pictures.  Some of these terms we will cover in further depth in future lessons.

  Basic Sewing Terms
  • Seam Allowance- The width of your seam, from the stitch line to edge of fabric.  This usually varies from 1/2" to 5/8" for most seams.  Your pattern will tell you how much to use.
  • Fabric Grain-means the direction of the threads that are woven in the fabric.  The term warp threads are the secure threads on a loom, while the term weft refers to the threads that are woven back and forth through the warp threads.
  • Bias-A 45 degree angle to the straight grain is a bias cut in sewing, and is the stretchiest part of the fabric. 
  • Straight Grain  The straight of grain runs parallel to the selvage.
  • Cross Grain The cross grain is always perpendicular to the selvage.
  • Selvage-The bound edges of the fabric that are created when the weft threads are woven back and forth in the weaving process.  The selvage edge will often have writing on it or a slight differences from the rest of the fabric.  The selvage edges will not look like you just cut through it. 
  • Nap-This refers to fuzzy fabrics such as a fleece or velvet.  Some fabric have a one direction nap, so it’s important to sew the pieces of a project with nap going the same way.  You will often have to buy extra fabric if your working with a nap.  It will often tell you how much on your pattern
  • Interfacing A generally light weight material used on the inside of a project for added stability.  It comes in fusible (iron on) or sew on forms and often has a separate section at sewing stores near the fabric.  Your pattern will tell you if any is needed,how many yards, and what piece or pieces it will be used on.
Interfacing image via Craftstylish
  • Facing-A partial lining used in areas suçh as arm holes, necklines to give a finished edge without a complete lining.
  • Dart-  Helps to shape fabric around curved areas. Often around bustlines, waist, hips, and shoulder areas. 
  • Basting Stitch-A temporary stitch to hold fabric in place.
  • Backstitch-At the beginning, and end of your stitching, a few reverse stitches on your machine locks your stitches, so they don’t unravel. Most seams will start and end this way unless you are doing a specific technique that requires you to use a basting stitch.
  • u
    image via Newton Custom Interiors
  • Sewing foot-The presser foot that is attached to your shank of the sewing machine, such as an all purpose foot, zipper foot, blind hem foot, etc.
  • Clipping-Cut the seam allowance perpendicular to the seam, but not into the seam.  This allows fabric to lay smoothly around curves.

image via Newton Custom Interiors

  • Top Stitching-A decorative or functional stitch that is done on the outside of a seam after it  is turned, such as the top edge of a tote bag that is lined. It helps to keep corners and seams as sharp as when ironed.
  • Notches are used to line up two or more pieces of fabric that you will be joining together. Notches are symbolized in various sizes, from single to quadruple. Larger notches always refer to the back side of the garment, which help keep fronts and backs straight in your mind and prevent mistakes. 
  • Image via Sewing about.com
    Dots: Image via Sewing about.com
  • Dots are made in various sizes by the pattern companies. These must be marked onto your fabric. They indicate starting and stopping points for stitching, as well as points to match up markings for things like darts.

Next Lesson How to Fix Tension on Your Sewing Machine

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