Tools every quilter needs

July 29, 2015

If you want to quilt, your sewing kit will need an upgrade. Grab these supplies first and your quilting could be much better and much easier.

Tools every quilter needs

The basics

Traditional patchwork quilting many of the supplies in a standard sewing kit. But you'll also need a rotary cutter, a patchworking ruler and a self-healing mat for quick cutting and piecing. They're available in metric and imperial measurements. That will form the basis of your quilting kit.

Pick your fabrics

  • Fabrics used for the top should be light to medium in weight.
  • Closely woven cottons are an excellent choice.
  • Avoid very heavy or very light fabrics, as well as stretch knit fabrics.
  • When choosing fabrics for a quilt, think about how the patterns and colours interact. Generally, you'll want strong contrast between lights and darks.
  • Be sure to include a variety of print sizes in your selection, and try to incorporate geometric prints, large prints and tone-on-tone fabrics to create the most interesting effects.
  • The backing fabric should be the same type as the top fabric.
  • Bed sheets aren't recommended for backing a quilt. The very close weave of modern sheets makes quilting them very difficult.
  • Sheets are only suitable if you plan to tie your quilt.

Which wadding?

  • Modern quilt wadding is usually polyester batting and is sold in sheet form.
  • Don't choose a very thick wadding. It's difficult to quilt through with small stitches.
  • Wool is a warm alternative and is available in white or black, depending on the colour of your quilt.
  • Cotton batts give the finished quilt a very traditional look.
  • Washing and drying the quilt in a dryer gives it an antique appearance.

Get to the point with needles

  • Use regular sewing needles, called sharps (size eight), and a cotton or cotton-covered polyester thread to hand stitch patchwork pieces together.
  • When quilting, use slightly shorter quilting needles or betweens (size 8 to 12).
  • You'll need special quilting thread that has a glazed surface. Or normal thread that has been run through beeswax.
  • Many experienced quiltmakers prefer to do all their sewing with the short betweens needle.
  • Glass-headed pins are preferred for piecing, and a good pair of scissors plus a thimble to protect the middle finger of your sewing hand are essential.

Accessorize your quilting kit

  • Useful art supplies include a hard lead pencil, graph and tracing paper, sturdy cardboard for making templates, a ruler, a compass for circular designs and a set of colouring pencils or pens.
  • Specialty patchwork supply shops sell template plastic that can be drawn on, silver pencils for marking dark fabrics and equipment for rotary cutting.
  • Quilt shops also have hoops and frames for the quilting process. These provide even tension and hold the three layers together as you work.
  • Most quilters prefer a hand-held hoop or frame rather than a floor-model quilting frame.

Patchwork quilting uses most of the supplies in your sewing kit, but experienced quilters need some extras. You'll need to head to a couple of places for everything, but each piece can make your finished products much nicer, and much easier to make.

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