I am based in the UK and enjoy making and researching historical costumes so sometimes I will be using the historical term or a UK-based term for sewing technique, fabrics, etc. Here’s some definitions to avoid confusion and help those for whom English is a second language.
Note: This is updated as I go along.
carbage — also known as cabbage; the scraps and pieces of fabric left over when cutting out a pattern. The terms dates back to the 17th century. The Dreamstress has a very good blog post about the history of the term here.
mock-up — to avoid confusion, I usually don’t use the term toile or muslin as these are also the names of types of fabrics. Instead, I use the term ‘mock-up’ for the practice making up of a pattern using a cheaper fabric to test for fit.
muslin — I’m in the UK. In Modern British English, when I go to a fabric shop and ask for ‘muslin’ I get a sheer, loose-weave cotton aka cheesecloth. When making late C18th and C19th gowns, this is a more closely woven, sheer cotton aka voile.
I make C18th and C19th costumes, so my sewing techniques and terminology is based on these periods. I really recommend the pdf of Hand Sewing Help: Stitches for 18th Century Reproduction Clothing by North West Territory Alliance (2017) for a list of historical hand stitches, illustrations and links to demonstration videos.
combination stitch; sometimes called running back stitch — A running stitch with a backstitch for strength. Do a running stitch by taking several even stitches on the needle at once. Once the needle is pulled through, take a backstitch and start again. This is often used for skirt seams because they do not take a lot of strain. From my research, I do not believe that the term ‘running back stitch’ was used in the C18th. Therefore, I use the term combination stitch.
Le point a rabattre sous la main — so called by Diderot. Its eighteenth-century English name is not known. It creates a very neat stitch with a whip stich on one side to hold down the lining, and a running stitch on the other. There is a very useful video tutorial by Koshka the Cat.
References and Sources
- Denis Diderot, Encyclopédie (1751-1772).
- Dictionary of 18th Century Clothing Terms, ed. by William W. Burke by Northwest Territory Alliance (1997).
- Historical Sewing Tutorials by Burnley and Trowbridge on YouTube. An excellent video tutorial series for historical hand sewing.
- Hand Sewing Help: Stitches for 18th Century Reproduction Clothing [pdf] by North West Territory Alliance (2017).
- ‘How to Do A Weird Running Whip Stitch Thingy’ by Abbie Cox on her blog Staying Alive: New Attitudes About Old Clothes (2011).
- ‘Learn to Hand Sew! Three Stitches You Can’t Sew Without’ by Sewn Company on YouTube. Historical hand-stitching techniques. They also do online courses.
- Therese de Dillmont, Encyclopedia of Needlework, 1844. It can be downloaded on archive.