Check your own vocabulary and add new terms by using this glossary. Most of the terms we use are fairly commonly understood but we do occasionally use a term with a very specific meaning. Browse through it when you have time and if you think of any terms we can include, please contribute – we all benefit!
Appliqué (Appliqué): cut-out decoration applied to base fabric. A small amount of the fabric edge is folded and pressed under to create a clean edge. By hand, blind stitching is often used but a tiny prick stitch or stab stitch can have a nice effect with a same colour application (white on white for example). Use a satin stitch and stabiliser when stitching a design or motif onto a garment by machine. Purchased appliqué patches are usually attached with a slip stitch from the back.
Armscye (Emmanchure): the name of the curved area on a bodice pattern piece designed to accommodate (or not) a sleeve. When the garment is created it is called the armhole.
Awl (Poinçon): tool used for piercing a hole in fabric without cutting the fibres.
Back Stitch (Point Arrière): is used to secure the beginning and end of a machine sewn seam. It involves starting a centimetre in and reversing to the beginning of the seam, then simply reversing two or three stitches at the end of the seam. Hand-sewn back-stitches look like machine stitching on the right side but the stitches overlap on the wrong side.
Bar Tack (Barre d'extrémité): a short, satin stitch used to reinforce small areas of strain on buttonholes and pockets.
Baste (Bâtir): long, loose stitches made by hand or machine to hold fabric pieces together temporarily. Usually made in a contrasting coloured thread. The ends are not secured.
Belt carrier (Passant): a thread or fabric loop used to hold a belt in place.
Bias (Biais): diagonal direction of fabric. True bias is at a 45-degree angle to the grain line.
Bias Tape (Ruban de biais): also called bias binding, is a ribbon made of strips of fabric cut on the true bias. Used to bind raw edges, especially useful where stretch is required to accommodate curves. It can be purchased ready to use or can be made from suitable fabrics.
Blind Hem Stitch (Point d'ourlet invisible): sewing stitch that is not intended to be visible on the right side of the fabric. By hand, it's achieved by picking up one thread from the back of the fabric at a time rather than going through the full fabric to make a stitch. Many sewing machines come with a blind hem attachment, although not technically as 'invisible' as by hand it is much faster . Your sewing machine manual is the best guide for how to use it.
Bobbin (Canette): bobbin is the name of the small spool that carries the thread on the wrong side of the fabric and which is positioned either below the throat plate and under the needle or dropped in from the top and next to the needle).
Bodkin (Enfile élastique): a handy tool used to insert elastic, cording, etc. through a casing.
Boning (Baleine): is used in corsetry and in close-fitted, often strapless garments to support and hold a fit. It is available in plastic strips and spiral steel.
Box Pleats (Pli Rond): Two side-by-side pleats of equal depth in which the two outer folds turn in opposite directions to create a panel. Creates an inverted pleat on the reverse side.
- Busk (Busc): The front closure in a corset which makes the garment easier to put on and take off. It comes as a pair, the posts and the the loops, and is solid enough to withstand corset lacing tension.
Cloth (Étoffe): the material or fabric used to create a garment.
Crosswise Grain (Sens de la chaîne): the grain of the woven fabric that runs from selvage to selvage at right angles to the lengthwise grain.
Crotch (Enfourchure): the part of a garment that passes between the legs.
Cuff (Revers de manche) : the end part of a sleeve which is turned back and stitched or where a separate band is attached. Also see Turn up
Dart (Pince): a stitched fold of fabric tapering to a point at one end. It is used to shape a garment to fit the curves of a body. When a dart tapers to a point at both ends it is known as a fish dart and is generally used at the waistline.
Diagonal basting (Bâtir en diagonale): a temporary stitch used to hold two layers of fabric together without slipping.
Dot (Cercle) is a marking which indicate matching points and are usually basted with a tailor's tack on the seam line so that they are visible on both sides of the fabric.
Dress Form (Mannequin de couture): a duplicate of the human figure made of padded fabric, wire, paper or plastic. It is helpful for fitting or draping a garment. There are many tutorials available online showing how to make your own personal dress form or how to adapt a commercial one to your own body shape.
to Ease (Résorber l'embu): when one section of a seam is slightly fuller than the section to which it is joined, the fullness is distributed evenly without gathers or puckers and pressed so that the threads within the fabric shrink closer together. This shaping allows for curved areas such as the bust in princess line, set-in sleeves, etc.
