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The Ultimate A to Z Companion to 1,001 Needlecraft Terms
By Marie Clayton, Lotte Oldfield
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2015 Marie Clayton
All rights reserved.
A seam used to join non-woven interfacings, in which the two edges are butted together over a narrow band of lightweight fabric underlay and a line of wide zigzag machine stitching down the join holds the two pieces together. A single line of straight stitching can be added at each side for extra security.
A synthetic fabric or yarn made from polymer, which is lightweight, soft and warm with a wool-like feel. It is resistant to moths, oils and chemicals, but is prone to static and pilling.
On a pattern, the final dimensions of the finished garment, which may vary from the given "to fit" measurement.
A long hook that looks like a cross between a crochet hook and a knitting needle, used for Afghan or Tunisian crochet.
See Tunisian crochet.
Also known as toile colbert, fancy oatmeal or java canvas. A fairly coarse, evenweave fabric with a regular grid of well-defined holes, used mainly for cross stitch. It comes with various size holes for different yarn thicknesses, and these are expressed as count. For example, 7-count aida has 7 holes per linear inch. Typical counts are 7, 10, 11, 12 and 14. Aida is made from linen, cotton, or various blends and is quite stiff.
A marker pen used in sewing and embroidery to mark lines or motifs on fabric. The lines will disappear within 2 — 14 days, depending on the fabric and conditions. Some brands allow the marks to be erased immediately with water or made permanent by pressing with an iron, so read the instructions carefully. See also water-erasable marker.
Also known as autograph, presentation or friendship quilts, album quilts are made to commemorate an event or as a remembrance gift for family or friends moving far away. Generally each square, or block, is worked by one person with a different design, often of relevance to the recipient, and sometimes squares are autographed and/or dated. These squares are then joined together into a quilt. Album quilts were popular in America in the latter half of the 19th century, particularly around Baltimore — hence Baltimore album quilts, which tend to be highly complex, colorful examples with superb workmanship.
Algerian Eye Stitch
An asterisk-like embroidery stitch with eight stitches of the same length radiating out from a central point. The center end of each stitch is worked into the same hole in the fabric. A variation of this stitch has an additional four stitches from point to point to form a grid over the asterisk. See also Star Stitch.
Algerian Filling Stitch
Used in canvas work, this stitch consists of blocks of three Satin Stitches worked vertically over four threads. The second row is worked two threads up, so forming a staggered pattern that is used to fill large background areas.
Natural yarn from the fleece of the alpaca or the fabric made from this yarn. Smaller than the Ilama, alpacas produce a superb, heavy fleece of fine, strong fiber in a variety of colors, from solid white to black with varying shades and mixes of brown and gray. The luxurious yarn makes wonderfully soft, warm garments and is particularly appreciated by hand-knitters. An annual shearing produces between 1 — 6 lb (0.8 — 2.8 kg) of very fine fiber.
Distinctive quilts made by the Amish, a strict religious group descended from Swiss and Dutch Anabaptists who first settled in North America in the 1720s. Amish quilts use geometric designs and are made in bright, solid colors, often set against a dark background. Traditional designs include: Bars, with strips of two or three plain colors alternating within an outer border; Chinese Coins, in which the vertical strips are made up of narrow, horizontal bands of color; Diamond in the Square, with a square set on point within an outer square; Nine-patch, with nine small squares making up each Nine-patch block; Shoofly, a variation on Nine-patch in which each corner square is made of two triangles.
To fix the end of a piece of yarn or thread, or attach a piece of fabric at one point, so that it will not pull away from the main piece. Some stitchers begin sewing with a few small running stitches to anchor the thread, while others prefer to knot the end so that it will not pull through the fabric.
Natural yarn from the fleece of the Angora rabbit or the fabric made from this yarn. Angora is very fine, light and soft and its hollow structure makes it ideal for thermal clothing; research has demonstrated that angora garments are three times warmer than wool ones — although angora is more expensive. In North America the yarn and fabric must be labeled Angora rabbit hair to avoid confusion with yarn from the Angora goat, which is called mohair. See also mohair.
A form of Satin Stitch in which the stitches are worked on alternate sides of a central line, so that when they are tied down in the middle, they form a raised seam. Also known as Indian Filling Stitch, Janina Stitch, Oriental Stitch or Romanian Stitch.
