Can You Name All of These Sewing Terms?


By: Lauren Lubas

6 Min Quiz

Image: Anouk de Maar / Cultura / Getty Images

About This Quiz

For years, most people thought of sewing as a hobby that older women were into. However, with the release of "Project Runway," people started to realize that sewing is actually really cool. You can create basically anything that you can imagine, as long as you know how to create the pattern, and you can create things that others have imagined by using their patterns. Not only that, you can save a lot of money if you know how to sew – you don't have to worry about buying new clothes every year, because you can mend them yourself with your sewing machine or a needle and thread. These days sewing is making a comeback, and if you are on the bandwagon with the greatest stitchers of our time, you should know some of the most important terms that are involved in sewing. 

Whether you consider yourself a master of stitching or you are new to this game, this quiz is right up your alley. Let's see if you have what it takes to match (or beat) some of the greatest tailors of our time. If you can name all of these sewing terms, you're in the lead. Take this quiz to test your sewing skills.

When you mess up a stitch or you have to remove a seam, what would you use?

Seam rippers have been around for ages, because their design allows you to make clean cuts to thread without damaging the surrounding material. This little tool can be found in nearly any sewing kit and is a must-have for tailors around the world.


What do you use to protect your fingers while sewing?

Thimbles are most often used for hand sewing or hand embroidering. These little finger protectors not only keep your fingers safe, but they also help you push needles through tough fabrics.


What items would you use to ensure that your fabric stays in place until you sew it?

Pins haven't changed much in design over the decades. They are used to keep two pieces of material together while you sew, to ensure that you are sewing your project together as intended.


Which of these is NOT a notion?

Notions are the different accessories that you would use to complete a project, in addition to the fabric. The pillow, in this situation, is the finished product, while the zipper, thread and buttons are all items you would use to create that pillow.


Which cutting tool looks very much like a pizza cutter?

A rotary cutter is a great tool that gives you a more precise and even cut, because it doesn't require you to start and stop your cut as you are going, like regular fabric scissors do. This tool is best used on a flat surface with a plastic ruler.


What is another name for fabric scissors?

There is a running joke on the internet among crafters and sewers about family members using fabric shears to cut paper and other things, but the truth is, it isn't a joke. Fabric shears can be expensive! When you use fabric shears on other materials, they become dull and useless for fabrics.


While you are marking a place you want to cut on a piece of fabric, what is the best tool to use?

Tailor's chalk is water soluble, so it is perfect for marking areas on fabric. This chalk gives you a clear line where you can make your cuts or add patches to clothing. It will wash out in a single wash or with a splash of water.


What would you use a seam gauge for?

A seam gauge is used as a ruler for measuring seams or while you're hemming pants. This tool may feature a blunt point that's useful for pushing out corners when you turn fabric right side out.


Which of these is NOT considered a fabric?

Chipboard is exactly what its name suggests – it's a board. Denim, satin and cotton are all fabrics that are used for many basic sewing projects. Denim can be difficult to work with, because it is the most tightly woven fabric of the list. However, satin has a tendency to snag, and it's slippery.


What stitch would you make to create a buttonhole?

The buttonhole stitch is very much like embroidery. To create a buttonhole, choose the proper settings on your sewing machine and stitch a reinforced outline for the buttonhole; then carefully cut a slit inside the buttonhole stitching, using a seam ripper, shears or an actual buttonhole cutter.


What is interfacing used for?

Interfacing is not visible on a garment when it is finished. It is a material that is used to stabilize and support fabric, in order to help garments keep their shape. Fusible interfacing actually melds with the fabric when heat is applied.


Where would you find the spool pin on your machine?

On the top of a sewing machine, you will find the spool pin. It is the part of the machine that holds the spool of thread in place to ensure that it is evenly threaded into the machine.


Which type of fabric is made from plants?

Cotton is a natural, sustainable fabric that is made strictly from cotton plants. These plants have fibers that surround seeds, and before the invention of the cotton gin, cotton was a very expensive product.


What stitch looks like pinking shear cuts?

Zigzag stitches are most often used on fabric edges that have a tendency to fray. Of course, zigzag stitches can also be used for ornamental work, appliques and visible edging on sleeves and such.


What is needlework?

Needlework is normally done by hand. Embroidery is one well-known type of needlework, used to make fancy designs on clothing, pillows or art for framing. Appliques are sometimes applied using hand needlework as well.


What is topstitching normally used for?