Ease Allowance (Aisance): the allowance above body measurements necessary for the garment to be comfortable and allow for movement. In stretch materials (Spandex, Lycra, etc ) for swimwear for example, the ease is referred to as negative ease because the stretch in the fabric accommodates movement and comfort in width.
Edge Finish (Finitions de couture): any means of preventing or controlling frays on a raw or cut edge such as facing, hemming, binding, overcasting, pinking, fringing …
Edging (Bordure): any piping, lace, tatting or novelty trim with a one straight edge and a decorative edge. Also called Trimming
Edge-Stitch (Surpiqûre Nervure): a line of stitching placed close to a finished edge of a garment to create a crisp clean look to the edge of the garment. It is sewn at 1 to 2 mm from the folded edge or seam line, usually with matching thread, and has a plain straight stitch length. (Compare Top-stitch).
Elastic Thread (Fil à coudre élastique): thread made with a rubber core that gathers fabric as you stitch. The elastic thread is wound by hand onto the bobbin and regular thread is used through the needle . There are different types of elastic thread depending on it's purpose. So, elastic thread for knitting socks is very fine and not appropriate for shirring fabric (check the packaging).
Embroidery (Broderie): machine or hand-stitching worked for decorative effect.
Extension (Croisure): any additional fabric jutting out beyond a seam or centre line.
Eyelet (Œillet): a small hole in a garment finished by hand-stitches or a metal ring. Used as fastenings or for decorative effect.
Fabric (Tissu): textiles that are sold in cloth shops for making clothes and soft furnishings. Of the huge variety available, cotton, polyester, denim, silk, satin, corduroy … are the most popular choices.
Facing (Parementure and Parement): Cut from the same fabric as the garment and used to finish a raw edge of a neckline or around armholes. It is a mirror image of the area to be finished and so follows the reverse side of the pattern area. Linings, if they are required, are attached to the facing. A facing is also used to recreate the missing part of a slant pocket. It is cut from the same fabric and follows the same grain line as the garment and is applied to disguise the visible area of the pocket bag.
Fastenings (Fermetures): buttons, zip fasteners, hooks and eyes … any item used to hold the garment closed.
Feed dog (Griffe d'entraînement): the "teeth" under the plate on the sewing machine that 'feed' or move the fabric under the needle. Can be either be dropped or covered for appliqué, embroidery, basting, sewing on buttons ...
Finger pressing: or cold pressing, is to open a seam by applying pressure and running your finger or thumb nail along the stitching line. This creates some friction and encourages the fabric to lay flat. Any blunt small tool such as the rounded end of a point turner works equally well.
Flap (Rabat): a piece of fabric positioned along the top edge of a pocket or used to suggest a pocket, it either hangs loose or can be closed with a fastening.
Flat felled seam (Couture Rabattue): a sturdy seam used in garments which are subject to heavy wear or frequent washing. It produces a seam line and a parallel top-stitching line which can be seen on both sides.
Method 1: Sew a plain seam (fabric wrong sides together) with a 12mm seam allowance and press both sides of the fabric. Trim one of the seam allowances at 5 mm from the seam-line. Press the raw edge of the wider seam allowance under to cover the trimmed edge and press again. Turn fabric right side up and top stitch through all thicknesses using the seam line as a guide.
Method 2: On fabric A and with right side up turn and press a 5mm fold line. Unfold and with right sides together align the raw edge of fabric B with the fold line of fabric A. Sew close to the raw edge. Press both sides of the seam then press the seam allowance to one side. Turn fabric right side up and top stitch through all thicknesses using the seam-line as a guide.
Fold line (Ligne de pliure): refers to the fold created in a piece of fabric either off the bolt or a fold of your own creation. The aim is to create a symmetrical pattern piece without a centre seam.
Flounce (Volant ): circular, gathered or pleated length of fabric which can be applied along edges, often to the bottom of skirts, dresses, soft furnishings … for a decorative effect. The ripple is less pronounced than for ruffles.
Fly Front (Braguette): also called Flies, a closing that conceals buttons or a zip fastener.
Fly shield (Sous-pont): a piece of fabric that extends or laps under the zip part of the fly and protects the wearer's body and underwear from the zip fastener.
Frays (fils qui dépassent/ Effiloches): the loose threads on the raw edge of fabric (Compare Fringe).
