Sewing can be seen as an art

Sewing lexicon: The most important sewing terms from A to Z.

Regardless of whether you want to refresh your sewing knowledge or have only recently started sewing: Here in our sewing dictionary you will find the most important sewing terms from A to Z.

In every industry and every hobby there are technical terms that are initially unknown to a beginner. If you too often wonder what is meant by a certain term when reading online tutorials, then you've come to the right place. Because in our practical sewing dictionary we have put together the 80 most frequently occurring technical terms on the subject of sewing and their explanations. If you know any other terms that you think should be explained, suggest them in the comments.

Sewing dictionary and technical terms

The meanings of technical terms on the subject of sewing are often only known to those who have been involved with sewing for a long time. However, when you hear the term "rows" as a beginner, you tend not to associate the term with tailoring, but rather with objects that are arranged in rows. In sewing circles, however, “rows” refers to a specific method for fastening two pieces of fabric: To prevent the pieces of fabric from slipping before the actual sewing with the sewing machine, they are roughly sewn by hand. After the actual seam has been added, this actual row thread can be removed again. Interesting, isn't it?

So that you are well prepared for your first project, we have listed the top 80 terms in our sewing dictionary alphabetically.

Contrados sewing dictionary: from A to Z


1. darts: A wedge-shaped or diamond-shaped fold that is sewn into a garment to improve the fit. Darts are most commonly found on the shoulders, the chest area, the waist, and the cuffs of the skirt and trousers.

2. Spacers: Metal accessories that attach to the presser foot of the sewing machine. The spacer ensures that the seams are straight and always have the same distance.

3. Quilting: The sewing of a fabric edge with a lock stitch. Often the edge is turned over once or twice beforehand to prevent the fabric from fraying.

4. Application: Fabric designs that are sewn onto clothes, accessories, and pieces of fabric.


5. Piping: Narrow stitched fold for decoration. The folds are ironed flat on the right side of the fabric and often run vertically.

6. Blind stitch: Also known from ladder stitch, mattress stitch or magic seam. As the name suggests, the blind stitch is a seam that cannot be seen. A special foot is required when sewing a blind stitch with the sewing machine.

7. Breakline: Also known as fabric break. This is the edge that is created when a piece of fabric is folded in two.

8. Iron-on fleece: A strip of a special non-woven fabric that is often used to reinforce hems. When ironing, the fleece melts and bonds permanently to the fabric.

9. Waistband / cuffs: The finish at the neckline, sleeve openings, hems and pockets. Cuffs can be made from the same fabric as the garment or from a ribbed, stretchy material.


10. Coverlock: A coverlock sewing machine is a mixture between an overlock and normal sewing machine. In contrast to the overlock sewing machine, the coverlock sews in the middle of the fabric and not on the edge. In addition, the Coverlock does not have a knife to cut off fabric scraps.

11. Cutter: The cutter is also called a rotary cutter. It's a knife that looks like a mini version of a pizza cutter. Thanks to the round blade, patterns and fabrics can be cut precisely.


12. Double seam: Also known as the "French seam". With the double seam, a classic seam and serging are combined by first sewing the left side and then the right side. The seam cannot fray because the fabric edges are hidden within the sewn right side.

13. Push button: A button that consists of two parts. One side is equipped with a recess in the middle and the other side with the matching counterpart. Often more force is needed to close or open the buttons, which guarantees a secure hold.


14. threader: Small sheet metal plate with attached wire loop to facilitate threading the thread into the sewing needle.

15. Queuing: Describes the laying of fabric in regular or irregular folds or ruffles. Also known as curling.

16. Deposit: A layer of special textiles that reinforce fabrics. Interlinings can be sewn or ironed on (see inter alia iron-on fleece).


17. Threadline: The direction of the fabric is referred to as the grain. This must be taken into account when cutting cut pieces.

18. Thread tension: The tension of the upper and lower threads of a sewing machine. The thread tension can be adjusted manually depending on the thickness of the fabric and the thread.

19th case: The fall of a piece of fabric or clothing describes the way in which the fabric hangs, whether it wrinkles, etc.

20. thimble: Small cup-shaped hats that protect against accidentally injuring a finger while sewing.

