Quilting Tools

Quilting tools, over the years, have advanced the art of quilting through advanced technology. 

In the absence of technology creative minds can make-do with whatever is at hand. So never underestimate your ability to think outside the box. 

The pioneer woman used:

  • Scissors to cut the fabric without a ruler;
  • A yard stick served as a quilting ruler;
  • The forerunner to freezer paper was candy wrappers;
  • In the absence of a sewing machine all quilting was done using a needle and thread;
  • Tobacco or baking powder, depending on the color of your fabric, was used to pounce the quilting template in order to be able to see the lines on which to quilt.

In the 21st century using the right quilting tools and gadgets, quilters can confidently share their knowledge and love of quilting.

For me it wasn't until the 60's and 70's that I started acquiring the necessary quilting tools to help me succeed at making quilts. 

The three most important tools -mats, cutting tools, and rulers have help quilting become what it is today.

Quilting basics require an understanding of quilting thread weight, point code, size code, machine tension settings and how they all interact and support each other.

What makes quilting so fascinating and addictive is the improvement and development of quilting tools and quilting techniques.

Small Hole Plate

quilting foot

The importance of a quarter-inch plate and foot can't be emphasized strongly enough.

The quality of any quilt is based on consistent and accurate seams. This is a skill you will develop at the  beginner quilting level. The pieces simply will not go together accurately until you master the right size seam!

For now it is sufficient to say that your skill at making accurate seam allowances is absolutely necessary.

The quarter-inch quilting foot and a well marked plate will prove to be a good quilting tool investment if your sewing machine does not have both.

The Right Machine for Quilting

quilting sewing machine

Quilters today go at break neck speed. Thanks to the many fine quilting tools and quilting supplies and all the new technology offered within the last decade.

An electronic motor and stitch regulator gives you stitch accuracy. They run cool to the touch which is comforting when running it for a period of time.

But a home quilting machine in good working order is a necessity when it comes to quilting tools.

Today's Machines are retrofitted with a quarter inch presser foot that makes piecing almost fool proof.

All seasoned quilters use an accurate quarter inch seam so all you newbie’s might as well learn this technique too. All it takes is a little practice.

A few ways to improve your quarter inch seam skills is to approach any quilt block using the unit method to piece...stitch small pieces into larger groups one square or strip at a time.

Here are a few features to look for in a sewing machine that is to be used mainly for joining pieces of fabric with a quarter inch seam or its main use will be for quilting:

  • a straight stitch and a reverse sewing capability;
  • a flat sewing surface like a slide on table or a cabinet;
  • a good light that illuminates the presser foot area;
  • dual speed control
  • up down needle position and thread cutter is nice
  • bobbin thread indicator gives a heads up when thread becomes low. This feature is not a frill but rather avoids running out of bobbin thread in a difficult spot;
  • the Janome 1600P series (stitches per minute) has a 9-inch throat area for ease when quilting.

A Quilting Tool to Audition Your Progress

quilting design wall

You are convinced that your new commemorative Ohio quilt needs a border to make the patriotic blocks pop. So, you think you have the exact fabric stowed away in your stash and you are dying to use it up. 

Well maybe the jungle gym border is what you need for your quilt. Or maybe you need to leave the dark, dull fabric on the shelf.

The sure way to make sure everything will fit together is to audition your choice of fabrics before sewing anything together.

You do this with a design board that hangs on the wall and allows you to stand back 3 or 4 feet to review your decision.

Something as simple and fast as laying the fabrics together on a design wall is a great way to see a completed quilt top begin to emerge.

Most of us have used a table, bed or the floor to view the results of our sewing, but a design wall for quilting allows you to stand back and evaluate what’s happening as each block is sewn together.

Again, we make it easy with our free design wall mini book that shows just how simple it is to build a quilt design wall frame on which to lay out your quilt as you make your quilt .

I classify it with other essential quilting tools as it allows you to preview your entire quilt as you progress.

You can audition your fabric pieces side by side to get a feel for how they will look in the finished quilt. Then make changes before you sew.

The quilt design wall will also help you keep track of where you are in the assembly process.

Making a quilt design wall frame is not hard and cheaper than purchasing one. It can be permanent, portable or temporary in order to fit your sewing space.

The Speed of Using a Basting Gun

quilting tools

Quilt frames for basting will alleviate the time consuming, back breaking and boring task of basting a quilt. All good reasons to look for efficiency when faced with this task!

Basting is a very important step in the quilting process so you should not bypass it.

If you plan to machine quilt, it is essential that you have superb basting because you will be rolling and unrolling many times before you are finished.

You will need a large work area for basting like the floor, a large table or get up off the floor by making your own basting frame. It is easy, relative inexpensive...portable too!

A Portable Ironing Board

quilting tools

Sometimes the ironing board has to take on a duel purpose. The iron, the ironing board and the placement can make a difference when you are quilting.

Having to drag out your ironing board and set it up every time you quilt can be a hassle but sometimes unavoidable.

If you don't have room to set up a traditional ironing table there are alternatives. This lightweight portable ironing surface lays on top of a base cabinet and can be positioned close to my sewing machine.

I cut a 3/4-inch piece of plywood to fit the top of a base cabinet, covered it with padding and then covered the padding with heat proof fabric; the same kind of fabric that you would use to make pot holders and casserole carriers.

Sewing Room Furniture that Serves your Needs

I have found several CHEAP ways to create sewing room furniture!

Setting up a comfortable, inexpensive sewing area can make your experience either fun or frustrating. The key point is to make sure you keep it as inexpensive as possible as the specialized sewing equipment will consume most of the budget.

Of course, it is always best if you can do a permanent set up without being disturbed...ever!

Once you have a basic setup you can continue to adjust your arrangement until it is perfect. You do this by acquiring used dressers to use as your quilting tables.

Ask a contractor for throw out kitchen cabinets that are still usable. Most builders have to pay a fee to dump everything they tear out and would be happy for you to take the cabinets off their hands.

These shelves, shown here, are intended to hold CD's or DVD's and are perfect for your fat quarters. Keep an open mind...go to hotel liquidation sales, yard sales and second hand stores. Have fun finding bargains.

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