Quilting Dictionary

What are they talking about? -

Appliqué Done by hand, machine or with fusible web - small pieces of fabric are sewn or fused to a background fabric to form designs. Appliqué may be combined with pieced blocks
Backing The back fabric of a quilt in the 3 layers: top, batting, backing.
Basting Long stitches used to hold fabric layers or seams in place temporarily and usually removed after final sewing. A quilt is often basted in the sandwich stage before final quilting. Pin basting of quilts is often done with safety pins. Other methods include the use of a too (see:tacking gun) or a Basting Spray Adhesive.
Batting The layer in the middle of a quilt sandwich between the top pieced layer and the backing. Batting can be cotton, polyester, blends, silk, or wool.
Bias The diagonal direction across the surface of a woven fabric at a 45 degree angle to the line of the warp and weft. Fabric cut on the bias stretches and must be handled with care. Bias binding allows binding to be turned and angled without pleating.
BindingThe straight-grain or Bias strips of fabric which is often folded double and covers the raw edges and batting of a quilt.
Block The basic unit of a quilt top, usually square but can be rectangular or other shapes. Blocks can be pieced, appliquéd or plain.
BorderA strip of fabric or pieced strip of fabric joined to the edges of the inner quilt and used to frame it.
Broadcloth A cotton fabric popular in solid colors for quilting. It's a plain weave with a slight weft ribbed effect. Poplin is a heavier version of the same weave.
Fat Quarter - cut piece of fabric which is made by cutting a half yard in half again vertically. The piece is therefore approximately 18" x 22". This allows for cutting larger blocks than a standard quarter yard which is 9" x 44".
Free-Motion Quilting or EmbroideryA method of quilting or embroidering where the feed dogs of a sewing machine are lowered or covered and the quilter controls the movement of the fabric under the needle. Freeform designs can be done this way.
Friendship Quilt A quilt made by a group of friends for one person, with each participant making and signing a block or more for the quilt top. Sometimes called a Signature Quilt.
Fusibles Various webs or interfacings which can be ironed onto a fabric for easier appliqué or to support the fabric. "Wonder Under" is an example.
GrainThe lengthwise and crosswise threads (warp and weft directions) of a woven fabric.
Hand-Quilting Stitch A small, even running stitch that is made through all three layers of a quilt to hold them together and arranged to form the quilting pattern.
Lap Quilting or "quilt as you go" A method of completing all three layers by quilting one block or section at a time and then assembling the finished quilt from those pre-quilted squares. Squares are quilted in small lap frames or held in the hands rather than using a large quilting frame.
Loft A descriptive term for the thickness, height and resilience of quilt batting. High loft batting is thicker and fluffier, usually polyester and used more often for tied quilts. Low loft batting is thinner and shows off the quilting stitches.
Long Arm Quilting Quilting using a very long bed (often as long as 12 feet) commercial quilting machine to do the overall quilting. A popular cottage industry.
Matching points Piecing so as to make sure that the corners of blocks or the points of stars match in piecing at the seam line so that the points are not cut off by the seam.
Memory Quilt Antique Memory Quilts may have been made from a loved one's clothes after death as a memorial. Some memory quilts may be a gift to a young adult, perhaps a going-to-college quilt which contains fabrics from their own baby and growing up garments.
Mitered corners (also spelled mitred) Joining a border or corners at a 45 degree angle.
Muslin A plain, usually undyed cotton fabric, available bleached or unbleached. Available in a wide range of qualities - a fine quality bleached muslin is often used in quilting as a neutral background for appliqué or as a foundation under thinner fabric. Muslin was first made in the city of Mosul (now in Iraq), from which it derived its name. Early Indian muslins were handwoven of amazingly fine handspun cotton yarns. They were imported into Europe from India in the 17th century and were later manufactured in Scotland and England.
PFP - initials stand for Paper Foundation Piecing.
Paper Foundation Piecing - A popular method of piecing using a block drawn or printed and sewn on paper for highly accurate details. A big help for complicated designs and for miniature blocks. /library/graphics/papr1.gif
Piecing / Pieced QuiltThe most commonly seen quilt type which is made up of many small pieces of fabric sewn together by hand or machine. Often called Patchwork in some countries outside the USA.
Quilt Top The top layer of a quilt
Quilting Hoop A small circular or oval apparatus that is used to hold the layers of a quilt together during quilting.
