African-American Quilts – A descriptive term that refers to the improvisational way some African American quilters made traditional quilt blocks. Many of these brilliant quilts came from quilt-makers in Gee’s Bend, a small rural area in Alabama that is rich with African American quilting culture.
Amish Quilts – These are quilts made by or in the style of the Amish quilters of America. Geometric patterns and central medallion square-in-a-square with wide borders is a popular design in the Amish community.
Appliqué – A piece of fabric sewn on top of a background piece of fabric, usually in fun shapes or decorative designs such as curved floral or animal motifs. Appliqué can be pieced together by hand, machine, or with fusible web. It can also be combined with pieced blocks or placed in the border to frame a pieced quilt.
Art Quilt – Using both traditional and modern quilting techniques, art quilts generally combine piecework, appliqué, embroidery, and more.
Assembly-Line Piecing – Sewing blocks or sections of blocks efficiently and quickly in an assembly line fashion, completing each unit in sequence.
Attic Window Quilt Pattern – An optical illusion quilt pattern that makes it appear as though you’re looking at each quilt block through a window.
Autograph Quilt – A quilt containing signatures from friends or others, often for celebrating an important life event. Sometimes they are also referred to as a Memory Quilt.
Aurifil – An Italian company that produces high-quality cotton thread. longarm quilting t shirt quilt
Baltimore Album Quilt – Originating from the Baltimore, Maryland area in the 1800s, these quilts are made of a variety of elaborate appliquéd blocks with symbolic designs and were popular in the 1800s. They are also referred to as sampler or friendship quilts.
Backing – A quilt consists of three layers. Quilt top is either pieced or a single piece of fabric. The next layer is batting. The bottom layer of a quilt is a piece of fabric that is generally 4 inches longer on all sides, this allows for quilting on long arm machine. Backing fabric can be a single piece of extra wide backing fabric or a fabric of your choice which will be sewn together to the size needed. A few quilters like to piece their entire backing with scraps of fabric, always allowing for the 4 extra inches on all sides of quilt. Example, if quilt top measures 60×60, backing and batting should measure at least 68×68.
Backstitch – A stitch used to secure the stitch at the beginning and end of a seam by stitching 4 stitched forward, 4 stitches back and then proceeding with your seam. This technique is done to secure seam and ensure it does not pull apart during piecing or quilting of quilt.
Bargello – A type of quilt that creates movement by how the strips of fabric squares are sewn, usually of the same color going from light to dark.
Barkcloth – A type of densely woven cotton fabric, which is made from the fibers of tree bark found in tropical places. It was most popular in the 1950s and largely used in home furnishings.
Basting – Long stitches used to temporarily hold fabric in place, can be done by hand or by machine. It is used to hold all three layers (quilt top, batting and backing) in place when ready for quilting process. It is not necessary to secure thread knot on either end of stitch, it is merely a way to ensure that your project stays secure and does not shift. These stitches are removed once quilting is complete.
Batik Fabrics – Made by covering an area of fabric with wax or other substance to prevent the dye from penetrating into that area. Hot water is used to remove the wax. Batiks usually have a high thread count so you should use a #12 Microtex needle.
Batting – A light weight, warm product used between the quilt top and quilt backing, batting is used for quilts, wall hangings, quilted clothing and home décor. Batting is also referred to as Wadding. It is generally made up of cotton, cotton/poly blend, bamboo, wool, bamboo cotton blend. There are two types of batting: with scrim and without scrim.
Bearding – Batting fibers that poke through to the top of the quilt during the quilting process are undesirable. This is caused by bad batting and will create this effect on front and back of quilt. Bearding happens when fibers in your batting pull apart and migrate through the fabric fibers of your quilt. You will most often notice this after quilts first washing. This is why it is important to choose good quality batting.
Betweens – Needles made specifically to sew all layers together during the hand quilting process. Also used for hand sewing binding when finishing quilt. Short and thin needles that are used for hand piecing and quilting as well as sewing on the binding. The size of the needles range from 7-12, with the higher number indicating a smaller needle.
