Quilting Accessories
You Can't be Without

Quilting accessories under $10 turn out to be a diamond in the rough.

There are a few essential quilting accessories that are absolutely necessary; a few that are optional; and a few that wait to be discovered.



Selecting the right tools to quilt with is directly related to how quickly you learn to quilt, or what the quilting projects will look like when finished, and even whether you like to quilt.

Quilting is an art that adapts well to individual taste. You are free to select the quilt design you like, use any method of construction and choose any combination of compatible fabrics.

You can even apply any quilting technique that you feel comfortable with or create your own. But you must select the right tool for the right job!

You will do fine in your selection as long as you understand that there will be right and wrong tools for most quilting techniques and be able to recognize the difference.

House of Thimbles

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With the right thimble! It will ultimately be up to you to select one that suits your style.

If you have never stitched with a thimble it can be very hard getting use to wearing one.

You will learn quickly how this love hate relationship may require some give and take.

Some learn to quilt developing a callous on their "pushing finger" which in turn acts like a thimble.

Others learn to quilt using the "rocking stitch" which absolutely requires the quilter to wear a thimble.

For those of us who wear our nails longer, an open ended thimble is another possibility.

The open end allows the nail to protrude and lets the air circulate so as not to be too hot when wearing.

Leather thimbles have become somewhat popular for those just starting out. Leather conforms to your finger for comfort but they are also hot.

Thumb thimbles are used on the thumb and is another alternative for those who simply can't master any other kind when first learning to quilt.

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The paddle type thimble is used by quilters affected by arthritis or other limited dexterity situations.

This quilting accessory called a paddle is gripped in the hand like a pencil that would lie across your palm and held in place by your thumb while being able to move all four of your fingers.

Much like when running an adding machine. Using these quilting accessories takes practice but worth a try.

Metal thimbles can be the most difficult. But, when you first learn to quilt and you think you want to give up on a metal thimble, before throwing it out try using a punch and hammer to push in the top to form a recessed area on the end. This will help hold the needle in place and prevent the needle from sliding off the end of the thimble.

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Comfort and usage is all about getting the fit right.

The good news is, with all of the choices available today, there's a thimble that will suit you to a tee so don't give up on finding those perfect quilting accessories just yet!

If you seem to lose control when trying to manipulate the needle, maybe your finger does not reach all the way to the end of the thimble.

A close fit may cause your finger to swell so it is important to start out with a proper fit...not too tight or not too loose and finger nail must be short enough that you can feel the end of the thimble when first learning.

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Thimble-It, is a break thru in comfort technology.

These natural feeling self-adhesive finger pads make any sewing, needle work, or quilting project easier and more comfortable.

You simply apply one pad per working fingertip and you can be pain free while enjoying hours of sewing on your quilting projects.

These quilting accessories can be applied several times to oil free finger tips and because they are thin they feel quite natural!

Dritz fabric grippers is a quilting accessory applied to the underside of a ruler to hold it in place while cutting fabric.

I find these Dritz fabric grippers equally as good when applied to the end of any working fingertips when hand quilting.

The thickness of the gripper keeps the needle from penetrating and they can be used several times! This quilting accessory gets my vote!

Color Wheels are Specialized

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Quilting accessories that will take the sting out of matching fabrics. Color wheels at first glance may seem to fall in with unnecessary quilting accessories, but they are under ten dollars and well worth having.

Because of the fine job quilting stores do in helping you select just the right fabrics when making your quilt, it is still necessary to know something about matching colors.

Today there are lots of creative people working in quilt shops that do nothing but make up quilting kits. They select a quilt pattern, pre-select fabrics, cut the necessary yardage and then package everything together.

Selecting a 'quilting kit' takes the guess work out of matching fabric colors.

My philosophy is why re-invent the wheel if you don't have to. Buy a pre-selected quilting kit for your first project.

But, having said all of that, I find color wheels to be relatively inexpensive so get a good one to add to your quilting accessories.

Not all color wheels come with a full explanation as to how to use them so please check out our comments below for how to master this quilting accessory!

There are several basic color terms you need to know and understand as you learn to quilt:

  • A color’s value is light or dark.
  • A color’s intensity is bright or dull.
  • There are cool colors like blues and greens of sky and the sea.
  • There are warm colors like reds and oranges of fire and the sun.
  • How colors behave depends on their value, intensity and temperature.
  • Colors advance if they are dark, pure or warm.
  • Colors recede if they are light, toned down or cool.
  • Knowing that colors appear to advance or recede is the most powerful information quilters can possess.
  • With all of this information we can make patterns do what we want. We control which part stands out and which part recedes.
  • We know to place cool colors and toned down colors or light colors in the background.
  • We know to place dark colors and pure colors or warm colors in the foreground.

Understanding how colors behave frees us to use colors we love by placing them where they do what we want them to do.

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I have been an active quilter for the past 40 or so years and the most common problem I see with beginners is the lack of being able to determine how to choose fabrics with contrast. Contrast is what makes the pattern pop.

Without variety in the values, you see nothing. That is why the design wall is so important. It is necessary to be able to stand back a several feet from the displayed fabrics to make sure you can readily distinguish one fabric from another. So, play it safe and stand back.

In a color wheel we are looking at pure color hues.

The primary colors, Red, Blue, Yellow are set at points on the color wheel and are equal distance from each other. All pure colors are derived from them.

The secondary colors are created by combining equal parts of the primary colors, and secondary colors Purple, Green, Orange are halfway between the primary colors on the color wheel.

