The Basic Tools That Every Quilter Needs

Quilting is one of the most fun hobbies you can ever try!

What an absolutely perfect way to show the world just how creative you are. While making a quilt, you won't have to worry about clinging to the rules, follow in the footsteps of others; you can make anything that is to your liking.

Generation after generation of women has shared their love for quilting over hundreds of years, making gifts for each other, as a form of blessing on the birth of a new family member or wishing a couple well on their new marriage. 

If you love quilting, or the idea of quilting, there are no limits to what you can make. Elegant and subtle designs for an adult’s bedroom or dun, swanky designs for a teenager, a newborn quilt in beautiful colors or a quilt full of your favorite quotes and patterns - you can do almost anything with a few pieces of fabric.

Unlike some other hobbies, quilting actually requires a few tools. You can start quilting with the basic sewing supplies, but it can easily get out of hand.

The better quilting tools and equipment you have, the easier and faster your work is going to be. 

Most Important Quilting Tools 

Even when you are making a smaller quilt for a newborn baby or have chosen a rather simple design, making a quilt could overwhelm you, especially if you don’t have the right tools.

Here are some of the most basic quilting tools that you are going to need in your project. 

1. A Quilting Machine

If you are quite serious about quilting as a hobby or as a business, your most important investment would be in a high-quality quilting machine. These machines don’t come cheap, but a good machine will give you years and years of use.

You can, of course, try to sew the quilt with your hands but that is going to be quite a tedious and a confusing job. Even the simplest of quilts will require hundreds and hundreds of stitches, which is almost impossible without a machine. 

You can use a regular sewing machine for quilts if you already have one, but if you are thinking of buying a machine, it is better to invest in a quilting machine.

A quilting machine can be used for regular sewing and repairing jobs, too, as well as embroidering. 

However, the reason that you need a proper quilting machine for your quilting projects is that these machines have some unique features that are not available in regular sewing machines. For example:

  • A larger workspace where you can easily work on joining big pieces together;
  • Multiple stitches for you to use on joining the pieces;
  • Special decorative and textual stitches that you can use for letters and designs;
  • A feeding system that is perfect for sewing through several layers of fabric together
  • Automatic end-of-stitch features so that you don’t have to go through several steps at the end of sewing a row; and many more.  

2. Four kinds of Fabrics 

You need four kinds of fabrics for making a quilt, all of them available in the market, online or in your local craft shops. These three kinds of fabrics are known as the top part, the batting and the backing.

As the name suggests, the backing is for the back cover of the quilt, the batting is the fabric that goes in the middle, the binding that is used to sew around the edges, and the top part is the colorful pieces of fabric you join together.

The batting is usually made of thick cotton, wool or polyester and added in layers to give your quilt some volume. The thicker, the warmer and the heavier you want your batting, the more layers you need to add in the middle of the quilt.

If you are choosing more than two or three layers of batting, in addition to the backing and the top covers, the more advanced quilting machine you require to sew through all the layers together. 

The backing, on the other hand, is usually of the same fabric as the top part, but in one single design. Or, you can use several pieces joined together to make the backing just as attractive as the top layer.

However, that will make joining all the layers a little more complicated. The backing needs to be of a comfortable fabric, as this will be the part you are going to feel against your skin. 

The top layer is usually the most beautiful part of the layer, made of several different cotton fabrics joined together. You can choose the fabric pieces according to your theme or color combination, or you can use old pieces from T-shirts or dresses that you wish to preserve in a quilt.

If the fabric is steady enough, you can sew patterns, letters or texts on them. 

The binding is a separate piece of long cloth, usually silk or polyester, that is sewn around the edges of the quilt, so that the edges don’t start to fray away.

3. Rotary Cutting Mat, Rotary Cutter, and Rotary Rulers 

This is actually a set of several tools together: the mat, a few rulers and a cutter. The rotary cutting mat is the surface you can cut your fabric on, without damaging your table, floor or any other furniture surface.

The standard cutting mat is 24” x 36” in size, with vertical and horizontal lines drawn on them to make small squares. 

The rotary rulers are usually 6” x 24” in size, transparent and thin. They are great when you want to hold down your fabric to cut on your rotary mat, but also for measuring your fabric.

Rotary cutters, on the other hand, can be of two types: one that looks like a pizza cutter and one that looks like a paper knife. In a set, you can get both cutters together, as well as more than one rotary rulers and rotary mats (for home use and for traveling).

4. Iron and Ironing Board 

If you have an iron and ironing board in your laundry room, they will both do very well. You don't need a special iron for quilting since your only target would be to make your layers crease-free and straight.

However, if you don't have an iron/ironing board, you definitely need one for your quilts; when buying one, make sure it is a heavy one that will be able to put significant weight on your fabric.

5. Fabric Scissors 

These are special scissors that cut through fabric easily. Paper scissors won’t do; they’ll leave your fabric haphazard and roughly cut.

6. Pins and/or Clips 

Pins and/or clips are extremely important to keep your layers together when you are working on one part of the quilt. Clips are easier to use than pins and they can hold several layers of fabric together.

7. Needles for Quilting Machines 

The needles for your quilting machine are stronger and bigger than regular needles, as they need to sew through several layers of fabric together, including the batting.

Besides, needles have a tendency to break when in use, so it is always better to buy them in a set of dozens for one project. 

8. Thread 

For use in machines, you need 100% cotton thread that is 50-weight; if you are quilting by hand, you need a 30-weight thread.

9. A Sewline Trio Marking Pen 

This is a special marking pen that is actually a combination of a lead pencil, a fabric pen, and a white lead pencil. This pen is going to come in handy in your quilting process.

10. A Seam Ripper 

A seam ripper is used to take out seams that you have stitched incorrectly. You can take out stitches with your hand or with a needle, but using a seam ripper makes the entire process faster and easier.

With quilting, it’s all about the right tools and the right materials. You can be as creative as you want with your project, but to make sure that the quilt is being made in the right manner, you need the help of proper tools.

While the quilting machine might be an expensive investment for this hobby, the other tools that you need are extremely basic ones, available everywhere.

These were all the tools and equipment that you are going to need in not just making a quilt fast and easily, but also making a high-quality quilt that everyone is going to love. 

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