Quilt Making Terminology – for beginners

All those words

One of the ways in which I was most confused when I first started quilting was all the terminology with quilters and quilt patterns.  It’s a deep well of words you may not know or have never heard.

There is much to unpack in this lesson, so we’ll jump right in.

The Actual Quilt

A quilt – Made up of three layers:  a top, batting, and backing.  Referring to a quilt as a blanket is a no-no!

Quilt Top – The very first layer of the quilt.  The one you spend the most time on with all the shapes and pretty patchwork.

Batting – There are many different types of batting: cotton, wool, poly, poly-cotton, bamboo, etc, but the batting is in the very middle of the quilt.

Backing – This is the back side of the quilt or the bottom layer.

Binding – This is a piece of fabric that follows the perimeter of your quilt and hides all the layers edges, essentially closing your quilt.

Pattern – This refers to the design of your quilt.  For example:  sawtooth stars, basic squares, half square triangles.

Fabric – What your quilt is made with, the material.

Quilt Block – Most traditional quilts are made up of blocks in a grid.  Blocks can be many different sizes.

Sashing – Not all quilts have sashing, but sashing is the strip of fabric between all of your quilt blocks.  It gives your quilt blocks some space to be seen.

Borders – This can refer to two different things:  The final fabric adding all the way around your quilt to frame it in or any framing done within the quilt to blocks or sections.

Layout – If your quilt is layed out in a grid, the layout refers to how many blocks go across and how many blocks go down.  If your quilt is not on a grid, this would refer to which pieces go where.

The Doing

To quilt – Refers to the topstitching on your quilt.  This is what essentially holds your whole quilt together.  There’s straight line quilting, free motion quilting, hand quilting, and tying. All are an acceptable form to quilt your quilt.

To bind – To sewing the binding on your quilt.  Click here for a visual.

Piecing – The process of sewing all your quilt top pieces together.

Basting – Combining all three layers of your quilt into a sandwich held together with pins or adhesive spray.  Most quilters dislike this part the most.  Click here for a visual.

Chain Piecing – The act of sewing fabric together in a long chain to save time.  Click here for a visual.

Squaring Up – This can have two different meanings. One meaning is to cut away the excess batting and backing from your quilt top after you’ve quilted it. Another meaning is to square up a quilt block, meaning trimming it down to the correct size.

Seam Ripping – Usually you would need to rip out your seams if you’ve made a mistake.  Click here for a visual.

Little Miss Sawtooth

Migration Quilt

Technical Terms

Free Motion Quilting (FMQ)– A particular type of quilting that involves lowering your feed dog and moving about your quilt freely.  Click here for a visual.

Straight Stitch Quilting – Another type of quilting where you simply sew lines across your quilt.

Applique – To sew a piece of fabric on top of a larger piece of fabric.  Also, the actual fabric that you are sewing on is called an applique as well. Here’s a visual.

Seam Allowance – The area between the edge of the fabric and the stitching. If you struggle with this topic, try out my Precision Workshop (we go in depth on seam allowance).

Pressing – In quilting we don’t iron, we press.  This is the act of raising the iron up and down on top of your patchwork piece.  By pressing instead of ironing your fabric will warp less.

Fussy Cut – To cut a particular part of a fabric just so to incorporate a design element on the fabric onto your quilt. I covered fussy cut extensively in the Hello Posy Quilt Along week 1 video.

Foundation Paper Piecing (FPP) or commonly referred to as paper piecing – A type of sewing that involves sewing directly onto fabric.  This practice will allow you to get more shapes or designs than what you could get just by regular sewing. Here’s a visual.

English Paper Piecing (EPP) – A type of sewing that involves wrapping fabric around paper and then hand sewing your pieces together. This topic is covered very extensively in many posts here.

The Stuff

Rotary Cutter – A tool to cut fabric quickly and efficiently.  Looks similar to a pizza cutter.

Rotary Cutting Mat – A mat with rulers, grids, and measurements made to cut fabric on and safe to use a rotary cutter on.

Seam Ripper – A tool to remove stitches.

Design Wall – Something commonly made with batting or flannel that will hold quilt blocks while you arrange them in an order that you like. I talked about how I made my design wall here.

Stash – Your collection of fabric.

Fabric Scrap – Fabric leftover after cutting the majority of fabric away.  See this series for more details.

If you need more on “the stuff”, I covered basic quilting supplies here.

[ess_grid alias=”patterns”][/ess_grid]
View All Patterns

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply