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Quilting Dictionary
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | View All
 
A
 
Appliqué Can be done by hand, machine or with fusible interfacing - small pieces of fabric, usually a cut design, are sewn or fused to a background fabric to form a different design. The edging around the applique gives the sewer the perfect opportunity to try out different stitches, whether they are embroidered by hand or decorative choices from your machine. Appliqué may be combined with pieced blocks.
 
Art Quilts Sometimes referred to as “Contemporary Quilts”, these are “one of a kind” quilts created using untraditional methods such as but not limited to: random piecing, raw edges, dyed fabrics, and various embellishments. Often an Artist will create a series of quilts with a similar theme or technique. Art Quilts can vary greatly in size. The same technique is often used in "Art to wear".
 
B
 
Backstitch A few continuous stitches backwards over previous stitches to strengthen seams. In quilt making, most often this process is done to reinforce hand stitching.
 
Basting Long stitches used to hold fabric layers or seams in place temporarily until quilting is complete. Removed after final sewing, a quilt is often basted in the sandwich stage before final quilting. Some quilters use large safety pins to baste with.
 
Batting Batting is the layer in the middle of a quilt sandwich between the top pieced layer and the backing. Batting can be cotton, polyester, blends, or wool and comes in different thicknesses and weights. You can buy it pre-packaged or by the yard. Some batting is now available with a fusible back.
 
Bearding When batting fibers from the quilt sandwich pass through on to the quilt top or backing and create a fuzz on the surface of the quilt. most commonly noticeable on darker fabrics.
 
Betweens Short, sturdy needles used to hand quilt.
 
Bias The bias is 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. Cutting on the bias is helpful if you require a bit of "give" to your fabric.
 
Binding Binding is the folded over final edge of a quilt that covers the raw edges and batting of a quilt if so desired.
 
Bleeding Bleeding refers to fabrics loss of color when they get wet. It is most commonly seen when washing vividly colored fabrics, reds and purples especially. Bleeding becomes a problem if the dyes stain other fabrics. this is one reason pre-washing of fabrics with like colors is suggested.
 
Block A quilt block usually consists of cut pieces of fabric sewn together, by hand or machine, to create a pattern. Several blocks are then sewn together and sandwiched to make your quilt.
 
Bolt A bolt refers to a long piece of fabric that's usually wound on a flattened cardboard tube, making it easy for merchants to stack fabrics together horizontally or vertically for display.
 
Borders A strip of fabric or pieced strip of fabric joined to the edges of the outer quilt and used to frame it.
 
Broderie Perse Quilt Broderie Perse means “embroidering chintz”. The technique is an Appliqué method where larger images are cut from a printed fabric and appliquéd onto a new background fabric. This rose in was popularity in the late 18th century. The motifs on chintz fabrics were cut and appliquéd on whole cloth quilts or quilt squares. The edges of the designs were often sewn with fancy threads. Present day quilters sometimes use this technique mixed with traditional appliqué to create a particular scene on a quilt.
 
C
 
Chain Piecing Sewing blocks or sections of blocks sewn in an assembly line fashion, in sequence. An efficient way to work to sew many blocks that are the same size. The pieces are all run through the machine and cut apart later, also known as "Assembly Piecing".
 
Color Value Color value refers to how dark or light a color is. Pieces of quilting fabrics cut from colors of the same value blend when sewn side by side. Fabrics of contrasting color values have clearly defined edges when sewn together. Many quilters dye their own fabrics to assure a subtle blend when fabrics of like values are sewn together.
 
Concave Curve A curve that rounds inward.
 
Convex Curve A curve that rounds outward.
 
Crazy Quilt Patchwork Regular patchwork combines the pieces of fabric into a accurately measured and regular design, but crazy patchwork uses irregular pieces of fabric on a foundation fabric. Creating a quilt that looks as if it were "thrown together willy nilly" when in fact, great care is still required for a beautiful combination of colors, textures and sizes. Embellishment is often added for additional texture and interest.
 
Crocking Crocking is similar to bleeding only it happens when the fabric is dry. Excess dye rubs off of one dry fabric onto another dry fabric. This generally more of a problem with dark, strong colors.
 
