There are so many notions, products, patterns, and fabrics out there for quilters to buy. If you are just starting out on your quilting journey, it can be a little overwhelming knowing what to buy and what not to buy. You don't want to waste money on things you'll never use or buy a product that you'll quickly replace for something better. Here are six things that you should buy to get started.
*This post contains affiliate links. This means I may make a small commission if you purchase something through one of the links. Nothing I've included is something I don't have and use in my own sewing studio.
No. 1 A Good Quality Sewing Machine
This one might seem a bit obvious but if you are sewing on a low quality machine, you are going to have problems. You may end up frustrated or purchasing another machine shortly down the road.
Here are a few things that your sewing machine needs to have to quilt:
A feed dog that lowers
Adjustable straight and zig-zag stitches
A surface light
Good reviews (carefully check these to see what sewers love and hate about their machine)
A large space to sew projects to the right of the needle (if it's too small, you won't be able to quilt larger projects)
Now, here are some features that make life easier or are just nice to have:
Automatic needle-down (set your needle to always go down or up when you lift off the pedal)
Stitch speed control (this is like cruise control for your machine)
I recently upgraded my machine and purchased a Husqvarna Viking Jade. So far I love this machine! Two of my favorite elements are the self-threading needle and the automatic needle-down feature. I never realized how much time I spent lowering and raising my needle until my machine did it for me.
No. 2 The Proper Cutting Tools
Cutting can take SO much time, especially if you're not using the best equipment. Invest in the following:
A good pair of fabric scissors
A rotary cutter
A cutting mat
A 12" square ruler
A 24" long rectangular ruler
If you've never used a rotary cutter before, they are amazing! Cut multiple layers at once, cut efficiently, and cut accurately. You can get mat starter kits at your local craft shop or at Walmart.
There are a lot of fancy rulers that you can get. If you're just starting out, you'll be able to cut a ton of stuff with just these two rulers. Down the line, you can get smaller square rulers, triangles, hexagons, etc. as your projects require.
No. 3 Quilting Clips and Safety Pins
Growing up we used straight pins for piecing. They totally worked but they could be hard
to put in the fabric, especially around seams. I drew my own blood on several occasions when handling pinned fabric.
Today, I highly recommend sewing clips. They have a strong grip, are super easy to put on, and you can move them around easily when you're quilting. They also don't leave pinholes. You can get a pack of 100 clips for around ten bucks on Amazon or head to your local craft store and buy them there as well. I will never go back to solely using straight pins.
When you actually get to the quilting stage of a quilt, having a stash of safety pins is a must. They lock in your fabric. I still use a few safety pins even if I spray basted to help the edges stay down and the center secure.
No. 4 High Quality Fabric
Cheaper fabric is harder to work with. It could be too thin so that you see your seams through the top, fade quickly when washed, fray when you work with it, or shrink when you iron it. I can't stress enough the importance of buying good fabric.
Good fabric will have a higher thread count, 60 threads per inch. Sometimes bolts of fabric will tell you the thread count and sometimes they don't. If you don't see a thread count, hold it up to the light. If you can see pinpricks of light, the weave is too loose.
Side note: Even with high quality fabric, you still want to pre-wash everything, especially if it's a darker color.
No. 5 An Iron and Ironing Board
Ironing is an important step in quilting. I press my seams after every piece that gets sewn together. I've learned from experience here. In my younger days I thought that I could just finger press or not press after each time and still end up with beautiful points and corners. I was wrong. Don't be like younger me. Get yourself a decent ironing set-up. This just means having an ironing board and an iron close by. You don't need an expensive iron. I just have a cheap Black & Decker that works great.
No. 6 A Seam Ripper
Last but not least, the sixth essential item is a seam ripper. You WILL make mistakes. Even experiences quilters make them. It's better to rip out a seam that to start a problem that will perpetuate throughout your quilt.
This is my seam ripper. We are well acquainted. I just have a basic Clover ergonomic ripper - it does the job!
I hope you found this post helpful! If you have any questions about specific products I use or things to buy that I haven't covered here, leave a comment below.