HMDH Terminology

Applique – a decorative design made of one material sewn over another. e.g. the shaped piece sewn over the ends of handles where it is attached to the handbag
Bengaline: A sturdy lining fabric in a variety of colors available at
Keyword(s): lining
Bleed through Glue
Bleed through of glue: Always check your fabric and the glue you are using to make sure that the glue doesn’t bleed thru to the outside of the fabric. Interfacing the fabric will not help as the glue will loosen the interfacing. Consider using another type of glue or fabric as the bleed through glue will not go away after drying.
Keyword(s): bleedglue
Bonded Nylon
Bonded nylon thread: Bonded Nylon thread is great for upholstery, leather, and other fabrics where a very strong thread is needed. Bonded nylon is the standard go-to thread in the upholstery industry. It comes in #46, #69 & #92. #69 is the thread commonly used with commercial sewing machine.
Keyword(s): thread
Bontex/ Texon
Bontex (Texon): is the brand name of paper used in the bag and shoe industry. It is treated to resist bacteria, fungi, and molds. They are also light, flexible, durable, and tough. They are used in making stays for seams, straps, appliques, bottom etc. It comes in various weights..014, 0.20, 0.30, 0.40, 0.50, 0.60

For stays/gussets: .014 -0.20

For envelopes and clutches/bottoms/frt/bk: .030-0.40

For very structured or box bags: 050-.060 used for the base of your box bag, the piece that will be the strength of your bag.

Can be found at Richard’s site.
Keyword(s): paperstay
Broken Bottom Gusset
Broken bottom gusset: allows a clutch to fold from the bottom and side. It is also known as the Tailored Gusset.
Keyword(s): broken bottom gusset, tailored gusset
Chipboard: is a cardboard made of recycled paper pressed into a paperboard. It comes in 2 colors- Kraft & News. Kraft is brown and News is grey. Like all paper, it has a grain. So one side bends more easily than the other. It comes in various thicknesses. The higher the number the thicker the board. 1 ply and 2 ply chip are used in making box bags. Bontex is used for making the wrap. Chipboard can be found at Hobby Lobby
Keyword(s): chipboard
Clicker: A machine used to cut out shapes in fabric/leather or patterns. Dies are made to form the shapes and placed in the clicker to cut the fabric or paper.
Keyword(s): clicker
Collar: is attached to the lining of the bag at the top.
Keyword(s): collar
Contact Cement
Contact Cement: is a synthetic adhesive that is applied separately to the surfaces to be joined and is allowed to dry, with the surfaces then being brought into contact. Unlike rubber cement, the bond is permanent. The barge is the recommended brand for contact cement. Contact cement will bleed through certain types of fabric. Always glue in a well-ventillated area. The fumes can harm you.
Keyword(s): contact glue, glue
Cutting the Master
Cutting the Master: The master pattern is cut apart to form different parts. When you make your outside pattern then you add the seam allowance to each part. One example would be the collar on the bag.
Keyword(s): cutting the master
Design: [Richard’s Definition] Design is not about who you are, but about the ability to see someone else the way they can not see themselves. I’m not a fancy girl either, but I know how to design as if I was. Creativity is not about who you are, but the fantasy of who you may want to be or how you may want a thing to look. The design is about the appearance of space. How do I want this contained space to look and function? The design comes from that simple question.
Keyword(s): design
Domestic Sewing Machine
Domestic Sewing Machine: Any variety of home sewing machines.
Keyword(s): domestic sewing machines, home machines
Drop in lining
Drop in lining: This lining is made and then drop into the bag. It’s then topstitched into place. This is the easiest lining you can make, Its easy to clean, you can simply pull it up and out. This kind of lining is found in bags that are sewn inside out.
Fabric Grain
Fabric Grain: effects the way fabric will hang and drape. There are three types of fabric grain.

  • Lengthwise grain: refers to the threads in the fabric which run the length of the fabric, parallel to the selvage of the fabric. It’s the strongest grain in your fabric.

  • Crosswise grain: are the threads that run perpendicular to the selvage of the fabric or the cut edge of the fabric as it comes off the bolt. It has a bit more stretch than the lengthwise grain.

  • Bias grain: is the thread line that is at a forty-five-degree angle to the lengthwise and crosswise grain of the fabric as it is on the bolt. The bias has stretch in the woven fabric and will hang differently than a garment that has been cut on the straight or crosswise grain.

