Glossary of Terms

Term Description


The ability of fabric to take in moisture. Very important in relation to skin comfort, but other factors important too, effect on static build up, staining and removal, water repellency, shrinkage and wrinkling.


A garment with sloping sides, the widest part being at the hemline.


Extra fabric outside the seamline or within the garment to accommodate gathers, ease, tucks and pleats.


The opening in a garment for the arm.

Azo dyes

Potentially carcinogenic banned dyestuffs.

Back tack

Where the machine is reversed at the end of a seam to prevent run back of the sewing.


Strips of fabric, ribbon or bias applied to edges or set into garments to finish or decorate.


A stitch pattern put in by an automatic machine to reinforce stress points.


A bias strip of material used to enclose a raw edge as a finish or trim.


A mixture of different fibres in one yarn or different yams in one fabric, each lending itís own characteristics to the fabric.

Blind stitch

A form of hemming made by catching only one thread of the outer fabric.


Popular misnomer which really should be Moisture Vapour Permeable. The ability of a fabric to transpire moisture vapour reducing condensation by physical or chemical means.


Heat and pressure finishing process to put a lustrous, glazed or embossed finish on one or both surfaces of a fabric.


The top part of a sleeve which is curved to fit the armhole.


Extension of the shoulder and upper armhole to cover the top of the arm.


Combing process of raw fibres to clean and sort, creates thin layer of fibre prior to spinning.


A hem with an opening so that ribbon or elastic may be drawn through.

Centre front

The position of the pattern of garment at the exact centre of the front section of the garment.


A small cut in the seam allowance of a garment which allows a comer or curved area to turn and lie flat.


A placket or any garment opening


A dyed fabricís ability to resist fading due to light exposure and washing.


Basic seams that give shape to flat cloth lines.


Natural fibre from Cotton plant seed pod. Typically Ĺ inch to 2 inches long fibres. Highest quality is Egyptian variety with fibres longer than 1 Ĺ inch.


A number of garments which match and can be worn together in different combinations.

Cord piping

A cord which is encased in bias fabric and used to finish and decorate edges, waistlines, button holes and furnishings.

Cord seam

A seam with a corded effect which is produced by turning both seam edges to one side and then stitching through the three thicknesses of material.

Count of yarn

A number indicating the mass per unit length or the length per unit mass of a yarn.


This is when dye rubs off a fabric improperly dyed washed or finished.


A fold of fabric stitched to a point at one end. Used to fit to body curves.


Measurement relating to weight of continuous filament fibre, Denier equals weight in grams of 9000 metres of that fibre. The finer the fibre, the lower the number and vice versa.

Design lines

Lines or seams that add design and make the garment different.

Dobby weave

Raised or textured weave available in many patterns.


Soft folds of fabric controlled by pleats or gathers.


A style in which the fabric is gathered or folded into unpressed pleats to create a soft effect and provide shaping.


Extra measurement allowed for comfort. It is the difference between actual body measurement and the size of the garment.

Edge stitch

A line of stitching placed along an edge, usually decorative finish.


The ability of a fabric to return to itís original size after stretching.


Narrow lace having one finished edge and the other usually scalloped or indented. Used for trimmings.


An individual strand of yarn.


Additional fabric jutting out beyond a seam or a centre line.


A small hole in a garment finished by hand or a metalring to hold the prong of a buckle. Also for lacing with ribbon and cord.


Finishing fabric inside garments.


Adjusting the pattern or garment-to fit the individual figure.


One or two rows of stitching, either by hands or machine, that are drawn up to form even fullness.


Normally refers to number of needles per inch in knitting machinery.


Fabric weight in grams per linear metre, fabric width must be known.


The direction of threads in a woven fabric. The lengthwise grain runs parallel to the selvedge and the cross-wise grain from selvedge to selvedge.


Fabric weight in Grams per square metre


A shaped piece of fabric inserted usually at the underarm of the garment to provide comfort.

Hand finishing

The details sewn by hand to finish the garment.


The finish formed by folding back the raw edge of a garment to the wrong side.


The line designating the finished length of a garment.


Zig Zag weave effect variation of Herringbone.

Hydrostatic Head

Measured vertical column of water determines how waterproof a fabric is.


Padding or stiffening included between inner and outer shells for insulation or structural purpose to maintain shape.


Variation of rib stitch where two 1x1 ribbed fabrics are interknitted. Heavy and more stable than single rib.


Loom attachment used in making woven fabrics to create any kind of design. Brocade and Damask are Jacquard weaves.

Jersey fabrics

Smooth flat faced fabrics with textured uniform back made by interloped yarns on both flat and circular knitting machines.

Knit fabrics

Fabric made from yarns running all in the same direction created by looping the yarns around each other.


The arrangement of pattern pieces on the material so as to ensure economical cutting.


Covering fabric in garment inside, can be printed or have woven logo included.


A fastening which extends beyond the finished edge, used on closings with no overlap. Can be made with thread, cord or fabric.


Transferring all necessary pattern lines or markings to the wrong side of the fabric.


A small V-shaped mark or cut, on seam allowance of the pattern pieces.


Strong synthetic fibre with great resilience, the first ever developed.

Ottoman weave

A raised rib often self coloured fabric.


Weave of a fabric with upright surface yams such as velvet .


Unsightly balling of fibres on fabric surface due to friction worse on inferior fabrics.


Knit or woven medium weight fabric with raised dobby designs.


A closing or opening in a garment.


Folds of fabric used to control fullness.


Weaker than nylon but very resilient with lower water absorbency. Only cotton is more used.

Puff sleeves

Short sleeves having fullness gathered into the armhole, and into a band or binding at the lower edge


A fabric constructed by layering and stitching together probably in a regular pattern. May include insulation material in the construction.


A style in which the armhole seams run up to the neckline giving a loose and comfortable fit.

Reactive Dye

Most permanent of dye types.


An attractive woven fabric with a lustrous appearance, used for trimming and adornment.

Rib knit

Highly elastic knit, used for special trims, sleeve, neck and waistbands and for close fitting knitwear.

Rib weave

Plain weave fabric variations with raised ribs.

Ring spun

A spinning process which results in smoother yarns.


To open a seam by pulling out or cutting the stitching.

Rip stop

Weave variation with multiple yarns creating various types of grid pattern which can stop tears, sometimes cosmetic only.


A band of fabric that is gathered or pleated and applied to an edge as a trimming.


An edge finish made up of a series of semicircles.


Created in construction of woven fabrics along warp edges to stabilise and prevent unravelling.

Spandex Fibre

Elastomeric synthetic fibre which will recover original size even after repeated stretching. Used in small percentages within fabrics to make close fitting garments. Lycra from DuPont is probably the best known brand.


A reinforcement in fabric or tape, to hold a part of a garment securely in position.

Stay binding

A narrow, woven fabric generally used for the covering of seams and the strengthening of garments.

Stay stitching

A row of stitching worked just inside, the seam allowance and close to the stitching line in order to prevent areas on the bias or curve from stretching.


To decrease width gradually and bring to a point.

Thread Count

The number of threads in a square inch of fabric.

Top Stitching

A line of stitching along the seam line on the right side of a garment, to add strength or design.


To cut off ragged edges or a part of a seam allowance to prevent it from being bulky and to give the seam a neat edge.


An ornamental addition used on garments.


A hollow cylinder of fabric used for button loops and decorative trim.


Straight folds of fullness, evenly stitched.


A part of a garment that extends or laps under another part.


An additional piece of fabric placed under a section for the purpose of joining as in a pleat or slot seam.


Lengthwise yarns in woven fabrics.


The pattern of interlacing of warp and weft yams in a wove fabric.


Crosswire Filler yarns in woven fabrics, perpendicular to warp.


The ability of fibres or fabrics to disperse and allow moisture to pass through to the surface where it can be evaporated. Normally used in base and mid layers.


The upper part of an opening which overlaps the under layer.

Wrinkle Resist

Treatment applied to fabric to make easier to care for and require minimal ironing.


Separately made shoulder piece of bodice or the top of a skirt.