Day 1 Giveaway: Fashion A to Z (dictionary)

fashion_dictionary_LKToday’s featured title is Fashion A to Z: An Illustrated Dictionary, a handy reference with over 2,000 entries. This isn’t a book you will sit down to read although it is fun to page through but will want to use to spot check any ambiguities you may be experiencing when producing a line. Not sure what someone means when they mention AQL? It’s in there. And sure, you can also look it up in a search engine but then you’ll need to wade through a lot of competing and contradictory information, most of it having nothing to do with the apparel industry.

Is this book the ultimate solution? Nope but it’s a great start. I wish many of my customers had a topical dictionary. You’d be amazed at how many people don’t know what a collar is -for example, a ribbing edge that finishes off a t-shirt neckline is not a collar. And you, like me, probably won’t agree with some of the definitions. For example, greige is defined as “an unfinished fabric that has not yet been bleached or dyed. Generally made of cotton, it is considered an eco-friendly fabric.” The first part is correct but eco-friendly is subject to what amounts to a semantical mine field. Generally though, the definitions are both accurate, sufficiently detailed and descriptive. Another good use for this book would be to gift one to a factory partner abroad because while each party may both speak English, cultural and pragmatic differences remain.

Verdict: this is a handy little book and I’m a bit put out to give it up. Wah! A casual scan of the text shows there are plenty of definitions I don’t know.

Fashion A to Z: An Illustrated Dictionary by Alex Newman and Zakee Shariff
214 illustrations, 240 pp
5.25″x6.25″, paperback
ISBN 9781856698313
Publisher: Laurence King
List: $16.95 (you can get 35% off at Laurence King with promotional code BACKTOSCHOOL13)

Rules to enter today’s giveaway:
Leave a comment mentioning a word that is often mis-attributed or a word you’ve had trouble understanding that crops up frequently.

Since I’m paying for shipping*, this giveaway is limited to US residents. If you live abroad and are willing to pay shipping, you can enter too.

*The publisher has been truly awesome at providing books for giveaways and has paid for shipping in the past but they sent me this book so many months ago that I feel guilty asking them to extend the courtesy. In short, don’t think badly of the publisher.

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  1. Matt C. says:

    “waist” — I was confused by it at first. Is that located at the “natural waist” or where the garment waistband sits on your body? Why is it called a waistband if it is not at your actual waist??

    What can I say — I’m a total beginner — so I probably could make good use of the dictionary.

  2. Deana says:

    Recently, I thought I wanted a pattern for a “lantern sleeve.” Googling that term gave me so many different sleeve styles that now I’m sure I have no idea what a lantern sleeve is.

  3. Janelle says:

    “Yoke” is word I hesitate to use sometimes. Especially on a skirt, when is it a yoke or a “waistband”? I think some confusion also arises from the fact that (other than my sewing teacher) I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say the word yoke aloud before.

    Great question, Kathleen. I look forward to seeing more responses.

  4. Mari says:

    Ease. While that word isn’t often misattributed (although garment ease vs. easing in a sleeve can be confused) I did have trouble understanding how important wearing ease was for years. I mistakenly assumed that a garment with 1″ positive ease would be much baggier than I’d like & not give me a form fitting silhouette.

  5. Beth says:

    The confusion between a fabric’s fiber and weave is the most common mistake I hear! (Using “silk” to refer to a slippery polyester drives me nutty.)

  6. Lisa B says:

    Facing or binding–Yes they are different. I get upset when individuals use the term interchangeably.

  7. Sherrie says:

    Grainline. Seems simple enough right? Not for me.

    Recently I started experimenting with making my own patterns.
    Truthfully, I just drew a lengthwise line with arrows on each pattern because that is what I saw on home sewing patterns.

    I just learned yesterday, in a post Kathleen wrote quite a few years back, that the arrows at the end of the grainlines actually has a purpose… .

  8. Joelle says:

    I’m going to have to second Beth. People not knowing the difference between the fiber and the weave.

  9. Charles says:

    Please don’t include this as an entry in the giveaway (even though I’d be fascinated to read the book I wouldn’t get as much use out of it as as other readers will), but I can’t help but mention…. ~CHEVRON~. “Zig-zag” equals-not “chevron”. :O Yes, I’m a bit OCD, but this just absolutely drives me insane. I’m waiting for the day when people start talking about “chevron stitching” their seams….

