Tailoring and Sewing Glossary

This is an A-Z guide that explains professional tailoring, dress making and sewing terms

 Where possible, I have illustrated each term with a drawing, photograph or video. Some terms differ between the English speaking nations and I have tried to point out the differences where relevant. This tailoring and sewing glossary is a work in progress. If you have any suggestions, additions or corrections, please don’t hesitate to let us know: hello@kathrynsanderson.com

Across the piece

See weft

Acid dye

An acid dye is a type of dyestuff which we use to permanently dye protein fibres. Protein fibres are fibres formed on or by an animal. The two classes of these fibres are hair or fur, like wool, and fibres secreted from insects, like silk. Mohair from angora goats, angora from angora rabbits, cashmere from cashmere goats, wool from sheep, llamas, alpacas, even human hair and feathers can all be dyed with acid dyes.

So why do we call them acid dyes and not protein dyes?

We call them acid dyes because they bond with the fibres in an acidic environment. That means that when immersion dyeing, the dye bath which is made up of water, dye, salt and citric acid crystals or white vinegar has a ph reading that is acidic, from 2 to 7. The same applies to the print medium used for direct dyeing, when painting, screen printing, block printing or stencilling onto the fabric. This too must be acidic.

What temperature do we use for Acid dyes?

In order to fix the dye, the dye bath needs to be at about 44 c for wool at about 85 c for silk. However, when direct dyeing with acid dyes, you can’t print the fabric and then submerge it in a dye bath. These fabrics require steaming in order to set or fix the dye to the fibre.

Unless you live in a very hot country with a room temperature of 44 c , you will need a method of artificially heating your dye bath. The most practical solution is to use a pot on the stove. But, please keep in mind that you should dedicate the pot to dyeing afterwards, you should not cook in it. We typically use a submerged aquarium heater. But, if insufficient, we use an induction heat plate. Of course, this may differ based on the exact dyestuff and application process you intend to use. Your dye supplier will have the correct instructions for your specific dyestuff.  

Due to its unique properties, Nylon is also commonly dyed with acid dyes. 


Adaptation is a variation of an idea, design, graphic or pattern. It is a design, graphic or pattern that the designer has adapted, altered or added to. The term is relevant whether or not these changes are an improvement or not.

Added fullness

Added fullness is the additional amount of volume we add to a garment to give it more flare, more freely flowing fabric. Take a look at these examples (coming soon):

A-line skirt

An A-line skirt has a slight amount of flare or added fullness at the hemline. Depending on your build, an A-line skirt fits across your hips or abdomen and flares towards the hem resulting in an A shaped silhouette. This amount of flare provides you with extra stride room and allows you to walk freely.

Anchor stitch

An anchor stitch is a hand stitching term. The maker creates two or three stitches adjacent to each other in order to anchor the thread before sewing. We use them instead of a knot for two reasons. The first is that anchor stitches are flat and pose no problem when sewn over during seam creation. The second is that they are more efficient. We find knots to be fiddly and all agree that an anchor stitch is faster and easier to remove.

Applied pocket

The most prevalent examples of an applied pocket are on the chest of a button-up shirt or the buttocks of a pair of jeans. They usually have three sides and one opening. We apply these types of pockets by folding and pressing the three sides and then attach it to the garment by edge stitching and/or topstitching. The opening is typically at the top or side but the pocket can also have a dividing topstitch that allows for partitions in the pocket for various items. A pen for example. You can use a combination of decorative and mechanical topstitching when applying the pocket. You can also apply loops and tabs to the pocket, especially on workwear, to hold additional items outside of the pocket. Sunglasses, torches and various hand tools for example. Sometimes you will hear them referred to as patch pockets.

Applied welt pocket

There are various definitions of an applied welt pocket around the internet and many of them have very vague and frankly misleading explanations for what it might be. In our work, an applied welt pocket is a welt pocket that we sew into a piece of fabric rather than the garment piece and then we ‘apply’ or ‘applique’ the ensemble onto the garment by folding and pressing hems on all four sides and then edge stitching around the piece.


To attach or ‘apply’ a piece of fabric to another; a piece of fabric to a garment or one garment piece to another garment piece. You can apply a piece of fabric to a garment by sewing, riveting or any other form of fixation.

Arm shield (perspiration shield)

An arm shield is a panel of fabric that we apply to the underarm of the garment lining to protect it from perspiration, sweat and wear and tear. The panel is on the right side (rs) of the lining which means that it is on the inside of the garment and will rest against the undergarment, a button-up shirt or t-shirt for example.