21. Lining: The inner layer of fabric in jackets, coats and accessories such as B. Handbags. Lining fabrics often provide additional warmth and their silky nature makes getting into the garment easier. They also cover unsightly seams and fabric edges.


22. Yarn: Long, thin textile structure made of synthetic or natural fibers. Special sewing thread is required for sewing, which is equipped with special properties such as tear resistance, elasticity and dimensional stability.

23. Straight stitch: Another word for lockstitch, a straight stitch.

24. Webbing: Robust tape made of thick woven fibers. The thread size and material can vary, but these are often synthetic fibers as they are more durable. Webbing can be used for belts, bag handles and other decorative elements.


25. Hook closure: A fastener that consists of a hook and an eye. Often found in dresses and bras. The hook fastener is therefore also called a bra fastener.

26. Basting / basting stitch: A method of securing pieces of fabric, also known as "rows". The fabrics are roughly sewn together before they are connected with the sewing machine. The basting stitch is then removed again.


27. Denim yarn: Thicker sewing thread specially designed for sewing thick jeans or denim.

28. Jersey needle: A sewing machine needle with a slightly rounded tip. Since jersey is a knitted fabric, holes in the fabric can cause running stitches. The rounded tip of the jersey needle does not damage the fabric fibers, but rather gently pushes them to the side, which means that the fabric is not damaged.


29. Lap seam: The fell seam is also known as a denim seam. It is a tear-resistant double seam that is often used in the inner leg seams of jeans.

30. Warp thread: Also called simply "chain". The warp threads are the threads that are stretched lengthways during the manufacture of a fabric with the aid of a loom. They are parallel to the selvedge.

31. Snap: A small incision on the edge of the fabric that serves as a marker. Often used when sewing patterns.

32. buttonhole: The hole through which a button is threaded to close a garment or accessory. With the help of a special presser foot, household sewing machines can also professionally serge buttonholes.

33. Haberdashery: All the little things that belong to sewing, such as buttons, zippers, needles and thread. Also called sewing accessories these days.


34. Left side: The side of a piece of fabric that will be on the inside. Compared to the right side, it is often paler in color and has a different structure.


35. Tape measure: When sewing, tape measures made of coated linen are often used to measure body measurements. A more stable tool, such as a wooden ruler, is better for measuring fabrics.

36. Multi-size cut: This is a pattern that contains several sizes.


37. Presser foot: The part of the sewing machine that presses the fabric down. The sewing machine needle is often in the center of the foot. Different presser feet are suitable for different stitches and can be easily changed.

38. Sewing needle: Thin metal tool with one pointed and one rounded end. The round end has a hole through which a thread can be passed. The threading of the thread through the eye of the needle can be simplified.

39.Seam: The joint between two pieces of fabric by sewing.

40. Seam ripper: A small tool with a point and a hook that can be used to tear open seams.

41. Seam allowance: The seam allowance is the distance between the actual seam and the cut edge. The addition of about 1.5 cm is important so that garments do not become tighter than they should be when sewing.


42. eyelets: Eyelets are rings made of metal, plastic or rubber that stabilize the edges of holes. Metal eyelets are attached with the help of so-called eyelet pliers, which punch out the hole and attach the eyelet to the edge.

43. Overlock: An overlock sewing machine is specially designed for sewing edges. However, you not only sew the fabric, but also neaten the edges in the same work step by precisely cutting off the remaining fabric.

44. Overlock stitch: A seam that can only be achieved with an overlock sewing machine. Excess fabric is cut off with a cutter.


45. Piping: Decorative seams on seams or hems. Piping is made from a lengthwise folded strip of fabric, in the middle of which there is often a cord.

46. ​​Patchwork: To German "patchwork". Remnants of different materials are sewn together to make new textiles.

47. Pleated blind: A flat textile with artificially formed folds that can be fixed by ironing & seaming or chemical treatment.


48. Quilting: In German also "Steppen". When quilting, several layers are sewn together. Often these are fabrics on the top and bottom, as well as a lining in the middle.


49. Gathering: The process of laying the fabric in irregular folds by pulling on the basting thread.

50th report: A pattern with repeating elements. When sewing two pieces of fabric with a repeat pattern, the motifs should be observed so as not to interrupt the pattern.

51. Right side: The side of a fabric that should be on the outside. Colors are often richer here. Motifs are printed on the right side. With satin, the right side is glossy while the left side is matte.

