Essential quilting tools

Hello there,

A bit of a different post today! I thought I would share some of the tools that I just LOVE to use in my quilting. I am sure you all already have lots of tools, but maybe you are a new-ish quilter and you would like some ideas, or maybe you have quilted for a while and don’t know that you NEED to own a  certain tool 🙂

I am organizing the tools and accessories from MOST essential ( in my opinion) to not-a-necessity-but-really-very-helpful ( for when you have some extra money to spend on something like that).  Okay, here we go!

  • A good sewing machine.

    You might think “duhhh”, but I think there are a lot of people out there that are frustrated by their machines and that takes away from the enjoyment that quilting and sewing can bring. When I was first getting started in sewing and quilting I bought a cheapie machine at Walmart because that is what I could afford. That thing caused me so many problems that I might have given up on sewing all together. Luckily I came into some money and was able to buy a good, basic machine ( from a retailer!) This new machine wasn’t all that fancy, but it could do a basic front, back, and zig-zag stitch, and that was a great start. Plus, the maintenance and threading were easy to understand. I still have that machine today and will pull it out if I need an extra machine or I can lend it to someone who is just getting started. I think it is extremely important to buy your machine from someone who will give you some lessons and can service your machine. So shop around and find a shop where you feel welcome and appreciated. If your geography doesn’t allow this, do lots of research online, ask questions of other sewists/quilters, and look for tutorials online. There is a lot of info out there..use it!

  • A good quality rotary cutter.  olfa_60mm_rotary_cutter_rty_3_dx_9655us.jpgI started with a 45 mm Fiskars brand, and then switched to a 60 mm Olfa with automatic retractable blade. I LOVE my big cutter, because it allows me to cut a lot of layers in not much time, and I cannot possibly cut my fingers on it because when I let go of the handle, the blade retracts.
  • A quilting ruler. Omnigrid_ModaBlog6

I started with a 6 by 24 inch ruler, which I still use occasionally, but honestly the ruler I could not do without is the 6 by 12 inch. It is more maneuverable and really it is long enough for most of my needs.

  • The biggest self-healing cutting mat you can afford/place/store.91Nxna4elCL._SL1500_ If you have room for a giant one, buy it! Little ones will just frustrate you in the end. I started with a basic size one, but asked for a BIG one for Christmas one year. Just make sure that you store your mat flat and do not let heat or damp get to it ( want to  know how I learned this lesson??)
  • An iron that gets good and hot. Steam_Spray_Electric_Iron Even though there are a lot of good irons out there, with lots of fancy features,you will be perfectly happy with an old iron as long as it gets nice and hot!
  • Good quality quilting fabric. IMG_6445 Okay, this is not really a tool, but when you buy cheap fabric at chain or department stores you are most likely not getting the best quality fabric, and therefore your projects will suffer. I know this from experience, because it was the only kind of fabric I could afford when I first started. Nowadays there are so many places online that sell good quality quilting fabrics as well, so even if you can’t shop in person, you can still buy good fabric.
  • Good quality thread. To go with that good quality fabric! You can buy the cheap stuff, but you will end up being very frustrated with thread that breaks or knots easily. Try some different kinds and see what you prefer to work with. My favorite thread can be pricey, but I wait for sales and then buy a few of them. Often you can find it on sale too, or use a coupon.

These items are the top 7 on my list of essential tools. If you can only afford a few items, start with these. And then, as time and money allow, you can add on some of the following tools:

  • Variety of rulers. RulersSpecialtyThe longer you quilt, and the more patterns you make, you will find that you might need some more specialty rulers. I personally find that square rulers are really helpful for squaring up blocks and for cutting and marking angles. Buy them as you need/can afford them and before too long you will have a nice collection.( I like to buy these in chain stores with a coupon!)
  • Cutting mats in various sizes. mats_group_2.jpg I like to drag my extra ones around so that if my cutting table is “occupied”( and by which I mean, I have another project taking up the space ;0 ), I can use my dining room table or someplace else to cut in a pinch.( Especially useful when squaring up a quilt!). My extra special investment in these was for a rotating mat. It is extremely handy when squaring up small blocks or fussy-cutting fabric.
  • A small size rotary cutter. olfa-28mm-small-rotary-cutter For fussy cutting or paper piecing you will find a small rotary cutter ( mine is 28 mm) very useful.
  • Marking tools.Marking-Tools-Intro These are great for marking seams or for marking quilt designs. I have tried many, from chalk to pencil, to erasable with air or water and have to say that my go-to is the water-erasable marker by Clover.
  • Fusible web. The-best-fusible-webThere are a few different kinds out there. I have tried a few varieties and have settled on Heat ‘n Bond lite. ( I buy it 3 rolls at a time!). You should decide for yourself which one you like best. I like Heat ‘n Bond because it is not too expensive, it holds nicely, plus it is easy to see which side is the fusible side.
  • Pins. pinsThese are a personal preference. I used to like long quilter’s pins and now prefer the shorter glass head pins. Just make sure to replenish your supply. They do get worn!

That rounds out my list of quilting tools… is there anything you would add to the list? What tools can’t you live without? Let me know in the comments.


20 thoughts on “Essential quilting tools

  1. I also like a good glue stick – it’s amazing how often you can use it and avoid using pins in some areas. Thanks for the list – I’m still collecting rulers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Definitely a perfect list. I’m coveting a bigger cutting mat at the moment. My best tip is to never convert measurements – if it’s in imperial, keep it that way, if it’s metric, keep it metric. I also use my dressmakers measure tape alot for quick measuring and checking, and definitely a pincushion for all those pins. Quilting clips are also a godsend 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great list! One of my new go tos for quilting is basting spray. It can be pricey but it makes such a difference when quilting. It’s also much faster than pinning! I got my giant cutting matt with a 60% coupon at Joannes! Only cost $20! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post Monique, wish I had this info when I first started. I would add a quarter inch foot (for those machines that don’t do it for you), I also mark my machine with frog tape to make sure I don’t go over the quarter inch. Good quality seam ripper (you don’t want to use a blunt one that will wreck your fabric, experience talking here). I, like Kristie, love basting spray. If paper piecing buy yourself “add a quarter ruler”, it makes a huge difference. This isn’t a tool but some advise, don’t ever rip fabric, always use a rotary cutter or scissors, ripping distorts the fabric, stretches it and will never be the same. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great list of essentials and then some. I would add a walking foot if you’re quilting. I use mine for sewing on binding and it works so well. Your are right, a good quality sewing machine is worth every penny spent.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for the great post, Monique!
    I’m sure this post is so helpful for a beginner quilter like me.
    And others gave very useful comments, too.
    Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have also become a fan of the pin cushion/waste bag which are connected. The pin cushion sits on the table and the waste bag hangs down from the table. That waste bag saves me from dropping most of my cut or unsewed threads from landing on the floor. The pin cushion was filled with crushed walnut shells.

    Liked by 1 person

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