The remaining colors are tertiary (third) colors created by mixing a primary and an adjacent secondary color.

When we add White to a color the value is lightened to create a tint.

Tints are light and airy and work well as backgrounds in quilts. When we add Black to a color the value is darkened to create a shade.

Shades are rich, saturated and intense that creates depth and work well in the foreground in quilts.

Learn to quilt by embracing the color wheel. For me this is one of the more difficult quilting accessories to master so I keep this ‘cheat sheet’ handy at all times.

I even take it with me to the quilt shops.

 
Quilting Accessories For All Quilters

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Sewing a perfect quarter inch seam is essential.

You must have a quarter inch presser foot and a throat plate that has a small round needle hole designed for straight stitching in order to be able to sew a quilt block pattern.

When first starting to sew on your very first piece of fabric the threads may snarl and jam or worst yet, the fabric is pulled into the needle hole.

Which means that you have to stop and pull the fabric loose and then pick out the locked up stitches left behind.

You can either hold on to the needle and bobbin thread tails as you start to sew but I find this to be a nuisance.

I use a scrap starter. A scrap starter is nothing more than a small scrap of fabric that is used as the first piece in a chain of pieces.

Lower your needle into the starter piece and sew until you can clip the scrap from the chain.

Then save it and stitch into it as the last piece. Leave it under the foot, ready to start the next chain line.

The machine should make an evenly locked stitch that looks the same on the front as on the back. We will talk about quilting stitches on the balanced tension page.

A Neat Specialized Tool

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This tool even figures the necessary amount of yardage!

The new Quilter's FabriCalc Calculator easily calculates material yardage; backing yardage; border yardage (mitered or straight corners) drop yardage and binding yardage.

This Design and Fabric Estimating calculator even keeps track of how much fabric you need for various colors and the number of squares or diamonds that can be cut from any size piece of fabric you may need.

Of course, all quilt patterns come with directions as well as yardage charts that spell out the necessary yardage to complete the project.

But if you want to alter the pattern to make it larger, then the FabriCalc is a good investment.

Plus it is always good to know about the most popular quilting accessories and how they may benefit you when quilting!

A FabricCalc calculator was designed just for quilters by an avid quilter who saw a need for such a quilting accessory.

It is programmed for calculating every quilt calculation that one might need when making quilt magic.

The results can be programmed to display in fractional format, decimal format or metric format.

Quilters tend to be very visual folks who don’t necessarily like anything that is too high-tech. By going to the FabricCalc web site you can watch the 12-minute video which is done in a folksy and warm manner just for us quilters. View it as many times as you like.

The calculator is powered by a single 3-volt Lithium battery and last approximately 800 hours of actual use and has a pocket reference guide stored in the back of the unit so it is always handy.

A Flexible Tape Measure is Essential

quilting supplies

A flexible tape measure is essential for taking flexible measurements such as finding the center measurement for a quilt.

Measuring the fabric for exact yardage or to drape across an object for a measurement.

The flexible tape lays flat and can be handled by one person.

Some quilting accessories such as the ridged rulers and T-squares serve a different purpose.

You can mark straight edges up to 9 or 12 feet depending on the length of the tape.

The disadvantage is it takes more than one person to use a spring steel tape.

This type of long ridged tape requires a hand to control the automatic return button and another to hold the tape on the starting point.

What Could Be So Hard About Needles

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Needles are classified as disposable quilting tools because they bend, they get dull, they develop burrs, and you just plain lose them no matter how hard you try not to.

Some of the very earliest needles were fish bones and animal tendon for thread.

We have come a long way baby! Today's needles are made from highly polished steel without burrs.

Learn more about how hand quilting requires the right needle for the project at hand.

You can also learn more about how quilting threads and needles are interwoven.

The gauge of the needle and size of the thread are dependent on each other!

You'll know you have the right needle and the right thread for the task if the finished product looks nice and the needle was comfortable to use.

quilting supplies

Pins are more of a disposable quilting accessory tool merely because you lose them so easily. There are many sizes and types of pins to choose from and it can be confusing to know what to buy.

The ideal place to store pins is in a pincushion. This keeps them from being jumbled together which dulls the points.

I agree that it is easier to throw pins on a magnetic pincushion rather than place them individually in a wool pincushion. This is how I handle my pins because they are not expensive and I loose a lot of them.

But still, if you use a magnetic pincushion, you should be aware that your pins can become magnetized and that some electronic sewing machines are sensitive to them.

The best pin cushions are those made from wool that is rolled into a wide, flat cylinder shape.

These pincushions are wonderful because they contain lanolin, which helps to prevent rust and they do a good job of protecting the points of your pins.

As a kid, some 45 years ago, we made wool pin cushions as a 4-H project.

Maybe I'm attached to it for nostalgic reasons, but I still have mine and use it in my sewing room.

If there is a drawback for wool pin cushions it would be loosing your pins between the folds of the cylinder.

So wrap it as tight as you can when rolling the wool into a cylinder.

How many times have you heard that it's none of your beeswax?

Well in quilting Burt's Beeswax is essential for hand quilting.

It is used to keep your thread from twisting and knotting.

This is a quilting accessory tool that you should know about before you actually start to hand quilt.

Draw each length of thread back and forth a couple of times to coat it.

Then run your iron over the lengths on a scrap piece of fabric to remove any excess wax.

This trick really helps the thread to glide through the fabric and keeps it from twisting and knotting.



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