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Essential Quilting Tools for the Beginner

Admirer of all things quilty and handmade? Dreaming of embarking on a wonderful journey into the world of quilting? Totally overwhelmed by the imense selection of quiltong tools, notions, advice, price points, and brands??? I've been quilting for over 15 years. I started out with the basics and over time have grown my supply of quilting supplies as well as opinions of what you really need, what you don't need as a beginner, and the best products on the market. I've rounded up my list of must haves for all you enthusiasts out there so you can hit the ground running, not stressing over what to invest in or frustrated that what you have isn't working for you.

What I am leaving out of this post:

Sewing machines, irons, ironing boards, and quilting materials (thread, batting, and fabric). All must haves but each could be it's own post entirely. Ultimately, you need a sewing machine that's in working condition an iron that gets hot (and has some weight to it), and materials to work with.

A Self-Healing Rotary Cutting Mat:

At the top of my list is a good rotary cutter and mat. Its essential for acheiving precise cuts, cutting through multiple layers of fabric, and trimming up blocks. The Olfa foldable self-healing cutting mat provides a smooth surface for precise cutting and doesn't take up a ton of space. It's big enough, however, to handle 42" wide fabric (folded in half).

An Ergonomic Rotary Cutter:

Not all rotary cutters are created equal. I've had several different brands over the years and my favorite is the Olfa Ergonomic Rotary Cutter (45mm). I've found the blades to be sharper and the design of the handle to relieve strain on my hands when I'm doing a lot of cutting. It's also a safer option as it's much harder to leave the blade out.

Curved Basting Pins:

When it's time to quilt your layers together, you will need to baste your project (this means temporarily adhering your quilt layers together to keep the fabric from shifting during quilting resulting in puckers, extra tucks of fabric, wonky blocks, etc.). There are several methods for basting including spray basting, pin basting, or thread basting. Even if you choose spray basting, you will still want some pins to keep everything nice and together. My preferred method is pin basting since spray basting isn't necessarily the healthiest or cheapest option. I space my pins about 5" apart and have had a lot of success. Curved Basting Pins make it much easier to put the pins in, especially when you are working with a big project.

Crystal Glass Head Pins:

These heat-resistant pins are perfect for piecing quilt tops. The colorful glass heads make them easy to spot and handle. Pinning helps you to line up points and really ups your precision.

Fabric Scissors:

Cut through multiple layers of fabric with ease using Kai shears. The ergonomic handle design reduces hand fatigue, making them a joy to use for extended periods. Just be careful to only use them on fabric! Using fabric sciccors on non-fabric materials creates dull blades.

Quilting Rulers

Quilting Rulers are used with your rotary cutter and mat to cut precisely. The most essential sizes to have are a 6" x 24" Ruler for cutting long strips and trimming up edges and a 12 1/2" x 12 1/2" square ruler for cutting out squares, rectangles, and trimming up blocks. Nice to have sizes include a 9 1/2" square, 6 1/2" square, and 4 1/2" square. As you advance, you may find yourself wanting specialty rulers but if you have these five in your supplies, you'll be able to make most beginner friendly patterns. I like to use Omnigrid or Omnigrip rulers. I still have my original set that was purchased at least 10 years ago. The bright yellow marking make it super easy to read.

Seam Ripper:

We all make mistakes, and the ergonomic seam ripper is here to help you correct them quickly and comfortably. The easy-grip handle ensures precise seam ripping without damaging your fabric.

A Little bit of Guidance:

Need a starting point? Someone to teach you is fabulous (and fun) but if you aren't super close to an experienced quilter, this Quilt Making for Beginners Pocket Guide by Angela Walters will be invaluable! It goes over all the basics of quilting with lots of pretty pictures and helpful information to get you started. Pair this with the infinite how-to videos available on YouTube and you will pick things up just fine.

If you're looking to elevate your quilting game even further, I have curated a special product bundle that includes some of the essential notions discussed in this post. This bundle is perfect for both beginners looking to start their quilting journey with the right tools and seasoned quilters wanting to refresh their supplies.

By investing in quality quilting notions, you're not only making your quilting projects easier and more efficient but also setting yourself up for success in creating beautiful, well-crafted quilts. Remember, the right tools can make all the difference in turning your quilting vision into a reality.

You can order your beginning quilt kit here!

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