Confusing terminology 2

Continuing from Tuesday, here are clarifications based on comments. Great input people!

Esther: Cutting Spec for cutter’s must and Yields for allocations.

Andrew mentions pattern paper in the UK is also called Manila (here too) and Pattern Kraft. It’s also called Manila Tag here.

Marilyn: “Marker paper is also called ABC paper, capitol letters indicate grainline, lowercase indicate cross grain (or is it the opposite?)”. I didn’t know that. My roll isn’t like that. There are different manufacturers of it, and all are slightly different (due to copyright, the patent expired). I’ve seen pictures of one type that is just crosses, no letters or numbers at all (Andrew mentions it’s called “Dot & Cross Paper” in the UK). It also comes in metric measures. I tried to get the skinny on the indicia scheme (as it’s called); the patent abstract reads (as a kindness to you, I omitted the last half of the description being equally unintelligible and redundant):

Pattern marking paper in which the working surface between opposite longitudinal edges is provided with a multiplicity of discrete numerical indicia located at reference points over substantially the entire working surface of the paper and equally spaced in rows extending along the length of the paper parallel to the longitudinal edges and in columns extending across the width of the paper perpendicular to the rows. A longitudinal reference marker divides the multiplicity of indicia into two equal parts and comprises a center line imprinted on the working surface of the paper exactly midway between the opposite longitudinal edges of the paper and extending along the entire length between and equally spaced from adjacent rows of the indicia.

Marilyn also mentions “A most confusing term is the verb ‘merrow’ [as in merrowed] 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”.

I know the Merrow company but I always thought merrow was more broadly synonymous with overlock and merrowed (verbing the proper noun) as overlocking rather than being limited to the function of hemming so I looked it up. It turns out that Merrow invented the overlock (serger) -not to say they don’t make hemmers now because I know they do. A few other interesting facts about the company are that it started as a gun powder mill in 1822. Shortly afterwards, it was blown up in a gun powder explosion. Also, the current owners (still named Merrow) are grandsons of Lane Bryant. I keep telling you this business is practically incestuous, people are connected in the most unlikely ways.

In the guts department, we had several contributions. First interlining (a product) and underlining (a process).

Morgan brought up the issue of interlining. For manufacturers, interlining is a product, not a process. I was pleasantly surprised to see this definition on the web. Usually urban myth triumphs. The interlining (just like interfacing only a bit thicker) is attached to the shell and after it’s been fused or interfaced, it is treated as one layer with the shell. There’s no trick or debate to handling it. One caveat, the English (and others besotten with bespoke) will use interlining to mean interfacing (as Dos Fashionistas mentions too) so be wary of the provenance or the context of what you’re reading.

Underlining is not the same thing as interlining; Alison correctly described:

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.

Interlining is usually used to make something warmer (coats) or insulating (as in the case of drapery). Underlining is a process. Underlining can be any material, even a duplicate of the piece using the same goods. Usually tho, it’s a solid colored backing that blends. It’s used with diaphanous materials, see-through stuff. Underlining provides modesty and even structural integrity. Typically, underlining is basted or attached in some fashion to the shell piece. The sum is treated as one layer, unlike lining which is treated as it’s own layer first, before being bagged to the shell.

In the tailoring category, J C mentions he’s heard sleeve heads described as “fluffies” (no lie, I saw it). I’ve heard those described as “woolies” and lambs wool. He also mentions wiggan and selicia -an alternative spelling of silesia- (meaning pocketing or pocket twill) need to be on the list too. It also seems many spell wigan, wiggan. Interesting. By the way, wigan is not sleeve hem interfacing. You need both. It’s annoying when suppliers call it “fusible sleeve interfacing, non woven fusible sleeve wigan” because you don’t know what you’re really getting. It’s one or the other, not both. I suspect that if it’s fusible, it’s interfacing. I don’t know why any sane person would want to fuse something as stiff as wigan to a sleeve hem. By definition, it should be bias cut to give with the sleeve turn, not melded or plastered to it. So, wigan provides crispness to the hem. Without interfacing to sustain the hem fold, the wigan is too rigid. It feels funny, like something’s missing.

Chest pad guts are another story entirely. Comprised of several layers, each layer has a name and mass confusion is the norm. Some names are imperial, flannel and canvas (other kind of canvas). Then the stuffing for ties is different too within that context. Tie guts are also generically described as wool as in soft and nappy, not to be confused with actual fiber content.

Bethany asks for clarification on “piping vs cording and grommet vs eyelet”. Lisa steps in explaining:

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.

Grommets are more common in utility applications because they’re sturdier but they’ve also been used for effect in apparel and handbags.

