I have been thinking a lot late about essential tools that every quilter should have on hand – I’ve also been thinking how I wish I hadn’t had to discover the vast majority on my own through trial and error .
Melissa’s Top 10 Tools List (in no particular order):
- Pressing Cloth: I have two – one is a cotton cloth and the other is teflon. The teflon one is my newest one and I LOVE it! If you are a budget crafter you could always use a piece of muslin. Why do you need this: the pressing cloth protects your fabrics when working with fusibles and it also protects your iron from getting covered in the fusible web.
- Spray Bottle: I don’t use water in my iron – which means I have don’t use steam. Why do you need this: steam can warp and stretch your fabric. If my fabric is exceptionally wrinkled I use a spray bottle and lightly spritz the fabric prior to pressing.
- Hemostat: a hemostat is a surgical tool that has some awesome uses in quilting. I bought mine on Amazon super inexpensively. Why do you need one: you can turn a tube in seconds and don’t have to have safety pins on hand any more. I also use it to when I turn pouches and other projects right side out to shove the corners out.
- Marking Pen: I have been known to use a bic at times, but I also use pens mostly on linings that will never be seen and for HSTs and QSTs, and I will be cutting on the line I draw. Why do you need this: patterns and lines for sewing is essential for many quilting and sewing projects. Find a marking pen/pencil you like – there are a lot out there. Make sure you test the pen on the fabric to make sure that it will actually come out of the fabric.
- Fabric Glue Stick: I use these for applique and for paper piecing. Why do you need this: fabric glue is awesome because until the glue completely dries you can continue to reposition your fabric. If using with paper piecing the paper comes off easily and there is no residue on the front of your project.
- Seam Ripper: this doesn’t require much explanation…I make mistakes and when doing something new I make A LOT of mistakes! Pay a few extra dollars and get a nice one – if you are like me and spend a lot of quality time with Jack (the Ripper) you will want one that feels good in your hand and is easy to hold.
- Rotary Cutter: When you need to do accurate cutting a rotary cutter is essential. Why: you can cut multiple layers at a time and when used with a ruler you cutting will be extremely accurate.
- Cutting Mat: If you are going to have a rotary cutter…you need a cutting mat. Why do you need it: they will keep your cutting surface safe and prolong the life of your rotary blades. Also, most cutting mats are accurately marked with 1 inch grids and come in sizes as small as 12×18 inches and my biggest one is 60×55 inches. Mats also have several angles on them, 45, 60, 90 that are standard when cutting specific quilting shapes.
- 12.5 x 12.5 inch square ruler: There are lots of quilting rulers and cutting templates out there, but if I could only have one – this would be the one I would want. Why do you need it: 12.5″ is a stand quilt block size, this ruler makes it easy to finish up and trim your blocks accurately. It will also work for other standard block sizes – 10.5″, 8.5″, 6.5″ and 4.5″. When cutting fabric strips it is the perfect size once you have double folded your fabric. Now don’t get me wrong, I have about 10 different cutting rulers and templates, but as I said if I could only have one, I would want this one!
- Extra Bobbins: I feel like I am constantly running out of bobbin thread right in the middle of a project. Every time I get down to my last one, I try and fill up 3 or 4 – in the long run it saves me a lot of time. Why do you need extra bobbins: they will save you time and frustration. Plus if you are working with multiple colors like I did on my bottled rainbows quilt – you won’t have to empty your bobbin every time you switch colors.
These are my top 10, what is on your list? I am always looking for new things that I just “have to have”.
It seems the older I get, the more I can’t do without my needle threader tool…
I love my “Purple Thang”! It’s great for flipping your seams back the right direction when you’re sewing and holding down the last 1/2″ of fabric going uder the presser foot. I use it to pull my thread through my sewing machine needle after I’ve used the built in needle threader. My second tool is snippers. They are inexpensive so I can have them at my cutting table, my machine and on my ironing board. They are spring loaded so it’s easy to use them. Magnetic pin holders! I love that I can get the pins in the general area of the holders and they jump on like magic. I use the holders with lids because if I don’t my kitty Nightly carries the pins off and deposits them throughout the house which usually means that he learns new words from me when I step on them.
I also love my “Purple Thang”. Another tool that I rely on in my studio is my sticky pick up roller. I have one on a long handle that I use to quickly clean up fabric snippets and threads off the rug. Another thing I use all the time is a little finger cover thing (I have no idea what it is called!) that I use when I am pressing. It allows me to hold the edge down and iron without the heat (or even the iron) burning my finger. Another favorite is my Shape Cut ruler from June Tailor. Love it! It makes cutting strips a breeze.
Other things besides what you listed that I find myself using daily are: I love my 6 X 24 inch ruler, my 6 X 12 ruler, and my 1 X 6 little ruler and my 6.5 X 6.5 square. I always fill 10- 15 bobbins at a time, when they run out I change the needle too.
What a great list! I still need to get a hemostat. And from the looks of the comments, it seems as though a “Purple Thang” is a must as well. 🙂
I suggest having an excellent iron. =)