Tools, equipment and processes


When textile material is transformed from its stock form, usually sheets from a roll, into a product or garment the term ‘forming’ is used. This term is used with any product that has been made from material. Products that have been made from timbers, metals and polymers have all been ‘formed’ from a stock form of that material type.

The different forming techniques for textiles - gathering, pleats, shirring, darts, seams and hems and felting.
  • gathering - achieved by sewing two parallel lines to the top of a piece of fabric that can be pulled gently to ruffle up the fabric and create fullness
  • pleats - folds of fabric that are sewn into place and used to shape skirts
  • shirring - created by sewing thin elastic, known as shirring elastic, into a garment in rows, creating elasticated panels
  • darts - used to shape a garment on the bust, waist or back by sewing parallel lines on the inside
  • seams - formed at the point where two pieces of fabric are joined, they can be plain or overlapped to be hidden
  • hems - used to neaten edges and to finish raw edges, they are generally straight but can be used to create a decorative edge
  • felting - uses bonded fabrics, such as felt, which can be moulded over a former by heating and wetting it, the fibres can be pulled into shape and permanently set, used to make seamless hats


Wastage is the process of cutting away material with tools and equipment. Creating textiles products will always involve a certain amount of waste, cut away from the pattern shapes needed, but good design can minimise the amount of fabric wasted.

The different wastage tools for textiles - die cutter, laser cutter, shears and pinking shears and a heat element.
  • die cutters - shaped blades inside a foam stamp that can press through and cut several layers of fabric at once
  • laser cutters - use a computer aided design (CAD) drawing to make controlled laser cuts through fabric accurately and quickly
  • shears - sharp scissors are used to cut a clean edge in fabric
  • pinking shears - a type of scissor that cuts a zigzag edge to stop fabrics fraying
  • heat element - a hot blade that can be used to cut through synthetic fabrics


Addition is the process of adding on material to another piece of material. At least two single pieces of material need to be combined for addition to take place.

The different addition techniques for textiles - godgets, piping and quilting.
  • a godet - a pleat of fabric that is sewn to the underside of a fabric, it can be made in a contrasting colour and adds volume to a dress skirt
  • piping - created using a thin strip of fabric cut on the bias and stitched around cord, this is inserted into the seam around the edge of soft furnishings or bags to improve wear and look attractive
  • quilting - achieved using layers of fabric that are stitched together around a central wadding to create a thick, warm quilt