Marie's Sewing Center

Fabric Glossary

A Glossary Of Useful Sewing Terms.

Sewing Machine Parts and Accessories

Quilting Glossary

Fabric Glossary



A manufactured fiber formed by compound of cellulose, refined from cotton linters and/or wood pulp, and acedic acid that has been extruded through a spinneret and then hardened.


A manufactured fiber, its major properties include a soft, wool-like hand, machine washable and dryable and excellent color retention.


A natural hair fiber from Llamas. It's similar to cashmere in its softness and luxury. Suitable for jackets, coats or throws.


A lightweight, plain weave fabric, semi-sheer and usually made of cotton or cotton blends. Appropriate for heirloom sewing, baby clothes and lingerie.


A knit or woven fabric with small curls or loops that create a nubby surface. The fabric has a looped, knotted surface and is often used in sweater looks, vests and coats.

Boiled Wool

Felted knitted wool, it offers the flexibility of a knit with great warmth. Create your own by washing double the needed amount of 100% wool jersey in hot water and drying in a hot dryer. Expect 50% shrinkage. Appropriate for jackets, vests and stuffed animals.


A plain weave tightly woven fabric that is usually made from 100% cotton or a cotton blend. Most common uses are quilting and shirt-making.


A heavy jacquard-type fabric with an all-over raised pattern or floral design. Appropriate for upholstery, draperies, handbags and eveningwear.


A loosely constructed, heavy weight, plain weave fabric. It has a rough hand. Appropriate for draperies and decorative items.

Burn-out Velvet

Created from two different fibers, the velvet is removed with chemicals in a pattern leaving the backing fabric intact. Appropriate for more unconstructed and loosely fit garments.

Camel's Hair

A natural fiber obtained from the under-hair of the camel. It is relatively close to cashmere. Appropriate for coats and jackets. Very soft hand.


A natural fiber obtained from the soft fleecy undergrowth of the Kashmir goat. Most commonly used in sweaters, shawls, suits, coats, and dresses. A luxury fiber with a very soft hand.


A luxurious, supple silky fabric with a shiny satin face and a dull back. Generally either silk, rayon ,or polyester. Suitable for blouses, fuller pants and lingerie.


Lightweight, extremely sheer and airy fabric, containing highly twisted fibers. Suitable for full pants, loose tops or dresses.


A plain-weave fabric, which has been glazed to produce a polished look. Fabric must be dry-cleaned as the glazing will wash off with machine laundering. Suitable for drapes and lining.


A fabric, usually made of cotton or a cotton blend, utilizing a cut-pile weave construction. The ''wale'' indicates the number of cords in one inch. Suitable for jackets, pants and skirts.

Crepe de Chine

Silk crepe de chine has a slightly crinkly surface create with highly twisted fibers. It comes in three weights: 2 ply, appropriate for blouses and lingerie; 3 ply, appropriate for dresses, fuller pants and dresses; and 4 ply, most luxurious and best for trousers and jackets.


A glossy jacquard-type fabric, the patterns are flat and reversible. Unlike jacquards, the fabric is all one color. Suitable for draperies, curtains bed and table linens.


A twill weave cotton fabric made with different colored yarns in the warp and the weft. Due to the twill construction, one color predominates on the fabric surface. Suitable for pants, jackets and skirts. Pre-wash and dry 100% cotton denim at least twice to eliminate shrinkage and color bleeding

Dupioni Silk

A crisp fabric with irregular slubs. It is perfect for tailored slimmer silhouettes like flat-front trousers, jackets and fitted blouses and dresses. Silk Dupioni can be machine washed in the gentle cycle and drip-dried.


Generally applied to fabric with a low nap that is brushed in one direction to create a soft suede-like hand on the fabric front. Great for tops, pants and fuller skirts.


fabric with patterned cut-outs, around which stitching or embroidery may be applied in order to prevent the fabric from raveling.


A non-woven fabric made from wool, hair, or fur, and sometimes in combination with certain manufactured fibers, where the fibers are locked together in a process utilizing heat, moisture, and pressure to form a compact material. Ideal for most craft projects.


Usually a 100% cotton fabric that has been brushed on one or both sides for softness. Typically used for shirts and sleepwear.


Synthetic knit fabric that stretches across the grain. Suitable for vests, jackets and tops.


A worsted twill weave that is wrinkle resistant. Wool gabardine is the most common and is considered year-round fabric for suits.


A sheer, open-weave fabric usually cotton or silk. It is suitable for blouses, dresses and curtains.


A drapey woven fabric created from highly twisted yarns creating a pebbly texture. It is semi-sheer and suitable for blouses, full pants and flowing dresses.

Interlock Knit

Also known as T-shirt knit. It usually has stretch across the grain. Great for tops, skirts and lightweight pants.

