Appliqué comes from the French term to ‘apply or lay onto another material’. The method of appliqué uses a needlework technique to sew shapes of fabric onto a larger fabric background, creating patterns or pictures. It is commonly seen in quilting and patchwork.
Armscye is the armhole opening in a garment to which a sleeve can be attached.
A backstitch is a reverse stitch at the end of a seam, used to secure the seam and ensure no stitches come loose.
Sewing machine needles with rounded tips, designed for use with knit fabrics. The ballpoint end protects the fabric fibres by slipping between the yarns without snagging the fibres. Not sure what sewing machine needle to use for your project? Our blog post 'Choosing The Right Needle For Your Project' will guide you. Shop our Ballpoint needles.
Baste, a term commonly associated with quilting, refers to temporarily holding fabrics together with a stitch or adhesive, ready for the final seam to be put in place. Basting a quilt means holding the layers of a quilt together with basting stitches or glue. The ‘quilt sandwich’ – the top fabric, the batting and the backing fabric – are then secured in place with top stitches. Want to know more about quilting? Check out our blog post 'How To Quilt: A Beginner's Guide to Quilting' to guide you.
Basting glue is an easy alternative to using basting stitches on your project. It is a non–toxic adhesive that temporarily bonds fabrics together, ready for the final seam. It dries clear and washes out. Shop basting glue.
Basting stitches are temporary stitches used to hold a seam together before the final seam is sewn. Basting stitches are useful for fine fabrics like silk, as well as tasks such as attaching a waistband to a gathered skirt, sewing a sleeve to an armhole or adding appliqué to a quilt. Basting stitches can be sewn by hand or machine.
Batting is the layer of insulation in a quilt, sandwiched between the top and backing fabrics of the quilt. The properties of the batting determine the density and warmth of the quilt. Shop batting.
Betweens needles are hand sewing needles used for quilting. Betweens needles are short and fine, enabling faster sewing and making them more durable for working through the layers of a quilt. Shop Betweens needles.
Bias is the diagonal line of the fabric, drawn at a 45 degree angle from the selvedge or grainline. Sewing patterns requiring a bias cut will show an arrow to align the fabric and bias pattern correctly.
Bias binding is a narrow strip of fabric used to cover and enclose the raw edges of quilts, bags, hemlines and other sewing projects. Bias binding takes its name from the term ‘bias’ as the grainline of the binding runs at a 45 degree angle, making it ideal for following the curves of hemlines, necklines and quilt edges. Bias binding is available in a huge range of patterned and plain options to complement the style of the main fabric. Shop bias binding.
Blanket stitch is a type of interlocking stitch sewn to reinforce the hem of thicker materials, such as felt, quilts and blankets. Although the stitch originated from blanket work, it is now a popular choice for attaching appliqué to other fabrics and sewing pieces of felt soft toys together, providing a decorative finish.
A blind stitch is a method used to either hem a garment or sew two pieces of material together, using a stitch that is barely visible to the eye. A blind stitch can be achieved using a blind stitch foot on a sewing machine or by hand. The blind stitch features a small, intermittent zig zag stitch that secures the hem or the fabrics with just an occasional dot of thread seen on the right side of the fabric.
A bobbin is a small spool that sits under the thread plate on a sewing machine. The bobbin is loaded with thread, which the needle will catch as it sews. Bobbins are available in various sizes, as well as metal and plastic, so ensure to check your sewing machine’s requirements. Browse our full range of bobbins.
A border ruler is a template used for stitching straight lines, in a variety of inch guides. A border ruler is commonly used for Sashiko embroidery work but can be used for other decorative crafts. Shop border rulers.
A bound seam uses bias binding to enclose the raw edges of fabric to stop them from fraying and provide a decorative finish.
Buckram is a heavy, coarse cloth available in strips of various widths. Buckram is used as an interfacing fabric to stiffen hats, parts of garments and accessories. A fusible, iron–on buckram makes this a simple process, using the heat of an iron to bond the buckram to the desired fabric or surface. Shop buckram.
A buttonhole is a sewn hole in a garment, made for buttons to pass through and close the garment. The buttonhole has neatly sewn zig zag or blanket stitches to reinforce the hem. A buttonhole can be sewn with a buttonhole stitch on the sewing machine or by hand. Shop buttonhole cutters.
