Dictionary of sewing words

different sewing terms over a image of thread spools by nuria b patterns

Glossary of sewing words

A glossary is a list of words or terms used in a particular field or subject, usually with definitions. 

In this case I am have creating a glossary of sewing and fashion terms. This way when you have any doubt about any word or concept of my sewing tutorials you can consult it here.

If you want to advance quickly in your sewing journey, it’s important to engage with other sewers and experts in the field. One way to do this is by participating in forums and follow the tutorials of Nuria B patterns. However, a common challenge for beginners is understanding the specialized language of sewing experts. It’s not a different language, per se, but the use of technical terms can make it difficult to follow along and learn.

To help with this, I’ve compiled a sewing “dictionary” of common terms that you’re likely to encounter in discussions with sewing professionals. This will help you understand what they’re talking about and get the most out of your interactions with them. With this resource, you’ll be able to learn more and improve your skills faster.

If I am missing any important term I would appreciate it if you let me know. 



Appliqué: An appliqué is a decorative element applied to an existing garment or fabric. The appliqué can be made of a different fabric than the base fabric, or it can be made of the same fabric. Appliqués can be sewn on by hand or machine, and they can be attached using a variety of methods, including stitching, gluing, and heat-sealing. Appliqués are often used to add detail or embellishments to clothing, but they can also be used to repair damaged garments.


Back Stitch: Backstitch is a sewing technique in which the needle and thread are brought up through the fabric from the back side, then inserted back down into the fabric a short distance away and brought up again. This process is repeated, creating a row of stitches that appear to be stitched in reverse. Backstitch can be used to reinforce a seam or to sew a decorative stitch. It is also used to sew in a zipper or other fastener. To backstitch, start by threading the needle and tying a knot in the end of the thread. Bring the needle up through the fabric from the back side, then insert it back down into the fabric a short distance away. Repeat this process, making sure to keep the stitches even. When you reach the end of the seam or the area you are stitching, tie a knot in the thread to secure the stitches.

Backpack webbing: Backpack webbing is a type of webbing that is used in sewing backpacks. It is a strong and durable type of webbing that can be used to reinforce backpack straps and other parts of the backpack. Backpack webbing is typically made from polyester or nylon and is available in a variety of widths and colors.

Bar Tack: A bar tack is a method of reinforcement that is used to reinforce areas of a garment that experience a lot of stress or strain. A bar tack is created by sewing a series of stitches that are close together in a straight line. This creates a strong, durable seam that can withstand a lot of wear and tear. Bar tacks are often used on the corners of pockets, the bottom of zippers, and the waistband of pants.

Baste: To sew temporarily with long, loose stitches, often using a contrasting thread, to hold fabric in place until the final stitches are sewn. Basting is also used to evenly gather fabric.

Bias: A bias is a line or edge on a fabric that is not perpendicular to the grain line. It is often used to give a garment a softer look or drape. Seam bias is often used in garment construction to give a smooth, professional finish to a seam.

Bias Tape: Seam bias tape is a strip of fabric that is used to finish the raw edges of a seam. It is applied over the seam and then stitched in place. This tape can be made from a variety of materials, including cotton, linen, and polyester. It is available in a variety of widths and colors.

Binding: Binding is a strip of fabric used to finish the raw edges of a garment or quilt. It can be sewn on by hand or machine. Binding can also be used to make straps, ties, or other decorative elements.

Blind Hem:  A blind hem is a type of stitch used in sewing that joins two pieces of fabric together without creating a visible seam. This type of stitch is often used on hems of garments or home decor items such as curtains.


Casing: Is a technique used to finish the raw edge of a fabric and to create a channel through which a drawstring or elastic can be inserted. Casing is a method of enclosing something in a cover or sheath.

Connector: A connector is a piece of fabric or faux leather used to connect the bag to the strap or handle by means of a fitting. In my case, I explain how to make a connector in the tutorials of the bag patterns.

Cut on Fold: A cut on fold is a line of cutting on a fabric that is placed on the fold of the fabric. This ensures that the two pieces of cut fabric will be mirror images of each other.


D-rings: D-rings are metal rings that are used in sewing to reinforce stress points or to create a place to attach other hardware. They can be sewn onto a garment using a strong thread, such as nylon or polyester, and a heavy-duty needle. To attach a D-ring, first make a small slit in the fabric where you want to place the ring. Then, thread the needle through the ring and back up through the fabric. Make a square knot to secure the ring in place.

Decovil: Decovil is a stiff, non-woven interfacing. It is used to stabilize fabric and add body. It is available in both light and heavy weights.

