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What are global sewing terms used when making women’s dance and skate dresses?

This fabulous question was posed during last week’s WORK FLOW 3-day Masterclass event.  Lene, a participant from Denmark, asked,

“Is it possible for you to make a Word list?  I am from Denmark and it is sometimes a little difficult to understand the technical terms.”

Oohh, I think a list of global sewing definitions is a great idea!  However, I do not know dressmaker and sewing terms from around the world so I need your help.

Scroll down to find your favorite dance and skate dress part.  To help keep things clear, I added a photo of the most common sewing terms I use in my blogs, free classes and in the Sew Like A Pro™ school.  These five dressmaker terms seem the most crucial to know on a global level.  If you are in a hurry, click the links to go to that specific spot on the page.

Please comment below to offer your feedback about these common sewing terms for dance and skate costumes in your country!

You are also welcome to leave other common dressmaker words like lace appliqués, or other sewing definition words that pop into your mind.

 


SEWING TERM #1: zipper

invisible zippers, blind zipper sewing definition

I call the zippers that blend in nicely with the leotard or dress an "invisible" zipper.  Why?  Because when they are done well, like you see with the two examples in the image above, they are almost invisible.

It seems like a zipper is a zipper with just a simple language translation, right?

Not according to one of my Sew Like A Pro™ members in The Netherlands.  She calls an "invisible" zipper a "blind" zipper.  Which also makes sense since it is difficult to see.

With regards to the "regular" zipper, I don't know if that has a real name or if it is simply a "zipper".  What I do know is that most of my British Sew Like A Pro™ members call it a "zip".

What is your country's sewing term for an invisible zipper and a regular zipper?
Click here to leave your comment below!

 

SEWING TERM #2: leotard

first leotard fitting ballroom dance artistic roller figure skating_

 

Does a "leotard" cover the body or the legs?  It depends on which country uses the word.

In the USA, we call the fitted garment made of stretch fabric that covers the torso a "leotard".  If you are in my Sew Like A Pro™ school or have taken any of my free design and dressmaker classes, you know I use the word "leotard" often.

However, one of the Canadian Sew Like A Pro™ members told me a "leotard" is what we in the USA call "tights" -- meaning that to some Canadians, a "leotard" covers the legs, not the body. 

Therefore, I began trying to use the word "body suit" instead of "leotard".

But then Olivia, one of the German Sew Like A Pro™ members, told me this week that the word for "leotard" and "body suit" doesn't exist in her language!  She said Germans call this fitted torso shaper a "body". 

So a dance or skate leotard in German is "dance body" and a "skate body".

These language differences are fascinating!

What is this custom made, form-fitting piece of stretch fabric that covers the torso called in your country?
Click here to leave your sewing definition below.

 

Psst..... in less than ten days, Olivia begins a several month journey traveling through Europe by train with her sewing and overlock machines.  For better or for worse, she said that me being a digital nomad inspired her to create dance and skate dresses while sewing in different locations.

Olivia plans to design, make and sell a dress at each of her stops.  She will purchase all dress supplies locally and, of course, use the local scenery and architecture as the design inspiration.  Follow Olivia on Instagram or on her new website: Olivs Original, and please consider purchasing her gorgeous dresses and very clever t-shirts.

Oliv sews Europe making women's ballroom dance and skate dresses in different countries.

If you would like to see more amazing dresses made by Sew Like A Pro™ members, see our 2022 fashion show.  Not on videos are on there yet so expect more in the next month.

 

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SEWING TERM #3: snaps

sewing snaps in ballroom dance or figure skating leotard, sewing definition
During some of the Sew Like A Pro™ tutorials, I use accent color thread so the stitch lines show better. I highly recommend you use matching thread when you sew a "real" dance or skate costume. 🙂
You know those round metal discs that can be used to temporarily close the crotch of your leotard/body suit/body? 

In the USA, we call these metal discs "snaps".  Some sewing school members in the UK, call them "poppers".  Look at the photo above to see the metal discs to which I refer.

What are these metal discs things called in your country?  Leave a comment below about the sewing definition in your language!

Or maybe the word "crotch" is not what you call the part of the leotard that goes between your legs around the pelvic floor? ... Please leave your word for that also!  Click here to share.

 

SEWING TERM #4: trunks

Drawing design lines a dance skate leotard
Drawing design lines a leotard made by Sew Like A Pro™ member Lynn.

 

"Trunks" are the part of the leotard that covers the bum and other private areas of the body.

I use the word "trunks" a lot because this area of the leotard often needs to be fitted separately from the neckline and the armholes.  Therefore, it needs its own word so it can be discussed as a separate part of the whole.

