Learn the Lingo: Quilting Terminology Primer

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.

Notting Hill Quilt

Notting Hill Quilt via Gail Kessler

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

Have you run into any quilting terms that you weren’t familiar with? What’s your go-to resource for learning new quilting terminology?

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