Basic Quilting Supplies


This is part 1 in a 10 part Beginning Quilting Series.

I am excited to share some very beginner-level steps to making a quilt. We’re going to move slow and simply through the quilt-making process from beginning to end. There will be a 10 week series, dissecting how to make a simple patchwork quilt. We’ll start today by talking about basic supplies.

One look at the quilting aisle in any of the big fabric stores and it would be easy to feel overwhelmed.  You don’t need every tool on the market for a successful quilt-making experience, but there are a few that will make a significant difference.
  • Rotary Cutter –  this tool is like a pizza cutter for fabric. The blades are very sharp and cut fabric quickly and accurately. There are many different sizes.  I use the medium-sized cutter most and recommend this one for any beginners.
  • A Self-healing Cutting Mat – allows you to use the rotary cutter for cutting fabric.  A printed ruler-grid can also help with measuring fabric pieces. Mats come in many different sizes, but an 18″ x 24″ mat is a good size to start with.
  • Scissors – sharp sewing scissors are helpful however, most quilt projects are cut mostly with a rotary cutter so fancy, expensive scissors aren’t necessary.  Do try to keep a pair of scissors purely for cutting fabric/thread so they won’t dull as quickly cutting paper.
  • Seam Ripper – no shame here!  Even the best of quilters/seamstresses stand by their seam ripper. I have at least 4 located strategically throughout the house because I use them so often.
  • Fabric – we’ll talk about this more in the future, but 100% Cotton is best.
  • Thread – again, use 100% Cotton thread for quilting.  Some thread is better than others.  Cheaper thread will break easier and could create a lint farm in your machine.  I don’t buy the most expensive thread, but I don’t buy the cheapest either.  Because I use so much thread, I started buying in bulk – hence the big cone in the top of the picture. One neutral color works well on most piecing projects – cream, tan or gray.
  • Pins – I like the longer straight pins with plastic heads. They’re much easier to grab while working and to find when I drop them into the carpet. Safety pins (not pictured) also come in handy in the finishing stages later on.
  • Rulers – These are an important part of the quilting process.  They help cut pieces quickly and accurately. I suggest starting with a longer ruler 5″ or 6″ x 24″.  This allows you to cut efficiently across the width of the fabric.  I also recommend a smaller ruler (5″ or 6″ x 12″) to make it easier to cut smaller pieces.
Now, I know you are thinking that this is going to add up fast, and it definitely can.  I suggest using those 40-50% off coupons for the larger chain fabric or craft stores to get your supplies. That can save you a ton of money.  And remember that these tools are investments you will use over and over again.  (I have had my rulers for almost 10 years and have used them almost every day. I even use them for paper crafts – my rotary cutter too!)  If you’re not sure you want to invest in something until you know you enjoy the task they’re for, ask a friend if you can borrow theirs to try them first.

Finally, a word about irons and sewing machines. Neither of these need to be fancy or expensive. Almost any iron will do, but one with steam is an extra nice feature to have.  Some of my favorite irons are one’s that I’ve found at thrift stores for very cheap.
If you have a sewing machine that will sew a good, straight line, you are ready to go!  My machine is almost as old as I am and I love it.  If your machine is giving you trouble, take it in to get serviced. It’s like a car – a little maintenance  and some oil will keep it running well for a long time.
You can buy sewing machine needles specifically for quilting, but don’t have to. Most of the time I use Universals. Changing the needle regularly makes a big difference.  In fact, if your machine is skipping stitches or not sewing well, try changing the needle before you do anything else.  It’s often a simple, and cheap, solution.

This series was originally posted at  Make and Takes

Comments

  1. says

    If you're talking about making a whole quilt (not just piecing the front), you probably should also include batting, backing fabric and something for basting (whether that is pins, spray adhesive, thread, etc).

  2. says

    I always have a measuring tape handy–I find it a lot easier to check things with it. Especially pieces that are longer than my cutting mat!

  3. says

    You know, I was going to be a smart aleck and say, sewing machine. Then I realized that, although it is nice to have one, a quilter can also quilt by hand. So I can't think of anything else….

  4. says

    You forgot chocolate, music and a nice chair in a great sunny spot…..thank you sharing this great idea, wish it was around when I started…ok I will be serious a template/pattern/magazine.

  5. says

    I will have to check out your posts on the basics, I am sure I will learn some new things. I just posted on how I organize all my quilting/sewing stuff in unique and thirty ways. Once I had all the items you have pictured, and many more, I was becoming overrun and needed to do some major organizing! LOL<br />:)<br />Courtney<br />ThePaisleyAbbey.com

  6. says

    I agree about the tape measure. Also, a small ruler (1&quot; X 12&quot; for example) to keep by your machine to measure seams while you&#39;re learning to get a good 1/4&quot; seam and to check to make sure the piece that you&#39;re adding to your block is the right one, lol.<br /><br />Also, I cannot sew without my stiletto, but that&#39;s a personal preference.

  7. says

    I&#39;ve been following your blog for a while and I LOVE it! I teach a beginning quilt class. Your list is the same as mine! I did suggest if they could afford it to get the 4×14 ruler for smaller cuts, and the 6×24 when they&#39;re trying to cut larger pieces of fabric. Just easier! Good luck to you!

  8. says

    I&#39;m so excited to see this series – I teach a beginner&#39;s class also and this will so help me to organize my thoughts – plus I&#39;m going to refer them all to this series to bookmark for future reference! <br /><br />I would recommend rulers with a lip on them that hook on the edge of your cutting mat – I find them very easy to make accurate cuts with, because they are less likely to

  9. says

    I was going to say an iron, but I see that you have got it covered over at Make and Takes. Being new to quilting I&#39;ll definately be following along to check if I can do anything better. I love your blog!

  10. says

    I have been quilting for a while now. Like the others, I was going to suggest paper and pencils or pens.<br />Do you mind if I link this up on my blog?

  11. says

    What a good idea! As a beginner I&#39;m always looking for good advices. I do like the chocolate-one :)<br /><br />Thanks!<br /><br />Anita (tryingtoquilt.blogspot.com)

  12. Anonymous says

    My granny sewed with a spool of thread, a pair of scissors,a pin cushion and a little ruler, maybe a pencil for making a cardboard template and she did just fine !

  13. says

    I agree with the addition of the tape measure &amp; needles (for hand or machine). If you&#39;re hand stitching, it&#39;s nice to have a needle threader &amp; thimble, too. I also keep a pencil of some sort in my kit at all times, for paper &amp;/or fabric markings.

  14. says

    I have been putting off quilting due to my lack of time and concentration…this is exactly what I need to help me along. I talked with a friend of mine who quilts and just having her share with me some of her knowledge….I was totally overwhelmed….so so happy for a place to go for help and directions that keeps it simple!! Thanks!

  15. says

    Thank you so much. Your blog has inspired me to start on a quilt. Thanks for the inspiration – God Bless You for being so generous-hearted. Am based in UAE and this will surely help me to keep busy and my mind free from all the troubles of the world.

  16. says

    I just read &quot;Basic Quilting Supplies&quot; and wish I had know about this website six months ago, when I started my first quilt ever. <br /><br />No matter where I went or who I asked about basic supplies for quilting, I never got a straight answer. I did eventually figure it out though.<br /><br />Well, three sewing machines later, and a lot of ripping out … Yes, I did finally finish my

  17. says

    Commented but got knocked off the interwebs ;P… Wanted to say THANK YOU for such an amazing tutorial! I&#39;m just beginning to learn to sew and am so excited to start my first quilt. I&#39;m really grateful that there are people like you out there willing to share their experience and skills with others. Good stuff! :) <br />

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