Jersey Fabric

Usually thinner or lighter-weight than Interlock knit with less stretch. It’s appropriate for tops and fuller dresses.  


A natural plant fiber, linen fibers are stronger and more lustrous than cotton. Linen can be machine washed and tumbled on low. Remove before it’s completely dry and hang for a pleasingly casual look. Depending on the weight, it’s appropriate for anything from heirloom sewing and blouses to slacks and jackets.


A heavyweight, dense, compacted, and tightly woven wool or wool blend fabric used mainly for coats.


An extremely fine synthetic fiber that can be woven into textiles with the texture and drape of natural-fiber cloth but with enhanced washability, breathability, and water repellancy.


microfiber, it’s a terrific fabric to travel with. It resists wrinkling and has a beautiful sueded look on the face. The reverse has a satiny look and feel. Generally, will contain 2-4% spandex. Great for pants, jackets and heavy shirts.


A stiffened, sheer, lightweight plain weave fabric, usually cotton or polyester.


A crisp, sheer, lightweight plain weave fabric, with a medium to high yarn count, made of silk, rayon, nylon, or polyester.

Panné Velvet

A lustrous, lightweight velvet fabric, in which the pile has been flattened in one direction. Has good stretch across the grain. Appropriate for tops and dresses.


A medium-weight cotton or cotton blend fabric with a pebbly weave that looks almost like a check. Suitable for vests, jackets and fitted blouses. Also used in children’s clothes.

Rib Knit

This knit has tremendous stretch across the grain a 1 x 1 rib has one rib up and one down. A 2 x 1 rib has two ribs up and one down, similar to a Poor Boy Knit.


A natural fiber created from wood pulp, it usually has good drape and a soft hand. It’s appropriate for tops, shirts, skirts and dresses.

Rip-stop Nylon

A lightweight, wind resistant, and water resistant fabric. Appropriate for outdoor wear and equipment as well as outdoor flags.


With a lustrous, shiny surface, drapability depends on fiber content. Silk and rayon satins have the best stitch results.


A fabric with a woven pucker, this fabric is traditionally cotton, but can be polyester. Suitable for shirts, casual slacks and children’s clothing.

Silk Shantung

Similar to Dupioni silk, Shantung has a more refined appearance with smaller slubs. It’s appropriate for tailored pants fuller skirts and gowns.

Slinky Knit

It drapes well, never wrinkles and washes beautifully. It’s the perfect travel fabric with four-way stretch for ultimate comfort. Suitable for almost any wardrobe item.


With a crisp hand, taffeta is typically used for formal wear like gowns and fuller skirts. Underlining prevents some of the wrinkling it has a tendency to have.


Created from wood pulp, Tencel is very soft with great drape. It’s usually a medium weight fabric that suitable for pants, skirts and jackets.

Terry Cloth

Unclipped, looped pile, 100% cotton terry cloth is highly absorbent. French Terry has a looped reverse and a knit-like face.


A lightweight, extremely fine, machine-made netting, it is softer to the touch than netting. Appropriate for veils and costumes.


Usually with a knitted back, velour resembles velvet, but has some stretch. Appropriate for tops and sportswear like pants and jackets.


With a longer pile, velvet is the most luxurious fabric. Stretch velvet has some lycra, It can be machine washed and will not create a shine in the seat or elbows. Appropriate for tops, skirts and fuller pants.


A cotton or cotton blend fabric with a short, dense pile. It lacks the sheen and drape of velvet. It is perfect for drapes and home décor items as well as pants, jackets and skirts.


A crisp, lightweight, plain weave cotton-like fabric, similar in appearance to organdy and organza. It is appropriate for curtains as well as blouses and dresses.


Wool is naturally stain and wrinkle resistant. It can absorb up to 40% of it’s weight in moisture without feeling damp. Wool comes in many forms including crepe, challis, gabardine, merino, melton, jersey and worsted wool suitings.

A Glossary Of Useful Sewing Terms.


Arm Scye: The arm hole of a garment, where the sleeve is attached

Basting: Temporary stitches to keep the garment together for fitting. These are usually hand sewn lines of stitching, made with a running stitch about ½" or 1.5 cm in length.

Binding: This is a narrow strip of fabric or tape used to cover the raw edges of a garment. It can be on the inside where it won’t be seen, or on the outside to show as decoration. For many hidden uses, BIAS BINDING will be asked for.

Bias: If something is cut on the true bias, it is cut at 45 degrees to the selvage. Bias cut garments were very popular in the 1930’s. They drape beautifully, and cling to the figure more than straight cut garments.

Bias Binding : A binding strip cut on the bias. You can buy it ready cut, or cut it from the fabric you are using to make a ‘self’ bias binding.

Blind Hemming: Hemming stitches that cannot be seen from the outside of the garment.

