Quilting and Quilting Tools
There are a lot of quilting tools you can buy. However, as
a frugal quilter, you don't need all of them. Some tools are necessary,
while others just give you another way of doing things or make a task easier.
Quilting is not a hobby that you
can do sloppily. You must both cut and sew accurately. It can be
difficult to see the size marks on a quilting ruler if you do not have enough
Obviously you need a sewing
machine (most quilters actually have at least 2 of them), unless you are
going to do all your stitching by hand. You can get by with 2 colors of
thread, white and a putty or beige color for all but your lightest fabrics.
When I moved my sewing upstairs
to a darker room, I had to install lighting. My sewing desk is under a
skylight, but my cutting table is under a slanted ceiling. To solve the
problem, we put in track lighting and can be turned to just the right
direction over my cutting.
The follow is a list of the the other items you need, and some
considerations for each item.
- There are several different sizes of
rotary cutters. The big ones are for cutting multiple layers at one time.
I prefer never to cut through more than 3 layers at a time for accuracy
purposes, so a medium size cutter works well for me.
The blades to get dull over
time, so it is more frugal to stick with one size rotary cutter and buy a large
size of replacement blades.
The very small rotary cutters
are for cutting around small templates. I have one, but rarely use it.
I do prefer the ergonomic
cutting tools, with the rounded handles. If you start having problems with
you hands or wrist, there is also a long cutting ruler with an attached blade
that will allow you to keep cutting as you only push the handle forward to cut the fabric.
You can see that piece of equipment on the right above.
Buy the largest mat you can afford or have room for on your table. It is
just convenient to have more cutting surface, and your mat will last for years.
Never use the lines on the mat
for cutting. Always use at least 2 lines on your ruler to position your
ruler on your fabric and make your cut.
Rotary cutting mats are
reversible. You can use the plain side also. However, most people
use the side with the lines just to visually check measurements.
Never cut paper with your rotary
cutter. It will ruin the blade. If you start doing paper piecing,
you will need a rotary cutter dedicated to that project. Be sure and
clearly mark that cutter so you don't mix them up.
You may also want to buy a small
mat that you can turn when you make cuts, leaving the fabric in place.
This is for safety reasons. You should always cut away from you and never
sideways. Wearing a glove to protect your hand is also a good idea. You
can also buy small rotary cutting boards that are mounted on a board that lets
Scissors - A small pair
of sharp scissors is essential for trimming. A large pair comes in handy
also for times you don't want to use the rotary cutter.
Mark your scissors, and never
use them for anything but fabric.
Seam ripper -
No matter how long you have been
quilting, you will do a lot of removing of stitches ( gracefully referred to as
"unstitching" by quilters). Sometimes you will do sewing that you know you
will be removing. Keep the seam ripper handy, as it will be one less level
or aggravation when you make a mistake.
Tape Measures - There are lots of
rulers, with some of them dedicated to specific tasks. The basic rulers every
quilter needs are a medium size (12x8) rectangular ruler, a large and small square ruler (for squaring up
blocks), and a smaller triangle (usually called an "easy angle ruler" .
The small triangle ruler will come in handy for trimming, making small cuts, and
with cutting triangles.
Be sure that your larger rulers
have the marks for 1/8 inch cuts, as well as long lines for the 45-inch angle.
Tape measures are needed to
double check measurements, measure for binding, and other quilting tasks.
Marking tools - You can
choose from pencils, chalks, and sharp felt tip pens. White or silver
pencils work well on dark colors. Colored pencils work well on light
fabrics. Chalk wheels are very visible and wipe off easily.
Be careful with black felt tip
pens. If they are not permanent, the markings could bleed into your fabric
Work surface - Most
people work on a table of some kind. I use a folding craft table.
They are not very stable, but economical and easy to move and adjust the size.
When I have a big quilt to pin, I put two of them together, and then use binder
clips to stretch my quilt top taunt across the top and pin it for machine
If you have a regular table you
want to use, lift it up so you won't hurt your back. You can buy risers
for the legs, or make them yourself depending on how your table is constructed.