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Quilting Glossary of Terms

Applique – A sewing technique in which decorative designs, shapes or scenes are created by attaching small pieces of fabric to a larger piece of contrasting fabric. Applique shapes may be sewn into place by hand using a blind stitch or by machine using a blanket or satin stitch.
 
Backing  – The bottom fabric layer of a quilt.
 
Backing Fabric – The fabric used for the back of a quilt, cut from a single piece of fabric or several fabrics sewn (pieced) together.
 
Basting Stitch – or Tacking Stitch is a long running stitch sewn by hand or machine used to temporarily hold a seam or trim in place. These stitches are removed when the seam or trim has been permanently sewn.
 
Batik – Cloth created by using a technique of wax-resist dyeing. Batik patterns are created by drawing lines and dots using liquid hot wax. This is done with a pen-like tool with a small spout called a canting, or a copper stamp called a cap. The cloth is then dipped in a dye bath with the first colour. When the cloth is dry the wax is removed with boiling water and the process repeated if more colours are desired.
 
Batting / Wadding – The middle layer of a quilt which provides warmth and thickness. The batting sits between the quilt top and the backing fabric.
 
Bias – Every piece of woven fabric has two biases, perpendicular to each other (Warp and Weft). A garment made of woven fabric is said to be "cut on the bias" when the fabric's warp and weft threads are at 45 degrees to its major seam lines. This provides stretch or give to the fabric and can improve garment drape.
 
Bias Binding / Binding Tape – A narrow strip of fabric cut on the bias (cut diagonally across the fabric grain) making it stretchy. Typically used for piping, binding seams and finishing raw edges.
 
Binding – Narrow strips of folded fabric used to finishing the raw edges of a quilt. Binding is made from strips of a fabric sewn together that are long enough to go around the entire quilt.
 
Block – A quilt block is a unit of patchwork made from several pieces of fabric. This block may be combined with other blocks to make a quilt top.
 
Bolt – A roll of fabric.
 
Border – Strips of fabric of varying widths added to the outer edges of the quilt to form a frame for the quilt top before binding the edge. Not all quilts have or need borders.
 
Chain Piecing – Machine sewing patchwork pieces together without cutting the thread between each piece.
 
English Paper Piecing – A method of hand sewing fabric shapes together to form a quilt block using paper templates to increase accuracy. Fabric is basted to the paper shape. Then adjacent pieces are whipstitched together to form a pattern.
 
Fat Quarter – Cut a metre (or yard) of fabric into 4 equal parts vertically and horizontally. This gives you four squares of fabric measuring approx. 50cm x 55cm (18" x 22"), each of which is a Fat Quarter.
 
Finished size – The size of your finished block or quilt without seam allowances.
 
Foundation Piecing – Is a technique using a numbered pattern made from paper or fabric as a foundation for sewing a quilt block. This is used to create perfectly pieced blocks or to help stabilise tricky fabrics such as silk. Fabric foundations are left in place to support the block while paper is removed by tearing.
 
Fussy Cutting – Selecting a particular part of a fabric print when cutting out.
 
Half Square Triangle (HST) – A square made from two different triangles of the same size usually of different colours. These can be made by sewing two triangles together or by using a quick piecing technique where two different coloured squares of fabrics are placed right sides together and sewn diagonally ¼" on either side of a central drawn line. When cut apart down the pencil line the square fabric will produce two identical HSTs.
 
LOF / Length of Fabric – Refers to the direction of fabric running vertically, or as rolled on the bolt.
 
Muslin / Calico – Calico, also known as Muslin in America, is a plain woven cloth made from raw, unprocessed cotton. It is a lightweight fabric, characterised by its buff colour and pieces of husk trapped in the weave.
 
Panel – A piece of fabric printed with a complete image or picture, often placed in the centre of a quilt.
 
Patchwork / Pieced Work – is the process of sewing together pieces of fabric into a larger design. This design usually consists of a repeat pattern made from different coloured fabric shapes. These geometric fabric shapes are carefully measured and cut so that they can be easily pieced together. Piece / Pieced / Piecing – A term used to describe sewing your fabrics together with a seam.
 
Piece / Pieced / Piecing – A term used to describe sewing your fabrics together with a seam.
 
Quarter Square Triangle (QST) – A square made from four different triangles of the same size usually in two colours. This block is also known as an hourglass unit and can be made from two HST units.
 
Quilt Sandwich – The quilt top, batting and backing layers when put together, the batting being the ‘sandwich filling’.
 
Quilt Top - The upper most layer of your quilt.
 
Quilt-as-you-go – Quilting small sections before assembling.
 
Round Robin – A quilt that is made by several different people taking turns.
 
Sampler Quilt – A quilt where each block is constructed using a different pattern.
 
Sashiko – A form of Japanese decorative stitching in quilting and embroidery. White cotton thread on the traditional indigo blue cloth gives sashiko (literally means “little stabs”) its distinctive appearance, though decorative items are sometimes stitched in red thread.
 
Sashing – Thin fabric strips sewn between quilt blocks usually in a contrasting colour.
 
Selvedge / Selvage – Self-finished edge of the fabric, often printed with identity numbers and colour information.
 
Skinny / Thin / Long Quarter – A quarter of a metre (or yard) of fabric cut across the width of a fabric roll from selvedge to selvedge.
 
Stitch in the Ditch – Quilting in the seam lines of your patchwork.
 
Tacking Stitch – or Basting Stitch is a long running stitch sewn by hand or machine used to temporarily hold a seam or trim in place. These stitches are removed when the seam or trim has been permanently sewn.
 
Template – A paper, cardboard or plastic shape used as a pattern for tracing shapes for applique or quilting.
 
Unfinished Size – The size of your finished block or quilt with seam allowances.
 
Wadding / Batting – The middle layer of a quilt which provides warmth and thickness. The batting sits between the quilt top and the backing fabric
 
Warp – lengthwise or longitudinal thread or yarn in a piece of cloth. The warp is a set of lengthwise yarns that are held in tension on a frame or loom. The yarn that is inserted under and over the warp threads is called the weft.
 
Weft – Crosswise or horizontal thread that is drawn through the warp yarns using a shuttle to create cloth.
 
Whipstitch – Is an overcast stitch used to sew two pieces of fabric together or to finish a fabric edge.
 
WOF / Width of Fabric – Refers to the direction of fabric running horizontally from selvedge to selvedge.