Crosswise Grain The crosswise grain is made up of threads that run perpendicular to the length of fabric as it comes off the bolt. In other words, perpendicular to the selvage edges.
 
D
 
Design Wall Any wall where you can position quilt blocks, then step back to view the layout at a distance. Quilters often hang batting or plain white flannel on their design walls, because quilt blocks and other components stick to it easily without pinning. Heavier commercial design walls are also available. A design wall could be made up of thin cork, the quilt pieces could be placed up temporarily with straight pins.
 
Directional Print A fabric printed with a design that has an obvious direction to it, usually a design that has a definite "up" or "down."
 
E
 
Easing Easing requires a combination of pinning and using your fingers to adjust adjoining pieces of fabric that are uneven lengths. The object is to have the fabric come out evenly matched when you complete the end of the section.
 
F
 
Fabric Is a textile that is made of natural or artificial fibers that consist of either thread or yarn. Fabric is used in a variety of crafting including quilting.
 
Fat Eight A Fat Eight is a one-eight yard of fabric that is usually cut to measure 9x22” instead of the usual 4.5x4.2”.
 
Fat Quarter Is a one-fourth yard cut of fabric that measures 18x22” instead of the 9x42” quarter-yard cut.
 
Feed Dogs Are the mechanical teeth under the area of a sewing machine which move to pull the fabric through the machine. For free motion quilting or embroidery or needle darning the feed dog is lowered.
 
Finish Size The final sewn measurement or dimensions of a completed block without seam allowances. Which means a sewn block measuring 6" would be cut 6.5" to allow for a 1/4" seam allowance on each side.
 
Foundation Template Used to aide in the assembling of a Block by sewing pieces to a foundation of Muslin or plain fabric. A foundation template can also be used to a add strength and stability to delicate or stretchy fabrics.
 
Free-Motion Quilting or Embroidery A style of quilting or embroidering when the feed dog of a sewing machine is lowered and the quilter controls the movement of the fabric under the needle. Many various freeform designs are created in this manner.
 
Fussy Cut To fussy cut refers to cutting a specific area of your fabric. For instance, using a clear square template, choosing a particular part of the design, placing the clear square atop it and cutting in that spot to get the desired design. Kaleidoscope quilts, Attic Windows, and I Spy quilts are some examples of quilts where fussy cut pieces can be used.
 
G
 
Grain The Grain is the direction that the threads are arranged in a piece of fabric.
 
H
 
Hera Marker A very durable plastic marker that makes sharp lines directly on the fabric. This marker can also be used to quickly press a seam allowance to one side.
 
I
 
I Spy Quilt Is a quilt made by using fussy-cut fabrics that are usually novelty prints that reflect objects that children can spy on when looking at the quilt.
 
In the Ditch Stitching in the ditch refers to stitching directly in the seam. The idea is to stitch so close to the seam you barely see the stitch.
 
J
 
Jacquard This is a type of fabric with an intricate design woven into the actual fibers of the cloth rather than being printed on the surface. The name is derived from its French inventor, Joseph M. Jacquard.
 
 
L
 
Layering Is the process in quilt making when layers are sandwiched together to prepare for quilting. These layers include the pieced top layer of the quilt placed right side up, batting underneath this, and then the backing fabric which is placed in a right side down position.
 
Lengthwise Grain The lengthwise grain is made up of the threads that run parallel to the length of the fabric as it is pulled from the bolt or parallel to the selvage edges. Also known as: warp, and straight grain.
 
Loft Loft refers to the thickness of batting used in quilting. A batting that is very puffy is considered high loft, one that is thin is called low loft.
 
M
 
Meander Quilting Meander quilting is a randomly stitched free-motion technique that is not marked on the quilt top. The quilter takes full control of where the machine needle goes. The stitching lines in meander quilting can touch or even cross each other,like in a loop, but they don't need to touch.
 
Medallion Quilts This is a quilt with a large central decorative design, such as a star. It is usually surrounded by multiple borders or blocked squares.
 
