Basics of Quilting : 02 Tools and Equipments

Women have been quilting for generations using basic material. All you really need to make a quilt is fabric, needle & thread! But to make it easier for us, we use a lot of tools and equipment. Today I will introduce you to the basic gear that you will need to start.

1. Sewing Machine. This is one of the most powerful tools that you will use when you make a quilt, and it will also be your biggest investment. There are a lot of brands in the market, and I, of course, am totally partial towards BERNINA. I highly recommend them because of their quality and user friendly interface. They also come with a variety of attachments for different purposes, and more recommendations about what should be used for what can be found on the BERNINA Blog along with a lot of tutorials by experts from all over the world.

But I know for some of you buying a BERNINA is out of your budget. I was you a few years back! In that case, I would just tell you - Buy the best machine that your budget will let you. But when you look at the features, don't look at all the bells and whistles. For quilting, you do not need one with a thousand decorative stitches. One with a larger throat space and a free walking foot would be a better option, even if it came with just the straight and the zig-zag. Research your market well, ask people who are already in the industry. People like me are just an email away!

2. Rotary cutting system. A rotary cutter, mat and a ruler combined form the rotary cutter system. It is not an essential tool - I did not have it for almost an year when I started quilting - but it will sure make your life easier and your quilting accurate. 

Essentially a rotary cutter is like a pizza cutter - but sharper- and can cut through several layers of fabric. The ruler is used to guide the cutter and the mat is to protect the blade from dulling (you will want to protect them, they don't come cheap) and the surface from getting marks.

I use an Olfa Ergonomic Cutter, an Omnigrid 6" x 24" ruler and a Havels Sewing 36" x 24" cutting mat. I have recently started loving and using my Havels Fabric and Quilt Ruler cutter - it combines the ruler and the cutter and is perfect for cutting straight lines. You can read my review to know more about it. 

3. Scissors. I currently have more than 54 pairs of scissors in my studio. I never knew I should use a good pair before I got a Havels at QuiltCon 2015. Btu since then, I have discarded the ones that are not good and stocked up on the awesome ones. 

My favorites are my Havels 8" shears, Havel's 5.5" curved end scissors and my Victorinox Embroidery scissors. Carry a fabric scrap with you and test it out before you buy.

4. Needles. I only use BERNINA needles on my machine. I have tried Organ needles which worked well with my Bernette, but I am not happy with using them on my Bernina. I also found that though they were cheaper they did not last as long as the BERNINA ones. I have also tried and loved - Scmedtz needles. 

For hand sewing (which I do not do much of), I use whatever I have on hand. But I recently picked up an assorted pack by Prym from The Square Inch while I was teaching there and I love them. They are smoother and have a golden eye which somehow makes it easier to thread. 

Needles are the reason the stitches are neat - be it hand quilting or machine quilting. Needles are the reason the thread works well without breaking all the time. Needles help keep the tension in control. So make sure that you are using a good sharp needle. 

When storing needles - always use a pincusion filled with some steelwool. It will help keep the needle sharp. You can use a steelwool scrub (you can find it at your local general store) that is meant for dishwashing. 

5. Other tools I love. Apart from the basic tools mentioned above, there are many more that you will need.

Seam ripper : I use a clover one which had a comfortable handle.

Purple Thang : I use it to mark crease lines and for poking corners when turning.

Thread sniper : Handy to cut threads when sewing and chain piecing

Clover Chalko Liner pen : To mark fabrics that will not be cut at the markings.

Pilot Frixion Pens : To mark fabrics that will be cut at the markings.

IDenti Pen : For permanently marking fabric.

John James easy threading needles : To bury quilting threads

Straight pins and Curved Safety Pins : for pinning and basting.

Clover Wonder Clips : For holding absolutely anything together

Lint Roller : To get rid of thread crumbs from clothes and quilts.

Tweezers : To help clean the sewing machine

Did you find this list of tools handy? If you have been quilting for a while, what are the tool that you love? Is there a must-have on your list that I have missed?

You can see the FIRST post in this series here

Next post : Basics of Quilting : Quilt Design (20th November 2017)