Background Fabric: The fabric used as the background and upon which Applique pieces are placed.
Backing: The back fabric of a quilt in the 3 layers: top, batting, backing.
Bargello: A style of quilt piecing in which strips fabric are first sewn in horizontal sets, then cut and arranged in vertical steps to produce interesting geometric designs which often have a wave effect.
Bark Cloth: A textured woven, usually printed cotton fabric that was popular in the 30s-40s and 50s as an interiors fabric. The prints were often large vines, leaves and florals.
Basting: Long stitches used to hold fabric layers or seams in place temporarily (most often removed after final sewing). A quilt is often basted in the sandwich stage before the final quilting. Pin basting of quilts is often done with safety pins (other methods include the use of a tacking gun or basting spray adhesive).
Batik: A method of dyeing fabric where some areas are covered with wax or pastes to make designs by keeping the dyes from penetrating in some areas. Multicolored and blended effects are obtained by repeating the dyeing process several times, with the initial pattern of wax boiled off and additional designs applied in succession with different tones/colors.
Batting: The layer in the middle of a quilt sandwich between the top pieced layer and the backing. Common batting is usually cotton, polyester, or cotton/poly blend.
Bearding: A term meaning the migration of fibers from the batting passing through the quilt top and forming a fuzz or halo on the surface of the quilt. Some synthetics, wool and silk batting are prone to this problem.
Bias: Diagonal direction across the surface of 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.
Binding: The straight-grain or Bias strips of fabric which is often folded double and covers the raw edges and batting of a quilt.
Blanket Stitch: A decorative machine or hand stitch that frequently is used to attach appliqué pieces. It is also called a buttonhole stitch.
Block: The basic unit of a quilt top, usually square but can be rectangular or other shapes. Blocks can be pieced, appliqued or plain.
Border: A strip of fabric or pieced strip of fabric joined to the edges of the inner quilt (similar to matting of a framed photo).
Broadcloth: A cotton fabric popular in solid colors for quilting.
Calico: A traditional plain weave cotton fabric popular for quilting which is printed with a small repeated design. The designs are most often comprised of small florals or leaves.
Chain Piecing: Sewing blocks or sections of blocks in an assembly line fashion, completing the same step for each unit in sequence. An efficient way to work for sewing many blocks that are the same.
Charm Pack: Typically include one 5" square of every fabric within a collection so the number of pieces included varies, but usually about 30-40 pieces.
Charm Quilt: A quilt made of many small patches (traditionally 2") where each piece is a different fabric.
Chocolate Bar: Stack of about 30-40, 5″x 2.5″rectangles featuring each fabric from a designers line.
Clamshell: A Filling Quilting pattern with overlapping circular shapes reminiscent of fish scales. The design is often done using a cup or glass to trace.
Color wheel - A circular device that has colors marked on it so you can see the relationship between primary, secondary and tertiary colors and the tints and shades of each.
Complementary colors - Colors that are directly across from each other on the color wheel.
Crazy Quilt: A quilt made randomly from crazy blocks or patches. They are often heavily embellished.
Cross-Hatching: A Filling Pattern made of parallel quilting lines that run in two directions, forming either a grid of squares or of diamonds.
Design Wall: A wall that is used to position and view your fabric and quilt blocks so you can see what your finished quilt layout might look like. Often a design wall is covered with flannel, so the fabric will stick to it without pinning.
Direct Printing: Various methods of printing directly onto fabric with a computer printer - either laser jet or ink jet. The fabric is usually ironed onto a piece of freezer paper so it can run through the printer easily.
Directional Prints: Fabrics where there is a clear direction to the print, either straight or at an angle.
Echo Quilting: A type of quilting which consisting of lines of quilting stitches that run around existing blocks or shapes and parallel to the edges of a shape. The result resembles rings about 1/4" apart in water and "echo" the shape.
Embellishment: Decorative stitches or items that are added to a quilt, including buttons, beads, charms, or embroidery or other thread.
English Paper Piecing: A method of hand piecing where paper templates are used inside the block elements to guide where the edges are turned under. Baby Blocks, Grandmother's Flower Garden and other non-square shapes are commonly pieced this way.
