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Sewing Vocabulary - Casing to Cutting Line


Casing – A channel made in a piece of fabric for inserting elastic or a drawstring. A casing can be made by turning the edge of the fabric over and sewing it down at a specific distance from the edge or by applying another piece of fabric such as bias tape to the desired location. Casings are frequently used at garment waistbands and cuffs.

Chalk – This is used to mark details of the pattern design such as pleats, darts, buttonholes, and/or other cutting or construction elements. Be sure to always test your marking tool on a scrap piece to be sure that it cleans up after marking.

Clean finish – Turn the raw edge under to the wrong side 1/4" and stitch 1/8” from the folded edge. You can sew a line 1/4" from the fabric edge if it makes it easier to press a consistent width. After so many years sewing and quilting, I can press 1/4" and 5/8” widths pretty consistently.

Clip – This refers to the act of making small cuts in the seam allowance of curved sections perpendicular to the seam line. Depending on whether the seam is on the inside or the outside of the curve (an inside curve is shaped like a U, an outside curve is shaped like an upside-down U), this reduces drag or bulk at the seam when the item is turned right side out and allows the seam to lay flat. Be sure to not cut across the seam!

Collar – This is the part of the garment attached to the neckline that usually stands up or rolls over. While the most common type of collar is the pointed type found on men’s dress shirts, there are numerous variations.

Collar stand – A collar stand is the portion of a two-piece collar that attaches the collar to the neckline. The collar stand rests against the neck.

Colorfast – A colorfast item is supposed to keep its color after washing, without running or fading. Most fabrics available today are marked colorfast, but I find that they do run on occasion, especially dark or intense colors. So when I wash new fabric for the first time, I like to wash colors together or if I don’t have a big enough batch of one color, I at least separate out the dark and light colors. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Cording – Plain cording is rope that is covered with bias strips of fabric (for flexibility) to make decorative piping. It comes in various sizes. Decorative cording comes in various colors and fibers for embellishing items.

Count – This refers to the number of warp and weft intersections per inch in fabric; the higher the number, the tighter the weave of the fabric. You see this most often in reference to sheets.

Covered button – This is a button that has been covered with fabric. You can purchase kits that come with button blanks and tools for applying the fabric. There are also instructions available on the internet for making your own with shank buttons.

Cross grain/cross-wise grain – On woven fabric, the grain runs the length of the piece, between the selvages. When you cut across the width of the fabric, you are cutting across the grain. Most patterns call for the pieces to be cut with the grain rather than across it because this is the direction with the least amount of stretch. For example, a waistband would typically be cut on the lengthwise grain. You can create interesting effects when you change the direction of your fabric, especially when using stripes. Just be aware of how the fabric drapes and be sure to interface it if necessary. This article from Threads Magazine further explores the design possibilities of fabric grain. Please press the back key when you wish to return to the Sewing site.

Cutting line – This is the dark, solid line on a pattern that indicates where to cut your fabric.

Back to Glossary Index


Thank you for reading and happy sewing!
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Content copyright © 2014 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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