What is your country's sewing term for this part of the leotard? 
Or what is your word for a separate panty garment that you wear when the costume does not have a full leotard ? 
Click here to leave your comment below!

 

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SEWING TERM #5: rhinestones

rhinestones, sew-on-jewels, diamantes, sewing definitions for dance and skate dresses

 

Okay, so this is not exactly a sewing term or a sewing definition, but bling is crucial for our ballroom and country dance, ice and artistic roller skating costumes!

The tiny stones you see on the blue dress photo I call "rhinestones".  I have heard my Aussie and Kiwi Sew Like A Pro™ members call these "diamantes"?

What are rhinestones and diamantes called in your country?

 

The larger items I call "jewels" because that is what they are called in the catalogs and online stores from which I order them. 

A subset of "jewels" is made when you look at all the difference shapes.  For example, the small jewels that are pointed on each end are "navettes".  But let us not worry about what the subsets are called or we can all get confused in a hurry.

Are jewels call jewels in your country?  Or do they have a different name? What is your country's sewing term for this part of the body suit? 

Please leave your comments below about any of the sewing terms we discuss in this blog.

P.S.  You can also download  a free list of 55 Fabric Stores From Around The World  to go with your new global sewing definitions.

    15 replies to "Global sewing terms for dance and skate dresses"

    • PJ Catalano

      In the USA stretch fabric that covers the torso is a leotard, a body suit usually means the crotch has snaps. Snaps are called snaps.

    • Tina Barnes

      Western America here, and we use the terms you listed first.

    • Alison Reynolds

      Most commonly here in New Zealand – A zipper is a zip, a leotard is the same word, as Karen said snaps I’ve always know as domes, and seen them labelled as press studs, trunks – I refer to as pants or panty (especially when making a tutu), rhinestones – stones or bling.

    • Carolin

      In Germany:
      An invisible zipper is called “Nahtverdeckter Reißverschluss” which litterally translates to “zipper covered by a seam” (where Reißverschluss = zipper).
      As Olivia sais, a leotard is simply called “body” (and there is no German word for it).
      Snaps are called “Druckknöpfe” which translates to “push-buttons”.
      I don’t know about a word for trunks, but rhinestones are called “Strasssteine” (strass stones).

      A few other words that confused me when I began to sew and talk to people in English about it, are:
      godets, floats, gauntlets, horsehair, skirt yoke, sandwiching technique, the difference of armband and bracelet (because the German word “Armband” could mean either), serger (we mostly call it “overlock” in German)
      After participating in a few design challenges, all these words were clear to me, but I remember that I had to learn what they meant during the challenges. So it might be useful to describe them (or some of them) in a glossary 😉

      • Teresa Sigmon

        Good idea on the glossary, Carolin! This blog is sort of a first step towards that. Once I have enough info compiled, I’ll put it into PDF format and include it in the sewing school and as a free download for the challenges and here on this website.

        Over the years, I discovered that “Overlock” is the more common term outside the USA so I try (but do not always succeed) in using the “overlock” word instead of “serger”.

        Thank you again, Carolin. It’s always a pleasure seeing your smiling face and beautiful dresses in the sewing school and in so many Sew Like A Pro™ events!

    • elisabeth francois

      in french we call this “boutons pressions”

      • Teresa Sigmon

        Press buttons. 🙂 Makes a lot of sense. C’est très logique.

    • Ginette

      In canada we call it snaps

    • Katharine Davis

      in England
      zipper (invisible and regular) – just zip
      leotard – leotard, from the frenchman Jules Léotard, a ‘body’ is a fashion item
      snaps – press studs (the sewn on metal variety), more modern plastic ones attached with a tool are snaps
      trunks – probably shorts, pants usually refer to long trousers in the north of england, trunks are for swimming
      rhinestones – just stones

      so, you see, even within one country there is variation
      you have opened a can of worms Teresa
      Katharine

      • Teresa Sigmon

        Worms can be fun 🙂 Thank you SEW much for commenting Katharine!

    • Lene Bigandt Kronow

      In Denmark they are called Push-buttons.

    • Helenmary

      In Australia we call snaps “press studs”

      • Teresa Sigmon

        Thank you for replying, HelenMary!

        It fascinates me that even though Australia and New Zealand are so close in proximity and both English speaking countries, that each country uses a different word for what I call a “snap”.

    • Karen Ferguson

      Snaps are called domes in New Zealand

      • Teresa Sigmon

        Thanks SEW much for replying, Karen!

        It fascinates me that even though Australia and New Zealand are so close in proximity and both English speaking countries, that you use two different words (“domes” and “press studs”) for what I call a “snap”.

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