Fat Eighth: Cut pieces of fabric which are a 9″ by 22″.
Fat Eighth: Cut pieces of fabric which are a 9″ by 22″.
Fat Quarter: Cut pieces of fabric which are 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".
Feed Dogs: The mechanical teeth under the area of a sewing machine needle which pull the fabric through the machine.
Filler Pattern: The stitched quilting design, which covers the entire background area of a quilt.
Finger Pressing: A simple method used to form temporary guidelines for seam allowances where running a fingernail along the fold makes it lie flat.
Flannel: 100% cotton fabric that has a brushed, napped surface.
Four-Patch Block: A block with two, four, or multiples of four units in each row.
Foundation Piecing: Assembling a Block by sewing pieces to a foundation of Muslin or plain fabric, also used for adding strength and stability to delicate or stretchy fabrics.
Free-Motion Quilting: A method of quilting where the feed dogs of a sewing machine are lowered or covered and the quilter controls the movement of the fabric under the needle.
Friendship Quilt: A quilt made by a group of fellow quilters, with each participant making and signing a block or more for the quilt top.
Fusibles: Various webs or interfacings which can be ironed onto a fabric for easier applique or to support the fabric.
Fussy Cut: Cutting out of specific areas of a fabric to use the image or motif. Often used to isolate animals, flowers, etc. from a novelty print fabric. A template may be used to cut out many images to be the same size for use in a block.
Grain: The lengthwise and crosswise threads (warp and weft directions) of a woven fabric.
Griege Goods: A fabric which has been removed from the loom, but has no further processing, bleaching or finish applied to it. It is pronounced "gray goods".
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.
Hanging Sleeve: A tube or sleeve sewn to the back top of a quilt to allow it to be hung on a wall.
Homespun fabric: Fabric that either is or looks hand-woven. The weave is looser and threads have a larger diameter than commercial cotton quilting fabrics.
Honey Bun: Approximately 40 strips of 1.5″ x WOF(width of fabric) all rolled together, usually representing several prints from a single fabric collection.
Ikat: A fabric, usually hand-woven which has been tie-dyed in the yarns prior to weaving. The pattern can range from simple little dots to intricate double ikats (pronounced: Ee-cot).
Improvisational Quilts: A term for art quilts made in a free form manner and usually made with freehand cutting either by rotary cutter or scissors, but without templates or ruler.
In-The-Ditch: A style of quilt stitching which lies almost in the seams of a block.
Jelly Roll: Multiple prints from a single fabric collection rolled together and cut length-wise into 2.5" x 42" strips. Jelly Rolls typically include 40 strips of fabric but sometimes can vary.
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.
Lattice - Strips of fabric set between blocks that separate the blocks in a quilt.
Layer Cake: Similar to a charm pack (square shape) but larger at 10"x10" and normally include 42 pieces of fabric.
Layout: The arrangement in which blocks are sewn together to make a quilt.
Loft: Describes 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.
Log Cabin: A quilt pattern in which narrow fabric strips, or “logs,” surround a center square (usually red) to form a block.
Long Arm Quilting: Using a very long bed (often as long as 12 feet) commercial quilting machine to do the overall top quilting.
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.
Medallion Quilt: A quilt with a central motif, surrounded by multiple Borders. The center is often a large square on point.
Memory Quilt: A Quilt made from loved one's clothes after death as a memorial or from special “growing up” clothing as a gift to a young adult going off to college, etc. Memory quilts may also include photos and/or signatures on it.
Mercerized Cotton: A treatment of cotton thread where yarn is immersed in a solution of sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) for short periods of time, while held under tension. The yarn is then stronger and more lustrous and takes the dye better with bolder colors.
Miniature Quilts: Simply said, a quilt made in miniature of a full sized quilt.
Mitered corners: Joining a border or corners at a 45 degree angle.
Molas: Rectangular panels done in vividly solid colors of cotton in a reverse applique technique.
Motif: Design element, image or drawing used on a quilt block or for an applique.
