A Glossary of Quilting Terms

and Quilt Definitions

Acronyms used by quilters

  • BOM = Block of the Month
  • DSM = Domestic Sewing Machine
  • FART = Fabric Acquisition Road Trip
  • FOB = Fear of Binding (thanks, KayEllen!)
  • FQ = Fat Quarter
  • HIPS = Hundreds of Ideas Piling Skyward (thanks, Mavis!)
  • HST = Half-Square Triangle
  • LAQ= Long Arm Quilter
  • LQS = Local Quilt Shop
  • MAQ = Mid-Arm Quilter
  • PhD = Projects half Done
  • PIGS = Projects in Grocery Sacks
  • SABLE = Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy
  • SEX = Stash Enhancing eXperience (or eXcursion)
  • STASH = Special Treasures All Secretly Hidden
  • TGIF = Thank God It's Finished!
  • TOT = Tone-on-Tone
  • UFO = UnFinshed Object
  • WHIMM = Works Hidden In My Mind
  • WIP = Work In Progress
  • WISP = Work In Slow Progress
  • WOF = Width of Fabric
  • WOMBAT = Waste of Money, Batting, and Time
  • WOW = White On White

Album Quilt A quilt made of many different blocks, often with symbolic designs appliquéd or stamped on each block. If each block is signed it would be a Autograph or Signature Quilt.

Amish: The Amish people are a religious culture. Their antique quilts tend to use rich jewel toned solid fabrics with black as a background, often in striking geometric patterns, and wide, plain borders. Central medallion square-in-a-square with wide borders is a popular design.

Modern Amish quilts made for resale can use any fabric in any design, but retain the excellent quilting. Although there are Amish people in all 50 states and several Canadian provinces, the Amish quilt resale trade is generally found in Pennsylvania, Ohio or Indiana.

AOL Users! Did you know that your graphics were compressed? Go to your settings, then click on preference and Internet Properties WWW. AOL Internet Properties should come up. Go to the Web Graphics tab and pick "never compress graphics" and click okay. Be prepared to be amazed at the quality of the graphics you now see on the Internet!

To speed up surfing, clear your cache. On the AOL Toolbar -- second group of options - [My Files/My AOL/Favorites] choose My AOL --> Preferences --> WWW. You will get a pop up box (looks the same as the IE Internet Tools). On the General Tab screen in the Temporary Internet Files box, click Delete Files.

Remember, AOL caches pages which means may not always be seeing the latest version a web page you are visiting. Hitting refresh or reload will only get you the same page from the AOL cache. However, if hold down the control key while clicking on AOL RELOAD (the little orange round arrow to the left of the AOL address bar, you should get a brand new page.

Appliqué: a piecing process using small amounts of fabric which are then sewn onto a background fabric in a decorative design such as curved floral or animal motifs. Appliqué can be done by hand, machine or with fusible web. and is often combined with pieced blocks or placed in the border to frame a pieced quilt. Appliqué is a great technique to cover stains, rips or other problem areas.

Baby Blocks, Grandmother's Flower Garden and other non-square shapes are often pieced this way.

Backing: the bottom or back layer of a quilt, usually a plain unadorned fabric that has been pieced to the width of the quilt. The backing is where you should put your label!

Baltimore Album Quilts An elegant form of intricate appliqué which was very popular in mid 19th century in Baltimore, Maryland. Click here for more information.

Bare Feet - device for finding pins in a carpet.

Basting Long stitches used to hold the the top, batting and backing of a quilt together while the quilting is being done and removed when the quilt is completed. A quilt can also be basted with curved safety pins, a tacking gun or a spray adhesive. Fusible batting is also available.

Batik Batik fabrics are made by covering a design area with wax or other substance to prevent dye from penetrating into that area. Indonesia is famous for its batiks. They are usually high thread count fabrics. Use a #12 Microtex needle with this fabric.

Batting Sometimes called wadding or stuffing, this is the layer in the center of the quilt sandwich, giving it warmth and thickness. Batting can be cotton, polyester, blends, silk, or wool.

Bearding The migration of fibers from the batting passing through the quilt top and forming a fuzz on the surface of the quilt, thought to be caused by static electricity. Most often associated with cheap polyester battings, bearding can also happen with unbonded cotton. Some synthetics, wool and silk batting are also prone to this problem. To help prevent this, prewash fabrics using a quality fabric softener and dryer sheet. Quilt using a mercerized or coated thread. Apply beeswax or spray your thread and/or quilt layers with a fabric silicon spray. This will also help prevent thread breakage. Never store your quilt in plastic. A humidifier in your workroom is beneficial to both the quilt and quilter!

Betweens -- small, thin needles used for finish quilting. Sizes range from 8-12, the smaller number being a longer length needle.

