Getting Started With Your First Quilt.
Here is what you should have at hand
So you’re ready to get started with your first quilt but you have no idea where to start. Below is a list of some basic quilting tools you will need to get started in your quilting journey.
1) Sewing Machine – It goes without saying, but if you are going to hand stitch your quilts you will not need a machine. There are many brands of sewing machines on the market. I personally love my Singer 15/91 and one of my Singer Featherweights. But to start off, remember, you will need a machine that can sew straight stitches. You don’t need tons of different stitches until maybe later, maybe never. It all depends on the level you want to take your quilting. You will want to make sure of two things. One: does your machine have either a 1/4 inch foot attachment or marking for the 1/4 inch? This is the most popular stitch in quilting. Two: does your machine have a walking foot? The walking foot allows you feed bulky items through or even machine quilt.
2) Rotary Cutter – Whoever invented a rotary cutter was brilliant. When I took my first sewing lesson (back when the dinosaurs roamed), there were only scissors. UGH! If you ever use scissors for long, you understand how your thumb will hurt from the pressure of the finger holes. You don’t experience that with a rotary cutter. You will definitely want a rotary cutter, because it quickly lets you cut your strips, blocks, etc. You will save a ton of time and energy than if you use scissors. Don’t forget a rotary cutter sharpener. There are a few on the market for you to choose from. There are many sizes and varieties out
there in rotary cutters. You will soon find the ones that work best for you. For me, I prefer the Olfa Rotary Cutter, 45mm. What I found when I used the smaller (28mm) is that I didn’t have as much control. But when I used the 60mm, I found it to be too big and bulky and still didn’t have as much control. I like the Olfa because the blade retracts automatically, less chance of cutting yourself. What I would suggest is that you go to your local quilt shop and ask them to try their rotary cutters. You don’t need to cut fabric, just feel it in your hand and practice on their cutting mats.
3) Rotary Mat – Rotary mats are great for cutting out your projects. They protect the surface you cut on and they are made of self-healing material, which means they don’t make grooves. They also help keep your blades sharp, which means less time sharpening your rotary cutter or replacing blades. When I use my mat, I turn it over and use the back side without the numbers. I do this because I have found some mats don’t have straight lines. For convenience I use a large one at home, it is 36″ x 24″ . You probably will want a smaller mat for classes. Choose a size that fits easily into your quilting tote if you will be taking classes.
4) Rotary Rulers – What can I say about rotary rulers? Without them, you wouldn’t be able to cut and square your projects or create special blocks and quilts. They are used to grip your fabric and a act as a
guide for your cutters, also a place for your hand to rest so you don’t cut your fingers. At home I keep a 6″ x 24″ Ominigrid ruler around for most projects. This ruler is great for cutting out your bigger pieces
of fabric. I use a 15″ Omnigrid square for squaring up blocks up to 15″. I also use this for squaring up my quilt after it has been quilted. A small 6″ square ruler on my cutting area makes it easier to square up or cut smaller pieces. With these three rulers, you will be able to cut most projects. If you only buy one, I would strongly suggest the 15 inch square. You can do most projects with this one ruler.
5) Iron Board – Most of us already have an iron and ironing board. Chances are what you already have will work just fine. Just remember as you iron any of your pieces to press with an up and down motion, instead of ironing back and forth. If you use steam, be very careful you are dealing with raw edges of fabric and bias edges. Be gentle with your strips, blocks, and fabric. There is an iron to hit the market. It is a mini iron by Dritz. You can adjust the handle so you can get into tiny spaces and press the smallest of areas. This iron is priced at $39.99, but I have found Amazon has some for as low as $25.89. So if you are in the market you can check it out here. This is a great deal. Petite Press Portable Iron. If you do have to purchase an iron for home, look for one that is fairly heavy. I use Rowenta and it has some heft, which is great for helping with the pressing. There is also a specially designed ironing board for quilters called a Big Board. This is square without the narrower end and makes it easier to press fabrics and your quilt tops and even has grid lines to make sure your strips and blocks are lined up correctly.
6) Fabric Scissors & Paper Scissors – I know it sounds crazy. But you really will want to have two different scissors. If you cut your paper with your fabric scissors, it makes them dull. So you will need ONG>one pair just for your quilting projects and one pair for your paper cutting projects. I would advise marking these scissors, either with a tag, or permanent marker on the handle or blade so you will know that you use these for your paper projects ONLY. For quilting projects, I recommend Gingher scissors. These stay sharp forever and are true workhorses.
7) Pins & Needles – When I started quilting I really didn’t realize there was more than one type of pin available. But, wow, they have every kind imaginable. You will want long straight pins. I like the ones with the flower heads. They lay flat on your fabric and are easier to avoid melting them with your iron. If you will be ironing your pins, you will want to get glass head ones. They will not melt on to your work. Don’t forget the pin cushion. There are millions of them out there or you could make your own. When you are sewing with a machine, there are many sizes of needles to get. Make sure to get the ones recommended by your sewing manufacturer. I find Schmetz 75/11 Universal needles work great for ost of all the projects. If you are planning on sewing thick or bulky fabric you will want to get a Jeans needle. For metallic threads you will want to use a Metallica needle. So for whatever material you are sewing other than cotton, make sure to use the right needle for the project. Follow your sewing machine manufacturer’s directions.
The next step will be to find an easy quilting pattern that appeals to you.