Quilting Supply Terms

Tags: quilting fabric, quilting supplies

These are items required in some of our workshops that may be known by different names, depending on where you live in the world. If you know an alternate name for one of these products, please email us.

Appliqué Pressing Sheet - (different from pressing cloth) - a Teflon 2-sided sheet used for fusible appliqué work.  Appliquéd pieces are fused on top of the sheet, which is placed atop the basic pattern.  Once all pieces are ironed in place, the unit can easily be peeled from the sheet.  Also used under painted fabric to avoid paint bleeding through.  Any glue, paint or ink can easily be removed from the sheet. Comes in varying sizes and under various vendors.  The Appliqué Pressing Sheet and Multipurpose Craft Sheet by Bear Thread Designs is a coated non-stick fabric sheet.  Baking paper in Australia and New Zealand can be used as an appliqué pressing sheet.  Parchment paper, while used for the same baking purposes as Baking paper, will not stick to the appliqué pieces for placement.  in Africa, greaseproof paper is like waxed paper without any wax. Very inexpensive, comes in single sheets in sets rolled up.

Batting - the filler used between the top and backing of a quilt.  It adds loft when the piece is quilted and adds warmth when used.  Batts can be made of cotton, polyester, wool or bamboo.  Cotton batting must be quilted fairly close (2-3" apart) to keep it from coming apart over time.  To avoid this, some batts have an 80% core and a scrim of polyester on each side.   Products from the Warm Company are needle-punched to keep the cotton from coming apart.  (wadding in the UK, Africa)

Bobbin thread - also known as lingerie thread.  This is a 60 wt. polyester thread.  It is slick and fine so it does not catch on metallic thread and does not build up when you are doing machine embroidery.

Calico is a kind of print often seen on cotton.  It consists of several small designs and usually is in multiple colors.  The designs are spaced apart and the background color is as important as the design colors.  (UK uses calico as a generic term for all printed cotton.  In New Zealand and Australia, calico is lower grade muslin, bleached or unbleached.)

Cheesecloth has such a loose weave, it is almost like netting.  It can be used to drain cheese or spices in the kitchen, which is how it got its name.  It is not used for sewing except as a textural embellishment. (Muslin in the UK; gauze or cotton gauze in Africa)

Chipboard, gray cardboard is the thickness used on the back of a legal pad in the US.  It is heavy enough to use as a support for cloth covered boxes but easy to cut with a craft knife. (Card in the UK)

Cotton fabric - in this context, this is a shirtweight cloth.  The thread count will not be as dense as a sheet but will be more like a man's dress shirt.  A good quality cotton will not turn into a mass of wrinkles when you ball it up in your hand.  Fabric that has a stiff feel to it in the shop has a great deal of sizing in it to hide its real qualities. 

Cotton organdy - a very thin, stiff woven cotton fabric used for wing needle sewing

Freezer paper - a treated paper used to store frozen foods, it can be found in the grocery store.  One side has a waxy surface which will stick to fabric when ironed.  It is marketed to quilter's in precut sheets.  This is NOT a good choice for paper pieced foundations as it is too heavy.

Fusible interfacing  - This comes in all thicknesses.  It also comes woven and non-woven. The woven is more like a fabric and is used in clothing.  Non-woven is better for stabilizing stitches, especially with free-motion where you do not remove it afterwards.  Called stiffener in many countries.

Fusible webbing, sometimes known as double sided bonding, is a lacy-like glue that comes with a paper backing.  Sold by the yard or in 8 x 10 size packaging.  Fabric is placed on the glue side and fused by ironing on the paper side.  Once the fabric piece is cut to shape, the paper side can be removed (peeled off) so the fabric is left with the lacy glue on the back, ready to be placed and fused to another fabric.  For appliqué use mainly.  Not the same as fusible interfacing.   Vliesofix is a well-known brand in NZ and Australia and is like a light Wonder Under.  It can be easily stitched through.  Some fusible webbings are very thick and will gum up your needle so use the lightweight fusibles.  Climate can affect fusibles. They do not last as long in drier conditions. 

Interfacing (stiffener) actually comes in three forms - woven, knitted (stretchy for lingerie) and spun (non-woven).  Each has particular qualities of stiffness, thickness and function.  Each can be found fusible or non-fusible.

Interfacing - gridded in 1" squares.   Pellon Tru-Grid 44" White is a non-woven pattern tracing cloth for altering and enlarging patterns.  It is printed with 1" squares in blue ink.  This is inexpensive, available on rolls in chain stores and is NOT fusible.  If you cannot find the interfacing with lines, any non-fusible lightweight interfacing will be fine.  You want something that is thin and drapes like fabric.

Invisible thread - this thread comes in clear and smoked and is supposed to disappear on fabric.  It does have a shine.  The old type was made of nylon, the new thread by Superior and Sulky is made of polyester.  It should never be more than .04 mm thick.  Nylon is known to get brittle and break down over time, especially when exposed to sunlight.

