The Language of Quilts

Every job, every pastime, has its own language, known only to others who pursue the same career or hobby. Patchwork and quilting are no exception. This is a book about sampler album quilts, which is only a very small area of patchwork and quilting, and this is an introduction only to the language of quilters. Most of the terms listed here are common to nearly all patchwork and quilting styles, but even in this limited list there are variations used in different areas. If you hear a term that isn’t familiar to you, ask what it means, but don’t think that you are wrong if you use something else.

Appliqué Fabric pieces layered and stitched onto a larger piece of fabric to form a design or picture.

Background Piece of fabric on which appliqué designs are stitched.

Backing Bottom layer of fabric in a quilt.

Batting See Wadding.

Blocks A complete unit of patchwork design that can stand alone, but is usually repeated to form a larger, secondary design. In a sampler album quilt each block is different. A block is made up by stitching fabric pieces together (piecing) or by layering fabrics (appliqué) to form the designs.

Border The outer frame(s) of a quilt.

Filler See Wadding.

Lattice See Sashing.

Piecing Stitching pieces of fabric together.

Quilting The stitching that holds the layers of the quilt together.

Quilt top The top, decorative layer of a quilt.

Sashing The fabric strips that separate blocks in many quilts; also called tramways
and lattice.

Sashing Squares Contrast squares of fabric inserted into the intersections of the sashing strips.

Tramways See Sashing.

Wadding The middle layer of a quilt, usually soft and warm. Also known as batting, filler and sometimes, stuffing.

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