Quilting Tools You Need to Get Started

Essential quilting tools

Quilting tools you need to get started is part of a free online beginners quiltmaking course, if you would like to join along please sign up for the newsletter, details here.

Getting started with quilting can be a bit daunting, especially when you see the tools list, but hopefully, you already have some of the basic sewing supplies.

You only need to invest once since most tools will last you years, and you can’t put a price on a handmade quilt that I personally believe will become a family heirloom.

If you know someone that quilts perhaps you could borrow some items, or you might find they also have extra they are happy to pass on, as quilters do seem to accumulate a lot of tools.

Below is a list of quilting tools I believe are essential to get started with quilting.

TOOLS YOU NEED TO GET STARTED

Essential quilting tools

Rotary Cutter

A rotary cutter is essential to cut your fabric with perfectly straight lines. Once you get used to using one, it will become an indispensable tool in your quilting arsenal. My favorite is the Olfa 45mm Rotary Cutter.

Also grab a pack of spare blades, you need to remember to replace them every now and then. Ensure they are the same size as your cutter. For example if you get the 45mm Rotary Cutter, you will need the 45mm blades.

Self Healing Mat

You’ll need a self-healing mat if you are using a rotary cutter. You’ll use this to cut all your fabric on. The bigger the better when it comes to healing mats, I recommend getting the Olfa Self Healing Mat 36” x 24″ and I have only ever used Olfa.

When storing your mat please make sure it stays flat, if it can’t stay on your table or desk, try under your bed.

Ruler

The final tool to go with your rotary cutter and self-healing mat is a ruler, all three tools work together for perfectly straight and accurate cuts. If you are only buying one ruler I suggest the largest size ruler which is 6” x 24″. I have managed with just the one ruler my entire quilting life. I like to make more simple and larger piece quilts.  

If the budget allows I also recommend getting a 12½” x 12½” ruler which is useful for cutting larger square blocks.

Quilting Basting Pins

Quilting Basting Pins are used when you are basting your quilt, this is when you layer the quilt top, batting and backing. Quilting basting pins hold all three layers together allowing you to quilt the layers together. You do need a lot of these, so if you have a choice between a smaller pack and a larger pack, go with the larger. Get size 2. These are a great option.

Wonder clips

Wonder clips are relatively new to the quilting world, they are used to hold your binding in place to sew. These are a nice to have, and if you are on a budget they can wait till later.

Pins

You’ll need pins to hold your pieces together while sewing. I like Clover Flower Head Pins. I find they are much easier to find when they drop on the floor, and this happens a lot more often than you’d think. Pins don’t last for ever, if you are using pins you have had for a while just run your fingers up and down them to check they are nice and smooth, any roughness is a sign of rust, which will ruin your quilt.

Scissors

You will need a pair of scissors to cut loose threads and batting. I like to have on hand a larger pair for my batting, and a smaller pair for my loose threads.

It will make your life easier if you have a pair of scissors dedicated to sewing, this keeps them sharp for longer.  I tie a piece of ribbon onto mine, so I know which ones they are. If you’re on a budget, a larger pair will do both jobs.

I really like Kai Dressmaking Shears and for snips I like Mundial Embroidery Stalk Scissors and there will be no mistaking that they are yours.

Seam Ripper

Mistakes are just part of the process and taking the time to unpick and correct a mistake is key to lovely finished items. I like the Clover Ergonomic Seam Ripper because it’s a little bigger than most, making it easy to hold and easier to find amongst your tools.

Quarter Inch Foot

A quarter-inch foot for your sewing machine is like having a secret little weapon. Like the name suggests it ensures you sew at a quarter of an inch. I couldn’t live without mine and it comes in handy for other sewing projects too. Your sewing machine might have come with one of these. If purchasing please make sure it is compatible with your sewing machine.

Walking Foot

A walking foot is essential when it comes time to quilt your project, as it helps feed your quilt through your sewing machine. Please make sure it is compatible with your sewing machine.

Iron and Ironing Board

As with all sewing, an iron and ironing board are essential.

The most basic iron will do perfectly fine. There are lots of fancy irons on the market, but they generally don’t seem to last long these days. I feel like I have to buy a new one every few years. I recommend buying an iron in your budget. If you can afford an Oliso Iron, which is the designer iron for quilting, go for it. A $20 iron from Target will also do the trick. My iron was from Amazon and was in the middle price range.

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For the ironing board, I have a big traditional ironing board to iron the completed quilt top and larger pieces of fabric, and a smaller ironing mat for small jobs that I keep on my sewing desk.  

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Sewing Machine

So, this one is a given, unless you are planning to do paper piecing by hand, but my quilting series will be using a sewing machine.

All you need is a sewing machine that can do a nice tidy straight stitch.

If you are buying a new machine and hope to make many quilts, getting a sewing machine for quilting has its advantages, as they come with larger neck space and a table that slots onto the arm, which supports your quilt when quilting. It will also come with all the feet you need. My favorite feature to look for is speed control, this is particularly useful for learners. These days all machines are able to do hundreds of different stitches, I have never used all the fancy stitches, just straight stitch and zig-zag. If you are wanting to invest more than a few hundred dollars I recommend you visit a quilting shop that sells machines.

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A FEW MORE RECOMMENDATIONS

Magnet Pin Caddy

A magnetic pin caddy is not essential but it is absolutely one of my favorite tools I have ever bought.

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Sewing Machine Needles

Sewing machine needles aren’t a tool, they are more of a supply, so I thought I would add them here. It’s a really good idea to change your needle before every new project. Dull needles can damage your fabric and cause tension issues with your sewing machine. I have always used Universal 80/12 needles, but Quilting 90/14 will also work well.

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Thread

Aurifil cotton 50WT is highly recommended to use as your staple for thread when quilting.

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MORE QUILTING INFORMATION

This post is part of an online course to learn quilt making, to read about how to pick fabric to make a quilt click here.

To find out more about my free online quilting course click here.

LEAVE A COMMENT IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS

Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions. I know all the different supplies and different options can be a little confusing, to begin with. I have linked above what I consider to be good options.

To find out more about my free online quilting course click here.

Thanks,

Stacey x

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18 thoughts on “Quilting Tools You Need to Get Started

  1. Anne A says:

    Hi Stacy
    Thank you so much for doing this, I’m super excited to dive right in and learn. I’ve only learned to sew as so many other due to the pandemic for mask making and now love it! I’ve been wanting to take classes at the craft store but there not doing them as of yet. So again thank you… Excited in Massachusetts

    • Stacey says:

      Hi Anne, thanks for leaving a comment and joining along. I think doing online suits so many people at the moment. See you over on my Facebook group 🙂

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