The armscye, scye or armhole is what we call the opening in the bodice of a garment where the sleeve is attached. 


Applique comes from the French verb ‘appliquer’ which means to ‘apply’. In textiles, it is a surface decoration technique that describes the process of stitching one piece of fabric to another by sewing very close to the edge. Often, a decorative stitch like a blanket stitch is used to finish the cut edge of the decorative piece while simultaneously attaching it to the base cloth.

Armhole dart

An armhole dart is a dart that opens on the armscye and closes in the direction of the bust point.

Arrowhead Tack or Arrowhead stitch

An arrowhead tack is a hand stitch that we use to reinforce pockets and pleats. We sew them at stress points, which are intersections that receive the most force or tension. As it is a decorative stitch, and has a woven aspect, we generally choose a decorative thread like embroidery floss or buttonhole twist. See also Crow’s Foot Tack

Asymmetric darts

Most darts are symmetrical. This means that the two halves of the dart are exact mirror images of each other. It also means that the two dart legs are the same length.

Asymmetrical design

A symmetrical design has symmetrical balance which is where both sides of the design mirror each other. Some refer to this as a visual equality between both halves of a design. An asymmetrical design lacks this symmetry, one half is different to the other. In garment making this means that the design requires different pattern pieces for the two sides of the garment. An example of this may be a sports jacket with one long sleeve and the other short. Therefore, the design is asymmetrical, lacking symmetry.

Atelier flou

Atelier flou is a French word. We use it to describe the workroom where a couturier or a group of couturiers work to craft bespoke and haute couture dresses.

Atelier tailleur

Atelier tailleur is a French word. We use it to describe the workroom where a tailor or group of tailors craft bespoke suits and accessories.

Backing or Backing Fabric

See Underlining. See our guide about the difference between interlining, fusing, underlining, flat lining, interfacing and lining and how to apply them to your sewing (coming soon). 

Back seam

The back seam can refer to any single seam on any back piece of any garment. In a two piece sleeve, it refers to the seam that runs from the back armscye down over the elbow. 

Back side

See Wrong Side 


A backstitch is 3 or 4 backwards stitches at the beginning and the end of the sewing line. The backstitch secures the threads from unravelling and the seam from coming apart. If you experience thread bunching or jamming, see our guide to preventing it. (coming soon)

Bagging out

Or bag out. Refers to the step of adding the lining to the shell. You place the right sides of the lining and the shell together, sew and then turn out.


Balance is a critical principle in tailoring and bespoke garment making that concentrates on how the different parts of a garment work in unison. Each tailor has their own view on what a garment may look like when properly balanced. They must resolve both the design balance and the fit balance. The design balance concerns how the design elements work in unison. The fit balance concerns how the tailor or couturier takes the shape of the wearer into account.

The shape of your body will affect the shape and drape of anything you wear. You could have one shoulder that sits lower than the other, one leg longer than the other or your waist could be closer to the ground at the front than the back. You must take all of these factors into account when creating the appearance of a properly balanced garment.

Balance lines

A collection of lines, both horizontal and vertical, that are marked on a toile or muslin to help with fitting and balance. This image illustrates the key lines. (coming soon)

Balance marks

See Notch

Balance tension

See Thread tension

Ball point needles

Ball point needles are sewing machine needles with a microscopically rounded point. We recommend them for sewing knit fabrics, and more specifically jersey knits. The ball point reduces the risk of breaking the yarn fibres as the needle passes through the fabric. 

Bar Tack

Bar tacks act as reinforcement for stress points and are most commonly seen on belt loops and at the ends of plackets, pockets, pleats, splits and vents. A bar tack is essentially a row of zig zag stitches with a very short stitch length. Each stitch lays parallel to the one before creating a densely stitched bar. Most domestic machines can sew a bar tack. Did you know that if you work with industrial machines, you need a bar tack machine to sew bar tacks? That’s right, a complete stand alone machine for a tiny bar tack. So we don’t typically employ bar tacks because we don’t have the appropriate machine. We do however use a variety of decorative hand tacks that perform the primary function of reinforcement but also look beautiful. See Arrowhead Tack and Crow’s Foot Tack.

Baseball stitch

Baseball stitch is a stitch used to join two edges that do not overlap. It is usually used for thick materials like leather, heavy weight felt or PVC and is traditionally applied to the seams of a baseball. Incidentally, it is also the name for the same stitch used in surgery for suturing.


