If you've ever received a handmade pillow, hat or pair of gloves, then you've probably received an item that involved the art of sewing. Sewing can be done either by machine or by hand to create many kinds of garments and items. Sewing is a timeless tradition that involves a needle, thread and various types of fabric, and it is perfect for learning as a new hobby. While some stitches are difficult to learn, the majority of sewing techniques are easy to master for any beginner.
While sewing is used to create beautiful products, there are many different kinds of stitches that may be learned. For example, backstitching, running stitches, understitches, topstitches and edgestitches are all used to hold pieces of fabric together in different ways. Some stitches involve holding fabrics together by the edges, while others involve a layer of filling, like a quilt.
Whether you're a sewing expert or a beginner with a needle and thread, we encourage you to take this quiz to learn something new about sewing. There are all kinds of stitches to learn, as well as sewing machine features and types of fabric. Do you think you have what it takes to sew up a great core? Take our Sewing Vocabulary Quiz now to find out!
When a sewing machine is powered on and the needle moves up and down on a piece of fabric, the fabric is moved through at a steady rate by the feed dogs. They grab the fabric and pull it forward to create stitches of even length.
Bias tape is often used to conceal edges of a piece of fabric, which may be frayed, unfinished and unattractive. This technique is known as binding.
The hand of a piece of fabric refers to the texture of it, or how it feels. Some textures are soft, while others are more coarse.
Multiple layers of fabric that are sewn together in pleasing patterns form a quilt. This may also contain a layer of filling, such as extra cotton, to make the finished piece thick and cozy, like a blanket.
Many sewing machines come with a built-in thread cutter, which is simply used to cut thread. This is handy when you lose a pair of scissors.
Machine stitching is the process of using a sewing machine to create stitches. A top thread runs through the needle and a bottom thread comes from the bobbin.
A crossgrain refers to the part of a fabric that runs perpendicular to the finished edge of a fabric. This finished edge is called the selvage.
Oversewing is the process of sewing the raw edge of fabric to keep that fabric from fraying. These stitches are generally hidden from view when a garment is worn.
An overlapping stitch that starts towards the middle of the previous stitch is called a backstitch. It's considered to be a very strong hand stitch.
Sewing involves the use of stitches to hold pieces of fabric together. Ornamental stitches are called embroidery.
A running stitch "runs" throughout the fabric with a simple in and out of the needle and is perfect for seams. This a type of hand stitch.
The right side of the fabric refers to the part of the fabric that will be visible on a finished item. This is the more aesthetically pleasing side of the fabric.
A piece of fabric consists of woven fibers or threads. Their are many types of fabric, such as wool, cotton and silk.
Items are loosely held together by using a loose type of stitch known as tacking. This is also called basting.
The finished edge of clothing is called the hem. A catch stitch or blind stitch is often used for hemming by hand.
The grainline lies parallel to the finished edge of a piece of fabric, which is called the selvage. This is often noted for pattern layouts.
To make a seam look less bulky, you can grade the seam. This means cutting the seam allowances on the inside to different widths.
Thread refers to a thin piece of string that is used for hand and machine stitches. Thread is looped through a needle and knotted at the end to secure it in place.
The opposite of a raw edge, which is the cut or unfinished edge of a fabric, the selvage refers to the finished edges of a fabric. This is created during the manufacturing process.
The bias is the 45-degree cut of a piece of fabric. Fabric cut on the bias drapes nicely and has more "give" when it is stretched.
A notch or series of notches is sometimes cut into a seam allowance to help a curved seam lay flat. The notches must be cut close to - but not into - the seam stitches.
A needle is used to pull thread through layers of fabric. It has a sharp, pointed end for piercing fabric and a hole or eye at the other end for holding thread.
In sewing, spacing refers to the length between stitches. You don't want stitches too far apart or too close to each other.
The raw edge of fabric refers to the untouched part that hasn't been sewn yet. This edge is often a hand-cut, slightly frayed edge.
Folding is the process of bending a piece of fabric over its corner or edge. Fabric can be ironed to create a sharper, more permanent fold or crease.
When you're sewing a piece of fabric using a sewing machine, you'll have to maintain the correct seam allowance so you don't get too close to the edge of the fabric or throw off the size of your final garment. The standard seam allowance is typically 5/8".
To wear out a piece of fabric is the process of fraying it. Sometimes fraying is intentional, to create fringe or a distressed look.
To baste is to temporarily hold pieces of fabric in place using a loose stitch. The basting thread is removed after permanent stitches are in place.
Lightweight knit fabrics are perfect for making t-shirts and other stretchy items. Thicker knits, made with yarn, are used to make sweaters, scarves, mittens and such.
Stiching parallel to the seam on the top of a fabric is called topstitching. Topstitching is decorative, as seen on shirt pockets and denim jeans. This type of stitching is similar to edgestitching.
Some stitches will be longer or shorter then others, depending on the project at hand. This is referred to as stitch length.
The wrong side of the fabric is on the inside of a sewn piece, visible if there is no lining. This is often the less aesthetically pleasing part of the product. Don't wear your shirt inside-out!
To clip excess fabric is to literally cut it off with scissors. This may also help to flatten down an edge or seam.
An edgestitch is often used to keep seams in place. This is done by adding an additional row of stitches near the seam, meant to be visible.
Woven fabrics are typically woven together using multiple pieces of thread, lengthwise and crosswise. Patterns like plaid are created by strategically weaving different colors of thread.
A finished seam makes the inside of a garment look nicer and can stop fabric from fraying. Finished fabric edges inside of a seam can be stitched or cut with pinking shears.
To gather a piece of fabric means to crumple it, using a gathering stitch, creating a ruffle. This will result in more volume for the piece of fabric.
Understitching is used to keep a fabric lining from rolling to the outside, especially around a neckline. This technique takes some practice to master.
Staystitching is used on curved edges on a single piece of fabric. These stitches help a garment hold its shape when the fabric is pulled or stretched.
If you ever mess up on a stitch, you can always use a seam ripper to undo the damage. The pointed edge of a seam ripper can remove any kind of stitch, whether by hand or machine.