Double-sided tape: A double-sided tape is a type of adhesive tape that is used to attach two pieces of fabric together. It is typically used in sewing to create a temporary bond between two pieces of fabric that can be easily removed. To use double-sided tape in sewing, simply place the tape between the two pieces of fabric and press them together. The tape will hold the fabric in place while you sew it. When you are finished sewing, the bond can be easily removed by peeling the tape away.


Edge Stitch: An edge stitch is a type of stitch used to finish the raw edge of a fabric. It can be used to create a decorative finish, or to simply secure the fabric so it does not fray.

Embroidery: Embroidery is a form of sewing that uses needle and thread to create decorative designs on fabric. It can be used to embellish clothing, quilts, home decor items, and more.


Fabric presser: A fabric presser is a tool or machine used in sewing to smooth out fabric and remove wrinkles or creases. Fabric pressers can be hand-held or mounted on a stand, and they use heat and pressure to smooth out fabric and make it easier to work with. Fabric pressers are commonly used to prepare fabric for cutting, sewing, or other processes, and they can help ensure that the finished product has a professional, polished look. Fabric pressers are a useful tool for anyone who works with fabric, including seamstresses, tailors, and home sewers.

Fanny pack: A fanny pack is a small bag that is worn around the waist, often with a strap that goes over the shoulder. Fanny packs are usually made from nylon or other synthetic materials, and they come in a variety of colors and styles. Many fanny packs have a zipper closure, and some also have a small pocket on the front or back. 

Fanny packs are a practical and stylish way to carry your essentials when you are on the go. They are perfect for travel, hiking, biking, or any activity where you need your hands free. You can use a fanny pack to carry your phone, wallet, keys, and other small items. 

To wear a fanny pack, simply put it on around your waist and adjust the strap to fit comfortably. If you are wearing a dress or skirt, you can wear the fanny pack in the front or back. If you are wearing pants, it is best to wear the fanny pack in the back.

Faux Leather: Faux leather is a type of fabric that is made to look like leather. It is usually made from a synthetic material, such as PVC or polyurethane.Faux leather can be used in sewing to create a variety of garments, such as bags, jackets, skirts, and pants.

Finger Press:   Finger press is used to lightly press a seam or crease without using an iron. This is especially helpful when working with delicate fabrics. To finger press, simply hold the fabric in place with your fingers and lightly run a hot iron over the area.


Grainline: The grainline of a fabric is the lengthwise or vertical grain. It’s usually marked with a arrow on the selvage of the fabric. When you’re cutting out a pattern, you want to align the grainline of the pattern with the grainline of the fabric.

Gusset: A gusset is a triangular or diamond-shaped piece of fabric that is inserted into a seam to reinforce it or to add room. When sewing a gusset into a bag, first mark the placement of the gusset on the wrong side of the fabric. Then, sew the side seams of the bag up to the marks. Next, sew the gusset into place, being sure to catch all the layers of the bag. Finally, sew the remaining side seams.


Handbag: A handbag is a bag that is held in the hand. It is usually made of cloth, fabric, leather, or other materials.

Handbag pattern: A handbag pattern is a template or guide used to create a handbag or purse. It is typically made of paper or cardboard, and can be used to create a variety of different styles and designs of handbags. Handbag patterns can be purchased from craft or sewing stores, or can be created at home using a variety of different methods. 

Handbag patterns typically include a few different pieces: the front and back panels of the bag, the bottom panel, and the handles. These pieces can be cut out of fabric using the template as a guide, and then sewn together to create the finished handbag. Some patterns may also include instructions for adding pockets, linings, or other features to the bag. 

Once the pieces are cut out, they are usually sewn together with a sewing machine. However, some people prefer to hand-sew their handbags, which can give the finished product a more unique and personal look. Hand-sewn handbags can also be more durable, as the stitches are typically stronger than those made by a sewing machine.

Handle strap: A handle strap is a strip of fabric that is sewn onto a bag or piece of clothing to create a loop or handle. To sew a handle strap, first determine the placement of the strap and mark the fabric. Then, cut a strip of fabric that is twice the width of the desired strap plus 1/2 inch for seam allowances. Fold the strip in half lengthwise and press. Sew the long side and one end of the strap closed. Turn the strap right side out and press. Attach the strap to the bag or piece of clothing by sewing it in place.


Interlining: Interlining is a layer of fabric used to reinforce or add shape to a garment. It is usually made from a lightweight fabric such as cotton or linen and is applied to areas such as the collar, lapels, and cuffs.

