Dawn's Costume Guide


A Costumer's Lexicon

baste -- a long hand-sewn running stitch. Basting stitches are used in assembly to make sure the garment fits before you permanently stitch it and usually removed after the permanent stitching is done.

bias tape -- a length of fabric tape cut on-the-bias and used for binding edges. Usually available pre-made and packaged in the notions section of the fabric store.

dart -- used for shaping of the bustline and hips (and other places). Shows on your pattern as a V-shaped marking. You mark it on the fabric, bring the lines of the V together with pins, and sew on the lines.

fray -- to have fabric come unwoven along it's raw, cut edge. Fabric that frays easily is difficult to work with.

garb -- term used for your clothing while "in costume". Different from mundane clothing or a party costume.

gore -- a wedge shaped addition of fabric used in skirts and long coats to increase the fullness at the hem without adding bulk at the waist.

gusset -- a small piece of fabric added into a seam to increase fullness, particularly at underarms and crotch.

lap -- overlay one layer of fabric with another. A lapped seam usually has the 5/8" seam allowance lying over another one and then top stitched.

mundane -- normal, real world, every-day stuff --clothing, people, food, etc.

nap -- the direction in which fur or velvet lies. If you brush it along the nap it will be smooth. If you brush against the nap it will be rough.

notch -- the little V-shaped or double-V tabby bits along the cutting lines of a pattern. You use them to match up different pattern pieces during assembly. Typically the single-V tab will match up somewhere else in the pattern with another single-V tab, and the double-V tab will match another double-V.

period -- authentic to or appropriate to the time period you are researching.

pile -- the depth of the fabric. Fake fur, plush and velvet have pile.

right side -- the "front" or "top" of a patterned fabric, the side where the print shows best, the "good side".

seam allowance -- an extra allowance of fabric around your pattern so that the seam has something to hold onto when it is assembled.

selvedge -- the finished woven edge of a piece of fabric as it comes off the bolt. Not the raw cut edge.

stay stitch -- a line of stitching taken to provide hidden strength inside a seam or to prevent a raw edge from unravelling or losing shape. The stitched threads act to stabilise the fabric threads.

straight grain -- the length of the goods as it comes off the bolt, also known as the warp. It is often important to line up pattern pieces with the grain so that the printed pattern is all going the same way, the material drapes properly, and any differences in nap don't show in the finished goods. Sometimes it is important to get straight edges on the grain and curves positioned on the bias (diagonal) so the seams stretch --or not-- for proper fit.

trim -- ribbon, braid, or decorative edging used to liven up a costume.

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All text and artwork copyright 1990, 1997, 1998, 2000 D. Duperault. NOTHING on this site may be reproduced or distributed by any means without my written permission. This information offered in good faith, and worth only what you paid for it.
Last modified on February 29, 2000
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