Border Print: These patterns are printed with the pattern along one edge, and a narrow strip down the side for hems. Sari fabric frequently has a border print. They are often used for skirts.

Bust Point The point on the pattern where the point of the bust should fall.

Calico: a closely woven cotton fabric that is used for many construction and craft things. It is a natural cream cotton colour, and frequently has cotton seed husk still in it. It comes in a variety of different weights. One common use is for covering upholstered furniture that will have loose covers. (Americans frequently refer to printed cotton fabrics as ‘calico’.)

Clean Finishing: Finished edges of the garment, rather than the raw edges formed by cutting the fabric. This can be done by binding the edges, or over sewing them by hand or machine.

Cross grain: Some thing is cut at right angles to the grain line, across the grain. Border prints are usually cut this way.

Ease: The difference between the body measurement and the pattern. Ease differs according to the type and style of garment. For standard ease allowances, please look at the Ease Allowance chart.

Edge Stitching: A decorative straight stitch along the edge of a garment. Also useful for keeping the edges of collars sharp. It is usually about 1/16" or 1 mm from the edge of the garment.

Facing: The piece of fabric inside a garment opening (like a sleeve or neck opening) that encloses the raw edge of the fabric. It is frequently interfaced.

Face: The outside or ‘right’ side of a fabric, the side you see when the garment is finished.

Face Cloth: The outside or ‘fashion’ fabric, rather than the lining or interlining.

Grain Line: The warp direction of the fabric, up and down the length. If something is ‘off grain’ then it is not laid out with the grain line following that of the fabric.

Hair canvas: A light weight springy cloth used as an interfacing for traditional gents tailoring. It is sewn by hand to the face cloth.

Hem: The bit you turn up at the bottom of a garment to stop it fraying and getting tatty!

Hemming Tape: A narrow tape used to strengthen hems in tailored trousers. It is sewn on to the hem on the outside of the turned up hem inside the garment after the hem has been turned up.

Hip Point: The point on the pattern where the hip comes.

Horsehair Braid : A loosely woven braid mainly for stiffening hems. It comes in several weights, and used to be made of horde hair. Now more commonly made of nylon or polyester.

Interfacing: A special fabric sewn in between the layers of a garment to help it hold its structure. Interfacing comes in many different types, suitable for many different fabrics. For a fuller explanation of the different types and their uses, look at the Interfacing Chart. Interfacing comes in two sorts: sew in, which you sew into place, and fusible, which you iron on.

Interlining: A fabric that comes between the face cloth and the lining, usually used for warmth or to add substance to a light weight fabric. A good example is the insulating layer in a padded or quilted jacket.

Jumper: 1) In the UK this means a Jersey or pullover. In the US it means a pinafore dress.

2) A small plastic device for ‘jumping’ over lumpy seams with the sewing machine. Also known as a Hump Jumper or Jean-A-Ma-Jig. Something which does the same job may also be sold as a button reed. Very useful when sewing up the hems of your jeans!

Lining: This is a lighter weight fabric that goes inside a garment like a jacket or coat. It helps you to put the garment on easily as it is usually shinier than the top fabric. A lining may match or contrast with the garment, and can be made of almost anything. Linings can help to eliminate a see through effect on a light weight dress fabric too. The lining also helps a garment to last longer. Linings should be chosen to complement the fashion fabric.

Loom State: As the fabric comes off the loom, before it has undergon any finishing, dying or printing process. Loom state cloth will shrink, and will need treatment before use.

Muslin :

1) a light weight loose weave cotton fabric akin to cheese cloth. it is absorbent, and makes good pressing cloths.

2) the American term for a toile (see below)

Mounting: The process of using two fabrics as one: You cut out the face cloth and the mount as one and sew all processes with them together. It can give solidity to sheer fabrics and weight to light fabrics.

Notches: Diamond shaped marks that stick out beyond the edge of the pattern, to help you to line up all the pattern pieces when you sew the garment. They come in pairs to be matched up.

Pin: A small sharp thing for holding garments together temporarily, and for holding patterns to fabric for cutting out. If you are told to pin something together, then place the pins so that they go in and out of the face of the fabric, thus: 0- --

Pressing: The art of pressing is different from the art of ironing, Most importantly, one usually uses a dampened pressing cloth rather than steam, and the iron is picked up off the cloth and moved, rather than rubbed back and forth.

Raw Edge: The cut edge of a piece of garment. It may fray or unravel if left in this state.

Rise: The distance from hip to waist: sit on a table and cross one leg over the other. Measure from the waist down to the table on the upper leg side. This is your rise measurement.

Seam Allowance: The little bit of fabric between the cut edge of the garment and the seam line. Frequently this is 5/8" or 1.5cm

Seam Line: The line on which to sew when putting a garment together. It is the seam line which must be matched when putting the garment together, not the raw edge.