Woven Fabric: When you are working with woven fabric, the lengthwise and crosswise grain will not have any stretch. Depending on the tightness of the weave the fabric may have “give” but it will not stretch.

The Bias grain, however, will stretch, making the bias grain perfect for couture areas such as covering cording to create your own piping.
Keyword(s): biaslengthwise, graincrosswise, grain
Felt: is a non-woven cloth that can be used on Ultrasuede or soft bags as a stay, or as a backing to add weight to the bag.
Keyword(s): felt
Different foam for different feels:

Foam: There are two kinds of foam. Closed cell foam is foam that is made by forming the foam around a gas and makes complete cells around the gas. The gas cannot escape, so we get very dense feeling foam. Open cell foam is also formed around a gas, but doesn’t make complete cells, so it allows air to escape when pressure is applied and sucks it back in when pressure is released. Depending on usage either one can be appropriate. But if you want the spongy feel like on the outside of a bag, definitely go for the open cell foam.

One thin kind of open cell foam is the ¼” or 3/16” headliner foam originally made for the automotive industry. The automotive manufactures have stop using this kind of headliner, so the foam company found a new outlet in the craft industry. That is the reason you now find this product in chain fabric stores like Hancock Fabric. There is also available 1/8” headliner foam that was originally used to wrap pillar posts and sunroof panels in cars, but this foam hasn’t made it to the fabric stores. Besides some fabric stores you can find ¼” headliner foam at your local auto upholstery shop and if you can’t get it at either place, Google it: ¼” headliner as there are plenty of places that will sell and ship it to you. The 1/8” headliner material can only be found at your local auto upholstery shop or I found it on line Googling 1/8” headliner.

Dated: 1/4/2012

Becky: BeHipp

Foam short

Places to find foam in NYC:

Vendor for open cell foam in the New York City area.

Canal Rubber Supply

329 Canal Street

New York, New York 10013


I purchased mine from Barry and he referred to it as “regular foam”. They sell retail.

They have 1/4″ which is $3.10 a yard or you can buy it by the roll which is $120.00 per roll (36 width by 50 yards).

They also sell 1/8″. By the roll it is $134.00 (36 width by 100 yards). They did not have the 36 width in stock when I was there, but that is what they order if you want a roll. They had the 24″ width which is what I bought. It was $1.45 per yard.

They do ship. I believe he said UPS.

Dated: 1/12/2012

Keyword(s): foam
Glue Remover
Ways to remove glue: one is to use glue thinner, the other is to use Naphtha which was recommended by Becky. Becky restores classic car interiors and works with leather and glue all the time. She uses Naphtha for removing glue on all her projects. This is not a glue thinner, but a glue remover. Make sure you test a swatch before using to make sure it doesn’t affect your color.
Keyword(s): glue, removalNaphtha
A gusset allows for expansion or adds width to your bag. There are many different types of gussets: broken bottom gussets, U shaped gussets, T bottom gussets, tunnel gussets, pleated gussets, fan gussets. It not only adds functionality but can add detail, such as a pleated gusset. Gussets can also determine the shape of your bag.

See the individual types of gusset for more information.
Keyword(s): gusset
Industrial Sewing Machines
Industrial sewing machines: Sewing machine built stronger and with a heavier motor than a domestic machine. Is able to handle heavier/thicker material. Comes in a variety of types from the walking foot, non-walking foot, flatbed, cylinder, specialty use, computerized, etc.

Usually made to handle one specific sewing task.
Keyword(s): industrialsewing machine
Interlining/interfacing: interfacing is a material used to stabilize or reinforce fabrics. Could be a fusible interfacing that has an adhesive coating on one side that adheres to fabric when ironed. There is also a sew-in interfacing used in garment sewing. Interlining is an additional layer between the ouside fabric/leather and lining, used to change the garment drape or add structure. Could be foam, canvas, batting or some other material.
Keyword(s): interlininginterfacing
Master Stay
A master stay is cut from the master pattern. The master stay represents the exact size your finished bag will be.
Sewing Machine Needles: Almost all home-sewing machines use a 130/705H needle system. My industrial walking foot machine requires 135 x 17 DP x 17. There are also lots of needle types, especially for home machines, such as universal, ballpoint, stretch, topstitching, wing, etc. For my industrial machine, I buy the Groz-Beckert brand, which was recommended to me for heavy duty sewing, such as sewing handbags.

