A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing – The Language

If you’ve been following my guide so far, you should have your kit sorted and you’ve chosen a pattern. Now you’ve opened your pattern and you’re worried you’ve bought it in a different language… what does it all mean?

So the next part of my guide is to help get you speaking the sewing lingo and ready to apply for the next season of the Great British Sewing Bee!

The following things are what you would normally find on your pattern pieces and what you need to do with them.


A Beginner's Guide to Sewing The Language Notches

You’ll find notches on the edges of most pattern pieces and they are often triangular shaped. These are used to help match up pattern pieces accurately. For example match a notch on the side of your front bodice to the side of the your back bodice and all your side seams should match up! Ta da!

On the fold

A Beginner's Guide to Sewing The Language on the fold

When your pattern asks you to cut on the fold, it means place this edge on the folded edge of your fabric. When you cut it this will be one piece that you can open up. Often used for front pattern pieces as they wont have a seam running down the front.

Cut 2

This means once you are all cut out, you should have two of these pieces. If you’ve folded your fabric you should have two but, unlike when cutting on the fold, these will be separate pieces.

Seam allowance

This how much allowance has been added to the pattern to allow you to sew without compromising the size. Most patterns give you 1.5cm or 5/8inch but do check.

Grainline (arrow)

A Beginner's Guide to Sewing The Language grainline

This showing you where to place your pattern piece on the fabric. This line should run along the grain of the woven fabric you have. This is important as it can change how the final garment fits or hangs.


A Beginner's Guide to Sewing The Language darts

These are used to give your final piece shape. Your pattern, when on paper is flat, your body is not. When these darts are sewn into your fabric you can see how it creates a shape that fits with the human body. The fabric in this area is usually pinched together to create the shape. Usually found around the waist or bust the help remove the extra fabric. Clever little things.

So that’s it from me this week. Hopefully this helps you understand your pattern a little better.

Is there any sewing language I’ve missed? What would you like to see next?

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