How to Speak Like a Quilter

Definitions, Phrases, and Acronyms

I have several readers who have questions about some of the quilting terms I use. Who am I kidding? Those readers are mostly my non-quilting family members who don’t understand a word I’m saying! So, for my family and for those of you that maybe are still learning about quilting, I’ve put together a list of commonly used quilting phrases and acronyms.

  • BOM: Block of the Month
  • Bundle: a sample of prints in a designer collection, usually tied up in twill tape or a pretty ribbon (code: I want ALL the fabric, every last piece!)
  • Designated Shopper: someone who goes with you to your LQS (see LQS) solely to keep you from buying out the store (usually a spouse)
  • Domestic Machine: just a regular sewing machine, sadly not a badass longarm
  • Enabler: someone who encourages you to buy a lot of fabric; or even better, someone who buys it for you!
  • EPP: English Paper Piecing (don’t let the name fool you, it’s different from PP)

  • FART: Fabric Acquisition Road Trip
  • FMQ: Free Motion Quilting
  • FQ or Fatty: Fat Quarter
  • Frogging: annoying but necessary use of the seam ripper… rippp-it, rippp-it, rippp-it
  • Fussy Cut: cutting around details in fabric in order to highlight them in your block, then fussing about the fabric waste
  • Happy Mail: when you get new fabric and/or quilting goodies in the mail, usually accompanied by squeeing
  • HST: Half-Square Triangle
  • HRT: Half-Rectangle Triangle (now you’re just saying shapes)

  • LQS: Local Quilt Shop
  • My precious… : your favorite fabric (usually a collection or bundle) that you never actually use but just pull it out from time to time for some heavy petting
  • OBW: One Block Wonder
  • ONS or One Night Stand: a quickie project that feels good now but has you questioning your quilting identity the next morning
  • Orphans: little lost blocks with no homes, usually extra blocks that never got put into a quilt top

  • PIW: project in waiting, not yet a WIP (see WIP)
  • PP or FPP: Paper Piecing or Foundation Paper Piecing
  • QAYG: Quilt As You Go
  • QST: Quarter Square Triangle
  • Quilty Bucket List: I want to make ALL the things!

  • SABLE: Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy (you'll be 182-years-old before you use it all)
  • Scant ¼ or Scant Seam: just a hair, a scoach short of a 1/4” seam
  • SID: Stitch in the Ditch
  • Square Up: make sure your block/quilt top has right angles and is the right size (same as True Up)
  • Stash: your hoard of fabric
  • Studio: for the majority it’s the kitchen table; for the lucky few it’s an entire room
  • SUI: shopping under the influence (usually with a enabler)
  • TGIF: Thank Goodness It’s Finished!
  • True Up: make sure your block/quilt top has right angles and is the right size (same as Square Up)
  • Tute: tutorial

  • UFO: Unfinished Object
  • WIP: Work In Progress
  • WISP: Work in SLOW Progress
  • WIVSP: Work in VERY SLOW Progress (use this term when you don’t want to admit that it’s a UFO)
  • WOF: Width of Fabric
  • WOMBAT: Waste of Money, Brains, and Time
  • Wonky: a quilt block with off-kilter elements… it’s supposed to look that way
  • Work Triangle: the setup between your ironing board, cutting mat, and sewing machine; bears some resemblance to the Bermuda Triangle


  1. Just happened upon this and it's awesome fun. I'm going to link to it in my next newsletter!

  2. Oh, this had me laughing! I'm a seasoned quilter, but even FART was new to me! Thanks for the clever humor!

  3. very funny! I especially liked SABLE!

  4. I never thought about how others don't understand us. You've thrown in some I haven't heard.

  5. Great post! Loved your definition of Happy Mail.

  6. Very funny, I guess I have lots of WIVSP :)

  7. My favorite was "now you're just saying shapes." :) And I'm not a paper-piecer at all, so I had no idea EPP was different than PP.

    I sort of had an ONS last week. I made a quick and dirty jelly-roll-type quilt for my grand-niece's bears and dolls. I used the no binding, layer-sew-flip method, and the quilting was straight on one side but super-wonky on the other.

    It wasn't up to my standard quality, but it was cozy and done and she loved it. It was also a way to engage with a toddler who doesn't know me very well -- she picked out the (wildly mismatching) strips, watched my husband fix my travel machine, and watched me sew and iron.

    Thanks for the fun and informative post.

  8. Ingenous and fun. I will link to this at some point.