Beginners Guide to Quilting: Quilting Glossary
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Album Quilt- Quilt made of many different blocks. If the blocks are signed with embroidery or ink, the quilt is an autograph or signature quilt.
Anchor Piece- Small piece of fabric used when chain piecing to move the machine easily from piece to piece
Appliqué- Sewing small pieces of fabric onto a larger background fabric in a decorative design.
Backing- The back fabric of a quilt, generally plain as opposed to the pieced top.
Batting- The cotton, polyester or wool filling in a quilt between the top pieced layer and the backing.
Basting- Temporarily holding the three layers of a quilt (top, batting, backing) together while quilting. Basting can be done with running stitches in an easily-seen contrasting color, curved safety pins (pin-basting), spray adhesive, a tacking gun, or fusible batting.
Bearding- The movement of batting fibers through the weave of the fabric in the quilt top, resulting in a fuzzy look on the surface of the quilt. This most often happens with cheaper polyester batting. To help prevent batting, coat your thread with beeswax or use coated/mercerized thread. This is also help to prevent breakage and knotting in the thread. You can also use silicon spray on the fabric.
Betweens- Shorter, thinner needles used to in hand quilting or to finish quilting. They come in sizes from 8-12, with larger numbers shorter and thinner.
Block- These are the most basic units of a quilt and can be appliquéd, pieced, or plain.
Bias- Direction running diagonally across the fabric grain or at a 45 degree angle to the straight grain. Bias cuts provide more stretch in the fabric.
Binding- A strip of fabric folded double and sewn over the edges of the quilt layers. The binding provides stability and is often also a decorative accent. This is the most common way to finish a quilt edge. Bias binding or French Double Fold binding is done with fabric cut on the bias and is especially useful for binding curves.
Chain piecing (assembly piecing)- Continuous machine stitching of each piece of the quilt without cutting threads between each seam. This method is faster and saves thread.
Cheater’s cloth- A pre-printed fabric which mimics the look of appliquéd or pieced quilt top.
Charm Quilt (scrap quilt)- A quilt made of many, many small pieces of different fabric, ideally with no two pieces alike. Charm quilts are often accomplished through quilter exchanges.
Clamshell- A kind of quilting filling pattern with overlapping circular shapes, reminiscent of fish scales.
Crazy Quilt- A quilt made from blocks with no set pattern or design and irregular or scrap fabric pieces. They are often heavily embellished with embroidery.
Cross Hatching- A quilting filling pattern made by diagonal lines an equal distance apart in one direction and then in the opposite direction to form square or diamond shapes.
Darning Foot- A sewing machine attachment that is especially useful for free motion quilting as it holds the fabric down only when the needle is coming out of the fabric.
Directional Print- Fabric with an obvious direction, such as stripes.
Ease- To seam together two different sized pieces by stretching or bunching slightly.
Echo Quilting- Type of quilting where repeating, radiating stitches run around and mirror specific shapes in the quilt.
Fat Quarter- A unit of measurement in quilting made by cutting a half yard in half again vertically, yielding a piece measuring around 18” by 22”, instead of the normal 9” x 42” quarter-yard cut.
Feed dog- The teeth under the plate of the sewing machine that help move the fabric while it is being sewn
Finished size- The final size of a sewn block without seam allowances. For example, a 6” finished size would be cut to 6.5” to allow for ¼” seam allowances.
Foundation Piecing- Assembling a block by sewing pieces onto a muslin or plain fabric foundation, which adds bulk to the quilt. In foundation paper piecing, tear away paper is used to make quilting easier but reduce the bulk.
Glazed Finish (Bonded Finish)- This thin resin often applied to thread helps to prevent bearding or shifting of the fibers when used on fabric.
Grain- The warp (lengthwise) and weft (crosswise) threads of a fabric. The crosswise grain, the weft, perpendicular to the selvage stretches more.
Hanging Sleeve- A 3-4” sleeve or tube sewn on the back of a quilt to facilitate hanging.
