Sewing Terms A-Z Glossary

There are so many sewing terms to wrap your head around and when you first start sewing. It can be confusing and overwhelming to know what everything means. 

Thats why I have put together this glossary of sewing terms A-Z for you to read through or reference when you need to throughout your sewing journey. 

You will learn new sewing terms as you become more confident with sewing and expanding your skills. 

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sewing terms a-z


Appliqué | A sewing technique where small pieces of fabric are cut into shapes and hand sewn onto a larger piece of fabric. Mainly used for decorative purposes.

Armscye | Also known as the armhole. This is where a sleeve will be sewn to.   

Back tacking | To sew forward and then back a few times at the start of a seam and the end. This ensures the row stitched won't unravel. 

ballpoint needles Ballpoint needles | Needle with a round end. Mainly used for knit fabrics to push through the fabric weaves rather than through causing them to be cut. 

Baste Stitch | A long stitch length used to temporarily hold fabric in place. 

The Bias | Term used to refer to the bias grain on woven fabrics. Found between the straight and cross grains at a 45 degree angle.

Bias Binding | Strips of fabric cut on the bias of the fabric. Often used to finish off edges like necklines or seams instead of overlocking.

bobbinBobbin | Small round piece used to wind on thread for the bottom of sewing machine. 

Buttonhole | A slit stitched into fabric to allow a button to slide through. 

Casing | Folding fabric over and sewing closed to create a casing for elastic or drawstring to go through.

CB and CF | Abbreviations commonly used on patterns to indicate the centre front and centre back. 

Chalk | Powdered piece used to draw markings on fabric. 

Contrast | A contrasting fabric to the main. 

Crossgrain | The fibres going horizontally across fabric. 

Clip | To cut small triangles into a curved seam to remove fabric bulk and allow the curve to sit nicer.

cutting matCutting mat | A mat used to cut fabric on with a rotary blade.

Dart | A technique to fold fabric in order to shape it to the body. 

Drape | A method to make clothing without a pattern by draping on a mannequin or body and pinning in place. 

Ease | Extra room in a garment to allow the wearer to be comfortable. 

embroideryEmbroidery | Illustrations sewn onto fabric to add detail or more traditionally used to tell a story.  

feed dogsFeed-dogs | Small piece on sewing machine which feeds the fabric through the sewing machine. 

Gather | To bunch up a piece of fabric to create ruffles and fullness. 

Grain | Term used when sewing with woven fabrics to explain the direction of yarns in fabric. 

Hem | To finish off the bottom edge of a garment. 

Hook and eyes | Two metal pieces which latch together. Used to help close a garment. 

Interfacing | A layer of fabric used to add weight and structure to a fabric.

Lining | Fabric used to finish off the inside of a garment.

Nap | A term used when sewing with fabrics like velvet to indicate directional pile. If you run your hand down the velvet one way it will be smooth. This is the nap. 

notionsNotions | Objects needed to complete a project like buttons, pins, elastic. 

Pattern | A template or guide that is used to create a project like a skirt. 

Pin tucks | Small folds of fabric stitched in place for detail. 
Pleat | A way to fold fabric that often creates volume but also detail. 

Presser foot | The foot on a sewing machine which holds the fabric in place when sewing. 

Raw edge | The cut edge of fabric which can fray. 

Seam | The joining of two fabrics created by sewing together. 

Seam allowance | Measurement between the raw edge of fabric and where the stitching line is to be sewn. Most patterns include this. 

Selvages | The self finished edge of fabric to stop it from fraying. Also know as the uncut edge of a fabric roll. 

fabric shearsShears | Fabric scissors made specially for cutting fabrics.

Straight stitch | Individual stitches that are looped up and down to form a straight line of stitching. 

Tacking | Tacking is the same as baste stitching. It is a large stitch used to hold fabric in place.

Top stitch | A line of stitching made on the outside of a garment for visual purposes. Often seen on pants or pockets. 
Under stitch | To edge stitch a seam to a facing or waistband on the inside of a garment. This helps top fabric from rolling out to the wrong side. 

Right side | Common term used to indicated the upright side of fabric. Eg, the printed side. 

Warp | The lengthwise thread in woven fabric.

Weft | The crosswise threads in woven fabric.

Wrong side | Common term used to indicate the underside side of fabric. Eg, the non printed side. 

Yarn | Fabric fibres twisted together to create long pieces of yarn. 

spoolsSpool | A cylindrical device that holds thread on for sewing. 

Stay stitch | A line of stitching often sewn on one layer of fabric to help stop it from stretching out of place. 

Yardage | Length of fabric cut to 1 yard. 

I hope this list of sewing terms from A-Z has helped demystify any questions you may have. It's definitely not all of the terms in sewing but its a good amount of important ones you should get familiar with. 


If you are new to sewing or are thinking about getting started but don't want to spend too much money. I have put together a Budget Friendly Beginner Sewing Kit here. You really don't need anything fancy to get going! 

Comment below if I have missed any that you would like to know more about. Happy Sewing!

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