Bias The diagonal direction across the surface of a woven fabric at a 45º angle to the line of the warp and weft. Fabric cut on the bias stretches easily and must be handled with care. A 45º angle is called a true bias - fabric cut at a 30º or 60º angle can also be considered a bias cut. Bias binding allows binding to be turned and angled without pleating. See Grain

Bias Binding - see binding.

Big Board. A very large ironing board, usually 24" x 60", which is placed over your existing ironing board to give you a larger surface to press your fabrics. It can be purchased commercially for $99 - $130, or you can make one at home. Use 1/4" plywood with 1" x 1" strips on the underside to keep the ironing board in place. Use batting or mattress pads for the padding and muslin or ironing board material with for the cover.

Big stitch - a type of quilting in which embroidery or crewel thread is used in large stitch for a decorative effect.

Binding A strip of fabric sewn over the edges of the quilt layers to finish the raw edges, add strength, and/or decorate the edge. Normally a binding is sewn on one side, then brought over the edge to the other side where it is secured, but a binding can also be a part of the backing wrapped over to the front. Can be straight or cut on the bias. Click here for a picture tutorial on Single Fold Binding. Here are tips on ending double fold binding. How much fabric will you need? Click here for a chart.

Need more help? Here is a 7 page tutorial that covers not only three types of binding (and how to make them) but also six other edge finishes.

Birthing a quilt. The method of sewing the quilt batting and backing to the outside edges of the quilt (right sides together), then turning the whole thing inside out as if it were a pillowcase. If you have laid out the layers correctly, the batting will be in the middle, and you can slip stitch the quilt pillow closed.

Blindstitch A type of invisible stitching often used for appliqué

Blocks Most quilt tops are constructed by sewing together smaller units called blocks in a certain layout.

BOM: block of the month

Border -- a strip of fabric sewn to the outside of a quilt top to serve as a frame for the interior or to enhance the design. Click here for help on measuring a quilt border.

Broderie Perse -- The French word for "Persian Embroidery". First made popular in the early 1800's when cotton was extremely expensive, the technique is a type of appliqué where larger images such as an animal or a flower are cut from a printed fabric and appliquéd to a background fabric.

Bubble Jet Set - (BJS) a liquid product which makes ink color fast on fabric. Plain fabric is soaked in BJS and hung to dry. The dry fabric is then ironed to a piece of freezer paper and used in an ink jet or bubble jet printer to print pictures or text.

The Burn Test for Identifying Textile Fibers can be found here.

Calico In the 19th century, calico referred to any type of cotton fabric. It is still used in that sense in England and Australia. In the US, it is often used to refer to fabric with a small repeated design, usually florals or leaves.

Call information for free! Use 1-800-FREE-411 or (1-800-373-3411) Of course there is no such thing as a free lunch - you will need to listen to a 12 second commercial.

Cats - purring device designed to add enjoyment and hair to your latest quilt.

Chain sewing --to feed block pieces into the sewing machine one right after the other, without snipping threads in between each seam. This allows you to sew many pieces without stopping after each one, saving both time and thread.

Click here for a video
This video shows the use of a "leader" block when chain stitching

Challenge --a competition to create a block or quilt using specified fabrics or patterns.

Charm Quilt A quilt made of many small pieces of fabric where each piece is a different fabric. The idea is to have a scrap-pieced top with no two pieces alike. The pattern is usually a one-patch design. Charms are often exchanged and traded by quilters.

Cheater's cloth --fabric printed with an all-over quilt block design, made to look like a pieced or appliquéd quilt top.

Chemotherapy Caps
These are wraps or turbans worn by people who need to cover their head to conceal hair loss. For more information:

Chenille - to make your own chenille, layer 4 to 8 layers of fabric (cotton, rayon or silk) with the brightest and boldest fabric on top. Spray baste between each layer, or pin baste when you are done. Mark a diagonal line on the bias crossing the center of this piece. Using your walking foot, stitch all layers along that line, then stitch 1/4" to 1/2" on either side until the entire piece is Demonstration of Chenille Stripsquilted. Carefully cut between the lines, without cutting the bottom layer of fabric, using shears, a slash cutter, or a specially designed mat with your rotary cutter. (right) To make the chenille bloom once it has been slashed, throw it in the washer then dryer.

Color Wheel - click here for a helpful article.

Corner Setting Triangles - how to figure. If you would like to set your block on point and add half-square triangles to the four corners to make it square again, how do you figure out the size of the square to cut in half? Click here for an illustrated article with charts on side setting triangles, corner setting triangles and setting a block on point.

Cotty Thread - a great embroidery thread. Formerly sold only by Pfaff dealers, it is now sold by Sulky. Click here.

