Confusing terminology 1

Just a bit of silliness (too busy today!) inspired by a back and forth with one of you (Jennifer) who is constantly frustrated by terminology in the apparel industry. The confusion always makes me laugh because it’s so incredibly counter productive (better to laugh than become frustrated) but it is so true that terminology usage in the trade varies so much and if you don’t know it, you’re out. Like that Heidi Klum lady says. By the way, we watched that show last night. Boring! And what’s with her hair? And that other young man’s hair (the skinny one) is awful too. My scissor hand was itching. And what’s with all these gay men in the show? Speaking of real life in the apparel industry, there aren’t as many gay men as you’d be led to believe from watching this show. Pandering to stereotypes me thinks. And hopefully you know me well enough to know I’m not prejudiced, I’m just noting an anomaly.

Anyway, Jennifer says she always has to make mental adjustments when I write. When I say “cutter’s must” or “direction card” (the latter is hardwired, sorry) she knows this as a “piece report”. Thanks to CAD programs. They’ve changed a lot of our words. You’d think they would just have adopted terms we were already using. Here’s all the terms used to describe that card thingy you hang with your pattern (photo):

  • piece report
  • piece inventory
  • cutter’s must
  • direction card
  • pattern card

Here’s some more confusion for you. Technically, a direction card or a pattern card isn’t a cutter’s must but most cutters will be satisfied with one in substitution if it’s a small cut order. Have anything to add here? I can amend this entry.

A big source of terminology confusion -laughing out loud now- is this ubiquitous component used to stabilize goods (interchangeable):

  • interfacing
  • fusible
  • canvas
  • pellon (brand)

By the way, you can tell if someone’s old school because they’ll call interfacing “canvas”. It hearkens from before interfacing had heat set glues to attach them. We used (some of us still do) varying weights of actual canvas, sometimes horse hair, goat hair and even starched cottons to reinforce pieces. When fusibles came along, the name remained canvas to refer to the concept of structural reinforcement. I’m probably one of the worst about this. Jennifer says:

For me the canvas thing would not be so confusing if I had not been a factory making canvas work wear – seriously it can be confusing. This is a typical phone conversation:

Cutter: Which canvas do want us to use for this sample cut?
Jennifer: The 10oz like for the 6035.
Cutter: There is no canvas on the 6035.
Jennifer: The sample cut is a canvas pant.
Cutter: Not the shell, the canvas.
Jennifer: Oh, pellon. The same as 6050.
Cutter : Okay.

Have anything to add? Okay, here’s another fun one, these are all the same thing:

  • reece
  • welt
  • jetted
  • besom

The first term is mostly used in the apparel industry (again, old school) so named for the only machine that used to make them. Patent expired, now lots of companies have their own versions but reece still stuck. The second term (welt) is more than acceptable but you need to know reece too. The last two terms are mostly used by English tailors.

These terms describe marking paper. I don’t have a photo but it’s a rolled paper of varying widths, with little blue dots, numbers or letters posed in a one inch grid all over it.

  • marker or marking paper
  • 1 by 5 paper
  • pattern paper
  • dot (or dotted) paper
  • alpha-numeric paper

It’s called marking paper because it used to be used to make markers, some still do although it’s pricier than plotter paper and one doesn’t plot on this stuff. It’s quite handy, many use it to lay out a pattern to calculate the allocation of a style. I’ve always called it “1 by 5 paper” and always got strange looks but I was habituated to that from school. I’ve never heard anyone else use the term but then the other day, I saw the term used in one of the Cooklin books (English drafting texts) so I’m guessing my old profs learned it somehow that way. Maybe it’s an even older old school term. But it’s silly because the dots run more than five and there’s also letters. Off topic (as though it’d matter), I see that the English have dotted/gridded oak tag. My my my, that would be lovely to have! Oh, one last thing. Many enthusiasts call this pattern paper but it is not. Oak tag is the only pattern paper. If that’s not enough to confuse you, oak tag is also known as (other than pattern paper) paper tag, rope tag, green-back, 1X (or 2X, 3X) paper.

