A hand-sewn stitch used for a seam when great strength is required. The stitches are of even length, with no space between them.
part of a plant fibre
A term used to describe an open gown either T-shaped (Kimono style)
bias, bias cut
A term used to describe fabric that is cut on the exact diagonal between warp and weft threads. Generally, when worn, a bias cut part of a garment will have the warp and weft running diagonally. See also bias binding
The upper front part of some aprons, dungarees etc., that covers the upper front of the body.
Collins English Dictionary, (Glasgow: Harper, Collins, 1995).
a type of porcelain which has a matt surface.
A hand-sewn stitch used to neaten a raw edge or a turning of a fabric that frays easily.
balanced weave: fabrics in which the warp and weft are made of threads of the same weight (size) and the same number of ends per inch as picks per inch
A wide neckline that runs horizontally, front and back, almost to the shoulder points, across the collarbone.
The portion of a women’s dress above the waist. Women’s dresses can be made in one piece or assembled from a combination of two or more matching or coordinating elements. The use of separate skirt and bodice was more common when the skirts were full and bodices elaborately constructed.
A method of accommodating a greater breadth of fabric in a smaller space by folding under the sides of the pleat to the depth of less than half the size of the top.
Short trousers, fastened below the knee.
Concise Oxford Dict. 9th Ed
calendered: pressed between rollers. Some of the Cardiganshire/Carmarthenshire gowns have almost shiny surfaces which have been calendered.
A closely fitting head-covering of unstructured material with an optional brim or edging
wood pulp or sawdust mixed with glue and other materials.
CB (centre back)
A term used to describe the vertical line that runs down the mid back of a garment. CSH
CF (centre front)
A term used to describe the vertical line that runs down the mid front of a garment. CSH
Used to describe a necklace or ribbon worn high round the throat.
The first layer of clothing worn against the skin, made either of flannel, plain weave cotton or linen, white or cream in colour. Some are T-shaped, others have round and low necklines and can be trimmed with lace. Also known as a shift.
Drawers and chemise combined into one undergarment, and introduced in the 1870s. Summer or evening combinations were made of light fabrics such as silk; winter versions were made of flannel or wool. Combinations remained popular until 1930.
Concise Oxford Dict. 9th Ed; Lynn 2010, Carter 1992
Top section of a hat.
Concise Oxford Dict. 9th Ed
cut on cross See bias, bias cut, bias binding
A method of repair using rows of running stitch worked over weak or torn areas of fabric.
A method of taking away a wedge-shaped piece of fullness to get a plain effect. It is similar to a tuck but has the stitching slanting off to join the fold.
Long, voluminous underpants, not general female wear until the 1840s. Generally two tubes of fabric gathered onto a waistband, and left open at the crotch. Fastened round the waist by means of a drawstring, buttons, or both
Concise Oxford Dict. 9th Ed; Lynn 2010; Carter 1992
dressmaker’s hemming or felling.
Used to secure a folded edge or a selvedge to material below. It is worked on the wrong side.
The colour of unbleached linen.
A fashionable cut of dress with high waist-line.
faced, facing Also called a false hem.
It is used to simulate a hem where the material is too thick to turn twice or where turnings are insufficient. It may be of the same material or a thinner one. A facing may be used on many parts of a garment – front and back openings, cuffs, neck edges, wrists or sleeves, collars, trimmings etc.
An embroidery stitch sometimes used to decorate the CF edges and hems of cloaks and hems of underskirts. Also known as single coral stitch. Other variants include feather stitch – chained, feather stitch – closed, Feather stitch – double feather stitch – long armed (Cretan Stitch), feather stitch single.
felling See dressmaker’s hemming.
A women’s small triangular shawl of lace etc. for the shoulders and neck.
Concise Oxford Dict. 9th Ed; MF
A seam where the raw, cut edges of the fabric are enclosed. It is made by stitching an open seam but with wrong sides together, trimming the seam allowance, then folding along the seam line face sides together and stitching along that folded edge ensuring that the cut edge is enclosed.
A decorative lace or linen ruffle.
An item of clothing, usually a tie or band, used to hold up stockings (or socks)
Baclawski 1995 (CSH)
Gathering stitch is worked like running stitch, but the thread is drawn up afterwards to the desired fullness of fabric. Gathering stitch can also be worked by sewing machine using a long stitch length, set on straight stitch.
white paint mixture consisting of a binder mixed with chalk, gypsum pigment, or any combination of these.
trimming of cotton, silk or worsted over a cord or wire.
A piece let into a garment to strengthen or enlarge a part.
Concise Oxford Dict. 9th Ed
handkerchief See neckerchief
A trimming for the hat usually arranged at the junction of brim and crown, and an important decorative feature
Ginsburg, 1990, p. 155.
A turned fold on a raw edge sewn down in a variety of ways to make it firm and prevent fraying – see herringbone stitch, slip hemming etc.
A hand-sewn stitch used to hold down a raw edge such as a hem. It can also be used as a decorative embroidery stitch, where it is known as Mossoul Stitch, Russian Stitch, and Russian Cross Stitch.
CSH/ Horner 1950; Thomas 1934
a chalky-white, brittle, weak fibre which do not accept dye.
LH, LHS left hand
Left hand (LH) and left hand side (LHS) indicates side of garment as if described by the wearer. (cf RH and RHS)
treated cotton, and sometimes linen and hemp threads, a process which strengthens them and gives them a lustrous appearance.
A square of cloth, worn around the neck to fill in the neckline. It is tucked into the top of the bodice and sometimes referred to as a handkerchief
Arnold 1977, MF
open seam See plain seam
A hand-sewn stitch used for neatening the raw edges of turnings.
