Learn to Sew – Sewing Definitions to Help You Get Started

When learning to sew it is very helpful to understand the language used in the sewing world. The definitions below will give you the knowledge to get started reading and understanding sewing patterns and instructions.

Sewing Definitions


Baste - To baste is to make temporary stitching using long loose stitches that will be removed once your garment (or other stitched item) is complete.  Basting can be done on the sewing machine or by hand stitching.

Bias - The diagonal direction of fabric.  Fabric stretches on the bias.

Gather - Gathering is a process used to fit a larger piece of fabric into a smaller piece as in the waist of a skirt.  To gather you make two or three loose rows of stitching then pull or gather the fabric along these stitch lines.  When done on a sewing machine, set your stitch length to the longest stitch and loosen the top thread so it will gather easily without breaking the thread.

Right Side - The front side of your fabric. The side that is intended to be seen when your project is finished.

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Running Stitch - A row of short even stitches made by passing the needle in and out of the fabric.

Seam Allowance - is the distance between the cut edge of the fabric and the line of stitching.

Selvage - The edge of fabric which is finished by the manufacturer to prevent raveling.  This is cut off before sewing with this fabric.
Tension - The balance between the needle and bobbin threads (how tightly they pull on each other).  An even balance or tension makes for a perfect stitch.

Top Stitching - A line of stitching done on the right side of the fabric used to reinforce a seam or add a decorative finished look to your project.

Wrong side - The back side of your fabric.  Not the side that you would normally see.

Learning to sew is a great skill that will come in handy throughout your life. You will be able to save money by mending your own clothing. Additionally, the world of crafting will be opened up in a whole new dimension once you have learned to sew as there are many projects which require sewing.  Get started today with some simple and some not so simple sewing projects from Craft Elf.

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