Precision, precision, precision… Measure twice, cut once… When in doubt, rip it out…
Quilting is a crazy thing Quilters are a crazy bunch. We know that the high you get from a (nearly) perfect quilt top is unbeatable and we beam confidence when we see someone else snuggling up underneath our homemade masterpiece. Besides the yearning for perfection, an obsession with fabric, and an ever-growing fabric stash, quilters need one more thing: The right tools.
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In no particular order, here are my top ten tools. I wouldn’t do a project without them!
Ah, if we all had the space for a nice big cutting table…wouldn’t that be the bee’s knees? Well, now you can have a GIANT cutting table that only takes up about 13.” That’s right. Arrow Sewing Cabinets makes a 58″ cutting table that folds down to 13″ x 36″ and it’s awesome! As I make my move from my giant studio down to my “efficiency” studio, I’m counting my blessings that this fantastic table was gifted to me. I can easily fold it against the wall for every day and open it up when I need to cut larger pieces!
A Self-Healing Mat is the spouse to the rotary cutter. You’ll need one for sure, since the rotary cutter is so sharp! Even the self-healing mats can wear out over time, so try not to cut on the same line every time!
If we’re working with stereotypes here, I’ll just say that a quilter is to rulers as (most) women are to shoes…there can never be too many! A few of my must have’s: a 24″ ruler for cutting down fabric into strips, a 6″ or a 12″ ruler for squaring blocks, and a 3″ quilting ruler for those tiny projects (the ones that make you wonder if you’ve lost your mind).
The rotary cutter is a basic quilting tool, but some are better than others. My favorite is made by Omnigrid. What makes it so great you ask? Well, the cover opens and closes with pressure, so I don’t need to remember to cover it when I’m not cutting. I’ve had some close calls with other rotary cutters that left themselves uncovered…not a fun time. I would definitely opt for a pressure sensitive rotary cutter!
More important than your sewing machine is the presser foot that you have for it. There’s a quarter-inch presser foot that has a little tab on the right hand side. This allows you to have a perfect quarter inch seam every time! Since consistency is key with quilting, the presser foot is a vital tool! Make sure to get the foot that goes with your sewing machine.
The Fons & Porter Binding Tool is my #1 favorite quilting tool of all time. It joins your binding ends perfectly every time! It’s a single tool that is perfect for all different sizes of bindings. I love a brilliant and simple invention, and they’ve really done it this time. If you’re curious about how I do my binding, be sure to see my full tutorial on How to Bind a Quilt.
I swear that good ironing makes a great quilt (see my post: Pressing Makes Perfect here!). And a good iron is a good place to start! I love my little Shark Professional. I’m not one to drop a bunch of money on an iron, so it’s reasonably priced. It has good steam options, gets nice and toasty and my favorite part—it’s got a pointy tip that really lets me get into those tough-to-iron places!
I must be some kind of ironing freak—I get really weird about it. BUT if this is the last piece of ironing advice you ever get, listen up! Best Press Starch is the BEST! It smells lovely (lots of great flavors to try…but please don’t drink it!) and it gets your fabric nice and crisp…just like you like it. You’ll see me on my soapbox about starch again…don’t worry!
It’s not so much the existence of erasable fabric markers, but this one. The Frixon Erasable Marker was actually made for scrapbookers, and it erases with a little friction from the cap of the pen. Friction is just a way of creating heat…which your iron can also do! So, this fancy little marker comes off with a quick sweep of the iron! The best part is that if you iron your design off too early, you can throw your fabric in the freezer and viola—it’s back!
Whew! Apparently I owe a lot more to my tools than I thought! What are your can’t-do-without quilting tools? I’d love to hear all about them and how you use them in the comments below.