A decorative technique in which a shape or motif is cut from one fabric and applied to another. It is used in quilting, and also to decorate garments and household furnishings.
A quilt block made using applique techniques, originally as a way to preserve scraps of expensive or unusual fabric by applying them to a less expensive base fabric. Traditional applique designs for quilting blocks include: Sunbonnet Sue, in which the motif is a stylized child with a sunbonnet; Oak Leaf & Reel, with four oak leaves set diagonally around the reel so that the stems meet in the middle; Rose of Sharon, a flower design often made as a bridal quilt. See also broderie perse and reverse applique.
(1) knitting A traditional type of knitting, originally used to make sweaters by the inhabitants of Aran, an island off the coast of Ireland. The designs are worked in one solid color — traditionally off-white — but have a rich texture from the use of cables, diamonds, honeycomb stitch, seed (moss) stitch, trellis and ladders. The original Aran sweaters were waterproof, since they were made from untreated sheep's wool still containing natural oils. See also Guernsey. (2) yarn A natural 100% wool yarn, originally the off-white wool used for Aran sweaters, but now available in a wide range of plain or tweed-mix colors.
A knitting pattern of diamonds in a checkerboard pattern, overlaid with a diagonal trellis, traditionally used for socks or golfing sweaters. It is believed to have been derived from the tartan of the clan Campbell in Argyll in Scotland. It is usually created using the intarsia technique.
The measurement from the shoulder bone to the wrist bone, over a slightly bent elbow to allow room for movement in the finished garment.
Decorative stitching for a hemmed edge, worked from left to right with small, even stitches.
The armhole opening of a garment, into which the sleeve is sewn.
A triangular decorative stitch, used on tailored garments to reinforce the ends of pockets and pleats. See also Crow's Foot (tailoring).
An embroidery stitch in which two straight stitches are placed at an angle to each other to form a V-shape. Usually worked in a horizontal or a vertical line.
A counted-thread embroidery technique, in which the design motif is an unstitched area of fabric surrounded by stitching.
In knitting and crochet patterns, an asterisk symbol is inserted to mark the beginning of a set of instructions that will later be repeated. Sometimes the end of the sequence is also marked, with a double asterisk.
See album quilt.
A small sharp pointed tool used in sewing to punch holes for eyelets, or to make belt holes in leather.
(1) knitting/crochet/dressmaking/tailoring The part of the pattern to make the back of a garment. (2) sewing To add a separate piece of fabric to the rear of a piece of work, such as a quilt, to conceal all the construction seams.
back width measurement
The measurement across the width of the back at shoulder-blade height, from armhole seam to armhole seam.
The back of a quilt, which can either be a single piece of cloth or pieced. It can even be a separate piece of quilting placed back to back, making the piece a double-sided quilt.
(1) hand sewing A row of small, evenly spaced hand stitches, in which the needle enters the fabric at the end of the previous stitch so that the stitches run end to end, as in machine stitching. It is used to create outlines, or the effect of drawn lines, in embroidery work. It also forms the basis of a number of composite stitches, such as Pekinese Stitch, for example. (2) machine sewing The reverse stitch on the sewing machine, used to reinforce the stitching at the beginning and end of a seam. (3) knitting/crochet Backstitch is often used to join shoulder, side and sleeve seams because it makes a strong join, although it can be bulkier than other stitches. It is worked from the wrong side and it can therefore be difficult to match patterns accurately.
Backstitched Chain Stitch
A composite embroidery stitch, made by combining Chain Stitch and Backstitch to create a firm, textured line. First work the line in Chain Stitch, then work a Backstitch through each chain, either in the same or a contrasting thread.
Finishing a quilt by sewing the layers together around the edges before turning it right side out through a small opening. This technique eliminates the need for a separate binding around the edges.
Lines marked on paper pattern pieces indicating where the lengthwise and crosswise grain of the fabric should fall at key parts of the figure to ensure a good fit. If the pattern pieces are adjusted to fit individual measurements, the relative positions of the balance lines should be retained if the garment is to fit as it should.
See album quilt.
Several short sewn stitches worked parallel and very close together. They are often worked across both lines of stitching at the ends of a buttonhole to reinforce them.