Calico is a plain woven fabric made from unbleached cotton. It can sometimes have tiny brown specks through the weave from the husks of the cotton. Calico is known for its versatility and having a lower price point, it's ideal for quilting, dressmaking patterns and all kinds of crafts. Shop muslin & calico fabrics.
Canvas is a plain woven fabric, usually made from 100% cotton. It is a durable, sturdy material and usually more heavy weight, making it ideal for sails, tents, upholstery, footwear, clothing and artist’s canvas for painting. Shop canvas.
Carbon Pattern Paper
Carbon pattern paper is a tracing paper that allows a sewing pattern to be traced onto the inside of a garment to accurately mark out the sewing pattern, ready for cutting. Shop carbon pattern paper.
Casing is a strip of fabric stitched to create a tube, where cord or elastics can be pulled through and tightened to gather the fabric, such as for waistbands and drawstring bags.
Chalk pencils are used for marking fabric, ready for cutting or folding. Chalk pencils are commonly used for quilting and dressmaking projects to ensure accuracy. Shop chalk pencils and fabric pens.
Chambray is a plain weave, light–weight fabric, made from 100% cotton fabric. Chambray is traditionally woven from an indigo dyed yarn and a white yarn, creating its well–known light–blue tone. However, chambray is now available in a range of yarn dyed colours. Shop denim & chambray.
Charm Pack / Charm Square
A charm square is a pre-cut piece of square fabric used for patchwork, usually cut to 10 x 10 cm (4 inch squares). Charm packs are a set of pre-cut charm squares, curated by colour and style, for a themed patchwork project. Shop charm packs.
A cone adaptor is an essential tool when working with cone thread on a domestic sewing machine. The cone adaptor sits inside the thread cone, so it can fit onto the sewing machine spool pin and enables the thread to move smoothly. Shop cone adaptors.
A length of twisted thread or yarns, used for tying, binding and hanging materials and objects or closing garments and accessories, such as a drawstring waistband or bag. Cord is available in many different finishes, weights and materials – from decorative barley twist cords to curtain lead weight cord. Shop our range of cords.
Cotton is a natural fabric, made from fibres derived from the cotton plant. On the plant, cotton grows in a protective case called a boll and is recognisable by its fluffy, soft material. Cotton needs plenty of sun and rain to thrive so it is found in tropical climates. Cotton is mainly composed of cellulose, making it durable yet soft. Once harvested, the cotton fibres are spun into a yarn to be woven into cotton fabric. Cotton is the base of many fabrics, such as canvas, polycotton, denim and chambray. It is hugely versatile, easy to work with and durable – properties that have sustained its popularity since it was first discovered in the fifth millennium B.C. Shop cotton fabrics.
Cover buttons are a type of button fastening that can be covered by fabric in order to match the style of a project or garment. The fabric is secured by the back of the cover button and a cover button tool can help make this process even easier. Cover buttons are available in both metal and plastic finishes, as well as a huge range of sizes. Shop cover buttons.
Cross stitch is a popular needlework technique used in embroidery, where two stitches cross over each other forming an ‘X’ shape.
Curtain lining is a specialist fabric designed to line the back of curtains or drapes, to increase opacity, provide insulation and reduce light pollution from outside. Curtain lining is available in different types of fabrics, such as black-out thermal lining, dim-out lining and plain weave curtain lining. Lining bedroom curtains can greatly improve sleep quality by improving the room environment, especially for children and shift workers. Browse our range of curtain lining fabrics.
Cut On Fold
'Cut on fold' is a term used in sewing pattern instructions, where a pattern has a simple symmetrical front or back that can be cut on fold. This means folding the fabric and aligning the pattern to the fold and cutting around the remaining edges. Once cut, the fabric opens out into a symmetrical piece. This technique saves on pattern paper as well as additional cutting time and helps with limited workspace.
A cutting mat is an essential piece of kit when working with rotary cutters or scalpels in order to protect your work surface and cut safely. Cutting mats are made from a self-healing material, to avoid damage to your blade and to ensure the blade doesn’t shift during cutting. Cutting mats usually have gridlines with measurements to aid accurate cutting work.
D rings are a piece of metal hardware shaped like the letter ‘D’ and are commonly used in bag making and accessories, such as belts. D rings can be used to attach a strap or as a pair to make an adjustable strap or belt. D rings are available in a range of sizes and metallic finishes to match any project. Shop D rings in our buckles & clips collection.
