Term of the Week: ORT


Our Term of the Week this week is a fun one, and one that can be useful to those who like making projects from bits and pieces!

The word “ort” means different things depending on the context it’s being used in. To stitchers, the word is an acronym (hence why I capitalized the letters), but before we dive into the stitchy definition let’s take a look at the common definition through Dictionary.Reference.com:

Usually, orts. a scrap or morsel of food left at a meal.

The stitcher’s definition matches up for the most part with the actual definition. “ORT” is an acronym meaning “Old Raggedy Threads.” What are old raggedy threads? They are the bits and pieces, the “scraps” if you will, of the threads that you cut away when you’re stitching. They are the leftover threads from kits or extra bits and bobs of fabric and thread you have lying around.

Really any leftover waste material that you can’t (or don’t want to) reuse is considered an ort. The stitcher’s definition is so close to the actual definition of the word (except referring to crafting instead of food) that some people don’t even think of it as an acronym.

This is the fun bit: stitchers most use the word “ort” when they are talking about their ORT jars. What are ORT jars? Jars to hold your ort, of course! People will fill their jars with their leftover bits of fabric and thread. Some people will use them as display items when they get full, others will empty the jars outside for the birds to use in their nests, and others will use the pile as stuffing for pin cushions or mini pillows.

It’s a fun and creative way to turn what would otherwise be trash into a beautiful display piece that helps the environment!


“Term of the Week” is a weekly blog post highlighting a new word or phrase commonly used among cross-stitchers but not found in an ordinary dictionary. These posts are to help explain the words’ meanings in context and provide a resource for anyone wondering what a term like “frogging” means. Check back every Thursday!