N is for Needle, Needlepoint & Notions


Needles come in a variety of sizes and shapes.  There are machine needles and hand sewing needles.  Hand needles are used for all types of embroidery including needlepoint and crewel, candlewicking, needle punch, quilting, and for sewing knitted and crocheted projects together.

Usually, the larger the number size the larger the needle.  Sewing machine needles go from 70 to 90 or 10 through 16 for domestic machines.  The needles are chosen according to the type of project, the weight of the fabric and the kind of thread being used.

Needlepoint is a type of needlework created by following a pattern that has been printed onto a screen like background.  The piece is completely filled in with the yarn or thread used and the piece is usually stapled to a wooden frame for stitching.

Image result for needlepoint images

Notions refer to the tools used for sewing or quilting.  I can tell you that for a quilter notions are a favorite subject for discussion and procurement.  It seems we all want the latest gadget available to make our task as easy as possible.

Notions include scissors, needles, thimbles, thread, rulers, rotary cutters, pins, zippers, elastic, bobbins and bobbin holders…there is an extensive list that goes on and on.


M is for Material


Material in the sewing world is the cloth fabric that is used.  Cotton, polyester, wool, linen, silk, satin, denim, and others are readily available today.  Many fabrics are imported some are still made in this country.  There are chains of stores here JoAnn’s, Hobby Lobby, AC Moore to name a few and many many quilt shops where a variety of material can be obtained, along with thread to compliment your projects.

L is for Lockstitch


A lockstitch is the most common mechanical stitch made by a sewing machine.  It differs from a chain stitch in that there is no chain on the underside of the stitched fabric.  Chain stitching machines are mostly handheld or children’s sewing machines.  Most of the industry use only lockstitch machines.

When sewing with a lockstitch the tension must be even on both the top and bottom thread.  It is suitable for stretch fabrics, and any other available fabrics on the market today.

The chain stitch is very good for making bathing suits, and for very stretchy fabric because the chain on the underside has more give to it.



K is for Knit & Knot


Knitting is done with wool or synthetic yarn.  Sweaters, scarves, gloves, mittens, afghans, and many other articles are made by knitting.  The basic stitches of knitting are knit and purl.  Every other stitch is basically a variation of these two basic stitches.

You can also knit using a loom.  There are many options available for whatever you want to make.  It is not necessary to spend a fortune to give knitting a try.  Yarn, knitting needles are inexpensive and there are so many patterns available for free online and on the inside label of yarn.

There are many groups or clubs for knitters.  It is a wonderful way to make new friends and create beautiful pieces.  When my grandchildren were little I used to knit them hats and scarves.  They always loved them.  I lived far from them and I always felt it was like me hugging them all winter long.  🙂

We mention knots here because they are needed to hold the thread in place.  After threading a needle, a small knot is made at the end of the thread.  This keeps the end of the thread from slipping right through the fabric.  Knots are used in hand stitching, not with a sewing machine.  When using a sewing machine backstitching is done by reversing the direction of the fabric as it goes over the feed dogs.


J is for Join


When you are sewing you join the fabric together by stitching.  This is how you create seams in clothing and between blocks when making quilts.  It is a pretty simple concept that can be accomplished by either hand or sewing machine.

However, join also stands for joining sewing and quilting bees, clubs, and guilds.  The fellowship that comes from joining these types of groups is wonderful.  Lasting friendships are often made and cherished.  Both men and women are members.  Very often many of these groups make articles of clothing and quilts for charity.  My guild has several outreach projects that we are involved in.  We make newborn quilts for our community hospital, newborn baby hats, habitat home quilts, lap quilts for area nursing homes, cancer quilts and hats, cognitive therapy quilts for dementia residents, veteran lap quilts, and walker bags.  We are a busy guild and I love this part of my quilting guild.




I is for Inseam, Interfacing, & Iron


An inseam is the seam along the inner length of pants.  In men’s trousers, the sizes are waist measurement first then the inseam length.  For instance 28 x 36.  This is a very important measurement when making pants.

Interfacing is used to give stability to the fabric.  It can be fusible or sew in.  There are many different weights of interfacing so that the weight stabilizes the specific parts of clothing.   Like collars, cuffs, buttonhole areas, etc.  Interfacing is also used when making quilts.  Machine appliqué requires the use of interfacing to keep the applique stable for the machine stitching.  This is used for unfinished edged appliqué.

Irons are used when sewing.  The fabric is washed before being used in quilting, so it must be ironed before cutting so that you get a nice even edge on your fabric.

H is for Hand Stitch, Hem, Hook and Eye, & Hoop


Hand stitch is simply when you sew by hand instead of using a sewing machine.  There are many styles of hand stitching.  Embroidery is one example.

Ahem is a finished edge to clothing.  Hemming can be done by hand or by machine.  With the new computerized sewing machine, the variety of hemming stitches is great.

Hook and Eyes are used to connect two edges of clothing.  It gives a seamless look and many times they are used instead of buttons or zippers.  They are hand sewn onto the fabric.

Lastly, hoops are used for hand and machine embroidery, hand and machine quilting, and many other styles of handwork.  Crewel, cross stitch, needlepoint, etc.



G is for Grain


Grain –The lengthwise and crosswise threads—warp and weft directions—of a woven fabric. The lengthwise grain runs parallel to the selvage and the least amount of stretch, whereas the crosswise grain runs perpendicular to the selvage and has slightly more give.