Needle sizes

American sizes vs European sizes

The smaller numbers are for smaller needles
860Not for handbags or lining
965Not for handbags or lining
1070Not for handbags or lining
1175Not for handbags and probably not for lining
1280For Lining Only
1490For Lining Only
16100For some handbags and not for most lining
18110For Handbags Only
20125For Handbags Only
22140For Handbags Only
Paper used in bag construction

Bontex/ Texon: for stays, appliques, straps, bottoms

Chipboard: for making box bags

Oak tag: for making patterns. It is available at

See individual kinds of paper, paper grain for more information
Keyword(s): paper
Paper Grain
Paper Grain (chip board/bontex-texon) and How to determine its grain direction

Long grain vs. cross grain: When paper is made on a conveyer line the wood chips that make up the paper are vibrated and they line up in the direction the conveyer is moving. That direction they line up is called the long grain direction. If you pick up two opposite sides of a paper product i.e. paper, chipboard, bontex, etc. and it bends easily you are holding the long grain sides. If you turn it and pick up the opposite two sides and it doesn’t bend as easily as the first, then you have the cross gain sides. Mark the direction of the long grain. Another easy way to tell is to tear the paper. If it tears reasonably straight you are tearing it in the long grain direction. If you tear an adjacent side and it doesn’t tear straight you are tearing it in the cross grain direction.
Keyword(s): paper grain
Pattern pieces:
Master made the actual size of the bag pieces and used to make the stay. It ishould have notations for placement of hardware, flaps or tabs, collars or decorative trims.

Outside made from the master with seam allowances added.

Lining usually 1/16″ smaller than outside pattern pieces.

Patternmaking Tools:
Mechanical pencil, box cutter or exacto knife, cutting mat, 24″ metal ruler, oak tag and awl.

Patternmaking Terms:
Label each of the pattern pieces with Master, Outside or Lining. Add information regarding which piece it is, how many to cut out, the date of the pattern and the name of the pattern.

Notch used to mark the center of the pattern pieces and placement of handles. Also used to mark seam allowances. A notch is made by cutting a small triangle out on the edge of the pattern piece.

Score taking the awl and drawing a line with it to mark for a fold.
Keyword(s): patternpatternmaking
Pellon: is a non-woven fabric commonly available in fabric stores by the yard. It’s a backing material that comes in a array of stiffnesses. It is used as a soft stay to add body to material.
Keyword(s): pellon
A pocket is a bag or an envelope-like receptable that can be attached anywhere in a bag.

Types of Pockets: In making pockets, always keep in mind that a pocket is half a bag.

Gussetted Pocket :
Pleated Pocket:

T- Bottom Pocket is created similar to the t-bottom tote. The top part of the pocket is the front and the sides in one piece of fabric and the bottom is formed by the cutting away of the two corner pieces.
Keyword(s): pocket
Rome Fastener
Rome Fastener: is hardware used in areas that can not be sewn on a machine. Used to attach handles and flaps. “U” shaped, flat on the bottom with prongs and a plate to lock in place. Sold on Richard’s site.
Keyword(s): Rome, fastenerfastener
Rubber Cement
Rubber cement is designed with a flexible bonding agent. It works by combining the qualities of rubber with enough fluids for easy application. During the drying process, the fluids evaporate, and the flexible rubber stays in the bond. There are many types, but you will easily find rubber cement for paper and rubber cement for cloth/leather. Don’t use the paper kind on fabric as it won’t work as well. Also know that rubbert cement is not considered a permanent glue. It’s purpose is to hold the pieces together until they can be sewn. Best Test Rubber Cement is recommended and can be found at Blick Art Supply.

For glue removal, see glue remover.
Keyword(s): rubber, cementglue
Seam Allowance
Seam Allowance: fabric: 1/2″. leather: 3/8″
Keyword(s): seam allowanceseam
Skiver: used to reduce the thickness of leather and vinyl. Used when joining seams and turning edges. There are various ways to do this: using a hand-held safety beveller which can take a lot of practice to achieve satisfactory results, using a dremel tool as in Richard’s short or with an industrial skiving machine.
Keyword(s): skiver
A stay is a piece of bontex or any material that controls an element of a bag. A stay can add functionality to your bag.