    Also, I third Beth about fiber vs. weave. It’s so confusing when people refer to a fabric as “silk” when they mean satin. Or vice versa. (“What is the fabric you’re trying to dye made of?” “Satin.”)

    And I second Deana – I’ve actually also looked up “lantern sleeve” on Google Images before and you get a ton of completely different sleeve styles!

    Mari made me think of another one – when the term “ease” is used to refer to ~gathering~ (i.e. actual visible tucks).

    BTW I’m with you on the “eco-friendly” greige thing. Unfortunately a lot of people think the only non-“eco-friendly” parts of product production are the finishing processes.

  10. karen l says:

    The word that confuses me is “bespoke” as in tailoring. But I must concur with the bits about weave vs fiber content. Oh, another confusing concept is “tear” vs “rip!” Is there really any difference?
    I agree with the person who said, this book will be better utilized by someone other than myself. I’ll wait to try my luck with one of the other titles. They all sound fabulous.

  11. Charles says:

    LOL Frieda!!! That’s another one!!! And when I hear someone talk about “jersey” 9.999 times out of 10 the fabric is something OTHER than jersey, because people are being taught the wrong terms for things. (Thanks Project Runway!) The one time I heard a person use that term correctly I literally heard a hallelujah chorus and thanked them.

    It’s true that language evolves, and the word “jersey” is well on its way to meaning any knit fabric. (Maybe even anything that’s stretchy, whether it’s knit or not.)

    BTW, I should say there’s no problem with people not knowing the correct meaning of a term. Goodness knows I’ve used words incorrectly before. It’s the people who tell you you’re wrong when you tactfully try to explain to them what the term actually means. (Of course, when I start acting out the motion of the needles with my hands I know it’s time to stop talking.)

  12. adela says:

    A veces la gente no sabe bien que significa que es al plomo pues es una palabra utilizada general mente por modistas o sastres

  13. Barb says:

    Fiber Migration: This is when very fine synthetic insulation, such as Primaloft, works it’s way between the weave of the fabric, causing the garment to grow white fuzz like a Chia Pet. If you do not want your customers to have to shave their coats you better know this term and how to prevent it.

  14. Meghan says:

    I’m new to this world and developing my first line for female basketball players (I played competitively in college). While working with my production team, I often end up googling terms for definitions and images so I am on the same page as them. Most recently we were discussing pockets for 2 of my pants options and the term “side seam pocket” was tossed out. Terms while sourcing fabrics have been challenging as well.

  15. Kate says:

    I’ve only recently jumped from hobby sewer to business sewer, and there are so many terms I’m quickly having to learn! One that I always forget is which is warp and which is weft. Its sort of like learning your left and right – I will have to think of an easy rhyme to remember the difference.

    The main one I struggle with though is sloper – so many people use it in different ways, I think I understand what it is but I’m never completely sure…plus some people use the term “fitting shell” which I’m not ever sure is the same thing or not!

  16. jalene murphy swovelans says:

    When putting on a finished edge using “Binding” is the jig a binder or a folder?

  17. Zabelle says:

    Since I learned sewing in French, this book would be really useful. My maternal language is french so sometime when I teach sewing in English the words are not coming to me and I’m not sure if I’m using the right one.
    I would say that I often confound spool and bobbin. I’m never sure witch is witch.

  18. Donna says:

    My term is griege. It is pronounced like the color gray, and I have seen it spelled that way.

    Another term I once had explained to me in no uncertain terms is Pima cotton. The lady, an expert, insisted Pima cotton was only from Italy. My understanding of Pima cotton is that it is a long staple cotton, grown in Pima, AZ, and the seed originally came from Peru. Egyptian cotton is also a long staple cotton.

  19. one way versus two way versus four way stretch – how many ways can it stretch? And which is the degree of greatest stretch and is that the grainline. These are terms I understand but find myself explaining as they mean something different to people, using “jersey” or other knits.

  20. Vesta says:

    I’m going to pile onto the fabric versus weave thing. There’s a dressmaker in the south who has/had recently a fabric content description on their website: “100% seersucker”. I still giggle every time I see seersucker. I hope they did better on their care and content labels!

  21. Ramona says:

    I’m loving the comments on fabric content/weave/character. I have often trouble there myself. Lately I’m in a fitting and alteration mode, so my problem term is ‘apex’… as in assume it’s at the nipple or actually finding the actual apex or the bust.

