Can You Answer These Sewing Trivia Questions?

By: Zoe Samuel
Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Sewing is one of those skills that is deemed to be very feminine, but really shouldn't be associated with a particular gender. After all, few people sew better than military men who are generally taken to be the very height of masculinity. Sewing isn't just about embroidering pretty things onto fabric, after all; it is also about being able to fend for yourself as an adult. If you need to take your coat to the cleaners or your shirt to your mother's house every time there is a tear in the lining or a button that looks likely to part ways with the garment, then you truly are in a pickle. Sewing is simply one of those things that you have to be able to do, like cooking a basic meal or driving a car.

However, just because you know the basics doesn't mean you're an expert. Only someone with a good sewing knowledge base will be able to ace this quiz about types of stitches, machines you might use for sewing, types of thread, needles and other tools, and of course, handy tricks to get away with not working too hard but still ensuring you haven't cut any corners. Let's get started!

What is basting?

Basting is a cooking term, but it's also a sewing term! It's a big, rather imprecise stitch you put in to hold things in place while you sew.

What is the bias of the fabric?

A bias cut dress is thus one that is cut diagonally to the grain of the fabric. This affects the way it drapes, making it more flattering.

What is the right name for a folded wedge of fabric designed to help tailoring over a curve?

A dart is designed to make a dress fit perfectly. It adds curve to match the human form and creates a nice flattering shape.

What are the feed dogs?

Feed dogs help to align the fabric and free your hands to do other things. They are like the rollers on a printing press.

What is the wrong side?

Fabric usually has a side that is meant to face outward and a side that is meant to face inward. The wrong side shouldn't end up on the outside!

What is the name for the stitches that are visible on the outside of the garment?

As this stitch is visible, topstitch is usually the most precise. Sometimes it is decorative, with a bold colored thread or special pattern.

What is the name for the sewn and folded edge of a garment?

A hem is designed to prevent fraying by tucking the edge of the fabric under itself and then securing it. It's like the telomere on the end of a strand of DNA!

What is the name for the two directions of thread or yarn in a fabric?

The warp and weft are the X and Y axes of the fabric. Sometimes you can see them, as in a piece of thick and luxurious wool. Other times you can't, as in a piece of fancy 800-thread-count cotton.

What is it called when a length of fabric is taken up to stitch it to a shorter length?

Gathering is named for how it looks as though you literally gathered up the fabric in a hand and then it stayed in place. It's a good way to create a different look in an otherwise boring piece.

What is it called when stitching in an X-pattern?

Cross stitch is one of the first ones you learn as a child. It's very easy to do and very hard to unpick by mistake! Plus, it's pretty.

What is the amount of give in the fabric, relative to the wearer's size?

Ease is a measure of how much you can move in the garment. Some fabrics achieve this by stretch, others by tailoring. Others do it by a mix of the two.

What is a decoration made by adding fabric or lace designs to the surface of a garment?

Applique means adding a whole new piece as decoration. This distinguishes it from embroidery, in which the thread itself is the decoration.

What natural substance is put on thread to stiffen it for hand sewing?

Beeswax won't change the essence of a thread, but it makes it smoother and thus more manageable. Think of it like gel or conditioner.

What do you thread using a bodkin?

A bodkin is used to thread elastic. It's a big flat needle-like tool. You've heard the word in Shakespeare and now you know what it means!

What is the fabric around an elastic, cording or boning called?

Casing is reinforced fabric so that the structure underneath doesn't come out. For example, you might use casing around the boning in a corset to keep the shape of it in place.

What is a finger press?

Finger pressing sounds like it shouldn't work, but it does! You can temporarily shape fabric using just your hands.

Where on a pair of pants or trousers is the inseam?

The inseam runs from the inside of your ankle to the groin. Finding out what length it is has to be the most awkward part of getting measured for clothing.

What is the name for unbleached cotton?

Muslin is a versatile fabric that used to be very commonly used for dresses. You might also have used it to make a little net for a lemon that you squeeze onto your food!

What do notches tell the sewer?

Notches are little marks on a clothing pattern, designed to help in lining up the two pieces. That way, you don't end up with two pieces that are mis-aligned.

What is a stitch called that looks like a spiral wrapped around the edge of the fabric?

This stitch looks like a spiraling binder, as if on a notebook. It's both secure and decorative!

What is pique?

Pique is a way of weaving that causes a three-dimensional texture to the cotton. Cotton is very fine, so this is hard to do well.

What is the line called where two pieces of fabric are held together by thread?

Seams are the places where pieces of fabric meet. They are truly the faultlines of sewing - in that, if you get them wrong, whatever you're making will be a natural disaster.

What is a thimble for?

A thimble is worn on the fingertip to avoid poking yourself. It's something that sounds silly until you've stuck your own finger a few times!

What function does a pleat serve?

Pleats can be for decoration but they can also be functional. A pleat is a way of making fabric fit on two areas of different sizes without going to the trouble of cutting it and putting in a dart.

What is it called when one type of fabric is on top of another, often with the top layer being somewhat transparent?

Overlay is usually translucent, while the layer underneath should be more opaque. Getting the two layers to move well together and actually be the same size is one of the great challenges of sewing.

What garments are made by a milliner?

Millinery is the making of hats. Hats often involve more sewing than people realize!

Which part of a garment is the bodice?

Bodice doesn't just mean corsets, made to sound less fearsome. It's also the part of a dress that covers the torso, no matter what it's made of.

What is the armscye on a garment?

The armscye is where the shoulder meets the sleeve. If this is badly tailored, your shirt will ride up or simply tear when you move.

What does the presser foot do on a sewing machine?

The presser foot is a flat piece that keeps the fabric against the teeth. It's basically like putting wood in a vice!

What name is given to the fine netting commonly used for wedding veils?

Tulle is cotton at its most glamorous. It's common in veils, as well as in petticoats and evening gowns.

What is the shank of a button?

Most buttons have holes to attach them, but some of them have a shank. It's a little stem that sticks out from the back and can make the button easier to attach.

What is the "rise" of a pair of trousers or pants?

The rise is one of those dimensions that you'd never bother to measure on yourself. However, if you put on a pair of slacks that has too small a rise for you... well, you're going to know about it.

What is special about a dolman sleeve?

A dolman sleeve is made of a continuous piece of fabric along with the rest of the garment. That's not common; if you look at most of your clothes, you will see that the sleeve is its own piece.

What is a triangular piece of fabric added to a skirt to make it fuller?

A godet is actually a type of pleat. It helps add fullness to a skirt, thus giving it more movement and drama.

What is a placket?

A placket is the little extra piece of fabric that adds stability to the part of your shirt that has buttonholes. Two common types are conventional and French front.

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