Learn which are the best quilting tools. A quilt is a gift that goes on giving. It can be traditional, comforting, and creative! If you plan to start quilting as a hobby you need the right tools! Quilting, a traditional sewing craft, has fostered love and harmony among families for centuries and will continue to do so for many more.
Using scraps of fabric to make a quilt is a really special gift to give for a new baby or for a wedding present. Modern quilters have many quilting tools to facilitate this craft. The beginner, starting out on their quilting journey, needs some basic tools. If you sew already, you will have many of these already in your basic sewing kit.
The right quilting tools means a better end product.
Quilting Tools - Cutting
Basic cutting tools are a vital starting point for your quilting tools kit.
It is worthwhile investing in really good fabric scissors. Keep them in a safe place and use them only for fabric. Blunt scissors will not cut the quilting fabric neatly and accurately. Smaller embroidery scissors are a useful addition for cutting smaller pieces of fabric and snipping threads
Further Reading: Cutting Tools for Sewing
There are two types of rotary cutters. The larger version looks like a pizza cutter and is the most commonly used of all your quilting tools. It presses firmly into the layers of fabric and gives a clean-cut edge.
The smaller cutter looks like a knife and cuts efficiently, especially on smaller pieces of fabric.
Further Reading: How to Use a Rotary Cutter
Rotary Cutting Mat
It is important to have a cutting mat that does not get damaged by scissors or cutting blades.
A good quality cutting mat comes with grids and lines to gauge measurements. It protects your table and enables you to cut accurately. A mat that is 24”x 36” (60x90cm) is a good standard size.
Quilting Tools - Measuring and Marking
Transparent Quilting Rulers
Rulers are essential quilting tools. The transparent ruler is perfect for controlling the fabric while you cut with your rotary cutter. The rotary ruler is also known as an acrylic ruler.
Quilting rulers have clear markings and are made out of transparent plastic. The markings should be easy to read.
The ruler comes in different sizes with the basic being 24” (90cm) long and 6” or 8”(15 or 20cm) wide.
There are other variations of quilting rulers. Specialty rulers are made for squares, flying geese designs, and log cabin blocks.
Marking tools such as chalk, removable pens and chalk pens will be needed to mark positions.
Quilting Tools - Pins, Needles & Thread
Pins and Clips
Pins and clips are needed to secure the fabric, the batting and the lining.
Use long, fine, pointed, stainless steel pins. If you plan to press a hot iron onto the pinned pieces, use glass pins to avoid the pinhead melting onto the fabric.
Clips such as Wonderclips are useful for holding the edges of bindings.
Safety pins are useful for holding layers of fabrics together and are better than pins to go through the batting.
Further Reading: Types of Pins for Sewing
You will need specialty quilting needles for both your sewing machine and for hand sewing. Quilting needles are strong enough to pierce multiple layers of fabric.
Further Reading: Hand Sewing Needles
A Seam Ripper
The seam ripper is very helpful for the little mistakes you may make. Even experienced sewers need to unpick every now and again. Seam rippers are cheap so always have a couple on hand and replace them as soon as they get blunt.
Further Reading: How to Use a Seam Ripper
An Iron and Ironing Board
Pressing and getting the different layers to match is really important. Having an iron and ironing board ready makes this process easy and convenient. Pressing when sewing differs from ironing your clothing. Sewing requires up and down movements rather than dragging along the fabric.
Further Reading: Pressing for Sewing
The thread must be 100% cotton and preferably reinforced. Use a 50 or 40 weight for the quilting machine or a 30 weight to sew by hand. Lower numbers relate to thicker threads.
Several brands produce specialized quilting threads that are strong and smooth. Look for Rasant and Coates.
Further Reading: Sewing Thread Types
Quilting Tools - Sewing Machine and Feet
Quilting was and still is a handcraft, but a machine does simplify and strengthen the stitching. A specialized quilting machine enables the seamstress to have more room to maneuver the quilt while sewing. You will notice most quilting machines have a large table extension so the weight of the quilt is supported and doesn't drag down.
You can use an ordinary sewing machine, but if you are serious about quilting on a larger scale, then look into purchasing a quilting machine.
What are the advantages of quilting by machine?
- A quilting machine gives the quilter a larger workspace on the machine.
- The machine offers multiple stitches for joining the pieces.
- A quilting machine can do decorative stitches.
- The specially designed feeding system of the quilting machine allows several layers of material to be stitched at the same time.
- Many quilting machines have an automatic ending off stitch built into the machine.
Do you have to buy a quilting machine? No, a regular machine can sew a quilt. However, the specialized version allows for more fabric space and is designed to make quilting easier.
You can sew a quilt just using an all-purpose sewing foot but there are a couple of extra feet that can make your experience much easier.
The walking foot which is the large white foot in the left of the photo will walk over the fabric resulting in less shifting and wrinkling of the fabric. It is especially useful for accurate patchworking and matching of seams as well as sewing smooth binding.
The stitch in the ditch or edge foot can be used in the quilting process to accurately sew in between the seams of your quilt.
Quilting Tools - In Conclusion
Quilting touches the hearts of the quilters and the person the quilt is designed for. In the movie ‘How to make an American Quilt,’ the essence of quilting and creating memories is the thread that runs through the story.
A group of ladies meet and share their hopes and memories through the making of a quilt. Although they did not have the fancy tools of today or the machines to sew with, they had their hearts in every stitch – that is what makes quilting a true labor of love.