13 September 2010


Just a short one this time. We are in the middle of the Eid celebrations here, so posts are going to be touch and go these couple of weeks.

Anyways, I find that quite a number of people who visit A Fabric Case are new to quilting. If you are one of them, Thank You!!! for your interest, and I hope you keep reading, and that the quilting bug will come and bite you one day :-)

Just for you guys I thought I'd give a glossary of some of the terms used in quilting. I'm definitely no expert though, and am myself learning new things everyday, which I will share with you also, for sure.

Let's start with a favourite topic - Fabric.


Quilters like to use cotton, because it's easy to work with. Imagine trying to cut out small pieces of, let's say, satin. Or chiffon. It would be an effort trying to get straight edges, let alone stitch them together in straight lines. Also, because of the nature of quilts, cotton is much, much more durable. But you may ask, if that's the case, why then don't we use something sturdier, like linen for example. Well, can you imagine cuddling up with yards and yards of linen? Or unbreathable rayon? I didn't think so. Again cotton trumps them all in terms of comfort.

Of course, some other types of fabric share the above qualities to some acceptable extent, like poly-cotton, and you can use this to make quilts, but 100% cotton still remains the number one choice.

Ok, so where can we find this cotton? At the moment, the most obvious choice is American Cotton. In my opinion at least, they've got the market cornered in terms of quality and choice for patchwork and quilting. Many a times I've found myself silenced and awestruck by just the choice of beautiful prints available. But American Cotton is pricey. Especially by Malaysian standards. If you're just beginning to quilt, I'd suggest visiting some of the local textile shops, like Nagoya and Kamdar, where cotton and cotton blend is more affordable, although choice might eventually become an issue.

Fabric here is sold by the metres. In America cotton is sold by the yard. That's slightly skinnier than a metre. A yard typically measures 36" X the width of fabric (WOF). Normally the WOF is 42-44".

Because a quilt is made up by piecing together many different prints of fabric, the fabric is often sold in smaller increments. Sometimes you need just a small amount of a particular fabric, so you wouldn't need to purchase a whole yard.

As the name denotes, this is half a yard of fabric. Our local textile shops don't sell fabric by the half-metres, unfortunately, but I've managed to get away with it once in a while. You just have to try your luck and ask.

Fat quarters
A fat quarter is a quarter of a yard, but cut in a particular way so that each quarter of the yard measures (approx) 18" X 22". This cut gives quilters more fabric space to play with than if the yard is cut in 9" X 44" quarters.

Fat eighths
A half of a fat quarter, a fat eight is an eighth of a yard.

Now we move on to the pre-cuts. This is where the fabric manufacturers cut up their fabric into measured  pieces, and sell them in pre-cut packages. From my (maybe limited?) experience, Moda does the most extensive range of pre-cuts. Some of the most commonly used are:

Layer Cake
These are 10" X 10" squares of fabric. Normally there're about 40 squares in each layer cake. Each square should also be different (but coordinating) fabric.

Charm Pack
A charm pack is a pack of 5" X 5" squares. Again there're usually about 40 squares (all different fabric) in one pack.

Jelly Roll
A roll of 2.5" strips of fabric. The length of each strip is basically the width of that fabric (ie 42-44").

Honey Bun
Also a roll of fabric strips, but this time, the width of each fabric strip is 1.5".

I think this is enough to chew on for now. More next time!


Mila@Rimbun said...

Zara.. very informative for a beginner like me... thanks for sharing

Zara said...

Hi Mila!

Glad to be of help, thanks for stopping by!