Glossary

In many posts, I'll be using some terms/jargon to talk about what I'm doing. If you're new to whatever craft I'm describing, you might not recognize some of the words. This glossary is here for your reference any time! If you find that I've used a word that isn't defined here, please drop me a line on the About page and I'll be sure to add it!

The Glossary is separated by the same categories as the blog posts: Sewing, Knitting, and Crochet. Use the menu to the left to jump between sections.

A note on images: Many of the definitions include images with no alternative text for screen readers. This is because the text boxes with the actual descriptions have been written so the alternative text should not be necessary. If you use a screen reader and find that the descriptions are lacking, please drop me a line on the About page so it can be corrected!

Sewing Terms

 

Parts of fabric

 

Selvage - The edges of the fabric that run the long-way. That is, when you cut fabric in a shop to measure a piece, you are cutting from selvage to selvage. 

Warp - Threads of the fabric that run parallel to the selvage.

Weft - Threads of the fabric that run perpendicular to the selvage (and also perpendicular to the warp).

Bias - Any direction at an angle to the warp, weft, or selvage is said to be "on the bias." The closer the angle is to 45 degrees, the more stretch the bias will have.

True Bias - Shown in the image to the right, the true bias is the direction at a 45 degree angle to the warp, weft, and selvage. True bias has the most stretch in a woven fabric and is used to make bias tape.

Grain - Both the warp and weft are referred to as the fabric "grain." When a pattern marks to cut along the grain, you can use either the warp or the weft (if the fabric has a pattern, make sure your piece is right side up!).

A piece of fabric labeled with its parts.

Fabric Weight - the thickness of the fabric. Typically described as lightweight, medium, or heavy, some fabric sellers will include the measurement in grams per square meter (gsm). The higher the number, the heavier the fabric.

Examples:  Lightweight - tulle, organza

Medium weight - most cotton jerseys (like a t-shirt)

Heavy weight - leather, some denims (think vintage jeans)

Applique - a decorative element applied on top of fabric. Appliques are often used in quilting to create patterns. You can also use applique technique to add fine elements like lace, as shown in the image to the right. Depending on the weight and shape, appliques can be applied by machine or by hand.

A bridal facemask - white with lace and beading.

Bodkin - a tool used to insert elastic, cording, garment tape, etc. Generally speaking, there are two types of bodkin:

 

The first is similar to a tapestry needle, but the "eye" of the needle runs the whole length of the bodkin so it's more like a pointed loop (the top item in the image to the right).

The second is like a pair of tweezers - you use it to pinch the elastic, then move the ring so the tool holds its grip )the bottom item in the image to the right).

Two examples of bodkin types.

Pinking - fabric that has been cut with pinking shears/scissors. Pinking has a distinctive zig-zag pattern that makes the fabric less likely to fray. Particularly useful when working with lightweight woven fabrics to prevent fraying before seams can be finished. Excellent when working with curved seams, use pinking shears to trim the seam and clip the curve at the same time.

A pair of pinking shears

Seam Allowance - the amount of space between the seam and the edge of the fabric. Large-scale commercial patterns (e.g. Simplicity, Butterick, etc.) use 5/8" seam allowance while smaller pattern makers (e.g. Stitch Upon a Time, etc.) typically use 1/2". Some pattern makers use a scant 1/4" to save fabric (e.g. George + Ginger). The image to the right shows a 1/2" seam allowance.

Note: When working with a serger, coverstitch, twin needle, or wide stitch like a zig-zag, seam allowance is measured from the point farthest away from the edge of the fabric.

Measuring the seam allowance with a grid ruler.

Snips - small scissors are often referred to as "snips" and can be any type of small cutting tool. A few examples are show in the image to the right, including a 2" regular scissor blade, a 1" pair of squeeze scissors, and a 1" pair of scissors styled to look like a bird. Useful for cutting threads and making small or precise cuts on fabric. 

Three types of snips.

Tailor's Ham & Sausage - stuffed shapes used during ironing to help press curved seams. Especially useful when working with sleeves.

The Ham is shaped like a ham or a teardrop while the sausage is essentially a tube with hemispherical ends. The ones I've made (shown in the image) have a top layer of cotton flannel and a bottom layer made of 2 joined layers of muslin. Both are stuffed with 100% cotton scraps cut into small pieces.

If you make your own, be sure to use 100% natural fibers or sawdust, otherwise you run the risk of melting the fabrics when using a hot iron. Commercial versions are often stuffed with sawdust. Historically, sawdust, fabric scraps, and horsehair were common.

A tailor's ham and sausage

Topstitching - stitching along a seam, close to the edge, on the right or finished side of the fabric. Topstitching holds the seam in place, helps prevent rolling, and creates a finished look.

A floral facemask with arrows pointing to the topstitching.
 

Knitting Terms

Coming soon!

 

Crochet Terms

Amigurumi - crocheted creatures or objects, often small. Amigurumi is both the name of the art and the name of the finished projects.

An amigurumi gallbladder made from dark green yarn. Its eyes are large and stick out, made of white yarn with small safety eyes. It wears a smile made from black felt and is holding four gallstones made from grey and cream yarns.

Magic Ring (MR) - A technique to being working in the round for crochet. A loop is formed such that the tail can be tightened, then stitches are worked into the loop. The tail is then pulled to force the stitches to be in the round with a very tight center. Commonly used to begin amigurumi projects.

Row Counter - A device, usually small, used to count rows in crochet or knitting. Row counters come in a variety of options - the one shown here is a clicker style, where the top is a button that "clicks" down to increase the shown count. There are many digital and app-based row counters available as well. My personal favorite is Row Counter.

A red row counter

Safety Eyes - Small, usually plastic, usually circular eyes which attach to stitched work using a back with multiple flared rounds and a tightly-fitted circular plastic plate. Safety eyes come in a variety of sizes and colors as do safety noses.

A box of safety eyes and noses in several sizes and colors.

Stitch markers - stitch markers designed for use in crochet are shaped like small safety pins and are usually made of plastic. They come in a variety of colors so you can choose one most easily visible against your work or can use color-coding to mark different places in your work (e.g. first stitch vs decrease zone). 

Crochet stitch markers in a pile.

Tunisian - A type of crochet work done with a Tunisian hook. Where typical crochet is worked one stitch at a time, Tunisian crochet is worked each row at a time, pulling up loops while moving to the left (many stitches on the hook), then completing the stitches when moving back to the right of the work (one loop on the hook when the row is finished).

Because of how this work is done, a Tunisian hook is much longer than a typical crochet hook. The Tunisian hook show

A Tunisian crochet hook next to a standard crochet hook.

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