Glossary of Quilting Terms

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Last Updated On December 07, 2017
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Each industry has it's own terminology, acronyms and definitions. This glossary of quilting terms is constantly growing. If you don't see a quilting term here, contact us and we'll do our best to add it.

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4-Patch Block

The 4-patch block is one of the simplest blocks in quiltmaking. It is made by sewing 4 pieces of fabric together. Generally the pieces are squares of the same size, however they can be of any size as long as they are all the same.

The 4-patch is a building block which means any or all of the blocks can be replaced with other pieced blocks. The 4-patch block on the right is made of four half square triangles.

4-patch block                 half square triangle 4 patch

ArticleStrip Piecing Tutorial

9-Patch Block

The 9-patch block is one of the simplest blocks in quiltmaking. It is made by sewing 9 pieces of fabric together. Generally the pieces are squares of the same size, however they can be of any size as long as they are all the same. Like the 4-patch, the 9-patch is a building block which means any or all of the blocks can be replaced with other pieced blocks.Nine patch block


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B

Bias

a line diagonal to the grain of a fabric; especially : a line at a 45 degree angle to the selvage often utilized in the cutting of garments for smoother fit” – Merriam Webster

Article – Using Grain Lines in Quilting

Bias Cut

A bias cut is made when fabric is cut along the bias of fabric.

Article – Using Grain Lines in Quilting

Bobbin

The metal or plastic spool that holds the thread used to form the stitches on the underside of the fabric.

ArticleHow a Lockstitch is Made

Bobbin Case

The metal case that holds the sewing machine bobbin. Once the bobbin is inserted into the bobbin case, the bobbin thread is threaded through a small tension slot which applies tension to the thread as it is pulled from the bobbin.

ArticleHow a Lockstitch is Made

Bolt

A bolt of fabric is a unit of measurement. For cotton quilting fabric the typical length is 15 yards for wholesale sales to retail outlets such as quilt shops, fabric stores and online retailers.

ArticleFabric Terms: Bolt, Selvage, Width of Fabric, Directional Fabric, Usable Fabric Width

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C

Chain Piecing

A method of speed piecing many pairs of fabric together without stopping to cut threads. After the “chain” is finished, the individual pairs are cut apart.

ArticleChain Piecing

Corner Triangles

setting triangles and corner trianglesThe corner triangle is placed in each outside corner of a diagonal set quilt. In this image the corner triangles are shown in black. Setting  triangles are shown in grey.

ArticleQuilt Blocks Set On-Point

Article – How to Piece Diagonal Sets

ArticleSetting and Corner Triangle Cutting Chart

 

Crosswise Cut

A cut made along the crosswise grain of fabric. these cuts are often referred to as “width of fabric” cuts.

ArticleUsing Grain Lines in Quilting

Crosswise Grain

The crosswise grain runs side to side between the selvages. The crosswise grain goes in the same direction as the weft threads.

ArticleUsing Grain Lines in Quilting

 

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D

Diagonal Layout, Diagonal Setting

setting triangles and corner trianglesA diagonal layout or diagonal setting is a quilt layout where blocks are set on-point. The quilt pictured shows the blocks in white.

ArticleQuilt Blocks Set On-Point

Article – How to Piece Diagonal Sets

ArticleSetting Triangle and Corner Triangle Cutting Chart

 

 

 

Directional Fabric

The design printed on fabric that is best viewed along the lengthwise or crosswise grain. Most often the direction is along the crosswise grain.

ArticleFabric Terms

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E

Computerized Sewing Machine

computerized machine display

A sewing machine that uses circuit board and/or software to perform

all its functions The digital display here indicates a computerized machine.

 

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F

Feed Dogs

A set of metal teeth near the needle of a sewing machine. As a stitch is formed, the teeth move up to press against the fabric then move back to advance the fabric for the next stitch. Next the feed dogs drop down below the needle plate and move forward for the next stitch.

Finished Size

Traditionally, quilters use a 1/4″ seam allowance when piecing fabric for quilts. The seam allowance is added to each side of the fabric being cut. The quilter will cut a 2-1/2″ square of fabric to end up with a 2″ finished square when piecing is complete. The math is 2″ + 1/4″ + 1/4″ = 2-1/2″.

