Jane McGuire

The pattern cutters dictionary

The pattern cutters dictionary

First published date December 17 2015 Amended date January 29 2016

Picking up a pattern for the first time can feel like trying to read a foreign language. With so many symbols and unknown terms, to help you on your way we thought we would write a few down (you can thank us later). Have a read and get ready to impress on your pattern cutting course.


Armscye: this is basically a fancy word for the arm hole of a garment where the sleeve is attached.


Alter: to change or resize a pattern to suit individual sizing.


Block: a block is a basic pattern from which patterns for many different styles can be developed.


Bodice: the part of the pattern which runs from the shoulder to the waist.

Image via scoot.co.uk


Cutting line: on a pattern, the outmost dark line is the line upon which you cut. The technique varies here, some people cutting through the centre, others cutting just outside the line.


Dart: a v-shaped adjustment to a pattern to allow fullness in certain areas. This can be added for fit or design elements.


Fold line: many pattern pieces are placed on the fold of a piece of fabric to try and make sure the pattern piece can be cut out without a centre seam.


Grading seams: trimming raw edges in widths to reduce bulk.


Grain: the direction of the fabric – this is usually indicated using arrows on the pattern.


Placket: the v shaped opening at the end of a sleeve before the cuff is attached.


Pleat: a fold in the fabric, which provides decorative or functional fullness.

Image via creativepatterncutter.co.uk


Right side: exactly what it says on the tin, the right side of the fabric is the design side. If this is not obvious by the material, the right side will be chosen by the pattern cutter.


Seam allowance: the fabric between the edge of the fabric and the line of stitching.


Selvedge: the edge of the fabric which generally doesn’t fray after the manufacturers finish.


Sloper: another word used for a block.


View: most patterns will show a number of different variations/angles of the same garment. Each variation is called a view.

Image via scruffybadgertime.co.uk


Wrong side: unsurprisingly, the wrong side is the opposite to the right side – the side of the fabric with no design.


If you are ready to learn more about pattern cutting, why not take a look at the list of courses on the site, dig out your sewing scissors and get inspired! 

Jane McGuire

Jane McGuire received her BA (English) from the University of Loughborough. A yoga enthusiast with a sweet tooth, in her spare time you will probably find Jane in the gym or online shopping.