Darning is a repair technique, often used for knitwear and socks, to fill a small hole. Darning repairs the hole by mirroring the warp and weft of the knit or fabric. The repair yarn is stitched horizontally across the hole and then woven vertically under and over the horizontal yarns.
Darts are narrow, wedged-shaped folds in garments to enable the fabric to fit neatly around the curved parts of the body, such as the bust, waistline and shoulders.
Denim is a strong, woven twill fabric made from cotton yarns. Denim fabric is woven with two yarns – a dyed warp yarn and a weft yarn that is usually left undyed. The technique of weaving these warp and weft yarns gives denim its classic look, with a lighter underside. Find out more about the history and process of making denim in our blog post ‘The History Of Denim – From Workwear Staple to Wardrobe Icon’. Shop denim fabrics in our denim & chambray fabric collection.
A double–fold hem is a hem that has been turned in twice to hide the raw edge. The first fold turns the raw edge inwards on the ‘wrong’ side of the fabric. The hem is then folded again to hide the raw edge.
Dressmaking pins / Dressmaker's pins
Dressmaking Shears / Dressmaker's shears
Dressmaker's shears have longer, sharper blades to offer greater precision when cutting fabrics and other materials. Dressmaker's shears are made from stainless steel and, with careful maintenance, they are designed to last a lifetime. Shop dressmaking shears in our scissors and cutters collection.
Dress lining is an inner layer of fabric added to a dress or skirt to add extra opacity and help the garment to hang well. Browse our range of dress lining fabrics.
Ease is the space between body measurements and garment measurements, to allow for comfortable movement.
Edgestitch is a line of straight stitches very close to the edge of a hem, seam or fold to strengthen and prevent the fabric from stretching.
Fabric grips are self–adhesive grips designed to attach to the bottom of fabric rulers and templates to avoid slippage as the fabric is marked and cut. Fabric grips are ideal for quilting projects and any work requiring accurate measuring and cutting work with templates and rulers. Shop fabric grips.
Fabric Pen / Fabric Pencil
Fabric pens and fabric pencils are a range of tools used to mark fabric ready for cutting, pinning and stitching. Fabric pens and pencils are very useful for quilting, tailoring and dressmaking projects, as well as soft furnishings, crafts and upholstery work. Fabric pens are available in a range of options such as vanishing markers and Chaco pens. The options for fabric pencils include dressmaking chalk pencils and water-soluble pencils. Browse our full range of fabric pens and pencils.
Facing is a dressmaking & tailoring term for a small piece of fabric used to finish and hide the raw edges of a garment. The facing is attached to the inside of the garment and faces the body. Facings are often interfaced to hold shape and support a part of the garment. Facings are commonly used around necklines, armholes and waistbands. Using a facing gives a clean, tidy, professional finish to a garment.
A fat quarter is a quarter metre of fabric, often used for patchwork and quilting.
Felt is a man-made fabric composed of matted, compressed textile fibres. Traditionally, felt was made from wool and even animal fur, but nowadays it is made using acrylic and other synthetic fibres. Wool felt is acknowledged as being one of the world’s oldest textiles. Today felt remains a hugely popular material for crafts and home décor. Browse our full range of felt.
Feed dogs are the jagged teeth that sit under the presser foot on a sewing machine and feed the fabric through as you sew. The feed dogs are movable and can be lifted or lowered for embroidery and button work.
Finger press refers to manually pressing open and flattening a seam by hand using your fingers or with a finger presser tool. Shop finger presser tools.
A floss holder is the perfect tool for keeping embroidery floss and threads organised. Floss can be threaded through the holes to avoid getting tangled, ideal for embroidery and cross–stitch work. Shop floss holders in our thread storage section.
The foot pedal on a sewing machine is operated by the machinist’s foot to control the speed of the stitching.
Fork pins are fine, metal pins in a narrow ‘U’ shape with double pin ends. The middle part of the fork pin curves up slightly to aid pinning. Fork pins are ideal for holding slippery fabrics and quilting pieces in place. Shop fork pins in our pins collection.
French Curve Ruler
A French curve ruler is a template used to adapt sewing patterns to personal body measurements. The grading grid allows for precise and accurate alterations. The French curve ruler is designed for adapting curved areas of a garment, including the neckline, armhole, sleeve cap, hipline and waistline. Shop French curve ruler.
A French seam is an additional seam sewn to hide the raw edge of the fabric, creating a clean, smooth finish. To sew a French seam, place the wrong sides of the fabric facing each other and stitch along the seam allowance. Next, turn out your fabric pieces and press along the seam. With the wrong sides facing up, stitch a slightly wider seam allowance along the first seam to encase and hide the raw edge.