We use the verb to baste when describing the technique of hand stitching two or more layers of cloth together using a basting stitch or tailor’s basting stitch. We do this for both fitting and construction purposes. On occasion, we machine baste using the longest stitch on the machine, most notably when installing zippers. But we refer to this as machine basting or to machine baste. See also Basting Stitch and Tailor’s Basting Stitch.


See Baste

Basting Stitch

A basting stitch is the primary stitch used to baste two or more pieces of fabric together. It is a long, liberal running stitch in a straight line. We begin and end with an anchor stitch which ensures efficient removal of the basting stitch once it has served its purpose. Pro tip: Use a fine sewing thread Tkt 120 or higher (See our guide to sewing threads coming soon) See also Tailors Basting Stitch

Bateau neckline

See Boat neckline


Batiste is a semi-shear, plain weave fabric. It is most commonly manufactured in cotton but is also made with silk. Think christening gowns and baby clothing. It is very soft and smooth, lightweight and airy. Due to it being semi-sheer, you will need to consider using multiple layers, or lining or underlining your garment. Pro tip: when using a fine fabric like this, it is good to use a fine gauge sharp machine needle and a fine sewing thread Tkt 120 or higher (see our guide to sewing threads coming soon). Lower your machine thread tension to avoid seam tension and puckering.


Batting is a non-woven material we use for creating padded areas in a garment. Making shoulder pads for example. We also use it as insulation in jackets and coats and in our padded bags. It is available in many weights and fibres including cotton, polyester, polyamide, wool and some recycled fibres.


See Clapper


In tailoring and dressmaking, we use it to coat hand sewing thread in order to prevent the thread from twisting, curling and subsequently knotting. It also creates a smoother thread which improves glide and handle. It is usually available in small blocks as pictured. You pull the thread over the block of wax a few times then run it through your fingers and it significantly improves the behaviour of the thread. Pre-coated thread is also available but we use so many different types of thread, it is simpler to do it ourselves. Beeswax is especially useful when sewing on buttons and hand sewing buttonholes. As a word of caution, do not wax sewing machine thread.

Bell sleeve

A bell sleeve has a regular sleeve cap, fitted to the armscye of the garment, but with a hemline that flares out into the shape of a bell. The bell sleeve can be designed to any length and can include any amount of flare.

Bell shaped skirt

A bell shaped skirt fits closely to the hips through to the thighs and then breaks away before mid thigh into a fluid flare down to the hem.

Besom Pocket

See Double-welt Pocket


Bespoke is the term used for crafted, custom made clothing of an exceptional quality. The tailor or couturier will take all of your body measurements which will be in excess of 35 measurements for men and more for women. We take 57 points of measure. For clothing to be bespoke, the tailor or couturier must draft your garment pattern from scratch and design and construct it to fit you alone. A series of fittings may be required to ensure that the garment is truly made to fit your body.


See True Bias

Bias Binding

Coming soon

Bias Bound Seam (Bias Bound Seam Allowance)

When people use this term, they are generally talking about bias bound seam allowance, which is the term we use to describe this technique. Using bias binding, we enclose the raw edges of the seam allowance creating a neatly secured finish. Seam allowance binding offers a good opportunity for decoration, you can make bias binding out of any woven fabric, imagine the possibilities. There are various ways to bind seam allowance which we cover in our Guide to binding seam allowance (coming soon). Image coming soon.

When we use the term Bias Bound Seam, we mean that the seam is closed and bound with bias binding. Like on a tote bag for example (coming soon).

Bias Bound Hem

A bias bound hem is a hem we bind with bias binding. We do not fold or roll the hem, once we have assembled the garment and finished the seam allowances on the side seams, we simply cut the hem without seam allowance and bind it with bias binding. Once finished, you can see the bias binding equally from the inside and the outside of the garment. We don’t choose this finish very often, but it does look exceptional on the hems of underskirts and tulle skirts. Read more about the properties of bias binding here.

Bias Bound Neckline

You will most likely see a bias bound armhole on a singlet, sport slip or sleeveless top. We make a bias bound neckline in the same way that we make a bias bound hem. Once we have assembled the garment and finished the shoulder seam allowances, we bind the hem with bias binding. We don’t include seam allowances in the neckline as the edge of the bias binding once finished will form the finished edge. Read more about the properties of bias binding here.

