top of page


The Sewing Retreat_Header-A glossary of

So we thought it would be helpful if we gave you a glossary of words to help with your pattern cutting and sewing. If there are any other words that you don't understand or any additional words that you think would be useful here then please write to us so we can share our knowledge for everyone to use. Our email is

You can also use this list if you are using our printable patterns and instructions to help with any terms you don't quite understand.


Balance Marks/ Notches: The marks around the edge of a pattern which match on two pattern pieces so you know where to match up the fabric. These will usually be shown by small lines or 'V' shapes which are then snipped into the fabric for reference

Block Pattern: A base pattern normally out of a thicker card that can be used to create new patterns from

Centre Front/Centre Back: The place on a pattern piece where the centre of the body will be on the front or centre of the back

Dart: A fold or tuck sewn into a garment to shape the fabric

Ease In: To fit a longer piece of fabric into a shorter distance by compressing the longer piece without gathering the fabric

Gathering: When a fabric is ruffled up

Gusset: An extra section of fabric which is added in between two other panels to allow more flexibility

Grain Line: The direction which the horizontal threads are woven in a fabric otherwise know as the warp. The grain line can also be recognised with the selvedge edge as it is always parallel to this

Hem: The bottom of a garment with a finished edge so no raw edges can be seen at all

Pattern Cutting: The method of creating patterns which are used to construct and sew a garment

Seam: The edges where two fabrics are sewn together 

Seam Allowance: The amount of fabric allocated around the edge of the fabric for a pattern so it can be sewn, this is normally indicated on the pattern piece or on the instructions

Selvedge: The edge of the fabric which has been held on the loom when the fabric is being woven. Generally this edge isn't used

Tacking: Rough stitches used to hold two pieces of fabric in place before sewing them together properly. Tacking stitches are normally used with intricate designs or slippery fabrics.

Turn Through: To turn the fabric you've sewn together so it is either the right way around or the wrong way around depending on the instructions given

Toile: A prototype of a pattern to test the pattern size and look. This is normally made using calico (a raw cotton fabric which is cheaper than most as it has gone through the least processes)

Top Stitch: A finishing stitch visible on the garment or project. It can be done with a slightly thicker thread

Warp: The vertical threads in a woven fabric, this is the grain line of a fabric

Weft: The horizontal threads in a woven fabric

Weight of fabric: The actual weight of a fabric per square meter written as grams per square meter (gsm)

Yoke: The shoulder piece of a shirt or blouse

The latest on our blog

bottom of page