Fusible Bias Tape
Fusible bias tape is a great tool for quilting and dressmaking projects. The tape is ironed on to bond to fabric pieces together, before they are stitched in place. Shop fusible bias tape.
Fusible fleece is an iron–on, synthetic batting used to fill and add volume to quilts, bags and warm clothing, such as padded jackets. The fleece is bonded to the fabric using a warm iron to ensure no slippage occurs during stitching. Browse our range of fusible fleece in our batting & wadding collection.
Fusible interfacing is a material that is adhered to the ‘wrong’ side of the fabric, to add strength and support to a garment or craft project. The interfacing is permanently fused to the fabric by placing the glue side of the interfacing against the fabric and ironing to bond the pieces together. Fusible interfacing is sold in different weights and properties to match and complement specialist projects. Shop fusible interfacing.
Gathering stitches are used to gather fabric, in order to create fullness or ruffles on a garment. Gathering stitches are usually made using a longer stitch on a sewing machine, with loose threads left at either end so the threads can be pulled to gather the fabric.
Glitter felt is a strong sheet of felt with glitter on one side. It is non-woven and made from compressed felt fibres, so it can be cut cleanly without fraying along the edges. Glitter felt is a very popular craft material and ideal for card making & stationery, seasonal decorations, theatre and scenery props, scrapbooking and much more! As with felt, glitter felt can be stitched as well as glued. Shop our glitter felt.
Grain describes the direction of the warp & weft yarns in a fabric. Fabrics have a lengthwise grain, which runs parallel to the selvedge and a cross–grain which runs horizontally across the fabric. When cutting out fabric using a sewing pattern, it is vital to match the pattern to the grainline, so that your garment hangs properly. Some garments are cut on the bias to allow a little stretch and to work around the body’s curves.
Grosgrain ribbon is a beautiful, decorative ribbon recognisable by its fine, ribbed texture. Grosgrain ribbon is thick, durable with a light satin sheen, making it perfect for decorations and gift wrap, accessories projects and all kinds of crafts. Shop grosgrain ribbons in our ribbon collection.
A pressing ham or tailor’s ham is a ‘ham’ shaped, stuffed object ideal for ironing the curved parts of a garment to avoid creases. The tailor’s ham is heat resistant and filled with sawdust to support a garment and enable it to be pressed easily. Shop Tailor's pressing ham.
A hem is the folded, stitched seam at the bottom of a garment. To sew a hem, the raw edge is folded inwards onto the ‘wrong’ side of the fabric and stitched. A hem can have a single or double fold.
Hook & Eyes
Hook & eyes are small metal fastenings, normally sewn onto a single part of a garment such as a neckline, waistband or the back of a bra. Hook and eyes are comprised of two parts in order to fasten the garment – a small, narrow hook that securely loops into the eye (or hole) part of the fastening. Each part is stitched to opposing seams in order to fasten the garment. Shop hook & eyes in our fasteners collection.
Interfacing is a material used to stabilise areas of fabric, for example, collars, cuffs, buttonholes, necklines, waistbands and pockets. Interfacing will add strength, stability and structure to parts of a garment. Interfacing is available as sew-in or fusible interfacing and is applied to the underneath or ‘wrong’ side of the fabric. Fusible interfacing has glue on one side, distinguished by its rough appearance, and is bonded to the fabric with a warm iron. Shop interfacing.
An additional layer of fabric added underneath the top fabric of a garment or set of curtains, to add body, warmth and help the fabric to drape well.
An interlocking stitch is a small knotted stitch sewn spaciously along the hem, so a long loop of thread runs between each stitch. Interlocking stitch is commonly used in curtain making to attach the interlining fabric to the top fabric and then the lining fabric underneath. Using an interlocking stitch secures the layers together and ensures they drape evenly.
Invisible thread is a clear, fine thread that is designed to blend with fabric and other thread colours. Invisible thread can be used for hand sewing as well as sewing machine stitching. Shop invisible thread.
Jersey fabric is a soft, stretchy lightly knitted fabric that is ideal for garments that need some stretch and extra ease, such as leisurewear and children’s clothing. Jersey fabric is usually made from a cotton blend to make it durable, stretchy and very comfortable to wear. Shop our collection of jersey fabrics.
