I decided to write a few posts up about quilting how-to for the very beginning quilter. This may not pertain to most of you, but people always tell me they would love to quilt but don’t know where to start.
This week we’re talking equipment.
These are what I would call the essentials. First off, you will need a sewing machine. However, if you’re just starting out, please don’t go buy one. Borrow Grandma’s. Or a friend’s. Or go to your local quilting store and see if they will let you use one before you decide to buy. Sewing machines can cost as little as $100 and as much as several thousand. A good beginner’s sewing machine probably should cost around $500 although there are people who would argue that the less expensive ones are fine. The most imporant thing is that you get one you can try out first and then buy. And by all means, please don’t buy one if you’re not sure you love to sew yet!
In the top left corner, you’ll see a little tin of pins. I like long pins with a flat head, but any sewing pin will do, especially if it’s a quilting pin. You should be able to pick these up for under $5.
You will need a small pair of scissors for snipping threads, also around $5. And a pair of sewing shears, which are only used to cut fabric. Again, please borrow someone’s if you’re not yet sure this is for you. And when you’re ready, buy the best you can afford. A good pair will cost $50 or a little less.
Every sewer needs a ripper because mistakes do happen. This is another item which will cost under $5. Extra needles are also a must have, because they break from time to time and also need frequently replaced. A package of 5 needles costs about $5.
The next tin is from Gutermann and contains thread. You don’t have to buy this brand, but do buy a good quality thread. I normally piece with a polyester thread although cotton is also acceptable.
The final little silver thing on the right is a quarter inch foot. It shows you how to guide your fabric perfectly so that you always get a quarter-inch seam. This is the standard sized seam used in quilting. This foot cost about $15. Most machines have a similar foot available. You can also place a brightly colored taped at the quarter inch mark on your machine to accurately mark your seam allowance. An accurate seam allowance is possibly the most essential secret to good quilt piecing!
The next things you’ll need is a cutting mat, as big as you have room for. These are expensive, but they are a one time purchase. If you can’t store it where you use it, make sure to store it flat on the ground as they do warp. A big cutting mat can get pretty expensive, so borrow one if it’s your first time.
A good ruler follows the mat, and I recommend one that is 24″ x 6″ or a little bit bigger. Mine is 8 1/2″ wide. Rulers can also get pretty pricey, but a decent one can be purchased for under $20 although you may have to shop around.
You will also need a rotary cutter. Scissors will work, but a rotary cutter is SO accurate. And accuracy makes beautiful quilts. I love the clover brand rotary cutter. You can buy one for around $20.
And finally, make sure you have a measuring tape as this will be essential when you apply the borders of your quilt. These cost around $5.
Maybe the most important piece of equipment in the sewing room is an iron. Don’t go all out on this — the discount store ones work fine. Or use the one you already have for clothes. And ironing board will also be needed.
Hope this helps you get a good start! Next Friday, on to fabrics.