Crazy Quilt --a block assembled from irregular and often scrap pieces, with no set pattern or design overall. Can be made as small blocks and assembled into a larger piece, or sewn as one complete quilt top. A popular pattern during the Victorian period, it was made with silks and velvets and embellished with much embroidery.

Curved Piecing - used in Drunkards Path and other blocks. Here is a curved piecing tutorial from Carolina Pieceworks.

Cutter Quilt --a quilt that is so badly worn or damaged in some areas as to be sold for the purpose of cutting it up into pillows, dolls, or other craft items.

Determining Fabric Type
If someone gives you an unknown fabric or batting, there are two methods to find out what it is. The most reliable method is to put a thread under a microscope and look at the actual fiber itself. An inexpensive microscope will work. Cotton has a twisty, round which looks like a straw, wool has scales, silk is smooth and round like spaghetti and linen has little horizontal joins.

There is also the burn test. Hold a match to a small piece of the fabric and observe the results.

  • Cotton burns steadily and smells like burning leaves or toast. The ash is soft and crumbles easily.
  • Linen is very similar but it takes longer to light and smells like burning paper.
  • Silk burns slowly and smells like hair or feathers burning. It burns slowly with a grayish ash which crumbles easily. It is delicate when wet.
  • Wool smolders and sputters when near flame. It doesn't burn easily and smells like burning hair. It produces a crisp, dark ash which crushes easily and turns to powder. Wool will also dissolve in chlorine bleach.
  • Manmade Fibers (acrylic, nylon, polyester, rayon, etc.) will melt when exposed to a flame and has an ash like a hard bead (except rayon which disappears.) It smells slightly acidic.This test is not as reliable with blends.

Dining room table. Also known as a quilting studio, this piece of furniture can also be used to serve a meal. See: pizza.

Directional print --fabric with a printed pattern that has a definite direction or grain (nap.) Care must be taken to match the direction when piecing.

Dryer Sheets -- can be used for appliqué. Sew the used dryer sheet to the front of your appliqué piece, cut a slit in the dryer sheet, turn it inside out and iron. Your piece will automatically how have the edges turned under. Click here for more. One caveat: dryer sheets can be flammable. A thin piece of cheesecloth is probably a better choice.

Dye Magnet -- a great dye magnet is a piece of undyed, untreated terry cloth. Because untreated cotton will absorb fugitive dyes, this plain little piece of cloth will collect all the dye in your wash water. When it is saturated, just bleach it all out and keep using it. Old well-used white 100% cotton terry washcloths, towels, t-shirts, and underwear will work too. Be careful -- it can't be exposed to fabric softener. Fabric softener coats the fibers and will interfere with their ability to absorb dye.

Ease --to make two pieces of different sizes fit together in the same seam. On piece may have to be stretched a little, or bunched up slightly in order to get both pieces the same length.

Echo Quilting Quilting stitches that are placed right next to a shape or block, thus echoing the shape.

English Paper Piecing Found in 18th and 19th century English quilts, this method of hand piecing uses paper templates inside the block elements to guide where the edges are turned under. These papers are later removed.

EQ6 - Electric Quilt, a computer program for designing quilts.

Fabraholic A non word. No one can have too much fabric.

Fabric starch: Tip: If you like the crisp texture of unwashed fabric, but need to prewash it, use fabric starch instead of fabric softener in a fabric softener ball. Your pre-washed fabric will then get the crisp texture of sizing. Consider washing the final product, however, as starch left in fabric may attract little critters. Instead of using starch in the wash, you may want to use a can of spray sizing when pressing your prewashed fabric.

Fat 1/8th: Fabric measuring approximately 9" x 18". It is half of a fat quarter (see below.)

Fat Quarter - a unit of measurement for fabric, made by cutting a half yard in half again vertically. Usually measures 18" x 22". This allows for cutting larger pieces than a regular quarter yard which is 9" x 44". What can you get from a fat quarter?

  • 99 - 2" squares or
  • 50 - 2 1/2" squares or
  • 42 - 3" squares or
  • 30 - 3 1/2" squares or
  • 20 - 4" squares or
  • 16 - 4 1/2" squares or
  • 12 - 5" squares or
  • 12 - 5 1/2" squares or
  • 9 - 6" squares or
  • 6 - 6 1/2" squares

Feed Dogs - Feed dogs are the teeth which pull your fabric through the machine, helping you to sew a nice even stitch. See Free Motion Quilting

Feedsacks: material originally used to hold flour, feed, sugar, salt, etc. Now highly prized for authentic reproduction quilts. From the early 1900's. Click here for more information.