Lead Weight Cord
Lead weight cord is a polyester cord containing lead weights. Weighted cord is used in curtain making. The lead weight cord is stitched to the hem to help the curtains or drapes hang well and evenly. Shop lead weight cord in our curtain accessories collection.
Lining is commonly used in dressmaking, tailoring and curtain making to add an additional layer of fabric behind the top fabric. Lining will make a garment more comfortable to wear, improve the opacity of dresses and help the garment to drape well. A silk or lightweight fabric is used to line skirts, dresses, jackets, waistcoats and coats. A specialist curtain lining fabric is usually chosen for lining curtains, such as a blackout, thermal curtain lining or a dim–out curtain lining fabric. These specialist curtain lining fabrics will benefit the room environment, by reducing outdoor light pollution and heat loss. Shop lining fabrics.
A lock stitch refers to the most common sewing machine stitch, where the main thread and the bobbin thread ‘lock’ together each time the needle pierces the fabric.
Macramé is a textile art that uses creative knotting techniques to tie macramé cords. Macramé will also use fringing techniques, along with accessories such as macramé beads, dowels and rings to embellish and finish the piece. Read all about the history of macramé as well as how to get started with macramé in our blog post ‘a beginner’s guide to macramé’. Shop macramé.
Metalfil are high-performance needles, designed for decorative sewing work using metallic and embroidery threads. Metalfil needles have an enlarged eye to accommodate these specialist threads and prevent thread damage when stitching at higher speeds. Shop metalfil needles in the needles collection.
Miniking thread is a universal thread for household, overlock and coverstitch sewing machines. Miniking thread can be used on most fabrics and for a wide range of stitching techniques. Shop miniking threads.
Muslin is a loosely woven, lightweight cotton fabric. It is often sold in its natural colour and is an ideal fabric for making test garments. Muslin is also a very popular fabric for baby cloths and covers, due to its lightweight, breathable qualities. Shop muslin.
Nap is the raised pile of fibres in fabrics such as velvet, moleskin, corduroy and fake fur. When cutting out napped fabrics, it is important to make sure the pile is running in the same direction, otherwise, the pieces of fabric will have a different appearance once stitched together. Some napped fabrics, such as velvet, can appear darker or lighter depending on the direction of the pile.
A needle applicator is a handy tool to work with your sewing machine. When inserting a new needle into your machine, the needle applicator will grip and hold the needle steady for easy application. The needle applicator also comes with a useful brush at one end to neatly sweep and clean the small areas of your sewing machine and overlocker. Shop our needle applicator.
A needle threader is an easy to use and very helpful tool to have in any sewing kit. The needle threader ensures the thread is pulled through the eye of the needle on the first attempt. To use a needle threader, simply push the diamond-shaped wire part of the threader through the eye of the needle. Next loop your thread through the wire, with the needle sitting in the centre of the needle threader. Holding the needle in one hand, pull the needle threader back through the eye along with the thread. Shop needle threaders in our Pins & Needles accessories collection.
Notions are all the small accessories and trims you need to finish your project, such as zips, buttons, bias binding, pins, thread and elastic.
Organza is a sheer and shimmery lightweight fabric, usually made from synthetic materials such as polyester or nylon. Organza is recognised by the tiny holes in the fabric made from the gaps in the warp & weft threads. Find out more about organza and the history of this beautiful fabric in our blog post ‘The History of Organza – from the Silk Road to your wardrobe. Shop organza.
An overlocker (also known as a Serger) is a specialist sewing machine that produces professionally stitched hems and seams. The overlocker trims the seam allowance as it stitches to encase the raw edge in an overcast stitch. Shop overlocker needles in the needles collection page and our overlocker slip reduction mat.
Patchwork is a type of needlework in which patches of different patterns and fabrics are stitched together to create an eclectic piece, such as a patchwork quilt or patchwork cushion cover. Visit our blog for lots of patchwork project ideas, such as 'How To Make A Patchwork Cushion'. Shop our charm packs and patchwork quilting templates.
A patchwork ruler is an essential tool for quilters. Available in a variety of sizes, a patchwork ruler is designed to help the quilter precisely mark and cut strips and shapes for patchwork projects. Shop our range of patchwork rulers and templates.
Pencil Pleat Tape
Pencil pleat tape is a specialist curtain header tape designed to create pencil pleats in the finished drape. The pencil pleat tape has 2 strings running through the tape, to create the gathered pencil pleat. Shop pencil pleat tape.
