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So You Wanna Make A Quilt… Part 1-Quilting Tools


Part 1 – Quilting Tools

Do you have the urge to make a quilt? Are you feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start?

Well, this is the first post in a series for the beginner quilter in you! I hope to address all the fears and crazy thoughts we have when approaching quilting for the first time and make getting started a little less frustrating or scary!

First things first…you have to have some basic supplies. No need to go overboard and buy every single thing in the quilt shop! I’m going to give you a list of supplies so you know where to get started and let your inner quilter out:)


Here are your basic beginner quilting tools:

For pressing…

  • Iron– Now not every quilter is obsessed with pressing their fabric, but if it is wrinkled you just have too:) A basic iron with a steam function is fine. This is another tool that can be replaced later on if you want a higher quality. Pressing your fabric before you do any cutting and makes them more precise. You will also be pressing throughout the process of piecing your quilt.
  • Ironing/Pressing surface– This can be an ironing board or special mat designed for ironing on. DO NOT iron on your rotary mat!!! This causes virtually un-fixable damage and warping. Here is a great tutorial at Missouri Star Quilt Co. to make your own.
  • Spray Starch– This is lightly sprayed on the fabric before pressing and adds a stiffness to it. Starching is not everyone’s preference, but does keep it from stretching and less moving around under your ruler. If you don’t feel ready for this you can hold off on this one.

For measuring…

  • Rulers– If you are getting the smaller mat, the simplest ruler will be a 2″ x 18″. This will let you do your basic cutting. Once you are completely head over heels in love with quilting you will always be adding rulers to your stash. One look at the ruler isle can leave your head spinning! Here is a post I did on the three basic rulers a quilter must have.

For cutting…

  • Scissors– a nice sharp pair will save you some headache. Only use these on fabric to preserve the blade.
  • Rotary cutter– This is the thing that looks like a pizza cutter, but is even more dangerous! I’m just gonna come out and say it…if you are a little clumsy or even if you are not…use a saftey glove on your non-dominant hand and ALWAYS keep the blade closed when not cutting! LOTS of beginners are so focused on their slicing along the ruler that they forget their finger tips are on the other end!!! A trip to the E.R. is way more expensive. So, seriously, stay focused if you have never used one of these and if the kiddos are near your sewing stuff…keep it hidden.
  • Rotary cutting mat– This is the mat that you will do your cutting on to protect your table surface. A medium size is good to start, about 18 x 24. You will eventually want one that is larger, but they can be expensive. The best deal will be at a Joann’s with a 40% off coupon. Those are available by email, mail and a phone app.

For sewing and quilting…

  • Sewing Machine– A beginner only really needs a machine that does a simple straight stitch and maybe a zig-zag. Your big box stores sell these and are a little less expensive. A nice fancy machine like your local quilt shops sells will work too, but the can be hundreds to thousands of dollars.
  • Needles– Two kind of needles are needed to quilt. Hand needles and machine needles. You should have a few on hand because they break and should be changed often. There are many sizes and types out there, Universal or Quilting 80/12 or Microtex 80/12 are fine to start.
  • Thread– As a beginner thread can be confusing so I recommend going with a Polyester or 100% cotton. There are different thoughts on which is best, but neither will “ruin” your quilt. I have used both. The one thing you cannot due is use hand quilting thread in a machine. It has a waxy coating and will not make your machine happy.


Other quilting tools… Sewing Notions- these are tools we use to aid us in quilting.

  • Seam ripper– This is a quilter’s best friend. You might as well give it a name because you will spend a lot of time together!
  • Pins– Curved safety pins for basting a quilt(holds layers together) and straight pins for keeping things in place while sewing.
  • Pin cushion– These are great for keeping those pins and needles close by and easy to grab.
  • Marking pen– A chalk pencil designed for quilting or a Frixion pen works great. There are many different kinds, but they do need to disappear when you are finished with your project! Some work by water, friction, iron-off or disappearing. Make sure to use the right method for your tool so you do not permanently set the marks in place instead of get rid of them.


I believe that as a beginner you do not need to be overwhelmed by every detail of quilting and you need room to grow and perfect what you do. In my list I am giving you the basics….Yes, there are many types of awesome threads and needles and lots of details you can learn, but you will get there eventually. So, just relax and enjoy the process! Give yourself room to make mistakes:) When I started I didn’t even know what thread weight was and all those needle sizes….forget it. As I matured and expanded my skills(which never ends by the way), I tried new things and did some experimenting.

Also, there are all kinds of quilters out there! Some of you, if you are like me….a little on the OCD side….will press every step and even pull out the spray starch:) Others, won’t mind the little quirks or misaligned seams because it adds to the charm. Have fun and find out who you are. If you have any specific questions I am glad to help and share what I know, just ask!

Future posts in this series:

Part 2- Fabric- what do I need to know and how do I choose?

Part 3- Patterns– how do I read this thing?

Part 4- Cutting– how do I cut accurately and safely?

Part 5- Piecing– how do I know if I am doing this right and what do I do when something goes wrong?

Part 6- Basting– why am I basting a quilt anyway?

Part 7- Quilting– am I going to ruin my quilt?

Part 8- Binding– why is this so tricky?

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