Straight Grain: This is what the grain line follows: the warp threads.

Selvage: The woven edge of the fabric, where the weft threads bend round to go in the other direction.

Slash: A cut opening in the garment. It can be for a pocket, to insert something like a contrasting piping, or for an opening to allow you to put the garment on.

Shoulder pads: These are shaped pads of felt or foam, put in the shoulders of garments to give them shape. They are frequently used in tailored garments like jackets and coats. They come pre formed in many shapes and sizes, or you can make your own.

Stabilisers: These fabrics are a bit like interfacing, but are usually temporary, being largely removed after the process requiring them is complete. They are used to stabilize a fabric for such things as machine embroidery and buttonhole sewing. They prevent the fabric from stretching and distorting while the process is carried out. Modern stabilizers include polythene like sheets that dissolve away when dampened, very stiff self adhesive stuff that can be peeled away for embroidering areas too small for a hoop, and spray on stuff that vanishes when washed or steam ironed.

Stay Stitching: a line of stitching put in only just inside the seam line to prevent an area of the garment stretching or distorting before it can be assembled. Common round sleeve and arm holes, and at the apex of sharp corners and slashes.

Tacking: The same as basting: temporary stitches that are removed after sewing, or to hold something in place during construction. They are usually removed before the garment is worn, tough some may end up hidden inside the garment and may not need to be removed.

Tailor’s Tacks: Temporary thread marks for matching points or to mark where things are to be placed. They are removed after use.

Toile: This is a garment made from cheap fabric, used to ‘prove’ a pattern: you make this version up to ensure that the pattern fits: any alterations can be transferred to the pattern before cutting out the real version. it is usually only done with expensive garments and fabrics that would mark, like silk wedding dresses. The American term is ‘muslin’.

Top Stitching: A decorative stitch like edge stitching, but further from the edge of the garment. They can come in multiple rows and look very smart.

Under Stitching: A line of stitches round the inside of a garment that sews the seam allowances to the facing to prevent it rolling to the outside. Usually between 1/16" and ¼" from the edge of the garment. It does not show on the outside.  There is a lesson about this on the Understitching page.

Warp: The long threads that go on the loom, and follow the length of the fabric. They are usually stronger than the filler threads, which is why most garments are cut following them (i.e. on the grain).

Weft: These are the filler threads that are woven in and out of the warp threads to form the cloth. They are not usually quite as strong as warp threads

Woof: Another term for weft threads.

Sewing Machine Parts and Accessories



An adaptor allows a user to interchange various types of feet without using a screw driver to remove the foot presently on the machine. It makes changing feet easier. It also allows non-brand feet to be used on any brand machine.
There are several varieties of adaptors. To determine which to use, one would need to know the size or description of the feet each individual machine would use.
For Example:

  • Short Shank
  • High Shank
  • Slant Shank
  • Superhigh Shank and Application
  • straight stitch foot (hinged)
  • zig zag foot (hinged)
  • Straight stitch foot (Solid)
  • Zig zag foot (solid)


Various chemicals to clean, lubricate, degrease, derust and/or polish a sewing machine, vacuum cleaner, or other appliance.


Belts are used to drive sewing machines, vacuums, and other appliances. Belts provide a link between motors and driveshafts. Belts are also available for timing a sewing machine. Each machine requires its own belts. The model umber is necessary to order.

Bobbin Case Parts

Parts used to replace lost or broken parts used on bobbin cases. (Example: springs, screws, latches) Model number and name needed to order.

Bobbin Cases 

A bobbin case holds the bobbin and usually has some mechanism to control the tension of the thread as it pulls off the bobbin.
Each machine has a specific bobbin case. The customer should match the model number. The bobbin case may also be called a bobbin holder or bobbin shuttle.


The bobbin is used to hold the bottom thread and is necessary for the machine to sew. Every machine has a specific bobbin, based on make, model and name. The bobbin is also known as the shuttle or the lower thread. In some cases, prewound bobbins are available.

Bobbin Winders

Devices that wind bobbins.  


Provide light to sewing bed. Bulbs come with various bases, shapes and sizes.  

Buttonhole Attachments

Optional attachment for the sewing machine to measure and sew buttonholes.  

Carbon Brushes

Parts used in an electric motor to provide contact to positive and negative poles.

Cleaners and Dusters

Various chemicals and tools used to clean and service a sewing machine.

Control Dials - Knobs - Levers

Cosmetic parts on a sewing machine used to adjust stitches.
For example:

  • Zig Zag Lever - controls width of decorative stitches
  • Stitch length arm/dial - controls length of stitch
  • Pattern selector knob - controls selection of desired patterns.


Provides electric power to appliance.