Penny weights are a classic curtain accessory to help curtains to hang properly. The penny weights are so–called as they are coin shaped. The penny weights are sewn into each corner of the curtain hem, so the hem hangs straight and avoids the corners tapering upwards. Shop penny weights.
Piecing means sewing two pieces of fabric together, normally with a standard ¼-inch seam allowance.
Pinking shears are specialist fabric scissors with a serrated edge to create a zig-zag edge when cutting fabric. Using pinking shears helps to minimise fraying along the raw edge of the fabric. Shop pinking shears in the scissors and cutters collection.
A placket is a reinforced button band, found on polo shirts, cuffs and buttoned jeans.
Plain weave is the most common style of woven fabrics. Plain weave means that the warp and weft threads pass over and under each other in a regular, perpendicular, grid–like style.
Polycotton fabrics combine cotton yarns with a smaller percentage of polyester yarns. This mix of fibres brings the benefits of both fabrics – the soft durability of cotton with the lightweight properties of polyester. As a blended fabric, this also makes polycotton a very affordable fabric to work with. Shop our polycotton fabrics.
Pre–shrink means to wash the fabric before embarking on the project. As fabrics can shrink by up to 5% on the first wash, this helps to avoid shrinkage once the project is completed. It’s especially useful for dressmaking, to ensure the garment doesn’t shrink once finished.
The presser foot is the part of a sewing machine that holds the fabric flat against the feed dogs, as it is stitched and moves through the sewing machine.
Quilter’s Holding Clips
Quilter’s holding clips are an essential tool for quilters! The holding clips grip the layers of a quilt in place, ready for stitching, so the fabrics and batting stay securely in place. Shop quilter’s holding clips.
Quilter’s Lap Frames
Quilter’s lap frames are designed for hand quilting and hold the fabric taut in place between the frames. Quilter’s lap frames can also be a handy tool for other needlework projects, such as tapestry, cross–stitch and embroidery. Shop quilter’s lap frames.
Quilting is a needlework technique to sew a large, warm fabric cover, by stitching together two pieces of fabric with a layer of batting sandwiched between the fabrics. Decorative stitching is also used across the fabrics to embellish and finish the quilt.
A quilting template is a shape used for marking and cutting patchwork pieces and appliqué or creating stitching designs across a quilt. There is a great range of quilting templates to explore and work with, so the creative possibilities are endless! Shop quilting templates.
The raw edge of a fabric is the edge that has been cut, ready for stitching to another piece or hemming.
Fabric remnants are offcuts or smaller pieces of material from end of rolls, that cannot be used for large projects but are ideal for projects such as patchwork, small detailed work and appliqué. Shop remnants boxes.
Ric Rac (also known as Rick Rack) is a flat, braided trim shaped in a zig zag design. Ric Rac can be used for gift wrap, greetings cards decoration and crafts. Fabric ric rac is often used as trimming along the hemlines of garments. Shop ric rac.
The ‘right side' of the fabric, also known as the ‘face’ of the fabric, is the side that will be seen on the outside of a garment or item when it is finished. The ‘wrong side’ is the side that isn’t printed and will be hidden from view.
Ripping means to unpick a seam or hemline. Using a seam ripper will make the process much easier and protect the fabric as you work. A seam ripper is a handheld tool, with a small blade to cut the threads neatly and a ballpoint end to guide you. Shop seam rippers in our other tools collection.
Rug canvas is a strong, grid-like canvas with wide holes created by two warps threads twisted together and locking into two twisted weft threads. Rug canvas is the perfect base for making your own rug, whether you are weaving or making a pom pom rug. See our ‘How To Make A Pom Pom’ blog post for steps to make your own pom pom rug. Shop rug canvas.
A running stitch is a simple hand-sewn line of small stitches that run through the fabric without overlapping. A running stitch is often used for basting or gathering fabric.
Sashiko is a historical needlework technique from Japan, using small decorative stitches to embroider fabric. Sashiko (translated as ‘little stabs’) usually features white or pale grey embroidery thread on indigo fabric. Shop Sashiko kits and embroidery accessories.
Scribble is a quilting term to describe a line of meandering, continuous stitching across the top of a quilt.
The seam allowance is the width of a seam, measured from the raw edge of the fabric to the stitching. The seam allowance will vary from project to project so always check the pattern or project instructions.
A handy tool for measuring the seam allowance on any project, as well as helping with pleats, buttons and tucks. Shop seam gauge tools.
