The Fearless Sewist’s Toolbelt

A Reference to Boost Your Sewing Confidence

Sewing Definitions

  • Baste – To sew a long stitch used to temporarily hold fabric in place.
  • Gather - To shorten a longer piece of fabric by bunching it up (creating ruffles). Some good illustrations of techniques for this are below:
  • StaystitchTo machine stitch along seamline to prevent fabric from stretching when sewn, and to prevent “clips” into the seam allowance from tearing past the seamline.
  • Topstitch - To sew a line of stitches on the outside of the fabric, close to a seam or edge. Topstitching holds the seam in place and, when contrasting thread is used, adds a decorative finish. Typically, topstitching uses the edge of the presser foot to measure distance from seam or edge.
    • Tasia gives some topstitching tips in her Minoru Jacket Sew-along, including how to use a “triple-stitch” in place of heavy-weight topstitching thread.
  • Edge stitch - To sew close a line of stitches close to a folded edge. Quite often, this stitching is about 1/8″ from folded edge.
    • What is the difference between topstitching and edge stitching? Answer here.
  • Selvage (US English) or Selvedge (British English) – The self finished edge of fabric. (more info)
  • Slip stitch - An “invisible” hand sewn stitch used to sew together a folded edge to another piece of fabric.
  • Ladder stitch- an “invisible” hand sewn stitch used to sew together two folded edges.
  • Right Side/Wrong Side – The “right side” of fabric is the side that will be visible when finished. This the “pretty” side on printed fabric, and the shiny side of satin. “Wrong side” is the other side. There are some fabrics that have no right or wrong side, you get to choose it. So, the phrases “right sides facing” or “right sides together” means to put the right sides of the fabric touching one another when sewing together.
More excellent sewing tips & tricks can be found on my sewing technique Pinterest board!

General Tutorials and How-tos

Clothing Tutorials and How-tos

Excellent Outside References