(1) embroidery See Florentine Stitch. (2) quilting A pieced pattern in which squares of different fabrics are joined in rows, with the different designs or colors stepped up and down alternately.
A fault in woven or knitted fabric, creating an unintentional repetitive pattern of bars or stripes usually running parallel to the crosswise grain. It can be caused by visual differences in the yarn, inconsistent dye, by different structures in the yarn, or by any combination of these.
Basket Satin/Filling Stitch
Four horizontal and four vertical straight stitches, all of equal length, worked in adjacent blocks and then repeated alternately to give the effect of basket weave when complete.
A diagonal stitch that crosses over the intersection of a vertical and horizontal thread of a needlepoint canvas. Each succeeding and adjacent stitch is then placed in a diagonal row, rather than horizontally or vertically. At the end of each diagonal row, the stitching is reversed. Also known as Basketweave Tent Stitch.
A looped stitch with a twist, in which the needle comes up through the fabric, in again slightly to one side of this point, and then takes a small stitch downwards from here, with the working end of the thread forming a reversed "S" around the needle. Then a small tying stitch is brought over the bottom of the loop and the needle brought up ready for the next stitch.
A technique used to temporarily hold layers of fabric together for fitting or to stop them slipping as seams are stitched. It is traditionally done with large, single-thread stitches, but — particularly in quilting — can also be done with pins, safety pins, basting spray, or plastic ties from a basting gun.
A strong, plain thread used for basting. It is available in a limited range of colors, as it is not meant to be permanent. Ordinary sewing thread can also be used.
Traditional Indonesian fabric, in which designs are painted on fabric in hot wax and the fabric is then dyed. The parts covered in wax resist the dye and remain the original color; this process can be repeated several times using different colors to make richly complex and colorful designs.
A lightweight, fine, sheer fabric in a plain weave, made of cotton, linen, silk, or blended fibers. It has an excellent drape, gathers beautifully and is often mercerized to add shine. It is used for clothing, particularly blouses, baby clothes, and handkerchiefs.
The middle layer of a quilt, lying between the top and the backing. It is traditionally made of cotton fibers or wool, and in antique quilts could be an old blanket or worn-out quilt. It is now generally a processed felted material that can be purchased pre-cut or by the length from a roll, and is normally cotton, polyester or a blend of the two. Wool and silk batting is available by special order.
Bead Edging Stitch
This embroidery stitch resembles braid and is often used to create a border. It is a knotted stitch that is worked from left to right. Also known as Rosette Chain Stitch.
A straight stitch with a knot at the end. It is used mainly for outlines, but can be used as a filling stitch by working parallel rows, staggering the position of the knots. Also known as Coral Stitch, German Knot, Knotted Stitch, or Snail Trail.
(1) jewelery Making items of jewelery by threading beads onto thread or fine wire. (2) crochet/knitting Incorporating beads into a piece of work by bringing one at a time into position while making a stitch. For knitting and crochet all the beads required need to be threaded onto the yarn before work is begun, as more beads can only be added later by cutting the yarn, or unraveling it and threading them on from the other end. (3) sewing Adding beads to the surface of fabric by stitching them in place. In sewing, beads can be threaded onto the needle as they are needed. (4) weaving Creating a beaded fabric on a loom. The beads are threaded on the warp threads and held in place by the weft threads.
A pile mat, sometimes with a raised edge, to prevent loose beads rolling around while working.
A long, fine needle with a large, easy-to-thread, flexible eye that collapses flat to go through a small bead hole.
A strong, nylon thread specially designed for jewelery, sewn and woven beading. It is non-stretch and easy to knot between beads.
A small loop at the waistline of a dress or pants to hold a belt in position. It can be made of fabric to match the garment, or hand-worked as a chain of thread, or in Blanket Stitch worked over several strands of thread.
See Cross Stitch.
This stitch is similar to Blanket Stitch, but instead of just carrying the thread around the point of the needle it is wound around to form a tight knot. When worked in two rows of stitches going in opposite directions with the knots together, a fishbone pattern is created.
Excerpted from The Ultimate A to Z Companion to 1,001 Needlecraft Terms by Marie Clayton, Lotte Oldfield. Copyright © 2015 Marie Clayton. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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