52nd rows: Stapling too. The fastening of fabrics with the help of a coarse seam so that they can then be sewn precisely with a sewing machine. The basting seam is removed again after sewing with the sewing machine.

53. Rolled hem: A fine hem for transparent and light fabrics. Due to the special placement of the stitches, the hem rolls up by itself.

54. Ruffles: Curled ribbons made of fabric or lace that are used as trimmings on clothing, accessories, and home textiles.


55. hem: The sewn edge of a piece of fabric. The open edge of the fabric is turned over and sewn to prevent the fabric from fraying.

56. Cutting mat: A thick cutting mat is required to cut fabrics or patterns with the help of a cutter. These are often provided with a grid and consist of a "self-healing" material, which means that cuts in the mat disappear again.

57. Tailor's Chalk: Special chalk for marking pieces of fabric that can easily be brushed out again. Usually available in white, blue, red and yellow.

58. Sewing pattern: Paper templates, according to which fabric is cut according to a specific pattern. The cut pieces of fabric are called "pattern pieces".

59. Weft: When making a fabric with the help of a loom, weft threads are the threads that loop horizontally through the warp threads.

60. lock stitch: Also called a straight stitch. Simple straight seam.

61. Embroidery: Textile technique in which a fabric is decorated by sewing threads in the form of flowers, patterns and objects.

62. fabric edge: The open edge of a fabric. When the term “fabric edge” is used, it often refers to the open, unfinished edge of a fabric.

63. Stopper: When darning, missing or torn threads of a fabric are replaced by new threads. This can also be used to repair large holes, for example in the heels of socks.

64th dash: The line of a fabric relates to the structure of the material. Certain fabrics, such as velvet or cord, have a line. If you brush against the grain with your hand, the fabric feels rougher than if you brush it with the grain.


65. textile printing: Printing on textiles. A wide variety of methods can be used here, which often have to be tailored to the composition of the substance.

66. Textile glue: Liquid, spray or iron-on glue that connects hems and different layers of fabric. Can be permanent or washable.

67. Thermal fleece: An insulating fleece that is attached to the wrong side of a piece of fabric or between two layers of fabric in a garment.

68. Trick marker: Alternative to tailor's chalk. The markings of a trick marker disappear after a while and therefore do not have to be brushed out.

69. Drawstring: A sewn fabric tunnel through which a cord or elastic band is passed. The opening can be narrowed by pulling on the string. The drawstring is most common on hoods and on the hips of sweatpants.


70th envelope: An envelope is made when the edge of a piece of fabric is folded. This can then be sewn, for example to create a hem.

71. Bobbin thread bobbin: The bobbin in the lower compartment of a sewing machine. This is often relatively small and narrow.

72. Bottom conveyor: Another part of a sewing machine. The lower feed dog consists of small hooks that push the fabric forward while sewing, thus enabling an uninterrupted seam and faster work.


73. Lock: The beginning and the end of a seam should be locked when sewing with a sewing machine. This means sewing a few stitches forwards and a few stitches backwards. This prevents the seam from separating.

74. Overcast: Sewing the edge of a fabric to prevent fraying. Overlock and zigzag stitches are used for this purpose.

75. Fall: The term "overturning" refers to turning the work over through its opening so that the right side is on the outside again.


76. selvage: The natural edge of a fabric that is created during manufacture. This is often a little firmer than the rest of the fabric and is not included in the cutting process.

77. Viennese seam: The long, slightly curved seams that can be found on the back of jackets and on the front of women's blouses and traditional costumes. They start just below the chest or shoulder blades and extend to the lower hem.


78. Zigzag scissors: Also called pinking scissors. Prevents the fabric from fraying and ensures that solid fabrics do not even have to be overcast.

79. Zigzag stitch: A zigzag seam that is used when overcasting or sewing stretch fabrics such as jersey.

80. twin needle: The twin needle is a sewing machine needle that is equipped with two needles. So two parallel seams can be sewn. Perfect for topstitching and decorative seams.

And with that we have come to the end! If you're new to sewing, you'll love our blog about the 13 most common beginner mistakes and how to avoid them.

With our sewing dictionary at hand, you can start your sewing work right away. Discover our selection of over 100 fabrics with your own sample box.