10+ Sewing Terms for Beginners
Following along with sewing terms can be difficult if you are a beginner. Here are the terms that are used most often so that you can begin sewing with more confidence! Here are sewing terms for beginners! IF you are new to sewing make sure and check out my Facebook page where I do live video tutorials!!
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10+ Sewing Terms for Beginners
This is the line of stitches where you have sewn your 2 pieces of fabric together. The seam is the foundation of sewing. Every project you sew is going to have seams. Creating a seam is the act of sewing two pieces of fabric together.
2) Seam Allowance
The seam allowance is the distance between the seam and the edge of the fabric. You don’t sew directly on the edge of the fabric, you need a seam allowance. Sewing patterns give a specific seam allowance for each project. The seam allowance lets you know how far from the edge of the fabric you need to place your stitches to correctly sew the pattern. This can vary, but the most common seam allowances (SA) are 1/4″ and 1/2″. This means the fabric that you cut will always be bigger than the finished product so buy your fabric accordingly.
The hem is where you take the edge of the fabric, fold it under, and then sew a seam. A hem keeps the fabric from unravelling and hides the raw edge. Hems can be sewn multiple ways. The most commonly used technique is to fold the fabric under once, and then once again, so that the raw edge is completely hidden. If you are following a pattern, there will be specific measurements given to let you know how much fabric you need to fold under. Clothing has hemmed edges. The sleeves of your shirt have a hem, the bottom of a dress has a hem, even your jeans have a hem. A hem is most commonly associated with clothing.
What is temporary machine stitching called?
A basting stitch is a temporary stitch. You can complete a basting stitch by hand or with a sewing machine. Temporarily hold two pieces of fabric together by using a basting stitch.
One great example is when you are adding ruffles to something and then attaching them. The ruffles can be pesky and move as your presser foot passes over them. By basting, you can tack them down and make sure you like the look of them before completely committing to their placement. If you don’t like where they are, you can get your trusty seam ripper out and remove the basting stitches much easier because they are looser and further apart. Just set your stitch length to the longest possible setting, decrease your tension and you are ready to baste!
You can also baste when quilting. Create a long loose stitch to baste. There are also basting sprays that provide a temporary bond and will wash out with soap and water.
5) Top Stitch
If you see a stitch line across the top of anything made out of fabric, you are looking at a top stitch. A top stitch gives the project a more finished look. It also helps hold your seam open and allows it to lay flat.
When you begin to sew, the tails of the thread can easily be unraveled. Backstitching prevents this from happening. Your machine will have some sort of knob or lever that essentially puts your machine in reverse. Don’t forget to backstitch a few stitches to ensure all that hard work you are putting in doesn’t come undone!
What is the edge of the fabric called?
Selvage is the edge of the fabric. You will often hear it referred to as the selvage edge. In most cases the selvage edge must be removed before sewing. When you buy quilting cotton the selvage edge often has an image with all the colors in the fabric. Non quilting fabric also has a selvage edge. You can sometimes identify the selvage edge by small dots along the very edge of the fabric.
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7) Right Sides Together
When you look at your fabric you will see that there is a right side, which is the top of the fabric, and a wrong side, which is the underside of the fabric. More often than not, you will be sewing 2 pieces of fabric together with the right sides facing. This keeps the edges of your fabric inside the piece that you are sewing.
8) Wrong Sides Together
If you are ever given instructions to sew the wrong sides together it may feel backwards for a moment! After all, you will actually be looking at the right sides of the fabric in order for the wrong sides, or the underside, to be sewn together.
9) Turn Out
If you sew a long tube or another item such as a stuffed toy, you will need to sew the pieces with right sides facing each other. You will then need to turn the item right side out. This is what the term turn our is referring to. Often you can turn the piece out without a special tool. Other times you will need to use a tool to get the tube or small corners completely turned.
If you have seen a quilt it most likely had a binding around the edge. This is when you take a very long, thin strip of fabric and you sew along the outer edge to hide the edges of the fabric to keep it from fraying. Binding not only gives the fabric a nice finished look but it can also add a nice decorative touch to your project.
Attach interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric to help stiffen it up. Add interfacing to give your project structure. Some interfacing is fusible, which means you can iron it right to the fabric, making it easier to work with.
12) Finger Pressing
There are times when you really need to get out that iron and make a crisp, clean edge. There are also times you can get away with finger pressing, or running your finger along the seam to open it up enough to move on to the next step in your project. Finger pressing is simply using your fingers, or even a tool, to press the fabric in place. Finger pressing provides a temporary press, therefore you can see it is not meant for use in all situations.
Thank you so much for joining me today to learn these sewing terms for beginners! I hope these sewing terms for beginners will help as you dive into your next project. Still have questions then share with me in the comments below. Did we miss a term, then let us know below!