French Seam (Couture anglaise): a double-stitched seam that looks like a plain seam on the right side and a small neat tuck or pleat on the inside of the garment. It is used on straight seams and as a finish for sheer fabrics. Align the raw edges wrong sides together and sew at 5mm from the edge. Press the seam open on both sides of the fabric then fold the seam line so that the rights sides are together and press again. Stitch again at 7mm from the folded edge.
French Tack: a thread bar fastening used to hold two pieces of a garment together loosely. Used to attach a lining to a coat at the hemline. Can be used to prevent seam rip on slit skirts which do not have a placket.
Fringe (Frange): decorative edge finish purchased or formed by ravelling of the edge of the fabric. Must be stay-stitched before hand at the desired length of fray.
Fullness (Embu): is the essential surplus in a stitching line needed to create shape or form with curves. See Ease and Gather résorber/Répartir l'embu.
Fusible Interfacing (Thermocollant): has a heat-activated "glue" on one side and is fused onto the wrong side of fabric. Pressure is applied on the iron to create a permanent support, usually without reinforcement by stitching.
Frog (Brandeboug): decorative closing formed by looping braid or cording. Usually associated with Oriental style garments.
Gathering (Froncer/Répartir l'embu): is not the same as Easing. Gathering allows a long piece of fabric to fit with a shorter piece of fabric without puckers. Often used to allow insertion of sleeves and other rounded pattern pieces. To gather the seam, reduce the sewing machine tension and increase stitch length. Sew two parallel lines, 5mm apart, on the right side of the fabric – the distance from the edge depends on the width of the seam allowance. Fix the spool threads by inserting a pin at each end and winding the threads around the pins in a figure of eight. Take the bobbin threads on either end of the stitching lines and gently pull each side in turn. The fullness of the fabric is evenly distributed along the stitching line, curves and takes the desired form.
Godet: triangular shaped piece that is set into a seam line for added width.
Gore (Pan): a tapered or flared section of fabric that is narrow at the top and wide at the bottom refers to the panels in a gored skirt.
Grading (Dégarnir): trimming all the seam allowances within a seam to different widths to eliminate bulk. An interfaced seam allowance (next to the body) is always trimmed closest to the seam.
Grain: the direction of fabric threads. The yarns running parallel to the selvages form the lengthwise grain; the yarns running from selvage to selvage form the crosswise grain.
Grain-line (Droit fil): also called the straight grain, the arrow line printed on a pattern which indicates the exact grain-line for each garment piece. During pattern layout, the measurement from each end of the grain-line to the fold (or the selvage edge) must be exactly the same. There are usually more yarns in the lengthwise grain than the crosswise grain. When sewing a seam on a straight grain-line (in curtain making for example) it is important to hold the fabric taut both behind and in front of the needle – this technique will help prevent the fabric from puckering.
Gusset (Soufflet): a diamond shaped piece of matching fabric usually set into a seam intersection to give added ease and shaping. Usually placed at the underarm and occasionally at crotch.
Haberdashery (Mercerie): all dressmaking supplies, other than the cloth, that are used in the construction of a garment or article: thread, scissors, buttons, tape etc. (Also known as Notions / Findings / Materials).
Ham (Coussin de repassage): also called a Tailor's ham, is a small cushion used for pressing and moulding curved areas. Usually contains wood shavings which hold the heat.
Hem (Ourlet): is the fabric that is turned up on the lower edge of a garment or sleeve to provide a finished edge. Often extra fabric is left in the hem with children's clothing to allow for growth.
- Hemline (Ligne d'ourlet): is the bottom folded edge of the hem.
Hong-Kong Finish (Finition Hong Kong): an edge finish in which a seam is pressed open and each of the raw edges are bound with bias tape.
Hook and eye (Agrafe): is a means of fastening that has a small hook on one side and a loop made of threads or metal on the other. The hook and eye is used at the upper back of many dresses and often on lingerie.
Hook and Loop Tape (Bande agrippant /scratch): nylon tape with a fleece side and a burr side which adhere firmly to each other, used for fastening openings, belts etc.
In-seam (Entrejambe): is the inside seam of a trouser leg that runs from the crotch to the hem.
Interfacing (Entoilage): is a support fabric used to provide stability and structure usually in collars, cuffs, plackets, some waistbands and pockets, and facings. Fusible interfacing is pressed onto the fabric with an iron or silk chiffon is basted onto the fabric then treated as one piece.
