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Glossary

Appliqué – A technique in which small pieces of fabric are attached to a background fabric. They may be stitched on by hand or by machine, or ironed on using fusible web.

Backing – The undermost layer of a quilt, often a plain piece of fabric.

Basting – A method of holding together several layers of fabric during quilting, so that they do not move around. Basting may be done using a long hand stitch, or with safety pins. The stitches or pins are removed once the quilting is complete.

Bias – The diagonal of a woven fabric at a 45-degree angle to the straight grains (the warp and welf). Fabric cut on the bias stretches, so care must be taken when handling and sewing bias-cut pieces.

Binding – The narrow strips of fabric (usually made of a double thickness) that enclose the raw edges and batting of a quilt.

Block – The basic unit of a quilt top. Blocks are usually square, but may be rectangular, hexagonal, or other shapes. They may be plain (of one fabric only), appliquéd or pieced.

Border – A strip of fabric (plain, appliquéd or pieced) joined to the central panel of a quilt and used to frame it and also to add extra size.

Chain – piecing-A method of joining fabric pieces by machine in an assembly-line fashion, which speeds up the process and uses less thread. Pairs or sets of block pieces are fed into the machine one after the other, without snipping the threads between them.

Charm Pack – Pre-cut fabric that has been cut into 5 inch squares.

Cross – hatching-A quilting pattern of parallel equidistant lines that run in two directions to form a grid of squares or diamonds.

Directional Print-Printed fabric in which there is a distinct direction to the pattern, whether straight or at an angle: for example, stripes, human or animal figures, or some florals.

Ease-To make two pieces of fabric of different size fit together in the one seam. One piece may have to be stretched or gathered slightly to bring it to the required length. To ease, first pin the pieces at intervals until they fit, then sew them.

Fat Quarter-A piece of fabric that is made by cutting a yard of fabric in halves, first vertically then again, horizontally. The square-ish piece thus cut, approximately 18 x 22 inches, is a more useful shape.

Feed Dogs-The teeth under the sewing plate of a sewing machine, which move to pull the fabric through the machine. The feed dogs must be lowered to allow for free-motion quilting.

Finger-Pressing-A way of pressing a temporary crease in a piece of fabric, for example when finding the middle of two pieces so that they can be matched before being joined. Running a fingernail along a crease will make it lie flat.

Foundation Piecing-used to stabilize pieces of fabric that are stitched together. Originally pieces of scrap fabric or muslin were used as the foundation. Now, the use of paper, whether tracing paper, freezer paper or some other heavy weight paper, has become very popular for the use as a pattern for in creating quilt blocks that are all the same size, each with precise, sharp points and perfectly matched intersections. In addition, information such as color and fabric choices can be written on the paper foundation in order to facilitate the construction of the piece and leaving lesser room for error while sewing.

Four-patch-A block with two, four or multiples of four units per block.

Fusible Webbing-A fabric that has been coated with an adhesive that fuses fabric pieces together when pressed with a warm iron. Such products may be fusible on only one side (Viesofix), fusible webbing is used to stabilize fine fabrics or to attach appliqué pieces to the background fabric.

Fussy Cutting-A method of selectively cutting a piece of fabric so as to showcase a particular motif, such as a large flower. Fussy cutting is most easily done using a see-through template that allows you to position the motif to best advantage within the template area.

Grain-The direction of the fabric along the warp (vertical threads) or the welf (horizontal threads). These are both straight grains, along which woven fabrics do not stretch. Compare with bias.

Half-square triangle-A triangle that is made from a square cut across one diagonal. Half-square triangles have the bias along the hypotenuse. Compare with Quarter-square triangle.

Jelly Roll-Pre-cut fabric that has been into strips 2 ½ inches by the width of fabric.

Layer Cake- Pre-cut fabric that has been cut into 10 inch squares.

Loft-a term that refers to the thickness of quilt batting. A high-loft batting is thicker and fluffier than a low-loft batting.

Mitered Corner-A corner that is joined at a 45-degree angle.