Interlock: In sewing, an interlock is a type of fabric that is made by knitting two sets of yarns together in a way that creates a double layer of fabric with a single set of yarns running in each direction. This results in a fabric that is stronger and more durable than a single layer of fabric, and it is often used in clothing and other items that require a strong and flexible fabric.

Interlocking stitch: An interlocking stitch is a type of stitch that is used to join two pieces of fabric together. It is a strong stitch that can be used on heavier fabrics. To create an interlocking stitch, you will need to sew two rows of stitches that are parallel to each other. The first row of stitches should be sewn with the right side of the fabric facing up. The second row of stitches should be sewn with the wrong side of the fabric facing up.


Jersey: A jersey is a piece of clothing typically made of knit fabric or woven fabric and worn as an upper body garment. It is often worn for athletic and sports activities, but can also be used for casual or everyday wear.


Knot: To create a knot on your fabric while sewing, you’ll need to sew a little extra. After you’ve sewn the desired length, use the back-stitching option to sew over the extra 1 inch. Then, continue sewing forward to complete the knot. This will help the knot hold securely and prevent it from unraveling.


Lining: Lining is a layer of fabric used to create a smooth surface on the inside of a garment. It is usually made from a smooth, lightweight fabric such as cotton or polyester. Lining can be used in a variety of garments, such as dresses, jackets, and skirts.


Masking tape: Masking tape is a type of adhesive tape that is commonly used in painting and crafting projects. It can be used to mask off areas that you do not want to paint or to create patterns and designs on surfaces. In sewing, masking tape can be used to temporarily secure fabric in place while you are working on it. It can also be used to create straight lines and hems.


Neaten Edges: Neaten Edges is a method of finishing the raw edges of fabric to prevent fraying and to create a clean, professional look. There are several ways to neaten edges, but the most common is to use a serger.


Overlay: Overlay on sewing is a technique in which two or more fabrics are layered on top of each other to create an interesting texture or design. The fabrics are often different colors or fabrics, and the overlay is used to create a variety of effects. Overlay can be used to create depth and texture to a garment, from adding a pop of color to a dress to creating a unique quilt pattern.
An overlay in sewing is a layer of fabric that is added on top of another fabric to create a new design or add decorative detail. This can be done by cutting the overlay fabric into a specific shape or pattern and then attaching it to the base fabric using stitching or other methods. Overlays are commonly used in garments to add a sheer or lace layer to a dress or top, or to create a contrasting color or texture on a garment. They can also be used in home decor, such as adding an overlay to a pillow or curtain to create a unique look.


Pattern: A pattern is a template used to create a garment or other item. Patterns are usually made of paper, and they come in a variety of sizes. You can use a pattern to create a new garment, or to alter an existing one. 

To use a pattern, you first need to select the right size. Then, you trace the pattern onto fabric, and cut out the fabric pieces. Finally, you sew the fabric pieces together, following the instructions on the pattern. 

Patterns can be used to create a variety of items, including bags, handbags, purses, clothing, curtains, and quilts. You can find patterns at fabric stores, or online.

Presser foot: A sewing machine presser foot is a tool that helps to hold the fabric in place while you sew. It is placed over the fabric and then the machine needle is inserted through the foot to sew the fabric. 

It is usually made of metal or plastic and has a pointed end that is used to press the fabric.

Purse: A purse is a small bag that is used to carry personal items such as a smartphone, money, credit cards, and keys. Purses are often made of materials such as leather, fabric, or straw. They can be worn over the shoulder or carried in the hand.


Quilting: Quilting is a process of sewing two or more layers of fabric together with a layer of batting or wadding in between. The fabric is sewn together using a quilting stitch, which can be either decorative or functional. Quilting can be done by hand or by machine.


Right Side: The right side of the fabric is the side that will be visible once the garment or item is complete. When sewing, the right side of the fabric should be facing up.  Usually the printed side of the fabric.


Seam: A seam is a line of stitching that joins two pieces of fabric or other materials together. Seams are used in sewing to join fabric pieces together, as well as to finish the edges of garments and other items. There are many different types of seams, and the best type of seam to use depends on the fabric, the item being sewn, and the intended use of the item.

Seam Allowance: The seam allowance is the extra fabric that is sewn along the edge of a garment or other item. This allows for the finished item to have a clean, finished look. The seam allowance can also be used to make adjustments to the fit of an item, such as taking in a seam to make it smaller. 

Sewing clips: Sewing clips are small, metal or plastic clips that are used to hold fabric in place while sewing. They are useful for holding multiple layers of fabric together, or for holding a seam in place while sewing.

Sewing machine: A sewing machine is a machine used to sew fabric and other materials together with thread. Sewing machines can be used to create a variety of different stitches, including straight stitches, zigzag stitches, and decorative stitches. Sewing machines can be operated by hand or by foot, and they come in a variety of different sizes and shapes.

Sewing machine fabric presser: A sewing machine fabric presser is a device that is attached to a sewing machine and used to smooth out fabric as it is being sewn. It works by applying heat and pressure to the fabric as it passes through the sewing machine, helping to remove wrinkles and creases and ensuring that the fabric is evenly and smoothly stitched. A sewing machine fabric presser is typically a separate attachment that is added to the sewing machine, and it can be adjusted to suit the thickness and type of fabric being sewn. Fabric pressers are an important tool for anyone who uses a sewing machine, as they can help to improve the quality and appearance of the finished product.

Stabilizer: A stabilizer is a material that is used to support or stabilize a fabric during sewing. It can be used to prevent the fabric from stretching or distorting during sewing, or to add support to a weak or delicate fabric

Stitching: When two pieces of fabric are sewn together, it is called stitching. This is a basic sewing technique that is used to create clothing, quilts, and other textile items.


Tailor’s chalk: Tailor’s chalk is a white chalk used to mark fabric. It is used to mark lines on fabric for cutting or sewing.

Teflon: Teflon is often used as a coating on sewing machine needles, helping the needle glide more easily through fabric. It can also be used to coat the bottom of a fabric iron, making it easier to glide over fabric without sticking or leaving marks.

Textile glue: Textile glue is a type of adhesive that is used to bond fabrics together. It is typically used in sewing to attach appliques or to secure fabric trim. To use textile glue, simply apply a small amount of glue to the edge of one fabric piece and press it against the other fabric. Hold the fabrics in place until the glue dries.

Topstitch: A topstitch is a sewing technique where the stitch is sewn through the top layer of fabric only. This creates a decorative stitch that can be used to finish a seam or to add reinforcement to a garment.

Tote bag: A tote bag is a large, often unstructured bag used to carry items such as books, clothes, or other personal items. Tote bags are usually made of sturdy fabric such as canvas or denim, and have wide, open handles. Tote bags are often used as shopping bags or beach bags.


Under Stitch: An under stitch is a type of stitch used in sewing that helps to secure the seam allowance to the garment. It is typically sewn along the seam line on the wrong side of the fabric.



Waterproof fabric: Waterproof fabric is a great choice for sewing garments that will be worn in wet or damp conditions. It is also a good choice for sewing items that will be exposed to direct sunlight, as it will help to protect the fabric from fading. Waterproof fabric is available in a wide range of colors and patterns, so it is easy to find a style that suits your needs. When sewing with waterproof fabric, it is important to use a water-resistant thread and to seal all seams with a waterproof sealant.

Woven interlining: Woven interlining is a type of fabric used to stabilize or reinforce a garment. It is usually made of a lightweight cotton or polyester fabric and is used to add structure and body to a garment. It can be used to line collars, cuffs, waistbands, handbags and other areas that need extra support.

Wrong Side:  The wrong side of a fabric is the back side of the fabric. It is usually a different color or has a different design than the right side. When sewing, the wrong side of the fabric will be facing the inside of the garment.


Yarn: Yarn is a length of interlocked fibers used in knitting, weaving, crocheting, and sewing. It is available in a variety of colors, materials, and thicknesses. Yarn is used to create fabric, clothing, accessories, and home décor items.


Zipper: A zipper is a fastening device used to join two pieces of fabric together. It consists of two rows of teeth, one on each side of the fabric, that are interlocked when the zipper is closed. Zippers are often used in sewing to fasten garments such as jackets, skirts, and pants. They can also be used to close bags and other types of fabric containers.

Zipper presser foot: A zipper presser foot is a sewing machine attachment that helps to feed the fabric and zipper tape evenly through the sewing machine. It is placed over the zipper and fabric before sewing.

Zig zag: A zigzag stitch is a basic stitch used in sewing that consists of a series of zigzag stitches. The zigzag stitch is commonly used to finish the raw edges of fabric to prevent fraying and to sew stretchy fabrics.

Zig zag foot: A zigzag foot is a special attachment for a sewing machine that helps create a zigzag stitch. This type of stitch is often used for reinforcing seams or for decorative purposes. To use a zigzag foot, simply attach it to your sewing machine and follow the instructions in your machine’s manual for creating a zigzag stitch.

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