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Quilting Tools 101: The "must haves", "sort of needs" and "nice to haves"

So you've decided you really want to make a quilt- congratulations and welcome to the world of quilty addiction. But there are so many tools out there- how do you know what you really need, need or is just a nice to have? Let's get started! 

I have classified each item into one of the following categories- Really need/ Need/ Nice to have

  • Must have: Tools that are pretty much essential- not having these tools will result in the quilting process being quite a bit more difficult/ or even in some cases unable to complete certain steps. 
  • Need: These are super useful and will help you a LOT in your quilting. But they are not essential
  • Nice to have: Definitely not essential and very useful but a bit more superfluous than those in the "need" category. But they will make the quilting process more enjoyable!

I have icluded links to items where I have them in my shop- but these are just suggestions- there are many brands and shops that sell all of these items. 

The sewing basics:

  • Must have: Sewing machine- you can choose to hand quilt everything (I know some people who do this exclusively) but a sewing machine really makes things a lot easier! It doesn't have to be a fancy one- I made many quilts on my little Brother machine that I purchased for about $150. 

You definitely don't need a sewing machine like this one. And little sheep toy is only a nice to have 
  • Nice to have: 1/4 inch seam foot for your sewing machine- Quilting seams are generally 1/4 inch. So it's not essential but if you can purchase a 1/4 seam foot (sometimes these are included with your machine but otherwise you can purchase them separately), it will make it a lot easier to keep your seams consistent which results in a much neater quilt.

See the little black "edge"-this keeps your seams 1/4" Photo credit:
  • Must have : Thread- Sewing machine thread. Use the best thread your budget allows. My personal favourites are Aurifil and this Sew for good Organic thread. I have sewn many quilts with the 10 spools for $10 thread and it's been totally fine- but I can't guarantee how long it will last :-)  . As for colours- totally personal preference. I used white or cream in at least 95 of all my sewing/ quilting- so this is a great place to start and you can build up the colours as you go. 


Cutting tools:

  • Must have: Rotary cutter and blades- 45mm is the most common one that the majority of quilters use. "But can't I just use scissors?" I hear you asking (well that's what I asked anyway)- technically yes but a rotary cutter will make things SO much easier (not to mention more accurate)

  • Must have: Cutting mat- Go for as big a mat as you can afford. An 18 x 24" mat is a great place to start as it fits a whole fat quarter. Self healing mats last longer but if you can't afford this a non-self healing mat will do the job! 

  • Must have: Big Quilting ruler- If you are only going to buy one ruler, one that is around 24" x 6.5" is probably the best one to get- you can get the larger pieces and strips as well as the smaller pieces.. but...

  • Nice to have: Little quilting ruler- A little quilting ruler (for example a 4" x 4" or 6.5" x 6.5" or 12" x 6.5" will make cutting the smaller pieces and trimming certain shapes much easier. 

  • Nice to have: Fabric Scissors- If you have a rotary cutter, you can probably get away without fabric scissors - but they are nice to have!


  • Need: Little fabric scissors/ snippers- to trim all your threads


  • Really need: Basting Spray OR Basting Pins It comes down to personal preference, but you will need one of these items to be able to baste your quilt sandwich (attach the quilt top to the batting to the backing fabric). Basting spray is much faster (and in my opinion ends up in a much better result) but is in an aerosol can which some people don't like. Basting pins take longer but are cheaper in the long run (as you don't need to keep replacing your basting spray). 
  • Really need: Seam ripper / Quick-unpick- yes you will sew the wrong piece of fabric to the other piece.. or sew it on really crooked. Some mistakes can definitely be left there ("finsihed is better than perfect") but some just need to be fixed :-)
  • Nice to have/ Neef: Hand quilting needle and thread- if you are planning to hand quilt or hand bind, these become a  
  • Need: Pins
  • REally need: Iron and Ironing Board
  • Nice to have: Wool ironing mat
  • Nice to have: Tailors Clapper 
  • Nice to have: Cluck cluck sew diagonal seam tape 
  • Nie to have: binding clips 


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