Quilting Glossary

Here you will find an ever growing database of what it all means in the quilting world. I have also included links to some of the wonderful and extremely generous quilt bloggers who I follow and find inspiring. If you can't find what you're looking for, drop me a line and I'll do my best to help.


Binding - these strips of fabric finish off a quilt. They are sewn onto the front and folded over to the back of your quilted top, where they are hand-sewn into place. You can choose to cut strips either across the width of fabric, which is easier and leaves less waste. Or you can cut strips on the bias, which is a little harder to cut, but does give you a stronger binding. The strips can be varying widths, though the most common and useful is 2½" wide. To calculate the length of binding you will need, add the four lengths of your quilt top together, add an extra 12" and round up to the nearest strip. So if your quilt is 45" wide x 60" long, calculate 45 + 45 + 60 + 60 = 210, then add 12" = 222". Assuming your fabric is 42" wide, to work out how many 2½" strips you need, divide 212 by 42 = 5.28. Now round this up to the nearest strip, so you will need to cut six 2½" binding strips. For more on how to attach binding onto your quilt, go to my Beginner's Quilt - The Binding tutorial.


Chain-piecing - this is an excellent technique for speeding through those hundreds of HSTs or four-patch blocks. When you have sewn your first block on the sewing machine, instead of breaking your thread, removing your sewing and starting again with the next piece, just feed your second piece through the machine without breaking thread. Keep going with all your units and you will end up with them all connected on a chain of thread. Snip your threads to separate each piece. Not only does this speed things up, but also saves on thread! You can then go on to use this same technique to sew your block's elements together, and then the blocks themselves. To see how to chain-piece a whole quilt top, go to my Speedy Chain-Piecing tutorial.

Charm Packs - these are a fabric pre-cut measuring 5" x 5" squares, and are very popular. For a free pattern featuring these squares, see my Novelty Nine Patch quilt. This pre-cut is also perfect for building half-square triangles (HSTs).



EPP - English Paper Piecing is a traditional hand sewing method of sewing shapes together, typically hexagons, though you can also use triangles, octogons, half-hexies, and so many more. I have a tutorial on the method I use here, and linapatchwork.com is an excellent website full of amazing inspiration and where you can also purchase papers in different sizes, and so many different shapes! Another lovely blogger who has become obsessed (her words, not mine) with EPP is Florence over on Flossie Teacakes. Among her many tutorials are these two, the first on the basics and what she has learnt through her EPP adventure, and the second on what seems to becoming a speciality of her's, fussy-cutting EPP.



Foundation Piecing  - numbered templates on paper or muslin are used to construct a quilt block. Click here for an easy-to-follow tutorial with plenty of pics.

Four-square block - this is a very popular quilting block, ideal for beginners, and is used in so many quilts to great effect. For a tutorial on how to contruct this fun and easy block, click here.



Half-square triangles (HSTs)  - This is an extremely versatile block featuring two right-angled triangles that make up a square. There are so many patterns that feature this block, some featuring over a hundred HSTs, so over the years quilters have developed various ways for constructing these gems, each one faster than the last. Two such techniques are explained by Amy Smart on her blog Diary of a Quilter. Here she illustrates the two-square technique, and then another using a special ruler available on the market.
Recently I have come across another method, which uses larger pieces of fabric and paper templates. This method only works if you wanted a lot of identical blocks, and wouldn't work with scraps or charm packs. When I have used it, the sewing and cutting is so precise, I haven't needed to trim the blocks afterwards. I have written a tutorial here, complete with free templates for different sized blocks.



Jelly Rolls - this is a trademark name for a type of pre-cut set of fabrics and originates from the fabric company Moda. Other companies have since followed suit but call them other names such as Strippers, Bali Pops and Noodles. These are all the same cut, 2½" x 44" (WOF) strips. For more on these hugely versatile pre-cuts, click here.



Rotary Cutter - this very handy tool is used in conjunction with the mat and ruler, and makes quilting so much fun – not only can you cut your fabric in super quick time, much quicker than using scissors, your cuts will much more accurate, so (in theory) piecing your blocks should be a dream! For more on this wonderful tool, click here, and to see how to use it in conjunction with the mat and ruler, click here.


Seam allowance - is almost always ¼", but just check that the pattern doesn't state otherwise. In quilting, it is also common to use a so-called scant seam allowance. This is when you sew ever so slightly less than ¼", giving you a little extra room to fold a seam over, such as in the Snowball block. For more on this, go to this tutorial.



Thread - the choice of sewing threads on the today's market can be quite daunting, for a breakdown on what to use where, click here.



Wadding - also called batting, is the padding that is sewn between your pieced quilt top and the backing. For much more on the different types of wadding, click here.

WOF - width of fabric, usually 44" (112cm), cut can be shorter, when I'm working out fabric requirements, I tend to assume the fabrics are 42" wide, just to be on the safe side.