Greg's Corner #2

"A Few General Quilting Terms"

Last time, I hopefully got you excited about trying some quilting on your own.  So where do we start?  At the beginning, of course.

Here are descriptions of some general terms used in the quilting world as well as some commonly used equipment.
Fat Quarter:  A fat quarter of fabric is 1/2 the width of the fabric (usually about 22 inches) by a 1/2 yard of length or 18 inches. A piece of fabric measuring 18" x 22" inches is what is generally referred to by the term Fat Quarter.  A fat quarter makes it easier to cut larger chunks of fabric than would be possible from a regular quarter yard, including strips that are twice as long on the fabric's (less stretchy) lengthwise grain.
Jelly Roll:  A Jelly Roll is a pre-cut collection of quilting fabric that has been cut into strips that measure 2.5” by the width of fabric (approximately 40" – 42”.) Jelly Rolls are the perfect way to get a sampling of all the prints in a fabric line or collection. 
Quilting Blocks:  You can almost think of a quilt as a sandwich, two pieces of fabric with a liner inside, and the individual squares that make up the finished product are called blocks.
Batting:  This is the "meat" inside the sandwich.  The weight and thickness of Batting is is measured by it's loft.  "Low Loft" means thin, "High Loft" means thick.  Choose low loft if you want your finished project to have a flatter appearance, like for wall hangings and place mats. For a fluffier quilt or comforter, choose a high loft batting.
Scissors and Fabric Shears: "Scissors" are defined as cutting devices with two holes of equal size.  "Fabric Shears" are almost like scissors but one hole is usually larger to allow the use of multiple fingers, which adds stability while cutting.  Shears seem to be the most popular choice for fabric cutting as they can be used anywhere, even while holding a piece of fabric in your lap.  Two things to keep in mind regarding fabric shears:  They should only be used to cut fabric, as cutting paper with them will dull the blades and if you're left handed (welcome to the club!), be sure to get a left-handed model.
Rotary Cutter and Mat:  While many experienced quilters can cut very quickly with shears, a rotary cutter makes cutting fabric strips or multiple layers of fabric a breeze.  Anyone who has seen us cut fabric at the shop has seen a rotary cutter in action.  You'll also want a cutting mat, as the rotary blades themselves are ridiculously sharp and will damage most surfaces on which they are used.  Cutting Mats are usually made of a dense "self-healing" material which avoids wearing grooves into the mat when you cut.  Most mats also contain a grid pattern which makes it easy to make level cuts.  You may also want a special ruler for the mat, which is usually clear and allows you to cut fabric to exact dimensions with ease. 

Next time, we'll continue our quilting introduction by discussing a few more general quilting terms.

(Sources for this article:  The staff at The Quilted Crow, Google, and