Applique is the term used to describe attaching a small piece of fabric to a larger piece of fabric, to create a desired design. It is usually done to add a form of fabric artwork. The smaller piece of fabric may be attached using hand stitching or machine stitching.

Armscye is an armhole in the body of the garment that the sleeve or facing will fit into during construction of the garment. Any adjustment made to the armscye on the pattern, must also be made to the sleeve of facing so that the pieces will fit together during construction.

Backstitching is sewing in reverse and forward over the same stitches to lock the end of a line of sewing. Backstitching prevents the stitching from coming unsewn.

Baste when you are sewing, refers to temporarily joining fabric together. Instructions that request you to baste, want you to temporarily sew with long removable stitches. Basting is the action of sewing a temporary stitch. It is achieved by making large removable stitches by hand or machine. The more you need to hold something together, the smaller your basting stitches will be but they are always sewn with removal in mind. Machine basting is also used to ease in and gather fabric.

Bias Grain of Fabric
Bias grain is the thread line that is at a forty five degree angle to the lengthwise and crosswise grain of the fabric as it is on the bolt. The bias has stretch in woven fabric and will hang differently than a garment that has been cut on the straight or crosswise grain. Always hang a bias garment for at least twenty-four hours before hemming it.

Couture is the business of designing and producing fashionable, high quality, custom-made clothing. When you hear people talking about couture sewing, they are talking about fitting and finishing details. Techniques that are used by tailors for fitting and finishing details would require couture sewing knowledge.

Ease is to draw the fibers of fabric closer together than they were woven or originally manufactured. This is usually achieved with machine basting. When easing in fabric, no tucks or gathers are made in the fabric. The amount of ease built in to a pattern refers to the amount of space available form the body measurements to the actual garment.

A facing is the area of a garment or sewn item that turns to the inside, giving a finished appearance to what would otherwise just be a raw edge of fabric. The facing is usually interfaced to add shape to the edge of the fabric.

Fuse refers to using a fusible material, which melts to “glue” two layers together. This melting action is done with an iron. In order for the fusing to work, the fabrics must be pre-washed or preshrunk to remove manufacturers finishes. These finishes will prevent a good fuse from occurring.

Free Motion Quilting / Free Motion Embroidery
Free motion refers to sewing without the machine feeding the fabric. A darning foot is used with the feed dogs lowered on the sewing machine, allowing totally free movement of the fabric. The challenge is to keep your hands moving in unison with the sewing machine to create even stitches.

A hem is a turned-under edge, to the inside of a sewn item, made by folding the edge of the sewn item to the inside of the item. Hems affect the way something will hang and sometimes hem weights are used to assist gaining the desired appearance. The amount of hem depends on the item, the weight of the fabric and the amount of fabric available to turn under.

Interfacing is a usually unseen interior addition to various parts of a garment which adds body that the fabric alone would not add. Interfacing is available in many weights, in woven, knitted and non-woven forms as well as fusible and sew-in forms

The term knits is used to describe fabric that is constructed with loops of thread rather than woven which is threads that intersect at ninety degree angles. The amount of stretch in kit fabrics varies widely. A pattern will instruct you as to how much stretch a knit fabric choice should have. Gain basic sewing skills by sewing with a woven fabric before a knit fabric. A knit definitely requires that you allow the sewing machine to feed the fabric to prevent stretching the fabric as you sew it. It may also require that you make adjustments to the amount of pressure that the machine is applying to the presser foot.

A fabric with nap is one what usually has a pile and will look different shades from different angles. Velvet and velour fabric are prime examples of fabric with nap. When cutting out fabric the with nap and the without nap directions are usually different to allow all of the with nap pattern pieces to lie in the same direction. Fabric with a one way design will also use the with nap cutting layout.

Pressing does not use the iron to plow through wrinkles. It is the process of gently lifting the iron as you move to a new pressing area, so that you are not distorting the fabric grain.

Satin Stitch
A satin stitch is a zigzag stitch with a shortened stitch length so that the stitches are next to each other forming a continuous solid stitching line. The stitch width of the zigzag is adjusted to the desired width so that the stitches look like threads laying next to each other.

Stay Stitching
Stay stitching is a single line of stitching, through one layer of fabric, to stabilize the fabric, preventing it from becoming stretched or distorted. Stay stitching is usually called for on the edge of a piece of fabric that has a bias cut to it which would allow the fabric to easily become distorted. Although it may seem like a step you can eliminate, if pattern directions call for stay stitching, do the stay stitching! It eliminates problems later in having collars, facing and other pieces of the pattern fit together.

Seam Allowance
Seam allowance refers to the area between the stitching and raw, cut edge of the fabric. The most common seam allowances are 1/4″, 1/2″ and 5/8″. Always check your pattern directions and use the seam allowance called for in the directions. A seam joins more than one pieces of fabric. All layers of fabric joined by a seam must have the same seam allowance. Make sure that the raw edges line up evenly to create an equal seam allowances on all of the pieces being joined.

The selvedge refers to the edge of fabric as it comes off the bolt. The selvedge is the edges of the fabric which has manufacturer information. This area of the fabric is usually a bound edge that does not fray. The selvedge of the fabric may also have color dots which show the colors used in the fabric and lines to indicate the repeat of a print on the fabric.

Tack is to sew a few stitches in one spot, by hand or by machine sewing, to secure one item to another.

Under-stitching assists a facing or lining to stay to the inside and un-seen. It is stitching that is sewn as close to the seam line as possible holding the graded seam allowance to the facing or lining.

A zipper is a fastening devise that is opened and closed by the zipper pull. It is available in a variety of weights and lengths. It is possible to make adjustments to the length of a zipper. The type of zipper you purchase will depend on the fabric that you will be inserting the zipper into, the type of item you are sewing and the pattern directions. The fabric tapes that the zipper teeth or coil is attached to have a sewing guide line embedded in the weave of the tape.