SewingTurn of the century sewing in Detroit, Michigan Antique Singer sewing machine
Sewing is an ancient craft involving the stitching of cloth, leather, animal skins, furs, or other 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 as curtains, bedclothes, upholstery, and table linens. It is also used for sails, bellows, skin boats, 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 firstly tacked together. The machine has a complex set of gears and arms which 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, 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, embroidery, or quilting.
Sewing is the foundation for many needle arts and crafts, such as applique, canvas work, and patchwork.
General sewing methods
Machine sewing is the most popular method. Hand sewing is still done to some extent for finishing and repairing garments. Sergers are becoming more popular for home use, but are not capable of all the functions of a traditional sewing machine. Because of this, people usually purchase a traditional sewing machine first, and purchase a serger at a later date. Sergers prices typically start at two to three times the cost of a traditional sewing machine.
General sewing applications
Almost all of these methods can be done by either hand, sewing machine, or a serger; however, the specific techniques used can be quite different. Some methods are not appropriate for some applications, even though it may be possible to replicate another method. As an extreme, you could technically duplicate serging with hand sewing, but it would take at least several hundred times as long to do the same work. Furthermore, some techniques are not possible with other methods: making an embroidery stitch called a french knot is easy by hand, but impossible by sewing machine or serger.
Occupations requiring sewing
Sewing tools and accessoriesSewing box (~1955) with sewing notions
Notions (objects sewn into garments or soft goods)
Finishing and embellishment:
List of stitches
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Finishing and embellishment:. Also, often the kilt is worn without underwear; the uniforms of several Scottish military regiments mandate wearing no underwear with the kilt except at specified occasions. Closures:. Wearing no underwear may have a sexual connotation, playing with the boundaries of modesty, motivated by mild exhibitionism. Furthermore, some techniques are not possible with other methods: making an embroidery stitch called a french knot is easy by hand, but impossible by sewing machine or serger. Skirts and dresses are, like other outer clothing, usually worn with underwear. As an extreme, you could technically duplicate serging with hand sewing, but it would take at least several hundred times as long to do the same work. Their main exhibition was the Bravehearts: Men in Skirts exhibit (Nov 2003 to Feb 2004) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City..
Some methods are not appropriate for some applications, even though it may be possible to replicate another method. The other is an effort by certain fashion houses such as Jean-Paul Gaultier to increase public awareness that unbifurcated garments such as skirts and dresses are only recently and only regionally considered solely a women's garment. Almost all of these methods can be done by either hand, sewing machine, or a serger; however, the specific techniques used can be quite different. They are called kilts, but have several differences from the traditional Scottish kilt. Sergers prices typically start at two to three times the cost of a traditional sewing machine. One is an effort by companies such as Utilikilt to sell and promote a line of "masculine" unbifurcated garments. Because of this, people usually purchase a traditional sewing machine first, and purchase a serger at a later date. There are two recent movements to legitimize the wearing of unbifurcated garments by men in Western society.
Sergers are becoming more popular for home use, but are not capable of all the functions of a traditional sewing machine. Exceptions include:. Hand sewing is still done to some extent for finishing and repairing garments. Skirts, dresses, and their like are still considered primarily women's garments in many parts of the world, and the wearing of them by men is sometimes considered cross-dressing. Machine sewing is the most popular method. Dresses however can be cooler and less confining than many trouser styles, and they are still very popular for special occasions such as proms or weddings. . A disadvantage of skirts and dresses that contributes to many girls and women preferring trousers and shorts is that they may be either too long and therefore limit freedom of movement such as when climbing ladders, or too short, in which case one, because of modesty will need to take the trouble when sitting down, such as crossing legs, to avoid exposure of the underwear.
Sewing is the foundation for many needle arts and crafts, such as applique, canvas work, and patchwork. In traditional societies, such as in many countries in Africa, the Middle East and Central and South America, it is considered inappropriate for girls and women to wear trousers rather than a skirt or dress. "Fancy" sewing is primarily decorative, including techniques such as shirring, embroidery, or quilting. In cold climates, girls and women may wear trousers for warmth, with dresses on top to mark their femininity. "Plain" sewing is done for functional reasons: making or mending clothing or household linens. Skirts or dresses are the garments of choice for many women in formal situations, such as weddings and geopolitical summits. A person who sews for a living is known as a seamstress, dressmaker, tailor, or garment worker. A skirt may be worn as part of a suit.