Bias Bound Armhole

You will most likely see a bias bound armhole on a singlet, sport slip or sleeveless top. Once we have assembled the garment and finished the seam allowances on the side seams and shoulder seams, we bind the armhole with bias binding. As with the bias bound neckline, we don’t include seam allowance in the armhole as the edge of the finished bias binding will form the finished armhole. Read more about the properties of bias binding here.

Bias Cut

Bias Cut simply means that we cut the garment pieces on the true bias, resulting in a bias cut garment. You can read more about how this effects the garment drape here (coming soon).

Bias Tape

See Bias Binding


Binding refers to any material that we use to bind any edge, seam or seam allowance. Most people would think of bias binding when they think about binding but you can use a vast range of fabrics and materials to do the same job. The main factor that defines what materials you can use is whether or not the edge you want to bind is round or straight. If the edge is round, then you need to choose a binding that has been cut on the bias (see my exception in the following paragraph). If the edge is straight then you can use just about anything including leather and woven fabrics cut on the straight grain. Your primary consideration is how bulky the binding will be once finished and aesthetics.

Of course, there are always exceptions, and here that is when binding knitwear. You can use most knits to bind both a straight and curved edges. Though, some interlock is considered stable and does not have much stretch or elasticity, it will not create a smooth round edge that sits against the body.


Biscornu is a French word which means to be twisted, crooked, eccentric or to have horns. However, a Biscornu is a small, stuffed ornamental pincushion that is usually made from Aida cloth or linen and heavily cross-stitched or embroidered. It looks quite complicated but it is in fact made from two squares of fabric. One forms the top and the other forms the bottom. See our patterns for making a Biscornu here.

Bishop sleeve

The bishop sleeve has a regular sleeve cap, fitted to the armscye of the garment, but the sleeve has added flare and added length which allows the sleeve to billow when gathered or pleated into a cuff or hem. The amount of flare varies from slight to exaggerated. 

Blanket Stitch

The blanket stitch is a hand stitch used to bind the edge of a piece of fabric. It is primarily used to bind the edges of woollen fabrics and has been traditionally used for edging blankets, hence its name. Wool, due to its ability to felt, can often be simply cut and not hemmed. Boiled wool, wool felt, woven wool with a felt finish, all of these fabrics can be cut without fear of them fraying. A blanket stitch applied to any of these fabrics, secures the edges and protects them from damage and stretching. The blanket stitch is also a valuable stitch for attaching applique to a garment surface. See our video below (coming soon).


Blending is a pattern making term that simply means to blend one line into another. We use this word when trueing darts, correcting seam lengths and ensuring good shape when a curve meets a straight line.

Blind Buttonhole

A blind buttonhole is a non-functioning buttonhole. You will most likely find them on the sleeve of a jacket but can also sometimes appear on the lapel. Blind buttonholes are typically employed to reduce labour.

Blind stitch

Also known as the Blind Hem Stitch. Blind stitch is a hidden stitch that we use mostly for securing hems. You can do it by either hand or machine, we do it by hand. There are special feet available for your specific domestic machine which allow you to sew several lockstitches on the folded up hem and then one zig-zag stitch to catch the shell. I personally have never used these feet but from what I’ve seen, they do a great job but the thread is visible on the face of the shell.

If you use industrial machines then you are out of luck unless you have a blind stitch machine, we don’t have one of those either, so we do it by hand.

It’s important to note here that when anyone says blind stitch, they are not necessarily always referring to the same stitch. There are different ways to do it, but this is the version I prefer. I fold and press the hem. Using a basting stitch, I secure the hem in position. I then make a dressmaker’s knot pull the needle through the top back of the hem. I catch a few shell threads and then pass the needle back inside the hem for about 10mm. And then I catch another set of shell threads and repeat the process until the hem is invisibly secured. See how I do it in this video. (coming soon)

Blind hem

A blind hem, also known as an invisible hem, is a hem that has been secured by using a blind stitch, see above. This stitch is hidden between the turned up hem and the garment shell.

Blind Hem Stitch

See Blind Hem above

Block Pattern

Block patterns are a set of pattern pieces that a couturier, dressmaker or made-to-measure tailor uses as a base for making a stylised garments. Sometimes called foundation patterns, they are a sort of skeleton for a particular style of garment. In Made to Measure clothing, the couturier may have blocks for a women’s fitted casual shirt and another for a men’s basic trouser block. The couturier will tailor these blocks to fit the customer’s specific fit and design requirements.


