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Sewing Vocabulary - Darn to Draping


Darn/ing The process of mending a hole with stitches that go back and forth to fill the gap. Some sewing machines have specialized attachments and/or stitches for darning. That is one feature I love about my machine. I use my free-motion quilting foot and the darning stitch. I have saved many pairs of pants and a few t-shirts along the way.

Dart A tapered fold in the fabric that is stitched in place. They are used to make flat pieces of fabric into rounded shapes. Typical places for darts include the waistline, the bust and the back. Darts do not always have to be sewn straight from point A to B. One of my sewing instructors years ago suggested sewing a slight curve along the seam which gives the dart a more subtle curve.

Dart equivalents These are alternative methods for controlling shape. If you do not like the look of darts or want a less tailored look, you can substitute a gather for a dart. Before I understood bodice fitting, I did not understand how to point the dart correctly so I frequently just put in a short gathered section on the side. Princess seams are another method of shaping that replaces the use of darts.

Design ease Garment patterns all have a certain amount of ease to them that allows room for body movement (this is called wearing ease). Design ease, on the other hand, is dictated by the style of the garment and the intention of the designer. Compare skinny-leg jeans to wide-leg pants. Both are wearable, but one is much looser fitting than the other.

Directional fabric This refers to fabric that has a one-way printed or woven design (or nap) that requires that all pattern pieces be laid in the same direction. Directional fabric frequently requires more fabric because you will not be able to rotate the patterns for the best fit. If you are also trying to match the print, you will need to account for that as well.

Directional stitching This indicates that the stitching must be done in a specific direction. One example of this is stay-stitching. Often, pattern instructions will direct you to stay-stitch the neckline of a garment from the shoulder seam to the middle of the neckline. This helps to preserve the shape of the neckline while the garment is being constructed. This is especially important when you are using delicate or more loosely woven fabrics such as silk or chiffon.

Drafting This refers to creating patterns on paper (or the computer) using measurements. This is pattern making in 2-D (as opposed to Draping, see below)

Drape This term describes how fabric hangs from a body or an object. Softer fabrics drape more gently and have a more fluid motion when they move. Stiffer fabrics tend to fall into sharper folds that look more crisp and rigid.

Drapes This is another word for formal curtains made from heavy fabric suspended from a rod.

Draping This pattern method is done on a form or model using muslin. The fabric is pinned to the form and manipulated until the desired look is reached.

Back to Glossary Index


Thank you for reading and happy sewing!
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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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