What essential quilting tools should beginning quilters buy?

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Answered by: Laura, An Expert in the Quilting - General Category
5 Tools That Every Quilter Needs

Quilting can be a fun hobby. Many a person has spent countless hours creating amazing masterpieces of fabric and thread. But without the right tools it can become a stressful exercise that ends in tears and frustration. Here are 5 essential quilting tools to ensure that your experience remains fun and frustration-free.



1 - Graph Paper

The first step in the quilting process is deciding what the quilt top will look like. Many people can find free patterns online, in magazines, or books but it is just as easy to design your own. This is where grid paper comes in handy. All quilts are either squares and rectangles and most include either patches or quilt blocks that are squares. Graph paper can help you easily sketch your design for your quilt and what the finished dimensions will be. Using graph paper will help you figure out the sizes of each patch or block which helps ensure accurate cutting and it can also help you know exactly how much fabric you need to buy before you go to the store.

2 - Rotary Cutter and Mat



A patchwork quilt is composed of different pieces with some of the more intricate quilts including hundreds, if not thousands of pieces. Cutting out all those pieces using conventional fabric scissors can take an eternity. Using a rotary cutter is a more efficient way to cut out all those pieces in a timely manner. Anytime you use a rotary cutter you should have a cutting mat below the fabric to protect the surfaces beneath. A good cutting mat will be made of self-healing materials, which allow the cuts from your rotary blade to disappear.

3 - ¼” Sewing Machine Foot

Quilting is all about precision. After designing your quilt top you carefully cut it out ensuring that each piece of fabric is cut to exact measurements. Following the cutting you can begin sewing, but without that same precision in the widths of your seams, it can drastically affect the end dimensions of your finished project. It would be a shame to put in all the effort planning your quilt and meticulously cutting it out, only to have you mess it up by not having the correct seam allowances. Most quilts are designed with a ¼” seam allowance and having a ¼” sewing machine foot allows you to place the edge of your fabric along the edge of your foot to make certain that every seam is exactly ¼” off. Even being consistently off by ?” can drastically affect the size of your quilt when you are done.

5 - Walking Foot

Blankets can be quilted by hand but the faster and easier way, especially for smaller baby blankets, is to machine quilt. An essential quilting tool for machine quilting is a walking foot. When quilting by machine, it is very important that your top fabric layer, batting, and bottom fabric layer all feed through the machine at the same rate. A walking foot has mechanisms that feed the top fabric layer through the sewing machine at the same rate as the sewing machine feed the bottom layer of fabric, reducing puckering and saving yourself hours of headache removing erroneous stitching. There are many patterns you can use when machine quilting.

6 - Iron and Ironing Board

Although not specifically a quilting tool, an iron and ironing board is essential for making beautiful quilts with professional ¼” seams. After you have sewn any seam in a project that seam must be pressed open, in order to ensure that the quilt top lays properly, is square, and being certain that your finished dimensions are as you intended. You can certainly sew a quilt without pressing your seams but once you begin pressing your seams you will never go back.

Whether a quilting pro or a beginning, by utilizing these 5 essential quilting tools you can be sure to have an enjoyable experience with a successful quilt at the end.

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