The Ultimate A to Z Companion to 1,001 Needlecraft Terms

Applique, Crochet, Embroidery, Knitting, Quilting, Sewing and More

Marie Clayton

St. Martin's Griffin

The Ultimate A to Z Companion to 1,001 Needlecraft Terms
A
abutted seam
A seam used to join non-woven interfacings, in which the two edges are butted together over a narrow band of lightweight fabric underlay and a line of wide zigzag machine stitching down the join holds the two pieces together. A single line of straight stitching can be added at each side for extra security.
 
acrylic
A synthetic fabric or yarn made from polymer, which is lightweight, soft and warm with a wool-like feel. It is resistant to moths, oils and chemicals, but is prone to static and pilling.
 
actual measurement/size
On a pattern, the final dimensions of the finished garment, which may vary from the given "to fit" measurement.
 
afghan hook
A long hook that looks like a cross between a crochet hook and a knitting needle, used for Afghan or Tunisian crochet.
 
Afghan crochet
See Tunisian crochet.
 
aida cloth
Also known as toile colbert, fancy oatmeal or java canvas. A fairly coarse, evenweave fabric with a regular grid of well-defined holes, used mainly for cross stitch. It comes with various size holes for different yarn thicknesses, and these are expressed as count. For example, 7-count aida has 7 holes per linear inch. Typical counts are 7, 10, 11, 12 and 14. Aida is made from linen, cotton, or various blends and is quite stiff.
 
air-erasable marker
A marker pen used in sewing and embroidery to mark lines or motifs on fabric. The lines will disappear within 2-14 days, depending on the fabric and conditions. Some brands allow the marks to be erased immediately with water or made permanent by pressing with an iron, so read the instructions carefully. See also water-erasable marker.
 
album quilt
Also known as autograph, presentation or friendship quilts, album quilts are made to commemorate an event or as a remembrance gift for family or friends moving far away. Generally each square, or block, is worked by one person with a different design, often of relevance to the recipient, and sometimes squares are autographed and/or dated. These squares are then joined together into a quilt. Album quilts were popular in America in the latter half of the 19th century, particularly around Baltimore-hence Baltimore album quilts, which tend to be highly complex, colorful examples with superb workmanship.
Algerian Eye Stitch
An asterisk-like embroidery stitch with eight stitches of the same length radiating out from a central point. The center end of each stitch is worked into the same hole in the fabric. A variation of this stitch has an additional four stitches from point to point to form a grid over the asterisk. See also Star Stitch.
Algerian Filling Stitch
Used in canvas work, this stitch consists of blocks of three Satin Stitches worked vertically over four threads. The second row is worked two threads up, so forming a staggered pattern that is used to fill large background areas.
 
alpaca
Natural yarn from the fleece of the alpaca or the fabric made from this yarn. Smaller than the Ilama, alpacas produce a superb, heavy fleece of fine, strong fiber in a variety of colors, from solid white to black with varying shades and mixes of brown and gray. The luxurious yarn makes wonderfully soft, warm garments and is particularly appreciated by hand-knitters. An annual shearing produces between 1-6 lb (0.8-2.8 kg) of very fine fiber.
 
Amish quilt
Distinctive quilts made by the Amish, a strict religious group descended from Swiss and Dutch Anabaptists who first settled in North America in the 1720s. Amish quilts use geometric designs and are made in bright, solid colors, often set against a dark background. Traditional designs include: Bars, with strips of two or three plain colors alternating within an outer border; Chinese Coins, in which the vertical strips are made up of narrow, horizontal bands of color; Diamond in the Square, with a square set on point within an outer square; Nine-patch, with nine small squares making up each Nine-patch block; Shoofly, a variation on Nine-patch in which each corner square is made of two triangles.
 
anchor
To fix the end of a piece of yarn or thread, or attach a piece of fabric at one point, so that it will not pull away from the main piece. Some stitchers begin sewing with a few small running stitches to anchor the thread, while others prefer to knot the end so that it will not pull through the fabric.
 
angora
Natural yarn from the fleece of the Angora rabbit or the fabric made from this yarn. Angora is very fine, light and soft and its hollow structure makes it ideal for thermal clothing; research has demonstrated that angora garments are three times warmer than wool ones-although angora is more expensive. In North America the yarn and fabric must be labeled Angora rabbit hair to avoid confusion with yarn from the Angora goat, which is called mohair. See also mohair.
 
Antique Stitch
A form of Satin Stitch in which the stitches are worked on alternate sides of a central line, so that when they are tied down in the middle, they form a raised seam. Also known as Indian Filling Stitch, Janina Stitch, Oriental Stitch or Romanian Stitch.
 
appliqué
A decorative technique in which a shape or motif is cut from one fabric and applied to another. It is used in quilting, and also to decorate garments and household furnishings.
 
appliqué block
A quilt block made using applique techniques, originally as a way to preserve scraps of expensive or unusual fabric by applying them to a less expensive base fabric. Traditional applique designs for quilting blocks include: Sunbonnet Sue, in which the motif is a stylized child with a sunbonnet; Oak Leaf & Reel, with four oak leaves set diagonally around the reel so that the stems meet in the middle; Rose of Sharon, a flower design often made as a bridal quilt. See also broderie perse and reverse applique.
 
Aran
(1) knitting A traditional type of knitting, originally used to make sweaters by the inhabitants of Aran, an island off the coast of Ireland. The designs are worked in one solid color--traditionally off-white--but have a rich texture from the use of cables, diamonds, honeycomb stitch, seed (moss) stitch, trellis and ladders. The original Aran sweaters were waterproof, since they were made from untreated sheep's wool still containing natural oils. See also Guernsey. (2) yarn A natural 100% wool yarn, originally the off-white wool used for Aran sweaters, but now available in a wide range of plain or tweed-mix colors.
 
Argyle
A knitting pattern of diamonds in a checkerboard pattern, overlaid with a diagonal trellis, traditionally used for socks or golfing sweaters. It is believed to have been derived from the tartan of the clan Campbell in Argyll in Scotland. It is usually created using the intarsia technique.
 
arm length
The measurement from the shoulder bone to the wrist bone, over a slightly bent elbow to allow room for movement in the finished garment.
 
Armenian Edging
Decorative stitching for a hemmed edge, worked from left to right with small, even stitches.
 
armscye
The armhole opening of a garment, into which the sleeve is sewn.
 
Arrowhead
A triangular decorative stitch, used on tailored garments to reinforce the ends of pockets and pleats. See also Crow's Foot (tailoring).
 
Arrowhead Stitch
An embroidery stitch in which two straight stitches are placed at an angle to each other to form a V-shape. Usually worked in a horizontal or a vertical line.
 
Assisi work
A counted-thread embroidery technique, in which the design motif is an unstitched area of fabric surrounded by stitching.
 
asterisk
In knitting and crochet patterns, an asterisk symbol is inserted to mark the beginning of a set of instructions that will later be repeated. Sometimes the end of the sequence is also marked, with a double asterisk.
 
autograph quilt
See album quilt.
 
awl
A small sharp pointed tool used in sewing to punch holes for eyelets, or to make belt holes in leather.
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