Unraveled: A Quilting Glossary 2.0

by megan on January 16, 2012

By Megan Dougherty

Appliqué – A method of covering up mistakes. Not foolproof, however, as there is no method for covering up the mistakes made while appliquéing. Beer helps, though.

Backing – The material used for the back of a quilt. If a friend is doing longarm quilting for you, it must be 2 inches bigger than quilt and batting on all sides. If done at a quilt shop, 8 inches.

Batting – What you do with your eyelashes when someone starts complaining about all the fabric you’ve been buying. Warning: may lead to unintended sexual obligations.

Bias – The irrational inclination to believe that holding down a job or cooking some food for once is a more productive use of time than quilting.

Blog Tour – A walk down my street. Marcella next door blogs about organic gardening and Bob over there blogs about his Star Wars collectibles. We have about 18 mommy-bloggers at last count, and between you and me, Louise and Harry on the corner blog about their “alternative lifestyle” at nakedsuburbanites.blogspot.com.

Design Wall – What Sheila has. You know—Sheila. Don’s wife. He made it for her. He, apparently, knows how to use the tools in his garage. I get to use an old flannel sheet that looks like the cat yakked on it.

Electric Quilt – What you see after you eat the funny sugar cubes someone gave you at that last Grateful Dead show. Not that I would know.

Fat Quarter – The section of New Orleans where the happy quilters live. Nobody tells them to lay off the potato salad. Also, the name of my future fabric shop/Cajun restaurant.

Flying Geese – Quilt pattern comprised of repeating blocks made from three triangles. Also known as Completely Impossible and Are You Freaking Kidding Me?

Fussy Cut – What results when you whine like a big baby because the fat quarter you got at the guild swap isn’t “quilt shop quality” and Tille Henderson pulls a switchblade.

Grain Line – No, not what you stand in to get free Jack Daniels. You’re not funny, you know.

Gray (see also White) – A color that apparently only becomes a neutral when paired with one wonky star and straight line quilting. Until then, I don’t know, it’s green or something.

Half Square Triangles – Triangles cut from a square of fabric which, when they are sewn together, miraculously form a trapezoid.

Miter – The cool hat you get to wear when you are elected Bishop of Quilters. No, really. There’s a ceremony every year in the Fat Quarter during Mardi Gras.

Modern Quilting – If you are under 40, it’s a fresh, bold new way to quilt. If you are over 50, it’s something you’ve been doing for ages and nobody made a big deal over you so you don’t see what all the fuss is about. If you are between the ages of 40 and 50, you just want everybody to shut up and let you quilt in peace.

Quarter Inch Seam, Accurate – What quilt books and patterns are always harping on, like the world’s gonna end if your seam is a little off.

Quilt Sandwich – Yeah, lettuce and tomato. That’s hilarious. Would you please go somewhere else? Go ask Don to show you how to use a nailgun or something.

Rotary Cutter – An instrument with an extremely sharp, round blade used for dyeing fabric with blood spots. Be sure to have plenty of extra blades on hand as they tend to chip if they hit bone.

Seam Ripper – a cocktail made from one part this entire bottle of tequila and a jigger of Red Bull.

Self-Healing Mat – What you sit on while you dial 9-1-1 after hacking off the end of your finger with the rotary cutter.

Selvedge – The part of the fabric that they always say you can’t use, but which just gets hidden in the seam allowance so what’s the big deal?

Squaring Up – The process of making sure that a quilt block, or a quilt, has straight edges and right angles at every corner. Failure to do so will result in a hefty fine and/or jail time, as determined by the longarmer who is holding your quilt hostage.

Strip Piecing – What happens at Mardi Gras after you’ve had one too many Seam Rippers and you see the cameras for Quilters Gone Wild.

Wonky – A method of making a traditional quilt block, such as Log Cabin or Ohio Star, look like somebody kept handing you Seam Rippers until your eyes crossed.

Y-Seam – No, not what’s on the front of your Fruit of the Looms. Look, if you’re gonna keep hovering, why don’t you go get a Red Bull out of the fridge and come join me and José Cuervo here for a little early Mardi Gras? Maybe we’ll check up on Louise and Harry while we’re at it.

(Author’s note: this piece originally appeared on my blog in April of 2010. Some new material has been added for this version.)

Leave a Comment

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Stacey Identicon Icon Stacey January 16, 2012 at 3:18 am

You made me lol! Especially the selvedge bit, I left them on once, but together with the (in)accurate seam allowance… ummm… you kind of did see it!!! I was hoping you would have “scant 1/4 inch seam”? What the?? Is it 1/4 inch or not? Obviously I’m still a beginner, I keep meaning to look that up.


