Selecting Notions

To complete your sewing project, you'll need thread, fasteners, and maybe more. The small items that become a permanent part of a garment are called notions. All notions are listed on the back of the pattern envelope.

Sitting down to sew and discovering you don't have what you need is frustrating. If you select notions when you buy the fabric, this is less likely to happen.

Lining, interfacing, trim, and elastic are some of the notions purchased by the yard or meter.

Because the amount to buy may depend on pat tern size, these notions are listed in the yardage chart.

Choose notions carefully, making sure the colors look good with the fabric. Also, choose but tons, tapes, trims, and interfacings that require the same care as the fabric. For example, a cotton shirt can't be washed if its trim can only be dry-cleaned.

After purchasing the notions for your project, keep them together in a safe place. A shoebox or zip-top bag makes a good storage container.

When working at school, mark any notion pack ages with your name for easy identification.


TIP: Thread color. Try to match thread color as closely as possible to the fabric, especially when the fabric is a solid color. When matching a print or a plaid, select the background or dominant color for the thread. A single strand of thread will appear slightly lighter in color than it does when wound on the spool. If a small strand of thread is loose on the spool, hold that against the fabric.

Fgr. 1 Thread color should match the fabric as closely as possible.

How would you choose thread for a plaid fabric?

Fgr. 2 In what types of garments would you find these zippers? Conventional Invisible Separating Two-way Trouser Decorative

Thread, which comes in many types and colors, should be the same color as the fabric. See Fgr. 1.

If you can't find the exact color, choose a shade darker. Thread looks lighter after stitching. A good quality thread is strong and smooth, has even thickness, and resists tangling. As noted below, fabric type determines the thread you select.

• Polyester or polyester/cotton thread.

This all-purpose thread can be used for sewing most fabrics. Strong and flexible, it shrinks less than other threads. Because the thread stretches slightly, it's recommended for knits and stretch fabrics. Seams are less likely to break as the garment is worn.

• Mercerized cotton thread. This thread can be used to sew woven fabrics of natural fibers, such as 100% cotton or silk. Cotton thread is used mostly for quilting and crafts.

• Silk thread. Used on silk or wool fabrics, this thread is excellent for basting delicate fabrics.

• Heavy-duty thread. Use this strong and durable thread to sew heavy fabrics, such as those for slipcovers.

• Buttonhole twist thread. A thicker thread than most, this one is used for decorative top stitching and hand-worked buttonholes.

Special threads are available for certain sewing and craft projects. These include serger thread, basting thread, quilting thread, rayon machine embroidery thread, and carpet thread.

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Sewing Machine Needles

The sewing machine needle is the most changeable and replaceable item on your sewing machine. Just as there are many different fabrics, you will need different sewing machine needles to sew those fabrics. Specialty sewing machine needles can help you get special effects that wouldn't be possible with a standard needle. Check your sewing machine manual for the correct type of needle for your particular sewing machine.


The size of the sewing machine needle is in direct correlation with the weight or thickness of the fabric you are sewing. Needles sizes are numbered using both European and American systems. Some companies label their needles with both systems, so you're apt to see 60/8 or 120/19 on a package. In both systems, the higher the number, the thicker the needle, and the larger the hole it will make in the fabric.

Needle Size Conversion Chart

European | American | Fabric Weight | Fabric Examples

60 8 light very sheer fabric

65 9 light lightweight, see-through fabric

70 10 light-medium light T-shirt fabric

75 11 medium blouse fabric

80 12 medium-heavy lightweight denim

90 14 heavy corduroy, suiting

100 16 heavy medium-weight denim

110 18 very heavy jeans

120 19 very heavy canvas


Needles are available in universal, sharp, and ballpoint tips. The needles are designed for different types of fabrics. Your fabric may require a specific point type to obtain uniform stitching from your sewing machine. Universal-point needles can be used for sewing both knit and woven fabrics. Sharp needles are designed for woven fabrics. Ballpoint needles are designed for knit fabrics.


Topstitching needles: have a larger than normal groove to accommodate thicker threads. They work very well for metallic thread that tends to shred with regular needles.