Mercerized cotton Cotton that has been treated with sodium hydroxide to shrink it and increase its luster and affinity for dye. It is also mildew resistant and stronger.
 
N
 
Needle A sewing needle is a long slender metal object with a pointed tip and a hole (eye) at the other end for the thread to slide through.
 
Needle-turn Appliqué Is a technique where the edges of the design to be appliqued are turned under with the tip of the needle or fingers as they are being sewn rather than pressed and turned under beforehand.
 
Needlework This is an umbrella term for the any craft that incorporates decorative sewing or textile arts. Within this disipline, anything that uses a needle can be called needlework. Some examples would be; embroidery, appliqué, hand sewing, needlepoint, crewelwork, etc.
 
O
 
On Point Are quilt blocks arranged with their corners pointing up and down. These blocks are sewn in diagonal rows which leaves jagged openings around the outline of the quilt.
 
Orphan Blocks Quilt blocks that didn't make it into a project for whatever reason, and are leftover, or orphaned.
 
Outline Quilting This is a type of quilting done either by hand or machine which helps to emphasize a specific design in the quilt by outlining them.
 
P
 
Patchwork Is a piece of fabric created when smaller pieces of fabric (patches), are sewn together. Also referred to as piecing.
 
Pattern Design(s) used as a template to follow when making a quilt top. Traditional patterns are available from cultures around the world as well as time periods in history.
 
Q
 
Quilting Is a sewing method that is done either by a sewing machine or by hand. Quilting is a process which involves using a needle and thread to bind two or more layers or material together to create a quilt. However, when a quilt is made, usually three layers are used, which are comprised of two fabric layers with batting sandwiched in between.
 
Quilting Frame A quilting frame or hoop is made out of wood or plastic. It is used to hold a piece of fabric being quilted. Having a frame can greatly ease in the process of hand quilting. A frame sits on the floor while a hoop is held in the hands.
 
R
 
Ralli Quilting Is a type of quilting associated with the Gurjat region of India. It is prepared by using multicolored pieces of cloth stitched together in elaborate designs. Women have been making these quilts for hundreds, maybe thousands of years. The lives of the people who make the textiles are woven into each piece.
 
Rotary Cutter A cutting tool that has a round blade and is capable of slicing through one or more layers of fabric. Rotary cutters come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Perfect for use with a metal ruler to create perfectly straight cuts.
 
S
 
Sewing Machine Is a machine used in the textile industry as well as by home sewers to stitch fabric and other materials together with thread. Specialty sewing machines include Industrial, Quilting, and Embroidery Machines.
 
Shadow/Echo Quilting This is a technique where quilting is done around an appliquéd piece on the quilt. The quilting is then repeated or echoed again and again around the quilting line that went before it.
 
Sashiko Quilting Sashiko is a form of a running stitch from Japan which acts as reinforcement as well as embellishment when used in quilting. Traditionally, white cotton thread is used for this along with indigo blue cloth.
 
Selvages Are the bound edges that outline the outermost lengthwise grain. Selvages are created when the weft threads turn to change direction as the weaving continues down the warp. These edges keep the fabric from fraying.
 
Seminole Patchwork Seminole patchwork is a way of making very complex geometric designs out of strips of fabric that are sewn together, cut apart, and sewn back together in new formations. The first versions of Seminole patchwork, from the late 1800's to the early 20th century came out of necessity. The seminole indian woman would take the small strips remaining from the ends of the large cotton rolls and make strips out of the remnants. These were hand sewn into larger pieces for clothes, referred to as strip clothing. Necessity turned into wearable art.
 
Setting Triangles Is a triangle that is used to polish off the jagged edges left around the outer perimeter of a quilt where blocks are arranged on point.
 
Shadow Trapunto Shadow Trapunto is created by layering cotton batiste, doing a running stitch around the entire motif and then "stuffing it" with a more deeply colored yarn, using a needle. Usually, white batiste is used with pastel colored yarns, which show through the work.
 
Sharps Refers to the long and thin needles used for hand sewing and applique.
 
