Quilting Basics - The Rest of the Must-Haves
Welcome back, readers! This week we’re doing another installment of the Quilting Basics Series. You may recall that we’ve already covered a basic supply list, cutting implements, and presser feet. Buckle up, this is a long post - now it is time to cover the “rest” of the must-haves.
To keep it clean, we’ll lump the remaining items from our basic supply list into a few categories:
The Big Stuff
We’re talking about the ultimate basics here - a sewing machine and an iron/ironing board!
It goes without saying that making a quilt without a sewing machine is, well, impossible! If you’re truly just starting out, you may be overwhelmed with the choices (and the prices!) when you’re shopping for your machine. Actually, let’s be honest, you may be just as overwhelmed even if you’re a very experienced quilter!
In the end, unless you plan to do free-motion quilting, complicated clothes construction, etc., you can get by with a pretty basic machine that doesn’t bust the budget. If it sews straight lines and accommodates different presser feet, you’re all set for quilting!
As far as an iron/ironing board combo goes, you can get very fancy or keep it super basic. I don’t have a lot of space for a huge contraption, so I have a table-top ironing board and a basic iron. If you’re really strapped for space, you can even get a tiny iron! Or, if you have a whole bunch of space, you can do like Nancy the Quilting Goddess and get an extra large ironing board and a high-tech iron with all the bells and whistles.
In the end, if it gets hot and makes your seams flat, you’re probably going to be just fine!
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When it comes to construction, you’ll need basics like patterns, fabric, and batting. These are the types of things that you buy on a project-by-project basis. I have written about patterns and fabric before. Check out those posts here, here, and here.
Batting is another world of infinite choices. There’s cotton, wool, synthetic, and even batting made from recycled bottles! It can be thick, thin, and anywhere in between. The good thing here is: you can’t really go wrong, as long as you buy the right size for your project! Phew! No pressure!
This category includes all of the little things that seem insignificant, but really impact how you work!
This is another obvious must-have. I, personally, keep it cheap and basic when I’m piecing, because you go through a lot of thread that no one sees. But thread choices for quilting are a lot more fun, because the choice you make can become an artistic part of the finished product. I like to go wild and pick variegated thread, or colored thread that either matches or contrasts the quilt top/back, depending on my mood.
You need at least one relatively large mat for cutting your pieces. I would recommend a minimum of 24 inches if your space allows, but bigger is better! You need it to accommodate a large piece of fabric. The nice thing is, these are flat, so even the large ones aren’t too hard to store.
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Again, a minimum of one is a good start here. If you’re limiting yourself to only one, go large - like a 24 inch one to match your mat. It will give you the ability to work with those large cuts of fabric and, even if it is a bit unwieldy, it will work for small cuts too. If you can manage to start a ruler collection, get varying sizes! I have only 3 (one 24 inch, one 12 inch, and a 6 inch square). But Nancy the Quilting Goddess has more than I can even count!
You’ll want a small collection of hand-sewing needles, as well as spare sewing machine needles. There is nothing worse than a needle breaking mid-project with no spare in sight!
You need at least one which fits your machine. But if you can swing it, grab more! And pre-wind them! That way you won’t have to drop everything to re-wind your one, solitary bobbin while you’re on a roll.
These are great for piecing when you need to keep things lined up. I always use them for piecing together my corners and long runs. By now, you know that my free-spirit doesn’t always lend itself to perfection. But straight pins (literally) help keep me in line.
There are all kinds of pin cushions out there - find one you love, keep those straight pins in one place! If those run away from you, you’ll never find them again, until… OUCH! you step on one.
These are absolutely essential for “sandwiching” a quilt if you plan to quilt it on your standard machine - both for free-motion and for basic quilting! Depending on the size of your project, you may need a boat load. So stock up!
Readers, you’re going to make mistakes. Frequently. But fret not! If you have a seam ripper, you can easily un-sew and fix it - no one has to know! Your secret is safe with me!
- Carolyn Knees