Quilting Basics - Nice-to-Haves and Reader Submissions


Happy Tuesday, quilting friends. It’s one of my favorite days of the week, now that Tuesdays are filled with blog posts and reader comments!

This is the last post in our “Quilting Basics” series - at least for now! We may revisit some additional basics down the road, but we’re closing it up for now so we can move on to a series on triangles next.

This week we’ll be covering the rest of my nice-to-haves and reader submissions. Thank you all for engaging with me and sharing your favorite supplies. I have gone back through your comments and picked out a handful of supply recommendations that you can check out. I couldn’t feature all of them, but every single suggestion was great. You can always go back through this series and read the comments to see everything readers recommended - Maybe they’ll become must-haves for you!

Before we get to reader submissions, let’s start with the rest of my nice-to-haves that weren't touched on in earlier posts.

Thimble - These are great if you plan to hand-sew. I have only ever hand-sewn my binding, and I got by OK without one. But if you plan to do your quilting by hand, a thimble could become essential pretty quick!

Fabric pencil - Depending on what you’re making, you may run into a need for a fabric pencil. I use them for making triangles (stay tuned for how in our next series!). A reader mentioned that it’s important to keep a sharpener around for these too, which is a great tip.

Quilting Gloves - This is another one of those things that (pun alert!) comes in handy in very specific situations. You’re probably not going to need gloves when you’re piecing, but when you’re doing free-motion quilting or basic machine quilting? These are great! They give you the grip you need to easily move the quilt through the machine.

Bobbin Organizer - If you pre-wind bobbins, or keep a small collection of back-up bobbins laying around like I do, you will definitely benefit from some kind of bobbin organizer. Before I had one of these, I kept my bobbins in a box and the tails of thread all got tangled together. Whenever I needed one, it was a big operation to free one from the nest. Nowadays, I just pop one out of the organizer and continue on my merry way.

Thread storage - If you’re lucky enough to have a studio/dedicated space of some kind, my favorite thread storage is the kind that mounts on the wall. It keeps things out of your way, the colors are pretty to display (at least in my quilter’s eye!), and it is easy to see what you have and grab what you need for your current project.

Sewing lamp - The appeal of the sewing lamp, for me, is targeted light for when you’re doing detailed work (especially on a dark fabric! It can be hard to see!). I like to aim mine directly at my machine to supplement the machine’s small light when I’m piecing, quilting, or sewing binding, and I also love it for when I’m hand-stitching binding. Lamps are especially useful during the fall/winter months when it gets dark early.

READER SUBMISSIONS - Next up are the reader submissions. And I have to tell you… Some of this stuff is new to me and I’m very intrigued!

That Purple Thang - Admittedly, this is one I’d never heard of before. It is a cool purple stick that claims it “pushes, pokes, pulls, p-fudges, p-turns, p-stuffs”. It seems like one of those tools you don’t know you need until you have it, and then you can’t live without it!

Adjustable-Height Table - This is another item that is great if you have a dedicated sewing space. With all the hunching over, quilting can be hard on your back. If you can make it work, having an adjustable table for cutting will mean that you don’t have to hunch at least for that stage of the process. Coming from someone who has cut pieces for many quilts while on hands and knees on the floor… an adjustable-height table does sound lovely!

Spray Baste - One reader mentioned that she still had trouble with shifting and alignment when using safety pins to sandwich her quilts. She suggested spray basting. What a great idea!

Surgical Seam Ripper - Remember when we talked about how important it is to have the right cutting implements? A reader suggested this tool, which is essentially a super slick, sharp, fast seam ripper which opens stitches up in bulk instead of one at a time like a traditional seam ripper. Sign me up! This sounds awesome!

Rotating Cutting Mat - A concerned, clever reader suggested getting a rotating cutting mat for cutting with templates after seeing Kim the Quilter’s Mart Boss Lady cutting at odd angles when demonstrating how to use templates. Using a rotating cutting mat will allow you to turn the pieces without lifting them, and cut away from yourself and your fingers for every single cut. Very smart!

Scrap Disposal - We got two great comments about what to do with your scraps/thread trimmings. The first one is so basic I hadn’t even thought to mention it, but it absolutely should go on the must-haves list: A TRASH CAN! As an alternative, a reader suggested keeping a pillowcase close by, filling it with scraps, and when it is full, it makes a great (washable!!!) pet bed.

Supreme Slider - This is another one that was new to me. Free-motion Quilters, this looks like a really great tool for you, because it helps your project slide around so you can move smoothly. If you have ever done free-motion quilting, I’m sure you know how essential smooth movements are. Wow! Great recommendation!

Graph Paper Notebook - If you are a Pattern Creator, you may find a graph paper notebook to be essential in your supply kit. You can use it to sketch out your plans, including coloring it with colored pencils!

