Textbook Makers: A History of American Studio Craft by Janet Koplos and Bruce Metcalf
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Glossary of Fiber Terms

For the purpose of general reference, the scope of these glossaries extends beyond terms used in the textbook. Other Glossaries: Ceramic Fiber Glass Metal Wood

Scroll down or select a first letter range: <a-f> <g-m> <n-s> <t-z>

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Album quilt
a quilt in which each block is different, often used in friendship projects Return to Top
Amish quilt
a quilt style originating in the Amish communities of Eastern Pennsylvania and the Midwest; these quilts are usually made from dark, solid colors with ample use of black background and simple geometric borders Return to Top
a process in which the artist applies one type of fabric to another, often used in quilting Return to Top
Assembly piecing
piecing identical units of several blocks at the same times as opposed to piecing each unit and completing one block at a time Return to Top
Background fabric
the foundation material on which the appliqué is sown Return to Top
the fabric used as the bottom layer of a quilt Return to Top
Baltimore album style
a form of hand appliqué which reached its height of popularity in nineteenth-century Baltimore, Maryland; it is work in tradition shades of red and green on white Return to Top
a style of piecework in which fabric is first sewn in horizontal strips, then cut and arranged in vertical steps to produce undulating designs Return to Top
larch stitches made to hold fabric layers or seams in place before final seams or quilting is done; can also be done with straight or safety pins Return to Top
1) a method of applying dye to cloth which is covered in part with a dye-resistant, removable substance such as wax; 2) or the cloth itself Return to Top
the middle layer of a quilt; may be made of cotton, wool, or polyester Return to Top
the diagonal of the fabric weave; fabric cut on the bias stretches Return to Top
the straight grain or bias strips of fabric used to cover the raw edges and batting of a quilt Return to Top
Block-to-block set
a block arrangement without sashing, set straight on the diagonal Return to Top
a strip of fabric or pieced strip of fabric joined to the edges of the inner quilt and used to frame it Return to Top
Broderie perse
“Persian embroidery” which employs an appliqué cut from a printed fabric picture, such as of a flower or an animal Return to Top
any small repeated print design on cotton, usually floral Return to Top
Charm quilt
a piecework quilt, usually one-patch, made from many different fabrics, with no two identical Return to Top
a filler pattern in the shape of interlocking circle tops Return to Top
one of four basket making techniques in which the fibers are coiled into a vessel Return to Top
Crazy quilt or patch
a popular pattern in the late 1800’s, made with silks and velvets and then embellished with embroidery; blocks are assembled from irregular pieces, with no set pattern or design overall; may be a collection of small blocks and then assembled into a larger piece, or sewn as one complete quilt top Return to Top
a decorative form of surface embroidery using wool and stitches to follow a design outline applied to the fabirc, most famously used in the Bayeaux Tapestry Return to Top
a weaving process similar to knitting, but using one needle instead of two Return to Top
a filler pattern made of parallel quilting lines that run in two directions, forming either a grid of squares or of diamonds Return to Top
a process also known as burnout, or chemically destroying a component of a composite fabric. Chemicals burn away the fabric to create a design. Return to Top
Directional borders
borders that flow in a particular direction Return to Top
Directional prints
fabrics printed with distinct up and down motifs Return to Top
the process of removing dye from fabrics with bleach Return to Top
Double Weave
a type of cloth in which two or more sets of warps and one or more sets of weft are interconnected to form a two-layered cloth Return to Top
Echo quilting
a type of free-style filler consisting of multiple lines of quilting stitches that run parallel to the edges of a shape, “echoing” the shape Return to Top
a decorative process used to create patterning on fabric by sewing fine thread details into the fabric Return to Top
English paper piecing
a method of hand piecing in which fabric shapes are basted over paper templates and whipstitched together along their fabric edges Return to Top
a woven cotton, rayon, or silk fabric showing a slight ribbing Return to Top
1) fabric made of unspun wool which is matted together with moisture, heat and pressure; 2) a fabric resembling this, such as a highly napped cotton Return to Top
Filler pattern
the quilting design, stitched either by hand or machine Return to Top
Finger pressing
a technique for forming guidelines using appliqué or making seam allowances lie flat by pinching fabric between you fingers to form a temporary crease Return to Top
Finished size
the measurement or dimensions of completed block or quilt without seam allowances Return to Top
Float Weft
Weft threads that create a pattern by passing over (and covering) clusters of warp threads in a planned sequence (or vice versa). Return to Top
Fly shuttle
A shuttle used for weaving on wide looms which is supported by a shuttle race and moves across the loom by pulling a cord. Return to Top
Foundation piecing
assembling a block by sewing pieces to a foundation of muslin or plain fabric, adding strength and stability to delicate or stretchy fabrics Return to Top
Four-patch block
a block with two, four, or multiples of four units per row Return to Top
Free-motion quilting
the process of quilting curved and intricate designs using a machine Return to Top
Free-style fillers
