Glossary of Sewing Terms



Fabric Chalk A white chalk designed especially for marking fabric when drawing around pattern pieces and adding other marks (dart points etc) where necessary. Fabric chalk washes off.
Grain The grain of the fabric is the direction of the weave. In a woven fabric, the warp thread is the main thread running down the loom (the dominant thread) and the weft thread is the one weaving in and out cross way.
Interfacing A woven material used to strengthen an area of the garment (usually around button holes, a neck stand or an insert pocket). You can buy iron on interfacing which you iron on to the reverse side of the fabric to strengthen it.
Machine needle (Jeans) This is a sharp needle that is for more heavy duty natural-fiber woven fabrics (like denim and canvas)
Machine needle (Leather) This is a sharp needle that is for more heavy duty specifically designed for leather
Machine needle (Regular ballpoint) The best for sewing knits, fleece fabrics, and elastic
Machine needle (Sharp) For standard weight cottons and other woven fabric.
Machine needle (Universal) Has a slight ballpoint and was developed to glide between synthetic polyester fibers without breaking them
Machine needle sizes Generally 70 is for light or delicate fabrics (silk, chiffon, organza), size 80 is for regular and medium weight fabrics (cotton, rayon, tencil, polyesters) and size 90 for more robust or thicker fabrics (canvas).
Notch A mark necessary to transfer from pattern piece to your fabric piece to help you line up particular points in the garment as you sew.
Satin What makes a fabric satin is not the type of fibers that it is made of but rather the type of weave that is used in bringing those fibers together. A satin weave can be made from cotton, silk, polyester, rayon, acetate and even wool.
Twin Needle A needle with one shaft but two needles used on a conventional sewing machine to create a double line of stitching on top and a zig-zag underneath. Good for top stitching or stretch sewing.
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