They’re just t-shirts, right? Sometimes when you talk with a T-shirt quilt maker they throw out words that seem so far removed from the actual word “t-shirt,” that you wonder if you’re talking with an alien. Well, not anymore. Here is an A to Z glossary of t-shirt quilt words to help you better understand the world of t-shirt quilting.

This is the fabric on the backside of the quilt. Backings can be made from cotton, flannel, wool, or even the new Minky fabrics (luxurious and silky soft fabrics that feel like real mink to the touch). Typically, Meg’s Quilted Memories uses pre-washed, pre-shrunk 100% high-quality cotton backings. Pre-washing and pre-shrinking allows you to wash your quilt safely.

This is the layer of “stuffing” between your backing and your quilt top. Batting comes in various materials from polyester to wool. At Meg’s Quilted Memories, we use an 80% cotton/20% poly blend material for batting. This blend allows you to wash your quilt without causing any bunching of the batting between the top and back fabric. Other battings can be used if you prefer.

Binding is used to encase the raw edges of the quilt and to frame your t-shirt quilt. Bindings are normally made of the same material as the backing, but they don’t have to be. They can be any color that you choose to match or contrast with your quilt. There are three methods of binding a quilt.

Fold over:
With this approach, the backing is cut slightly larger than the quilt top. It is then folded over twice and wrapped around the quilt top and attached to the front of the quilt. No extra fabric is needed for this type of binding, but the look is not as crisp. This is not a method of binding that is used at Meg’s Quilted Memories.

Blanket binding:
This type of binding is traditionally used when binding blankets and is rare with professional t-shirt quilt makers. With this method, the quilt top is placed on top of the backing with the right sides (the sides you will see when the quilt is finished) facing each other. A ¼” – ½” seam is sewn around the edge leaving a 6-8” gap (known as the “birthing” gap). Then, the quilt is turned inside out – so the right sides are facing out - using the birthing gap. The “birthing” gap can then be closed with either a hand stitch (preferred) or a machine stitch. Blanket binding is not a preferred method of binding a t-shirt quilt and is not used at Meg’s Quilted Memories.

Traditional binding:
This method requires separate strips of fabric that are cut on the bias and sewn together to create one long strip of material. This strip is sewn onto the backing of the quilt and mitered at the corners. That strip (the binding) is then folded over the side of the quilt where it is attached to the quilt top using either a “stitch in the ditch” method or a decorative stitch in a contrasting or blending color. This is the binding method used by Meg’s Quilted Memories.

A block is a term used to describe the t-shirt after it’s been cut. Whether it’s a traditional quilt or a t-shirt quilt, blocks are what make up the quilt top. Blocks can all be the same size if you prefer the more traditional checkerboard look, or blocks can be cut to different sizes for a mosaic quilt look.

The graphic is simply the design of the shirt – the logo, wording, or a combination of both.

Quilting is the stitching that holds the three layers of the quilt (top, batting, and backing) together. Quilting can be done in a combination of ways.

All-over quilting:
With all-over quilting, the piece is quilted from top to bottom and edge to edge. Or each block can be quilted individually. This quilting can be either a simple meander or a complicated design.

Stitch in the ditch:
This quilting method involves stitching in the seam line between the blocks. Normally, it’s best to leave no more than 4-6” between quilting stitches, so this method works well on quilts with small squares (such as 2” squares) but is not recommended for t-shirt quilts with large blocks. Stitching only in the seam allowance often leaves too much room between stitches and may cause the batting to bunch up when washed.

Hand tying:
Although technically not a type of quilting, hand typing can hold the three layers of your quilt together. To hand tie a quilt, the quilter places a knot of embroidery thread, called a “tack,” or a knot of machine thread every 4” across the top and bottom of the quilt.

Quilt top:
The quilt top (as opposed to the backing) is the side of your quilt that you want to show off. With t-shirt quilts, it’s the side where you will see all of your t-shirt graphics.

Get My Free T-shirt Buying Guide eBook!

You can find more information about the quilting process by downloading my free eBook. Visit www.megsquiltedmemories.com and click on T-shirt buying guide. Or feel free to ask me anything directly! You can email me at meg@megsquiltedmemories.com or click here to contact me.