Helen Identicon Icon Helen January 16, 2012 at 5:40 am

HEY, (yes, I’m shouting)

there is no blog by the address of nakedsuburbanites.blogspot.com. WTF, Megan!!!!

(LOL, wanted to be the first to [hopefully] make you laugh about that!)

Of course, I’m kidding, but you KNOW someone will be pissed about that!

Have a wonderful day!


Katy Identicon Icon Katy January 16, 2012 at 6:53 am

Bwahahaha, love it. That seam ripper sounds interesting, but do ya reckon you could substitute the Red Bull for cranberry juice, ‘cos if I drink too much of it, I start to see whirly gigs in the ceiling the next morning when I wake up…


Teresa Identicon Icon Teresa January 16, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Better to see whirly gigs on the ceiling than to have the room do whily gigs around your bed lol.


Sarah Craig Identicon Icon Sarah Craig January 16, 2012 at 7:15 am

I have to confess to actually USING appliques to cover up mistakes – I think after I read your first post on this subject! It’s a very useful tool and I’m glad to remember who I have to thank for it…… ;-)


JoAnne Simonson Identicon Icon JoAnne Simonson January 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Yep, just did that and the quilt is in the mail to it’s intended recipient, who won’t give a flying fig whether it’s covering a boo-boo or not!


M-R @ Quilt Matters Identicon Icon M-R @ Quilt Matters January 16, 2012 at 7:55 am

LOVE it! Thanks for a great Monday laugh! I’m going to go have one of those Seam Rippers now. :)


MiChal Identicon Icon MiChal January 16, 2012 at 8:35 am

I haven’t laughed this hard in months. I needed a good laugh, even if it did make my nose run and my make-up smear.


Rebecca Merry Identicon Icon Rebecca Merry January 16, 2012 at 10:39 am

My husband is now thoroughly annoyed by my giggling and reading each entry out loud to him. Thanks for the laugh. I needed that!!


MiChal Identicon Icon MiChal January 17, 2012 at 8:19 am

I did the exact same thing. And got the same reaction. This may be my favorite blog post ever. I saved the text so I can read it whenever I need a good belly laugh.


Emi Identicon Icon Emi January 17, 2012 at 7:45 pm

They’re just annoyed because Don is showing them up.


Tsoniki Crazy Bull Identicon Icon Tsoniki Crazy Bull January 16, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Ha, I love this.


Sandy Identicon Icon Sandy January 16, 2012 at 4:27 pm

This is the best list of quilting meaning I have ever read. My fav has to be: Modern Quilting. Talk about hitting the meaning dead on, you did it. Needless to say, I’m somewhere in that age group, (over 50, but don’t tell anyone), and you took the words right out of my mouth. Love it…………….and I still have a great big smile on my face.


Teresa Identicon Icon Teresa January 16, 2012 at 4:40 pm



Kit Lang Identicon Icon Kit Lang January 16, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Loved this! And pass the seam rippers!


Anna Identicon Icon Anna January 17, 2012 at 12:03 pm

This is great! Thanks for the laugh today.


Hollie Identicon Icon Hollie January 17, 2012 at 1:01 pm

OMG! Thank you for re-posting this. You made me spit water out my nose.


Melissa @ Sew BitterSweet Designs Identicon Icon Melissa @ Sew BitterSweet Designs January 17, 2012 at 2:12 pm

LOL! this is awesome! Thank you :)


Debbe Identicon Icon Debbe January 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Omg I love it!!!


megan Identicon Icon megan January 17, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Thank you so much for all the great comments, everyone! It means a lot to me that you read and that you take the time to let me know you liked it. Big smooches to you all.


Virtual quilter Identicon Icon Virtual quilter January 18, 2012 at 1:23 am

I don’t need any smoochies after that … but I would like permission to read it out at a retreat in July … pretty please?

Judy B


megan Identicon Icon megan January 18, 2012 at 7:48 am

Absolutely! Just let everyone know who wrote it and where you got it – that’s all we ask!


Virtual quilter Identicon Icon Virtual quilter January 18, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Thank you!

Judy B


Lynn Identicon Icon Lynn January 18, 2012 at 9:11 am

I think I’ll be serving Seam Rippers at our next Modern Quilt Guild Meeting.


Helen Identicon Icon Helen January 18, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Absoltuely fabulous!! Brilliant! Should be more of it!!


Angela Fitch Identicon Icon Angela Fitch January 19, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Over 50 and over it crowd myself dear. :) Absolutely wonderful post! Will be causing several smiles during my next quilting escapade, thank you!


Nicole Identicon Icon Nicole January 19, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Thanks very much for the laughter. This just might salvage (not selvedge!) my day/week.


Benta Identicon Icon Benta October 7, 2013 at 10:48 am

Love it!!!! Hope its OK to copy it to my blog, of course with credit and a link back here


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