Advice for beginners! Learn the meaning of some of the wild terms used in sewing by clicking on the words below.

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  • Assembly notch
  • Notching
  • Basting or tacking
  • Biais
  • Raw edge
  • Making the darts
  • Creating pleats LAParisienne Ete
  • Trimming the corners
  • Straight grain
  • Right sides together
  • Interfacing
  • Width
  • Fabric border
  • Mark the darts
  • Hem
  • Piping
  • Backstitch
  • Zigzag stitch
  • Taking measurements
  • Preparing the fabric
  • Lining the attachment
  • Iron open seams
  • Topstitch
  • Fusible interfacing
  • Seam allowance
  • Invisible zipper

Assembly notch

Assembly notches are REALLY important! These are reference points you will need when assembling the garment or accessory you are making. You must remember to cut the notches every 5mm when you cut the fabric pieces.


Notching part of a garment (the armholes for example), means making tiny indentations using scissors along the edge of the fabric so that you can find your place more easily. They also help the garment hang perfectly!
Careful: the indentations should stop before the stitching (if there is stitching).


Basting or tacking

This is a way of hand-preparing a garment before using the machine (to make a hem, assemble the pieces of fabric etc). The thread you use for tacking should contrast with the fabric so that it’s visible and the stitches should be quite far apart.


A biais is a length of fabric cut from the bias of the fabric (45° compared to the straight edge).  Folded in 2 or 4 this length of fabric is positioned between a neckline or sleeve etc. to obtain a nice finish. Another more DIY use is to customize using a patterned bias (liberty print for example) to make shoelaces 😉



Raw edge

The raw edge is a term referring to the edge of fabric after it has been cut. It is unfinished (no hem or oversewing) and is at risk for fraying. Certain fabrics have an anti-fray border and do not require finishing, such as neoprene.

Making the darts

Darts allow you to structure and adjust a garment by giving it more sturdiness and structure. To make the darts, match two dart notches and fold in the middle until you reach the chalk mark you made when marking the darts. Once it is folded, trace it on the fabric using a ruler and chalk to draw a line from the notch to the middle point. Pin and sew using the machine along this line (don’t forget to backstitch!) Repeat for the other dart. Once the darts have been sewn, iron them flattening the seam towards the bottom of the garment.


Trimming the corners

Cut any excess fabric from the corners to avoid extra thickness.

degarnir les angles

Creating pleats LAParisienne Été



Straight grain

The straight grain is always parallel with the fabric border. All fabric has a direction that should be respected so that a garment will hang better. Perhaps you have noticed that the bottom of a basic H&M type t-shirt will “turn”: the fabric was not cut in the right direction; it was cut along the bias.

Position the fabric right sides  together

This is one of the sewing terms that you will hear most often.  When you have two pieces of fabric to assemble (piece A and piece B) and we indicate that you should place the fabric right sides together, this means that you should place the right side of the fabric of piece A against the right side of the fabric of piece B. Even if this seems obvious when you’re using patterned fabric, don’t hesitate to make a chalk mark on the inside of your fabric when your fabric is a solid color.


This is facing generally used to make a neckline or sleeves more solid so that the garment holds together better.



Width of a fabric from one selvedge to the other.

Fabric border 

This is the edge of a piece of fabrics. The border is different from the rest of the fabric: print, little holes, different weave etc. the edge does not fray.


Mark the dark

There is no easy way to transfer the point of a dart from your pattern to the fabric! Keep calm: we have a tip. To mark the point of your dart, plant a pin in the point of the dart on the pattern and turn the fabric to make a chalk mark on the other side where the pin exits. Next, remove the pattern and pin along the mark that you made by turn the fabric over to mark the inside with chalk.



The hem is a fold in the fabric intended to shorten a garment or to give it a cleaner finish.