Cut and Sew Attachments

A cut and sew attachment is used for mock serging.

Dust Covers

Protective covers for sewing machines.

Electrical Accessories

Parts used to provide electrical connection to sewing machine.
(Examples include lead cords, foot controls, foot control cords, light bulbs, light fixures.)

Even-feed Attachments

The even-feed attachment allows for even seams, matching plaids, and eliminates puckering, even when several layers of fabric are being sewn.

Feed Dogs

Part located under the needle plate. Teeth used to move material.

Foot Control Accessories

Friction pads used under foot control to prevent it from sliding.

Foot Control Parts

Parts used to replace lost or broken parts used on foot controls. (Example: springs, screws, latches)  

Foot Control

A device used with the foot to control sewing machine speed.

Gear Saver

Substance used to lubricate gears to prevent wear.

Hand Wheel Parts

Parts used to replace lost or broken parts used on hand wheels. (Example: springs, screws, latches)

Hand wheel

Wheel located on right side fo machine used to manually move needle up and down.


The hook picks thread off the needle to create a stitch. Also called a shuttle.

Household Machine Needles

Various brands of needles available in different systems and sizes. The most common needle used in household machines is 15 x 1 size 11-14-16.
Some machines use different system needles, so when ordering it is wise to include brand and model number and description of material to be sewn.

Instruction Books

Books with info on individual sewing machines. Describes threading, use of dials, bobbin winding, etc.


Knives are used on sergers only. They allow material to be cut to size to match the overlock (overcast) stitch. They make clean edges. The appropriate knife can be determined if the model number and brand are known. Knives are also known as cutters or blades.

Lint Brushes

Small brush used to remove lint and debris from sewing machines.


The appropriate looper can be determined if the model number and brand are known. Loopers are not known by any other name.

Metal Conditioner

Chemical used to prepare and extend life of metal parts in sewing machine.


Provides electrical movement for sewing machines.

Motor Parts

Parts used to replace lost or broken parts used on motors. (Example: springs, screws, latches) Model number and name needed to order.

Needle Clamps

Device that holds the needle in the needle bar.

Needle Clamp Screws

Screws in the needle clamp. Holds needle in place.  

Needle Clamp Gib

Small wedge-like part that presses on needle to hold in place.  

Needle Storage

Container to store needles.


Liquid oil and solid grease used to lubricate sewing machines.

Portable Case

Plastic or leather case to transport and protect sewing machine.

Position Brackets

Parts used to position bobbin case in sewing machines.

Position Fingers

Parts used to position bobbin case in sewing machines.

Presser Foot 

A pressure foot holds the fabric down and steady while the fabric is stitched. Pressure feet are used for several different purposes.

  • Zig-Zag Foot - allows space for needle to swing side-to-side to create a wide stitch.
  • Hemmer Foot - Creates a 1/8" rolled hem by rolling the edge of the fabric to be stitched in one motion.
  • Zipper Foot - Allows a needle to be placed close to the metal teeth of the zipper without breaking needles.

Presser feet have various names according to the sewers background, but are most commonly named for the purpose they accomplish.


Rufflers are used when a gathered or pleated look is the desired effect. Rufflers are also known as pleasters or gatherers. Ruffling and pleating can be done by hand, but it requires much patience and skill.


Screws are mostly used to replace damaged or lost screws. The right screw is determined by the location on the machine, use, etc.

Serger Feet 

Serger feet perform the same function on sergers as presser feet perform on sewing machines.


Same as Adaptors


Same as presser feet, they attach by means of a snap-on connection.

Quilting Glossary



4-Patch:  a standard division of a quilt block into four equal divisions.  Within this, many other divisions may occur but the basic 4-patch remains. 

9-Patch:  a basic division of a geometric quilt square into 9 equal squares.  Think of a tic-tac-toe grid.  Within the grid, additional divisions can take place. 

Appliqué:  attaching individual pieces of fabric to a background to form a design.  These pieces usually have edges which are turned under, except for the process called raw edge appliqué.  Raw edge appliqué can be seen in primitive designs or in art quilts.  Finished edge appliqué can be turned under around freezer paper, turned under with the needle as you sew, can have its edges glued down or it can be lined. These pieces are usually curved and often are representational, such as depicting flowers, birds, faces.

Asymmetrical:  a design in which there is balance but the elements are not duplicated on each side.  A block such as maple leaf is asymmetrical since all four of its corners are not the same.  In a block, this makes for interesting possibilities since different design elements appear depending on how the blocks are rotated.  Any block divided down the middle by a diagonal line, such as Log Cabin, is asymmetrical.

Backing:  this is the fabric on the back of the quilt.

Bargello:  name of a quilt design which resembles the needlepoint pattern Flame stitch.  In this design, the line made by a color is formed by staggering the appearance of that color up and down within vertical rows, often forming a design which resembles flames.

