Crafting Glossary

Welcome to the MAKE! The Lakes Crafting Glossary here to explain those technical terms.

This list is designed to be read alongside my patterns which you can find on my online shop by clicking here!

Bias Binding

A narrow strip of fabric that has been cut on the bias (diagonal grain of the fabric) and folded to create a tape that can be used to neatly cover the edge of a piece of fabric or project.

You can buy Bias Binding ready-made or make your own. It comes in many different widths and colours.

Single Fold Bias Binding is when the two long edges of the strip are folded to the centre.

Double Fold Bias Binding is Single Fold Bias Binding folded in half longways.

It is useful to finish armholes, quilts and for the top of bunting, and more!

Clipping Seams

This could mean two things…

It is when you cut off part of the seam allowance to help reduce bulk before turning a shape that you have stitched right sides together to the right side.

Also, it is necessary on a curved seam to snip into the seam allowance at right angles to the stitching line (without cutting your stitches) to allow the seam to lay flat.

Cutting Out

Traditionally, paper pattern pieces are pinned to the fabric and then cut around with fabric shears. If you are cutting right handed, cut with the paper to the left of your blades for a more accurate cut, and on the right if cutting left handed. Cut with long cuts as apposed to little snips to get nice smooth cut lines

For some projects and with certain fabrics, you may find it easier to use a rotary cutter. This is often the case for patchwork, when dressmaking fabrics are very stretchy or slippy, and when cutting out long straight lines. Lay your fabric on a self healing cutting mat, place your paper pattern in the correct place and weight down with pattern weights (these can be actual pattern weights or just anything you have to hand, i.e. your phone, pin cushion, stapler, tin of beans…!). Cut around your pattern pieces using the rotary cutter like a pizza wheel! Always cut away from yourself and mind your fingers! If you are cutting straight lines, use a patchwork ruler. You will find this both quicker and more accurate.

With both methods, if you prefer, you can trace around your paper pattern pieces first with tailor’s chalk before commiting to cutting.

Directional Print

Referring to the print or design on a fabric that only looks right one way up.

Some fabrics can have directional prints that are ‘extremely’ directional, i.e. a row of cats sitting on a wall.

Some fabrics can have directional prints that are directional’ish’, i.e. a floral design that can be viewed from any direction but is not the same in all directions.

(Also see Nap)

Finishing Seams

This is the term used to neaten the raw edges of your fabric after sewing a seam. This can be done in a number of ways and every sewist has their prefered method (or combination of methods). It is important to finish any seams that will be exposed on a project to stop the material from fraying and to give a neater more professional looking finish.

The most common methods of finishing techniques for seams are:

  • Overlocked using an Overlocking Machine (or Serger) which trims the edge of the fabric and stitches over it.
  • Pinked using pinking shears
  • Stitched close to the edge with a zig zag stitch

Fussy Cutting

When fabrics have a really distinctive print or pattern, you may wish to make the most out of this when planning your make and target specific motifs when cutting. Fussy cutting is the term used when you are really particular about cutting around a shape on a printed fabric to make this a deliberate focal point on the item you are making. For example, some patchwork squares that have a flower in the centre of each square, or a patch pocket with an animal peaking from the bottom of it.

General Sewing Kit

I often state in the ‘What you need’ section of my patterns that you will require a Basic Sewing Kit. This could consist of the following items (depending on the pattern and project you are making):

Fabric Shears, Rotary Cutter, Cutting Mat, Quilting Ruler, Tape Measure, Pinking Shears, Pins, Pattern Weights, Iron & Ironing Board, Tailor’s Chalk, Hand Sewing Needle, Un-picker, Paper Scissors, Embroidery Scissors or Thread Snips, Point turner (or a knitting needle), Safety Pins, Hem Gauge, and any other gadgets you may find useful.

Jelly Roll

A collection of pre-cut fabric strips. These are often 2.5″ x 45″. They are usually bought rolled up, hence the term Roll…. not sure where the Jelly comes from!*

*Update: reliably informed that it is because it resembles a Jelly Sponge, (Jam/Swiss Roll)!

Hem

When a raw edge of fabric is turned up by a set amount and stitched down.

They can be single fold – fabric is turned up once before stitching

…or double fold – fabric is turned up once and then again, enclosing all the raw edges.

Hems are usually turned to the wrong side of a fabric but can be turned to the right side of an item for style purposes!

Nap

The best way to describe this is with an example… Velvet. When you stroke velvet it clearly has a smooth way and a non-smooth way. This is the Nap. Like Directional Prints, you need to make sure you have the Nap the correct way when cutting out.

Needle Threader

A little gadget that helps thread your needle. Very helpful especially when they eye of the needle is small and the thread is thick. Here is a short video showing how a needle threader works:

Pinking Shears

In a nutshell these are zig zag fabric scissors! Cutting the edges of your fabric with these will help to stop fraying. They can also be used for creating a decorative zig zag edge on fabrics like felt.

Point Turner

A tool to help push the corners into crisp points when turning an item that has been sewn right sides together to the right side.

If you don’t have an actual point turner, a large knitting need or chopstick does the trick!

Polyester Thread

…I often get asked why do I specify polyester thread in most of my patterns. The answer is that polyester thread is generally stronger and longer wearing than a cotton thread and therefore increases the longevity of your beautifully created item.

Press Seams

Press = Iron

It is important to press your seams as described on the pattern to give a crisp finish to garments and to help prevent lumps and puckering.

Seams can be pressed open, which is where the two seam allowances are split either side of the stitching line and pressed down. Or they can be kept together and pressed to one side of the stitching line.

Presser Foot

The part of the sewing machine which lowers to hold the fabric when sewing.

There are lots of different attachments available to help with different sewing tasks and stitches. Check your machine manual to see which ones you have for your machine.

Right Side of Fabric

The side of the fabric you want to show.

Seam

The line where two pieces of material are stitched together to join them.

Seam Allowance

The distance between the raw edge of the fabric and the stitching line when sewing a seam.

Top Stitch

A simple as it sounds… when you stitch on top of a garment or other item. This is usually for decorative purposes and you can get creative with contrast thread colours.

Those yellow lines of stitching commonly seen on jeans are Top Stitching.

Woven Fabric

Any fabric that has been created by weaving. Usually made on a loom and made up of warp and weft threads that are interlaced at right angles.

Wrong Side of Fabric

Another way of saying the back of the fabric.

Have I missed a term on the list or is something still not clear?

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