Blocking is a term used to describe the process of wetting and/or steaming a knitted or crocheted garment into its final shape. The process will also even out the stitches and equalise the tension. Here’s an excellent video on how to do it yourself (coming soon).


The noun blouse is a loose fitting garment without shaping. It is made from woven cloth and is pulled over the head to be worn. A blouse can have a short placket or open neckline but it does not have a placket that opens to the hem. It can also be sleeveless or have any length sleeve from cap sleeve to long sleeve.

The verb to blouse means that you secure the billowing garment in a way that makes it blouse. An everyday example of this is when you tuck a blouse or non-fitted shirt into your jeans and you pull it out a little to make it puff and blouse around the top of your pants. 


The bomber jacket is a blouson. It is a short jacket that is without fitting but it blouses at the waist due to the fitted waistband. The jacket panels are either gathered or pleated into the waistband which can be a knitted band, elasticated or flat fitted.

Boat neckline

A boat neck is a broad, boat hull shaped neckline on blouses, tops, dresses and knitwear. We also call it a bateau neck, bateau is the French word for boat. The neckline starts near the shoulder point and sweeps down across the collar bones to the opposing shoulder point. Though considered one of the more elegant necklines, it is also very practical. The large opening allows the garment to be pulled over the head without any additional openings.


All lockstitch machines need two threads to form the stitch. One on the top and one on the bottom. The bottom thread is wound onto a bobbin which you mount into a bobbin case and then into the rotary hook. These bobbins come in different dimensions and capacities, so you need to use the ones designed for your machine.  They are most commonly available in stainless steel or various plastics. Pre-loaded cardboard bobbins are also available in some countries. Industrial machines that can sew heavy weight threads and some embroidery machines have large capacity bobbins to increase the sewing meterage.


The bodice is the part of a garment that is worn on the torso of the body. The bodice of a shirt for example is the shirt front and shirt back together.


A bodkin is a small metal tool, often made from wire with an eye in one end that allows you to pull ribbon, cord or elastic through a fabric casing.


Aside from using the word body to describe our corporeal bodies, we use the word body in two primary ways. The first is when we are referring to the way that a fabric drapes or falls. Certain fabrics can be described as having body. This means that the fabric has structure that allows it to stand away from the body when used in a garment that has additional fullness. A fabric with body tends to be closely woven, stiff, heavy weight or a combination of these. For example, a silk dupion is a light to medium weight fabric but it is very closely woven. This means that the warp and weft threads are tightly woven together with no space between them. Denim, 300g/m2 and heavier, is both heavy and tightly woven, resulting in lots of body. Organza is very light weight but stiffened which creates a lightweight voluminous body.

Finally, our second use of the term body: we call the assembled front and back panels of a jacket and coat before the sleeve have been set in, the body. The body of the jacket, or the body of the coat.


A bodysuit is a skin tight garment made from a very high stretch knit typically containing Lycra. It is a one piece suit like a one piece swim-suit that covers the torso and crotch but it can also cover the legs and arms.


Boning are thin, rigid metal or plastic supports used in fitted, structured garments. Often used in corsetry and various types of bodices and strapless dresses. They were called boning because they were originally made from bone, often whale bone. They are hidden inside the garment between the shell and the lining or sewn into casings that are sewn onto the back of a flat lined shell. 


In garment making, it is the hem circumference around your pant leg.

Bound Buttonhole

A bound buttonhole is a small rectangular opening that has fabric strips on the two long sides. Like a double welt pocket opening but only large enough for a button to pass through. We don’t do bound buttonholes often but I will make an effort to design them in more, they look superb in the right fabric on the right garment.

Bound Pocket

See Double Welt Pocket

Bound Seam

A bound seam is when the seam or seam allowance is encased with a binding. There are various forms of seam binding using different materials to encase the seam. I often see many authors that limit their description to bias bound seam allowance and what has become known as the Hong Kong seam. We will cover a range of different finishes in our Guide to Bound Seams coming soon. Sign up to our mailing list to get notified.


We say that the cloth or fabric is bowed when the weft or cross-grain forms an arc rather than lying perpendicular to the warp or grain. It is an issue caused during weaving due to poor tension.