Stay can be used in a variety of ways. There are many different types of stays, basically they do what their name says, “Stay here where I put you”. They are used to fold material over, so that you get a nice clean edge.

Stays are always cut from master patterns. Even your turning stays are cut from masters and they should be no longer than the master pattern. Different weights of stays are used on different parts of the handbag. “Scores”, “windows”, and “knives” are sometimes placed on stays so that the handbag part functions as it should. Stays have grain direction. For information on grain direction, please look under “paper grain” Examples of stay materials are Bontex, Pellon, and felt.

Stays add quality to your bag. Stays can add structure to your bag also.
Keyword(s): stay
Tailored lining
A tailored or fitted lining is a lining that hugs the front and back of an envelope bag or a semi constructed bag. It gives a very neat and structured look to the inside of the bag. The lining cannot be pulled out like a drop in lining. To clean the bag inside you would have to turn the bag upside down unlike the drop in lining that you can pull out.
Tear Out
Tear out: is the part on the stay that is cut out leaving the outer border for turning. This kind of making a stay technique allows for crisp edges and gives the bag a soft feel.
Keyword(s): tear out
Tunnel Gusset
Tunnel Gusset: allows for fold and access to sew with a flat bed machine.
Keyword(s): tunnel, gussetgussettunnel
Turn or Turning
Turn: means turning the edges over a stay
Keyword(s): turn,turning
Turning stays
A turning stay is usually a strip of 3/8 inch .014 Bontex , used to turn the top edges over.This produces a clean neat edge finish to your bags.
Walking the Pattern
Walking the Pattern:
Keyword(s): walking the pattern
Welting is a fabric covered cord made of bias-cut fabric. Welting is sewn with a fabric lip so it can be inserted between fabric pieces or seams. Welting is also called piping.

Welting does not only add shape to the bag but as an embellishment as well. It can even be used as an applique.

Sewing Tips:
Be Hipp’s comment on Welting short:

At the start Richard removed some cord from inside the welting. Then he laid the welting at a 90 degree angle to the seam allowance. He sew a couple of stitches and then swung the welting so that the seam allowance of the welting lined up with the raw edge of the bottom piece. He didn’t show it at the end, but he would have do the same thing in reverse, except he couldn’t swing the welting over because its sew down, so he would have bent it the 90 derees and sewed off the end and he would normally remove some cording at the end also. BTW he would have started the welting below the top seam allowance, so that there is no cording caught up in that seam and it would look like the welting came out of the side went all the way around the piece and then went in the side again. At least that’s how I was taught.

Richard’s reply:
I remove a little bit of cord so that when you sew over it, it wouldn’t break a needle or skip a stitch. And you were taught correctly Be Hipp. Don’t sew all the way to the ends, stop 1/2 on both sides, back stitch If two pieces of welting meet in the middle take a piece of the material you made the welting out of. Cut a piece 11/2x 1. Lift up the welting and fold the piece of material over the joint. Then complete the sewing.
Keyword(s): weltingpiping
Windows: are cutouts that are used to add functionality to an element.

Zipper Windows are cutouts usually 3/8″ to 1/2″ wide with tabs at both ends that are removed after the fabric is turned. They are used to place a zipper. Windows give the zipper a nice clean finish.

Windows are also used to create folds or bends in flaps, bottoms and gussets.

Windows can also function as an applique.
Keyword(s): windows
Another word I use for the outside stay of a boxbag.

Wrap: refers to the stay that is covered with the outside fabric which will be wrapped around the box.
Keyword(s): wrap, outside stay
Zippers: are also known as slide fasteners.

Parts of Zipper: Slider- joins or separates the teeth ( also known as elements) when the zipper is closed or opened;teeth and tape.

Types of Zipper: Metal, coil or plastic and vision. Vision fasteners are plastic molded polyacetal resin that are injected into the tape to form the teeth. These are used for bags, luggage, jackets and other heavy duty garments.

Basic Sizes of Zipper used in bags: 3, 5,7

Reference: YKK zippers
Keyword(s): zipper
Zipper stay
A zipper stay is a stay that you sit your zipper into. It allows you to have clean turned edges around your zipper so your zipper looks clean and neat.


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