Essential Quilting tools for your quilting journey

The bug has bitten, and you’re eager to get going on your patchwork and quilting journey. With so many tools on the market, what is it that you really need? Well, my fellow quilter, here’s the answer to your question.

Rotary Cutter

These babies come in various sizes and shapes, but you simply cannot go wrong with an Olfa. Here’s why I like mine:

  1. It has a cutting blade lock. This is brilliant because it keeps the blade safely tucked away when not in use, and unless the lock is released, nobody is going to get that baby to drop the blade. So if your busy toddler does happen to come across it, it does have a safety! Also, if your cat happens to knock it off the table, the blade isn’t going to snap!
  2. I have two sizes: 45mm and 60mm. The standard, and the one I suggest you use as a beginner, is the 45mm. It’s sufficient for cutting through two or three layers of fabric and gets around curves nicely.

Cutting mat

In the world of quilting many believe that all cutting mats are created equal. Some quilting mats are definitely more equal than others! You’re looking for self-healing properties. This means that unless you take a carving knife to that cutting surface, the cut will disappear to a degree. The only thing that isn’t going to show a cut is glass – and you get those too, but your rotary cutter blade is going to be blunt in no time. Certain cutting mats will also make the blade on your rotary cutter blunt.

What do I recommend? Once again I stick to Olfa’s range of cutting mats, though I have digressed to a Martelli on my rotating mat. Nothing is better than the Martelli for rotating but unfortunately that cutting mat surface needs a lot of improvement.

When it comes to size, you want to get the biggest cutting mat you can fit on your cutting surface – you’ll thank me later. Olfa has interesting clips that you can use to attach multiple mats together to create a lovely big cutting mat.

Remember that any cutting mat will warp when left in the sun, and please be careful with laptops and just-pressed fabric – they do damage too!

Rulers

In this instance I mean the 1/8″ or 3mm thick rulers. Not the ones for longarm quilting. These are the ones you’ll use to cut your fabric. You only need one to start with and that’s a 24″ x 6″. The length makes it easier to align with the lines on your cutting mat and a wide enough area to hold down with your hand.

There are many on the market ranging from Sew Easy on the cheaper end of the scale and Creative Grids on the more expensive side. You want something that is going to grip on the fabric, and there are wonderful products on the market that will add that grip. In fact, my very first ruler still has the grip I added to it, and the subsequent smaller rulers I got have the same grip – and I’ve never needed to replace the grip. Once it’s on, it stays on unless you purposely want to remove it. Then it comes off clear too.

sew easy ruler
Omnigrid invisi grip

The much-loved seam ripper

I know, nobody likes to undo what they just stitched, but sometimes it’s necessary and then you’re going to want one of these handy. And I have many, in different colours so that I can find them, and in different sizes – also so that I can find them! What can I say about the seam ripper that you don’t already know? That little knob is to separate the fabric so that the sharp ripper end doesn’t get caught on the fabric – did you know that? Next time you need to rip, find the first stitch with the sharp pointy end, cut it and then slip the knob in between the layers. Rip along the seam now. You’re welcome LOL.

Pins

As quilting tools go, these also come in different sizes, quality, and decorative/functional heads. I prefer a thin sharp pin that I can easily grip which led me to the glass head pins by Sew Easy. Personally, the heat-resistant thing is probably important, but the glass head pins are not affected by heat. There are also the flat flowerhead pins, but I do believe the heat from an iron will melt them. The last time I used a pin alongside an iron was when I stitched a seam to a tablecloth.

Glass head pins
These are my preferred pins
I can admit that I really want to try these, but I don’t want to take a bank loan to do it!
Numbered pins will help to keep pieces organised, but a piece of paper and a pin will do the same.

Iron

Strictly speaking you won’t find an iron in a quilt shop, but it is a necessary quilting tool. You’re going to need an iron to press seams and starch your fabric. If you’re still on the fence about steam and dry ironing, excuse me, pressing then get a combination iron. I use a steam station from Philips. And I have another iron that I use without steam as a dry iron.

Images courtesy of Philips

You will also need a sewing machine, unless you’re planning to go the hand stitching route. I will also suggest that you get a fabric only scissor for your quilting tool set. I also like a small scissor for cutting thread ends.

That really is it! You’ll want to stop by the fabric isle in your local quilt shop next – always use quality fabric.

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