Topstitching is usually found parallel to the seam, and it is generally used to create a nice finished look to a garment. Topstitching can also be used to give a garment a little more shape.


Can you name the hand stitch that looks like dashes?

With a running stitch, you're constantly moving forward with your stitching. The over and under stitch creates a line of small dashes. The running baste stitch will give you longer dashes and longer breaks between thread.


Can you name the technique that helps make fabric look fuller?

Gathering fabric adds fullness or ruffles to a garment. One easy way to gather fabric is to loosely baste stitch along the edge to be gathered, then pull those threads to evenly bunch up – or gather – the fabric.


If you don't have a seam ripper, what can you use to cut seams apart cleanly?

A rotary cutter for seams seems like a really bad idea. You could damage the fabric or accidentally hurt yourself. One trick that tailors try if they don't have a seam ripper is using a razor blade. However, it is important to go slowly and avoid damaging the material.


Why would you pleat something?

Pleating is the act of folding fabric over on itself in specific measured amounts, then sewing and ironing those folds in place for a finished look. Pleated pants and skirts tend to go in and out of style.


What is the raw edge of a piece of fabric?

When you read a pattern that mentions a raw edge, make sure you look for the edge of the fabric that has been cut from the original bolt, and also be sure that the edge of the fabric hasn't been sewn yet.


What is a nap – in sewing?

A fabric's nap is a texture that has direction. This is important because if you are using different pieces of the same fabric, you want to make sure they are all running the same direction. Otherwise, one leg of your new velvet pants may appear to be a different color than the other!


Do you know what a fat quarter is?

A fat quarter is equivalent to a standard quarter yard of fabric in square inches, but the dimensions are different. While a standard quarter yard is 9 inches by the width of the fabric on the bolt, a fat quarter is 18 inches by half the width of the fabric on the bolt. Sometimes that dimension is just what's needed to complete a project.


In sewing, which side is the wrong side?

If you're reading a pattern, you may see the terms "right side" and "wrong side." These are meant to help you figure out how fabric pieces should be cut, pinned and sewn together. Obviously, the prettiest or patterned side of the fabric should show when you strut your stuff in a new garment.


Where would you find a match point?

The match points on a pattern show you where two pieces of fabric should meet when they're pinned, then sewn together. Some patterns have numbers here and others have letters or symbols, depending on the type and age of the pattern.


On a sewing machine, what is the presser foot?

On most sewing machines, it's possible to remove and change the presser foot, based on the type of stitch you wish to make – perhaps zigzag or buttonhole stitches, for example. Each presser foot has a different use. The presser foot holds the fabric in place in order to avoid slippage and messed up stitches.


What is another word for a serger?

A serger is a specialty machine that helps you make clean edges on fabrics. You can spot a serger because it generally has multiple spools on the top, unlike a regular sewing machine that just has one.


What is the bobbin used for?

A bobbin is found in the bobbin compartment, below the presser foot of the sewing machine. The bobbin thread matches the spooled thread for most sewing projects, and it joins with the spooled thread to make stitches.


Which stitch will give you a line of Xs?

A catch stitch is a hand sewing stitch that looks like a row of uneven Xs next to each other. This stitch is generally used to keep layers of fabric close together, especially linings.


What would you use a staystitch for?

A staystitch is generally used near the curved edges of a garment, especially the neckline, to prevent stretching. This helps keep your finished creation looking new and fitting properly.


What hand stitch gives you a straight line with no gaps?

The back stitch is most often used in embroidery, but it can also be used in hand sewing. This stitch is mostly used to ensure that two pieces of fabric are sewn together tightly, without the risk of slipping.


Where would you find the termination point?

The termination point is found on garments where two seams meet. It is called the termination point because the seams end where they meet. When the seams end, they are terminated.


Do you know what a seam allowance is?

The seam allowance is the extra fabric on the underside of a seam, because of course the seam stitches can't run right along the edge of the fabric. This seam allowance is usually finished on the edges so that it won't unravel.


When would you use a measuring tape?

Measuring tape in a sewing kit is very flexible (unlike a ruler). It is used to measure around your waistline, arms, legs, neck, etc., before you cut and sew your fabric, so that the finished garment will fit perfectly.


What would you use a tuck for?

A tuck is a folded over piece of fabric, or a small pleat, that is sewn in place. While the main use for this is to give something a more appealing look, it can also be used to help shape clothes or any sewing project.


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