Bias – The length or width of woven fabric is considered straight grain, there is no stretch when on straight grain. If you follow the printed salvage on the fabric, this is the lengthwise of your fabric, perpendicular would be your width of fabric. The bias grain runs on a 45º angle to the selvages and has an ample amount of stretch, so it is less stable than the lengthwise and crosswise grain. You must be extremely careful when handling the bias, as cutting on the bias grain will cause inaccurate cuts.
Bias Tape – Pre-made strips of fabric in various sizes that are cut diagonally across the grain to give the fabric some movement so it will turn curves nicely. Used for binding a quilt.
Bias Binding – Binding that is cut on the true bias, which is helpful when binding a quilt that has curved or rounded corners.
Big Stitch – A type of quilting where sometimes colorful thread is used to make large stitches, showcasing a decorative effect. It was a great way for hand quilters to show off and embellish their quilts.
Binding – A strip of fabric that is sewn over the edges of the quilt after the quilt has been quilted. Binding adds extra strength and support to a quilt, and this is when a quilt is considered finished by many quilters.
Birthing a Quilt – A birthed quilt is basically a quilt without binding and involves layering the right sides of the quilt together (like the inside of a pillow case) and sewing around all four sides, but leaving a gap to turn through. Then you’d turn the quilt right side out and sew the gap closed.
Blanket Stitch – A simple embroidery stitch used to attach appliquéd fabric to a main fabric. Can be machine or hand stitched.
Bleeding – When color or dyes from one fabric transfers to another during washing. This is due to hand dyes or color saturated fabrics losing their dyes when they are wet. Most commonly seen when washing vividly colored fabrics, particularly purples and reds. Always best to wash colors separately before cutting and piecing.
Blind Stitch – A type of invisible stitching often used for sewing appliqué or binding by hand, but a blind stitch can also be done on a sewing machine.
Block – A quilt design unit generally comprised of multiple squares that are repeated and formed together to make a quilt top.
Blocks – The unit that is designed for a quilt. Generally there will be many blocks in a quilt. A quilt block can be a single piece of fabric cut with a rotary cutter into a perfect square or a block that has been pieced using many pieces of fabric and sewn together using ¼ inch seam allowance. A quilt design unit generally comprised of multiple squares that are repeated and formed together to make a quilt top.
Blocking – When a block is not square, a process that requires wetting and pressing fabric to a proper square block. This is also done using steam to help stretch portions of your block to match other blocks.
Block of the Month (BOM) – A program offered by quilting classes, quilt shops, etc., where quilters make a new block for 12 consecutive months with the intention of sewing the block into a sampler quilt at the end of the year. You can find many BOM options online or even in quilt patterns.
Bobbin – A small spool of ether plastic or metal wound with thread; fits in the base of a sewing machine and produces thread for the bottom stitch - this links to the top stitch allowing a seam to be sewn.
Border – A strip of fabric that serves as the frame to a quilt and is sewn to the outside area of the quilt but inside of the binding. Borders can be wide or narrow depending on your project.
Borders – Strips of fabric that frame the edges of the quilt. You can have one or many borders in a quilt top. You may also have borders surrounding your quilt blocks, also known as sashing, or as part of quilt block design.
Broadcloth – A plain weave cotton blend of sturdy fabric, typically solid in color.
Broderie Perse – A type of appliqué in which separate motifs are cut from a printed fabric and applied to another background fabric. Broderie Perse is French for Persian Embroidery
Buttonhole Stitch – Looped stitches used for edging buttonholes or appliqué.
Calico – Medium-weight cotton fabric, which is printed with a small repeated design, often consisting of leaves or florals. The name calico originates from Calicut, India.
Cake Layers – Fabric that is cut into 8-9 inch squares consisting of 3- 4 squares of each piece of fabric in a fabric line, great fun for creating fast quilts, or crazy quilts. Can be bought packaged like this in many quilt stores, it is a great idea to pick up additional fabric in yardage for bordering your quilt.
Cathedral Window – An advanced traditional quilt pattern where folding and stitching is used to create a three-dimensional look in quilt blocks. Cathedral Window blocks are intricate and add a touch of elegance to your quilts.
Chain Piecing – This technique is used when sewing many quilt pieces that are identical. Example: sewing 144 – 2 inch squares together. Feed these pieces through your machine, right sides together, sewing consecutively without cutting thread, also called fast feed. Cut thread later when all units have been sewn together.
