Glossary of terms and techniques
Whether you’re new to crafting or are trying out a new technique, you’re sure to come across a term or phrase that you’re unfamiliar with. The list below will explain some of these terms for you.
Acetate – A clear, see-through film material, perfect for making pretty windows on cards, boxes and other papercrafting projects, as well as shaker cards.
Acid Free – Products that are free from acid, which if present can lead to the fading, discolouration and deterioration of items. Particularly important on products that are used with sentimental items (for example the glue used to stick photographs into scrapbooks).
Adhesive – Something that sticks one item to another. Can be a spray, wet glue, tape, etc.
Alcohol Ink – Permanent dye ink found in markers such as the Spectrum Noir TriBlend range.
Aperture – A cut out ‘window’ element of a card or box.
Appliqué – Cut-out elements that are added to a sewing project to give added dimension or interest.
Archival – A permanent and durable material. Archival ink, for example, is acid-free, waterproof and fade resistant.
Backing – The reverse side of the quilt. Can be a single piece of fabric, or sewn together from smaller pieces to create a large enough length to fit.
Basting (also known as tacking) – Basting stitches are temporary long running stitches, made by machine or hand, that hold fabric together before the final permanent stitching. In quilting this can also refer to pinning the layers of a quilt sandwich together in preparation for quilting.
Batting – An insulation layer between layers of fabric, commonly used in quilting. Also known as wadding.
Bias – Bias refers to the diagonal of the fabric; a cut that’s made diagonally across the crosswise and lengthwise grain of the fabric. True bias is cut at a 45 degree from the ‘grain’ of fabric.
Binding – Used to make piping and finishing raw edges. Often used on the edges of quilts, placemats, and bibs or around armhole and neckline edges instead of a facing. Can be cut straight edge or bias depending on the intended purpose.
Blending – The transition from one colour to another.
Bolt – The industry standard unit of measurement for fabric stored on a roll. In patchwork and quilting these rolls are most often cardboard and flat, with the fabric folded and wrapped around them.
Bone Folder – A tool that is used for scoring and folding paper.
Brayer – A tool used for stamping techniques – a roller that can spread inks to create backgrounds.
Brush Marker – A marker that has a brush nib – perfect for a number of techniques including brush lettering, flick blending and for large colour fills.
Cardmaking – The craft of making greetings cards by hand.
Cardstock – Material used in cardmaking, available in a number of weights, colours and textures.
Casing – A folded over edge of fabric that can be used to hold a drawstring or elastic in bags or clothing.
Clipping – To make snips in the seam allowance, up to but not through the stitching, to allow the fabric to open around curves or to lay flat.
Club Inspire – The Crafter’s Companion loyalty club that offers you special offers, discounts, sneak peeks of brand new products, and more!
Colour Family – A collection of the tones and shades that make up a colour.
Crochet – A soft craft that uses a small hook to interlock loops of yarn together to create blankets, toys, jewellery and more.
Crossgrain – The line of fabric perpendicular to the selvedge edge of the fabric.
Cutting Mat – A surface for cutting on that will protect your work area. Can be a soft mat surface which is self-healing, or from toughened, tempered glass, which is also great for some inking techniques.
Dauber A tool for applying ink to a stencil, or to create inked backgrounds
Die-cutting – A technique where metal dies are used in a manual or electronic machine to cut words, shapes and designs into a range of materials, including card, fabric, foil and more. Perfect for producing multiple instances of the same design in a consistent form.
Distress – A technique that is used to make a project look antiquated, or vintage.
Dog Ears – Little overhanging bits of fabric after sewing triangles. These are trimmed off after piecing.
Double-sided Tape – Tape that is sticky on both sides (once the backing is removed from one side) and is invisible on a finished project. Use it to adhere two surfaces together, or to add fine detail such as glitter or light embellishments to your crafting project.
Dry Embossing – A technique used to create a raised design on a piece of card, following a pattern or line and using a special stylus tool.
Dye Ink – Ink that absorbs into the paper and dries quickly. You shouldn’t use a light coloured ink on dark card as it will be absorbed and therefore not visible.
Embellishment – An additional decorative element added to a project to finish it off.
Embossing – A technique of creating a raised design. Can be ‘dry’ embossing, where a special stylus is used on a line or design channel, or as a folder which, when put through a manual or electronic machine, can create more intricate designs over a wider area.
English Paper Piecing (EPP) – The method of folding fabric over paper templates to stablise the shapes before hand stitching the pieces together.
