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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Early 20th century sewing in Detroit, Michigan
Using a modern sewing machine

Sewing or stitching or tailoring 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 BCE). 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, garment worker, or machinist.

"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 sometimes seen as a semi-skill job, flat sheets of fabric with holes and slits cut into the fabric can curve and fold in 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 1.5 cm away from the edge of the fabric except for the hem, where the seam allowance is usually 2.5 cm or more. This is often the case for standard home dressmaking. Industry seam allowances vary but are usually 0.6 cm.

Occupations requiring sewing

Seamstresses at a factory, 1904
  • Bookbinding\Bookbinder
  • Shoemaking\Cobbler
  • Corsetier
  • Draper
  • Dressmaker
  • Glove\Glover
  • Hatter
  • Milliner
  • Parachute rigger
  • Quilting\Quilter
  • Sailmaker
  • Seamstress
  • Tailor
  • Taxidermist
  • Upholsterer
  • Leatherworker

Sewing tools and accessories

Sewing box with sewing notions

Notions (objects sewn into garments or soft goods)



Finishing and embellishment

List of stitches

The two main stitches that sewing machines make of which the others are derivatives are lockstitch and chain stitch.

See also


  • Elissa Meyrich (2006). RIP IT!: How to Deconstruct and Reconstruct the Clothes of Your Dreams. New York: Fireside. ISBN 9780743268998.  
  • Elissa Meyrich (2002). Sew Fast Sew Easy: All You Need to Know When You Start to Sew. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 0312269099.  
  • Susan Huxley (1999). Sewing Secrets from the Fashion Industry: Proven Methods to Help You Sew Like the Pros. New York: Rodale Publishing. ISBN 9780875969800.  
  • Singer: The New Sewing Essentials by The Editors of Creative Publishing International ISBN 0-86573-308-2

External links


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