Charm Pack – A variety of a fabric line cut into 5 ½- 6″ squares. Charm packs are sold in many quilt shops, and are packaged by numerous fabric retailers. Number in bundles vary, there are many charm pack patterns. Always remember to choose yardage in fabric for borders or backing. A fun way to buy fabric without spending lots of money.
Charm Quilt – A type of scrappy quilt made with a lot of small patches and each piece of fabric is different. Charm quilt patterns are generally a one-patch design and many quilters trade fabric scraps with others in order to collect a variety of fabric for their charm quilt.
Cheater Cloth – Fabric printed that looks like a traditionally pieced quilt top. It removes the need for cutting and piecing, so it can be quilted as-is.
Clamshell – A quilt with symmetry and curves that overlap and remind you of fish scales. You can create the clamshell design by using a glass or cup to trace.
Coin Quilt – A scrappy quilt made with rectangular fabric pieces that are arranged in stacks around the quilt.
Color Wheel – A circle of primary, secondary, tertiary, complementary, and analogous colors that help quilters to explore color theory and fabric selection.
Continuous Line Quilting – A pattern in quilting in which the design line continues from start to finish so you don’t have multiple stop and starts.
Corner Setting Triangles – Half square triangles placed in the corners of a quilt that has blocks on point (see On Point)
Corner Square – A square that is sewn to the ends of the top and bottom border before added to quilt. Side borders will already be sewn on quilt when adding top and bottom borders.
Cornerstones – A name given to a small block that join the sashing strips together to surround a block or blocks in a quilt top.
CornerTriangle – The four triangles set in the corners of a quilt that is set on “Point.” These are half square triangles; the straight of grain is on the short end of triangle.
Corner Triangles – Half square triangles, which are usually sewn on to square up a quilt top made from blocks that are joined at diagonal rows. It helps to stabilize the quilt.
Crazy Quilt – A type of irregular quilt consisting of odd shapes that are randomly placed. Silk and velvet are popular fabrics used as well as embellishments like embroidery or beading.
Cross-Hatching – Quilting in parallel lines—vertical and horizontal—and forming a grid of squares or diamonds.
Crosswise Grain – The threads of woven fabric that run across the grain of the fabric, which runs the length of the bolt. The crosswise grain runs from selvage to selvage. Crosswise grain also runs width of fabric, salvage to salvage.
Cutting Mat – A self-healing surface used to protect a work surface while using a rotary cutter (see Rotary Cutter).
Design Wall – A vertical surface often covered with batting or felt used by quilters to lay out fabrics and blocks for a quilt before stitching them together. Design walls are an excellent way to try different layouts before making a final decision on your quilt.
Die-cutting – The process of cutting layers of fabric by rolling it through a die-cutting machine, which is a time-saving alternative to rotary cutting.
Disappearing Nine Patch – A beginner’s quilt, which is made by cutting up a nine patch into four quarters, putting them into different positions, and piecing the blocks over again. You have many layout options in this quilt pattern.
Double Wedding Ring – A vintage quilt pattern of interlocking rings that originated in the 1930 and it still a quilter’s favorite.
Drape – This is the way your quilt will feel after it is quilted, does it drape over your arm in a soft, comforting way? Your batting choice as well as how much quilting you do will determine how your quilt drapes after you’re done quilting it. Higher quality batting are able to take more stitches and still retain their soft, cozy feel, whereas cheaper battings will turn to a cardboard feel.
Dresden Plate – An appliqué quilt with petal shapes radiating from a center circle. Dresden Plate is one of the most popular quilts during the 1920s-30s, and is also known as Sunflower and Grandmother’s Sunburst
Drunkard’s Path – A classic quilt block pattern with a lot of curved piecing. It consists of a quarter circle set inside a square and using light and dark for each. The blocks can be arranged differently to create several designs.
Ease – Distributing the fabric evenly while long arm quilting so quilt lies flat. Commonly referring to quilt borders that are not measured properly.
Easing – The process of maneuvering and redistributing fabric when two pieces aren’t aligning properly, so they can match at the seams.