Lisa says piping can have cord in it and not, and I guess that’s true but you’d best be specific about your needs. There’s no doubt that cording has cord but often, “cording” refers to the raw cord itself. Piping can also be described as a “piped edge”. If someone mentions piping, my default impression is that there is a cord and will want to know the cording size. Don’t ask about cording sizes. Not today please. It’s still Monday.

Andrew, I’m not ignoring your question about toiles, muslins etc. Next week I’ll finish this up to include some other miscellanea that is even more confusing, like contrast , trim and trim -not a typo. Heh.

Get New Posts by Email


  1. Helen says:

    Oh boy, take me back to working in the suit factory. It was embarrassing how often I would have to ask someone what wiggan (2 G’s there), silesia, or besom hacking pockets were.

  2. Lisa Bloodgood in Portland says:

    I have to make a slight correction to myself. I don’t know for sure if piping/a piped edge PROPERLY has cord in it or not or both ways. I do know that I’ve piped edges and seams with piping I bought with cord in it and piping I made myself, both with and without cord in it. And without the cord in it, it’s not a bias-bound edge because it stuck out the same way piping does.

  3. Lisa Bloodgood in Portland says:

    Oh, and I’ve seen “rolled hem” used as a straight stitch sewn hem that’s turned under and also as the dense threads tight serged edge used on some clothes and tablecloths and stuff. I’d like to know what to call each.

  4. Anir says:

    The Merrow company makes a number of different machines that do similar jobs-overlocking edges, doing what we call a pearl edge with a 2 thread machine–similar to a rolled hem on a serger, shell edge, the edge stitches done on patches, and others. Here’s a page of various machines–just scroll down or do a “find in this page” for merrow and you’ll see some examples–at Miami Sewing.
    PS, I’m not a shill for Miami sewing, still they happen to be a great site for seeing examples of sewing machines for different functions.

  5. Diana says:

    Your website and book are the best resource out there for DE’s. A question re training green sewing operators. On the vest why did you extend to pocket bags past CF and the hem and how did you learn this the hard way? Thanks again for all the info

  6. nadine says:

    We have all the same terminology problems in the Accessories world. The piping def reminded me that often on caps with visors designers will ask for a “piped” edge but that refers to double fold binding and not the traditional piping with the cord. I see this in emails from Chinese factories too calling folded bindings “piping”. It is confusing. I prefer to call piping, piping and binding, binding. There are many more of these weird usages in my industry too. I like that old machine functions have turned into verbs.

  7. Julie K says:

    When I worked at a childrenswear factory (doing technical drawings and spec sheets) they called a very narrow serged edge a merrow (looks similar a home-serged rolled-hem, but the fabric does not fold over, and the looper threads interlock on the edge of the fabric, not on the lower side next to the stitching line) or lettuce if it was stretched as it was stitched. Most RTW I see uses this edging and not the one that actually rolls the fabric edge under (I’ve mostly just seen that on cloth napkins).
    They called a straight stitched hem that is folded twice a rolled hem (abbreviated as R), anywhere from 1/8″ R to 1/2″ R.
    What I would call a coverstitch (like a t-shirt hem) they called a 2 needle topstitch, and the one they called a coverstitch was the one with the top spreader that spreads the extra thread on top between the two rows of stitching.

    Also, glad to see the bit about under/inter lining. I always thought interlining was a warmth layer between the lining and the shell, and was quite disappointed to see the new issue of Threads magazine arrive today saying that underlining and interlining are the same thing!
    I always remembered it as INTER-FACING goes with the FACING (and lots of other places – but mostly layers and edges that are turned under like a facing), INTER-LINING goes with the lining, and UNDER-LINING lies UNDER the shell fabric.

  8. Wigan appears to be named for the town of Wigan, England. In which case, definitely one g.

    From Wikipedia: “Wigan is a town in Greater Manchester, England. With a total population of 81,203, Wigan is the administrative centre of the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan.

    Historically part of Lancashire, Wigan is a former industrial centre for textile manufacture, having experienced rapid growth during the Industrial Revolution.

    Wigan is roughly equidistant from the cities of Manchester, Preston and Liverpool, and is neighboured by the towns of Leigh, St Helens, Bolton, Chorley and Warrington.”

  9. Merrow says:

    i caught the note about merrow…. and specifically the follow up about miami sewing as a place to see machines and stitches. While MS is great, Merrow has just released a new stitch browser etc… which has thousands of real stitch samples indexed against machines and applications.

    it’s here: (click on the selectors at the right)

    or here:

    –and I cannot claim to be impartial, but will insist that this isn’t a shameless plug for merrow. the stitch finder is just a really great way to see the ‘merrowing’ and ‘merrowed edges’–

Leave a Reply

You have to agree to the comment policy.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.