Interlining (Triplure): used to give added warmth in coats, jackets … A suitable fabric is sewn and shaped in the same way as the garment. It can be constructed separately and placed between the garment and the lining or along with the garment and treated as an Underlining.
Inverted pleats (Pli creux): Two side-by-side pleats of equal depth in which the two outer folds meet in the centre. Creates a box pleat on the reverse side.
Kick Pleat (Pli d'aisance): a pleat at the lower edge of a straight or pencil skirt which allows freedom of movement. It is formed by an extension cut on the centre or side seam and is top-stitched across the upper edge to hold in place.
Kimono Sleeve (Manche Kimono): bodice and sleeve cut in one piece with or without a shoulder seam.
Knife Pleats (Pli Plat): are flat and usually lay in the same direction or the direction may be reversed only at Center Front and Center Back. The mark for the outer fold line (A) of the pleat is moved over to the placement line mark (C) and a crease or inner fold (B) is formed on the reverse side. The pleat depth is the same measurement as from the inner fold to the placement line (from B to C). In consecutive pleats the inner fold line lies directly below the previous outer fold line.
Lapel (Revers de col): the upper edge of a coat or jacket that turns back to the visible side.
Lapped Seam (Rempli simple avec une partie à plat et bord à bord): a seam used for yokes and applied pieces such as gussets because it reduces bulk. With both right sides facing, one folded seam allowance is lapped over the other at the stitching line and top-stitched.
Layout (Plan de Coupe): illustration in the assembly instructions showing the placement of the pattern pieces on the fabric for cutting.
Lengthwise Grain (dans le sens de la Longueur): the yarns in the fabric that run parallel to the selvage. As it usually has a greater number of yarns than the crosswise grain it is stronger and will stretch less.
Lingerie Seam (Couture Lingerie): is made by pressing both edges of a seam to one side and top-stitching with a zigzag stitch along the edge.
Lining (Doublure): is almost the double of the garment and is used to finish the inside of said garment by hiding the seam construction and helps extend the life of a garment. A lining is often cut from the same pattern pieces as the garment however, the fabric is much lighter than the fashion fabric and in the case of outerwear "slippery" or lustrous fabrics make putting a garment on or taking it off much easier. It is constructed separately from the main garment and attached at the facings. Linings should be pre-shrunk if the garment is to be washed.
Link Buttons (Boutons liés): two, two-hole buttons held together with threads which are then covered with blanket stitches. Used to hold two pieces of a garment together when the buttons are passed through a corresponding buttonhole.
Loop (Boucle): a fastening, which extends beyond the finished edge, used on closings with no extension. It can be made of thread, cording or fabric.
Machine Basting (Bâtir à la machine à coudre): a long and loose machine stitch used in place of hand-basting which can be ripped out easily. Useful for first fitting of a garment.
Markings (Repères): includes arrow grainlines to indicate direction of the grain, and symbols such as dots and notches for matching points and indicating CF and CB. All the necessary pattern symbols are transferred to the wrong side of the fabric. Markings can also be made with chalk, soap heat and air-erasable pens ... Choose a marking method best suited for the fabric. (see also Dots and Notches)
Material (Matière): technically, is the raw ingredient that makes up the fabric or textile. So, for example, cotton is the main component of the fabric or cloth denim. Confusingly, we can also buy dress material or shirt material which tends to indicate the weight or drape of the cloth.
Materials (Fournitures): another word for haberdashery or notions, the accessories that a dressmaker needs to convert a fabric or cloth into a garment.
Mitre (Miter): diagonal joining of two pieces of fabric that meet at a corner.
Muslin (Toile): generally inexpensive woven fabric used to make a draft or trial garment.
Nap (Sens du poil/d'un tissu): the short fibers on the surface of the fabric which have been drawn out from the yarns of the fabric and brushed in one direction. Examples of napped fabric are flannel and fleece. (Also see “With Nap” and Pile)
- Non woven (Non tissé): a fabric or textile that is held together by fusing, entangling fibres or created from a melting or tanning process; felt, leather, suede, vinyl, etc.
Notch (Cran/Raccord): is a marking made by clipping a small incision into the seam allowance to indicate matching points on seams when joining and to show placements for darts and pleats. Notches also help the seamstress recognise the front and the back edges of a pattern piece, for example the cap of a sleeve has one notch to indicate the front side and two notches to indicate the back.
Notions (Fournitures/Matériel de Mercerie): see Haberdashery.