Echo Quilting – Echo or Shadow quilting is a technique where quilting is done around an outline of an applique piece on a quilt top or around a design or pattern. Then the quilting is echoed again and again around the previously stitched line. Generally, you will use your hopper foot to determine distance between echoes. Continue to do this until block is filled or desired effect is achieved. A free motion type of quilting, which is done by stitching a line a uniform distance away from the first line (echoing). The stitches echo the appliqué shape.
Electric Quilt 7 (EQ7) – A designing software some quilters use to design quilts.
English Paper Piecing (EPP) – A technique of stabilizing fabric over a paper template. It’s often used for pieced patterns that would otherwise require set-in patches. Many quilts made with English Paper Piecing have hexagon-shaped patches that form a design called the Grandmother’s Flower Garden.
Fabric Grain — The lengthwise and crosswise threads of a fabric; the lengthwise grain parallel to the selvage stretches the least. (see Selvage).
Fat Eighth (FQ) — A quarter yard of fabric that is cut in half at the fold. Measures 9″x22.” It produces a “fatter” square piece of fabric, providing more options for use.
Fat Quarter (FQ) — A half yard of fabric that has been cut in half again vertically and is now ¼” yard, measuring 18″ x 22″ and allows for cutting larger block sizes. It produces a “fatter” square piece of fabric, providing more options for use.
Feed Dogs — The metal teeth on the throat plate of a sewing machine which helps pull the fabric through the machine. This teeth like mechanism sits below the presser foot of your sewing machine and moves fabric through the feed as you stitch. Also controls length of stitch. If you drop your feed dogs, you can achieve free motion quilting. One method is to walking your finger along seam pressing with your nail or tip of finger to crease it without use of iron
Finger Pressing — The technique of using your fingernail and pressing hard on a seam to make it lie flat. It works best on small seams as opposed to larger ones.
Finished Size – The final sewn measurement or dimensions of a completed quilt block without seam allowances.
Flannel – A soft type of loosely woven fabric usually made from cotton, wool or synthetic fibers and is very warm. It’s great for rag quilts because of its tendency to ravel.
Flying Geese – A common unit of patchwork made by piecing two triangles onto the sides of a larger triangle to create a rectangular piece of patchwork.
Foundation Piecing – The technique of using a Muslin pattern or numbered paper as a foundation for assembling a quilt block, which ensures accurate and stable blocks. This method joins together small pieces of fabric to form a more complicated pattern or design. It is done using foundation paper rather than templates for the construction.
Four-Patch Block – A block with four squares of the same size sewn together to make one large square. It is one of easiest quilt blocks to make.
Freezer paper appliqué – The process of using freezer paper (found in most grocery stores by the aluminum foil) as a template for appliqué by drawing the design on the paper side, cutting it out, and ironing the template to the fabric using a hot and dry iron.
Free-Motion Quilting – Quilting in a free-motion on a domestic sewing machine using a darning foot with the feed dogs down. It allows the quilter to quilt in different directions, creating a variety of stitch patterns. This process requires a quilting, darning or hopper foot. You drop your feed dogs so you can move fabric freely in all directions without “draw” on fabric from feed dog interference. Special gloves marketed for free motion quilting help tremendously in controlling the fabric. Many books on the market with lots of free motion designs and techniques.
Friendship Quilt – Generally a single pattern quilt made by a group of friends and/or family for one person. Each makes a block for the quilt top and includes their signature. It is also referred to as a Signature Quilt.
Friendship Star – A quilt block pattern that looks like a four-pointed star.
Fusible Web Interfacing – A product that adds weight to fabric and can be ironed on for easier appliqué, providing great support to the fabric.
Fussy Cut – To cut a particular piece from printed fabric as opposed to cutting a strip so you can get a the specific image you need from the fabric.
Glass-head pins – Pins with a glass head that is heat resistant, so they won’t melt when pressed.
Glazed Finish – A thin resin finish, which can be applied to batting to help prevent bearding and shifting of the fibers in the finished quilt.
Grain –The lengthwise and crosswise threads—warp and weft directions—of a woven fabric. The lengthwise grain runs parallel to the selvage and the least amount of stretch, whereas the crosswise grain runs perpendicular to the selvage and has slightly more give. This is important to understand when cutting fabric for a quilt.
Greige Goods – The raw material from which fabrics are processed; therefore it hasn’t been bleached or dyed yet.
