Wednesday, February 4, 2015

9 Quilting Tools You Need To Start Quilting Today

What do I need to start quilting?  There are a lot of quilting tools available today.  It can also cost a small fortune to get started if you run out and buy all the quilting supplies that you see.  There are some things that you HAVE to have and others that will make your life a lot easier.  There's also a wide price range for most of the quilting supplies on the market.  I've tried very hard to source quality quilting tools with three price ranges in mind, cheap, mid-price, and expensive.  That way you can get the quilting tools you need and want without breaking the bank.  You can always upgrade your tools as you have the money and as you realize just how much you love to make quilts.

quilting tools and supplies to get started

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Basic Quilting Supplies

Pins -  There are lots of different kinds of pins out there.  The first ones are basic and you get 500 of them.  The heads are plastic and you'll probably melt a few but there are many quilters who use them. I have some that were my mom's pins.  The next are glass head pins.  This are more costly you only get 250.  The heads won't melt and the pin itself is thinner than the others.  These are the ones I use, because the majority of the melted plastic ones we own are all my fault. The last ones are the most expensive pins of the ones I'm sharing.  These are almost 2" long, are glass heads, and you get 100 of them.  These are what my husband uses and I do have one box for myself.

Thread - The is one polarizing area amongst quilters.  Everyone has an opinion of what kind of thread you should use and what kind of thread you shouldn't use.  Some people say you can't use Coats and Clark, others are fine with it.  I am one of the people who is fine with it.   My husband and I both use overlock machine thread for all of our piecing.  It is linty so you have to keep your machine clean or something like this can happen.  The last is 100% cotton thread.  Aurifil is a well respected brand in the quilting world.  Many swear by this thread for piecing, hand sewing, and quilting.

Fabric Scissors - Don't cheap out on scissors.  There will be times that you can't use a rotary cutter to cut fabric or you may not have a rotary cutter.  Buy one pair, if that's all you can afford, and dedicate them to fabric only.  Pick the style that fits your hands the best and you like.  I prefer the second and third choices.  The Fiskars ones I have had since I was in high school.  They work wonderfully.  The Havel's were a press gift from the company.  They are razor sharp and I keep a pair by my machine.  My husband prefers the first and last style of scissor.  The Gingher scissors have a nice heft to them that he likes. 

Thread Snips - The fabric scissors are a little big to use to clip threads.  I always worry I'll end up clipping my fabric with the big scissors.  Again these are things that my husband and I don't agree on, I like the first ones and he likes the second.  Remember to dedicate these to your sewing kit!

Iron - If it has a cotton setting you are good.  Don't spend a lot of money on an iron, you will more than likely drop it and it doesn't hurt as much to replace a $20 iron as it does to replace a $100 iron.  If you have one already there is no need to go out and buy another one.  I like to use steam when I press my seams and blocks, others say you should never use steam.  It's another polarizing debate amongst quilters.

Beyond The Basic Quilting Tools

Cutting Mat  - It protects your table or countertop.  It is a must have if you are going to use a rotary cutter.  My rules on a cutting mat are the largest one you can afford and will fit on the table you are going to use.  If you do not have a dedicated cutting table you are going to have to store it and you need to store it flat.  Most of your big box stores carry cutting mats, head out to your nearest one to pick the one that best suits you.  I've found Amazon's selection limiting compared to what I can find in stores like JoAnn's and Hobby Lobby.  Your local quilt shop might also carry them.

Rotary Cutter - These make cutting your fabric quick, easy, and more accurate than scissors.  The standard sizes are 28mm, 45mm, and 60mm.  I have three brands of rotary cutters.  I will say that the cheaper ones of today don't seem to last as long as the cheap ones of yesterday.  45mm is the one to go with when you start out.  The 28mm is great for cutting curves and the 60mm is great for cutting long cuts, like upcycling cotton shirts.   My 60mm is a Havel's but Amazon doesn't carry those but the Olfa is the same style.  I really like the ruler with rotary cutter together.

6x24 Ruler - You have to have a ruler if you have a rotary cutter, unless you get the all in one.  There isn't much to say on these, they are pretty straight forward.  Purchase the one that fits your budget the best.  Don't forget to stabilize it when you get it home!

Sewing Machine - Unless you plan on sewing by hand you are going to need a sewing machine.  I am very passionate about this topic.  There are all kinds of machines on the market today.  They can range from $60 - $10,000+.  I don't use a modern machine.  They don't last and it doesn't matter what you spend. Companies stop making parts for the machines at some point and when they part breaks your only option is to buy a new one.  I do have an embroidery machine but that's a different ballpark in my opinion.  I like vintage sewing machines, a good all metal sewing machine.  I'm also a collector of vintage sewing machine, all of them you can make a quilt on.  You can get by with a straight stitch only machine.  Pricing for these machines vary greatly on your location and the shape they are in.  Check with family members who sew, they may just have a sewing machine you can use.

Another thing to pick up is a seam ripper.  They are fairly cheap, just a couple of bucks, and you will have to replace it from time to time.

Now that you have all of your tools be sure to check out my quilt projects and my small quilted projects so you can get started today!

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tools to help you get started

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Melissa Shields
Melissa Shields

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  1. Rulers are pretty "straight" forward. :) Good list.

  2. Great informative post. I wish I had it when I first started quilting. I am still a quilting newbie, but it's good to know that I started out with the right tools! :)