A seam guide is a great tool for sewing consistent and straight lines on a sewing machine. The seam guide attaches to the sewing machine’s throat plate to guide your stitching. Shop seam guides in our sewing machine maintenance collection.
A seam ripper is a hand held tool, with a small blade to cut the threads neatly and ballpoint end to guide you. A seam ripper makes the task of ‘ripping’ or unpicking a seam effortless and speedy. Shop seam rippers.
The selvedge is the finished edge or sides of the fabric which does not fray. The selvedge is often a plain colour with the manufacturer’s name printed. It is created during the weaving process, when the horizontal weft threads loop from the end of one row to start the next row.
A serger (also known as an overlocker) is a specialist sewing machine that can trim the raw edges of fabric, as it sews an overlock stitch over the seam or hem. A serger sewing machine will have multiple needles and a small blade to produce professional looking, finished stitching.
Sergers / Overlocker Needles are specialist needles for overlock stitching on a serger or overlocker sewing machine. Find out how to choose the right needle for your project with our step–by–step guide. Shop needles.
A sewing pattern provides the templates for all the fabric pieces of a garment. The sewing pattern is traced and pinned onto the fabric, cut out and, following the pattern’s step–by–step instructions, the fabric pieces are stitched together to make the garment. A sewing pattern will be adaptable to a range of sizes and sometimes multiple styles. Browse Tilly & The Buttons award-winning sewing patterns!
Sewing Thread Plait
A sewing thread plait is a compact plait of multiple, loosely woven threads to provide different colour thread options for small, hand sewing work. It is light and handy, so ideal to carry when traveling as well as keeping at home for quick sewing tasks. Shop sewing thread plaits.
Shirring means to gather part of a garment using multiple lines of shirring elastic thread. Shirring is commonly seen around waistbands, sleeve cuffs and necklines to produce a pretty, decorative gather.
Shirring Elastic Thread
Shirring elastic thread is a specialist thread used to stitch ‘shirring’, a gathered area in a piece of fabric, such as a waistband or the hem of a blouson top. Shirring elastic thread is also ideal for smocking work. Shop shirring elastic thread.
Short darners are strong, hand sewing needles designed for darning and repair of fabrics. Short darners have a long eye to accommodate thicker yarns, such as wool as well as cotton. Short darners are also known as cotton darners. Shop short darner needles in our needles collection.
Slide buckles are an essential piece of bag and belt making hardware. A slide buckle enables the length of a bag strap or belt to be adjusted to suit the wearer. The central bar helps secure the strap or belt so once adjusted it doesn’t move easily. Slide buckles are available in a variety of metallic finishes to suit all projects. Shop slide buckles in our buckles & clips collection.
Smart edges is another term for using an overlock stitch, to cut and stitch over the raw edge to produce a professional finish.
Smocking is a panel of decorative, elasticated pleats across part of a garment, such as the front of a top or dress. Smocking uses parallel stitches to neatly gather small pleats in an ornamental pattern to be a feature on the garment. Shirring elastic thread is an ideal thread for smocking work.
A snag wizard is a fine, strong metal needle designed to neatly remove snagged threads from the front and back of a fabric, without damaging the material. Shop snag wizards.
A stay stitch is a line of stitches running just inside the seam allowance, to stabilise the fabric and prevent it from stretching. A stay stitch is sewn before the fabric is stitched into a garment. It is often used on bias-cut garments.
Stitch In The Ditch
Stitch in the ditch is the term given to stitching along the seam line from the ‘right’ side of the fabric. Stitch in the ditch can be a way to invisibly secure another layer, such as facing and bias binding.
Swivel clips are a universal tool for all kinds of crafts and sewing projects. Commonly used to attach bag straps to a bag or holdall, swivel clips are available in a variety of metallic finishes. The swivel clip has a self–closing clip attached to a rotating frame, where the end of a bag strap will loop through. The swivel clip enables a strap to be detached and re–attached quickly and easily. Shop swivel clips in our buckles & clips collection.
T pins are long, thick pins in a ‘T’ shape with a perpendicular bar at the head of the pin, for easy pinning and removable. T pins are useful for all kinds of fabric & craft work, as well as for pinning wigs and hairpieces. T pins are especially handy for quilting, to pin and secure multiple layers of materials as you work. Shop T pins.
Tacking means to hand sew large, loose stitches to hold fabric in place before stitching. Tacking thread is usually used for this task, as it can be removed easily.