Motif-A design element or image used in a printed fabric, quilt block, or appliqué block, for example a heart motif or floral motif.

Muslin-A plain, usually undyed cotton, fabric that may be bleached or unbleached. A fine-weave muslin, known as quilter’s muslin, is often used as the background for appliqué or quilt blocks.

Novelty Print-A fabric printed with themed designs, such as toys, cartoon characters, or animals

One-Patch-Any quilt design that uses a single shaped piece, such as a hexagon, square, or triangle, for the pieced top.

On Point-An arrangement in which the quilt blocks are placed diamond fashion, with their corners at the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions, rather than in a square fashion.

Outline-Quilt-To make one or more outlines of a motif or block design, radiating outwards.

Paper Piecing-made by sewing pieces of fabric onto a foundation, often paper. Think of the paper as a temporary backing that’s pulled away — its drawn lines show you exactly where to stitch.

Patch-See piece.

Patchwork-A generic term for the process of sewing together many small pieces of fabric to make a quilt. Also known as piecework.

Piece-An individual fabric shape that may be joined to other fabric shapes to make a quild block, or used on its own (in which case it is known as a one-patch). Also known as a patch.

Piecing-The process of joining together pieces of fabric to make a quilt top, a quilt block, or a border.

Pin-Baste-To pin through the layers of a quilt “sandwich” using safety pins, to hold them together during quilting. The pins are removed once the quilting is complete.

Quarter-Square Triangle-A triangle that is made from a square cut across both diagonals. Quarter-square triangles have the bias along the two short sides.

Quilt Top-The uppermost, decorative layer of a quilt. It may be pieced, appliquéd, or a combination of both, with or without borders.

Quilter’s Rulers-Precision-cut straight-edged, plastic rulers in various sizes, used with rotary cutters and rotary-cutting mats. They make it easy to cut accurate shapes, and to cut through several layers of fabric at once. They come in straight varieties and also those designed for cutting at various angles or for creating triangles.

Quilting-In general, the process of making a quilt; more specifically, the process of stitching patterns by hand or machine into the quilt layers to decorate the quilt, add strength, and anchor the batting inside the quilt.

Quilting Frame-A free-standing floor apparatus, made of wood or plastic tubing, in which a quilt is held while it is being quilted.

Quilting Hoop-A hand-held circular wooden device in which a quilt is held while being quilted.

Raw Edge-The cut edge of a fabric.

Rotary Cutter-A cutting device similar in appearance to a pizza cutter, with a razor-sharp circular blade. Used in conjunction with a quilter’s ruler, it allows several layers of fabric to be cut at once, easily, and with great accuracy.

Rotary-Cutting Mat-Self-healing plastic mat on which rotary cutters are used, to protect both the blade or the cutter and the work surface beneath the mat.

RST-right sides together

Sashing-Strips of fabric that separate blocks in a quilt, to frame them and/or make the quilt larger.

Seam allowance-The margin of fabric between the cut edge and the seam line. For quilting and most appliqué it is ¼ inch.

Seam Line-The guideline that is followed while sewing.

Selvages- The finished edges along the length of the fabric.

Setting-The way in which blocks are arranged in a quilt top, for example, square or on point.

Setting Square-Plain block of square used with pieced or appliquéd blocks in a quilt top.

Setting Triangle-A triangle placed between blocks along the side of a quilt set on point, to straighten up the edges.

Stash-A quilter’s hoard of fabrics.

Straight of grain-see grain.

Template-Plastic, card stock, or paper shape used for tracing and cutting fabric pieces for piecing or appliqué, or to transfer quilting design to a quilt top.

Turn-over- Pre-cut fabric that started with a 6 inch square and cut diagonally into triangles.

Walking Foot-A special sewing-machine foot that feeds the top layer of a quilt sandwich evenly through the machine, while the feed dogs control the bottom layer

Warp-The lengthwise threads in a woven fabric, which interlock with the welf threads. See also Weft.

Weft-The widthwise threads in a woven fabric, which interlock with the warp threads, See also Warp.

WOF-Width of fabric.

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