Rotary Cutter Blades - We got quite a few comments about rotary cutter blades. One reader suggested keeping spare blades on-hand, and I wholeheartedly agree! Quilter’s Mart has you covered - you can stock up by clicking here. A couple readers also asked if blades could be sharpened. There are definitely options out there for sharpening what you’ve already got, but I’ve never tried it. I always replace mine instead, but now I’m interested in extending the life of existing blades. If you’ve used a sharpener, tell us in the comments how effective it is. We’d love to learn from your personal experiences.

Snacks - Lastly, a reader who clearly knows her stuff recommended wine, coffee, or chocolate for your basic supply kit. I like the way she thinks! Quilting could only be made more fun by adding in friends and snacks. Pick your snack/beverage of choice, and enjoy!

I swear, you all have the greatest suggestions! Thank you for writing this post with me! I hope our Quilting Basics Series was helpful for both newbies and experienced quilters alike. I can’t wait to see you back next week for the first of our Triangles Series.

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  • Carolyn Knees
Comments 16
  • Julie MIller
    Julie MIller

    My best trick is storing my bobbins directly below there corresponding threads on my thread rack. I don’t need separate bobbin boxes taking up space in my cabinet, loose thread tails hanging our and tangling, and i always have the matching bobbin instantly at hand when I grab the thread.

  • Debra Lynn Bearden
    Debra Lynn Bearden

    I have been quilting now for 4 years Watching videos and buying online and at JoAnns. My office is now my sewing, quilting and office room. My husband years ago built me an island for my kitchen (tile topped) and when we bought our new house with an installed island ~ yep I got a Fabulous cutting island!!!! A tile covered kitchen island is my Perfect cutting table and it has drawers for my essentials and storage underneath. Life is 👍🏻

  • jan VanDeWalle
    jan VanDeWalle

    I have been wondering if a bobbin winder can be helpful and do they actually work well? I think it would be handy to have something other than the machine to wind bobbins. Also what kind to buy if one is recommended? I am a newbie so please excuse the dumb questions. ;)

  • Debra a Hebel
    Debra a Hebel

    I Thought my idea of a lint roller was good especially at end when final touch of cleaning up project, but not see it listed.

  • Liz Nieman
    Liz Nieman

    One of my favorite “nice to haves” is a telescoping magnet. So handy when pins or scissors land on the floor!

  • Margaret Henderson
    Margaret Henderson

    I have a wooden iron by my machine that I use to open seams before I steam press them. that way I don’t have to go to the iron board until the section is done.

  • Carol Kellogg
    Carol Kellogg

    I order a single pack of 5×5 charm pack. I was just wondering if you mite have the order. I need one more pack. I thought one would be plenty of course I was wrong. Please let me know Thank You.

  • Marge W
    Marge W

    I started using the “pinking” blade to cut out my fabric strips. I purchased a 10" flannel layer cake to make a rag-quilt and decided to make the quilt bigger and added my own 10" squares. I used the pinking bladed to cut them out. Since that project I have used the pinking blade to cut my cotton fabrics. There is NO raveling. I love it and have not used the regular “straight” cut blade since. Although, when cutting 4 layers of fabric, you need to really press down when cutting.

  • Cindy Womack
    Cindy Womack

    The ideas were great and very helpful. I clicked on the rotary blades and saw that there are two sizes of blades … 25 mm and 45 mm. Oh my, did not know this and as a beginner why the different sizes and what would be the correct size to buy? I would assume maybe they have their own specific uses?? Any help would be appreciated.

  • Susan

    If your table legs are the right size, inserting them in PVC pipe segments can make your table height adjustable.
    When spray basting, a pool noodle with a slit along the length can be used to roll up one layer before spraying, then roll it back out in place.

  • Sharon Dulcich
    Sharon Dulcich

    I have always sharpened my rotary blades rather than replacing them. It only takes a few minutes and the blade is sharp once again. Very sharp!

  • Jeanie Crutchfield
    Jeanie Crutchfield

    Two years ago I decided to make a quilt in a class. By the time I had finished that project I had more money in “tools” than the fabric, lining and batting. So since I already had tools why not another project. That is the rest of the story.

  • Jeanie Crutchfield
    Jeanie Crutchfield

    When 2 years ago I began a quilting class—-to make one quilt——by the time I had finished I had more money in tools than the fabrics and batting. So since I already had the tools why not another project and most quilters know the rest of the story. Still cutting and sewing and enjoying. It is my therapy.

  • Camielle

    This is the ideal list of things neeed to take quilting seriously. However, it could discourage a newbi that’s just dipping her toe in. Eentials for first lessons would be helpful!

  • Sandra Underwood
    Sandra Underwood

    If you do not have a dog you can donate the pillowcase full of scraps to your local human society. That is what I do. Didn’t sizes. Some for dogs and cats.

  • Agnes Heron
    Agnes Heron

    Thank you for your very useful tips and journal

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