This is very important to consider when constructing both articles of clothing and making a quilt.  When you are using a pattern for making clothes, the pattern is marked in the direction it should be placed on the grain.  If you do not lay the pattern out in the correct direction, you may wind up with a poorly fitting piece.

When you are cutting out your blocks for making a quilt top, it is very important to follow the grain.  You do not want those blocks to stretch when being put together.  If you do not have your fabric squared up prior to cutting, you will wind up with a bias cut.  This is not ideal because as you are sewing the piece into the top it will stretch out of shape.

You also want the fabric to look uniform in your project.  If you run one side of a blouse one way on the grain and the other side in the opposite way, your fabric will look slightly different in your blouse.  It is always better to have more fabric so that you can lay out your pattern correctly, then to do all of the work making something and it not looking right.

Below is a great image that shows the grain of the fabric.

Image result for grain of fabric images
Image from LearnHowToQuilt.com

F is for Felting


There are two ways to make felt.  Either by needle or the wet method.

To make a needle felted piece you need a background piece of fabric, a felting mat, a felting needle and your roving.  A roving is a long and narrow bundle of fiber. Rovings are produced during the process of making spun yarn from wool fleece, raw cotton, or other fibers. Their main use is as fiber prepared for spinning, but they are great for needle felting.

There are also felting machines on the market.  I think you would have to do an awful lot of felting to put that much money into it.

Wet felting is the process of combining roving into a flat piece of cloth.  There are many instructional videos online if you are interested in trying this process.  If you follow the link below in the picture, you will find a great tutorial for easy felted ornaments.  This is great for a beginner.

I must admit I have never felted anything.  But it does look like it might be fun to do.  I may give it a try.

Image from Northpole.com


E is for Embroidery


The term Embroidery encompasses a lot of stitches and styles.  Crewelwork is actually a type of surface embroidery.  Usually, when we talk about embroidery we are talking about outlining and filling in areas on a piece of fabric.

Image from Basic Embroidery Designs


There are special needles that are used and the size depends on the type of thread you choose to use and the fabric you are using.

The thread choices are quite expansive.  Floss, pearl cotton, and ribbon are just a few of them.  Patterns can be traced onto a background piece of fabric, or you can purchase many prestamped pieces.  Many stores sell the iron on patterns too.

Embroidery that is only done in one color is called redwork.  I am not sure if you call work done in a single color that is not red if it is called blue work or blackwork, etc.  The traditional one color embroidery is red.

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Image from Embroidery Library


This is an example of redwork.  Sometimes an outline is all that is done, sometimes small areas are filled in.

Image from Valdani


This is an example of pearl cotton.  There are several manufacturers of pearl cotton that can be purchased.  The size of the pearl cotton you use will change how the stitches look.  Quality is important when embroidering.



This is embroidery floss.  Usually, you separate the strands into sets of two.  Most embroidery patterns call for using two strands.  You should not cut your floss too long as it will tangle while you are stitching.  Again there are many manufacturers of the floss.

Embroidery Thread, 24 skeins
Photo from Creative Street Embroidery


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Image from Artfabrik


Here is a chart with needle sizes and pearl cotton sizes.  As you can see, the size you choose will change the look of your stitches.

There are many, many embroidery stitches.  Too many to list here, but there are several sources that you can get that list them all and give instruction as to how to make them.

Image result for Embroidery stitches
Image from The Spruce

This is a sample of the most basic stitches.  There are many online resources that you can obtain instruction for free.

The last type of embroidery I want to mention is machine embroidery.  This is fun to do especially if you have little ones around you sew for.  I love to put little sayings and cute animals on my granddaughter’s tee shirts.  It’s also nice to monogram with an embroidery machine.  You can tell the difference between hand and machine embroidery.  It’s just a matter if you like using a machine more than hand sewing.

Image from SewYouDesignShop

This is an example of machine embroidery.

When you are making an embroidery piece a hoop is used.  There are many types of hoops on the market.  Some are metal, some are wood, some are plastic some are round and some are square.  There really isn’t any right hoop or wrong hoop.  It’s what you are comfortable using.

I learned to embroider with a metal hoop.  It was given to me in the 1950’s.  I used it for a very long time.  The only problem I see with using a metal hoop is that they do eventually lose their finish and can put marks on your piece.  When that happened to my metal hoop I switched to a wooden one.  Now I use plastic hoops.  They make them now with a stop on the hoop so that you don’t push the hooped piece through the outer hoop.

When you are making an embroidery piece it is very important that when you are done stitching for the day you do not leave your needle in the fabric.  if you have excess around your piece you can stick it through that area, but never leave it where the stitching is.  If for some reason you don’t get back to that project for a long time, the needle can rust and stain your piece.

My mother had started a stamped tablecloth after she married my dad.  She had done a small amount of the work and put it away.  Years later after I was married it wound up with me.  I opened it up and the needle had stained the tablecloth.  I worked on that stain to see if I could get it out and I was unable to.  I was able to stitch over it by adding a small branch into the design.  I was lucky.  Another project I had left a needle was ruined.

Embroidery is fun and relaxing.  Projects work up quickly and you get better the more you do.  If you like to have something to do when sitting in front of the TV, I suggest giving embroidery a try.