Sewing and pattern cutting terms, annotations and symbols

Whether you're just getting started on your sewing and pattern cutting journey or you're a professional, it's essential that you know the correct lingo!

All the different terms can seem really confusing especially when you're watching The Great British Sewing Bee and it seems like they're using a secret language. Well, don't worry because we've broken it down for you below and you'll soon be fluent.

We've also included exactly how and where to use these terms and symbols on your patterns so you're ready to implement this in reality. We love sharing the 'where', and especially the 'why,' with you so you can get the most out of your pattern cutting journey and progress.

A-Z Glossary of pattern cutting terms & symbols

Apex: Highest point of a dart (i.e. the apex of the bust = the highest point of the bust)

Armscye: The armhole measurement

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

Bias: The bias is the diagonal direction of the fabric at a 45 degree angle.

Cutting the fabric can create a lovely drape to the fabric and is normally used with a cowl neck

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

The block patterns in the images above are quarter-scale blocks. Learn more about the different scale blocks here.

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. Abbreviated on patterns to CF and CB.

Dart: A fold or tuck sewn into a garment to shape the fabric to the natural shape of the body. Normally used around the bust, waist and shoulder areas. Sometimes you may want to create a more oversized garment and this is a little tutorial I made showing you how to remove a dart from your bodice pattern:

Dart manipulation: Moving darts to make them work for your sewing pattern design. There are two different methods you can use to move your dart, the pivot method or the slash method.

Design Ease: Extra space purposely added into a garment/sewing pattern to create a particular silhouette. For example, you might want to create something oversized so you'll add in design ease. Click here to watch my tutorial on how to add in design ease. This isn't to be confused with Fitting ease which is defined below ​

Ease In: To fit a longer piece of fabric into a shorter distance by compressing the longer piece without gathering the fabric. This is commonly done with woven fabrics around the top of the sleeve head to allow extra room for the shape of the arm.

Fitting Ease: (Also known as wearing ease) is the extra space added into a garment/sewing pattern to allow for day to day movement in your clothing. For example, sitting, walking and moving your arms around. To learn how to create clothes that fit you perfectly join the waitlist for Fitting Confidence, my 6-week program to creating perfectly fitting clothes. Facing: