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Sewing Vocabulary - Ham to Horsehair Braid


Ham – This is stuffed form, obviously ham-shaped, that is used when pressing curved areas such as darts or armholes. It sounds like a kooky thing, but it really does make a different in the shaping of seams.

Hand – This is a descriptive term for the way fabric feels and moves when touched or rubbed in the hand. For example, you could refer to fabric having a “soft” or “stiff” hand.

Hand-picked zipper – This refers to the insertion of a zipper by hand rather than machine. Some people swear by it, saying that it is easier than sewing in a zipper by machine. On delicate fabrics, hand stitches can show less and you have more control over the placement of the zipper Here, you can read an illustrated explanation of the technique. I love the embellishing with beads.

Haute couture – This is a fashion industry term that in French means “high sewing” and refers to the act of making custom garments with extreme attention to detail and assembly methods using luxurious and expensive fabrics. Interestingly enough, I learned from watching Project Runway, that in France, the term is protected and can only be used by designers who meet very specific criteria.

Hem – This is when fabric at the lower edge of a garment is turned up to create a finished edge of the proper length. Garment parts that are hemmed include the bottoms of pants and skirts as well as sleeves. Tablecloths and curtains also have hems.

Hem (or hemming) tape – This is a narrow piece of tape or lace that is used to create smooth and durable hems in garments. It is sewn to the edge of the fabric and then turned to the wrong side and sewn down by hand or machine. There are fusible versions as well.

Hip point – This is a notation on patterns where the widest part of the hip hits on the garment.

Hong Kong Finish – The Hong Kong Finish is a variation of a bound finish that is frequently used in couture construction. It differs from the basic bound finish in that the seam is pressed open and each side of the seam allowance is encased separately; usually with bias cut silk strips. This reduces bulk and results in a flat, smooth seam that shows less on the finished side.

Hook and eye tape – This is a closure method that uses two pieces of tape, one that has small evenly spaced hooks on one side and similarly spaced loops on the other. It is kind of like a manual zipper. Hook and eye tape is frequently used on bodices of women’s formalwear and lingerie.

Hook and loop tape – This is a type of fastening agent that is made up of two separate pieces (one section has hooks and the other has loops) that interlock and attach when pressed together. It has many practical applications and in sewing is used as a closure on garments, especially those for children, and on craft projects for multiple purposes. The most well-known brand is Velcro. The entertaining story behind the invention of Velcro (cobbled together from “velour” and “crochet”) is that of a Swiss inventor enjoying a walk through the countryside with his dog. Upon returning home, the dog’s coat was full of cockleburs. When he examined a cocklebur under a microscope, he discovered the hooked structure of the burr that caused it to stick to the dog’s fur and was then inspired to create Velcro.

Horsehair braid – This is a loosely woven braid that is used for stiffening hems and waistlines and in the production of some hats. It is available in different weights, widths and colors. Though it now made of nylon or polyester, it used to be made of actual horse hair, hence the name. For information on how to apply horsehair braid, click here.

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Sewing Accessories (of a different kind!):
Sterling Silver Sewing Notions Charm Earrings
I spotted these on Amazon and couldn't resist showcasing them here!
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Content copyright © 2013 by Tamara Bostwick. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Tamara Bostwick. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Tamara Bostwick for details.

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