Batting:  this is the layer between the quilt top and the back which provides the loft and also the warmth in a quilt.  It can be made out of 100% polyester, 100% cotton or a combination of both. There are also wool and silk batts.  These are much more expensive.

Polyester batt is usually a good choice for hand quilting while cotton works better for machine quilting.  There are also batts which are 80% cotton with a thin glaze of polyester on each side to prevent separation after washing.  These are excellent for machine quilting.  High loft batts are generally recommended only if you will tie the quilt. 

Cotton can be washed before using to preshrink it, but NEVER agitate.  Simply soak it in the water of your washing machine, spin and then dry in the dryer.  Any batt can be thrown in the dryer for 10 minutes on air only to fluff out the fold lines caused by storage.

Batting is also a verb and refers to the process of putting the three layers of the quilt sandwich together in preparation for quilting.

Bed sizes:  You should always measure your own bed but here are some measurements for the tops of standard mattress sizes:

Twin mattress       39x75
Double mattress   54x75
Queen mattress    60x80
King mattress       76x80

New mattresses are much deeper than those made more than 5 years ago.  Be sure to measure the depth of your mattress.  Add 14" for a comfortable pillow tuck.

Bias Binding:  this binding is cut on the bias of the fabric (see Grain Line below) and has a lot of stretch in it, allowing it to go around things such as scalloped edges with no problem.

Bias Square Ruler:  this ruler allows you to cut perfect squares or to trim sewn pieces to perfect squares. It has a diagonal line down the center. The numbers from this line at the corner go to the opposite ends in the same order.  

Binding:  the finishing edge put on the outside of a quilt, enclosing the three raw edges formed by the backing, batting and top.  It should be doubled and may be cut from the crosswise grain of the fabric for straight edged quilts.  Curved edge quilts require bias binding.

Bleeding:  describes what happens when there is excess dye in fabric or dye that has not been properly set.  The wash water will take on the color of the dye.  This excess dye can then settle on other fabric.  Soap helps release excess dye when prewashing.  Synthrapol® will keep dye from settling on adjacent fabrics when used in wash water.  All heavily saturated colors should be prewashed to prevent bleeding after the quilt is assembled.

Blocking: using steam or water to square your quilted blocks and quilts. 

Butted Seams:  two border seams that meet in the corner by simply butting up against one another.

Cornerstones:  this is the term used to refer to the square patches of fabric that form the connection when two pieces of border fabric meet at the corner and a separate square is inserted instead of having the borders butt or miter together.  A cornerstone can also be used in the sashing.  Cornerstones are used below .

Couch - a technique used in embroidery to stitch down one thread with another.  In quilting, this method allows you to zigzag over thicker threads, thereby attaching them to the surface without putting them through the needle of your sewing machine.  It can also be done by hand.

Critique - evaluating a piece of art, whether fiber, paint, sculpture or even literature.  In original design, we often need to look with a critical eye, which means to discern what works and what doesn't.  Having a friend or classmate critique your work can help you move forward. 

Crocking: the term used when dry fabric rubs excess dye onto an adjacent fabric.  This most often happens with very dark colors such as brown, black, navy and red.

Design Wall:  it can be as simple as nailing a piece of flannel to the wall behind your door, but it allows you to put up pieces and see them in relationship to one another.  Batting also works as a "self-sticking" medium.

Electric Quilt: a software program, also called EQ, used to design quilt projects. .

Fat Eighth:  a fat eighth cut of cotton cloth measures about 18" x 11", (rather than a 1/8 yard cut, across the full width of the yardage, measuring 4.5" x 44").

Fat Quarter: a common fabric measurement in the US.  Fat quarters are pre-cut pieces of cotton quilting cloth, taken from one yard of fabric, cut in half lengthwise, and in half widthwise, rather than lengthwise.  This is often a more useful shape, approximately 18" x 22", than a normal quarter-yard cut, measuring 44" x 9".

Flying Geese unit: - this is one of the most popular of the small shape groups that exist in quilting.  It consists of a center triangle and two right angle triangles attached to it on either side.  There are many different ways to construct a flying geese unit. 

Fusible Appliqué:  by using interfacing called fusible, you can iron the pieces of your appliqué to the surface.  Different weights are available and affect how stiff the finished product will be.  Edges are usually finished with satin stitch pr blanket stitch.

Fussy Cut: taking a clear template for a particular shape in your design, then isolating a single motif and cutting it out.  This can then be repeated as many times as necessary.   It is used to create whirling or kaleidoscope designs in patterns such as the 8-pointed star. (Makes your fabric look like Swiss cheese when you cut holes in various places)

Grain Line:  fabric has three grain lines (the direction of the threads). The lengthwise grain runs the entire length of the fabric as it comes off the bolt.  It is the absolute straight grain of the fabric and has no give or stretch.