Raw Edge The unsewn edge of a piece of fabric or a quilt block. For applique, the edge which is cut, but not yet turned under with stitching.
Reverse Appliqué Designs made by sewing on a patch to the underside of a Block and then cutting away and turning under the edge of the top fabric.
Rotary Cutter and Mat A fabric cutting tool with a circular blade that cuts through several layers of fabric at once. It is best used with a clear plastic ruler. A cutting mat is essential to protect the work surface and preserve the blade's sharpness.
Round Robin Swap - a popular swap among a group of friends either online or not. A small piece of a quilt is started by each, then sent to the next quilter who adds to it, then it moved to the next and so on. When the Swap is complete each quilter has back the original piece with the additions of everyone else in the group.
Satin Stitch A slanted, tightly packed (no spaces showing through of the fabric) outlining stitch. Often used around applique pieces. A machine satin stitch is made by setting a zig zag stitch very closely with the machine settings.
Scrap Quilt A quilt, usually patchwork, made of many different fabrics, often left over from other projects.
Seam Allowance The width of fabric left to the right of a sewn seam. In quilting this is traditionally 1/4 inch. For sewing garments it is usually 5/8 inch.
Selvage or Selvedge The outer edge of both sides of a woven fabric where the weft turns to go back across and through the warp. This is a stiffer and denser woven area of about 1/3-1/2 inch and is usually trimmed off and not sewn into a quilt.
Setting The arrangement of completed Blocks forming the Quilt Top. Blocks can be set side by side, or on point, like diamonds, with or without Sashing. Arrangements can also vary with certain asymmetrical block patterns.
Signature Quilt - a quilt with many signatures collected and signed on individual blocks. Some are made as friendship gifts with each quilter giving a signed block or others may be made by a single quilter who collects the signatures by mailing or handing out the blocks for signing to others (family, famous people for raffle quilts, etc.) Sometimes also called Friendship Quilt.
Stack and Whack - A popular technique formulated by Bethany Reynolds for cutting out specific repeat sections from a large, overall print fabric and sewing them into kaleidoscope-like designs.
Stash The term "my stash" or "a stash" refers to a quilter's collection of fabrics. Quilters love to do "stash building" at every opportunity.
Stippling Very closely stitched background quilting that can be done by hand or machine to create surface texture.
Stitch in the Ditch To sew your stitches in the "ditch" created by the joins of the pattern pieces.
Swaps - An exchange among a group of quilters of either fabric or blocks with some set ground rules as to theme, color, design, etc. Popular in Quilting Guilds, but also a very popular online activity on quilting forums and mailing lists.
Tacker or Tacking Gun A tool which is a close cousin to the tacking tool used to put small hanging price tags on garments in shops by means of a short piece of monofilament nylon "arrow". But for quilting these are used instead of pin or thread basting the quilt sandwich together prior to quilting. The monofilament pieces are then cut out again after quilting is complete.
Templates A shape cut from cardboard or plastic used to make multiple units of a pattern for quilt blocks or applique. Templates may also be used to transfer quilting lines to a quilt top.
Tranfer Printing Using a special paper with a coating to transfer a design printed by an ink jet printer or color copier to a fabric. The design is applied with a hot iron or a heat press.
Tied Quilt A quilt where instead of stitching in a quilting pattern to hold the 3 layers together a series of ties are used spaced evenly all over the body of the quilt.
UFO An abbreviation meaning UnFinished Projects. As in "How many UFO's do you have in your studio?"
Utility Quilt A plain, basic quilt meant to be used for everyday bedding. Often a simple design and older ones may be examples of rural folkart. May often be a tied quilt.
Walking Foot A special foot which can be attached to a sewing machine which helps to feed the top layer of a quilt fabric sandwich evenly with the feed dogs feeding the bottom fabric. Pfaff sewing machines have this built into the machine, other machines have one that can be added. A Brother sewing machine walking foot is shown at right.
Wall Quilt A quilt made with smaller dimensions and meant for hanging on a wall. It can be a traditional design or a contemporary "art quilt".
Whole Cloth Quilt A quilt made from one large piece of fabric, historically a solid color, that is quilted in usually intricate patterns. There are no pieced blocks in these quilts. Nowadays art quilters may also make whole cloth quilts which are a single piece of fabric, but which has been painted or printed with an image or design.