Glossary

When I first started out quilting and sewing, I was very confused about all the words and phrases people used. Truthfully, I am still confused a lot of the time, but I’m learning! On this page, I have compiled a list of all the words I’ve learned so far. If there is more you want me to explain, let me know in the comment section,

  • Applique: sewing cut out shapes on a piece of fabric. Applique allows for a wide variety of shapes. There are different applique techniques many people argue about which one is the best. Posts about applique:
  • Art quilt: usually these are quilts with a life-like image, however, they can also be more abstract. Art quilts can be compared with paintings.
  • Binding: the fabric you put around the quilt to finish of the edges. This is the last step you take to finish a quilt.
  • Backing: the bottom of the quilt. Usually made from left-over fabrics of the quilt top or with a large piece of fabric.
  • Bastingtemporarily sew layers of fabric together. This can be done with very loose hand stitches, a basting spray (some kind of glue) or pins.
  • Batting: stuff you put inside a quilt, which makes the quilt warm and comfortable. This material is usually made from wool, very fancy, or polyester, less fancy. Also sometimes a blanket is used. Cats really love the wool batting.
  • Big Stitch: a sewing method where you make big stitches which stand out from the material you sew on. This is usually done with embroidery floss. Big stitch can add a nice decorative element to your work.
  • (Quilt) block: usually a quilt top consists of several blocks. A block has a particular design and can be made with a variety of techniques.
  • Chain piecingan awesome technique that allows you to sew pieces of fabric together in a row. This technique is useful when one has to sew a lot of the same blocks by machine because it saves time on starting and finishing the seams. When all the pieces are sewn together it looks a bit like a garland.  Warning: sewing like this can feel a bit like an assembly line setup, albeit an enjoyable one.
  • Crazy patchwork: pieces of fabric randomly sewn together. This can have a really nice effect.
  • Curved piecing: sew patchwork with round shapes.
  • English paper piecing: the technique of wrapping fabric around a template. This is usually done with a hexagon shape but can be done in a variety of shapes.  When all the pieces are put together the templates are removed.
  • Finish-high: that mysterious feeling you get when a project is finished against all odds or expectation. Usually, this has been a long-term sewing project.
  • Finger pressing: ‘iron’  your pieces with your fingers, instead of an iron. I also find a smooth teaspoon works well.
  • Foundation paper piecing: this quilting technique uses paper or a simple fabric where the fabric pieces are sewn onto. This helps accuracy of complex designs. When paper is used the template is removed when the block is finished.
  • Lining: fabric that is placed behind your fabric on display to give some extra strength or to shape a piece.
  • Nappy liners: nappy liners used for cotton diapers are a perfect background for paper piecing. You can sew through them by hand, they are see-through so you can transfer patterns and they are washable so you can leave the fabric on blocks for extra strength.
  • Reverse applique: instead of sewing fabric on top of a background the pieces are sown behind the background fabric.
  • Seam allowance: When you sew pieces you need some fabric on each side of the line you sew on so the finished work won’t fray. The part of the fabric you don’t see is called seam allowance. The standard is 1/4 inch, which is about 0.60 centimetre.
  • Needle turn applique: sewing pieces of fabric onto a background fabric. While sewing you fold the seems under to hide them. The stitches to secure the piece are also hidden.
  • Neglected floss: The embroidery floss not used when a project is finished.
  • Open seams: one seam at each side of the stitched line. This is a good technique to deal with bulk in complex patterns.
  • Patchwork: a quilting technique in which several pieces of fabric are sewn together to form the block.
  • (Fabric) piece: cut-out fabric sewn together to form the block.
  • Piecing: sewing together all the fabric pieces to form a block.
  • Quilt sandwich: the several layers of fabric of a quilt basted (basting) together. A sandwich consists of the quilt top, batting and backing.
  • Quilt top: usually the side of the quilt with the design you had in mind, which consists of all the blocks sewn together. The quilt top is the one on display.
  • Quilting: sewing through all the layers of the sandwich. This is done to add to the aesthetic of a quilt and to keep all the separate layers together, making the quilt durable.
  • Rag quilt: a quilt where the seams are on the outside. The seams are snipped and will fray after putting them through the washer and dryer. This creates an interesting look.
  • Raw edge: an edge where the fabric is not turned over. Basically, the edge of the fabric is left open. This will fray with time which can add a nice element to your work.
  • Right side of the fabric: the pretty side you want on display.
  • SAL: short for stitch along. For this you make a piece, be it embroidery or quilting, together with a group of people. You receive pieces of the pattern gradually, which makes the end result a nice surprise.
  • Sampler quilt: a quilt consisting of many different blocks. A sampler is usually used to showcase or practise quilting techniques.
  • Seam: fabric at the back of your block which prevents fraying.
  • Solid fabrica fabric of one colour without a pattern.
  • Stitch in the ditch: quilting in the gap where two fabrics meet, aka ‘the ditch’. This makes the quilting near invisible.
  • Tying a quilt: instead of quilting by sewing through the three layers knots are made with pieces of thread in key places of the quilt.
  • Y-seam: joining three pieces of fabric together where the seams have a Y-seam. This requires a certain technique, which explains it has its own name.

 

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