Ack. I’m running late and have to finish this tomorrow. In the meantime, add your two cents for confusing terminology so I can add it to the mix. Thanks!

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  1. Jennifer E. says:

    lol “card thingy you hang with your pattern” – very technical Kathleen
    Can not wait to read “the book” full all those technical terms

  2. Julia says:

    Kathleen, the industry terminology is strangely fascinating to me, as an outsider sort of eavesdropping. My field (IT) has it’s own crazy jargon as well.

    Project Runway, again as an amateur, I find the stereotype/drama stuff easily ignored for the creative stuff. I’m amazed (for good and for bad) at the creations, the timetables they meet and the skill/art. I watch the beginning and the end of the show. During the middle, I usually get off the couch, inspired, and try to get creative myself!

  3. Morgen says:

    My scissor hand was itching


    I’ve a question regarding terminology: does the term “interlining” fit anywhere in this discussion?

  4. esther says:

    Cutting Spec for cutter’s must

    Yields for allocations

    Each factory I have worked at has had it’s own vocabulary. A linguist would have a field day!

  5. Marilynn says:

    Pattern paper is also called “ABC” paper, capitol letters indicate grainline, lowercae indicate crossgrain (or is it the opposite?). A most confusing term is the verb “merrowded” hem which is what home sewers call a “rolled hem”. Merrow is a brand of industrial machine that “rolls” the hem, but much denser than a home machine. As for Project Runway, its casting and editing is giving a lot of false information and illusions to potential young designers. By the way, did you know that Tim Gunn’s undergraduate degree is in sculpture? He may have a great fashion sense but he has no training in design, patternmaking, or construction.

  6. J C Sprowls says:

    I echo Esther’s comment. Terminology changes with each factory.

    In fact, I heard the word “beezum” for the first time (apparently, that’s the proper pronunciation of besom). I stood there, gobsmacked: “the what?” “A piped pocket” they said and showed me a sample. I explained that I also heard that pocket style described as welted, reeced and jetted (pretty much in that order, too).

    Hmmm… something tells me that sleevehead (KF: “fluffies”), wiggan and selicia/pocketing need to hit the list, too.

    You know what I’m looking for, though… is a translation from number-to-weight for canvas. I can’t find anything in my library or elsewhere. I know that haircloth (ooh! another one!)is graded 1 – 10, with 10 being the stiffest; but, where in that scale does 7oz (my fave middleweight) fit in?

    RE: skinny guy w/ the hair. Over at Project Rungay blog, we’ve started calling him Princess Christiana von Puffysleeves. You really gotta see some of the styles he’s sent down the runway. The name will make perfect sense, then.

    RE: disproportion. You’re right. This season seems too contrived, anyway. It also appears that Bravo has also been upping the queer factor to gain viewers. Frankly, the pandering annoys me to no end.

  7. dosfashionistas says:

    Technically, interlining and interfacing are not the same thing. But I would not give a plugged nickel for the chance that my concept of the difference would be the same as anyone else’s in the industry. I was taught that interlining was a fabric that was cut and sewn as one with the fashion fabric in order to give it more body. As opposed to interfacing which is fused or sewn into edges and places where crispness is important to give stability.
    And every sewer in Dallas that I ever knew called a merrowed edge a mirror edge..and called a merrow machine a serger. And a mirror edge that is purposely stretched is a lettuce edge.
    Can’t think of any more tonight, but I agree. Every place I ever worked had it’s own vocabulary, and it’s own system. And they all said “Everyone does it this way. It’s standard for the industry.” Let’s see…since 1964 I guess I have run into a baker’s dozen of industry standards. Not wildly different, but somewhat.

  8. Penny says:

    Seems like every company has their own version / layout of the style sheets, altho all of them require listing each pattern piece, number of pieces to cut and added information for specific instructions such as cutting a piece face up, or matching stripes. There are separate forms as well to specify things like sewing instructions, trims used, buttons, zipper lengths, send out applications for things like pleating or bias binding. It seems like the larger the company, the more accompanying paperwork is required and sometimes it takes longer to fill out all these forms than it does to draft the pattern.

