I never want language to be a barrier between you and quilting and sewing. That is, I don’t want anyone excluded from participating and enjoying the craft simply because they don’t understand the sometimes specialized language. So, I’m defining terms in my own words. Other quilters and makers may define terms and techniques differently, but sometimes it helps to hear something explained another way. This isn’t an exhaustive or complete glossary of terms used on my blog, but it’s a start!

Dig in and I hope you’re encouraged to give quilting and sewing a try or to tackle a new project!


Big stitch quilting: A style of quilting, usually by hand, that creates large, visible stitches. Can be achieved with a thicker thread, such as embroidery floss or pearl cotton thread. I used big stitching in my Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt and Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt.


English Paper Piecing: A method of hand sewing that uses fabric basted to shapes of paper (sometimes hexagons). The paper templates allow for unique and intricate patterns. I have never used this technique, instead just hand sewing quilt pieces together.


Foundation paper piecing: A method of piecing that uses a pattern printed onto a sheet of paper. Each seam is stitched down and along a line on the paper. After the entire block is complete, the paper is removed. This is a great technique for intricate designs and achieving accuracy. I have used this technique on the roofs of the houses in my Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt.

French Seam: This is a technique for finishing a seam. It results in raw edges of fabric being enclosed. When the sewn piece (garment or pillowcase, for example) is washed, the raw edges of the fabric won’t fray. I use French seams on my standard pillowcases. A good tutorial can be found here.


Glitter Fabric: Any fabric that has glitter. Usually, the glitter slowly flakes off, mostly in the wash, but during use, too. If you’re concerned about getting glitter EVERYWHERE, do not use this kind of fabric on a quilt. Read about how I ruined a perfectly good quilt by using a glitter-coated fabric for the backing here.


Hand quilting: Just like it says, quilting done by hand with a needle and thread. Like other forms of quilting, the goal is to secure the quilt top, batting, and backing to each other while adding another layer of design with the stitches.

Hand Sewing: Sewing with a needle and thread powered by your hand versus a machine. It’s slow. It’s meditative. It’s fun. I did it with my Handsewn Hexie Quilt.

Harvesting Fabric: To cut up old clothing or linens into pieces of fabric that can be sewn into something new. I mostly harvest fabric from clothes purchased at a thrift store. Some examples are a shirt from a dress, baby bibs and zipper pouches from shirts and dresses, and handkerchiefs from an old bedsheet. Harvesting fabric allows you to create with one-of-a-kind fabric at a reasonable cost.

Hexie: Simply, a hexagon. It’s a common shape used in English paper piecing and can be found in some traditional patterns. It seems like every quilter has done a hexie quilt or it’s one on their quilt bucket list. I used it in my Handsewn Hexie Quilt.


Longarm quilting: Quilting done with a longarm machine. The longarm machine allows for quicker or easier quilting of larger quilts. Some can also do pantographs, which is a quilted motif done from edge to edge of a quilt.


Medallion quilt: A quilt constructed with one center block surrounded by multiple borders. My Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt is a medallion design.

Me-Made-May: Me-Made-May was started by Zoe of So, Zo…What Do You Know? Zoe describes it as “a challenge designed to encourage people who make their own clothes to develop a better relationship with their handmade wardrobe.” It is a way for sewists to celebrate, expand, and strengthen their understanding of their handmade wardrobes. I have never tried the full-blown challenge, but I have made a couple of pieces to wear during May.


Needle Turn Appliqué: An appliqué technique where the needle is used to push the ¼” seam allowance (raw edge of fabric) down and behind the main piece before being stitched down. I used this technique on my Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt (designed by Sarah Fielke). 


Ohio Star Quilt Block: This is a traditional block made with quarter-square triangles (QST). I made an Ohio Star Quilt to commemorate my 10th anniversary of living in Ohio. An easy-peasy tutorial can be found here.

One Monthly Goal: A monthly challenge hosted by Elm Street Quilts that requires participants to choose a sewing or quilt-related goal for a month and post about it at the beginning and end of the month on either a blog or Instagram. While there are prizes for participating, the concept of choosing just one thing to accomplish in a month is a great motivation to find the time and energy to spend on a sewing and quilting hobby!


Repurpose: To reuse an item and change the usage completely; change the purpose of something (such as using a vintage sheet to make a dress). Check out my zipper pouches from clothes, handkerchiefs from a bedsheet, and bibs from button-up shirts.


Standard Pillowcase: Per Google, a standard pillow measures 26”L x 20”H. The pillowcase should be a wee bit higher and a wee bit longer. A Google search shows that a standard pillowcase is 30”L x 20”H. When making a pillowcase for a standard pillow, you don’t have to be precise in your measurements or seam allowances. I tell you how here.


Tie (quilt ties/tying a quilt): A method of finishing a quilt that uses thread or yarn tied at points throughout the quilt to secure the top, batting, and back. Tying can be easier and quicker while creating a unique texture and lending style to the overall aesthetic. Read more about why I choose to tie a quilt here.


Upcycle: To remake an item so that it is better or can continued to be used, but without changing the original usage; to make something so that it can be used again (such as adding a decorative patch to a boring shirt). Check out my upcycled Valentine’s Day Sweater, my reimagined Cincinnati Reds baby bodysuit, and my remade fast-fashion cat dress.


Visible Mending: A method of repairing a piece of clothing that makes it obvious that the article has been mended. It can be done in a variety of ways, sometimes relying on the Sashiko, the Japanese mending technique. (Learn more about Sashiko here.) Read about my visibly mended jeans here. Also, see how I visibly hemmed the same pair of jeans here.


Width of Fabric (WOF): The width of any fabric straight off the bolt. A lot of quilting cottons are 40-45” wide. If your buy a yard of a 45” wide fabric, a yard should measure 36” x 45”. Quilting patterns will commonly instruct the maker to cut fabric X” by WOF. That means, for example, to cut a piece of fabric that measures 2” x 45”. When making a standard pillowcase, I cut by the width of fabric for ease.