• JoJo

Boning, Frogging, and a Pounding Block

I haven’t made anything lately because my sewing space currently looks like this:

Not ideal for creative production.


By the time you read this, Husband and I will (hopefully!) have packed our lives into a van and be winging our way to our new home. Obviously this has been a bit of a stressy time so I’m going to keep this blog post light and short.


This week, I’m going to share some slightly strange and amusing sewing terms in order to reduce my own stress levels and hopefully give you a bit of a giggle.


The first three terms are ones that I have encountered during my own projects. The final three come from this excellent sewing book, which has gotten me out of a lot of fabric and thread related conundrums over the years. If you’re looking for a thorough and easy to use guide to almost every sewing technique imaginable, I’d highly recommend this book.

Boning


This is the archetypal amusing sewing word, in my humble humerous opinion. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, boning comes in stiff strips and is the thing that gives corsets their rigidity. There are also many different types of boning. To quote my former self:


“There’s plastic covered steel boning, polyester boning, synthetic whalebone boning, soft boning, carbon fibre boning, spiral wire boning. The boning possibilities are almost endless (tee hee, boning)”


Use it in a Sentence


“Consider how stiff your boning needs to be before constructing your corset”


Frogging


As far as I’m aware, this has nothing to do with what Wikipedia refers to as “short-bodied, tailless amphibians”.


A frog fastener features a button and a loop generally made of braid. The most decorative frogging is often found on men’s jackets, especially military uniforms.


Although according to Urban Dictionary it has many other meanings. I’ll leave you to explore those in your own time.


My main experience with frogging was at college while making this Hussar uniform. I sewed all the white braid and silver buttons on by hand and sadly ended up having to repeat this lengthy feat multiple times as I repeatedly mismeasured and misaligned it. In total there are approximately 60 buttons and 20 metres of braid on this jacket.

Despite the frustration it caused me at the time, this is one my favourite creations and one of the few things I made at college that I have deemed worth keeping hold of to this day. A tiny part of my brain thinks I will find a way to wear it myself one day even though it’s not remotely close to my size.


A project for my very-future-self perhaps.


Use it in a Sentence


“Frogging can be extremely decorative and beautiful but also very fiddly”


Muff


This is an item of clothing rather than a sewing term but it’s definitely worth including.


A muff (again, Urban Dictionary would disagree with me on this one), is a tubular fashion accessory, large enough to slide your hands into to keep them warm on a chilly day. They are generally made of fur and feature a short strap to go around the wrist so the wearer doesn’t simply drop their muff into a puddle of rain or snow when not keeping their digits toasty warm within its structure.


I made one of these at college as part of a Victorian girl’s skating outfit. The muff was by far the easiest part of this outfit to make, although the matching hat ended up being my favourite piece of this fur and velvet puzzle.

I kept this outfit for a while but eventually donated it to a costume hire company earlier this year after retrieving it from my parents’ attic. When I look at it, I don’t see a beautiful skating outfit. I have flashbacks to months of fake fur and velvet fluff balls all over my floor, my clothes, my glasses, and coating the inside of my lungs.


Use it in a Sentence


“Her warm fluffy muff kept her hands warm all year round”


Prickstitch (not to be confused with pickstitch)


Husband’s response to hearing this term was to gently shudder and say “ooooh, no thank you”.


According to my sewing book of all knowledge this is a “spaced backstitch” which “should be invisible” if you execute it correctly. It is a type of backstitch used for sewing zips, hems, and seams and is worked from right to left if you’re right-handed or left to right if you’re left-handed.


Pickstitch, on the other hand, is a decorative stitch rather than a structural stitch and is far less amusingly named.


Use it in a Sentence


“A solid prickstitch was required to make a structurally sound codpiece”


Pounding Block


A bit of physical strength comes in handy sometimes when putting together sewing projects. Some of the tools used for tailouring, including the pounding block, could do a decent amount of damage if wielded in rage.

It’s sound advice not to piss of someone who sews. They have access to many heavy and sharp objects.


Pounding blocks, at least the ones I’ve encountered, are generally made of wood and have a handle on the top and flat block on the bottom. It is “used to pound creases into heavyweight fabric after steaming”. For fabrics that don’t deal with being ironed well or simply put up a fight against the iron, whacking with a pounding block is the way to go.


Use it in a Sentence


“She gave that tweed jacket a stern seeing to with the pounding block”


Tailour’s Ham


Another tool that sewing folk use to wrangle garments into submission is the tailour’s ham. This is a tightly packed cushion that curved seams or panels of fabric with darts sewn into them can be placed over when steaming/ironing. This helps them keep their curved shaped and achieves a better fit when worn. They can be made from any number of hefty fabrics on the outside and are generally stuffed with scraps of fabric or even sawdust.


I assume the tailour’s ham got its name because it sort of looks like a lump of meat. But, as previously mentioned, I'm busy and a little stressed so I’m currently too lazy to confirm this with even a casual bit of Googling. I’m just going to happily imagine the day Sybil the Seamstress was making both a Sunday roast and a neatly fitting jacket and suddenly realised she had the perfect, if slightly messy tool, for the job of smoothing out the seams. And thus the tailour’s ham was born.


Use it in a Sentence


“She placed the dart around the ham and gave it a good steaming”


I find words endlessly fascinating and there are many other sewing terms that I appreciate.


Wadding


Gusset (controversial opinion maybe but it’s a very evocative word even if you don’t enjoy saying it)


Warp


Weft


Ruffle


Ruching


Placket


Darning


Pinking


I really could go on but I have more pressing matters to attend to. Like unpacking several dozen boxes and organising a house. So, I’ll bring this lighthearted linguistics session to a close.


Do feel free to leave any of your own suggestions for amusing sewing words, or words from your own field of expertise, in the comments below. I was going to say “keep it clean” but that doesn’t seem necessary at this point. Keep it appropriately unclean!

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