When learning a new craft it’s expected that you’ll need a few tools. Quilting is no different and requires some essentials for accurate cutting and simplified sewing. It is my hope that this list of Beginner Quilting Supplies will help you decide which tools are the best choice to begin your quilting journey.
Finding the Best Quilting Tools Beginners
As a beginner, how do you decide which tools you will need now and which ones can wait until you’re an experienced quilter? A quick trip to your local quilt shop will most likely leave you a little overwhelmed by the endless amount of quilting tools available. With so many choices, how do you know where to start?
I’ve curated a collection of must-have items, with a few that you may want to add in once you are more experienced.
*Disclosure: Below are affiliate links. I personally use and love these items and that is why I recommend them.
Quilting requires accurate cutting and the best way to achieve perfect cuts is by learning how to use a rotary cutter and self-healing mat. Accurate cutting leads to accurate piecing. By mastering this skill you’ll be able to progress on to techniques such as chain piecing which speeds up the piecing process.
This unique tool looks a little like a pizza cutter and it has extremely sharp blades. Rotary cutters come in a variety of sizes; I recommend your first rotary cutter be medium sized which is usually a 45mm rotary cutter.
2. Self-Healing Cutting Mat*
A self-healing cutting mat is essential because it will protect your cutting surface and keep the rotary blade sharp. If you have the space, I recommend getting a 24″ x 36″ cutting mat because it fits on top of most tables and is large enough for a variety of projects. One thing to keep in mind, cutting mats need to be stored flat, such as under a bed. If storage is an issue, you may want to look for a folding mat or possibly an 18″ x 24″ cutting mat*.
Another cutting essential is a quilting ruler. These rulers are transparent and have some sort of gripping ability to keep from slipping when you’re using a rotary cutter. Most have markings that are quilting-specific which will help with making accurate cuts. I recommend getting either a 5″ x 24″ ruler or a 6″ x 24″ ruler to start. Later, you may want to invest in a variety of rulers.
You don’t need an expensive iron, just one that gets really hot and has a steam function. Make sure your ironing board is fairly sturdy in order to handle your quilt once it’s completely pieced. Most likely, you own some sort of iron and ironing board which will work fine. Set them up next to your sewing machine and this will be perfect for quilting.
Another option is a small iron that is specific for working with quilt piecing and blocks. This Steamfast Travel Steam Iron* is the perfect tool small space ironing. It’s compact, but still gets really hot and even has a steam function. I keep mine next to my sewing machine for quick a quick press when piecing.
If you choose this option, there is a Foldaway Cutting and Ironing Mat* that combines a cutting mat with an ironing surface. Perfect for people with limited space. They are also portable enough to carry to a quilting class.
5. Quilting Gloves
When you’re trying to wrangle a quilt through a domestic sewing machine, these Machinger Gloves can really come in handy. They perfectly grip the quilt but still remain flexible, allowing you to easily manipulate the quilt through the machine.
Please note that they come in several different sizes; be sure to choose the correct size for your hands. I have the Small/Medium and they are a little snug. When they finally wear out, I’ll likely get the Medium/Large.
6. Curved Quilt Basting Safety Pins
For most quilting projects you will need a lot of safety pins to baste your quilt. Even a baby quilt can use over 50 pins. Curved safety pins are your best option. The size to get is #2 which is 1.5″ long and is ideal for pinning through most types of batting.
Dritz #2 Quilt Basting Pins* – These are your best value but can be a little difficult to pierce the fabric.
Bohin #2 Quilt Basting Pins* – Very high quality, goes through fabric layers easily; but the cost can be prohibitive.
Wonder Clips are perfect for holding your binding in place while sewing. Using these handy clips will prevent you from getting pin sticks as you try to wrangle a quilt through your machine.
8. High Quality Thread for Piecing and Quilting
Your quilt is only as sturdy as the thread holding it together. I recommend using a high quality 50 wt. 100% cotton thread. This is especially important when piecing because the thread is so fine that it doesn’t create much bulk. There are several brands on the market that will work.
For beginning quilters, a couple of colors are great to start you off on your quilting journey. Below are two neutral colors that I use most of the time.
You don’t have to spend a fortune in order to have a reliable sewing machine. All it really needs to do is consistently sew a straight line. I have written a post with a few Tips for Buying a Sewing Machine.
Don’t forget the sewing machine needles. For most projects a Universal 80/12* needle will work fine. The key to consistent stitches is using a fresh needle. If you start seeing skipped stitches, it’s time to change your needle.
For more precise piecing and machine quilting, I recommend using a Microtex Sharp 80/12* needle. They have to be changed more often, but you will get more consistent stitches when going through several layers of fabric.
If you’re going to quilt you will need fabric. Choose a high quality, 100% quilting weight cotton for your projects. Where fabrics are concerned there really is a difference in quality. High quality cotton starts with a superior product and is less likely to bleed when washed. Here is an excellent article by Jim Salinas on this subject.
Additional Recommended Supplies
Many of you may have some basic sewing supplies such as scissors, pins, thread, seam ripper, etc. These are all essential, but there are a few more that will make your quilting experience more enjoyable.
- Fabric Scissors* – With any type of sewing you need a pair of scissors. With quilting you need scissors mainly for small clipping and snipping.
- Flowerhead Pins* – Make sure your pins are at least 1.5 – 2″ long because you are likely pinning through three layers.
- Water Soluble Fabric Marker* I prefer this fabric pen because any marks will disappear when spritzed with water.
- Seam Ripper* – I like this one because it has a rubber tip on the end which helps brush away small threads.
- 1/4″ Sewing Foot* – Be sure to match the presser foot to your particular sewing machine. Many new machines include this foot!
- Walking Foot* – Be sure to match the walking foot to your particular sewing machine.
If you’ve been sewing for any length of time you may have many of these items. When shopping for quilting supplies, I’ve found that large chain stores are sometimes more expensive ~ even with a 50% off coupon. It pays to do a little homework before you head to the store.
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your stash of quilting supplies. Be patient, watch for sales, and try to purchase the highest quality supplies your budget will allow.
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