Quilt Glossary

Every new skill or craft has its own language. Quilting is no different. Using the quilt glossary below will help you learn the language of quilting when moving through my site. It is not an exhaustive list.


BOM: Block of the month

FQ: Fat quarter

STASH: Special treasures all secretly hidden

TOT: Tone on tone

UFO: UnFinished Object

WIP: Work in progress

The Quilter’s Ten Commandments

Thou art a quilter:

Thou must not put another vocation before it

Thou shalt sew ¼ inch seams

Thou shalt honor thy rotary blade

Thou shalt sew 15 inches per square inch

Thou shalt never pass a quilt shop

Thou shalt not unpick, only unsew

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s block

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s fabric

Thou shalt not reveal funds spent on quilting supplies

Thou shalt cook and clean but one day a week (or month?)


Applique: the technique of layering one fabric over another to create a design, then hand or machine stitching the design onto a larger background Read More

Background Fabric: the fabric used to sew your applique design on to

Backing: the fabric at the back of a quilt

Batik: a fabric that has been dyed while using either wax, glue or starch to cover some of the fabric to modify the way the dyes are absorbed into the fabric, Indonesia is well known for its batiks Read More

Batting: the layer in the middle of a quilt between the top pieced layer and the backing Read More

Bearding: when batting fibers migrate through the quilt top or backing

Bias: the grain of fabric that is at a 45 degree angle to the selvages, this has the most stretch

Binding: the strips of fabric which are often folded double to cover the raw edges of a quilt Read More

Block: quilt tops are often made up of blocks that are usually square but can be any shape

Border: strips of fabric sewn to the quilt to frame or enlarge the quilt

Calico: a traditional plain weave cotton fabric

Chenille: a recent quilting term beginning in the late 1990s. Created by using layers of cotton fabric sewn together in blocks. The layers are sewn together then the uppermost ones slashed to create the soft chenille effect. Read More

Color Wheel: a tool to help you when selecting fabric colors

Corner Stones: the squares found on each corner of a block or quilt top

Fat Quarter: 1/2 yard of fabric cut in half forming 2 fat quarters usually measureing 18" x 22" each

Feed Dogs: metal teeth on the sewing machine plate that help feed the fabric through while being sewn

Finger Pressing: a method to make a temporary fold by taking fabric between your fingers and creasing it

Finished Size: the measurement of a completed quilt block or quilt

Fusibles: products used to help hold 2 pieces of fabric together

Grain: lengthwise and crosswise threads of woven fabric

Jelly Roll: an entire fabric collection that has been laser cut into 2 1/2" strips then rolled up like a bakery confection and tied with a bow

Label: made and sewn onto the back of the quilt with information relevant to the quilt Read More

Loft: describes the thickness of batting - puffy batting is considered high loft & thin batting is low loft

Log Cabin: strips of fabric typically encircling a small centered square Read More

Mitered: vertical and horizontal fabric strips sewn at a 45 degree angle

Needle Punching: a mechanical process using barbed needles to fuse together loose fibers to form a non-woven fabric

Nine Patch Block: a block made up of nine squares arranged in a 3 x 3 checkerboard pattern

Notions: items used for help quilters sew eg pins, scissors, templates etc

On Point: a square block that is rotated so the corners are at the top & bottom and at both sides

Patchwork: sewing patches or pieces of different fabrics together

Pieced Border: pieces of fabric of various widths sewn together to form a long strip to then be sewn either side of the quilt top

Press: use the iron with a 'down and hold for a few seconds then lift' motion

Quilt Top: the top layer of the quilt that is either pieced, appliqued or a combination of both

Quilting: stitches ( by hand or machine) used to hold the three layers of a quilt together

Quilting Foot: a sewing machine attachment that helps you to feed all three layers of your quilt sandwich evenly through your sewing machine during quilting

Rag Quilt: usually using flannel, whose raw edges of seam allowances are exposed and then cut to form a soft fringe Read More

Rotary Cutter & Mat: a rotating cutting devise similar to a pizza cutter to cut fabric strips, they must be used with a mat to protect the table surface and cutter blade

Sandwich: a quilts three layers consisting of top, the batting/wadding middle and the quilt backing fabric

Sashing: a strip of fabric sewn between blocks to separate and define them

Satin Stitch: a zigzag stitch with a shortened stitch length so that the stitches look like threads laying next to each other, often used for applique

Seam Allowance: the area between the fabric edge and the stitching line usually 1/4" in quilting

Selvage: the finished edges of woven fabric along the length of the fabric

Sleeve: a fabric tube sewn onto the back top of a quilt so it can be hung Read More

Stabilizer: used to stabilize your fabric when extensive stitching is done

Stash: a supply of fabric and notions used for quilting

Templates: a cardboard or plastic shapes used as a pattern

Tied Quilt: a method using knots or ties to hold the three layers of the quilt together

Walking Foot: an attachment for the sewing machine to help feed the top layer of fabric evenly through

Wall Quilt: a quilt made to be displayed on the wall

Warp: the long threads that run the length of the fabric, parallel to the selvage

Weft: the threads that run across the fabric from side to side (selvage to selvage)

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