Start Sewing with Burda: Guide to Essential Terms and Techniques You Need to Know

If you've chosen to start your sewing journey with Burda patterns, you're in the right place!

For sewing beginners, this craft can seem daunting at first with its many technical terms and precise techniques. In this article, we'll dive into the world of sewing by providing you with a glossary of the most important terms to know as you embark on your adventure in the world of garment making.

Stitching, Basting, and Seam Finishing: The 3 Fundamentals


Stitching means to sew with a sewing machine. Topstitch means sewing on the right side along a seam or edge, for example, to keep seam allowances flat.


Basting means to sew by hand with long stitches along the sewing line.

Seam Finishing

Seam finishings refer to the beginning and end of your seam. They should be secured by stitching a few backstitches with the sewing machine at the start and end of the seam.

Straight grain

The straight grain consists of the vertical threads of a woven fabric.

On pattern pieces, we indicate the direction of the straight grain along a straight edge, or we mark it with an arrow accompanied by the label  "straight grain." When you place the paper pattern pieces on the fabric, make sure that the straight grain remains parallel to the fabric's selvedges to prevent your project from distorting when you try it on.

The fabric fold

The fabric fold refers to the folded edge of a fabric folded in half. This straight edge is also labeled as the "fabric fold" on pattern pieces (dotted line in the reduced pattern diagram).

When cutting, do not add seam allowance along this edge, as the pattern does not have a seam there.

The fabric faces

The fabric faces are distinguished as follows: the "right side" is the more beautiful, colorful, or printed side of the fabric, always on the outside in the finished garment.

As a result, "right sides together" means that the right side of one piece is placed against the right side of another piece. The wrong side of each piece is therefore on the outside.



Pinning is necessary to prevent the pieces from slipping: secure the fabric layers with pins, placing the fabric pieces on top of each other and aligning the sewing lines precisely.

Remove the pins as you sew. If you place the pins perpendicular to the future seam, you can carefully sew over them...



Serging (or neatening) is important to prevent the edges of your fabric from fraying.

To do this, stitch with a zigzag stitch along the outer edge of the seam allowance (important: first, test the length and width of the stitch).

Another option (and a more professional one) is to use an overlocker (serger). The result: uniformly overlocked seams.




Trimming the seam allowances is ideally done right after sewing.

Carefully and evenly cut them, depending on the fabric, from 5 to 10 mm away from the seam. In curved areas, make multiple notches in the seam allowance to ensure that the seam lies flat afterward.