Overcasting (Surfiler): stitching made over a seam edge to prevent ravelling. This can be done by hand with a blanket stitch, by sewing machine with a zigzag stitch, by serger and by an overlocker machine.
Pile: fabric woven with a third set of yarns which form tufts or loops on the surface of the fabric. Loops may be cut or uncut. Velvet, terry cloth, corduroy are examples but also faux fur. These fabrics tend to create bulky seams so thought should be given to seam types especially around seam intersections. As with napped fabric it is important to follow the pattern layout for “Fabrics with nap”. Also see With Nap.
Pin-fit: to pin and adjust the garment to your figure before permanent stitching.
Pin Basting (Épingler): joining the seams and matching the marks with pins before stitching them.
Pin Tucks: narrow sewn rows of fabric that give a decorative raised look to a garment. Pin tucking on the bodice of blouses and shirts makes for a more tailored look.
Pinking (à Cranter): method used to cut fabric and have it remain essentially ravel-free. It requires special scissors called pinking shears which have a saw toothed edge and leave a zigzag pattern instead of a straight edge. A useful method for reducing bulk and finishing the edges of dense fabrics. It is not suitable a method for fabric that ravel or fray easily!
Piping (Passepoil): cording that is covered with fabric. It is used as decorative edging on garments, accessories and soft furnishings.
Pivot (Faire Pivoter): refers to the means of stitching a sharp corner which allows an article to be Turned. Pre-mark the intersections of the seam lines. Sew just to the marks and leaving the needle down in the fabric, lift the presser foot, turn the fabric the desired angle, lower the presser foot and continue stitching.
Placket (Patte de Boutonnage): it is the opening in a garment that allows for ease for dressing. Plackets are closed by means of zip fasteners, buttons, hooks and eyes or snap fasteners.
Plain Seam (Couture): the most common seam in sewing. Two pieces of fabric are sewn together usually placed right sides together.
Pleats (Plis): are measured folds added to give extra room, ease or increase fullness in a garment. Vertical pleats open when pulled horizontally. Markings on the sewing pattern indicate the position and the direction the pleat should lay. An Edge-stitched pleat is machine stitched close to and along the outer fold to create a crisp line. A Stitched-down pleat produces a smooth flat fit over the hip line of a skirt and is top-stitched through all the thicknesses of the pleat- it can also be stitched on the inside of the pleat (from the wrong side of the fabric) so that no stitching is visible on the outside. (See Box Pleats, Inverted Pleats and Knife pleats)
Pocket Stay (Extra-Fort): a strip of interfacing fused or sewn to the wrong side of a pocket opening for reinforcement.
Pre-shrink (Prélaver): a precautionary step to prevent the finished garment from shrinkage. Overcast the raw edges of the purchased fabric and launder at a temperature you intend to treat the finished garment (respecting the qualities of the material). Be aware that some cottons continue to shrink after two or three washes. This pre-washing step also has the advantage of eliminating some of the chemicals and excess dyes that the fabric may have been treated with.
Press (Repasser): (See also directional …) once a cloth has been cut it becomes unstable so we need to take great care to prevent distortion of the grain lines. The objective of pressing is not to remove wrinkles, as in ironing but to help embed or meld the stitches into the fabric. When you press your sewn pieces, you lift the iron and place it down over the seam-line that you have just created then lift it and move on to the next area. It’s an up-and-down movement rather than a side-to-side motion which could distort the edges of the pieces.
Press open (Ouvrir la couture au fer): press both sides of the seam line then open the seam allowances and press flat. Turn and press the seam line on the right side of the fabrics (protect delicate fabrics with a press cloth. Place craft paper or similar between the seam allowance and the fabric to prevent the imprint of the seam allowance showing through on the right side of the garment).
Puckers (Grignages): a slight gathering along the lengthwise grain-line of a seam (usually unwanted) caused by a differential feed of the two, or more, layers of fabric. To avoid puckering use a walking foot attachment or try holding the layers with some tension in order to help the feed dogs transport the fabric under the needle. However, puckers may also arise from the machine set up or because the needle size is too big (check for puckering by testing your machine settings, thread and needle sizes on long lengths of fabric cut-offs).
Ravel (Effilochage): to tease out the yarns at the raw edge of the fabric to form a fringe.
Raw edge (Bord Brut/Bord Vif): any cut edge of a fabric is referred to as the raw edge until it has an Edge-finish and is thereafter referred to as the finished edge. Certain textiles do not require an edge-finish.