a filler pattern that does not follow a specific grid or pattern Return to Top
Friendship quilt
a quilt made as a group project for one member of the group, with each participant making and signing a block or more for the top Return to Top
Glazed finish (bonded)
a light resin coating applied to the outermost layers of the batting to prevent bearding Return to Top
the lengthwise and crosswise threads of a woven fabric Return to Top
refers to woven textiles as they come from the loom, before they are dyed or printed and sold as finished goods Return to Top
Hand-quilting stitch
a small running stitch that is made through all three layers of a quilt Return to Top
stencil-printed cloth to which one or more colors are applied by hand through stretched, fine-meshed “screens” of silk or organdy Return to Top
the frame of a loom upon which the heddles are placed; warp threads are drawn through the eyes of the heddles, which move up and down as the shuttle with weft yarn passes by Return to Top
a part of the loom, the movement of these pieces determine the pattern of the weaving Return to Top
Homespun fabric
a loosely woven fabric, usually wool or linen, hand-loomed from hand-spun yarns Return to Top
the process used to make rugs and carpets, in which an artist or a machine pulls thread through an underlying fried, which helps determine the pattern and keeps the threads evenly spaced Return to Top
a style of weaving that uses a resist dyeing process similar to tie-dye on either the warp or weft before the threads are woven to create a pattern or design. A Double Ikat is when both the warp and the weft are tie-dyed before weaving. Return to Top
In-the-ditch quilting
a type of outline quilting done alongside a seam or an appliqué edge, no marking is needed for this type of quilting Return to Top
Jacquard loom
The Jacquard Loom is a mechanical loom, invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1801, that simplifies the process of manufacturing textiles with complex patterns such as brocade, damask, and matelasse.[1] The loom is controlled by punchcards with punched holes, each row of which corresponds to one row of the design. Return to Top
a weaving process in which two needles are used to create an intricate network of knots that result in a loose, often coarse, woven fabric Return to Top
Lap quilting
a method of completing the finished quilting one block at a time with the squares secured in small lap frames, and then assembling the finished quilt from those pre-quilted squares Return to Top
thickness and resilience of batting; a high loft batting is thicker and fluffier than a low loft batting Return to Top
Log cabin
a quilt pattern in which narrow fabric strips, or logs, surround a center square to form a block Return to Top
a weaving machine Return to Top
a form of textile-making using knotting rather than weaving or knitting. Its primary knots are the square knot and forms of hitching (full hitch and double half hitches). Return to Top
Medallion quilt
a quilt with a central motif as the focal point, surrounded by multiple borders Return to Top
Memory quilt
a quilt pieced from scraps of a loved one’s clothing; may include baby clothes, clothing of deceased relative, or, most recently, photographs of the loved one Return to Top
Miniature quilt
a small-scale reproduction of a full-sized quilt Return to Top
an ancient Japanese artform that uses a cord that is created from rice paper, that is tightly wound, starched to give it stiffness, and then colored. Return to Top
A mordant is a substance used to set dyes on fabrics by forming an insoluble compound with the dye.[1 Return to Top
a plain, undyed cotton fabric, available bleached or unbleached; a find quality bleached muslin is used in quilting as a neutral background or as a foundation under thinner fabric Return to Top
the process of inserting a needle through the layers when hand quilting; it is done to prevent shifting and to help the batting maintain its loft Return to Top
Nine-patch block
a block composed of nine-units, joined in three rows of three units each Return to Top
Novelty print
a fabric printed with small whimsical designs, often for a holiday or craft use Return to Top
a wide brocade Japanese sash Return to Top
Olefin fiber
a tradename for polypropolene fiber developed in the 1950s Return to Top
On point
a block arrangement in which a block is placed with its corners up and down and to the sides Return to Top
any quilt pattern that uses a single shaped patch for the pieced top; may be squares, triangles, hexagons, etc. repeated in color patterns or different fabrics Return to Top
is an 18th-century English term for applying finely ground, high-karat gold in a mercury amalgam to an object of bronze. The mercury is driven off in a kiln. The French refer to this technique as bronze doré, in English gilt bronze. Return to Top
a distinct weaving pattern or the technique for achieving it, involves a special loom threading and the use of heavy yarn (alternating with fine yarn) in the weft or narrow direction, typically found in coverlets and table linens Return to Top
Paper foundation piecing
a method of piecing where fabric is sewn to a paper foundation with a printed block pattern, in a specific order to more accurately assemble a complicated design; used particularly for miniature quilts Return to Top
an individual fabric shape joined with other patches to make a block or a quilt; also know as a piece Return to Top
the process of making a quilt by sewing many small pieces of fabric together; also known as piecework Return to Top
the process of using an emulsion to transfer a photographic image for printing off a silkscreen Return to Top
woven fabric pattern-decorated by tie-dyeing Return to Top
Pieced border
a long strip of fabric made up of patchwork units to be joined to the inner quilt Return to Top
the raised surface or nap of a fabric, which is made of upright loops or strands of yarn.[ Return to Top