Jacquard Fabric Paint - This is the brand preferred for Marjie McWilliams’ classes at QU because of the way they thin down with water.  Other brands such as Lumiere and Neopaque are fine and can be combined with Jacquards and will work well for you, but the Jacquard can be thinned to a 20% pigment/80% water ratio with excellent results.  They can even be thinned down more than this for an almost undetectable hand on silk and cotton.

Lightweight batiste - a fine cotton fabric that is semi-sheer. Batiste is often used for christening gowns.

Loft - the word used to describe the thickness of batting.  High loft is the thickest.  Unless a teacher specifies this, buy a low to medium loft for class projects.  They are easier to quilt through by hand or machine.

Medium weight stabilizer - should be substantial enough to use in place of scrap fabric for test sewing as it is fairly inexpensive and can be written on directly for reference.  This is the type that is used for machine embroidery.  It is placed underneath the fabric to prevent tunneling.  For Tools of the Trade, students will be practicing decorative stitching that would be done on the quilt top only.  A double layer of stabilizer is a good practice surface.

Muslin is undyed cotton.  It comes in many different grades, from thread counts like printed cotton, to very loose weaves with imperfections in the texture.  Unless specified otherwise, you want the better quality muslin for classes.  In New Zealand, muslin is the higher grade, more even weave and usually softer.  Calico is term for low grade muslin.  In Kenya, bleached or unbleached cotton muslin is called Americani or Jinja.

Pellon is a brand name of many sewing notions.  In some places, they are known for their batting, in others for their interfacing.  It is NOT a kind of notion.  Be sure you know which generic item is required.

Pelmet Vilene (New Zealand) Extremely heavyweight interfacing used to make valances for window treatments.  It is very sturdy and will not wrinkle when sewn over repeatedly in the same area.  Timtex (US) used for making fabric bowls is the same thickness, as is Pellon #70 interfacing.  As a thickness comparison, take a piece of paper you use in your printer, fold in half and half again and half again.  This will give you 8 small divisions.  Run your thumb and fingernails along the creases to make them really sharp. The thickness of this fold should be the same as the interfacing.

Pressing cloth - a cloth or paper used to cover the item being pressed so the iron does not come in direct contact with the item.  Lamé fabrics, for example, lose their shine if ironed on directly.  Pressing cloths can be as simple as a washcloth or cotton handkerchief or be a specific product such as those made with Teflon fabric, mesh or parchment paper.  Parchment paper can be purchased in some grocery stores in the aisle with freezer paper. 

Pressing sheets for appliqué - see definition for Appliqué Pressing Sheets above.

Procion MX Dyes - fiber reactive dyes.  We use powdered MX dyes in all of the QU classes.  We do not use the Procion Liquid H series.

Silk Sizing -This is a low immersion resist that keeps the dyes from bleeding on silk.  It can be found at http://www.fabricdesigns.com/ in the supplies section.  Alternatives include products called Anti-fusant or No-flo.

Soda Ash is Sodium carbonate.  It is NOT baking soda, which is Sodium bicarbonate.  It can be bought sometimes at pool or spa supply stores as a product called "pH UP".  Arm and Hammer Washing Soda is excellent and is a fine alternative to the more expensive soda ash the dye houses sell.  International students may be able to find a product called Tricel or Zilver Soda which works well.  In Canada, there is a product called So Clean, which is also Sodium carbonate.

Stabilizer - comes in many forms. Used to stabilize your fabric when extensive stitching is done in one place, such as with appliqué or machine embroidery.  Some is manufactured to tear off easily, some must be cut away, some can be dissolved in water, some can be ironed off.  Some stabilizer is permanent and left in the work.  The type of task will help dictate the kind of stabilizer to be used.

Synthrapol - this is a detergent that helps suspend loose dye particles.  It is optional in most of the dyeing classes and should be used with caution and always with gloves.  There is a new alternative which is apparently less toxic sold by Dharma Trading Company called Professional Textile Detergent.  It is good, but highly perfumed.

Thread - for comprehensive information about thread types, needles and other related topics, visit www.superiorthreads.com/ and choose Education.

Tulle - similar to netting but has a tighter weave. Used in ballerina's tutus. Comes in colors from white to black. Can be used for shading, toning down too-bright fabrics, simulating screening, creating illusions like fog, reflections on water.   It can be laid down over small pieces to hold them in place.

Wadding - known as batting in the US.  See batting entry.

Water soluble stabilizer - this looks like plastic but dissolves in water.  There are many brands and it comes in three weight, light, medium and heavy.  Solvy brand is available in all three weights.

Back to Free Lessons

© Copyright 2003- Arbee Designs. All Rights Reserved. This content is copyrighted by the respective teachers or authors of articles or lessons presented on this page. Unless otherwise indicated, all other content is the property of Arbee Designs. Copies of the material for others may not be made without the permission of Arbee Designs.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

Subscribe with RSS feeds

You can subscribe here with RSS feeds: click here to subscribe

Subscribe to our newsletter

Be the first to know about new collections and exclusive offers.