Quilting Terms

Quilting Basics

Applique: Adding fabric motifs to a foundation fabric by hand or machine (see Applique section of Basic Techniques).

Basting: This temporarily secures layers of quilting materials together with safety pins, thread or a spray adhesive in preparation for quilting the layers.

Use a long, straight stitch to hand- or machine-stitch one element to another holding the elements in place during construction and usually removed after construction.

Batting: An insulating material made in a variety of fiber contents that is used between the quilt top and back to provide extra warmth and loft.

Binding: A finishing strip of fabric sewn to the outer raw edges of a quilt to cover them.

Straight-grain binding strips, cut on the crosswise straight grain of the fabric (see Straight & Bias Grain Lines illustration below), are commonly used.

Bias binding strips are cut at a 45-degree angle to the straight grain of the fabric. They are used when binding is being added to curved edges.

Block: The basic quilting unit that is repeated to complete the quilt's design composition. Blocks can be pieced, appliqued or solid and are usually square or rectangular in shape.

Border: The frame of a quilt's central design used to visually complete the design and give the eye a place to rest.

Fabric Grain: The fibers that run either parallel (lengthwise grain) or perpendicular (crosswise grain) to the fabric selvage are straight grain.

Bias is any diagonal line between the lengthwise or crosswise grain. At these angles the fabric is less stable and stretches easily. The true bias of a woven fabric is a 45-degree angle between the lengthwise and crosswise grain lines.

Quilting Terms
Mitered Corners: Matching borders or turning bindings at a 45-degree angle at corners.

Patchwork: A general term for the completed blocks or quilts that are made from smaller shapes sewn together.

Pattern: This may refer to the design of a fabric or to the written instructions for a particular quilt design.

Piecing: The act of sewing smaller pieces and/or units of a block or quilt together.

Paper or foundation piecing is sewing fabric to a paper or cloth foundation in a certain order.
Quilting Terms
String or chain piecing is sewing pieces together in a continuous string without clipping threads between sections.

Quilting Terms
Pressing: Pressing is the process of placing the iron on the fabric, lifting it off the fabric and placing it down in another location to flatten seams or crease fabric without sliding the iron across the fabric.

Quilters do not usually use steam when pressing, since it can easily distort fabric shapes.

Generally, seam allowances are pressed toward the darker fabric in quilting so that they do not show through the lighter fabric.

Seams are pressed in opposite directions where seams are being joined to allow seams to butt against each other and to distribute bulk.

Seams are pressed open when multiple seams come together in one place.

If you have a question about pressing direction, consult a comprehensive quilting guide for guidance.

Quilt (noun): A sandwich of two layers of fabric with a third insulating material between them that is then stitched together with the edges covered or bound.

Quilt (verb): Stitching several layers of fabric materials together with a decorative design. Stippling, crosshatch, channel, in-the-ditch, free-motion, allover and meandering are all terms for quilting designs.
Quilting Terms
Quilt Sandwich: A layer of insulating material between a quilt's top and back fabric.

Rotary Cutting: Using a rotary cutting blade and straightedge to cut fabric.

Sashing: Strips of fabric sewn between blocks to separate or set off the designs.

Subcut: A second cutting of rotary-cut strips that makes the basic shapes used in block and quilt construction.

Template: A pattern made from a sturdy material which is then used to cut shapes for patchwork and applique quilting.
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