Quilting Glossary

Understanding the Unique Jargon of the Quilt World

African-American quilts

African Americans create a wide variety of quilts, but one style, known as improvisational quilts, is commonly thought to have originated with them. These quilts are characterised by bright colours used in unusual combinations and asymmetrical designs. The quilts made in Gee’s Bend, Alabama, are among the most well-known examples.

Album quilts

During the middle of the 1800s, appliqué quilts that were extraordinarily detailed and labor-intensive were all the rage. They were frequently crafted by a group of women as a one-of-a-kind presentation gift for someone who was moving away or as a way to commemorate an important event. Every participant contributed one block to the quilt, which was then pieced together — typically using sashing — and placed in a grid pattern. Signature quilts, also known as autograph quilts, got their name from the fact that the person who made each block would sometimes sign her name on it. As a result of the high regard in which these unique quilts were held and the fact that they were never actually used, many antique examples are still in very good condition and can be found in museums. The combination of red, green, and gold against an ivory background was by far the most popular choice.

Amish quilts

Quilts that were either made by Amish people in the United States or were made in the style of Amish quilts. These quilts are distinguished by the utilisation of solid-colored materials, which are then pieced together in unconventional and daring colour schemes. Frequently, the quilting is quite extensive and is done in a highly skilled manner. The patterns are typically abstract and geometric, rather than realistic. Center Diamond, Sunshine and Shadow (which is the same as Trip Around the World, but done in solids), Log Cabin, Bars, Chinese Coins, and Nine-Patch are all popular Amish quilt designs. Other common patterns include Nine-Patch.


The decorative technique of cutting a shape out of one fabric and sewing it onto a background of a different fabric. Popular among quilt makers, applique can be done by hand (called needle-turn applique), by machine, or with the use of iron-on fusible web. See “reverse applique” and “mola.”

Applique, stuffed

A technique of inserting batting between the applique fabric and the background fabric. This gives a nice raised padded effect to such designs as flowers and berries. This is often seen in Baltimore album quilts.  

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