Here is a quick glossary of some common terms you’ll come across in your sewing journey. I’ve tried to explain them in a way that makes sense.


Grain of fabric: The vertical and horizontal threads in your fabric. Many patterns will ask you to lay them out ‘along the grain’ or ‘grain line’.

Seam allowance: This is the extra inches around the edges where the seam or hem would go. Example: you need a piece of fabric 3” long so you add an inch to it when you cut. That extra inch will become ½” seam on each side.

Hem allowance: The extra fabric added in to allow for your hem.

Salvage edge: This is the white strip along the edges of the fabric. It normally has the name of the manufacturer of the fabric printed on it.

Box stitch: Remember when I said to sew the straps on the purse in Project One by making a box then sewing an X through it? That’s your box stitch.

Back Stitch: This is where you stitch backwards to secure the thread in place. You’ll sew, say an inch, then sew backwards locking the thread in place. Do this at the beginning and end of your stitches.

Right side: The side of your fabric you’ll see when your project is finished. If your fabric has a print it’ll be the side you see the print on.

Wrong side: The back of your fabric or the side you won’t see when your project is finished. I.E. the inside of your skirt or shirt is the wrong side.

Pattern: Normally this is referring to a paper pattern you’d use to make your project. There would be several pieces for the different panels. In the case of this book it’d be anything used as a guide for cutting out your fabric. For example: and old shirt cut up into panels or a skirt folded over and traced.

Cut on fold: This is where you fold your fabric in half evenly then align your pattern along the fold before cutting. Once cut that panel is doubled the size of what you cut.

Cut two: This is where you fold your fabric in half but you DON’T cut on the fold. This gives you two pieces of fabric the same size and shape. This is great for cutting out things like sleeves where you would need the uniformity.

Panel: A single piece of your project cut out. Example: ‘the back panel’ this could mean the back peice of your shirt.

Raw edge: The unfinished edge of the fabric. In other words all those loose threads and jagged cutting lines before you seam or hem.


Quick Notes:

Project three and ten are perhaps the easiest to modify. Simply put you can use any item and the same method or even combine the two methods to create your desire. If you are cutting your pattern from something else like a skirt drop it into a ziplock bag and mark it for quick reference later on.

I have full confidence that after trying some of my madhatter ideas out you’ll quickly begin experimenting on your own and feel more comfortable tackling the more complex sewing projects in other more professional books. After using patterns cut out from old shorts, paper patterns soon are demystified. After following my convoluted directions other instructions are concise and clear.

And always please remember it’s okay to get it wrong, to experiment, and think outside the sewing box!



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