Patchwork and quilting can seem like a bit of a daunting hobby to a newbie – with lots of new techniques to master and all sorts of equipment needed. To help simplify things, here is our definitive list of top 5 essential quilting tools for beginners. Sure, there are lots of other things you could try, but without these 5 key items you’re going nowhere…
Don’t even start trying to master patchwork if you don’t have an efficient way to cut fabric. Blunt scissors will not only frustrate the bejesus out of you, not to mention result in wonky cuts. Choose a sharp pair of scissors for cutting tiny pieces and a rotary cutter for longer cuts. There are several types but we love this TrueCut model that is ergonomically designed so you can use your full weight to push down on the blade for super accurate cutting.
Of course, with a sharp rotary cutter, you’re going to need something to protect your precious dining table! Always cut on a cutting mat. A good quilter’s mat does double duty and has measurements on it to, making it easier to line up your fabric when cutting.
If you want straight cuts, use a ruler, durrr… sounds obvious, right, but the type of ruler is really important. Don’t attempt to cut against your kid’s plastic school rulers as you’ll just shave off the plastic. Use a sturdy quilter’s rule which is transparent, has metric and imperial measurements on it, and won’t shred when cutting.
Pins will be your friends as you start your journey into quilting. These essential tools will keep things from moving around and help ensure that your points actually meet! Some people choose flat-headed quilters pins which sit flush against the fabric and don’t distort it and are easy to see against bright coloured prints, but these are not a friend of the iron, so perhaps go for heat-proof glass-headed pins instead. In addition to straight pins, you’ll also need quilter’s safety pins. These curved pins will hold the layers of your quilt together while you quilt. Do not – I repeat DO NOT be tempted to use regular pins instead (I learned this the hard way involving a seam ripper, box of plasters and stain remover to get the blood off my quilt. Doh!).
Buying your sewing machine is one of the best bits of starting out in quilting. There are loads of exciting features to try out, and functions to explore. When buying a sewing machine for quilting, choose one that has at minimum an extension table, variable speed settings, a needle up/down button, and a drop feed for free motion quilting. We recommend this mid-range Janome model DXL603 which comes with all the extras needed for quilting for free! Or if you can afford to push the boat out, go for the MC5900QC which is a dream machine for quilters!
Templates are an amazing tool for English Paper Piecing. You can use the templates to draw onto your fabric, creates shapes using your fabric and to make more templates if you are doing a hexi quilt for example. There are a wide variety of templates such as diamonds, hearts, stars and triangles.
Using templates allows you get get uniform shapes with sharp corners that will give your quilt a professional finish.