What Is Quilting?
And How To Quilt

Take a journey into the world of patchwork and quilting and you will discover that quilters have a language of their own. Unfamiliar lingo encountered when learning about quilting, can be very baffling.

Even the word quilt has different meanings. It refers to a coverlet made up of three layers and the act of stitching the three layers together (as in quilt a quilt). Now for some inexplicable reason the word quilter refers to a person who makes quilts even if they don't necessarily know how to quilt them. You could be an expert quilter and still not be capable of quilting a quilt, as your expertise might lie in one of the many ways to create a quilt top.

Even though quilting is sometimes used as a short form of "patchwork and quilting" (as in saying you are taking up quilting when you are learning how to piece patchwork), in the dictionary you will find that there are two different meanings for quilting. Quilting is the stitching that holds all three layers of a quilt together and it is also the act of creating those stitches.

Here are some more terms that you will come across when learning about machine quilting.

In the Ditch is quilting very close to the low side of the seam line, to be almost invisible. The low side is the side without the seam allowanc
Outline quilting is stitching done inside each patch about " away from the seam line or stitching around a shape as in Echo quilting. Sometimes confused with stitching in the ditch, in outline quilting the stitching is suppose to be visible.
Motif quilting creates a design by following a pattern on the quilt top. There are various marking tools and numerous techniques for marking the pattern onto the quilt top.
Accent quilting is stitching that complements the featured design. Stippling the background around the design is a type of accent quilting, as are Echo quilting and Meandering.
Selective quilting is used to emphasize certain portions of a design.
Allover quilting ignores the seam lines and fills the entire quilt top with a design.
Trapunto is a "fattening up" of areas of a quilt design to create brilliant texture. Trapunto is most effective when the background quilting around the the "fattened up" area is densely quilted. It makes the plumped areas stand out more.
Quilt As You Go means that you quilt and piece all your blocks separately. The smaller pieces are quilted separately and then joined together to make a large quilt. It is easier to manage and quilt a smaller piece under the sewing machine instead of a huge quilt.
Free Motion Machine Quilting is a form of quilting done by the quilter without marking the quilt. You just sit down with the quilt under the machine and "doodle" away!
Fill quilting fills in and flattens the background space while emphasizing the primary design. Types of fill quilting are:




Echo - Stitching around the outline of a pattern repeatedly to create an effect similar to ripples in a pond.
Channel - straight, parallel lines of stitching.
Crosshatching - straight line quilting in a grid pattern. A straight grid forms squares, while a diagonal grid forms diamonds.
Meandering - random curved lines, squiggles and swirls done "freehand".
Stippling - is similar to meandering but the line never cross.


Since discovering quilting ten years ago Bev McClune has become an award winning domestic machine quilter, a professional machine quilter and a popular tutor. She has four how-to quilt DVD's available at

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