It’s just occurred to me that as quilters we use a lot of technical jargon without really thinking about it. I’m sure I won’t be able to stop myself but when I notice I’ve used a vaguely technical term I will try and include it in this glossary. That way anyone visiting my blog who is not yet addicted to quilting has more chance of understanding and therefore of being converted into a quilter. Mwa ha ha!
I’ll keep adding to this glossary as I think of other words that might be useful. If you come looking for something that isn’t here, please let me know and I’ll add it. from time to time I’ll also try to link to some tutorials to help explain how to do the thing I’m describing.
Basting – This is what you do to temporarily secure all the layers of your quilt together so that you can then quilt them to hold them together permanently. There are lots of different methods for basting but the most common a spray basting, pin basting, or tacking stitches. I use a combination of all three depending on how large or slidy the quilt it being.
Batting – This is the fluffy stuff inside a quilt that gives it some lift (called loft) and squishiness. There are loads of different types and blends of different materials. I’m still figuring out what kind I like best so I would refrain from giving you any recommendation other than avoid the really cheap polyester stuff from Hobbycraft – That gave me so many headaches I’ll never touch it again.
Feed dogs – These are the metal spikes beneath your sewing machine needle that grip the fabric and move it from the front to the back of the machine as the needle goes up and down. The control the length of your stitch and are usually lowered out of the way when you are doing Free Motion Quilting.
Flimsy – This is a word sometimes used to describe the quilt top. It is the layer that is pieced together from patches of fabric and will become the front of the quilt when finished
Free motion quilting (FMQ) – This is a popular quilting technique that allows you to use more elaborate and curvy patterns to hold the three layers of the quilt sandwich together. When FMQing the sewing machine needle will go up and down in one position and you move the quilt underneath it to create whatever pattern you want. Basically, what you do is drop the feed dogs of your sewing machine so they don’t catch the fabric as it goes under needle. This means that you need to move your quilt underneath the needle to create the stitches – otherwise it will just go up and down in the same place. Then attach a darning foot to your machine. This gives you good freedom of movement and visibility as you work. There are usually come tension issues to begin with and it takes a little time to find your own rhythm. I’m by no means an expert yet. I’m trying to keep my eye for a course I can go on to actually figure out the intricacies. Nonetheless it is good fun just to practice FMQ.
Pressing seams open – When you have sewn two pieces of fabric together you need to press the seam to get them to lie flat. Most of the time when quilting it is advisable to press the seams open. This means that both sides of the seam allowance are folded back on themselves.
Quilt Sandwich – This is was you get when you put the backing, batting and top layers together for the first time. You then need to get them to stay still together while you stabilise them with quilting. The process of temporarily holding all three layers together is called basting.
Stitch in the ditch – This is when you quilt along a seam line. You are trying to get your quilting stitches to lie directly on top of the seam between two pieces of fabric. When done will is a very subtle quilting technique that secures the quilt sandwich together without detracting the eye from the piecing. I find it hard to do well because it is so easy for the needle just to slip to one side a little and become visible on the top. Some people use a special ditch quilting foot, but I haven’t found it to make much difference. The only thing that seems to influence my ditch quilting is whether I pressed my seams open or not. It is much easier to quilt in the ditch if you have well pressed open seams.
WIP – Work in Progress. This is a term to described unfinished projects. I have also seen them called UFO’s (unfinished objects) and PhDs (projects half done) but I choose WIP to describe my incomplete fabric adventures.