Stretch needles: are the option for sewing knits when a ballpoint needle skips stitches.

Wing needles: have a flared shank and are used to make decorative heir loom stitches.

Denim/jeans needles: are designed for heavy fabric such as denim. The extra sharp point is designed to penetrate layers of heavy fabric.

Double/triple needles: (as shown above) are arranged on a crossbar with variable distances between the needles. Multiple upper threads are used with a single bobbin thread when sewing with a double or triple needle. These needles allow you to sew multiple lines of straight stitching that are parallel to each other.

Quilting needles: are designed to sew through multiple layers and cross seams of quilts.

Self-threading needles are a perfect solution for someone who has difficulty threading a sewing machine needle. A tiny slit in the side of the needle allows the thread to pass into the eye of the needle.

Embroidery needles: have a large eye and protect delicate decorative thread.

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Fasteners are used to close a garment. They include zippers, buttons, snaps, hooks and eyes, buckles, and hook-and-loop tape.


Zippers come in different colors and lengths and have metal or polyester coils. A lightweight, polyester, coil zipper works well with lightweight fabric. Zipper recommendations are listed on the back of the pattern envelope. Choose the right one for the job. See Fgr. 2.

• Conventional zipper. Opens at the top and has a stop at the bottom; the most common zipper.

• Invisible zipper. Disappears into the seam when closed, so all you see is the tab at the top of the zipper.

• Separating zipper. Comes apart at the bottom for use in jackets and coats.

• Two-way zipper. Has sliders at the top and bottom, so can be opened from either end.

• Trouser zipper. Usually has metal teeth and wider tape.

• Decorative zipper. Has large teeth and a pull ring.


The pattern envelope gives the size and number of buttons needed for a project. A button's size is measured across its diameter and stated in fractions of an inch. There are two basic button types. See Fgr. 3.

Fgr. 3 Basic Button Types: Shank button; Sew-through button

• Sew-through buttons. These have two to four holes on the face of the button for attaching with thread.

• Shank buttons. These have a metal, plastic, or fabric loop, called the shank, behind the button. Thread is stitched through the shank to attach the button. A shank allows room for the buttonhole to lie smoothly between the button and the fabric that holds it. Heavy fabrics may require shank buttons.


Snaps range in size from 0000 or 4/0 (small) to size 4 (large). Snaps and other fasteners are shown in Fgr. 4. Smaller snap sizes hold edges together where the strain or pull is minimal.

Larger sizes are good for heavy-duty use. Large covered snaps are available for coats and suits.

Snaps pre-attached to fabric tapes are ideal for sportswear and children's wear.

Hooks and Eyes

Hooks and eyes range in size from 0 (small) to 3 (large). They are packaged with two types of eyes.

• Curved eye. Used on edges that just meet, such as the edge of a collar or neckline.

• Straight eye. Used on lapped edges, such as a waistband or cuff.

Large covered hooks and eyes are available for coats and jackets. Specialty waistband fasteners have a large, flat, hook-and-bar closure.


Buckles of many shapes, sizes, and materials can be purchased separately or in belt kits. There are two basic types.

• Buckle with a prong. These buckles must be used with eyelets. Ready-made metal eyelets can be applied to the belt with special pliers or an attaching tool. Eyelets can also be hand sewn with a buttonhole stitch.

• Buckle without a prong. These can simply be stitched to the belt end; no eyelets are needed.

Hook-and-Loop Tape This fastener consists of two nylon strips, one with tiny hooks and one with looped pile. The hooks and pile intermesh when pressed together.

Such tape is often used on jackets, sportswear, and children's clothes. Available by the yard or in precut shapes, it can be stitched by hand or machine.

Fgr. 4 Types of Fasteners: Snap; Hook and curved eye; Hook and straight eye, Buckle without prong, Buckle with prong, Hook-and-loop tape

Fgr. 5 Tapes and Trims: Seam tape Bias tape Twill tape Piping Hem facing Ribbing


Tapes and trims can be functional or decorative. See Fgr. 5. They reinforce a seam, cover a fabric edge, or create a special design on the out side of a garment. You'll find many types, widths, and colors. They may be woven, knitted, braided, or made of lace. If you can't match trim color to fabric exactly, select a contrasting color instead.

