What do those terms mean?

“Bias Binding”

This is a long narrow strip of fabric cut on the bias, meaning that it’s able to move and that it bends more than you might expect. It’s frequently used to finish the edges of projects.

It is possible to make this yourself but bias binding tape is readily available to purchase in a vast array of colours and sizes.

“On the grain or on the bias?”

This refers to the way that a pattern template is orientated on the fabric.

I find it helpful to remember that fabric is woven from threads in a criss-cross pattern.

If you look at your fabric you will see these threads running vertically and horizontally.

Without going into too much detail, broadly speaking if you want to cut the pieces ‘on the grain’ then you need to lay them out to match the direction of these threads. The vertical threads are considered to be the strongest.

Cutting on the grain means that the item has less stretch, but it’s also less fidgety and stronger.

Patterns may alternatively call to be cut ‘on the bias’.

You need to imagine a square drawn on the fabric. The vertical sides run in the same direction as those vertical threads we looked at above and the horizontal sides of the square lie in the same direction as the horizontal threads of the fabric.

The bias is therefore a 45 degree angle running between either the top left and bottom right corners or bottom left and top right corners.

Fabric cut in this way isn’t as strong as fabric cut on the grain but it gains a movement and fluidity which can be useful for certain projects, including some clothing.

“Right” and “Wrong” sides of fabric

Most fabrics have a right and wrong side. Put simply the ‘right side’ is the side that you’d want to be on show once you’ve finished your project and packed away your needle and thread. You can identify the right side simply by looking at the material. See the side where the colours are brighter and lines sharper? Well, that’s the right side!

Stabiliser Fabric

Stabilisers add a bit of support to your fabric while you are stitching, particularly if the fabric is stretchy, loosely woven or you’re embarking on a heavy load of embroidery.

The stabiliser acts to stop the fabric from shifting out of place, which would mean that your embroidery would end up wonky, puckered, or generally out of place.


This is a line of stitches running close to and parallel to the finished edge of a project. These stitches remain on show and, whilst good topstitching really makes an item sparkle, poor topstitching unfortunately calls for your faithful seam ripper to come out from hiding.

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