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The Entrepreneur's Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing
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Glossary of frequently-used textile, manufacturing, development, production, and commercial shipping terms in the apparel industry.


Sales Sample

This sample should be an exact replica of what will be purchased and shipped to the retailer. This will be used by the salesperson for that purpose.

Sample Cuts (Yardage)

Fabric purchased to create sales or product development samples. Some mills will manufacture a number of fabrics from their range in limited colors or colorways. Otherwise, the customer must contract to make sample fabric or take a portion of fabric from their bulk production. There is usually a surcharge for sample fabrics.

Sample Loom

Looms in a mill given over to making a customer’s sample yardage. A surcharge on the fabric is usually involved.

Sample Room

An area set aside in a design studio or at a contractor’s facility for the purpose of making product development samples (protos) or counter samples and sales samples.


Merchandise not for resale but used as a selling tool (sales samples), a guide for development or manufacturing (first or counter sample), or as an example of production (top-of-production, etc.).

Sanding/Sand Wash

Intentional abrasion on a garment; originally achieved with a high-pressure sand blaster - now done with brushes or sand in the dry state or with chemicals and sand or grit in washing.


One of the three basic woven constructions (weave). Satins have long “floating” yarns on the face (or both sides - “double faced”) of the fabric and have a lustrous-to-shiny appearance. Satin is usually warp faced and sateen is usually weft faced. Satins can be made of any natural or manmade fiber.

Seam Allowance

The pre-determined amount of seam margin material between the edge of the component part of the garment and the seam line. Prevents seam slippage, seam bursting or fraying.

Seam Finishes

Bound Seam - where a narrow fold of bias fabric or a non-fraying material like a cloth tape covers the raw edges of the seam allowance.

Enclosed Seam - where two or more layers are joined and then turned so that the seam allowances are hidden inside the garment section, such as a collar, cuff or facing.

(Flat) Felled Seam - in which two panels are joined together by overlapping so both raw edges are folded under one another. Usually done with a folder and either a double or triple needle machine. Often used on men’s shirts.

French Seam - constructed so that a narrow seam is contained within a slightly larger one, producing a clean finish on the inside of the garment.

(Pressed) Open Seam - a simple seam treatment where the seam allowances are pressed open and facing in opposite directions.

Serged - where two or more layers of fabric or components are trimmed and joined using a type of serging machine. Also Overlock, Over-edging or Merrow.

Welted Seam - when both seam allowances are pressed to one side and are held in position by topstitching.

Seam Slippage

In sewn fabrics, the displacement of the fabric yarn parallel and adjacent to the stitch line caused by stress or straining.


Any textile that is not of first quality. Fabrics that have an excessive frequency of defects, damages or irregularities and cannot be marketed at full price.


The woven or interlaced edge of a textile that runs parallel to the warp threads. The selvage maintains the fabric’s correct width and prevents woven fabrics from unraveling. The selvage is also used to stabilize the fabric during further finishing processes.


Gradual changes in hue, chroma, and/or lightness lengthwise or widthwise. Note: When unintended, shading is considered a defect. It may be intentional for styling purposes (ombre or degrade).


The sender of a freight shipment, usually the supplier, contractor, seller or seller’s agent.

Short Shipments

Shipment contents that are less than the packing slip count, or a carrier’s shipment, that has delivered less than the carton count on the Bill of Lading or freight delivery receipt.


A dimensional change resulting in a decrease in the length or width of a textile or garment usually due to water, heat, steam, wet-cleaning or a combination of all.

Single Needle (Construction)

A term often used in men’s wear for a high-quality construction technique that uses a lock-stitch to form a flat-felled seam at the side seams and the armhole of a shirt. Double Needle refers to a similar sewing technique that produces parallel lines of chain stitches in one operation and is less durable.

Size Run

Pre-production samples that are used to check the accuracy of all sizes to be produced in an order.


A fabric condition resulting when knitted courses are displaced angularly and from a line perpendicular to the edge or side of the fabric. A similar condition can occur in woven fabrics and is also a result of improper finishing.


(Stock Keeping Unit) Reference to a specific style, color, size by season or delivery. SKUs are used in planning, budgets, tracking, merchandising and retailing usually indicated by 5, 8 or 12 digit numbers and a bar code.


Stiff paper or cardboard pattern pieces for a basic or “core” style that has been approved for fit and appearance, which may be used in the development of more complex styles and pattern pieces. Also called a Block Pattern.

Spec. Sheet (Specs)

A document indicating the complete specifications (specs) for a garment or accessory generated prior to production. The Spec Sheet or Spec Package may include: a general sketch or flats, fabric and construction details, measurement charts and other pertinent information for the manufacturer and QC.

Special Finishes

Any additional finishes that a customer contracts to be added to a textile, such as: water repellency, stain resistance, odor-blocking, UV protection, crease resistance, etc.


A localized deposit of soil or discoloration on a substrate that exhibits some degree of resistance to removal, as in laundering or dry-cleaning.

Standard (Color)

Colors that are submitted to a mill or converter that become the standard for future production. The mill or converter will in turn provide lab dips or strike-offs to the customer for approval or comments.


To limit stretch or distortion of a seam, shape or detail in a sewn garment.

Stitches (Sewing Operations)

Chain Stitch - A one or two thread structure that provides a row of stitches in the form of interlocking loops (similar to crochet). This stitch can be removed quickly by cutting and pulling from one end of the stitched seam. This seam is more elastic than a Lock Stitch seam and is used in seams requiring stretch.

Flatlock (Coverstitch) - A seam that joins or finishes a lapped seam. The raw edges are covered on the upper and/or underside of the garment. Originally used in underwear and athletic wear.

Lock Stitch - A two-thread operation combining a needle thread and a bobbin thread where the two threads are locked together between the plys of fabric. This seam is the least likely to open up along its length, but is the least elastic.

Serging - A group of seam structures that involves a chain stitch seam combined with additional threads that over-edges (overcasts) seams at the same time. Usually a serger trims the edge of the seam as it sews.

Zigzag Stitch - A variation of a Lock Stitch that produces a more elastic seam or topstitching resembling a stair step pattern.

Stitches per Inch

The recommended stitches per inch in constructing a garment; may vary according to specific parts of the garment (for durability), fabrics and components involved, or for appearance, as decorative in top-stitching.


Fabric that is contracted and manufactured specifically for production purposes, as opposed to sample production.

Stock Keeping Unit

See: SKU

Store Pack

Packing a shipment to the retailer by style, color and size (SKU).


A Bill of Lading always used in conjunction with a Master Bill of Lading. It lists the detailed information for a DC shipment: POs, Dept. #, itemized by # of cartons and weight, etc.

Supplier Number

Identifying number for the individual supplier in the retailer’s merchandising system or “vendor matrix.”


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