Purpose determines which tape or trim to choose. To prevent fabric from stretching, select a firm, non-stretchable tape or trim. For areas that should stretch during wear, such as a knitted cuff, choose a stretchable tape or trim.

Some of the common tapes and trims include the following:

• Seam tape. Woven tape or lace used to finish hem and facing edges.

• Bias tape. Single-fold or double-fold tape for binding curved or straight edges; also used for casings, ties, and trims.

• Hem facing. Wide bias tape or lace for facing hems and binding edges.

• Fold-over braid. Knitted braid folded in half and used for binding and trimming edges.

• Ribbing. Stretchable knitted band used to finish a neckline, armhole, sleeve, pant leg, or lower edge.

• Twill tape. Firmly woven tape for reinforcing seams.

• Piping. Narrow, corded, bias strip of fabric inserted into a seam for a decorative trim.

• Cable cord. Filler for piping, cording, and tubing.

• Belting. Very stiff band used to reinforce belts and waistbands.


Since elastic comes in several types and widths, your choice depends on whether it will be used in a casing or stitched directly to a garment. Read the label when purchasing elastic to be sure it will serve the correct purpose. See Fgr. 6.

• Woven elastic. Stays the same width when stretched, so it can be stitched directly to a garment or used in a casing.

• Braided elastic. Recommended only for casings because it narrows when stretched.

• Clear elastic. Very stretchy elastic that's stitched directly to the fabric; particularly suit able for swimwear and lingerie.

• Special-purpose elastics. Available for lingerie, swimwear, and activewear.


Interfacings and linings are fabrics used on the inside of a garment. They should not be seen through a garment. Both must be able to receive the same care as the outer fabric.

Fgr. 6 Elastics Woven Braided Clear


Fabric interfacing is placed between the outer fabric and the facing to prevent stretching of necklines, front closings, and buttonholes. It adds shape to collars, cuffs, pockets, and hems.

Interfacing can also add crispness and stability to waistbands and belts. Each of the basic interfacings has a different application method.

• Sew-in interfacing. Must be stitched by machine or hand to the garment; available in either woven or nonwoven fabrics.

• Fusible interfacing. Has a resin coating on the back of either woven or nonwoven fabric; fuses or bonds to fabric when pressed.

• Combination fusible/sew-in interfacing.

Temporarily fuses to fabric with a cool iron so that it acts like a fusible during the sewing process; when the finished garment is washed or dry-cleaned, the interfacing loses its bond and becomes a sew-in.

Interfacing weights range from very light weight to heavyweight. Choose an interfacing that's the same weight or lighter than your fabric. Heavyweight interfacings are recommended only for accessories and crafts.


A lining is a fabric used to finish the inside of a jacket, coat, skirt, dress, or pants. A lining helps prevent the garment from stretching and reduces wrinkling. Select lining fabric that's firmly woven, slippery, and static-free. The color of a jacket lining can either match or contrast with the outer fabric.

A lining is constructed separately and then inserted into the garment. For skirts and pants, the lining is attached along the waistband and zipper. For coats, jackets, vests, and dresses, the lining is stitched around the facing edges. The hem of a lining can be sewn to the garment hem or hemmed separately. Jacket hems are usually sewn to the garment; coat and skirt hems are hemmed separately.

TIPS: Lining and interfacing. To check the final effect of lining and interfacing, drape a piece of fabric over them while you're in the store. Examine how they look and feel together. Remember that even though fusible and sew-in interfacing feel the same, fusible will give crisper results.

Always test fusible interfacing on a fabric scrap.


Fgr. 7 Fusible Web

Fusible webs hold two layers of fabric together. The webs are a network of bondable fibers. See Fgr. 7. When heat and /or steam is applied, the web melts and fuses the fabric layers. Fusible webs can be used to hem, apply trims, and hold facing edges in place.

Narrow- and wide-width fusible webs are sold by the yard. Some have a peel-off paper backing for easier cutting and use. Before applying, read instructions and test on scrap fabric.

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Friday, 2012-06-01 11:17