Square Knot Known also as a reef knot, this is a simple binding knot which is used to seal off the thread pieces in a tied quilt.
 
Stipple Quilting Stipple quilting is a randomly stitched free-motion technique that is not marked on the quilt top. The quilter takes full control of where the machine needle goes. The stitching lines in stipple quilting cannot touch or even cross each other.
 
Stitch Is a way of fastening thread into textiles in quilting or sewing, embroidery, or creating fabrics such as in knitting or crochet. Many different stitches are available for various uses.
 
Strip Piecing Is a patchwork technique where several fabrics are sewn together to create a unit that can be cut apart to form whole blocks of fabricas in Seminole Patchwork.
 
T
 
Thimble A thimble is a protective covering worn on your finger or thumb while sewing or quilting. Thimbles are usually made out of metal, leather or something synthetic that is hard enough to protect the finger from the sharp point of a pin.
 
Thread Is a kind of yarn with thin fibers spun together. Thread is used usually for machine, hand quilting, fabric embellishment, and embroidery. It's available in varied thicknesses and a large variety of colors for multiple uses.
 
Throat Plate This is the metal plate component of a standard sewing machine which has an opening for the feed dogs to emerge and the overhead needle to strike through. The throat plate usually is scored with grooved lines that act as guidelines for seam allowances of variable widths. Sometimes, a plate may have to be removed to clean beneath it or to get to the machine’s bobbin.
 
Tivaevae/Tivaivai Is a form of quilting originally practiced in Tahiti. These designs are built up from smaller pieces of material sewn together.Tivaivai (also spelled tīvaevae) means to stitch or sew. Cook Islands women make magnificent bed covers called tivaivai.There are two principal techniques: Patchwork and applique. The first is patchwork made using several colors on a contrasting background. The appliqué usually involves two colors, the first for the pattern, the second for the background.
 
Tone on Tone Refers to fabric printed by mixing different shades and tones of the same color. When viewed from a distance the fabric appears solid but the printed design become obvious when viewed at a closer range.
 
Trapunto Quilting In Italian trapunto means "to embroider," and in Latin it means "to prick with a needle." American quilters usually call the technique stuffed work. Using this technique the quilter sews lines of stitches through the quilt sandwich with a running stitch and outlines motifs in the pattern. Sometimes extra batting is placed inside a design by slitting the space inside the motif from the back of the quilt to create a more puffy effect.
 
Tying Is a method of latching down the layers of a quilt without making any stitches. To tie a quilt involves making a series of ties and knots with thread interspersed throughout the quilt.
 
U
 
UFO A term used by quilters meaning an unfinished project. This refers to remnants of quilts that have been started but never finished.
 
V
 
Value The value or color value refers to how light or dark a fabric is.
 
W
 
Walking Foot Is a sewing machine foot that helps to keep the layers from separating apart as they move through the sewing machine. This foot has built-in feed dogs which match up with the machine’s feed dogs to make the upper and lower fabric layers move at the same time. Having a walking foot is very helpful to create a straight, smooth machine quilting line. This is also a great tool when you have to work with heavy fabrics like denim.
 
Warp This is made up of the threads that run parallel to the length of the fabric as it comes off the bolt. The warp can also be referred to as the lengthwise grain, straight grain, and straight-of-grain.
 
Watercolor Quilting Is a quilting technique where subtle color gradations of fabric are stitched side by side in an arrangement that looks like that of a watercolor painting.
 
Weft This is made up of the threads that run perpendicular to the length of the fabric when it comes off the bolt. The weft is also referred to as the crosswise grain, straight grain, and straight-of-grain.
 
White on White Fabric Is white fabric that is printed with white designs. Sometimes printed slightly off white to provide a greater sense of contrast.
 
Whole Cloth Quilt Quilts that are made with one solid color piece of fabric that is traditionally white, but can be any color. No patchwork or appliqué is added. The design is created entirely with decorative stitches which also hole the quilt together.
 
 
Y
 
Yarns Multiple strands of thread or fiber woven together that are a long, continuous length. Yarns are used in tie quilts because they are so much stronger than regular thread.