Does traditional quilting terminology elude you? If you're looking to speak the quilter's language and hone your quilting fundamentals, we've got you covered. Whether you are attending your first quilt guild meeting or just trying to learn how to approach and understand quilt patterns, this glossary of common quilting terms will help demystify the lingo.
Quilter's glossary: need to know terms to properly read a quilt pattern
Understanding fabric grain
Selvage: The finished edge of fabric, which is typically removed before cutting. In quilting fabric, one side often includes the designer or manufacturer.
Crosswise grain: If you cut or draw a line from selvage to selvage, this is the crosswise grain; has more stretch than a lengthwise grain.
Lengthwise grain: The direction running parallel to the selvages; has the least amount of stretch.
Bias: The 45-degree diagonal across a cut of fabric. Has the most stretch and is often used to create bias tape or quilting bindings.
Terms of measurement & fabric cuts
WOF: "Width of fabric." Commonly used in a quilt pattern to describe cutting dimensions. For example, cut 5" x WOF strip means to cut a 5" strip from selvage to selvage, along the crosswise grain.
WOFQ: "Width of fat quarter," (see above).
WOFE: "Width of fat eighth," (see above).
LOF: Length of fabric, which runs along the lengthwise grain parallel to the selvage.
Yard: 36" x width of fabric, typically 42" to 44" wide
Fat Quarter: 18" x 22" cut of fabric
Fat Eighth: 18" x 11" cut of fabric (half of a fat quarter)
Charms: 5" x 5" pre-cut fabric squares
Layer cake: 10" x 10" pre-cut fabric squares
Jelly roll: 2.5" x WOF pre-cut strips
Quilt assembly terms
Basting: Method used to temporarily join together the three layers: quilt top, batting and quilt back. You can baste with safety pins, a needle and thread, adhesive basting spray, etc.
Binding: The final strip of fabric sewn around the perimeter of the quilt to seal the edges
Borders: Fabric frame that goes around a quilt top
HST: Half-square triangle, a common unit in quilting
RST / WST: Right sides together / Wrong sides together (refers to fabric with front / back sides touching)
Sashing: Fabric strips sewn in between blocks
SA: Seam allowance, which is the measurement along the side as two fabrics are joined together; these are most often a scant 1/4" for quilting (slightly less than 1/4").
Square up: To trim a quilt block until edges are even
Stitch in the ditch: To quilt along the natural seams
UFO: Unfinished object
WIP: Work in progress
If you want to learn quilting terminology in a hands-on way, sign up for the free Craftsy course Piece, Patch Quilt: Basic Quiltmaking Skills with Gail Kessler. As a quilt shop owner and quilting teacher, Gail is an expert in covering the basics from choosing fabric to cutting, piecing and finishing a quilt. The four patterns you get in the course, including the quilt featured above, are accessible to quilters of all skill levels!