Anatomy of a Quilt

"Cultivation to the mind is as necessary as food to the body."

-Marcus Tullius Cicero

A picture can be worth a thousand words, especially when it comes to understanding quilt construction and terminology.

Take a few moments to boost your quilting knowledge and familiarize yourself with the common elements in a quilt…

Anatomy of a Quilt - diagram


A) Mitered Corners
A corner (usually of a border) joined at a 45 degree angle to form a 90 degree corner, like a picture frame.

B) On-Point Block Setting
A term used to define the orientation of a square quilt block when the square is “standing up” on one of its points (making a diamond shape), instead of resting flat on its side. 

C) In the Ditch Quilting
A quilting technique in which the lines of quilting are run as close to or inside the existing seams as possible. (also called Stitch in the Ditch).

D) Sashing
The strips of fabric that are sewn between adjacent blocks in a quilt top.  Sashing is often used to separate like-colored blocks and/or provide variation in a quilt design.

E) Block
One unit of patchwork design, usually square, that is repeated (the unit, not necessarily the pattern on the block) to build an overall pattern in a quilt top.  Can be pieced or appliquéd. (also Quilt Block or Quilt Square).

F) Border
Outermost edge of a quilt top. Borders are often used to ‘frame’ the inner, pieced quilt top.  Much like ‘mats’ on a framed piece of art, interior borders delineate concentric patterns radiating out from the center of a quilt.  Quilts can have multiple borders.

G) Quilting Pattern
Lines of stitching used to decorate and highlight the overall design of a quilt top, as well as stitch the three layers of a quilt together.

H) Tied Quilting
A traditional method of securing three quilt layers together with knotted ties at intervals (usually 3-5”) across the quilt.  Can be used in conjunction with, or as a replacement for, machine quilting.  (All Legacy Quilts are custom machine quilted, unless otherwise requested/noted.)

I) Outline Quilting
A quilting technique in which the lines of quilting are made approximately 1/4" around the inside or outside of individual motifs to highlight a design. 

J) Appliqué
A design made by cutting shapes from one or more fabrics and sewing them on top of  another piece of fabric.

K) Post
A square unit of fabric that separates strips of sashing. 

L) Echo Quilting
A quilting technique in which the lines are stitched approximately 1/4" apart repeating the pattern of a motif or block.

M) Corner Blocks
A square unit at the corner of borders on a quilt top.  Used in place of Mitered Corners.  

N) Quilt Top
The completed, decorative top portion of a quilt after all squares have been sewn together and borders added.

O) Binding
A strip of fabric sewn over the edges of the quilt layers to finish the raw edges, add strength, and decorate the outermost edge of a quilt.  

Batting (not pictured)
The ‘fluffy’ middle layer of a quilt, giving it warmth and thickness.  It also enhances the quilting by puffing up slightly around the lines of stitching, adding an important element to the overall quilt design.  

Backing (not pictured)
A large piece of fabric that makes up the back of the quilt.

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