Reinforce (Renforcer): to add strength to areas of great stress by adding rows of stitches or a patch of fabric.
Reversible (Réversible): a garment which has been finished in a way that it may be turned and worn on either side.
Ric Rac (Croquet): a saw-toothed braid made in cotton or metallic thread. Can be applied as a flat braid or set into a seam.
Rip (Découdre): to open a seam by pulling out or cutting the stitching.
Rolled Hem (Ourlet roulotté): a fine edge finish for sheer fabrics formed by rolling the raw edge between fingers and hemming by hand. Forming a rolled hem with a machine requires a narrow rolled hem foot.
Ruffle (Volant froncé): a band of fabric that is gathered or pleated and applied to an edge as a trimming.
Running Stitch (Point avant): the simplest form of hand-stitching; small stitches that appear the same on both sides of the fabric, the stitch is lengthened when used for gathering.
Sag (Affaissement): the stretch that occurs in the bias grain of a garment (particularly the hems of circular skirts in light flowing fabrics). Counteract sag by hanging the garment several days before marking a new hemline at an equal distance from the floor.
Scallop Edge: an edge-stitch that is formed by a series of semi-circles.
Seam (Couture): the line or 'ditch' formed by stitching two pieces of fabric together. Also called seam line and stitching line.
Seam Allowance (Marge ou Valeur de Couture): the fabric edge that extends beyond the stitching line. The width varies between 5 to 20mm depending on the pattern company but is generally 1cm for woven fabrics and 7mm for knit fabrics.
Seam Finish (Finition de Couture): a raw edge is treated in such a way as to control fraying and ravelling. Overcasting, hemming, facing are some examples.
Seam line (Ligne de couture): see Seam.
Seam Roll: a firmly padded cylinder that is used for pressing seams.
Selvage/Selvedge (Lisière du tissu): the narrow, tightly woven border on the lengthwise edge of the fabric. It is very strong and useful as stabiliser behind patch pocket applications for example.
Shank: The stem between the button and the fabric to which it is sewn; may be part of the button or can be made with thread when the button is sewn on.
Shirring (Smocks): two or more rows of gathers.
Sizing: a chemical finish that is applied to a fabric to give it added body or stiffness.
Slash (Faire un entaille): an even cut in the fabric along a straight line. This is longer than a clip. Slashes are usually finished with a welt seam or facing.
Sleeve Board (Jeannette): a small narrow, well-padded board for pressing sleeves.
Slip Stitch: tiny hand-stitches taken through and under a fold of fabric where the stitching must be invisible.
Slot seam: a seam which has an underlay of fabric and resembles an inverted pleat.
Smocking: a decorative way of gathering a piece of fabric into regular folds; this is done before the garment is made up.
Spanking: pounding or flattening fabric with heat and steam to shape it. Mainly used on woollen fabrics it is also useful on hems for denim jeans.
Spool (Bobine): is the cylinder around which the thread is wound. Spool thread refers to the thread used to stitch the fabric and wind onto the bobbin. It is positioned on the spindle at the top of the machine.
Stabiliser (Stabilisateur): a temporary support placed under the fabric to reinforce an area for embroidery. There are a variety of types available depending on the strength of your project; soluble, tear-away, cut-away, spray-on....
Stab Stitch: a stitch in which the needle up and out of the fabric at right angles. Used for sewing on buttons or as an edge stitch.
Stay: tape or fabric sewn into a section of the garment to reinforce the section an to hold it securely in position. Used at waistlines in corsets and vintage dresses under gathers or shirring.
Stay-stitch (Couture de maintien): a preparatory step to maintain the original shape which prevents bias and curved edges from stretching during the construction process. Stitch a line of regular length stitches at 2mm from the seam line and within the seam allowance. Also see Directional...
Steam Press (Repasser à vapeur): used to remove creases, form curves in bias, raise nap in pile fabrics and shrink out fullness in woollens.
Stiffening: fabrics such as horsehair, crinoline or non-woven interfacing used to stiffen parts of a garment, hem for example.
Stitching line (ligne de couture): see seam.
Tack (Point de Bourdon): decorative thread reinforcements used on the right side of the fabric at ends of pockets seams and pleats.
Tailor's Tack (Faufiler/Bâtir): method of transferring patten symbols with temporary loose basting stitches sewn through the double layer of fabric and cut apart between the layers when the pattern is removed.