Fibonacci Sequence AKA Phi
Many quilters use this sequence to help determine block or border size relationships. In this sequence of numbers, each number is the sum of the previous 2 numbers. (In other words: 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89,144,233, etc.) This "golden number" or "golden ratio" of 1.618 can be seen repeatedly in nature. Fiber artist Susan Brown has developed a whole series of quilts based on the Fibonacci Sequence.

You can use this ratio when sizing borders or blocks just by multiplying by 1.618. For example, if you want a quilt that is a perfect rectangle, multiply the width by 1.618 (apx 60%) to get the length. Or, if you want to add a series of three perfectly proportioned borders, just add the width of the first two borders together to get the width of the third. If you would like to add a fourth border, just add the width of border two and border three.

Filling - see batting.

Finger Pressing: Using your fingers to press a seam or guidelines for appliqué turned edges or seam allowances, instead of an iron. See also Hera.

Finished Size The final sewn size of a completed block without seam allowances.

Fire Retardant Formula/Flame Proofing This is a formula shops use to treat curtains at big quilt shows. Mix 9 oz. Borax, 4 oz. Boric acid (available at most pharmacies), 1 gallon water and 1/2 teaspoon low sudsing detergent and pour in a spray bottle. Hang curtains outside (or where ever you can string up some clothesline) lightly spray both sides and let dry. It does stiffen the fabric slightly. You can also purchase flame retardant spray at places like Dharma Trading.

Flannel is a soft fabric which can be made from cotton, wool or synthetic fibers. It is usually loosely woven and slightly furry and is very, very warm. It's tendency to ravel makes it a very good fabric to use for rag quilt. Because flannel starts out so loosely woven, it does shrink about 5% in the first wash and will continue to shrink with each wash until it is no longer loosely woven.

Fleas - horrible little creatures that eat you alive. To get rid of them without pesticides, sprinkle 20 Mule Team Borax (which has boric acid) or diatomaceous earth (available at pool supply companies) around the house. Make sure to leave it there for at least two weeks to kill any new hatchlings.

Foundation piecing: A method of assembling a block by sewing pieces to a foundation of muslin or plain fabric. Sewing on a foundation of paper is known as Foundation Paper Piecing or FPP. Click here for products to use while paper piecing.

FQ: See Fat Quarter.

Free-Motion Quilting A type of machine quilting in which the feed dogs are lowered or covered while quilting using a darning foot. Because there are no feed dogs to pull the fabric, the quilter must create the design by moving the quilt sandwich under the needle. Free-Motion Quilting also happens when when the dog decides to lay at your feet right on top of your foot pedal.

Freezer paper appliqué. Freezer paper is a wrapping paper for meat that has a light coating of a wax-like plastic on one side whichcan be purchased in most supermarkets. Quilters like to use it as a template for appliqué by drawing the design on the paper side, cutting it out and ironing the template to the fabric using a very hot, dry iron. These templates can be use the on the underside of the fabric by turning the seam allowance over it before appliquéing to the base fabric. You would then need to cut the base fabric to remove the paper. You can also use the template on top of the fabric by using the edge of the freezer paper to guide your needleturn. If your freezer paper doesn’t stick well, it can be attached to fabric using silk pins, basting stitches or a glue stick.

Frog Stitching: Rip it, rip it, rip it!

Fusibles Various webs or interfacings which can be ironed onto a fabric for easier appliqué or to support the fabric.

Glue Stick Available in any office supply store, glue sticks can keep small, narrow strips from wandering while being appliquéd in place.

Grain --The lengthwise and crosswise threads of a fabric, along the warp (length) and weft (crosswise) threads. The lengthwise grain parallel to the selvage stretches the least and should be used for borders whenever possible. The crosswise grain perpendicular to the selvage has slightly more give. Selvedges are created as the weft threads are tightly woven through the warp threads. See Bias above.

Griege goods refers to woven textiles as they come from the loom, before they are dyed or printed and sold as finished goods. This fabric has been removed from the loom, but has no further processing, bleaching or finish applied to it. It is pronounced "gray goods". See How to choose the best quality fabric for your quilts.

Handquilting. Hand quilting is a running stitch that is made through all three layers of a quilt to hold them together. Here is a video on hand quilting.

Hanging Sleeve A tube sewn to the back top of a quilt to allow it to be hung. To make one, cut a strip of fabric 9" wide by the width of the quilt (seamed if necessary) and hem the ends. Fold in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and sew to the unfinished edge of your quilt. Your binding will later cover this seam. If your quilt is already bound, fold the strip right sides together and sew into a tube. Turn the tube inside out and attach to the top of the quilt under the binding. With either method, you will have to hand sew the loose bottom edge of the tube to the quilt. If you made the quilt, make the sleeve out of fabric used on the top so that if fabric is needed to repair the top in the future, it will be readily available. Click here for more.

