Sewing Terms

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biasThe bias of a fabric is 45 degrees to the grain line. Fabric cut on the bias has a fluid drape and stretch.
fat quarterA fat quarter is particular way of cutting a 1/4 yard of fabric. A 1/4-yard cut from the bolt yields a piece that is 9 inches wide by the width of the fabric, however a fat quarter is cut to 18 inches wide by half the width of the fabric. A fat quarter of a 44-inch fabric (like most quilting cottons) measures 18 by 22 inches. A fat quarter of a 54-inch fabric (such as Liberty of London's Tana Lawn) measures 18 by 27 inches.
finger press/ingTo use your fingers to create a crease or to open a seam that would be difficult to press with an iron.
grain line Woven fabrics have two grain lines, one that runs parallel to the selvage (along the warp) and one with slightly more stretch that runs perpendicular to the selvage (along the weft). Knit fabrics have one grain line that runs parallel to the selvage.
pivotWhile sewing on a machine, leave the needle in the down position, lift the presser foot and rotate the fabric. Generally, you pivot to make a continuous seam around corners.
presser foot The part of the sewing machine that holds the fabric in place as it is being stitched. Specialty feet, such as Walking, Buttonhole or Zipper, are available to aid with a variety of techniques.
seam allowanceThe area between the edge of the fabric and the line of stitching. The most common seam allowances are 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch and 5/8 inch. Always be sure to follow the seam allowances given in a pattern.
selvage / selvedgeThe length-wise edges of a fabric that have a clean finish from the manufacturer. This edge does not fray. The selvage edge should not be used when working with a fabric, unless otherwise noted in a pattern.
walking foot An attachment for the presser foot of your sewing machine that helps with sewing through thick fabrics, multiple layers (such as in quilting), or slippery fabrics.
warpThe warp threads of a fabric run parallel to the selvage.
weftThe weft threads of a fabric run perpendicular to the selvage, also know as the Cross Grain.