Quilting Glossary for Beginning Quilters (N-Z)


This Complete Quilting Glossary for Beginning Quilters started with the Quilting Terms A-Z for beginners from last week’s post.   Essentially, reading  these new terms for beginning quilters is kind of like speed – learning. 

free quilting glossary - quilting workshop for beginners - FineCraftGuild.com

You familiarize yourself with the terms you find on quilt blogs and in quilt patterns, and you learn new quilting techniques that you might not even have been aware of yet.   Be part of that ancient tradition of making cloth and memories.

But first, let’s do our quilting lesson for the day and go over the Quilting Terms N – Z today.



Quilting Glossary N –Z



“Sharps” have sharp points which can pierce the thread of woven fabrics.

Available in sizes 60/8 – 90/14, these are a good choice for straight stitch sewing.

  • They are marketed under different names.
  • Schmetz calls their sharp needle Microtex, Dritz uses Standard Point.
  • Metallic needles are constructed specifically for use with metallic and mono-filament threads. 
  • They are thin, with a sharp point to eliminate thread breakage,
  • an elongated eye to make threading easier and an elongated scarf to prevent shredding.
  • Metallic needles are marketed as Metallica (Schmetz), Metafil (Lammertz) and Metallic Machine Embroidery (Madeira).
  • They are available in sizes 70/10 through 90/14.
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On Point

A square quilt block that is set on edge, with the corners on top and bottom, side and side.

This has a diamond shape when looking at it square on.

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Curved safety pins are used to temporarily hold together the three layers of a quilt in preparation for finishing the quilting.

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Quilt Top

The top layer of a quilt sandwich.

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Quilter’s Candy

A fat eighth. (11′ x 18″) Either that or a chocolate bar.

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Quilters Guild

Usually an organization made up of quilters. Also called a Quilter’s Group. An organization of quilters to share quilting projects, sewing instruction and unique art quilt exhibition opportunities.

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Quilting Foot

Quilting foot measure exactly 1/4″ from needle point to inner edge of the foot, which may have a guide on it to prevent the fabric from going past the edge. Most sewing machines come with a quilting foot. Or, a generic one can be purchased.

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The measurement of fabric before the design in the fabric is repeated.

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Rotary Cutter and Mat

A rotary cutter that has a very sharp circular blade to cut several layers of fabric on a cutting mat specifically designed for use with the cutter.

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A heavy plastic measuring guide that is see through and also has the inches marked onto the ruler so that the quilter can accurately see where to cut the fabric. Rulers are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, and a good ruler adds to the success of any project.

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Sampler Quilts

A sampler quilt is a quilt made of different block patterns, usually as an exercise in piecing techniques or to try out different looks of blocks.

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These are strips of fabric sewn between pieced blocks to separate them while joining the larger blocks together into a top. Sashing can be continued around the outside of the quilt top to act as a border as well.

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Scrap quilts

These quilts can be made with fabrics leftover from other quilts (your stash), or from salvaged fabric from clothing or other items. Charm quilts are usually made from scraps 5”x 5” and make wonderful scrap quilts. Scrap quilts come in all sizes.

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This is the outer edge of the length of a fabric which is usually more tightly woven and is normally cut off and not used in a quilt. You will usually find manufacturers information in the selvage.

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Standard Mattress Sizes

  • Twin Mattress Size 39″ wide x 75″ long
  • Twin Extra Long Mattress Size 39″ wide x 80″ long
  • Full Mattress Size 54″ wide x 75″ long
  • Full Extra Long Mattress 54″ wide x 80″ long
  • Queen Mattress Size 60″ wide x 80″ long
  • King Mattress Size 78″ wide x 80″ long
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This refers to Free Motion Quilting onto the quilt top and is closely spaced quilting stitches following an irregular

design that does not cross used to fill background space and create surface texture.

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Stitch in the ditch

By placing your quilting stitches in the “ditch” created by the seams of the pieces in your block. Your quilting pattern will echo your block pattern.

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Straight of grain

Fabric has three grains, the lengthwise, the crosswise and the bias. The lengthwise grain follows the warp thread parallel to the selvage. It is ideal for long borders. The crosswise grain follows the weft thread and has slightly more give. The bias is a 45 degree angle to the selvage and has a lots give. Beware the block cut on the bias, it can be easily pulled out of shape.

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Strip piecing

This refers to cutting and sewing your fabric into strips before cutting the individual shapes.

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T-Shirt Quilt

A quilt made from old T-shirts cut into blocks and sewn together – using up the memories in your drawer!

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Refers to a shape used as a pattern for tracing either piecing or appliqué patches, or for tracing lines to be quilted. Can be cut from cardboard, paper or plastic.

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Tied Quilt

A quilt with knotted strings or ties that are used to hold the three layers of the quilt together. Long ties are left as a decorative twist to the quilt.

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This is just the top layer of the quilt sandwich.

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Blocks of the quilt are stuffed with soft filling to give a stuffed quilting design.

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Walking Foot

This is a special foot which can be attached to a sewing machine. It helps to feed the top layer of a

quilt fabric sandwich evenly with the feed dogs feeding the bottom fabric.

To determine which foot you would need, you must measure from the screw to the bottom of the foot.

If it is 1/2″ or less, you need a low shank foot. 1/2″ to 1″ is a high shank foot. You can also double check

this by removing the entire presser food assembly and measuring it. If it measures 3/4″ from top to bottom,

you have a low shank machine. If it measures 1-1/4″ you have a high shank machine.

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These are the woven threads in the fabric. Warp threads are long and run from top to bottom in the length of the

material, parallel to the selvage. Weft threads run from side to side and are therefore shorter.


This was part 2 of the glossary of quilting terms for beginners. Work with these as you peruse this blog and other quilting blogs for quilt patterns. You will find that some of these terms have already been used in some of the prior quilting workshops in my series here at the Fine Craft Guild. You can find the links for these workshops below.

Quilting Patterns & Tutorials

Continue your journey with Quilting patterns, tutorials and ideas  featured here at FineCraftGuild.com.

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