From types of surface techniques to the decorative objects used in clothing to fashion hardware, there are new terms being added to our lingo every year . Find them all in our surface works glossary below!
Common usage notes for surface techniques’ terms that have the description (N./ V.): As a verb, terms that describe surface works are mostly in past participle tense, such as appliquéd, patchworked, fringed, beaded, etc. For example, the gown had large star-shaped pieces of leather patchworked onto it. These words may also be used as adjectives, for example appliquéd gown, patchworked bag, fringed skirt, beaded headband, etc. In modern usage, some of these words may be used in adjectives even without the suffix ‘-ed’. For example, appliqué mini skirt, fringe dress, etc.
Surface Techniques, Clothing Hardware & Decorative Fashion Items
Appliqué (N./ V.) [ap-li-kay] An appliqué is a decorative cut-out design that is sewn on to another surface or fabric, attached either just at its center, or all around the edges. Also see patchwork, reverse appliqué.
Bead (N./ V.) [beed] A bead is a decorative object made out of plastic, metal, shell glass or wood that has a hole through the middle, used to sew it onto a fabric or other surface.
Buckle (N./ V.) [buhk–uh l] A buckle is a clasp or hardware that contains a rectangular or curved rim or hollow piece, sewn within a fabric at one or both ends and attached to a movable tongue that can fasten a strap.
Button (N.) [buht-n] A button is typically a small round disk or knob of plastic, metal, glass or wood that has 1-4 holes through it, used to sew it onto a surface to create a button and keyhole closure. Trendy buttons may be of any shapes, materials or sizes, and may also be used only for decorative purposes. Also see buttonhole, keyhole.
Buttonhole (N.) [buht-n hoh l] A hole in a fabric that can be used to put a button through it for closure. A buttonhole typically has stitching around it to avoid fraying of edges. A buttonhole may be straight or slightly wider at the top, known as keyhole.
Charm (N.) [chahr m] A charm is a decorative disk, coin or cut-out shape of metal, glass or plastic that has a hole at the top through which it can be hung from a piece of jewelry, surface or decorative cord.
Chinese frog (N.) [chahy-neez frog] See frog.
Cross-stitch (N./ V.) [kraws stich, kros-] Cross-stitch is a type of hand embroidery whose stitches are in the shapes of crosses.
Crystal (N.) [kris-tuhl] A decorative bead made out of glass or plastic with one or all surfaces cut in an orderly fashion to mimic a diamond is called a crystal.
Distressing (V.) [dis-tres-ing] Distressing is a type of surface technique in which the fabric is made to look old or deteriorated by scraping or rubbing on it with sandpaper or similar coarse object that ruins some of its original fibers. Also distressed jeans. Also see fraying.
Embellish (V.) [im-bel-ishd, uhm-] A type of surface work wherein beads, sequins, crystals or other decorative objects are sewn or otherwise attached onto a surface is called embellishing. Also embellished, embellishments (N.)
Embossing (V.) [im-boh-sing] A type of surface technique wherein parts of a fabric or material are raised to form a design is called embossing.
Embroidery (N.) [em-broi-duh-ree] Also known as threadwork, embroidery is a type of surface work that uses threads to create a design or pattern on a fabric or surface. The thread color may match that of the base surface or may be different. Embroidery is perhaps the most common amongst all surface techniques. Also embroidered (V.) Also see zardozi.
Fray (V.) [fray] A form of distressing done typically at the hem of a fabric, wherein the threads are made to slightly separate or hang loosely at the edges is called fraying. Also see distressing. Also frayed (N.)
Frill (N.) [fril] See ruffle.
Fringe (N./ V.) (often used as a plural noun) [frinj] A fringe is a thread, cord or narrow strip of fabric or leather that is attached to a surface and made to hang loosely, typically at the hem.
Frog (N./ V.) [frog] Also Chinese frog. See hussar-frogging.
Grommet (N.) [grom-it] A tube or ring attached around a hole in a fabric or other material to reinforce it or to avoid fraying of edges is called a grommet.
Hook (N.) [huk] A hook is a type of metal hardware that is curved or rounded on one side to be used for a hook and eye closure.
Hook and eye closure (N.) [huk uh-nd ahy cloh-zhuhr] A type of closure wherein a surface has an embroidered thread to create an eye-shaped hole and the another side of the same fabric or a side of a different fabric has a hook sewn on to it, that can go inside the eye. Also see hook.
Hussar-frog (N./ V.) [hoo–zahr frog, huh-zaar frawg] Hussar frogging is a type of decorative ornamental braiding created using button closures and loops of thick threads. Originated in the 18th century, hussar-frogging gets its name from the jackets of military men, known as hussars, on which it was traditionally done. Also frog, Chinese frog.
