What you need
Some of the quilting tools I’ll be mentioning you may already have in your sewing box. A lot of these are available online or from your local quilt shop. Always buy the best that you can afford at the time, since you always get what you pay for! These are the quilting tools I keep in my drawer, or on my cutting table, or on any available surface in my sewing room. We all have different preferences, but when you are just starting out, these are the things you’ll want to look out for.
A rotary cutter that fits nicely in your hand is a must. You’ll want one that can be locked if you’re not using it to prevent accidental cutting if a child happens to come across one of these. Different cutters have different grips, and you’ll be doing a lot of cutting when you’re doing patchwork.
I’ve found that a lot of books miss out on the really important bin! You really need a bin handy if you don’t want to spend time on your hands and knees picking up threads or leftover cuttings. Not to mention the nest in your vacuum cleaner.
Pins come in many shapes and sizes, and have different purposes. If you’re going to pin baste your quilts, you will need the little curved safety pins as well. I like the flowerhead pins when I’m doing patchwork, but the pinhead ones when I’m quilting.
A self-healing cutting mat is a must. An 18 x 24 inch mat is a sufficient size, anything smaller than this will make it difficult to cut blocks, but it is a good idea if you want to take some quilting classes. A mat that has metric and inches sides is handy for international patterns and templates. Make sure to keep your mat in a cool area out of direct sun as it will warp. If this does happen you can lay the mat in warm water to soften and then lay it flat with something heavy over it to get it back into shape.
There are a number of nifty tools on the market that can be used for market. First there is the clover hera marker which works well for crease marks. The other is the purple thang, which is handy for turning corners and making sure they are nice and straightly turned.
Feed dog cover plate
A standard sewing machine, especially the entry level machines don’t have the option to drop the feeding dogs. You need to drop the feeding dogs in order to do free motion quilting. If the dogs stay there, you will feel the resistance and not have a smooth flow for the quilting. If you can’t drop the feed dogs, you can purchase a cover for most machines. I found a generic feed dog cover at amazon.com. The one shown in the picture is for the Jenome Jem Gold, which was my first quilting machine.
Feet were made for walking! A walking foot helps you to feed multiple layers like a quilt sandwich through your sewing machine at the same feed rate. If you don’t have a walking foot you will find puckering, and stretching, and it is simply messy.
Next: More tools in my toolbox.
Join us for the next installment, as we continue to take a look at the tools that I use in my quilt making, but for my machine embroidery too! And my steam station is probably my most loved tool – I have dedicated an entire post to it!