Learn 10 sewing terms that every beginner should know! Knowing the basic sewing terms will help to make completing your sewing projects easier and more fun!
Be sure to check out our popular Sewing Tutorials page for over 50 sewing tutorials – many of them video tutorials!.
Just about every subject has it’s own terminology, which can make it confusing to understand the directions for a project. It’s a really good idea to learn the sewing terms that will help you with your sewing projects.
That’s why I decided to create a list of sewing terms for you that I think are the most important to know, especially if you want to focus on sewing home decor projects like pillows or draperies.
I’ve created a Sewing Terms video, and have listed the sewing terms below:
Used at the beginning and the end of a seam, a couple of extra stitches are sewn back and forth to anchor the seam. (Can also be known as back tacking.)
2. Baste or basting
Temporary, long stitches done by hand or machine to hold fabric in place for final stitching.
3. Bias Edge
True bias is a cut made on an angle 45 degrees to the selvage. This is the stretchiest part on the fabric.
Cut little notches in the seam allowance to allow it to go around corners better. Used most often when sewing cording onto a pillow.
A narrow strip of fabric wrapped and sewn around a cord. Used as a decorative element added to pillows, valances and other soft furnishings. (Also known as piping or welt.)
6. Finger Press
Using your fingers and pressure to open up a seam.
7. Right Side/Wrong Side
8. Seam Allowance
The fabric between the cut edge of the fabric and the line of stitching. For most of my projects I use a 1/2″ seam allowance. If I am inserting a zipper I use a 3/4″ seam allowance.
The factory edges of a fabric that run lengthwise on both sides of the fabric.
10. Serge Stitch
An edge or seam sewn on a serger. Great for keeping the edges of a fabric from fraying.
I hope you enjoyed this list of 10 sewing terms for beginners! Which ones would you add?
Here are some of my favorite sewing supplies:
This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
- Singer Heavy Duty 4411 sewing machine – The Singer Heavy Duty 4411 is the sewing machine that I bought a few months ago, and I love it! It has all of the features that I mention above. It has a metal frame, so it doesn’t shake when I sew on it. The strength of the motor is 60% stronger than the average sewing machine, so it has some power! It has 11 basic stitches, including the straight stitch, zig-zag stitch. It also has a 4 step buttonhole feature. It is more powerful than a lot of plastic, inexpensive home sewing machines, so it sews faster (1100 stitches per minute) and can sew through heavier layers of fabric.
- Glass head straight pins – These pins are 1 7/8″ long and are very sturdy. I find them much easier to work with than smaller pins, especially when I’m trying to pin several layers of fabrics together. The glass head won’t melt if the pins get too close to the iron.
- Magnetic pin bowl – I have several of these bowls around around my sewing studio. They aren’t made for pins, but are actually used by auto mechanics to hold metal parts when they are working underneath a vehicle.
- Hand-sewing needles – I love John James Long Darners for hand-sewing. They are long and sturdy.
- Leather thimble – This leather thimble made by Clover is very comfortable to use while hand-sewing. I think it’s much more comfortable than using a metal thimble.
- Sew grip gloves – These gloves help you grip fabric, threads or strings. I find them very useful when I need to pull threads or strings when I’m gathering a sewing project. They only have one review on Amazon, and it’s not a very good one. They may not be good for some applications, but for what I use these gloves for, they work great.
- Thermal thimbles – I just recently started using these thermal thimbles. They’re very useful when you’re ironing a sewing project. They help protect your fingers from the heat and steam of the iron. I’m adding this picture of my 3 year-old grand daughter in my sewing studio. She loves the thermal thimbles (she uses them like finger puppets – not with the iron), but was upset there weren’t 5 of them. So, she added a couple of thimbles.
- Seam ripper – I really don’t like when I have to do some “reverse sewing”, but when I do need to take out some stitches it helps to have a good seam ripper. I have two different kinds – one made by Dritz and the other made by Clover. Both work well. I think I prefer the Dritz seam ripper because it’s a little bit larger than the Clover seam ripper. Both have the red ball to help protect against ripping the fabric.
- That Purple Thang – I’ve been showing this tool in several of my pillow videos. It’s great for turning out corners, and I use mine all the time when I’m making pillows.
- OmniGrip grid measuring tool – This measuring tool is very useful for quilters, but I also use it when I need to measure for cording or banding. It has markings for 1/8″ and 1/16″, and has useful angled markings.
- 18″ metal straight edge – I use this 18″ ruler to mark pleats for draperies and valances. It’s useful for measuring lots of different types of sewing projects. I like that it has 1/8″‘ and 1/16″ markings.
You might also like: