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100 Sewing Trivia Questions, Answers, and Fun Facts

How much do you know about Sewing? This category is for trivia questions and answers related to Sewing (Hobbies). Each one is filled with fun facts and interesting information.
1 Corset- and stays-making can be difficult, and sometimes requires the use of an awl. For what part of the project might you use an awl for?
Answer: Cutting holes for the lacing

Corsets and stays (the type of corset used before the 1830s or thereabouts) require lacing, which is usually cording or ribbon that lace them up. An awl can be used to punch holes through which to run the lacing; or you can use grommets with the hole-puncher that is usually included with them. Corsets and stays are the basic "foundation-wear" for women's historical costuming.
  From Quiz: Awl of the Above
2 In ____ stitch, each of the stitches is made opposite to the general direction of stitching.
Answer: Back

Back stitch is generally used for outlining. The pattern is two units forward and one unit backward. It highlights the area inside, though it can also be used to join pieces of fabric.
  From Quiz: A Stitch in Time
3 This is a very fun item that is used for pushing out seams on many different types of garments. It was created by Lynn Graves and boasts that "it pushes, pokes, pulls, p-fudges, p-turns, and p-stuffs". What is this "colorful" notion?
Answer: Purple Thang

The Purple Thang brought relief to seamstresses and quilters everywhere. For years I had been using butter knives, and the backs of pen caps to push out my seams, but no longer! It has a flat 1/4 inch plastic head and on the opposite side, a "poker" with a slight curve, ideal for pushing out corners.
  From Quiz: Sewing Notions and Potions
4 What kind of stitch would be most commonly used for a hem?
Answer: Blind stitch

The idea is that you don't see the stitches on the outside of the garment. Some of my stitches are "blinder" than others!
  From Quiz: Sewing Basics
5 What is the normal width of a 100 percent cotton calico?
Answer: 45"

There are many calicos that are also 44" and 43", but 45" is the most popular.
  From Quiz: Sewing and You
6 What did Native Americans use for sewing and needlework?
Answer: all of these

Porcupine quills were used in woven decorations.
    Your options: [ beads ] [ sinew ] [ porcupine quills ] [ all of these ]
  From Quiz: Pointed Questions on Sewing
7 Particularly when making close-fitting garments, you should always begin the project with a muslin. But what is a muslin?
Answer: A mock-up of the garment to check the fit

Making a muslin is a very wise choice before making a garment that requires a good fit; making a mock-up allows you to check for loose, tight, or poorly-fitting areas of the garment that you can adjust before making the finished product. Muslins are usually made out of old sheets or other fabric scraps. "A paper pattern of all your measurements" is called a sloper; "An undergarment to wear under a corset" is called a chemise.
  From Quiz: Awl of the Above
8 This temporary stitch is meant to be removed.
Answer: Tacking stitch

Also called basting stitch, tacking stitch temporarily holds a seam or fabric in place. It is also used to attach brand labels on sleeves, or hold together skirt pleats during display. It can be X-shaped to act as a marker, almost invisible from outside.
    Your options: [ Tracking stitch ] [ Ticking stitch ] [ Tucking stitch ] [ Tacking stitch ]
  From Quiz: A Stitch in Time
9 On a sewing machine, what do you call the part which holds the fabric in place?
Answer: Presser foot

There are actually many different kinds of presser feet you can use for different types of sewing.
    Your options: [ Presser foot ] [ Tension control ] [ Fabric gauge ] [ Surface plate ]
  From Quiz: Sewing Basics
10 What type of material tends not to wash well in any temperature?
Answer: Acetate

Acetate tends to discolor when it gets water on it.
  From Quiz: Sewing and You
11 What is the common seam-allowance on American patterns?
Answer: five-eighths of an inch

Patterns were developed in Europe and still hold to the convention of the metric system. 1.5cm equals five-eighths inch. (1" = 2.54cm)
  From Quiz: Pointed Questions on Sewing
12 If someone uses your good, sharp sewing scissors to cut something other than fabric, what can you cut to give them back at least a little of their edge?
Answer: Fine grade sandpaper

Cutting sandpaper won't hurt your scissors; it will actually sharpen them. Emery paper is best for this. Of course, if they're really dull, it's best to have them professionally sharpened.
  From Quiz: Sewing Basics
13 How wide is the average cotton quilting fabric?
Answer: 44 inches

Originally quilts were made from scraps or recycled fabrics. Today fabrics are milled especially for quilting to minimize waste.
  From Quiz: Pointed Questions on Sewing
14 Millinery is an integral aspect of creating historic costumes. What would you use to stiffen your hat?
Answer: Buckram and wire

Buckram is a very heavy fabric that has been coated with a starchy stiffener. When you dampen the fabric, it can be shaped into the proper shape for your hat and then left to dry. What you are left with is a very hard, perfectly shaped base to cover with fabric for your hat! Millinery wire is used to stiffen the buckram further by sewing it along all raw edges.
  From Quiz: Awl of the Above
15 Mohair is a hard-wearing fiber with all the good qualities of wool, but more so. It takes dye even better, is more crease resistent, it lasts longer - you get the idea. What animal does it come from? Don't let my choice of the "mo" get your goat.
Answer: angora goat

Mohair comes from the angora goat. There's also an angora rabbit, which causes some confusion, but only the curly hair of the goat becomes mohair. The goats were tried in various areas in the 19th Century - Australia, South Africa, the U.S. - but there was little success in the U.S. except in Texas, which is still one of the top producers of mohair today, along with Turkey, Argentina and South Africa, and Australia and New Zealand also produce some. The goats can be sheared twice a year, but require better nutritional care than sheep and their fleece is more difficult to spin. Mohair blended with wool is used as suiting, and pure mohair can be used for upholstery and other tougher jobs.
  From Quiz: Fabrics of Many Fibers, Common and Unusual
16 Oh no! I've accidentally poked a hole in my pincushion with my shears. Curiosity got to me and I peeked inside. What should be inside of my pincushion?
Answer: Any of these

If you've made your own pincushion, it might have old scraps of cotton or wool in it. It keeps the pincushion lightweight and squishy, or if you buy your pincushion from a store, it's filled with sand to keep the pins sharp.
  From Quiz: Sewing Notions and Potions II
17 How would you test a scrap of fabric to see if it was silk?
Answer: Try to set it on fire

Burned silk smells just like burned hair.
  From Quiz: Pointed Questions on Sewing
18 This stitch resembles an x or the plus sign.
Answer: Cross stitch

A uniform cross stitched pattern looks like a tiled area from a distance. Each 'cross' consists of two diagonal stitches crossed over each other.
    Your options: [ X stitch ] [ Sign stitch ] [ Plus stitch ] [ Cross stitch ]
  From Quiz: A Stitch in Time
19 Uh oh. My seams keep fraying. Which colorful notion could help me finish off the seams so they won't fray anymore?
Answer: Pinking Shears

Pinking shears, of course! They look like regular shears but the blades have a zigzag pattern on them. When you finish a garment, trim the raw seams with pinking shears and you won't have tons of thread!
    Your options: [ Aquaing Shears ] [ Purpleing Shears ] [ Pinking Shears ] [ Greening Shears ]
  From Quiz: Sewing Notions and Potions II
20 Ouch! I just poked my finger while sewing. Good thing I have a thimble. But wait! Which finger does my thimble go on?
Answer: It depends on the type of sewing you do and your technique

Most people (myself included) will wear a thimble on their middle finger. However, some people will wear them on their index fingers as well.
    Your options: [ Index finger ] [ Thumb ] [ It depends on the type of sewing you do and your technique ] [ Middle finger ]
  From Quiz: Sewing Notions and Potions
21 One way to finish a seam and keep the fabric from raveling is to trim them with what special type of shears?
Answer: Pinking

Unfortunately, my pinking shears are in desperate need of sharpening, so this is not a method I often use. The others are all brand names of companies which make sewing shears.
  From Quiz: Sewing Basics
22 What part of your body closely equals a yard?
Answer: Distance from your nose to your fingertips

This measurement was established in England long before the metric system.
  From Quiz: Pointed Questions on Sewing
23 When making Victorian costumes that require a wide, bell-shaped hem, what piece of foundation wear is fundamental in achieving this look?
Answer: Hoop skirt

Hoop skirts were an integral part of Victorian bell-shaped dresses. They can be made out of a strong, tightly-woven fabric, which is usually canvas or thick cotton. Metal or plastic "hoops" are then inserted into casing tubes in the canvas skirt to give the hoop skirt its classic look.
  From Quiz: Awl of the Above
24 This luxurious, lustrous fabric, that ripples and flows when the wearer moves, and takes dyes wonderfully, is made by a bug. What bug?
Answer: silk worms

Bombyx mori is the moth whose caterpillar form produces a valuable coccoon of silk fibers, but a few other species of moths are also used. The Chinese domesticated silkworm moths circa 5,000 years ago, and have continuously improved them for silk production. There was a craze for silk raising in the U.S. in the early 19th Century, but despite the hope that fortunes would be made, the profits never materialized, and China remained the center of silk cultivation. When the silkworm makes its coccoon, it is killed with heat so it doesn't damage the fiber, then the fiber is unrolled. After it is processed, it can be woven on a loom like any fiber, though it tends to be strong for its size. It dyes with bright and permanent colors, and also insulates from the cold.
  From Quiz: Fabrics of Many Fibers, Common and Unusual
25 Which stitch is nearly invisible?
Answer: Blind stitch

Blind stitch joins two pieces of fabric without the thread showing. The stitch is hidden in the folds of the fabric. Alternatively, long stitches on one piece and short stitches on the other enable it to be almost invisible as a whole.
    Your options: [ Invisible stitch ] [ Transparent stitch ] [ Clear stitch ] [ Blind stitch ]
  From Quiz: A Stitch in Time
26 How many inches are in a third of a yard?
Answer: 12

12x3=36. 36 inches in a yard!
  From Quiz: Sewing and You
27 When working with long lengths of fabric, such as in curtains or drapes, what must you do first?
Answer: clip the selvedges

Selvedges are tightly woven and should be clipped to be sure the fabric lies flat and naturally for cutting.
  From Quiz: Pointed Questions on Sewing
28 What native plant did Native American weavers take fibers from, thousands of years ago, according to archaeological finds? If I had to wear sandals made from this stiff, tough fiber, I'd say "yuck."
Answer: yucca

Ancient sandals from yucca plants, woven without looms, have been found by archaeologists, and the fibers may have been used for other things as well. The leaves were soaked and pounded, and when fully processed, woven into sandals that archaeologists feel represent art as much as utility. My hint of "yuck" was just a hint; I actually am amazed at what basket weavers or twiners could accomplish from native plants.
  From Quiz: Fabrics of Many Fibers, Common and Unusual
29 A tailored garment will usually require this sewing technique to fit correctly on the more curved portions of the body.
Answer: Darts

Notches are used on patterns to help you match the different pieces in the right place. Sizing is a finish often used on fabrics,which is one of the reasons you should wash your fabric before sewing it. Bar tacks are back and forth stitches over one another, used at the ends of buttonholes and to attach items such as belt loops.
    Your options: [ Darts ] [ Bar tacks ] [ Sizing ] [ Notches ]
  From Quiz: Sewing Basics
30 Which expression is said to be derived from the amount of fabric was needed to make the most fancy coat for a man of fashion?
Answer: the whole nine yards

In England of the early 1700s the upper classes went to great excess and nine yards of single-fold fabric is approximately the amount of fabric needed for a good three-piece suit, so the explanation bears some merit.
    Your options: [ six feet under ] [ dressed up to the nines ] [ fourth and ten ] [ the whole nine yards ]
  From Quiz: Pointed Questions on Sewing
31 This very useful women's undergarment helps with warmth, as well as creating a fuller skirt. What piece am I talking about?
Answer: Petticoat

Petticoats were used for centuries, and are very helpful! Many at a time can be used during colder months, as well as for larger, poofy-er skirts. Petticoats can be like an underdress, such as some used during Regency times, or like just a skirt, as in Georgian and Victorian times, to name a few.
  From Quiz: Awl of the Above
32 What animal that looks like a small llama is raised for its fleece in South America, Australia and other places that support similar grazing animals? Its name sounds like it could be a pack animal, but it's actually too small.
Answer: alpaca

Strictly speaking, alpaca cloth can be made only from fibers of the alpaca, but sometimes other fibers such as mohair or Icelandic sheep's wool are sometimes intermixed. Similar to wool without lanolin, alpaca fiber is shiny like mohair, but softer. It was traditionally used for men's summer suits and lining in the 19th century, but has faded as artificial fibers have lowered prices. Alpacas are clean animals that can live on less feed than others their size, and their fiber is considered a luxury item, but prices of animals have varied from speculatively high to practical.
  From Quiz: Fabrics of Many Fibers, Common and Unusual
33 Darn! I've just sewn my fabric the wrong way. Could a knit-picker help me out with fixing this?
Answer: No, a knit-picker is used to repair snags without tearing the fabric.

If you don't know what a knit-picker is, you might know this notion as a seam-ripper. They are the exact same thing, they just follow different names. They have a small blade and they are used to take out teams or other misplaced threads.
  From Quiz: Sewing Notions and Potions
34 This type of stitch is useful before your final stitching for holding together pieces that are difficult to pin. It is also used for gathering.
Answer: Baste

My favorite thing about basting (tacking), or stay stitching, is that since the stitches are usually removed or sewn over, it doesn't much matter how even they are.
  From Quiz: Sewing Basics
35 A Roman shade is to an Austrian shade as:
Answer: straight is to puffy

Roman shades are usually practical and showcase patterned or textured fabric, while Austrians are usually decorative and used for diffusing light.
    Your options: [ blackout is to sheer ] [ operable is inoperable ] [ tapestry is to floral ] [ straight is to puffy ]
  From Quiz: Pointed Questions on Sewing
36 What fiber plant, also grown to make a common drug, was once woven into ship's sails, heavy bags, and sturdy cloth, as well as made into rope?
Answer: hemp

Fiber hemp and medicinal hemp are two cultivars of the same species, Cannabis sativa, but fiber hemp contains a fraction of one percent of the chemical wanted by drug users compared to the medicinal cultivar. It was traditionally used as a heavier, stronger kind of linen, and was processed similarly, but was made illegal to grow by the same laws that banned the medicinal plant. Hemp fabric can be purchased in the USA when made overseas, and is usually either pure or blended with cotton or silk. As in the past, it is similar to canvas or other practical linen products, not fine linen. It usually comes in a natural light tan color.
  From Quiz: Fabrics of Many Fibers, Common and Unusual
37 Which stitch prevents cut edges from fraying?
Answer: Overcast

Overcast stitch loops around the edge, keeping it neat. The fabric is thus kept from unraveling.
    Your options: [ Fray ] [ Undercast ] [ Save ] [ Overcast ]
  From Quiz: A Stitch in Time
38 What is a tailoring ham?
Answer: An ironing tool that allows you to iron curved seams and darts

I have no idea where they get the name, but it sure is helpful! You can now easily press collars and shoulders without creating awkward bumps!
  From Quiz: Sewing Notions and Potions II
39 What is the most common way to put together your fabric pieces when sewing seams?
Answer: Right sides together

If you picked "it doesn't really matter," you might want to take up a new hobby! You want the right sides together so that the seam is on the inside of the garment.
  From Quiz: Sewing Basics
40 What is Silamide?
Answer: waxed thread

This pre-waxed thread makes hand-work a breeze.
    Your options: [ sewing machine oil ] [ hand lotion for seamstresses ] [ handgun lubricant ] [ waxed thread ]
  From Quiz: Pointed Questions on Sewing
The rest of the questions and answers can be found in our quizzes here:
Sewing Quizzes