More often home sewers sew to repair clothes, such as mending a torn seam or replacing a loose button. In Europe and America skirts and dresses can be worn by females of all ages when they are not wearing pants. Some people sew clothes for themselves and their families. Fads and fashions:. The machine has a complex set of gears and arms which pierces thread through the layers of the cloth and semi-securely interlocks the thread. Basic shapes:. Pieces of a garment are often firstly tacked together. Fads and fashions:.
Most sewing in the industrial world is done by machines. Basic shapes:. It is also used for sails, bellows, skin boats, and other items shaped out of flexible materials such as canvas and leather. Styles of dresses and skirts of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries include:. Sewing is used primarily to produce clothing and household furnishings as curtains, bedclothes, upholstery, and table linens. Since the 1970s and the rise of pants as an option for all but the most formal of occasions, no one skirt length has dominated fashion for long, with short and ankle-length styles often appearing side-by-side in fashion magazines and catalogs. Sewing predates the weaving of cloth. For the next fifty years, fashionable skirts became short (1920s), then long (1930s), then shorter (the War Years with their restrictions on fabric), then long (the New Look), then shortest of all during the 1960s, when skirts became as short as possible while avoiding exposure of underwear, which is considered taboo.
Its use is nearly universal among human populations and dates back to Paleolithic times (30,000 BC). Beginning around 1915, hemlines for daytime dresses left the floor for good. Sewing is an ancient craft involving the stitching of cloth, leather, animal skins, furs, or other materials, using needle and thread. Throughout this period, the length of fashionable dresses varied only slightly, between ankle-length and floor-sweeping. Singer: The New Sewing Essentials by The Editors of Creative Publishing International ISBN 0865733082. Dresses were generally one-piece garments from 1800 through the 1840s; after that it became common for a dress to be made as a separate skirt and bodice, and many dresses had a "day" bodice with a high neckline and long sleeves, and an "evening" bodice with a low neckline (decollete) and very short sleeves. zig-zag stitch. Skirts started fairly narrow and increased dramatically to the hoopskirt and crinoline-supported styles of the 1860s; then fullness was draped and drawn to the back by means of bustles.
whipstitch (or oversewing stitch) - for protecting edges. Waistlines started just below the bust and gradually sank to the natural waist. topstitch. During the nineteenth century, the cut of women's dresses in western culture varied more widely than in any other century. straight stitch. . stretch stitch. At the other extreme, the miniskirts of the 1960s were minimal garments that may barely cover the underwear when seated.
slip stitch - for fastening a folded edge to a flat piece of fabric, or to another folded edge. Some medieval upper-class women wore skirts over 3 metres in diameter at the bottom. sailmakers stitch. The hemline of skirts and dresses can be as high as the upper thigh or as low as the ground, depending on the whims of fashion and the modesty or personal taste of the wearer. running stitch - for seams and gathering. Skirts and dresses of thin or clingy fabrics are worn with slips to make the material of the skirt drape better. padding stitch. Modern skirts and dresses are usually made of light to mid-weight fabrics, such as denim, jersey, worsted, or poplin.
overlock. At its simplest, a skirt can be a draped garment made out of a single piece of material (such as sarongs or pareos), but most skirts are fitted to the body at the waist and fuller below, with the fullness introduced by means of darts, gores, pleats, or panels. lockstitch. . hemming stitch. The kilt is considered a traditional men's garment in Scotland, and is growing in fashion in other parts of the world. Additionally, garments which are identified as skirts are being proposed as men's clothing by some of the trendier fashion houses such as Jean-Paul Gaultier. feather stitch. However, there are exceptions.
darning stitch. In Western culture, skirts and dresses are usually considered women's clothing. cross-stitch. A dress (also frock, gown) is a garment consisting of a skirt with an attached bodice or with a matching bodice giving the effect of a one-piece garment. chain stitch. Unlike trousers, a skirt is "unbifurcated" — that is, not divided into separate legs. buttonhole stitch. A skirt is a tube- or cone-shaped garment which hangs from the waist and covers all or part of the legs.
blind stitch (or hem stitch). The pareu, a dress worn by both men and women in Tahiti. blanket stitch. The foustanella is worn by men in Greece and Albania. basting stitch (or tacking) - for temporary fixing. The thobe is commonly worn by men in Arabia. backstitch. The djellaba is worn by men in Morocco and other parts of Africa.