(Quilting) Hoop- Like an embroidery hoop but larger, this pair of plastic or wooden rings helps to keep the layers of a quilt taut during quilting.
In-The-Ditch- Quilting stitches at the edge of appliqué or close to the seams of a block (the ditch)
Lap Quilting- Assembling a quilt by completing all three layers of a block one at a time by hand and then joining all the blocks together.
Lattice Strips (Sashing)- Strips of fabric between blocks in a quilt
Loft- The thickness, resilience, and height of quilt batting. Lower loft batting better shows off the quilting stitches.
Log Cabin- A popular block pattern in which narrow rectangles of fabric surround a center square.
Meander Quilting- Random quilting stitches moving fluidly across the quilt but not overlapping
Medallion Quilt- A quilt with a large, central motif surrounded by many borders
Miter/Mitering- A method to create a smooth quilting corner with a diagonal, 45 degree seam from the corner point to the inside seam
Needle-punched Batting- To prevent bearding of the batting within the quilt, this type of batting is punched through with barbed needles to lock the fibers in place (much like in needle felting).
Needleturn Applique- In this type of hand appliqué, the seam allowance of the appliqué shape is turned under with a needle as the piece is being attached to background. .
On-point- In this arrangement, the blocks of the quilt are turned 45 degrees, so that corners are pointing up and down and the square seems to be sitting on a point (like a diamond).
Paper piecing- Using paper templates of shapes to assist you with cutting and piecing accurately
Piecing- Sewing pieces together to make a whole quilt. The quilt is called a pieced or patchwork quilt.
Prairie Points- These are fabric triangles (squares of fabric folded over into triangles) used as a decorative finish for quilt edges.
Quillow- A special kind of quilt that serves as a sleeping bag with pillow, and folds up into a carrying bag. Quillows make great gifts for kids.
Quilting Feet- Offered with most sewing machines, these special feet measure ¼” from needle point to inner edge of the foot, making it easier to sew a ¼” seam in quilting.
Quilt Frame- A large, free-standing frame that holds the layers of a quilt in place. Some can be used for basting.
Raw-Edge- The un-sewn edge of fabric
Reverse Appliqué- Instead of sewing on the top of a fabric in traditional appliqué, this method sews on the underside of the background fabric. The top fabric is then cut away and the edges turned under and sewn.
Salvage/selvedge- Woven edge of fabric with manufacturer information or other information
Sandwich- Describes the three layers of the quilt: top, batting, and backing
Sashing- See Lattice Strips
Satin stitch- a tight zig zag stitch with very small stitch lengths (just above 0)
Sawtooth Edging- See Prairie Points
Seam Allowance- amount of extra fabric added to allow for a seam or the area between the seam stitching and the cut edge
Setting- The arrangement of blocks and borders to form the quilt top.
Sharps- Short, thin needles with a very sharp tip primarily used for piecing.
Stash- A quilter’s collection of fabric
Stay-stitching- a stitch 1/8 inch from permanent line of stitching on a curve to keep the curve from distorting
Stippling- Irregular quilting stitches set very close together to create texture and fill background space
Stitching-in-the-ditch- See In-the-Ditch
Summer Quilt- A quilt with a top and backing but no batting or filling
Tacking/tack- temporary stitching to hold material until final stitching is completed
Tacking gun- A tool for basting which inserts a plastic piece into the three quilt layers to hold them together.
Tied Quilt-Instead of quilting stitches, knotted strings or ties hold the three layers of the quilt together
Trapunto- Closely sewn lines of stitching are stuffed with batting to make them appear raised from the surface of the quilt
UFO/WIP- Un-Finished Products/Works in Progress
Wadding- See Batting
Walking foot- a special foot for your sewing machine that assists in moving several layers of fabric or slippery fabric
Warp (lengthwise grain)- Threads running the length of a woven fabric
Watercolor Quilt- In this style of quilt, small floral squares build up a subtle, varied design
Weft (cross grain)- Thread running perpendicular to the warp, from selvedge to selvedge
Zinger- Small border added just outside the assembled quilt top to add attention to the center
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