Tension: the degree of tightness or looseness of bobbin thread and needle thread in machine-stitching. The bobbin thread and the needle thread should lock evenly together in the fabric.
Top-stitch (Surpiquer): a line of stitching on the outside of the garment, usually place close to a finished seam or a finished edge.
Trapunto (Matelassage): quilting in which only the design part is padded.
Trim (Dégarnir): to cut away excess fabric in the seam allowance after the seam has been stitched. Trimming allows a very curved edge or corner to be turned and lay flat.
Trimming (bordure): see Edging
True Bias (Biais): exact 45° diagonal of the fabric. The line on which the material has most give.
Tucks (Pli): used to reduce width with a decorative effect. Similar to a pleat but the fullness is held in place. There are several methods of tucking, depending on the desired effect. Piped or corded tucks give additional decoration. Scalloped tucks are tucks that are finished by hand for a very decorative effect. Also see Pin Tucks. (Note; Vertical tucks replace pleats in the front of shirts as they have a more flattering look when the wearer's arms are folded. Compare Pleat
Turn (Retourner): term used mainly when constructing straps or thin bands and means to turn the fabric or the garment piece to the right side out.
Turn Up (Revers de pantalon): folded fabric at the bottom of the leg of a pair of trousers that is turned to the visible side. Also called a cuff (US)
Twill Tape (Sergé/Gros Grain): a woven cotton tape used as a stay, drawstring or ties.
Underlining (Doublure): an underling is a fabric used to add opacity to a loosely woven or sheer fashion fabric. The underling pieces are cut and attached to the back of the corresponding fashion fabric piece. They are then treated as one piece throughout the construction of the garment. Compare Lining and Interfacing.
Under-stitch (Sous-piquer): a row of machine-stitches through the facing and seam allowance next to a seam-line. This holds the the facing to the seam allowance and prevents the facing from rolling to the outside.
Vent (Fente): a lapped, finished opening on the hem edge of a sleeve, jacket or skirt.
Warp (Chaîne du Tissu): threads running the length of a woven fabric. Also known as the lengthwise grain. It has little to no stretch. About 90° from the weft and 45° from the bias.
Weft (Trame du Tissu): threads running across the width of woven fabrics at a 90° angle to the length (or warp). Also known as the crosswise grain. It can have a tiny amount of stretch which is why waistbands and yokes are mainly cut on the lengthwise grain. It is at a 45° angle from the bias.
Welt ( ... Passepoilée): a means of creating and finishing the raw edges of an opening in a garment (think pocket or buttonhole). It is made by placing fabric right sides together over a slash in the fabric, stitching and turning this in, then top stitching in place. It can be single welt or double welt.
Width-wise Grain (dans le sens de la Largeur): the yarns in the fabric that run horizontally from selvage to selvage . Usually has a little stretch.
With Nap (Sens d'un Tissu): instructions for fabric that must be cut with all the pattern pieces lain in one direction. This includes all napped fabrics, pile fabrics, those with a one-way design produced by light reflection (satin, suede) and printed or woven with an up an down direction.
Yoke (Empiècement): a panel of fabric designed to allow more flexibility in certain areas of a garment. A yoke in a shirt allows the wearer to reach down and forward to tie his shoe laces for example. A yoke in a pair of jeans, trousers or skirt allows for sitting without too much pull or strain on the waistband.
Zigzag Stitch (Point Zigzag): a machine-stitch made by the movement of the needle from side-to-side rather than a straight line. The presser foot needs to allow for this movement. Used to finish the raw edges of seams, stitch plain seams for greater elasticity, apply appliqués, mend tears …
Zip Fastener (Fermeture éclair/à glissière): also called Zip or Zipper. It's composed of two tapes with metal or plastic teeth which interlock when the slider draws them together to close in one direction or open in the opposite direction. There is a wide range of lengths and colours available. Invisible zips have a plastic spiral coil which interlocks and is very strong when placed in straight seams. However, the use of an invisible zip should be avoided over a seam-line and could be considered a design flaw in a pattern .
Zip Foot (Pied pour fermeture à glissière): there are two types of machine foot for applying zip fasteners. Traditional zips require a foot with one prong which is also useful for applying piping. An invisible zip foot pushes the spiral coil to one side allowing the needle to attach the tape to the garment without damage to the needle or the coil. Different zips require different methods of application.