Vintage Sewing Machine: Sewing Terminology
Have you just bought yourself a vintage sewing machine? Good job! Now the start of a fantastic hobby can begin – the art of sewing.
First of all, like any other hobby or interest, sewing has its own language and learning what everything means will help you make the most of your vintage sewing machine.
Let’s get started…
FABRIC GRAIN – this refers for the way the fibre pieces weave or knit together to create the fabric. If you look closely at a piece of material, you will see this. (Leather and fleece don’t have a grain because they aren’t woven together.)
‘RIGHT’/’WRONG’ SIDES OF FABRIC – most materials will have sides that are meant to be seen and not meant to be seen. Usually, this is easy to tell. The ‘right’ side will be more vibrant and colourful, especially if it is a print.
PLACE ‘RIGHT’ SIDES TOGETHER – this is an instruction you will often see in patterns. It means that you put the sides of the fabric you want to be seen and sew together.
SELVEDGE – this means the self-finished edge of the fabric. A selvedge keeps the fabric from fraying or unravelling.
STITCHES AND SEAMS – a stitch is a loop of thread created by a needle pulling it through the fabric. A seam is a line of stitches that either holds two pieces of fabric together, or it can be used as a decorative line of stitches.
BACKSTITCH – this is when you sew backwards over your stitches and it stops the ends of your thread from unravelling. If you backstitch too much, you will create an untidy lump of thread so it’s best to do it a little at a time.
BASTING STITCH – a set of long stitches that is usually employed to hold something together temporarily. You might use it to keep together two pieces of material while you sew those two to something else. You can baste stitch by hand, or use your vintage sewing machine to do so, setting the machine to its longest stitch.
TOPSTITCH – this is when you sew along the top, or ‘right’ side of your fabric. It helps to give a more professional look, and it is usually runs parallel to a seam or the edge of the material.
SEAM ALLOWANCE – this is the distance between the edge of the fabric and the line that has been sewn. Pattern creators always include a seam allowance so that your finished item matches the intended measurements.
HEM – the edge of the fabric, which is folded under and sewn to hide the material’s raw edge, and stop it unravelling.
INTERFACING – material attached to the ‘wrong’ side of the fabric to help strengthen or stiffen the material. This is sometimes done around armholes or necklines.
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