The crosswise grain is also straight and runs from selvedge to selvedge. Most instructions have you cut strips that are on the crosswise grain.  This has slightly more give that the straight grain.

If you pull a piece of fabric from the two diagonally opposite corners, you see the bias grain. Some clothing is made this way because it drapes better. Quilts that end in curved treatment will use bias binding. The bias has a lot of give and stretch.  This can cause distortion in your quilt unless you are careful.  Raw bias edges quickly stretch out of true.

Sometimes this works IN your favor, such as making stems for appliqué flowers where a curve is exactly what you want.

Graph Paper:  just like the stuff you remember from school, this is paper that is divided up into equal smaller units so that you can draw accurate shapes. Some quilt graph paper is marketed with four squares to the inch and a darker blue line outlining the inch divisions.  It comes in several sizes and makes drawing your own blocks much easier.  There is also paper marketed to draftsmen, but this often does not have the inches shown in the darker lines. Draftsman paper can come eight squares to the inch.  This allows for more accurate divisions in 1/8" increments but it can be confusing to move back and forth between the two grids, so beware. Be sure to buy good quality as elementary school paper is often inaccurate.

Half Square Triangles:  this is the most used pieced unit in quilting. It is a square with a diagonal seam line.  Two different fabrics are on each side of the line, usually forming a light/dark configuration.   Log Cabin blocks are basically complex half square triangles. 

Idea Journal:  You can call this anything you like but it is a way to keep track of things you have tried.  An idea book can be as simple as a 3-ring binder.  You can have blank pages to write or doodle ideas and designs.  It also helps to have some clear plastic sleeves that will hold sewn samples.  This way, you can put in samples of ideas you have tried, new threads, color combinations or anything else you wish to keep a record of.  Remember that you may not have the quilt itself to refer back to!  Flipping through your own book of ideas will help you choose patterns or to show these ideas to others.  It is also a very ego-enhancing way to keep track of your creative and technical growth.

Knotwork:  this term is used to refer to Celtic designs.  The knots are visual and formed by interlocking designs of bias binding strips.

Layout:  this term refers to the arrangement of blocks into a quilt. A layout may be horizontal, which means the blocks are lined up in rows, with all the blocks parallel to the edges.  Or it may be on point, which rotates the block so that the points are at 12,3,6, 9 as it related to the bottom edge of the quilt.  A medallion layout uses a single center square surrounded by multiple borders.

Measuring for Borders:  there are several types of borders and different ways to measure for them. The two main types are butted and mitered.

Miter:  this means the two edges are joined at a 45° angle. Miters are used in the corners of borders and binding. In the real world, most picture frames are mitered.

Muslin: Muslin originally came from Iraq and gets its name from the city of Mosul.  It is a simple fabric that has not been overly processed and can be found in its natural color (off white) or white (bleached).  The little brown flecks found in the weave are its trademark.  These tiny specks are bits of the cotton seed or plant that have not been combed out in the process.  Because muslin is not refined or processed like many other cottons, it is usually one of the least expensive textiles you can find and best of all, it takes dyes beautifully because it still exists in its natural form.

Muslin originally referred to a coarser kind of cotton, usually a bit on the heavy side, although modern muslin varies widely in thread count and weave.  The inexpensive, very loose weaves are not suitable for clothing or quilting.

Needleturn Appliqué:  method of appliqué where the point of the needle turns under the seam allowance as you sew.

Quarter Inch Foot:  a special sewing machine foot used to sew scant quarter-inch seams for quilt construction. There are many varieties, and some are better than others in accuracy.  You should test it before you buy one.

Quarter Inch Seam Allowance:  this is the standard seam allowance in quilting.  It reduces bulk in the finished work, making it easier to quilt over the surface. It is very important that this seam allowance remain consistent.  Variations of even a couple threads often cause blocks that are not square and points that disappear. 

Quarter Square Triangles:  a square cut in half on the diagonal and then cut again from the other diagonal gives your 4 triangular pieces. These are referred to as quarter square triangles.

Quilt Sandwich:  this term refers to the three layers that make up a quilt: the pieced or appliquéd top, the batting and the backing.  Batting and backing are usually cut 2" bigger all around than the quilt top.

Perfect Seam Allowance: go to Seam Allowance below for instructions

Pieced:  in this type of quilting, shapes are cut and sewn together to form a design.  There is no background piece and the seams are hidden on the back side of the quilt top.  Pieces may be geometric or may be curved.

Prewashing Fabric:  After much research, prewashing is the official policy of Marie’s Sewing Center. Here's why:

All cotton fabric shrinks, but it does not shrink at the same rate. Thus, if your border fabric happens to be a piece that shrinks at a higher rate than the interior, you could get more ripples than you planned on.