one of four basket making techniques, in which the fibers are braided together Return to Top
a hanging placed over a door or over the doorless entrance to a room. Return to Top
Prairie points
folded fabric triangles uses as an edge finish Return to Top
Quilt Block
the design unit of a quilt top that is usually square; it may be made of piecework, appliqué, or a combination Return to Top
Quilt top
the top layer of a quilt sandwich Return to Top
in general, the process of make a quilt; specifically the small running stitches that hold the three layers of a quilt together Return to Top
Quilting frame
a large free standing floor apparatus made from wood or plastic pipe that holds the layers of a quilt together during quilting Return to Top
Quilting guild
an organization of quilters which may provide opportunities to share projects, instruction and community service Return to Top
Quilting hoop
a small circular or oval apparatus that is used to hold the layers of a quilt together during quilting Return to Top
patterning of yarn or textile by covering certain areas, usually with liquid wax, before dyeing Return to Top
Reverse appliqué
designs made by sewing on a patch to the underside of block and then cutting away and turning under the edge of the top fabric Return to Top
one of four basket making techniques, in which the fibers are exposed as a rib-like structure throughout the basket Return to Top
Rotary cutter and mat
a fabric cutting tool with a circular blade that cuts through several layers of fabric at once Return to Top
Sampler quilt
a quilt constructed of a collection of blocks in different patterns, usually with no pattern repeated Return to Top
traditional description of a quilt Return to Top
the fabric that separates the blocks, framing them and making the quilt larger Return to Top
Scrap quilt
a quilt, usually patchwork, made of many different fabrics, often left over from other projects Return to Top
the term for the self-finished edges of fabric. The selvages keep the fabric from unraveling or fraying Return to Top
Seminole piecing
a method of cutting joined strips of fabric into sections and re-piecing them together with either plain contrasting fabric strips in between, or in staggered rows similar to a checkerboard; adapted from the bright patchwork of the Seminole Indians in Florida Return to Top
the arrangement of completed blocks forming the quilt top; blocks can be set side by side, or on point like diamonds, with or without sashing Return to Top
Japanese term for several methods of dyeing cloth with a pattern by binding, stitching, folding, twisting, or compressing it. Return to Top
the device that carries the weft, or filling, through the warp. Return to Top
Sisal (Agave sisalana) is an agave that yields a stiff fiber traditionally used in making twine, rope and also dartboards Return to Top
Smocking is an embroidery technique used to gather fabric so that it can stretch. Return to Top
very closely stitched background quilting that can be done by hand or machine to create surface texture Return to Top
Stitch in the ditch
to sew stitches in the “ditch” created by joins of the pattern pieces Return to Top
Stitch resist (for shibori)
a form of shibori dyeing in which stitches in the fabric block the fiber from absorbing the dye Return to Top
Strip piecing/quilting
a technique in which strips of fabric are cut and joined lengthwise to form a set of fabric strips that resemble striped fabric; the strip set is cut at intervals across seam line to form segments; joining these segments to form block units is also called strip piecing Return to Top
a weft-faced fabric, often with slits where colors meet Return to Top
a cardboard or plastic shape used as a pattern for tracing either piecing or appliqué patches, or for tracing lines to be quilted Return to Top
Tied quilt
a type of quilt in which yarn or thread ties are used to secure layers of the quilt, instead of quilting stitches Return to Top
decorative quilting in which the design is outline-stitched in two layers of fabric, then padded heavily between to form a high relief Return to Top
Treadle loom
a loom operated by foot pedals Return to Top
one of four basket making techniques, in which the fibers are twisted into designs Return to Top
Utility quilt
a quilt made for everyday use, generally in a similar pattern involving no elaborate sewing skills Return to Top
Wall quilt
a small quilt intended to be hung on the wall for decoration that can contain specialty fabrics and embellishments that are not meant to be washed or undergo strain or wear Return to Top
one of the two components of weaving; the threads that the weaver passes a weaving shuttle through Return to Top
Watercolor quilt
a quilt made of small squares of floral fabrics that create a quilt pattern in the style of an impressionist painting; also called color wash quilting Return to Top
the process of making fabric by interlacing a series of warp yarns with weft yarns at right angles Return to Top
Wedge weave
weft threads are woven diagonally, resulting in scalloped edges and patterns of chevrons and zigzags. Flourishing only between 1875 and 1890, wedge-weaving is a comparatively rare form of Navajo textile, and only several hundred ever seem to have been made. Return to Top
one of the two components of weaving; the threads that pass through the warp Return to Top
a tapestry weave in which the yarn running the short way across the piece is dominant in the design Return to Top
White work
a quilt in which the entire design is in the quilting stitches; usually made up in solid white fabric as a display of the quilter’s stitching skills Return to Top
Whole-cloth quilt
a quilt made from one large piece of fabric, usually a solid color, that is quilted only; neither patchwork nor appliqué is used to decorate the quilt top Return to Top