Mug Rug: A mini place mat sized quilt used like a coaster for your mug.
Muslin: Plain, usually undyed cotton fabric, available bleached or unbleached in a wide range of qualities. A fine quality bleached muslin is often used in quilting as a neutral background for applique or as a foundation under thinner fabric.
Mystery Quilt: A quilt pattern written in steps and revealed one part at a time to hide the final appearance of the finished quilt.
Needle-Punched Batting: One of the manufacturing processes used to make some types of quilt batting of cotton or wool. Thousands of barbed needles are punched through the carded fibers to lock them into position to help prevent bearding and shifting of the batting in the finished quilt.
Nine-Patch: A family of square block designs which has 3 x 3 units. Hundreds of quilt blocks are based on the Nine Patch design.
Novelty Print: Fabric printed with small themed designs. They are popular for making quilts with a focus (such as animals, food , toys, holiday images, etc.). Also called "conversation" prints and "craft" prints.
One-Patch: Any quilt pattern useing a single shaped patch for the pieced top. May be squares, triangles, hexagons, etc. repeated in color patterns or different fabrics.
On Point: A Block arrangement in which the block is placed with its corners up and down and to the sides.
Opportunity Quilt: Term used to describe a quilt to be raffled off at a show or event.
Outline Quilting: Positioning quilting lines around a block or applique piece, usually just a single stitching line.
Paper Foundation Piecing (PFP): 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.
Patch: An individual fabric shape joined with other patches to make a quilt block or sometimes a one patch style quilt (also known as a piece). These may be cut from templates, rotary cut or free hand cut.
Patchwork: The basic method of making a quilt by sewing many small pieces of fabric together.
Penny Squares: Small simple designs marked on muslin quilt block patterns for embroidery which were popular in the late 1800s and after.
PFD Fabric: Initials meaning “Prepared for Dyeing.” This is a fabric with no surface finish and no treatment on it which allows the dyes to penetrate well.
Pieced Border: A long strip of fabric made up of pieced or patch units to be sewn to the inner quilt center section. Quilts may have several borders, either solid fabric or pieced.
Piecing/Pieced Quilt: The most commonly seen quilt type which is made up of many small pieces of fabric sewn together by hand or machine (Patchwork).
Pima Cotton: A type of cotton plant developed in the Southwestern USA from a cross between Egyptian and Uplands cotton which is longer in fiber length and more lustrous than most American cottons.
Primary colors: the three colors that are completely unique, not made from combinations of other colors - blue, red, and yellow. All other colors are combinations of these colors.
Prairie Points: A simple folded fabric triangle made in multiples and attached as a decorative edge finish on quilts and garments.
Pressing: Using an iron to press seams and blocks. Done by pressing downwards on the seam with the iron from above and not moving the iron back and forth - which can distort the block or seam.
Quick Triangles: A shortcut method for making half and quarter square triangles where squares are sewn and then cut into finished units with no bias edges to sew.
Quillow: A specially designed quilt which is actually a cross between a sleeping bag and a quilt and also a pillow. A Quillow folds up into a carrying bag and is a popular gift for children and teens.
Quilt Top: The top layer of a quilt Sandwich.
Quilting: In general, the process of making a quilt. Specifically, the small running stitches that hold the three layers of a quilt together.
Little Foot or Quilting Foot: Most sewing machine companies now offer a special quilting foot for their machines, or a generic one can be purchased called "Little Foot". Quilting feet measure exactly 1/4" from needle point to inner edge of the foot to make sewing a perfect 1/4" seam easier.
Quilting Frame: A large free-standing floor apparatus made from wood or plastic pipe that holds the layers of a quilt together during final quilting.
Quilting Guild: An organization of quilters providing opportunities for quilters to share projects, instruction and be involved in community service.
Quilting Hoop: A small circular or oval apparatus that is used to hold the layers of a quilt together during hand quilting.
Rag Quilt: A quilt, usually using flannel, whose raw edges of seam allowances are exposed and then cut to form a soft fringe.
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 Applique: 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: 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.
Sandwich: Traditional description of a quilt - a sandwich consisting of a Quilt Top, filling or Batting, and a Backing.
