1⁄4in Foot

This is a special foot for your machine. When you have the edge of the foot on the edge of the fabric it will give an accurate 1⁄4in seam. If your machine does not have one you may be able to move the needle position instead


A design made by cutting shapes from one fabric and sewing to the top of another fabric


The American term for tacking


The fabric that forms the bottom layer or back of a quilt


The American term for wadding


The diagonal of a woven fabric. This has the greatest amount of stretch


A narrow strip of fabric, single or folded, used to enclose the raw edges of the quilt top, wadding and backing


The pattern units that repeat across the quilt top

Bobbin Thread

This specialist thread, designed to go in the bobbin when sewing satin stitch, is thinner than a usual thread and less likely to pull up and show on the front of your work

Chain (String) Piecing

A method of sewing a number of units at a time, thus saving time and thread

Charm Quilt

A quilt made with every piece from a different fabric. Usually all the pieces are the same shape as well such as squares or triangles

Colour Wheel

A tool used to help you plan your colours in the quilt

Colour Value

The darkness or lightness of a colour


A square used to join short pieces of sashing at the corners of blocks

Cutting Mat

A special mat used with a rotary cutter and ruler to protect the work surface

Design Wall

A flannel or wadding panel on the wall. Used for laying out fabrics and standing back and checking the appearance. There is no need to use pins, the patches just adhere lightly to the flannel and can be moved easily

Echo (Outline) Quilting

Repeated rows of quilting a measured distance from each row, the machine foot can be used as a measure. Often used with appliqué


Extra embroidery or trims added after a quilt is finished

Fat Eighth

Half a fat quarter of fabric giving a small rectangle either 9 x 22in or 11 x 18in

Fat Quarter

A piece of fabric that is cut 50cm (in the UK) or 18in along the selvedge and then cut again in half across the width to give a piece approx 18 x 22in (slightly larger if cut in the UK)

Feed Dogs

The part of your sewing machine that moves the base layer of fabric forwards as you stitch

Four Patch

A block composed of four patches or one that fits within a 2 x 2 grid

Free Motion Quilting

An advanced method of quilting with lowered feed dogs and where your hands move the fabric to create the pattern

Fusible Web

A paper based glue that is ironed onto the reverse of your fabric, often used with appliqué


The lengthwise and crosswise threads on a cotton fabric

Hanging Sleeve

A tube of fabric applied to the top back of a quilt, so that it can be displayed on a wall or at a quilt show

Half Square Triangle

A block that is square in shape but is divided on one diagonal to give two equal triangles


A small hand held frame used for hand or machine quilting

In the Ditch

Quilting that is close to the seam lines of your blocks. traditionally it would be the side of the seam that did not have the seam allowances lying behind and thus would be lower and in the ditch


Every quilt should have a label sewn on the back giving details such as name of quilter, date and reason made


The process of putting the three layers of a quilt together


The spring or fluffiness of the wadding - more loft equals more height

Machine Quilting

Stitching by machine that holds the three layers of a quilt together


Several pieces of fabric cut and then sewn together to produce a pattern

Quarter Square Triangle

A block that is square in shape but is divided on two diagonals to give four equal triangles

Quilt Top

The top layer of the quilt. It can be pieced, appliquéd, or a combination of the two


The sewing used to secure the layers together; it can be by hand or by machine

Right Side

The side of the fabric that you wish to appear on the top of your quilt. For design reasons some quilters use the wrong side occasionally if it gives the right colour value

Rotary Cutter

A circular, rotating cutter used with a cutting mat and ruler to safely cut layers of fabric accurately


An acrylic measuring tool used with the rotary cutter, usually marked in 1⁄8in. There are many specialist manufacturers such as Creative Grids in the UK who have developed a wide range of rulers


See Layering


Strips of fabric that are used to divide blocks when the quilt top is joined into one piece


The point where two pieces of fabric are sewn right sides together

Seam Allowance

The distance between the cut edge of the fabric and the sewn line. Quilters usually use a 1⁄4in seam allowance, although metric allowances can range from 0.5cm to 0.75 depending on your country


The edge of the fabric when it is on the bolt. This has a slightly tighter weave and should be cut off before you start measuring your pieces


The arrangement of blocks in the quilt top

Slip Stitch

A small, almost invisible, stitch used to secure a folded edge to a flat surface. Commonly used to finish the binding on the back of a quilt

Strip Piecing

Joining one or more strips together and then cutting them apart crossways to create new units


A means of securing the layers of a quilt together loosely, using large stitches and thin thread


Used to protect your fingers or thumb when hand sewing

Top Stitching

A row of stitiching often with larger stitches. Used as a decorative finish often near the edge of a garment or bag


A method of quilting, using small stitches and knots, with threads that can be left decoratively on the front or on the back of the work

Wadding (Batting)

The filling that goes in between the quilt top and the back to create warmth and depth to the quilt

Walking Foot

A special foot that is used when quilting to push the top and bottom layers of the quilt together at the same time. Is believed to give a more even result and can also be used for piecing borders

First published in Popular Patchwork DVD Special 2007