How do I share my "Favorites" on MS Internet Explorer?
Go to the File menu and select "Import and Export". Follow the Wizard prompts and choose Export Favorites. Click next. Select the Favorites category you want to back up, click next then choose the option to "Export to a file or address" and specify the name/location you want to export to. By default its called "bookmark.htm" Click next. Click finish. (When you need to recover your favorites list, just choose the "Import and Export" option again choosing the Import options in the wizard.) Share your favorites lists with others by using the same process and exchanging the bookmark.htm file with each other.

How big should I make my quilt? See standard mattress sizes

HST: half square triangle

Improving the performance of your PC - click here for a helpful article.

Intentional Mistake. The reason quilters give when their quilt is not perfect. Also called "only God can make something perfect", "creative sewing" and "oops". It's a myth that Amish people always deliberately include a mistake in their quilting.

Invisible Thread. Also known as Monofiliment thread.

Jelly Rolls (et al)
Manufacturers provide quilt shops with fabrics precut into strips. These cuts all have different names. Here are just a few:
  • Bali Bitty Bundles - eight fat-eights (9" x 22")
  • Bali Pops by Hoffman are 2 1/2" wide x WOF
  • Charms by Moda are 5" squares
  • Charms by RJR are 5 1/2" squares
  • Chunky Strip collections - twenty 4" wide strips
  • Desert Rolls by Moda are 5" strips x WOF
  • Fabrications by Blank Textiles are 2 1/2" strips x WOF
  • Fat Rolls by Windam are 5" wide x WOF
  • Honey buns by Moda are 1-1/2" strips
  • Jelly Rolls by Moda are 2 1/2" wide X WOF
  • Layer Cakes by Moda are 10" squares
  • Lil' Bits by Marcus are 5" squares
  • Noodle Jelly Rolls by Fabric Freedom are 2 1/2" strips
  • Pastry Rolls are 12" wide strips
  • Spoonfuls by Moda are 8-1/2" squares
  • Sushi rolls by Lecian are 2-7/8" strips x WOF
  • Sweet Rolls 6" strips x WOF
  • Sweet Sixteens by Maywood are 9" x11" rectangles (1/16th of a yard)
  • Tonga Dimes by Timeless Treasures are 10" squares
  • Tonga Nickles by Timeless Treasuresare 5" squares
  • Turnovers by Moda are 6" half-square triangles
  • Twice the Charm by RJR are 5 1/2" x 22" strips
  • Watercolor Wraps by Hoffman are 7" squares

Label. Always attach a label to your quilts giving the name of the quilt and the name and town of the maker as well as the year made and pattern used. The more information you can include about the maker, the recipient and the reason it was made, the better. Quilt in the label if possible so it can not easily be removed. Take the time to write your name in the seam allowance of the binding, too, as a surprise to future quilt historians!

Lap quilting - First used in the 19th century, this method of making a quilt by finishing the blocks individually and putting them together later was popularized by Georgia Bonesteel in the 1980's.

Layout The arrangement in which blocks are sewn together to make a quilt. A straight set layout occurs when quilt blocks are simply sewn next to each other in rows and the rows are set together. An on-point quilt is a straight set layout with the blocks set on a 45 degree angle. Click here for help on piecing an on point quilt. Bargello quilting consists of off-set blocks of color in a rising or falling "flame-like" pattern. One patch or tessellating quilts depend on fabric placement for their design. Wholecloth quilts depend on the quilting for their design. Cheatercloth quilts have a stamped design.

Long Arm Quilting Quilting using a very long bed (commercial) quilting machine to do the overall quilting.

An inexpensive, medium weight, plain weave, low count (less than 160 threads per square inch) cotton sheeting fabric. Fabric with a higher thread count (180 to 250 threads per square inch) is called percale. Higher thread count fabric is excellent for photo transfer but not for quilting. The lower the thread count, the easier it is to needle.

Marking Stains. ALWAYS test your pencil or marker on scrap fabric before using it on your quilt! If you are having trouble removing the marking lines on your quilt, try this recipe:
3 oz rubbing alcohol
1 oz water
4 drops clear liquid dishwashing detergent
Dip a clean soft bristled toothbrush in the solution and brush onto fabric. Blot dry.
1/4 tsp of baking soda dissolved in 1/4 cup water will sometimes neutralize the blue markers to make it easier to remove.

Mitered corner: corner (usually of a border) that is joined at a 45 degree angle, like a picture frame. Tip: If your quilt plan calls for multiple mitered borders, stitch all the strips together first, then apply and miter them as a single unit.

