Quilting Terminology

There are a few terms that constantly come up on quilting blogs, magazine articles and quilting patterns.  To help you navigate this, here is a list of commonly used terms.

 

Appliqué 

Pieces of fabric is attached to a background fabric to create a picture.  They are often cut using a template, and there are speciality papers available to assist with attaching it to the background fabric.  Some quilters prefer to attach the pieces with hand stitching, while others use a blanket stitch on their sewing machine.

Hawaiian applique

Backing

The fabric on the underside or the back of a quilt.  Usually a single cut of fabric, but pieced backings are becoming popular. 

Basting

Joining the three layers of a quilt sandwich using large stitches.  Essentially it stabilises the quilt, and is especially useful when doing micro quilting.  The stitches are temporary and are removed after permanent stitching.

Batik 

A type of fabric that is dyed in some areas with colors and then multi-layered with another pattern and color to create multi-layered pattern and colors; Indonesia is considered the best source for batik fabric. 

Batik fabric

Batting 

The middle layer of a quilt, which provides warmth and loft.  Available in different thicknesses and quality as well as fibre.

Batting

Bias 

45 degree diagonal direction on a piece of fabric

Binding 

To finish a quilt, strips of fabric are sewn to the quilt to close the raw edges of quilt top, batting and backing.  It is made from strips of fabric sewn together, either on the bias (bias binding) or on the straight weave. 

Block 

A designed unit that is made up of patchwork and/or appliqué and combined with other blocks to comprise a quilt top. 

Bolt 

A long piece of fabric that is wound around a flat piece of cardboard, usually 44″ wide when we use this in the quilting fabric context. 

BOM, Block-of-the-Month

A series of block designs that is shared with subscribers or a club on a monthly basis.  The idea is that you have a month to complete the block, and in combination with all the blocks over the duration of the series you will have a finished quilt top. 

Border 

A frame of patchwork, or solid pieces of fabric that acts as a frame around the blocks of the quilt top.  Not to be confused with sashing that is in between blocks and acts as a frame around individual accent areas of a quilt.

Fat Quarter

piece of fabric measuring 18″ x 21″. This size allows for cutting larger pieces than cannot be achieved from a regular quarter yard cut, without adding additional fabric requirements.

Fat Eighth 

An eighth-yard of fabric cut to measure 9″ x 21″, rather than the typical one-eighth yard cut of 4.5″ x 40″.  For small blocks, or appliqué. 

Finger pressing

Using your finger to press a temporary crease in the fabric.  Rubbing the two layers with your finger will produce this temporary crease.  Useful for in-the-hoop piecing techniques.

Finished Size

The size of a completed block without seam allowances. 

Finishing 

Refers to the piece or pieces that complete a quilt, usually including the binding.  Used in pattern instructions to indicate what the final steps will be to finish your quilt.

Fusible web

A material that has been treated with adhesive that fuses fabric pieces together when pressed with a warm iron.

Grain

The lengthwise and crosswise threads of a woven fabric.

Half Square Triangle 

Square units made from two fabrics. May be made using two triangles, or by a quick method using two squares, right sides together and stitched 1/4″ on either side of a diagonal line. The square is then cut on the drawn line and gives you two half square triangles.

Hanging sleeve

A tube of fabric blind stitched to the top edge of the quilt back through which a hanging rod or dowel can be inserted.

Panel 

A piece of fabric printed with an image or multiple images, oftentimes used as a quilt’s centerpiece, known as a panel quilt.  Also sometimes used for wall hanging, or an easy piece that doesn’t require additional patchwork blocks. 

Piece, piecing, pieced

A technique in which pieces of fabric are joined by a seam.  There are different methods being English paper piecing, foundation paper piecing or cutting templates and joining the pieces with a seam. 

Quarter Square Triangle

Square made from four triangles. 

Quilt Kits

A product that contains the pattern and fabric required to make a quilt.  In most cases it will not include the batting, backing or binding.

quilt kit

Quilt Top

The top or front of a quilt.  Sometimes a panel but usually multiple patchwork blocks. 

Running quarter

A quarter of a yard of fabric measuring 18″ x 44″ (the standard widths of quilters cotton is 44″) 

Sampler Quilt

A type of quilt top where no block repeats in pattern and typically varies in size.  Like a sample book of blocks in your arsenal, but in the form of a quilt! 

Sashing 

Strips of fabric sewn between blocks and/or rows of blocks to frame areas of a quilt. Not to be confused with the border.

Selvage, selvedge

The edge of fabric, printed with information to identify the collection it belongs to and the manufacturer.  This information helps you to select coordinating fabric from the same collection.  It is also a handy part of the fabric to choose coordinating colors, as sometimes the color swatch is included here. 

Specialty Cuts

Yardage that is precut to specific sizes.  Some of these cuts are trademarked to Moda and are known as layer cakes, charm packs, jelly rolls and many more.

Template 

A shape used as a pattern for tracing shapes for applique or piecing. 

template pattern book

Unfinished Size

The unfinished size of a complete unit or block with seam allowances.