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Sewing Techniques - Glossary

Asymmetrical - Staystitching is a line of straight stitches that prevents curved or bias edges, such as necklines, shoulders and waistlines, from stretching out of shape as they are handled during sewing and pressing. The pattern instructions will tell you where to staystitch and the illustrations on the pattern's instruction sheet will you show which way to stitch. Staystitching is always done from the outer or wider edge in towards the center or narrower edge. The only exception is a "V" neck, where the stay-stitching goes from the point of the "V" up to the shoulder edge. 

Bias - Any diagonal direction. Fabrics stretch in the bias direction. 

Bias Tape - A finishing trim that is made from fabric strips cut along the bias grain. Because fabric cut on this grain has a great deal of stretch, the tape fits smoothly around curves without adding unnecessary bulk. 

Single-fold bias tape - actually has two folds – one running along each long edge of the tape. When single-fold bias tape is used to finish neckline or armhole edges, it is stitched to the garment edge with right sides together, and then it is turned to the inside of the garment and stitched again. The tape never shows on the outside of the garment. 

Double-fold bias tape - single-fold tape with an additional lengthwise fold. This fold is slightly off center, making one side just a little bit wider than the other. It's used to encase raw edges, creating a decorative finish that is visible on both the inside and outside of the project. 

Box pleats - A pleat style featuring two straight fabric folds facing in opposite directions. 

Double Stitched Seam - The seam is stitched and finished all in one step: Stitch a plain seam; stitch again, 1/8" away, within the seam allowance using a straight or zigzag stitch. Trim close to the second row of stitching; press seam flat to set the edges. Often used on sheer fabrics. 

Edgestitching - An extra row of stitching that appears on the very edge of a garment, usually 1/8" or less from a seamline, foldline or finished edge. Thread color always matches the fabric color. 

French Seam - A narrow finished seam with a couture look, where the raw edges are completely encased inside the seam allowances: With wrong sides together, stitch a 3/8" seam; trim the seam allowances to a scant 1/8" and press open. Fold the fabrics right sides together along the stitching line and press. Stitch ¼" away from the fold; press seam allowance flat, then to one side. Often used on sheer fabrics. 

Gathers - A fashion detail that provides fullness in garment areas such as the waistline, the cuff of a full sleeve, or a sleeve cap. Also used to create ruffles, such as those found on decorative pillows. 

Inverted pleat - A pleat style featuring two straight fabric folds that face each other, forming a pleat underlay. Often used at the center front or center back of a garment. 

Knife pleats - A pleat style featuring fabric folds all facing the same direction. Also called straight pleats. 

Pleats - Fabric folds that control fullness in a garment. Variations include box, inverted and knife pleats. 

Self-Fringe - A trim created, usually on loosely woven fabrics, by pulling out the crosswise yarns along the edge of a garment so that the remaining lengthwise yarns create a fringe effect. Once the desired amount of fringe is created, a line of stitching just above it secures the fringe form additional unwanted raveling. 

Topstitching - An extra row of stitching on the outside of a garment along or near a finished edge, usually as a decorative effect, but sometimes functional as well, such as on a patch pocket or pleat. Can be done in matching or contrast thread. 

True Bias - The diagonal edge formed when a fabric is folded so that the lengthwise and crosswise grains are aligned. True bias occurs at a 45-degree angle, and woven fabrics have the greatest amount of stretch along the true bias. 

Underlining - A layer of fabric that is sewn as one with the fashion fabric, wrong sides together. Underlining serves as a buffer between the fashion fabric and inner details like interfacing, zippers and more that are stitched to the underlining rather than the fashion fabric. 

"With Nap" - Refers to a fabric that has a texture or design that must run in one direction on the finished garment. Fabrics with a nap can look different depending on which way you hold them, though sometimes the difference might be a very subtle variation in color. Examples of "with nap" fabrics include velvet and corduroy, satin, knit fabrics and toile designs. 

"Without Nap" - Refers to fabrics that do not have a particular one-way texture or design. If you are unsure whether your fabric has a nap, use the "with nap" layout.