Keyhole (N.) [kee-hoh l] See buttonhole.
Lace (N./ V.) [lay s] Lace is a decorative fabric or strip that uses threadwork to create a mesh, a web-like pattern or an overlaying pattern of flowers, leaves or vines. The pattern may represent a tree, a repetitive flower design, a garden window, a damask design, a geometric mesh, etc. or a combination of these.
Laser-cut (N./ V.) [lay zuhr cuht] Laser-cutting is a surface technique wherein parts of a fabric or material are removed using a laser-cutting machine, to result in a pattern or design made with holes. It’s one of the most modern surface techniques.
Patchwork (N./ V.) [pach-wurk] A type of decorative surface work wherein shapes (known as patches) of a fabric are cut and sewn onto the surface of another fabric, with stitches covering all the edges of the patches to avoid fraying. Patchwork may be done as a restorative surface technique, for example, to cover up a hole or distressed part, or it may be decorative. It is one of the oldest surface techniques, popular across many cultures. Also see appliqué.
Piping (N.) [pahy-ping] A type of surface technique wherein a strip of a fabric is stitched around the hem of another fabric is called piping.
Pom-pom (N.) [pawm-pawm] A decorative ball, sometimes made out of wool, fabric threads, fur or shiny paper, with its threads hanging loosely or spreading in all directions from a ring in the center.
Quilting (N./ V.) [kuil-ting] Quilting is one of the types of surface techniques wherein a pattern of checkered stitches is done on a fabric to hold its filling of wool, fur or feathers, for example in a quilt, or a padded jacket. Objects or garments with quilting are called quilted.
Reverse appliqué (N./ V.) [ruh-vuhrs ap-li-kay] A type of surface technique wherein a portion or shape of a fabric is cut away to reveal a patch of decorative fabric underneath is called reverse appliqué. Also see appliqué.
Rhinestone (N.) [rahyn-stohn] A rhinestone is a synthetic diamond whose one side mimics a diamond and the other is silvered. Rhinestones sometimes have a hole cut though them to use for sewing them onto garments or other surfaces.
Ruffle (N./ V.) [ruhf uhl, ruhf l] A ruffle is a strip or piece of fabric that is gathered and attached to another fabric at one edge or point, to create an undulation. Also frill.
Sequin (N./ V.) [see-kuin] A small shiny plastic disc, usually with a single hole through it, used for decorating garments or other surfaces, is called a sequin. Also sequined.
Spike (N./ V.) [spahyk] A type of stud or decorative metal fashion hardware with a pointed surface, either round or square is called a spike. Also see stud.
Stone work (N./ V.) [stoh n wurk] A type of embellishment that uses rhinestones, synthetic semi-precious or precious stones is called stone work. The term is commonly used in Indian fashion commerce. Also see embellishment.
Strap (N./ V.) [strap] An elongated piece of fabric is known as a strap, usually hemmed on both edges and often used in accessories such as handbags, shoes, or for decoration of clothing.
Stud (N./ V.) [stuh d] A metal piece that protrudes out from a flat surface is known as a stud. Also see spike.
Surface cording (N./ V.) [suhr-fay s cawrd-ing, -cor-ding] A type of surface work wherein a cord made out of fabric or other material is stitched onto another fabric or other surface, to create a pattern or design, is called surface cording. It is one of the most traditional surface techniques, also used to decorate home products. Also see piping.
Tassel (N.) [tas-uhl, tas l] Tassel is a type of ornament that has loosely hanging threads sometimes attached to an decorative fabric, metal or plastic cover at the top. Also see fringe.
Threadwork (N./ V.) [th-red-wurk] See embroidery.
Trimming (N./ V.) [tri-ming] A decorative strip of fabric such as lace or fur, etc. that is sewn onto the hems of garments or other fashion items is called a trimming. Also see piping.
Varsity letter patch (N.) [vahr-si-tee let-uhr pa] A patch of fabric cut out in the shape of a letter or emblem to represent a college team or honor is called a varsity letter patch. Also see letterman jacket in types of jackets.
Zardozi (N.) [zar-doh-zi] Zardozi is an Indian embroidery that is done using gold or silver threads. Originated in Persia, zardozi was traditionally used to embellish the garments and palace furnishings of Indian royalty. Also see embroidery.
Zipper (N.) [th-red-wurk] A zipper is a clothing hardware or closure that uses two toothed strips of metal or plastic, which can be stuck together using a small puller at the end. Also zip (N./ V.)