Motif - an patch used for appliqué.

  • Sharps have a sharp point which pierces the thread of woven fabrics. Available in sizes 60/8 - 90/14, they are a good choice for straight stitch sewing. They are marketed under different names. Schmetz calls their sharp needle Microtex, Dritz uses Standard Point.
  • Metallic needles are constructed specifically for use with metallic and monofiliment threads. They are thin, with a sharp point to eliminate thread breakage, an elongated eye to make threading easier and an elongated scarf to prevent shredding. Metallic needles are marketed as Metallica (Schmetz), Metafil (Lammertz) and Metallic Machine Embroidery (Madeira), and are available in sizes 70/10 through 90/14.

On Point: a square block that is set on edge, with the corners on top and bottom, side and side. Click here for an illustrated article with charts on side setting triangles, corner setting triangles and setting a block on point.

Orvus: Known as Horvus in veterinary circles, this is a cleaning product that is very mild and often used to clean fine washables such as quilts. Must be rinsed thoroughly. Click here for an article on cleaning antique quilts.

Paper piecing -- See Foundation Paper Piecing

Patchwork - an older term, still used in England, for piecing quilt squares together to make blocks. Sometimes pieced quilts are referred to as patchwork.

Penny Squares Also known as redwork. Click here for more

PDF Files are a great way to share a pattern without accidentally distorting the pattern pieces. Here is a tip from Anita Grossman Solomon, author of Make it Simpler Paper Piecing: To ensure PDF files print properly:
  1. Open the file in Acrobat Reader.
  2. Select File > Print... to open the Print dialog box.
  3. Choose "Acrobat Reader" from the section header drop-down menu.
  4. In version 5 of Acrobat Reader: Uncheck the "Shrink Oversized Pages to Paper Size" option (which is checked by default), and make sure the "Enlarge Small Pages to Paper Size" is unchecked (as it is by default) while you're at it. In version 6 of Acrobat Reader: The "Paper Scaling" dialogue box should be "None" (not "Fit to Paper" nor "Shrink Large Sizes").
  5. Click on the Print button at the bottom of the dialog box.

Pin-baste --to use curved safety pins to temporarily hold together the three layers of a quilt in preparation for finish quilting. Beware of rusting pins.

Prairie Point A simple folded fabric triangle made in multiples and attached as a decorative edge finish on quilts and garments with the point facing out. Click on the diagram to the left for a close up idea of how to cut a prairie point border in one strip rather than individual triangles

Precut Fabric definitions
See Jelly Roll definition above.

Pressing Spray - Homemade. Mix these ingredients and shake well before each use.

  • 2-1/2 cups distilled water
  • 1 tsp (about 75 drops) of 100% pure essential oil mixed into 2 oz Vodka. You can find scented oil at a hobby store in their soap making aisle or on Amazon.
  • 1/3 cup of liquid starch (optional)

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. A popular gift for children and teens. Click here for a pattern.

Quilt Top The top layer of a quilt Sandwich.

Quilter's Candy: A fat eighth. (11' x 18") Either that or chocolate.

Quilter's Guild: An organization made up of quilters. Also called a Quilter's Group. An organization of quilters which may provide opportunities to share projects, instruction and community service. Click here for a list of Quilt Guilds worldwide.

Little Foot Quilting foot measure exactly 1/4" from needle point to inner edge of the foot, which may have a guide on it to prevent the fabric from going past the edge. Most sewing machines come with a quilting foot, or a generic one can be purchased called "Little Foot".

Raffle Quilt: A quilt made to be raffled off for the benefit of a charity. Also called an opportunity quilt.

Redwork Simple outline embroidery designs worked in running stitch with turkey red color floss and used for quilt blocks. Traditionally, animal themes, children's themes, nature themes, and kitchen themes. Redwork can be done in other colors, changing the name to greenwork or bluework, etc. Redwork done in black is called Black Redwork because Blackwork refers to a specific single thread embroidery technique. For more information on redwork, click here.

Repeat - The measurement of fabric before the design is repeated.

Retayne --brand name of a product used to prevent commercial dyes from running or bleeding when washed. Click here for more

Reverse appliqué --Traditional appliqué sews a motif (the design piece) on top of a background. Reverse appliqué sews the motif underside of the background and then cutting away and turning under the edge of the top fabric to reveal the motif. Mola’s and Hawaiian quilts are made using reverse appliqué.

Rotary Cutter and MatRotary Cutter and Mat A rotary cutter has a circular blade to cut several layers of fabric on a cutting mat. Click here for rotary cutting instructions. Do not depend on the mat for accurate cutting lines. Always double check with your ruler.

Click here for a video on how to rotary cut.