Fat Eighth – A patchwork friendly fabric length that is created by cutting a fat quarter in half. Commonly measures 9” x 21” (or the metric equivalent).
Fat Quarter – A Fat Quarter is a measurement used in patchwork. Often abbreviated to FQ. It refers to a 1/2 metre or yard of fabric, which is then cut in half across the width and commonly measures around 18” x 21” (or the metric equivalent).
Feed Dogs – The jagged metal teeth-like ridges on the sewing machine needle plate. They move back and forth to help pull the fabric through the machine to create an even stitch.
Finger Press – To press a seam or crease without an iron.
Foiling – A technique where decorative foil is added to your crafting project. This can be hot foiling, where heat and a machine are used to secure foil to crafty material, or with adhesive.
Foundation Paper Piecing (FPP) – The method of machine sewing through a printed paper template and fabric at the same time to piece quilt blocks. Often used to create intricate designs that would be impossible or very difficult to sew traditionally.
Free-motion – Sewing with a machine where the user is completely in control of the length and direction of the stitch, as opposed to the sewing machine being in control.
Fussy Cutting – To deliberately cut a section of the fabric to showcase a particular pattern or print.
Grain – Grain describes the direction of the warp and the weft in a woven fabric. The threads in a woven fabric are set up on a loom in a lengthwise and crosswise orientation. The lengthwise grain is used to lay out pattern pieces. The crosswise grain runs from one selvedge edge to the other.
Guillotine – A tool used for cutting card and paper. A bladed arm is lifted, the card/paper is moved into position and the arm is brought down to cut the card.
Hard Crafts – Non-textile based crafts, for example papercrafts (including cardmaking, scrapbooking, book-making, etc), mixed media, polymer clay, beading, woodwork, etc.
Hem – The finished bottom edge of a garment, usually folded up and sewn.
Hue – This is another word for ‘colour’. It is the basic true colour (imagine a colour of the rainbow) before it is altered to become a shade, tint or tone.
In-the-ditch – Quilt stitches which lay on or very close to the seam lines created when the patchwork blocks were sewn together.
Ink Pads – Material soaked with ink in a plastic case. Can be dye or pigment ink. Use to transfer to a rubber, acrylic or photopolymer stamp, or for colouring techniques.
Interfacing – A layer of material used to stabilise the fabric. Interfacing can be woven or non-woven, fusible or sew in and is available in various weights and thicknesses depending on its intended use.
Knitting – A craft where loops of yarn (“stitches”) are created in a line, using two long needles, or a knitting machine.
Layered Stamping – Stamps that are designed in layers, so that once inked and applied to a piece of cardstock in a particular order, creates a dimensional stamped image. Quick dry ink should be used for these stamps.
Lignin – A natural bonding agent that releases acid over time, thereby potentially leading to the discolouration and deterioration of materials. This needs to be considered when crafting with keepsake items such as photographs – in this instance, crafters should look for both acid- and lignin-free products to use.
Loft – This refers to the height and density of wadding/batting. A low loft batting which is hand or machine quilted will give an older, flatter look whereas a high loft gives a thicker, more puffy look.
Long Quarter – A cut length of fabric measuring ¼ yard or metre x the full width of fabric
Markers – Pens that have a self-contained ink source, and a nib made from a porous fibre.
Mask – A copy of a particular design that is temporarily placed over the top of an area in order to shield it from a colouring technique, for example.
Matt and Layer – A technique used in papercrafting to create layers of borders, usually in different colours, to make a topper or sentiment stand out from the background.
Mixed Media – A form of artwork or crafting where multiple mediums are used, for example paper and fabric.
Nap – A fabric texture that runs in a specific direction (eg. velvets and corduroys). Nap requires that all pieces be placed and cut in the same orientation.
Neenah Card – Ultra-smooth, solar white card that works perfectly with alcohol-based pens and is ideal for creating distress effects.
Overlocker – Also known as a Serger. This type of sewing machine finishes the edge of fabric to prevent it from fraying, and can be used to acheive a high quality finish on a variety of projects from dressmaking to soft furnishings.
Patchwork – A form of sewing where multiple pieces of fabric, usually of different patterns, colours or styles, are sewn together to create a larger piece.
Pigment Ink – Ink that is vibrant in colour. Ink from pigment ink pads is slower drying than from dye ink pads, as the colour sits on the surface of the card or paper.
Pressing – An up-and-down motion with an iron to set seams and to keep a project flat, rather than a side-to-side motion of ironing.
Quilt Sandwich – The layering of the quilt top, the batting/wadding and the quilt backing fabric together. Layered just like a sandwich.
