Quilting For Beginners - 23 Terms You Need To Know

If you’re a beginner quilter and don’t know what all of these quilting terms are, then take a moment to jump into our post here to learn the most common quilting terms. 

You may see things like “applique” and “loft” as you search the web for tools, supplies, and guides. We understand you probably don’t know what that means yet and that’s okay. 

Go ahead and bookmark this page because this will be your glossary of quilting terms for beginners. 

quilting terms

Beginner Quilting Terms To Know:

These are the main quilting terms you need to know as you get started: 

  • Applique - A piece of fabric in a shape or monogram stitched onto a background. Applique can be hand stitched, machine stitched, or ironed on with a fusible web.
  • Backing - the bottom layer of the quilt sandwich. Usually one whole piece of fabric.
  • Basting - long stitches to temporarily hold fabric piece into place until the final stitch is sewn. Then It can be removed.
  • Batting - the fiber you add between the quilt top and the quilt backing to add warmth and drape.
  • Bias - a bias isn’t a grain of fabric. Its a 45 degree angle that runs from the salvage (edge) of fabric. It makes the fabric have stretch. When cutting your quilt pieces avoid cutting on an angle. Always cut with the grain of the fabric.
  • Bias Binding - fabric that is cut on the bias (45*) angle of fabric to finish the edges of the quilt. It helps it not to curl and twist. Also it helps when you are binding a quilt that has curves edges or rounded corners. 
  • Binding - a strip of fabric around 2 ¼” - 2 ½” that is sewn on the edge of your quilt after it has been quilted. It gives it more strength to your quilt.
  • Easing - slightly stretching fabric to fit into a seam or match another piece it’s being sewn to.
  • Finger Pressing - using your finger to press a seam or make a mark with folded fabric instead of ironing a more permanent mark or seam. Example: finger press pieces in a fan since they contain the bias and will stretch if ironed.
  • Fussy cut- to cut a particular shape out of a printed fabric.
  • Grain - the weave of the fabric. Grain will make a difference in how your quilt will turn out, so follow the instructions on which grain to follow to cut your pieces.
  • Warp - The most stable threads of fabric. The threads that run parallel to the selvages. Is preferred when cutting long borders.
  • Weft - are horizontal threads that run over and under the warp. It will be the weaker of the grains of fabric.
  • Stitch in the Ditch - to hand stitch along the seam of a block or shape to define it.
  • Jelly Roll - 21/2” x 44” strips of fabric rolled into a roll. Usually cut from a coordinating collection of fabric.
  • Knot on the needle - a little knot on the end of a needle and thread that can be started from the top of the fabric and gently eased through so it is hidden from the front and the back.
  • Loft - thickness of batting to use in your quilt.
  • Notches - A little “v” to help you know where to match up seams such as curves
  • Pressing - to iron your fabric or seams.
  • Prewash - to wash and dry your fabric before you cut it into pieces; to preshrink.
  • Quilt top - your pieced creation which will be the top in your quilt sandwich: Quilt top, Batting, Quilt backing or lining.
  • Raw edge - unsewn, unfinished piece of fabric or quilt sandwich.
  • Seam Allowance - The fabric that is left after you have sewn a stitch, I quilting we use ¼”. Another way to look at it is your stitch will be ¼” form the edge of the fabric.