Ruler - a heavy plastic measuring guide. Available in a variety of shapes and sizes, a good ruler adds to the success of any project.

Sampler --a quilt made of different block patterns, usually as an exercise by the maker in piecing techniques.

Sashiko quilting. A Japanese style of precise quilting designs using embroidery or crewel floss. The stitches are large on top, but small on the back. Click here for more.

Sashing --strips of fabric sewn between pieced blocks to separate them while joining them together into a top. Sashing can be continued around the outside of the quilt top to act as a border.

Scrap quilt --any quilt made with fabrics leftover from other quilts (your stash), or from salvaged fabric from clothing or other items. See charm quilt.

Selvage The outer edge of the length of a fabric which is usually more tightly woven and so is normally cut off and not used in a quilt. You will usually find manufacturers information in the selvage. See Warp/Weft.

Serger - a type of sewing machine which makes overcast seams and cuts off the excess automatically.

Setting --see Layout

Setting block a block used with pieced or appliquéd blocks in a quilt top. Can be a solid block or another pieced block. May vary in size, especially along the edges of the quilt top.

S.E.X Stash Enhancing eXperiences also known as a FART (Fabric Acquisition Road Trip)

Sharps --small, thin needles used for piecing and doing appliqué. They have a really sharp point that is better for joining pieces than for quilting.

Side Setting Triangles - If you would like to set your block or quilt top on point, how do you figure out the size of the side setting triangles? Click here for an illustrated article with charts on side setting triangles, corner setting triangles and setting a block on point.

Signature (or Autograph) Quilt: a quilt made from blocks which have been signed on individual blocks. May be made as a friendship quilt by friends and family of the owner, or as a fund raiser. Signature quilts were a popular fund raiser by the Red Cross and some church groups in the early part of the 20th century. See also Album quilts

Skunk Smell (in cutting mats) You can remove the new plastic smell in cutting mats by washing it with a citrus based dishwashing soap and water, then letting it air dry out of direct sunlight. Other options are to let it sit flat in a tub with a vinegar/water solution or to spray it with Febreeze.

Skunk Wash: Should you ever need it, this works better than tomato juice because it neutralizes the low molecular weight thiol compounds that makes skunk spray smell so bad. While wearing plastic gloves, mix these ingredients in a non metal container using non metal utensils:

  • 1 quart (1000ml) of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide H202, sometimes marked U.S.P. (check the expiration date, it should be fresh)
  • 1/4 cup of baking soda (not baking powder or washing soda)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons gentle liquid soap (avoid the grease busting kind or shampoo)

Mix ingredients. It will start to bubble. Still wearing your gloves, wash your pet with this solution while it is still bubbling. Wash your pet thoroughly, working the solution deep into the fur. If you don’t have enough solution, it’s okay to use a little water. Leave the solution on about 5 minutes and then rinse thoroughly. You may as well throw out anything that is left over as it loses it’s effectiveness once it stops bubbling.

Sleeve - see Hanging Sleeve

Squishy --An envelope full of fabric, especially one that comes in the mail as a result of an exchange or mail-order purchase.

Stain Removal tips - click here

Stain Removal tips alternative version

Standard Mattress Sizes
Twin Mattress Size 39" wide x 75" long
Twin Extra Long Mattress Size 39" wide x 80" long
Full Mattress Size 54" wide x 75" long
Full Extra Long Mattress 54" wide x 80" long
Queen Mattress Size 60" wide x 80" long
King Mattress Size 78" wide x 80" long
California/Western King Mattress 72" wide x 84" long

Stash -- (Special Treasure All Secretly Hidden) a supply of fabric and notions used for quilting. Quilters love to have S.E.X (Stash Enhancing eXperiences) whenever possible. The goal is to leave a SABLE (Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy) to your fabric-loving heirs.

Also known as a Fabric Resource Center.

Stippling -- closely spaced quilting stitches following an irregular design that does not cross used to fill background space and create surface texture. Click here to watch a video explaining this technique.

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.

Straight of grain - Fabric has three grains, the lengthwise, the crosswise and the bias. The lengthwise grain follows the the warp thread parallel to the selvage. It has very little give which makes it ideal for long borders. The crosswise grain follows the weft thread and has slightly more give. The bias is a 45 degree angle to the selvage and has lots and lots of give. Beware the block cut on the bias, it can be easily pulled out of shape.

Strip piecing -- Cutting and sewing your strips of fabric before cutting the individual shapes.

Stuffing - see batting. Quilters Dream makes 100% cotton stuffing, which is great for toys or patchwork balls

Summer Quilt: a quilt with a top and a back, but no batting.