Some fabric runs. I have seen wonderful quilts where the red or blue has rubbed or run into the light fabric after it is completed.  The maker then either has to try everything to remove the stain or has to live with it.

Washing removes the chemicals used to set the dye and THIS is the really important reason for pre-washing.  Almost no fabric is printed in this country.  Overseas, they are still using chemicals that are illegal here because they are so unhealthy.  One of those chemicals is formaldehyde.

Have you ever ironed a fabric and noticed a terrible smell?  That's the chemical in the fabric and inhaling it is unhealthy.  If you store all your fabric unwashed, the chemical releases toxic fumes into the atmosphere of your room and you breath it.  Eventually, your body will have enough and you will develop an allergy.  The symptoms are not fun and they are not reversible.  Why put yourself in that position?

Those scrap quilts from our foremothers were often made from USED clothing.  That means they were already washed. They got that puckered, loved look after they were quilted.  If you wash and dry your fabrics before using them, your quilt will also pucker as you use it.  It is not necessary to play Russian roulette with your health to get that look.

Process or Project class:  a process class will teach you a technique or process, without necessarily involving any sewing at all. A project class will actually have a defined end, with a finished product.

Rotary Cutter:  this tool looks like a pizza wheel and contains an extremely sharp blade capable of cutting through multiple layers of fabric.  It must be used with a thick Plexiglas ruler. 

Rotary Ruler: - made out of Plexiglas, these rulers partner with the rotary cutter to give clean, straight edges on multiple geometric shapes. To have maximum usefulness, they should be marked down to 1/8" increments.  Lip features make them harder to use.

Satin Stitch:  a zigzag stitch done very close together to form a closed line of stitching.  Can be wide or narrow. Good to finishing raw edges of appliqué or adding texture to pictorial quilts

Seam Allowance:  the amount of fabric that is hidden inside a sewn unit. It is the fabric between the stitches and the edge of the fabric.  In quilting, it is usually very important to have a perfect 1/4". 

Self Healing Mat:  used with the rotary cutter, this mat protects your table surface during cutting.  They seal themselves after use for several years.  They must be stored flat, not in sunlight or around a heat source, and should not be rolled or bent, either in hot or cold weather.  The best mats have a smooth semi-hard finish so that the blade of the rotary cutter does not feel like it is sinking into the surface while in use.

Selvedge: the bound edge on the side of fabric where you can find the manufacturer's name, content and fabric name.  You may also see a row of colored dots which show exactly what colors were used in the fabric.  These are registration marks used when printing the fabric but can be useful for finding coordinating fabrics.  The weave of this area is tighter and will pucker after washing, so it should never be sewn into garments or quilts.  You can cut it off after you have cut your strips.

Shadowing:  this is when a dark fabric shows through a lighter color.  When this happens in the seam allowance of pieced blocks, you can grade away the dark seam to reduce the problem.  It can also happen when lighter elements in appliqué are laid over darker elements.  In this case, you can line the light fabric with a very light interfacing that does not extend into the seam allowance.

Sleeves:  To hang a quilt on the wall, it needs a sleeve sewn on the back.  Quilt shows also require a sleeve.  This should be a tube of fabric to protect the quilt from damage from the hanging rod. 

Squaring Up:  this is the use of a square ruler used on units, blocks or quilt tops to assure a right angle in all the corners.  It is important to make sure that this is done, rather than using only a straight edge.  Using just a straight edge, it is possible to end up with a parallelogram or some other non-square shape. 

Stretcher Bars - for some types of dyeing and fabric painting, fabric must be stretched taut and held motionless.  Bars can be purchased or easily made at home. 

Symmetry:  a type of design where one side exactly duplicates the other.  An 8-pointed star block is symmetrical because no matter how you rotate it, it looks the same.  Churn Dash is another example of a symmetrical block.

Templates:  these can be made out of paper, cardboard, plastic or metal, depending on how they will be used. The are like pattern pieces, giving you something to draw around so that you can accurately replicate any shape.  They can be used for piecing, appliqué and quilting designs. 

Turn of the Cloth:  a tailoring term, referring to the entire dimension of a seam, including: the seam allowance, the actual line of stitching, and the fold created when pressing the seam open or to one side. For quilting purposes, all three must equal 1/4". (If you sew an ACCURATE 1/4" seam, this ends up being about 2 threads too deep, due to the turn of the cloth.)

Value Finder:  this is a tool that lets you look at fabric and see only its lightness or darkness.  Red finders let you view anything but red. Green finders let you view anything but green. 

Zigzag stitch:  machine stitch that goes side to side. Can be wide or narrow.  Good for joining pieces together on the surface or for a rough finishing edge.  It can also be used with invisible thread for machine appliqué.