Before you embark on a quilting project, it's important to make sure you have all of the tools you'll need to create a lovely piece you can be proud to show off to friends and family. This article lists all of the quilting tool basics.
A sharp pair of scissors is essential for quilting. Ideally, set aside a pair of scissors to be used on fabric only. Paper and plastic quickly dull the cutting edges of scissors, so keep a separate pair for cutting out templates and other nonfabric items.
To cut fabric quickly and easily, invest in a rotary cutter, see-through ruler, and self-healing mat. These tools let you cut strips of fabric efficiently. If you become very involved with quilting, you may find that a collection of cutters, mats, and rulers of different sizes and shapes is valuable. A good starter set would include the large-size cutter, a mat at least 22 inches wide, and a 6 X 24-inch ruler.
Most fabrics can be marked with a hard-lead pencil. Mechanical pencils are worthwhile investments because they are always sharp. A special fabric eraser can help remove light pencil markings. Other handy marking tools include colored pencils designed for marking on fabric and a fine-tip permanent pen for signing your finished quilt. Soapstone pencils make a light mark that is easy to brush off, but they lose their sharp point quickly and must be sharpened often. Tailor's chalk or chalk wheels are helpful for marking quilting patterns just before you quilt. The chalk brushes off fabric easily. Disappearing ink pens may be tempting because they make a mark that is easy to see, but heating fabric that contains residue from the ink can create a permanent stain. Leaving a work in progress in a hot car or in a sunny window can cause this to happen. Consider banning this risky product from your quilting basket.
Traditionally, templates were made of scrap cardboard. Cardboard is satisfactory, although if a template is going to be used many times, template plastic is better because it does not wear down. Template plastic is available as plain white sheets or transparent sheets printed with a grid.
Needles and Pins
The needles used for hand piecing and hand appliqué are called sharps. For hand quilting, use betweens (quilting needles). Generally, start with a size 8 and work toward using a size 10 or 12. Use the smallest needle you can to make the smallest stitches.
Always use a sharp needle on your sewing machine; a dull needle will tend to skip stitches and snag the threads of your fabric, creating puckers. Use size 9/70 or 11/80 for piecing and appliqué and size 11/80 (in most cases) or 14/90 (for a thick quilt) for machine quilting.
Use fine, sharp straight pins (such as silk pins) for piecing and holding appliqué pieces in place before basting or stitching. Long quilter's pins are used to hold the three layers (top, batting, and backing) before they are basted together or quilted. Have a large box of safety pins (size 2) on hand for basting for machine quilting.