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Quilting Lingo

Part of the Quilting For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Hang out in a fabric store long enough and you’re bound to hear some quilting lingo that you may or may not be able to translate. To help you feel more comfortable and in-the-know, here’s a quick rundown of “quilt-bonics”:

  • Appliquéd quilt: A quilt made of fabric shapes stitched to a foundation piece of fabric to create a design.

  • Backing: The fabric used for the back side of the quilt — the bottom-most layer.

  • Basting: Using large, easy-to-remove stitches to hold the layers of a quilt in place. You remove basting stitches after you complete the quilting design.

  • Batting: The filling that makes a quilt warm and wonderful.

  • Binding: The bias-cut trim used to conceal, or bind, the raw edges of a quilt. Bindings come premade, or you can make them yourself.

  • Charm quilt: A pieced or appliquéd quilt in which many different fabrics are used and don’t appear more than twice. Bundles of charm squares are often exchanged at quilting guilds so that quilters can collect a wide assortment of fabrics.

  • Conversation prints: Also known as novelty prints, these fabrics often have large-scale or unusual designs.

  • Directional prints: Fabrics that have an obvious one-direction design, such as a stripe or floral bouquet with a north-south orientation.

  • Fat quarter: This fabric cut measures 18 x 22 inches, giving you a more usable space than you have with a standard 1/4-yard cut of fabric (which would be long and skinny at 9 x 44 inches).

  • Fat eighth: This fabric cut is a fat quarter cut in half to measure 18 x 11 inches. Fat eighths are handy when you need just a small amount of fabric.

  • Fussy-cut: A pattern piece that has been cut to accommodate a specific design in the fabric. An example is centering a floral bouquet in the middle of a square to show it off in the finished block.

  • Loft: The thickness of batting. Low-loft is a flatter, less fluffy batting than high-loft, which is very fluffy and plush.

  • Long-arm quilting machine: You’re likely to find this special machine in a lot of quilting shops. Its sole purpose is to machine quilt an assembled quilt. If you don’t want to quilt your project yourself, many shops (and a good number of individuals) will quilt it for you for a fee using these machines.

  • Muslin: Plain cotton fabric that’s either unbleached or bleached white. It can be used as a backing or in the quilt top.

  • Pieced quilt: A quilt made of pieces that have been cut and stitched together to form a new design.

  • Quilt top: The topmost layer of the quilt; it features piecing or appliqué designs.

  • Strip quilting: Stitching strips of fabric together and cutting the multi-colored strip into pieces to create a new design.

  • Subcut: Cutting an already cut piece into many smaller pieces.

  • Templates: Premade plastic or acrylic pattern pieces or paper patterns mounted onto cardstock and used to trace shapes onto fabric for cutting.

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