    I have to agree that Project Runway has lost me this season. I was somewhat addicted to it the past two seasons, but this season lacks pizazz. Even Tim Gunn seems bored and uninterested. The contestants and their challenges really hold no interest for me at all this season. Too bad because they were on a roll…

  9. I understood interlining and interfacing as DOS above. And the interfacing might have fusible on it, but the interlining never would.

    Fun topic!

    Yes, Project Runway is too staged. I blame it for the hundreds of GOATS “designers.” Just my 2 cents…

    With friendship,

  10. winter says:

    The best thing about pattern making terminology is the old english usages. If you know this stuff you will do well on vocabulary quizzes and some crosswords.

    One of my favorite things about this trade is the antiquity of the tools and terms. We aren’t that far from our origins. Look at the cast iron pattern hole punch.

    One of my favorite terms is wiggan. Did you mention that?

  11. dosfashionistas – I was taught something else again. Interlining goes between the lining and the fashion fabric, often flannel or quilting to add warmth. Underlining is cut and sewn as one with the fashion fabric, usually to add body.

  12. Andrew says:

    Great idea for a post, I had thought about asking for something similar a while ago because some of the terms used are US-centric (understandably) and I was curious of international translations.

    Although this page may get unwieldy if you try to include everything, your list of ‘Oak Tag’ variants could also include ‘Manilla’ and ‘Pattern Kraft’ (both used in the UK, although I probably hear just ‘card’ used more frequently).

    Also, I see ‘Dot & Cross Paper’ used here more than ‘Dot Paper’.

    How about a section for Muslins, Toiles (the usual term in the UK), Protoypes?
    And maybe one for the similarities and differences between Blocks and Slopers. I know you mention this in your book and in previous posts on this site but maybe a link would be relevant to this discussion.

    Sorry if this seems like a list of demands, this page is already really useful, thank you.

  13. I “know” that an eyelet is one piece that’s smoother on the right side of the garment and the little pieces bite into the wrong side. The grommet has that piece plus a washer and it stays in the garment better.

    Piping can have cord in it or not, but other than that, I don’t know.

    Please confirm/clarify underlining and interlining because the current Threads magazine has an article that says they’re the same but the usage they’re referring to is the underlining one that Alison mentions above.

  14. Elsa Toerien says:

    My understanding of interlining and underlining is the same as Alison’s. Interlining is for warmth, underlining is used on wedding dresses, etc where you will have lots of inner workings.
    In South Africa you have to ask for “Vilene” in a shop if you want interfacing. And then specify if you want “paper vilene” (the bonded fibre fabric stuff) or “material vilene” (the woven one).

  15. Marsha says:

    During my time in UK I didn’t come across besom, maybe it a term bespoke tailoring folks would be familiar with. The term ‘welt’ was for single-lipped slash pockets, with or without tabs or flaps (methinks tab on single welt is hideous) and ‘jetted’ for double-lipped slash pockets regardless of tabs or flaps. Jetted definitely are thinner. I group welts and jetteds as ‘slashed pockets’ following terminology found in Solinger’s manufacturing book.

    Interesting fusible terms –
    In Indonesia it’s ‘kain keras’ (lit. hard[hardening] fabric) for paper/nonwoven-backed fusibles, ‘tricot’ for knit-backed fusibles, and ‘kufner’ or ‘kain kufner’ (spelling?) (lit. ‘kufner’ cloth) for woven-backed fusibles… leftover terms from colonial days.
    The material old-school English folks call chest canvas (no glue) is also called ‘kufner’. Heh.

    Also, some UK/English milliners refer the wooly-handled, woven fabric-backed fusible as ‘domette’, which may or may not be correct (as an elderly jobber once remarked to a milliner). So even in the same country the same thing could be called by different names, depending in which trade you are specifically in.

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