We start our multi-part series on quilting basics with quilting tools. There are many websites and magazines that all offer advice on starting to quilt. One thing that they all have in common is kicking off with the right tools.
I have many quilting tools that I’ve gathered over the years. Some are used more than others, and each one has either made my quilting easier or has become a necessity. The quilting tools that I’m including here are those that you will use in projects that you can purchase from this website. You can read all about the quilting tools that I have in my studio in a blog post that I wrote in 2018.
The essential quilting tools
These essentials are not an exhaustive list but are what I would recommend as necessary to start your hobby. They are also the quilting tools that you will need to complete the projects on this website.
You need a clear flat acrylic ruler with a measuring grid of at least 2″ wide and 18″ long. Personally, I prefer my rulers to be at least 4″ wide because it gives me a bigger area to place my hand flat on the ruler when cutting. A good ruler along with a rotary cutter and cutting mat are your most essential quilting tools.
Iron, ironing board and press cloths
Every seam you stitch will require pressing to ensure that the patches don’t create bulges when you put them all together, and to make sure that the blocks all fit.
You want the iron to be able to steam, but also to use a dry iron. Some items require a dry iron like appliqué paper or stabilizer, whereas heavily creased fabric will need some steam to remove those creases.
The other very important item in the pressing category is starch. It is extremely useful when doing appliqué and generally helps to make sure that you cut straight.
This little guy will pop-up in all my patchwork-in-the-hoop instructions. It is ideal for creating crisp folds when you’re creating a patchwork block on your embroidery machine. When you combine it with my appliqué paper technique for in-the-hoop patchwork, you will have a beautiful result.
Needles and marking tools
Keep a variety of needles around. Different sizes for different weights of thread, and also for different purposes.
Marking pencils come in a variety of options from ink, to air erase to chalk. I prefer chalk and the air erasable pens as they are less likely to mark your fabric. That being said, if you iron over ink it is likely to become permanent so be careful.
Rotary cutter and self-healing mat
Cutting fabric for patchwork requires accuracy that you simply won’t get with a scissor. A rotary cutter with a decent grip is your most important quilting tool along with a self-healing mat that will help to protect the blade of the rotary cutter. And of course rulers!
Craft scissors are the scissors that you will use to cut paper templates. Never use your sewing scissors for anything other than fabric! To prevent this from happening, it helps to mark the scissor or use a specific color so that anybody will know that only the orange handled scissors are for general use.
Embroidery scissors are used to trim off threads and do the intricate cutting.
Thread snips can be useful, but an embroidery scissor will also fulfill this function.
A glue pen is essential for the patchwork-in-the-hoop blocks. The first prize is the mini-iron, but if you don’t have one of these, you will need glue to keep your patches in place. The pen works best because it gets into small spaces without getting glue on everything else.
I use a technique with appliqué paper for all my flip-and-sew patchwork blocks. You will also need appliqué paper for traditional methods of quilting.