Article – Finished Size vs Unfinished Size

Fusible Interfacing

A non-woven interfacing with heat-activated adhesive on one or both sides.

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H

Hand Wheel

Located on the right side of the sewing machine, the hand wheel is used to manually raise or lower the needle. The hand wheel is generally always turned toward the machine operator.

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L

Lengthwise Cut

A cut made along the lengthwise grain of the fabric.

Article Using Grain Lines in Quilting

Article Lengthwise Grain Border and Binding

Lengthwise Grain

The main threads that run the full length of fabric, parallel to the selvage.

Article Using Grain Lines in Quilting

Article Lengthwise Grain Border and Binding

Lockstitch

A sewing machine stitch formed by the looping together of two threads one on each side of the material being sewn. Merriam-Webster

ArticleHow a Lockstitch is Made

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M

Mechanical Sewing Machine

Mechanical sewing machines use mechanical parts and gears. Adjustments are made manually by the operator using knobs, dials or levers. Motors are generally run with electricity and a foot pedal. Machines that are not mechanical are computerized machines. The

Mondo Bag

The Mondo Bag is a large tote bag designed by QuiltSmart. Fabric squares are fused onto printed, fusible interfacing. The Middi Bag and The Bitty Bag are smaller versions made using the same technique.

ArticleWhat is a Mondo Bag?

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N

Needle Bar

Needle Clamp

Needle Plate

“The flat surface below the needle that the needle goes down through when making a sstitch. It can be changed for different stitching jobs. Also called a throat plate.” SewingSupport.com

Article – Needle / Throat Plate

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O

On-Point

bear paw block on-point
Bear Paw Block On-Point

In quilting, on-point means to rotate the block 45 degrees, so the corners are pointing horizontally and vertically. The block appears to be balancing on on of its corners.

ArticleQuilt Blocks Set On-Point

Article – How to Piece Diagonal Sets

ArticleSetting Triangle and Corner Triangle Cutting Chart

 

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P

Presser Foot

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S

Selvage

The tightly woven area of fabric along both edges of the lengthwise grain.

ArticleFabric Terms

Setting Square

A square piece of fabric that is placed in a quilt setting. Setting squares are sometimes used as fillers between pieced or appliqued blocks.

Setting Triangle, Side Triangle

setting triangles and corner triangles

The setting triangle is sometimes called the side triangle. The setting triangle is placed along the top, bottom and side edges of a diagonal set quilt. In this image the setting triangles are shown in grey. Corner triangles are shown in black.

ArticleQuilt Blocks Set On-Point

Article – How to Piece Diagonal Sets

ArticleSetting Triangle and Corner Triangle Cutting Chart

Slide Plate

Spool Holder

Stitch Length Selector

Straight Layout, Straight Setting

A straight layout or straight setting is a quilt layout where blocks are set straight across and straight down. Blocks are positioned with the sides going horizontally and vertically. The Bear Paw blocks in this quilt are set straight.

ArticleQuilt Blocks Set On-Point

Article – How to Piece Diagonal Sets

Article Setting Triangle and Corner Triangle Cutting Chart

 

 

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T

Take Up Lever

Tension Discs

Tension Selector

Thread Guide

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U

Usable Fabric Width

The length of fabric between the selvages that can be used. Generally quilting fabric is about 44-45″ wide, including the selvages. Depending on the width of the selvage and any shrinkage from washing, the the usable width is less than the actual width of fabric.

ArticleFabric Terms

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W

Walking Foot

“A sewing machine walking foot attachment has a feed dog that moves the upper fabric while the lower feed dog moves the lower fabric. The effect of the sewing walking foot is that it keeps the fabrics together when many layers are stitched, important when quilting.” Sewing Machines Plus

ArticleAttaching Straight Binding

Warp

a series of yarns extended lengthwise in a loom and crossed by the weft Merriam-Webster

ArticleLengthwise Grain Borders and Binding

Article – Using Grain Lines in Quilting

Weft

a filling thread or yarn in weaving” Merriam-Webster

ArticleLengthwise Grain Borders and Binding

ArticleUsing Grain Lines in Quilting

Width of Fabric

The distance between the selvage edges of fabric.

WOF

See Width of Fabric

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