Box Pleats

coming soon


The break refers to the fold in the fabric that occurs in the bottom front of the pant leg when it rests on the shoe. The name comes from the visual ‘break’ that occurs when the pressed straight line of a tailored trouser leg is ‘broken’ by the fold. There are five standard break lines: Full break, Half break, No break, Negative break or Showing Ankle. See our guide What is a pant break? Coming soon. 


See Roll Line

Break Point

The break point is the horizontal point where the skirt breaks away from the body. On a circle skirt, the break line is at the waist, on an A-line skirt that is around the abdomen and on a bell shaped skirt, it is on the thigh.


The bridle is the area that runs along and around the roll line or break line of a jacket or coat.

Bridle Tape

Bridle tape is a length of tape that is hand basted to the roll line or break line of a jacket or coat. This tape prevents the roll line from stretching but it also allows the tailor to manipulate the bridle during fitting and sewing which results in better construction and finish. For example, in the event of lapel popping, the tailor can shorten the bridle by pulling on the tape which smooths out the bridle and eliminates the lapel pop.

Bring up

To ‘bring up’ refers to shortening the length of a hem, the hem of a sleeve, a pair of pants, jacket, coat or skirt. Any garment hem.

Broderie Perse

coming soon


A bubble appears as a sort of puff or bubble in the shell fabric of an assembled garment. It is generally the result of an interfacing, interlining or lining being too tight for the shell.


Buckram is a stiffened open-weave cloth made from cotton, linen or horsehair. The stiffening is a finish and is usually sized in various agents including wheat starch and more recently, resin. It is exceptionally useful in creating structure in various garments. It is best known for its use in millinery, creating the support structure required by hats. The structure of the visor on a baseball cap is achieved using buckram.

Buggy Lining

coming soon

Build a Coat

To construct a tailored coat.


The bust is the horizontal circumference measurement of the breast area on a person. For best results, take this measurement level with the bust point or nipple.

Button Band / Button Stand

A button band or button stand is another way of describing a placket with a button opening or closure. The best example of this is a button-up shirt. The centre front opening on a shirt has a button stand on each side. They always come in pairs. One has button holes and the other has buttons. The button stand can be an extension of the front panel or an additional garment piece. Please see our entry on Plackets to read more (coming soon).


A buttonhole is a reinforced hole in a garment that is slightly larger than the button that is designed to pass through it. There are many ways to make a buttonhole: by constructing inseam buttonholes; fabric or bound buttonholes; corded buttonholes; hand stitched thread buttonholes using buttonhole stitch; machine stitched buttonholes; double buttonholes; decorative buttonholes and blind buttonholes.

Buttonhole Stitch

coming soon

Buttonhole Twist

coming soon


Calico is a Greige state fabric or loom state fabric. It is made from 100% unbleached cotton and often comes in varying weights. It is cream in colour with tiny husk flecks throughout that are tan, light brown, dark brown and black. As it is inexpensive, we use calico for creating toiles, these are test garments. We keep a lightweight calico on hand at all times for sampling. 

Calyxeye Needle

The calyxeye (calyx-eye) needle is a hand sewing needle unlike all other needles. It is sometimes called an ‘easy threading needle’ because it is specially designed to enable you to thread the needle without poking the thread through the eye but rather by pulling it through a fine slit above the eye. This is especially useful for those of us who practise thread pulling rather than snipping threads. See our post on Using a Calyx-Eye Needle to Become a More Efficient Sewist (coming soon)


coming soon

Cash Pocket

coming soon


coming soon

Catch Stitch

coming soon

Cavalry Twill

coming soon


The centre back line on a garment pattern, the garment pieces or the assembled garment.


The centre front line on a garment pattern, the garment pieces or the assembled garment.

Chalk Stripe

coming soon


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Chest Piece

coming soon


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Chinese Silk

coming soon

Chop or Chopping

coming soon


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Clear Finish

coming soon


See Notch

Clipping Corners

coming soon

Clipping Curves

coming soon

Convertible Collar

coming soon


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Cloth Buttonhole

See Bound Buttonhole


coming soon

Collar Linen

coming soon


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Corded Buttonhole

coming soon


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Cotton Flannel

coming soon


coming soon


Couturier is the French word for a dressmaker. A couturier is a person who makes garments that are made to measure and/or bespoke. These garments are tailored, to different degrees, to a client’s specific measurements and design requirements. See also Made to measure and Bespoke.

Cowl Neck

coming soon

Crack Stitch

coming soon

Crazy Quilting

coming soon


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Crepe de Chine

coming soon



Crooked Cut

coming soon


The cross is used in some countries to describe the true bias.