Half-Square Triangles (HST) – A (90 degree) triangle that is created when you cut a square from one corner to opposite corner (45 degree angle). Straight of grain is on short sides of triangle. Two half square triangles are achieved through each square.
Hand – A term used to the feel and texture of a fabric. “This fabric has a nice hand to it.”
Hand Quilting – A small and even series of running stitches that is made through all three layers of a quilt using a needle and thread, both preferably of high quality.
Hand Quilting Thread – Thread used to quilt the three layers together by hand. This thread should not be used in a sewing machine. It is a very thick thread that says hand quilting on label and will leave ridges in the tension guide.
Hanging Sleeve – Fabric that is sewn to the back of a quilt to allow it to be hung on a wall or to be put on display at a quilt show or other event.
Hawaiian Quilting — Symmetrical, intricate appliqué designs where one large appliqué is cut from folded fabric (similar to how paper snowflakes are cut) and then basted to a background fabric. Hawaiian quilts usually only have two solid colors of fabric.
Hera – A small tool from Japan made of wood or plastic that allows you to put a crease in the fabric, thereby ensuring success with straight-line quilting.
Herringbone Stitch – A decorative needlework stitch with many variations used in embroidery.
Homespun Fabric – Fabric in which the weave is looser and the threads have a larger diameter than commercial cotton quilting fabrics. You can identify this fabric easily because there is no front or back, and the colored threads are woven throughout. Homespun fabric is typically solid, stripe, or plaid.
Hopping Foot – A special sewing foot that is most common on longarm machines and is often used when you want greater visibility on the stitching in your projects, especially if you have an intricate design.
Hourglass Quilt – A beginner patchwork quilt pattern using quarter-square triangles to make blocks that mimic an hourglass.
Ikat – A fabric that has been tie-dyed in the yarns prior to weaving.
Improv Piecing – Cutting fabric as you sew it together; no defined pattern or plan for the quilt blocks; made popular by the quilters of Gee's Bend.A term for art quilts made in a creative, free-spirited manner without worrying about the rules of quilting. Pieces are usually cut freehand.
Improvisational Quilts – A term for art quilts made in a creative, free-spirited manner without worrying about the rules of quilting. Pieces are usually cut freehand.
Interfacing – The term for a variety of materials that are used on the wrong side (either fused or sewn in) of a fabric to give it more stability or loft or whatever the desired effect may be.
In-The-Ditch – A stitching technique where you stitch along the seams in a quilt in order to define blocks or shapes. It is also referred to as stitch-in-the ditch.
Irish Chain – A classic quilt pattern consisting of several variations but most commonly are diagonal squares that match up only at the corner points. It’s generally all squares and strips, so it’s a great beginner quilt pattern.
Isosceles Triangle – A triangle with two equal sides but the sum is longer than the base.
Japanese Quilt – A type of quilt using Japanese fabrics such as kasuri and indigo. Fabrics, motifs, and stitches work together to create the dramatic look in Japanese quilts.
Jelly Roll – A Fabric that is already cut into 2 ½ inch strips and wound into a roll. Used for strip piecing and other various patterns, cut from each fabric in a specific fabric line. Its a coordinated bundle of pre-cut fabric strips, which have become popular among quilters. You can get jelly rolls from many different fabric companies. They measure 2 ½” x 44”.
Juvenile Quilts – A quilt whose theme/design is appropriate for children.
Kaleidoscope – A quilt block pattern in which the fabric is pieced in a way that resembles different images seen through a kaleidoscope. Selecting the right fabric is important for these types of quilts.
Kente Cloth – A traditional, ceremonial fabric hand woven in wooden looms that originated from Ghana in West Africa. Many printed versions of Kente on cotton now exist and are popular with quilters.
Knot on the Needle – A tiny knot that quilters use, which can be pulled through a layer of fabric so that the end is essentially hidden on both sides. It also known as a “quilter’s knot.”
Kuba Cloth – A type of hand woven fabric by the Kuba people of the Condo using the leaves from raffia trees. Kuba cloth can include embroidery, patchwork, and other embellishments.
Label – A way of autographing your quilt, so there is always a way to identify it. Most labels include the quilter’s name, the name of the quilt, and when it was made.
