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Tools you actually need to make a quilt - A Beginners Guide


You want to make a quilt. But where to start? 

It can be overwhelming when you begin to look at all the different tools, equipment and notions that you could use when making a quilt.  But what do you actually need? In this guide I will pair it down to just that. 

My top tip for anyone who makes and creates is to use the best tools available to you.  Particularly with quilting as you are making an item that will be used, loved and potentially passed down from one generation to the next.  You will also spend quite a bit of time making your quilt so you want it to be an enjoyable experience.

 No.1 - Self Healing Cutting Mat

 A good cutting mat is worth its weight in gold.  Every piece of fabric is cut on this thing.  A self healing mat is the best for this job.  Cutting mats are available in various sizes with an A2 - 24” x 18”  being a good middle size that will accommodate most projects.  I’ve used this size since I began quilting nine years ago.

 No.2 - Rotary Cutter

 Another essential tool for all quilters.  This super sharp blade allows you to cut fabric easily, accurately and many layers at once.  They work like a pizza cutter for fabric.  45mm is a good size to start with.  

 No. 3 - Quilting Rulers

 Quilting rulers are important.  They help you cut accurately and efficiently.          6” x 24” is a good size to start with along with a smaller square of 6” x 6”.  Invest a good quality ruler and it should last you a long time. 

 No.4 - Scissors

 A small pair of scissors or snips to cut loose threads and a larger pair of scissors solely for fabric are both useful.

You may need to cut paper if using paper templates so another pair of scissors will be needed for this.

 No.5 - Pins

 Pins hold fabric together which is pretty handy when it comes to quilting.  Long straight quilting pins are the best for this job.  Most often you will use pins to hold where seams join so the pins need to be a bit more substantial that regular pins.

 No.6 - Seam ripper

 Believe me you will need this. A good sharp seam ripper is an essential part of your tool kit.  

 No.7 - Iron

 You will use your iron more than you have before.  Every seam is pressed.  Any iron will do the job.  But a heavy iron with steam function is what to look for if you are purchasing a new one. 

*Obviously you will also need an ironing board to press your quilt.  There are pressing mats out there but so far I have never needed one.

 No.8 - Sewing needles

 You will need sewing needles of your machine and to sew by hand.  Basic sharps are a good place to start for hand sewing. The sewing machine needles will depend on the weight of your thread.  I like 75/11 needles for piecing and 80/12 is a good all rounder.  Sewing machine needles are available to buy is assorted packs.  This is a good option for you to try out different sizes and find the needle that works with your machine/ thread.  Remember to change your needle every 10 hours or so.  Or at least every quilt. If your stitches are beginning to go off a bit while you are sewing chances are you just need to change your needle.

 No.9 - Thread

 Use 100% cotton thread for quilting.  I use Aurifil thread for all my projects.  It is available in various weights and ALL the colours.  Cotton thread works with the fabric in your quilt rather that cutting into it like polyester thread can do.  My go to Aurifil thread is 50wt 2026, Chalk.  You can use a 50wt thread for hand sewing, machine sewing and quilting. 

No.10 - Sewing Machine

This is very much a personal preference and budget decision.  You can pick up a decent sewing machine for under £100.  A straight stitch is all you need.  For baby quilts or lap quilts it is perfectly workable on a smaller machine.  For years I used a middle range Janome Decor 3050 and upgraded after five years of quilting to a Janome MC 6700P.  Lots of people have a sewing machine lying about their house that they never use.  Borrow a machine or check local selling pages for a machine if you are short on cash or if you just want to try out quilt making.  

After you have acquired all the tools you will want to get on with making the quilt. I have written about that next step looking at which type of fabric you should look for and batting / wadding options for your quilt.

Read more in the Quilting - A Beginners Guide

What fabric can I use for quilting?

Which batting do I need for my quilt? 

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