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Sewing Vocabulary - Snips to Sweep

Snips - Small scissors that are used to trim threads.

Spool – The device that holds thread. Spools come in many shapes and materials. Antique wooden spools are considered to be a collector’s item.

Stabilizers – Used to stabilize fabrics for specific treatments such as machine embroidery or other specialty stitches such as buttonholes. Stabilizers can also be used on thin or delicate fabrics to keep them from distorting while being sewn. Stabilizers are different from interfacing because they are frequently removed after the sewing process is complete. There are different types and weights of stabilizers available depending on the use. Tear-away stabilizers can be torn (or cut) away once the process is complete. Soluble stabilizers are dissolved with water to remove them.

Stand (collar) – The collar stand is the flat part of the collar that rests against the neck between the collar itself and the neckline of the garment.

Stash – An accumulation of fabric. It is called a “stash” because it is frequently “stashed” in different places in the house so the enormity of the collection of un-sewn fabric is not readily apparent to someone who might wonder why you need to purchase more fabric. If you need help justifying additional purchases, read this list of 71 Reasons to Buy Fabric. Related term: Stash-diving – The act of going shopping in your stash instead of your local fabric store.

Stay-stitching – A line of stitching, often sewn in a specific direction as indicated on the pattern, that stabilizes fabric to keep it from stretching or distorting while being sewn. Stay stitching is often used on necklines or edges cut on the bias. On a neckline, the stay stitching is sewn from each shoulder toward the center of the neck. If you simply sew from one shoulder to the other, the neckline will stretch in the direction of the sewing.

Stitch in the ditch – Top stitching (on the right side) in the channel of a seam (“ditch”) that has been pressed open. Done carefully, the seam should be barely visible from the right side. Stitching in the ditch is a common quilting technique, one of my favorite.

Stitch length – This refers to the length of the sewing stitch. Most standard sewing is done with a stitch length of 10-12 stitches per inch. Basting and gathering is done with a longer stitch which is easier to remove.

Straight of Grain – This is the grain of the fabric that runs lengthwise between the selvage edges. Pattern pieces typically indicate how they should be laid on the fabric with respect to the straight of the grain for cutting. The arrows on the pattern pieces should run parallel to the side edges of the fabric.

Straight stitch – The standard sewing stitch used for construction. This is the most basic of stitches made by sewing machines.

Sweep – Sweep refers to the circumference of a hem, indicating the size of the finished edge.

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