Sweatshirt Jackets
Many patterns use an oversize women's sweatshirt as the base for a quilted jacket. Depending on the pattern, the sweatshirt will need to be about two sizes larger than your usual size. If you use it as a base for sewn strips, it will loose any stretchiness. You may also be taking it apart and resewing the seams. Visit these links for more:

Moonlight Designs
Needlework Craft Gossip Tutorial for a reverse appliqué jacket

Synthrapol --brand name of a product used to remove excess dyes from fabrics in order to prevent them from bleeding into other fabrics. Click here for more

T-Shirt Quilt - using up the memories in your drawer! Click here for an article.

(This information was provided by Donna Kelly, a Tatting teacher in FL. Contact her at tattinglady@cfl.rr.com .) Tatting is making lace with your hands and an oval object called a shuttle. Tatting looks like circles called rings, half circles called chains, and little loops called picots. The origin in uncertain, but rings were tatted first and sewn on to a garment. In Rumania, the Queen was teaching a young girl to tat. She made a mistake of a space of thread. The Queen said,” Lets keep the picot in to look lacy.”

After that error, the Queen added more picots and tatting had a new look. In Ireland, the nuns of Cork County, were behind closed doors making lace of tatting, crochet, and knitting. In 1845, the potato crop failed, poor people were eating
grass. The nuns brought out their lace, sold the lace and gave the money to the poor people. The lace designs were copied by weavers and passed on to other ladies to make beautiful lace for their clothing.

Tea Dying muslin. You will need 2 yards of muslin, 5 tea bags, 2 gallons of water, 1/4 c. vinegar, 1 glass or enamel pan for tea solution, 1 glass pan or plastic bucket for vinegar solution, running water. Wet fabric. Place 5 teabags and 1 gallon of almost boiling water in pan. Remove teabags after 4 minutes. In separate container mix vinegar with warm water. Place fabric in tea solution and gently stir so that it gets even coverage. Remove when you are pleased with the color. Remember it will dry lighter. Place fabric in vinegar solution and swish around for 1 minute. Remove fabric from vinegar and rinse under cool running water. Dry and use as desired. Real tea is acidic and can damage your fabric over the long run. The vinegar helps to neutralize this. For this reason many people use RIT "Tea-Dye" instead, and that you can do in your washer.

Template --a shape used as a pattern for tracing either piecing or appliqué patches, or for tracing lines to be quilted. Can be cut from cardboard or plastic.

Thangles. A paper piecing method of making perfect half square triangles. Click here for more information.

Thimble: Tip: Instead of having to throw away a leather quilting thimble after it gets too many holes, put a penny inside of it. This will extends the life of the leather and adds strength.

Tied Quilt A quilt in which a knotted strings or ties are used to hold the three layers of the quilt together. Click here for more.

Top: just the top part of the quilt sandwich.

Trapunto -- A stuffed quilting design. Click here for more. Patty Thompson has made a video and put it on You Tube: This is the first part and This is the second part.

Twirling a four patch seam so it lays flat
This method avoids the little bump of seams in the middle that happens when a four patch is sewn. Pull apart the last couple of stitches of your two patch seam (it won't ravel because the second seam putting the whole four patch together will hold it) and twirl those seams so each seam covers one patch. You know you have done it right if you get a teeeny-tiny four patch in the center. Put your mouse cursor over the pictures below to see them up close.

Typewriter Table A typewriter table with wheels and drop leaves makes a great moveable sewing table--especially when you've attached a swing-arm lamp.

UFO UnFinished Objects. A WIP (Works in Progress) in which you have lost interest. Also known as an Unfinished Symphony.

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. Click here for our article on color in quilts.

Wadding - see stuffing.

Walking Foot
This is a special foot which can be attached to a sewing machine. It helps to feed the top layer of a quilt fabric sandwich evenly with the feed dogs feeding the bottom fabric.

To determine which foot to order, measure from the screw to the bottom of the foot. If it is 1/2" or less, you need a low shank foot. 1/2" to 1" is a high shank foot. You can double check this by removing removing the entire presser food assembly and measuring it. It it measures 3/4" from top to bottom, you have a low shank machine. If it measures 1-1/4" you have a high shank machine.

Warp/weft --the woven threads in the fabric. Warp threads are long and run from top to bottom in the length of the material, parallel to the selvage. The selvage is actually formed when the warp threads turn to go back across the loom. Weft threads run from side to side and are therefore shorter.

Watercolor Quilt A technique which uses small squares of floral print fabrics to build up a subtle and diffused design. Quiltsmart makes a fusibile grid which makes placing and sewing small squares easy.

WIP: Works in Progress

WISP: Works in Slow Progress

WOF: Width of Fabric (from selvage to selvage)

WOMBAT Waste Of Money, Batting, And Time

WOW: white on white