  22. Patricia says:

    Most of the ‘green’ labels on just about anything, including fabric. Yes the source may be sustainable (i.e., bamboo) but the process from plant to fabric may be far from enviro-friendly. I think the idea is fine but just because something gets tagged doesn’t mean it is.

  23. Ellen says:

    for Kate -The weft goes left to right. Left is when you hold up a hand fingers together but thumb out- the left makes an L.

    My pet peeve: ravel vs. unravel They both mean the same thing but unravel sounds more threatening to me.

  24. Bente says:

    Fun reading..
    Working in several continents make you open minded for definitions.
    Jersey for me was a machine knitted material before I moved to US.
    Here It is widely used to describe a t-short of active wear made from a sintetic knit material.
    Also, still not sure if fabric means only woven or if it is the general definition of woven and knit “fabric”

  25. Ellen says:

    Sorry- I typed too fast– the weft goes left and right. Left is when you hold up a hand fingers together but the thumb sticking out– the left hand makes an L.

  26. Kristle says:

    People usually use the word couture, yet there are no couture detailing or techniques used in their construction process. Often a couture line may simply be a line of rehabbed t-shirts.

  27. Lauren Forney says:

    Others have already posted a few terms it took me a while to get a handle on, like “ease” and “yoke”. Another one I am still struggling with is “slashing”. It’s just used so much and no one ever takes the time to explain what it is. Finding a definition isn’t easy (I’m still looking for a good explanation, preferably with pictures as I am a visual learner!) because it is used so often without explanation.

    It’s often paired with “spreading” to create the phrase “slashing and spreading” or “slash and spread”. I think it may have something to do with adding/removing darts and such but this is a guess.

  28. Lisa Blank says:

    Like a few others, I don’t want this to count as an entry for the giveaway, but the terms I struggle with are collar band vs. collar stand. I know I’ve read about them somewhere on this site, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what distinguishes them.

  29. Sylvia Cox says:

    Hi, Everyone!
    My favorite is the US and UK meaning of wool. In both instances, it certainly indicates the fiber content, and in the UK can imply knitting yarn. Kathleen, THANKS for the book giveaways.

  30. Diya says:

    I found this interesting usage of the term “rolled hem” is the rolled hem ! Some times the really rolled hem is called that way. And sometimes a hem which is folded twice narrowly and stitched is also called rolled hem :D

  31. Demetra says:

    My trip-up word is “underlining” and “interlining” I know the difference now, but I would constantly use the wrong word.

  32. Kris K says:

    I could use that book! I’m just getting into sewing for others, and need to know the terminology.

    In my first sewing class, the instructor talked all night about a “sloper” as if we all knew what that was.

  33. Miranda says:

    A certain co-worker of mine always uses mis-attributed terms when describing items to sales reps (I work for an off-price wholesaler). She has frequently used the term “Prada twill” to describe any stretch twill, “Calvin Klein neckline” to describe a halter with thin straps, “Chanel jacket” in reference to anything tweed, and every type of gathering or pleating (even knife pleats) as “ruching.” She also always, ALWAYS, misspells fuchsia as fushcia.

    Something I have a problem with; what is the difference between ruching, gathering, and shirring? Anybody?

    Crossing my fingers to win!
    P.S. Kathleen, I love your site dearly.

  34. Anne says:

    Some patterns recommend “knits with stretch” – does that mean you need a lycra knit with 4-way stretch, or just enough stretch to get it over your head?

  35. Philip Eng says:

    I am always confused about the difference between ‘fusing’ and ‘interlining’. I have used them in the wrong context all the time.

  36. Rose in SV says:

    Armscye! I returned to sewing several years ago, I came across the word ‘armscye’ in several sewing disussion boards. I took me a while to determine what was being altered.

    Barbara, I get amused when I read discussions/blog posting about people are are making “muslims” before they sew the real garment. *eyes rolling*

  37. This ia both a term and a whole body of skill, which is probably why the thing I’d foggy to me. The term sleeve seems instantly understandable, but there is a wealth of skill in designing one that fits the way you want, has the look you want and can be sized up or down…probably a tailor could give me a long tutorial on the fit of sleeves and decisions to be made….when a one piece sleeve is sufficient or when to go to multiple part sleeves…uses of older forms of sleeves and what effect this will get, sleeve caps, easing, the ever annoying problem of commercial patterns with poorly fitting sleeves. And on and on. Barbara

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