Landscape Quilt – An art quilt depicting the many scenes from nature.
Lap Quilting – Hand quilting on the go. Each block is pieced or appliqué before being sewn to other blocks, thereby making it more portable.
Lattice – Same as sashing. A border that is created around blocks of a quilt, most often it is called lattice when your blocks of quilt are set on point (set in to look like a diamond as oppose to a square).
Layer Cake – A bundle of pre-cut coordinating fabric squares measuring 10″ x 10”. This pre-cut fabric is versatile since you can cut much wider pieces from the square.
Layout – The process of arranging and rearranging your blocks or pieced units in a quilt top to come up with completely different looks.
LeMoyne Star – A distinctive, eight-pointed star block that is usually for more advanced quilters, but the star is made easier using a Block-on-Board (BOB) die like the GO! LeMoyne Star die, which gives you all the shapes you need for one block.
Loft – A term describing the thickness of the batting used in quilts. High loft batting is usually thick and bouncy, while low loft batting is thinner and more compact. The higher the loft of batting the thicker your quilt, this does not necessarily mean the warmer your quilt. There are wool battings that are very thin and super warm. The thicker your batting, the more difficult it will be to baste.
Log Cabin – A quilt pattern in which narrow fabric strips (logs) are assembled in a numerical sequence around a center square to form a block. Log Cabin blocks are a popular design and have many variations.
Long Arm Quilting – An extremely large sewing machine with a long arm that is used to sew together all three layers of the quilt resulting in a finished quilt. It allows a quilter to move to use their free-motion skills, so they can move the quilt in many different directions.
Machine Appliqué – The process of attaching fabric motifs onto fabric using a sewing machine.
Machine Piecing – To sew patches together with the use of a sewing machine as opposed to hand piecing, thereby ensuring stronger seams and making the process go much more quickly.
Machine Quilting – Sewing through all three layers of the quilt top with a sewing machine. It is usually done with a walking foot or a darning foot.
Matching Points – It is the intersection where seam line joining two pieces begins or ends.
Medallion Quilt – A series of decorative borders that surrounds one central block or design.
Metallic Needle – A thin needle designed with an elongated eye (for easier threading) for use with metallic or monofilament threads.
Metallic Thread – A synthetic thread that is shiny and has a metallic appearance.
Memory Quilts – Quilts made to remember people and/or event significant in their lives. These quilts sometimes contain clothes from a loved one, such as t-shirts, baby clothes.
Mercerized Cotton – Cotton thread treated with Sodium Hydroxide (Caustic Soda) to swell the fibers and increase the fiber’s luster as well as its affinity for dye by increasing the surface area of the fiber. The swelling of the fibers makes the cotton stronger, providing for less shrinkage later. Mercerized cotton was originally developed and patented by a man named John Mercer in 1844.
Micro Quilts – Quilting that is done as background fill, small and precise micro patterns. Micro quilting contrasts with your primary motifs and actually makes them stand out in a quilt. This technique adds visual interest, definition and texture.
Miniature Quilts – A quilt made as a miniature of a full sized quilt like. They can include mug rugs and potholders among other things.
Mitered Corner – A corner formed when two strips meet at a 45-degree angle, such as on a border or the binding. Mitered corners ensure that the edges of your quilt have neat finish.
Mitered Corner Borders – A border that is cut and sewn at a 45 degree angle, giving the appearance of a frame corner. Because it is sewn on a bias, you must be careful not to stretch and distort in sewing process.
Molas – Mola is the elaborate embroidered, reverse-appliqué panels that make up the front and back of a Kuna woman’s traditional blouse. They consist of many layers of brightly colored fabric that form bold designs rich with symbolism.
Motif – A design element used in quilt designs that can be repeated or used only once.
Mud Cloth (Bogolanfini) – Homemade coarsely woven Malian cotton fabric dyed using a process of fermented mud.
Mug Rug – A small quilt similar to a coaster.
Muslin – A plain cotton fabric of medium weight that is naturally unbleached. It’s available in a wide range of qualities from light to medium weight and delicate to coarse.
Mystery Quilt – A quilt pattern written in different steps that are disclosed one at a time in order to hide the appearance of the finished quilt. Quilt guilds tend to do mystery quilts for group projects.