Home » Haberdashery Glossary – Common tools and when to use them


Haberdashery Glossary – Common tools and when to use them

Haberdashery James Higgs November 13th, 2023

Merchant and Mills Pattern – Eve Trouser 6 – 18

Knowing your Ric Rac from your Rotary Cutters. Our Haberdashery Glossary


In this latest blog we will be looking at all things haberdashery. This will act as a haberdashery glossary on common sewing tools but we'll also tell you when to use them. If you have any additional questions, I'm sure you won't be the only one, so why not ask us on Instagram. Then our answers can help others too.

Where shall we start? Well let's start with A.

Automatic Bobbin Winder

An automatic bobbin winder is a device that winds thread onto a bobbin automatically. This can save time and effort, especially if you sew frequently. You can get them in a variety of styles and some common features of automatic bobbin winders include:

  • Adjustable tension: This allows you to control the tension of the thread as it is wound onto the bobbin.
  • Automatic shut-off: This feature prevents the winder from overfilling the bobbin.
  • Bobbin holder: This keeps the bobbin in place while it is being wound.
  • Thread guide: This helps to keep the thread on track as it is being wound onto the bobbin.

See our sewing tools here


Bias Binding

Bias binding, also known as bias tape, is a narrow strip of fabric, typically plain weave, cut on the bias. As the weave of fabric is at a 45-degree angle, the resulting fabric strip is stretchier than a strip cut on the grain.

Bias binding is used in a variety of sewing projects, including:

  • Finishing raw edges: Bias binding can be used to finish off the raw edges of fabrics, such as the armholes and necklines of garments. This helps to prevent the edges from fraying and gives the garment a more polished look.

  • Adding decorative trim: Bias binding can be used to add decorative trim to a variety of projects, such as curtains, pillows, and bags. It can also be used to create piping, which is a decorative cord that is inserted into a seam.

  • Binding quilts: Bias binding is often used to bind quilts, as it is strong and flexible enough to hold the layers of fabric together.

  • Making clothing accessories: Bias binding can be used to make a variety of clothing accessories, such as straps, headbands, and ties.

You can see our HUGE range of Bias Binding here



Bias Tape Maker

A bias tape maker is a tool that is used to create bias tape. There are two main types of bias tape makers: manual bias tape makers and electric bias tape makers.

Manual bias tape makers are small, handheld tools that are operated by hand. They are easy to use and inexpensive, but they can be a bit slow to work with.

Electric bias tape makers are larger, more powerful tools that are powered by electricity. They are faster to work with than manual bias tape makers, but they are also more expensive.

See our sewing tools here


Now we know you know what elastic is, but here are some tips on when to use this stretchy material in sewing to add flexibility and comfort to garments. It is available in a variety of widths and thicknesses, from narrow bands to wide ribbons.

  • Gathering fabric to create ruffles or shirring
  • Creating casings for waistbands and cuffs
  • Making straps for dresses, tops, and swimsuits
  • Adding stretch to pockets and other areas of a garment

See our range of elastic here

Interfacing / Fusible Interlining

Interfacing, also known as fusible interlining, is an extra layer of fabric that is ironed or stitched to the wrong side of a main fabric to add structure, support, or stability. It is commonly used in collars, cuffs, facings, waistbands, and other areas of a garment that need to hold their shape or resist wear and tear.

See our range of Interfacing here

Pleated and Gathered Trims

Pleated trim is made by folding fabric into pleats and then stitching the pleats in place. The pleats can be made in a variety of ways, such as accordion pleats, knife pleats, and box pleats. Pleated trim can be used to add a touch of elegance to collars, cuffs, and other trim details.

Gathered trim is made by gathering fabric together with stitches and then pulling the stitches to create a gathered effect. Gathered trim can be used to add volume and texture to garments and other projects. It is often used on skirts, sleeves, and necklines.

Which to use?

Both pleated and gathered trim can be made from a variety of fabrics, including cotton, wool, silk, and synthetic fabrics. They can be used to add a touch of creativity and personalisation to a variety of projects.

See our range of Pleated and Gathered trims here


Our Haberdashery Glossary continued . .


Ever wondered what pins to use when? Here's a low down on different types of pins and when it is best to use them.

  • Glass head pins: These are the most common type of sewing pin and are a good all-purpose choice. They have glass heads which allow you to see them easily and they are strong enough to pierce most fabrics.

  • Ballpoint pins: These pins have a rounded tip instead of a sharp point, making them ideal for delicate fabrics such as knits and silks. The rounded tip prevents the pins from snagging the fabric.

  • Silk pins: These pins are very fine and have extra-long shafts, making them perfect for delicate fabrics like silk and chiffon. They are also good for pinning seams when you don't want to see the pins through the fabric.

And more . .

  • Quilting pins: These pins are short and fine, making them perfect for quilting. They are strong enough to pierce multiple layers of fabric and they have small heads that won't snag the fabric.

  • Upholstery pins: These pins are long and thick, making them perfect for heavy-duty fabrics such as upholstery and leather. They are strong enough to pierce multiple layers of fabric and they have large heads that won't snag the fabric.

  • Flower pins: These pins have decorative heads, making them perfect for embellishment. They are not as strong as other types of pins, so they are not ideal for heavy-duty fabrics.
  • Specialty pins: There are a number of other types of specialty pins available, such as basting pins, decorative pins, and safety pins. These pins are designed for specific purposes, such as basting quilts, adding embellishments to garments, or securing closures.

See our range of pins here



Piping is a type of trim or embellishment consisting of a strip of folded fabric so as to form a "pipe" inserted into a seam to define the edges or style lines of a garment or other textile object. Usually the fabric strip is cut on the bias. It may be made from either self-fabric (the same fabric as the object to be ornamented) or contrasting fabric, or of leather.

Piping can be used to add a decorative touch to a variety of projects.

See our range of Piping here

Ric Rac

Ric-rac is a narrow, zigzag-patterned trim made of cotton, polyester, or other synthetic fibers. It is commonly used to embellish garments, home décor items, and other craft projects.

See our range of Ric Rac here


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