AskDefine | Define sewing

Dictionary Definition



1 joining or attaching by stitches [syn: stitching]
2 needlework that involves sewing; "she put her sewing back in the basket" [syn: stitchery]

User Contributed Dictionary




Verb form

  1. present participle of sew


  1. The action of the verb to sew.
  2. Something that is being or has been sewn.
    She put down her sewing and went to answer the door.
    The sewing has come undone on this seam.


action of the verb to sew
Something that is being or has been sewn

Extensive Definition

Sewing or stitching is the fastening of cloth, leather, furs, bark, or other flexible materials, using needle and thread. Its use is nearly universal among human populations and dates back to Paleolithic times (30,000 BC). Sewing predates the weaving of cloth.
Sewing is used primarily to produce clothing and household furnishings such as curtains, bedclothes, upholstery, and table linens. It is also used for sails, bellows, skin boats, banners, and other items shaped out of flexible materials such as canvas and leather.
Most sewing in the industrial world is done by machines. Pieces of a garment are often first tacked together. The machine has a complex set of gears and arms that pierces thread through the layers of the cloth and semi-securely interlocks the thread.
Some people sew clothes for themselves and their families. More often home sewers sew to repair clothes, such as mending a torn seam or replacing a loose button. A person who sews for a living is known as a seamstress (from seams-mistress) or seamster (from seams-master), dressmaker, tailor, or garment worker.
"Plain" sewing is done for functional reasons: making or mending clothing or household linens. "Fancy" sewing is primarily decorative, including techniques such as shirring, smocking, embroidery, or quilting.
Sewing is the foundation for many needle arts and crafts, such as applique, canvas work, and patchwork.
While sewing is often seen as a low-skill job, the task of designing good-looking three-dimensional shapes from non-stretching two-dimensional fabric generally requires extensive hands-on knowledge of the design and principles of mathematical manifolds. Flat sheets of fabric with holes and slits cut into the fabric can curve and fold in 3D space in extensively complex ways that require a high level of skill and experience to manipulate into a smooth, ripple-free design. Aligning and orienting patterns printed or woven into the fabric further complicates the design process. Once a clothing designer with these skills has created the initial product, the fabric can then be cut using templates and sewn by manual laborers or machines.

Seam allowance

Seam allowance is the area between the edge of the fabric and the line of stitching. It is usually 1.5cm away from the edge of the fabric.

Notions (objects sewn into garments or soft goods)


Finishing and embellishment

List of stitches

The two main stitches of which the others are derivatives are Cross Stitch and Butterfly


  • RIP IT!: How to Deconstruct and Reconstruct the Clothes of Your Dreams
  • Sew Fast Sew Easy: All You Need to Know When You Start to Sew
  • Sewing Secrets from the Fashion Industry: Proven Methods to Help You Sew Like the Pros
  • Singer: The New Sewing Essentials by The Editors of Creative Publishing International ISBN 0-86573-308-2

See also

External links

sewing in Arabic: حياكة
sewing in Guarani: Vyvypy
sewing in German: Nähen
sewing in Spanish: Costura
sewing in Esperanto: Kudrado
sewing in French: Couture
sewing in Hebrew: תפירה
sewing in Hungarian: Varrás
sewing in Dutch: Naaien
sewing in Japanese: 裁縫
sewing in Polish: Szycie
sewing in Finnish: Ompelu
sewing in Swedish: Sömnad

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Smyth sewing, applique, backing, baste, bibliopegy, bind, binder board, binding, book cloth, book cover, book jacket, bookbinding, bookcase, buttonhole, case, casemaking, casing-in, collating, collating mark, cover, crochet, cross-stitch, dust cover, dust jacket, embroider, fell, folding, footband, gather, gathering, gluing-off, hard binding, headband, jacket, knit, library binding, lining, lining-up, machine-stitch, mechanical binding, niggerhead, overcast, overhand, perfect binding, plastic binding, purl, quilt, renter, rounding, run, saddle stitching, saddle-stitch, seam, side sewing, signature, single-stitch, slipcase, slipcover, smashing, soft binding, spiral binding, stamping, stapling, tack, tailband, tat, tipping, trimming, whip, whipstitch, wire stitching, wrapper
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