Sampler Quilt: A quilt constructed of a collection of blocks in different patterns, usually with no pattern repeated. Blocks may be of uniform or varying sizes.
Sashing: Fabric that separates blocks, framing them and making the quilt larger.
Satin Stitch: A slanted, tightly packed 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.
Scherenschnitte: A German paper cutting technique that makes a lacy design and may inspire applique artists. The images were used as an influence in Baltimore quilts as well.
Scrap Quilt: A quilt, usually patchwork, made of many different fabrics (often left over from other projects).
Seam Allowance: The width of fabric that is left to the right of a sewn seam. In quilting this is traditionally 1/4 inch.
Selvage or Selvedge: 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 1/2 inch and is usually trimmed off and not sewn into a quilt.
Seminole Patchwork: A method of cutting joined strips of fabric into sections and re-piecing them with either plain contrasting fabric strips in between, or in staggered rows similar to a checkerboard.
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.
Setting Square: A plain fabric square used with pieced or appliqued blocks in a quilt top.
Setting Triangle: The triangle blocks needed around the edge of a quilt if the blocks are set on point and the rows are thus diagonally arranged.
Shadow Applique: Applique done using a see-through fabric such as silk organza or polyester netting to shade or shadow the images. The transparency of the fabric gives a different color look to the areas covered.
Sheeting: The term used to describe a fine weave quality of cotton muslin fabric.
Shibori: A tie dye technique from Japan used to make elaborately patterned fabrics. The technique often involves wrapping and tying the fabric around a tube or pole and then dyeing.
Signature Quilt: A quilt with many signatures collected and signed on individual blocks. Sometimes called Friendship Quilts.
Slub: Term for a type of fabric texture and which is caused by small bumps or nodes in the yarns which are formed during spinning and add to the texture when the fabric is woven.
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.
Quilter's Stash: Refers to a quilter's vast collection of fabrics.
Stippling: Very closely stitched background quilting that can be done by hand or machine to create surface texture.
Stitch in the Ditch: Placing your quilting stitches in the "ditch" created by the seams of the pieces in your block. Your quilting pattern will echo your block pattern.
Strip Piecing: Cutting and sewing strips of fabric before cutting individual shapes.
Sunbonnet Sue: An old time, still popular applique design which originated in the 1920s-30s of a girl with a big sunbonnet hiding her face.
FriendsSwaps : An exchange among a group of quilters of either fabric or blocks with some set ground rules as to theme, color, design, etc.
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." 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: Shapes 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.
Transfer 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 then applied with a hot iron or a heat press.
Trapunto: The raised, dimensional surface created by putting additional batting or stuffing into specific quilt areas to sculpt the surface.
Tied Quilt: A quilt where instead of stitching in a quilting pattern to hold the 3 layers together, a series of ties are spaced evenly all over the body of the quilt.
UFO: "Unfinished Objects."
Utility Quilt A plain, basic (often tied) quilt meant to be used for everyday bedding. Often a simple design, older ones may be examples of rural folk-art.
Value (color value): It’s value that does all the work in a quilt, although it’s often color that gets the credit. Usually described in terms of light and dark, value determines how close a color is to either white or black. The right values can make the difference between a quilt that sparkles and a quilt that doesn’t.
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.
Wall Quilt: made with smaller dimensions, quilt meant for hanging on a wall. Can be a traditional design or contemporary "art quilt" for decorative purposes.
Warp: The threads which are put on a loom under tension and raised and lowered to allow the weft to pass through. The warp direction (parallel to the selvages) is the most stable in the finished fabric. Some quilters always use this warp direction for cutting borders.
Watercolor Quilt: Using small squares of floral print fabrics to build up a subtle and diffused design. The overall look is similar to an Impressionist painting.
Weft: The woven threads in a fabric which run across the width of the fabric during weaving and intersect with the warp threads.
White Work: A quilt which is all white fabric, not pieced - A type of whole cloth quilt. The design of the quilt is all in the quilting stitch pattern.
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.
WIP: "Work in Progress."