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Quilting Lingo

Quilting, like any other hobby, has a unique set of terms, lingo, and slang that need to be understood to fully enjoy the experience of quilting fanaticism. Use this page to expand and strengthen your quilting street cred.


When you finished your quilt top, but need to actually finish it and officially declare it "done done," you're going to baste your quilt top to your batting & backing. This is typically done with safety pins or a nifty & easy spray.


This is when your fabric is diagonal, and it provides more stretch than is generally desired in most quilting pieces. The stretchiness of bias tape & binding is beneficial in certain applications. (READ: to cover many sins)


This is what you do/put on the edges of your quilt to make it all pretty & finished!


Stands for Block of the Month, which is when a group will do one block a month and end up with 12 that you will use to create one full quilt. We have some full quilt kits that are from block of the month kits.


The frame for your beautiful quilt squares, also useful for enlarging your quilt!

Pet Peeve: when folks misspell it as "boarder." That is a paying guest in your house. They generally complain about being used to enlarge quilts.

Charm Pack

A packet of precut 5x5 inch squares that make quilting easy and convenient! The term was coined by the Moda Company.

Crosswise Grain

This is the grain or the way the threads run across the yardage from selvage to selvage.


Domestic Sewing Machine, the workhorse of the majority of the quilting world, as most of us are not professionals with bukus to spend.

Fat Eighth

OK, think of a yard of fabric, which is 36 inches (ya know, like a yard long) by whatever the width of the fabric is (generally around 44 inches). Now, chop that in half both ways, and you have a Fat Quarter. Chop a Fat Quarter in half, and you have a Fat Eighth.


A flimsy (n., pl: flimsies) is a completed quilt top, but not quilted, with no batting, backing, or binding.

Some folks feel the term demeans their slaved-over work, but it's generally meant to be lighthearted, with no malice. I think.

Pro Tip: If you do get upset over someone calling your quilt top a flimsy, just repeat the word with a British accent. This actually works with just about anything. (Unless you're already British. Then you should just be happy that the very sound of your voice makes you suddenly more interesting to millions of people, regardless of what you're saying.)


Fat Quarter of fabric: Not to repeat myself... but...OK, think of a yard of fabric, which is 36 inches (ya know, like a yard long) by whatever the width of the fabric is (generally around 44 inches). Now, chop that in half both ways, and you have a Fat Quarter.

Honey Bun

These are 1.5 inch strips. Don't ask me why they can't be called 1.5 inch strips. Because they are.


Half-Square Triangle: OK, now you cut a square. It doesn't matter the size. Now cut the square in half to make two triangles. You now have two half square triangles. :) There are a few different methods for creating these, as you end up with the long sides being cut on the bias and they are super easy to stretch out.

Jelly Roll

A delicious cake covered in yummy filling that is rolled up and sliced for serving.


Not Jelly Rolls!

In quilting, a Jelly Roll is a roll of 2.5 inch fabric strips. This can be used for convenience as well as consistency. (Me + rotary cutter = 2.25-3" wavy strips. Totally without trying.)


Long Arm Quilter. If you stand up straight, with your shoulders back, and your hands reach your ankles, you qualify.

Or a special machine for quilting. (which is huge and typically has a frame for the quilt and takes up a good portion of a room) Either one.

Layer Cake

You thought this was a layer cake, didn't you? Joke's on you! Ha!

Clearly, there is some sort of connection between quilting and delectable pastries.

A collection of 10 inch squares. Just like a charm pack, only 10x10, instead of 5x5.

Lengthwise Grain

The fabric threads that run parallel to the selvage edge of fabric.


Local Quilt Shop. This is usually a stand-alone store, not a big chain, like Jo-Ann.


Mid Arm Quilter. If, in the LAQ test, you only got as far as your knees.

OK, actually, it's a specific sewing machine with a very long throat, and is specifically for quilting, but doesn't take up as much room as a longarm.


Projects half Done.


Projects in Grocery Sacks. This is probably an unnecessary acronym, but quilters love acronyms. It saves time, so they can get back to quilting.


Right Sides Together: when piecing your quilt top, when you put the two pieces you want to show facing each other so you can stitch them.


Seam Allowance. In general, in the quilting world, you have 1/4 inch seam allowance.


Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy. Another unnecessary acronym designed to confuse and befuddle so you'll give up reading and go back to quilting.


The stuff in between your quilt squares. The frames of the squares, so to speak.

Stitch in the Ditch

Ummm... pretty self-explanatory. When you sew over a seam in the "ditch" created by the seam. In quilting, you can finish your quilt with stitch-in-the-ditch quilting.


The edges of the fabric from the factory, usually with something on them to not ravel, as well as it often has information regarding the fabric origin.


Special Treasures All Secretly Hidden. Actually, this is a word that someone decided should be an acronym. Stash is your hoard of fabric that you forget about and then rediscover from time to time.

Square Up

This is a term used in Square Dancing, I'm sure of it.

Also, it's when you have to fix your block to being a square again. Maybe your seams weren't quite right. Who knows? But fixing your blocks so they are uniform is very important to not end up with a wonky quilt.


Thank God It's Finished! Because quilters need their own versions of standard acronyms, just so you're never quite sure what you're reading.


Tone-on-Tone. When you have variations of the same color. Not to be confused with TOTO, a Cairn Terrier from the popular movie, Wizard of Oz.


Bet you thought you knew what this one was, huh? You're wrong! No, it stands for "UnFinished Object." Because, once again, quilters have to be different.


Works Hidden In My Mind


Work in Progress


Work in Slow Progress


Width of Fabric. So, a yard of fabric is always 36" long. But the width can vary widely. The most common is 44".


Waste of Money, Batting, and Time.


White on White. White fabric, white thread, white quilt. Don't eat sloppy joes anywhere near it.


Wrong Sides Together. When you put the two backsides of the fabric together.