back tack. The kaftan is worn by men in the eastern Mediterranean. trims (fringe, beaded fringe, ribbons, lace, sequin tape). Throughout most of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, sarongs are worn by both men and women. rivet. The Scottish kilt. interfacing. Trouser skirt, a straight skirt with the part above the hips tailored like men's trousers, with belt loops, pockets, and fly front.
heading. Sarong, a square of fabric wrapped around the body and tied on one hip to make a skirt; worn as a skirt or as a cover-up over a bathing suit in tropical climates. grommet. Broomstick skirt, a skirt with many crumpled pleats formed by compressing and twisting the garment while wet (1980s and on). eyelet. Maxiskirt, a midcalf-length skirt (1970s). elastic. Miniskirt, a thigh-length skirt, and micromini, an extremely short version (1960s).
bias tape. Though traditionally designed as women's wear, it is fashioned to mimic somewhat closely the general appearance of a (man's) kilt, including the usage of a plaid pattern more or less closely resembling those of recognized tartan patterns of Scotland. zipper. Kilt-skirt, a wrap-around skirt with overlapping aprons in front and pleated around the back. snap. Prairie skirt, a flared skirt with one or more flounces or tiers (1970s and on). hook-and-loop tape (often known by brand name Velcro). Dirndl, a skirt made of a straight length of fabric gathered at the waist.
hook. Poodle skirt, a circle or near-circle skirt with an appliqued poodle or other decoration (1950s). eye. Hobble skirt, a fashion of the early 20th century, with fullness at the hips narrowing to the ankles. chinese frog. Circle skirt, a skirt cut in sections to make one or more circles with a hole for the waist, so the skirt is very full but hangs smoothly from the waist without darts, pleats, or gathers. toggle. Pleated skirt, a skirt with fullness reduced to fit the waist by means of regular pleats ('plaits') or folds, which can be stitched flat to hip-level or free-hanging.
button (buttons can be sew-through or have shanks.)
tracing paper. Cocktail dress, a semiformal party dress of the current street length (1950s and sporadically popular since). thread. Kitty Foyle, a dark-colored dress with contrasting (usually white) collar and cuffs (1940s, after a dress worn by Ginger Rogers in the movie of the same name). thimble. Ball gown, a long dress with a full, sweeping, or trained skirt for dancing. tailor's chalk. Evening gown or formal, a long dress for formal occasions.
seam ripper. Dinner dress, a semiformal dress worn when fashionable people "dressed for dinner" (men in tuxedos or dinner jackets, even at home). scissors. Tea gown, a frothy, feminine semiformal dress. rotary cutter. Chanel's Little Black Dress (1920s and on). pincushion. Tent, a dress flared from above the bust, sometimes with a yoke (1960s).
pin. Sundress, a sleeveless dress of any shape, with a low neckline in a lightweight fabric, for summer wear. pattern weights. Shift, a straight dress with no waist shaping or seam (1960s). pattern. Sheath, a fitted, often sleeveless dress, sometimes without a waistseam (1960s). needle. Shirtwaist, a dress with a bodice (waist) like a tailored shirt and an attached straight or full skirt.
measuring tape. dressmaker's or tailor's shears. bodkin. bobbin.
awl. Upholsterer. Tailor. Sailmaker.
Quilting. Hatter. Glover. Dressmaker.
Draper. Corsetier. Cobbler. Embroidery or machine embroidery: artistic embellishment.
The term "serging" is commonly used to refer both to the act of sewing with a serger, and the type of effect the serger produces. Serging: uses multiple threads to produce a stretchy and secure edge finish or seam that keeps raw edges of fabric neat. Machine quilting is most common, but quilting "purists" and traditionalists do all quilting by hand. Quilting: sewing together layers of fabric and/or fibrefill to make warm blankets and clothing, or used for effect.
Mending: using general techniques and specialized methods such as darning to repair textiles. Dressmaking/Tailoring/General: general techniques to create clothing and other textile projects. Virutally all commercially-sold clothing is completely made with one or more specialized industrial sergers. Serging is ideal for stretchy fabrics or fabrics that should have neat edges.
Also used for creating artistic effects. Serging: trimming the edge of fabric and overcasting all in one step, sometimes with the option of stitching as well. Electric machines are by far more common. Sewing machines can be electrically or mechanically operated.
Machine-sewing: using a machine to produce similar effects to hand-sewing, but at a much quicker speed. Hand-sewing: using a needle and thread with your hands to produce stitches.