Quilting – A form of patchwork where multiple pieces of fabric are sewn together, with quilt padding in between, to create a quilt.
Quilting Pattern Guide – Guides that allow quilters to follow their in-built patterns and shapes to stitch stunning designs, and create professional-looking projects.
Raw Edge – The edge of a fabric that is cut rather than the selvedge edge which is woven. Can also refer to a style of appliqué, where the edges of the appliquéd piece are not turned under and instead stitched in place with the raw edges exposed.
Right Side – The side of the fabric designed to be on the outside of the sewn item. Sewing directions usually instruct to put right sides together and stitch, resulting in fabric seamed together with the seam allowances on the inside of the garment.
Rotary Cutter – Perfect for cutting fabric, a rotary cutter looks a little like a pizza cutter. They are available in different blade sizes, with smaller blades useful for cutting small curves, and larger blades to be used for straight lines and wider curves.
Sashing – This describes strips of fabric which are sewn between patchwork blocks as they are set into a quilt.
Seam – The line where two pieces of fabric are sewn together.
Seam Allowance – The seam allowance is the distance from the edge of the cut fabric piece to the stitching, which can vary according to the pattern and fabric.
Selvedge – The woven edge of a fabric that runs parallel to the lengthwise grain. When you purchase fabric, it is cut across the crosswise grain, at a 90-degree angle to the selvedge. (Also spelled selvage in the US)
Set/setting – This refers to the way in which the completed patchwork blocks are laid out and arranged to make the quilt top.
Shade – Created by making a colour darker.
Shaker Cards – Cards that have a ‘shaker’ element, created by putting glitter, beads, confetti or other materials behind a window of acetate, that you can shake for a stunning effect.
Soft Crafts – Textile based crafts including sewing, knitting, crochet, lace-making, etc.
Stamping Platform – An essential tool for stampers, ensuring perfect precision stamping every time. For use with both rubber and clear stamps. It’s a must-have for projects that require multiple stamping, such as wedding stationery or invitations.
Stamps – a design on rubber, acrylic or photopolymer that, when inked, is transferred to another surface for colouring. Some rubber stamp images are required to be cut around before adhesive is used to attach the stamp to a stamping block. Others may be pre-cut, and some come with foam mounting. Acrylic and photopolymer stamps are pre-cut around each individual design, and are self-adhesive, so no additional adhesive is required to attach the stamp to a stamping block.
Stay Stitch – A line of machine stitches on or near the seamline, stitched on a single layer of fabric, used to stabilise a cut edge.
Stitch Length – The length of a single stitch, which affects the amount of fabric moved through the machine per stitch. Fewer stitches per inch means each stitch is longer.
Tone – A more or less intense version of a colour. De-saturated tones make your colouring look subtle, where saturated tones are more shouty.
Topstitch – A row of stitches seen on the outside of an item. They can be decorative and also add strength and wearing ability to an item.
Tying (a quilt) – An alternative way of attaching the layers of a quilt together instead of quilting, it is a series of hand sewn and tied stitches across the quilt sandwich. The ties themselves add another design element to the finished quilt.
UFO – Abbreviation of unfinished object – a project that has slipped off the WIP pile (see below).
Wadding – An insulation layer between layers of fabric, commonly used in quilting. Also known as batting.
Walking Foot – A special sewing machine foot. It is designed to feed the top and the bottom layers of a quilt ‘sandwich’ through the machine evenly, to eliminate puckering.
Warp and Weft – The two sets of threads that are woven together to produce fabric. The warp are the threads that are strung vertically on the loom and the weft run horizontally in front and behind them.
Watercolour Card – A robust, good quality surface that can withstand repeated wet on wet application, allowing you to mix, blend and re-work your colours as you desire.
Wide/Extra-wide Back – Fabric that is specifically designed for quilt backing. Much wider than regular fabric (usually 108” wide) to give a single and smooth piece for the reverse side of the quilt.
WIP – Acronym for work in progress – a project that hasn’t quite been finished yet but is still on the list to complete.
WOF – Abbreviation of width of fabric
Wrong Side – The side of the fabric intended to be on the inside of the item. On some fabrics it is apparent which is the wrong or right side (such as on prints) but on other fabrics (such as plains) both sides can look the same.
Yardage/meterage – A length of fabric. Patterns will indicate required yardage needed to make the item.
Y-Seam – Also referred to a set-in seam, this is necessary when sewing three or more pieces of fabric together that have angles other than 90 degrees. Often forming a Y shaped seam, hence the name.