A tailor’s awl is a tool to pierce neat, precise holes in fabrics. A tailor’s awl is designed with an easy grip, soft handle and a long pointed needle to pierce all kinds of fabrics from vinyl to leather. Shop Tailor's awls in other tools.
Tailor’s chalk (as known as dressmaking chalk) is used to temporarily mark lines on fabric, ready for cutting or alteration. Tailor’s chalk is shaped in a triangle making it easy to handle, whilst you use the pointed edge to mark the fabric. Once finished, the chalk can simply be wiped away. Shop Tailor’s chalk.
Tailor’s shears are the perfect choice for cutting fabrics with precision and care. Tailor’s shears have professional, sharp blades that cut all the way to the tip and can cut through heavy duty fabrics or multiple layers of fabrics. Shop Tailor’s shears in our scissors & cutters collection.
A thread winder is a handy tool for winding thread onto bobbins. The thread winder holds the bobbin in place, whilst the crank is spun by hand to quickly and easily wind the thread onto the bobbin. Shop thread winders.
A tracing wheel is a handy dressmaking tool to transfer sewing patterns onto fabrics. Use it with carbon paper to transfer the ink or with Swedish tracing paper to follow the outlines of a pattern. Tracing wheels are available with a smooth or serrated rolling wheel. Shop tracing wheels.
Topstitching is a line of stitches sewn on the ‘right’ side of the fabric. Topstitching can be used for decorative purposes, such as across the top of a quilt, or to add extra secure stitching, such as the inseam on a pair of jeans.
Twin needles are a sewing needle attachment for your sewing machine that will sew two parallel lines of stitches simultaneously. Twin needles are useful for hemming T–shirts. Not sure which needle to choose for your project? Check out our ‘Choose the right needle for your project’ guide. Shop sewing needles.
Universal Sewing Machine Needles
Universal sewing machine needles are suitable for woven fabrics, most knits and synthetic fabrics. Universal needles have a ballpoint end which allows the needle to easily pierce woven fabrics. Shop Universal sewing machine needles in our sewing machine needles collection.
Velcro Hoop & Loop Fastener
Velcro is a fabric fastener consisting of two strips that seal when pressed together. One strip of the velcro has small nylon hooks that loop into the soft pile on the opposite strip. Velcro is popular for children’s accessories and clothing, as well as bags and footwear. Shop Velcro.
Vlieseline is the go-to brand for interfacing and wadding products. Formerly known as Vilene, Vlieseline has over 60 years of experience in producing professional standard interfacing products. Shop Vlieseline.
Wadding (also known as batting or filler) is a soft layer of fibrous material, which can also provide insulating properties to different projects. Wadding is commonly used for the middle layer of quilts, for filling padded jackets and coats and as a filler for placemats, wall hangings and tapestries. Wadding is available in a wide range of materials and options to suit project requirements. Shop wadding.
Warp describes the threads that run vertically (parallel to the selvedge) through a woven fabric.
Washi tape is a decorative, colourful tape originally made from natural fibres such as bamboo or hemp. Originating from Japan, the word ‘washi’ is derived from ‘wa’ meaning Japanese and ‘shi’ meaning paper. Washi tape is perfect for all kinds of crafts and scrapbooking. Washi tape is ideal for greeting cards, gift wrap and party décor too. Shop washi tape.
Webbing is a strong, closely woven material used for straps, belts and many other purposes. Webbing is available in a huge range of widths, colours and patterns to match any project. Shop webbing.
Weft describes the horizontal threads in a woven fabric that run perpendicular to the selvedge. The weft threads are woven through the warp threads.
A whipstitch is a simple, decorative stitch that loops around the edges of a fabric. Whipstitch is commonly used in knitting, crochet, sewing and felt crafts.
The ‘wrong side’ of a fabric describes the back of the fabric or the side that will be hidden from view when a garment or project is finished.
A zip is a very common type of fastener used on garments, accessories and soft furnishings. Zips are comprised of two strips of material with interlocking teeth, that open and close when the handheld slide is pulled in either direction. The zip is neatly sewn into the garment or piece, so only the teeth are visible, Zips are available in a wide range of colours and lengths, to match and complement any project. Shop zips.
A zipper foot is a crucial tool when attaching a zip to fabric. The zipper foot will enable you to sew close to the zipper teeth, so the zip sits neatly close to the seam. Shop zipper foot.