Sewing Terms

Here is a list of modern sewing terms that I have come across. This list will continue to grow as I find more words and techniques to add to the list.


Batting - This is a thin to thick layer of fibers, either cotton or synthetic, that is sandwiched between layers of fabric. This is often used in quilts and coats, to add a layer of extra insulation, but also used in craft projects where a flat plush effect is wanted.

Bias cut - The true diagonal of the fabric. Cutting on the bias is used to help increase natural drape of a fabric, such as in a cowl neck top. It is also used for binding strips for collars, cuffs, and piping because it molds to curves easily.

Bodice - The part of a garment that is worn on the upper part of the body. This would be from the shoulder to the natural waist.

Dart - An area where extra fabric is folded, resembling a triangle, and sewn to eliminate extra bulk and give a more fitted appearance. This technique is common at the top of skirts and bottom of tops to aid in fitting around the waist.

Draping - This term is most commonly used to describe a way in which to make a custom fitted pattern by laying fabric directly on the dress form or person.

Embellishments - Any item that is applied or added to increase the aesthetics of an item or garment. For example, any trim of lace, rick-rack, beadwork, etc. that has no function in the stability of the garment would be considered an embellishment.

Faille - A very sheer fabric, originally of cotton or silk, it can now be found made of synthetics.

FBA - Full Bust Adjustment. This is a fitting term.

Fiberfill - Generally a synthetic fiber used in stuffing toys. It is meant to resemble loose, unwoven cotton or wool.

Fleece - A thicker fabric, usually with a thick nap, generally intended for warmth.

Frog closure - A type of closure made of cord that has been wound into decorative designs and utilizes a loop and bar. It is most commonly used to secure two sides of a jacket.

Gore - See dart. This term is rarely used in modern sewing.

Organza - A stiff, sheer fabric generally used when structure is important without adding weight. This is not a good fabric to have next to the skin as it can be irritating.
PHD - Project Half Done

Presser Foot - The part of a sewing machine that holds and feeds the fabric under the needle in order for it to be sewn.

RTW - Ready To Wear fashions

Seam allowance - This is the space allowed in the pattern between the stitch line and the edge of the fabric. Check the pattern as it varies from one pattern to the next. The most widely used seam allowances are marked as grooves on your machine for use as a guide.

TNT - Tried N True pattern that fits perfectly. It can be TNT right out of the envelope or after custom adjustments.

Topstitching - The use of stitching thread as a decoration or trim. These stitches have no stabilizing function and are only aesthetic.
UFO - Un-Finished Object

Wire-edged ribbon - Ribbon that has a very thin wire bound at one or both edges as a stiffener. These ribbons are able to be bent into shapes and will stay that way. This is generally used in crafting and flower arrangements.

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