A thin band of fabric (like a kind of cord), placed between two stitches to make nice finishes (along the edges of a pillow for example or to accentuate the lines of a garment). Sew the piping using a machine with a special foot (a zipper foot), which will allow you to sew as close as possible to the cord.
#Tip for adding piping all the way around: to make the ends match up with no extra thickness, unstitch 3cm of the second end of the cord and cut, then fold this part of piping onto the 1st part so that the two ends touch but are not layered. Pin everything and sew to finish.


The backstitch is similar to a “knot” that you make when hand stitching but using a machine. This lets you strengthen the stitches and stop the thread from breaking. The backstitch should be made at the beginning and end of each run using the button on your machine: make several stitches using the machine and then go over these stitches using the back button, once this is done begin sewing forward again. When you reach the end of your stitch, make several backstitches again by pressing the back button. This will quickly become second nature!

Zigzag stitch

The zig-zag stitch is the 2nd most used stitch on a machine after the straight stitch. It is used mainly to prevent fabric from fraying when making a hem etc. It appears on your machine but you can adjust the length and width depending your sewing machine. Read the instruction booklet and test on scraps of fabric to see the result!

point zigzag

Taking measurements

Take a measuring tape and refer to the table below make sure to take heed of the following tips:

Bust measurement: at the largest circumference
Waist measurement: at the narrowest point
Thigh measurement: at the widest part of the pelvis

Don’t pull the measuring tape too tightly and don’t suck your stomach in, it’s not a competition 😉


Prepare the fabric

It is useful to watch any fabric susceptible to shrinking at 30° C in the machine (cotton, linen…) to avoid any surprises the first time you wash your garment. At Louis Antoinette, we include “pre-washing” suggestions for each instruction booklet. Don’t forget to iron your fabric before you pit in on the table to cut it, unless your instructions tell you to.

Lining attachment

Check out the article we’ve devoted entirely to this technique.

Sew over the open seam

Sewing the seam open on the inside of a garment allows you to “flatten” the seam allowances and seams that you have just made so that they will be invisible when you turn the garment right-side out.


Topstitching is when you make an invisible stitch along the edge of a garment.



Fusible Interfacing

It »s a fabric that sticks when heated, used to solidify fabrics. To use, position the piece to attach onto a piece of paper on your ironing board (one of the pattern pieces for example or on wax paper from the kitchen). Cut enough fusible interfacing to cover all of the pieces and place it face down, rough side against the inside of the fabric. Iron (without steam) over to stick. Next cut the pieces with interfacing and re-notch to make sure that all notches are visible.

Seam allowance

The seam allowance (or inlay) is the area between the edge of the fabric and the stitch. We give the seam allowance for each stitch in our guides (1cm in general).  To sew using this seam allowance you can use the marks on your sewing machine. IMPORTANT: At Louis Antoinette the seam value is indicated in all of our patterns (1cm). To sew using this margin you can use the indications on your machine; thus, when you cut your pattern from the fabric you can cut to edge of the paper if it isn’t

Invisible zipper


1/ Open the zipper (the pull tab should be at the bottom), position the pull-tab .3/16 » from the top of the garment (unless otherwise indicated), right side to right side on the left side of the fabric.

2/ sew perpendicularly until you reach the notch indicating the zipper on the pattern.

3/ Sew using a single arm presser foot as close to the zipper as possible, and don’t forget to back stitch at the beginning and end of each run! Stop when you reach the notch indicated on the pattern.

4/ Once the left is sewn, close the zipper to help with positioning on the right, pin the top and re-open the zipper before sewing using the same instructions. Make sure to change the side of the foot on your machine!

5/ Turn the garment right side out and close the zipper.

6/ You may now iron pressing the two sides of the zipper down so they will be completely invisible.

Au sujet de “Sewing Vocabulary

  • Alison

    dress plume step 6. How do you turn the shoulder? Impossible! I AM tearing my hair out. The drawing is too difficult to follow. Which is right side for example? It would be more helpful if the whole of the right side etc were a different pattern. Is there a YouTube to follow? HELP.

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