A hand-sewn stitch sometimes known as top-sewing or seaming. It is a strong stitch and used to join two folded edges face to face where they will not be seen. The stitches are worked closer together than overcasting.
overstitch See overcasting
A short flounce or overskirt attached at the waist or the bodice of a dress or jacket. Yarwood 1978
Also referred to as a skirt. This is the visible skirt worn under an open bedgown
plain seam Also know as an open seam.
Two layers of material are placed one over the other (right sides together) with edges even. A line of stitching (e.g. running, back-stitch or straight machine stitch) is then made approximately 1.5cm or less from the edge.
Folds made and pressed in the material of a garment to give fullness, to aid the fit or purely as decoration.
A separate pocket tied around the waist to hang either beneath an apron, skirt or petticoat.
After Burnan 2006
popper, press stud, fastening
A fastening device consisting of one part with a projecting knob that snaps into a hole on another like part, used especially in closures on clothing.
Collins English Dictionary (Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1995).
Close-fitting dress line achieved by making a garment without a waist seam.
RH, RHS, right hand
Right hand (RH) and right and side (RHS) indicates side of garment as if described by the wearer. (cf LH and LHS)
A cut edge of cloth that is unfinished and may be liable to fray
rouch, rouche, ruching
A pleated or goffered, decorative trimming sewn to garments, made of self-material or in lace, gauze or ribbon
A hand-sewn stitch in which the needle ‘runs’ along the material, making stitches of equal length on front and back. A quick method of sewing seams where great strength is not required, also for tucks.
CSH/Horner 1939, ET based on Thomas 1934
S and Z twist
the direction of the twist of a yarn.
An ornamental edging cut in material in imitation of the edge of a scallop shell Concise Oxford Dict. 9th Ed
the finished edge of a piece of loom-made fabric.
A separate sleeve attached to the bodice with a seam at the armhole. It is fitted at the armhole so that it hangs without an access of fabric under the arm.
A square of flannel (plain or woven check pattern), usually with a fringe, folded in half diagonally and worn around the shoulders (larger square shawl or shoulder shawl)
A long rectangular piece of flannel worn around the shoulders
A long rectangular piece of flannel used to hold a baby (nursing shawl).
a mixture of fibres – often wool fibres of differing colours,
skirt Also referred to as a petticoat. A term referring to the first visible layer below the waist, worn with or without a bedgown.
Short stockings to below the knee
A hand sewn stitch used to sew a hem invisibly
A hand sewn stitch used to join two folded edges invisibly, such as those of a cuff and a coat sleeve.
A hand-sewn stitch often used through two or more layers of thick material where a running or back-stitching would be impossible. The needle is simply passed upward and downward through the material.
A knitted or woven covering for the leg and foot, generally to above the knee.
A machined stitch that looks like the face side of back stitch, consisting of an upper thread and lower ‘bobbin’ thread.
Strips of linen for wrapping babies, intended to keep the child warm safely in its resting place.
A hand-sewn temporary stitch used to keep two or more pieces of material in position for permanent sewing, or to indicate fitting or trimming lines. The simplest form is “even tacking” and used for seams, hems, facings, etc. Stitches are in the form of an even running stitch but more widely spaced.
A man’s morning or evening coat with a long skirt divided at the back into tails and cut away in front, worn as part of formal dress.
Concise Oxford Dict. 9th Ed.
ends/wales per cm: the number of warp threads per centimetre of woven fabric.
picks/rows per cm: the number of weft threads per centimetre
A tuck is a fold of fabric used as a decorative feature, holding fullness and used for shaping. They are even in width and stitched in groups or arranged on a complete section of a garment.
A term used to describe the edge of a piece of fabric, or edge of a garment such as the edge of an apron, when folded along its length to create a hem.
A term used to describe any skirt that is not visible under a petticoat or skirt. Usually it is made from a rectangle of fabric, seamed and gathered into the waist.
An encircling band of material to finish and strengthen a skirt or trousers and the waist
Collins English Dictionary (Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1995)
Arnold, Janet Patterns of Fashion 1 Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction c.1660-1860 (MacMillan, London 1977)
Baclawski, Karen, The Guide to Historic costume. (London, 1995)
Barbara Burman & Seth Denbo, Pockets of History: The secret life of an everyday object. http://www.vads.ac.uk/collections/POCKETS Bath: Museum of Costume 2006
Carter, Alison Underwear: The Fashion History (London,1992)
Cumming, Valerie, The Visual History of Costume Accessories (B. T. Batsford, London, 1998)
Ginsburg, Madelaine, The Hat: Trends and Traditions Studio Editions, (London 1990)
Horner, Isabel Teach Yourself Dressmaking (English Universities Press,1950)
Ireland, Patrick John, Encyclopedia of Fashion Details (B. T. Batsford, London 1987)
Lynn, Eleri Underwear: Fashion in Details. (V&A publishing, London, 2010)
Marshall, Noreen, Dictionary of Children’s clothes 1700 to present. (V&A publishing London, 2008)
Rothstein, Natalie Four Hundred years of fashion. Ed Natalie Rothstein, (V&A publishing, London 1984)
Waugh, Norah The Cut of Women’s Clothes 1600-1930 (Faber and Faber, London 1968)
Yarwood, Doreen The Encyclopedia of World Costume (B. T. Batsford, London, 1978)
CSH Clare Stoughton-Harris
ET Emma Telford
MF Michael Freeman
Glossary of terms used in the descriptions of the dolls costumes pdf file with a few images, but without some of the terms below, for downloading.