Cross grain

See Weft


A crossmark is a pattern drafting indication. It is a short line of about ¼ inch or 6-10 mm that is marked perpendicular to a line that will be cut open/slashed when using the slash and pivot technique. The crossmark represents a specific length that needs to be maintained on each side of the slash.

Crosswise Grain

See Weft

Cross Stitch

A needlework stitch that uses two stitches that cross over to produce an X shape. When these crosses are stitches directly next to each other in different colours and shades of embroidery floss, the crosses form a complete image or pattern. The crosses act like pixels in a photograph but on a larger scale.


See Sleeve Cap

Crow’s Foot Tack

 Like an arrowhead tack, the Crow’s foot tack is a hand stitch that is used to reinforce pockets and pleats. It is sewn at stress points, intersections that receive the most force or tension. As it is a decorative stitch, and has a woven aspect, it is often sewn with decorative thread like embroidery floss or buttonhole twist. See also Arrowhead tack.


When the hem of a sleeve, pair of pants or trousers, is folded up or turned up it creates a cuff. The width of the cuff can vary greatly depending on the design and style of the garment.


coming soon

Curved Dart

coming soon

Curved Front

A curved front is used to describe a jacket front panel that is rounded rather than vertically straight.

Custom Made

coming soon

Cut on Bias

A garment that is cut on the bias is a garment piece which positions the vertical body line along the true bias. For example, when a dressmaker cuts a dress on the bias, they will position the front garment piece, the CF or centre front line, along the true bias. They will do the same for the back piece, positioning the CB or centre back line along the true bias. There is mechanical flexibility across the bias and many draping garments take advantage of this unique drape. Some garments also require it to function. For example nearly, all ties and bow ties are cut on the bias to allow for beautiful knots and a supple, plump form.

Cut on Fold

Cut on fold is a garment cutting instruction. This means that the pattern piece is essentially half of the garment piece. You will fold the fabric to be cut, following the grain instruction and ensuring that there is enough fabric to cut the entire pattern. Once folded, you will place the side of the pattern marked with ‘cut on fold’ against the fabric fold. You will notice that this side of the pattern does not include seam allowance to allow for it to be placed on a fold. Once unfolded, the cut piece will be a complete symmetrical garment piece. These cut on fold instructions are normally on the CF or CB of a garment, especially skirts and bodices. All ‘cut on fold’ pattern pieces result in symmetrical garment pieces.

Cut on the straight / cut on the straight grain

This is a garment cutting instruction. It means that you will align the grainline on the pattern with the grainline of the fabric. The grainline is the warp of the cloth. See Grainline and Warp.


 In bespoke tailoring, a cutter is the person who measures the client and drafts and cuts the garments. In prêt-a-porter, the cutter is the person who cuts the sample garments that are then sewn up by a sample machinist.


A thimble is a small metal or plastic cap worn on your finger to protect it from the hand sewing needle and to provide solid protective resistance when hand sewing multiple layers of cloth. For more about thimbles and hand sewing protection, read our blog post (coming soon)

Thread buttonhole

A thread buttonhole is the butthole familiar to most of us. It is a slit in the fabric with its edges bound in thread. You can achieve this by hand using a buttonhole stitch or by machine using a short length zig zag stitch or a buttonhole program on modern domestic sewing machines. Thread buttonholes are not always confined to a simple slit, they can have a keyhole, be rectangular or oval at each end or be heavily decorated. 

Thread marker

A thread marker is a quick stitch using a short piece of thread to mark a point. Two stitches can secure the thread without a knot. A small cross stitch forms a useful marker. We use this technique often in the place of drill holes. I don’t always like to create a drill hole in the cloth with an awl, so I use a stitch marker instead. Drill holes and thread markers are normally employed to mark the dart point, pleats and pocket placements.


To trim is the verb used to described the technique of trimming back seam allowances to a narrower width. It eliminates bulk and relieves tension on curved seams. It is a technique that must be carefully considered based on the properties of the fabric. The seam can be severely compromised if trimmed back too close to the stitch line.  

True bias

If the warp (straight grain) and weft (cross grain) form a right angle, then the bias is at 45 degrees. We call this the True Bias.

Watch Pocket

A watch pocket is the small pocket inside the right front pocket on a pair of Levi’s jeans. It was designed into their original pair of jeans for carrying a pocket watch.