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Top 10 Essential Tools For The Beginning Quilter

Summary

As a new or beginning quilter, what tools should you consider going out a buying? We cover the top 10 tools you should own right now.

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Top 10 Essential Tools For The Beginning Quilter

When you have decided to learn to quilt, the first thing you will want to do is find out what tools are needed to begin. You can start with as little as a needle and thread and shears. With the invention of different tools today you can invest in many different items to make your quilting experience a success. Here is a list of what can be considered essential to that success.

Top 10 Essential Tools For The Beginning Quilter

 

1. Rotary Cutter

This will make cutting out your shapes quick and easy. Rotary cutters come in different sizes and shapes, from 10mm to 60mm. The most popular is the 45 mm which will do most of the cutting requirements needed in any pattern. The blade will roll along the edge of the ruler and keep your cuts accurate.

Rotary Cutter

 

2. Cutting Mat

The cutting mat is used under the rotary cutter to protect the work surface from the blade and aid in keeping cuts along the straight of grain with a measured grid printed on top. As with the rotary cutter these come in several sizes from a small 6 x 12 in. to a 24x36 in. mat. A medium size 12 x 18 in. is easy to use and is portable to take to classes, since space may be limited.

Cutting Mat

 

3. Rulers

Several companies have produced rulers for quilters. The easiest way to find one that will work for you is to shop around and find one that is easy to read on any color of material. Since they are clear acrylic test them against different tones of fabric to see if it is possible to read all the markings. Using a 6 x 24 in. will make it easier to make straight cuts along the grain without having to fold the fabric more than once. A 6 x 12 in. ruler will make smaller cuts more accurate without dealing with a longer ruler.

Rulers

 

4. Sewing Machine

This makes the piecing process a breeze since hand sewing can take many hours. Sewing machines can run from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars. No need to put out a lot of money on one until you find whether this hobby is for you. Any dealer will be able to help you with this choice, just make sure it has a ¼ in. quilters foot to be able to keep an accurate ¼ in. seam.

Sewing Machine

 

5. Shears

Shears are different from scissors because the handles are off set from the blades. This is to make it possible to run the blades along a flat surface without distorting the material.

Shears

 

6. Marking Tool

These are used for marking lines on the back side of material shapes and for marking sewing and cutting lines. Marking tools can be mechanical pencils, wax pencils, chalk or erasable gel pens. You will want to get tools that will be visible on both light and dark colored fabric.

Marking Tool

 

7. Steam Iron

Irons are essential to keeping your blocks square and even. Steam is used to keep the seams lying flat and to aid in nesting the seams together when matching them.

Steam Iron

 

8. Needles And Thread

Needles come in different sizes and lengths. Remember that with hand sewing needles the larger the number the smaller the size and vice versa with machine needles. Best needles for a machine are 80/12 or 90/14 sharps. Use hand needles that are specific to the type of sewing you are currently doing, basting, sewing seams together or quilting your layers together. Quilting needles are a trial and error situation. It is easiest to try several different sizes to find one that gives you the results you are looking for. Thread should be matching to the fabric in the quilt or if using multi-colored fabric an off-white or light gray is best.

Needles And Thread

 

9. Pins

2 ½ in. pins are optimal with flat heads since this keeps the fabric flat while running through the sewing machine without warping your pieces.

Straight pins will help keep seams together while sewing on the machine. They should be longer than regular straight pins so that you can keep seams nested along a longer length without using a lot of pins.

 

Pins

 

10. Seam Ripper And Bent Nose Tweezers

Everyone will make mistakes along the way. A seam ripper and tweezers will make it easier to undo and oops you will make. The seam ripper will quickly cut the stitches and the tweezers can pull the loose threads free.

There are many more tools that you will find along the way as you become more skilled with your quilting. As your skills grow so will your quilting tool kit. It can be as simple as needles, thread and shears to many different rulers, cutters and organizing components. It is up to you how much you will devote to this new hobby. May your seams always be straight and your points sharp.

Seam Ripper And Bent Nose Tweezers

 

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Glossary

Basting
A temporary method of holding the quilt Sandwich layers together while you finish assembling it. This can be conducted using Basting Sprays, pins, clips or temporary stitching called a Tacking Stitch or Basting Stitch.
Cutting Mat
Surface used for cutting with a rotary cutter. The mat protects your tabletop and can serve as a measuring tool when you use the gridlines on the mat to line up your fabric. Many mats are self-healing which means that the blade of the rotary cutter will not create permanent grooves in the mat.
Foot
Accessories that are available for sewing machines and are especially made for quilting.
Grain
The lengthwise and crosswise threads (warp and weft directions) of a woven fabric.
Marking Tools
Any item that can be used to mark a quilt for quilting. May include pencils, markers, chalk or specialty products.
Piecing
The process of assembling quilt blocks from pieces of fabric sewn along their edges to form a whole.

See Also: English Paper Piecing, Assembly Piecing, Machine Piecing, Chain Piecing, Paper Piecing, Hand Piecing
Rotary Cutter
A very sharp tool that looks like a pizza wheel which is capable of cutting through multiple layers of fabric.
Ruler
A heavy plastic measuring guide that can come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Sharps
Ultra sharp, thin needles used for piecing and doing applique.
Author
Quilting Contessa
Quilting Contessa is a collection of various authors around the world that have submitted articles for the QuiltingHub 'How To' quilt wiki.  These are authors that do not write enough to have their own authorship, yet provide valuable content for the site.  If you wish to submit an article, contact us on QuiltingHub.
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