Quilting terms – a quick look at the jargon of quilting.  When I first became interested in quilting, I was taken aback by all the different quilting terms that I was coming up against.  Fat quarters, long quarters  ………?  How did I admit that I didn’t have a clue what people were talking about?  Luckily they were very sweet and understanding in my local quilt shop and stopped to explain every time they saw the blank look appearing on my face.  So here goes to give you a quick look at some of the terms used by quilters.  More thorough explanations appear at various places throughout the website.

To quilt

My first mistake – I thought that to quilt was to make a blanket-like affair with a top, a middle and backing.  Wrong!  Quilt layers need securing together – quilting is the stitching used to hold the three layers together.  It might be very simple or very ornate, hand or machine, the same colour or a contrasting colour, thread or ribbon or buttons – anything that holds the layers together.

Walking foot

A foot for your sewing machine that feeds the fabric on the top layer through when you are straight line quilting.  It stops the top layer of fabric getting left behind the bottom layer and puckering.  For free motion quilting a darning foot is used.

Fat and long quarters

A fat quarter – often commonly called an FQ.  A 1/4 yard would normally be 9″ cut across the width of the fabric so that you end up with a piece of fabric 9″ by around 42″ (the normal width of fabric).  This is a long quarter.  A good size if you need a few squares as part of a quilting block to add a touch of that particular colour.  The problem can be that you might need a larger shape but can’t turn the fabric because you need the pattern to be the right way up.  In order to get round this problem quilting shops began to offer a fat quarter which is 1/2 yard cut up the fold of the fabric, giving a piece of fabric 18″ by 21″ – nearer to a square and so more easy to work with.

Jelly roll

 Jelly roll

Jelly roll


Also known as a strip roll or a noodle.  A roll made up of 2.1/2″ strips of twenty or more fabrics.  They are usually themed – a roll of batik prints perhaps or a particular colour.  A great way to put variety into your project.



Quilt block

The building block of a quilt top.  Quilt blocks can be made up of many smaller blocks, a few big blocks, one block with an embroidered design on it, a photo transferred to fabric – anything you wish to use.


A strip of fabric used as a frame around each quilt block.  It can separate the blocks out a little so that the eye isn’t overwhelmed if it’s quite a complicated pattern – and it can also disguise the fact that your quilt blocks may not all be exactly the same size!  It can add a little extra width and length to your quilt if needed.


Small squares added at the corner of each block within the sashing.

Quilt border

The frame around the entire quilt top that draws the whole design together.  It can be thin or thick, straight or curved, plain or patchwork, a new fabric or one of those in the quilt top.


The fabric sewn right round the edge of the quilt to cover the raw edges and prevent fraying.  This can be in one of the fabrics of the quilt blocks, or something completely different to complement the colours of the blocks.  It can be bought or handmade, but I prefer to make my own.


Also known as batting.  The insulating middle of the quilt sandwich.  Natural or synthetic.  No, that’s too simple a choice.  Natural was until recently broadly cotton or wool based, but now bamboo wadding with its anti bacterial properties is make huge inroads in the market.  Similarly, there is also a cotton soya blend  using the anti microbial properties of soya.  Synthetic can add more variety as it comes in different thicknesses and can be useful if you want to add more texture to a wall hanging perhaps.  There is now even green wadding made from recycled plastic bottles – I haven’t tried this one yet.


You create a beautiful wall hanging of which you are justifiably proud.  Now you want to hang it on the wall.  For the simplest way sew a sleeve (a small tunnel of fabric) on the back of your work.  Thread a small rod through the sleeve and hang it up.


Add a label to a corner of the back of your quilt or wall hanging.  Give your name and the occasion that it was made for or the name have given to your work of art.

You may be interested in the beginner quilting series of articles.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Speak Your Mind