The Right Stuff - Essential Quilting Tools - Hummingbird Lane Fabrics and Notions

Whether your are new to sewing or have been sewing for awhile, I'm sure you will agree that you can't start quilting if you don't have the right set of tools.  There are a TON of tools out there so in this blog I will be going through my personal favorites and give you a list of the tools you must have. 

To get started with quilting you will need the following, at a minimum:

  1. Sewing machine. It should come with a quarter inch foot, bobbins, and needles 
  2. Good quality 100% cotton thread for piecing
  3. 6" x 24" acrylic ruler and a 6" square (6 1/2" square is fine too)
  4. Rotary cutter with a new blade
  5. Scissors
  6. Thread clippers
  7. Seam Ripper
  8. Cutting mat (at least 22" on one side)
  1. The Sewing Machine

If you are new to sewing/quilting, my recommendation to you is that you start off with a very basic, inexpensive sewing machine.  My first sewing machine was a Brother sewing machine that I bought on Amazon for $150.  I have since upgraded to the Janome you see in the picture but it has a higher price tag.  For a beginner, start simple - start cheap.

Once you have purchased a sewing machine, your local sewing and vacuum shop should have some classes you can take to get to know your machine.  Sometimes they are free if you buy the machine from them. I took a beginning sewing class before I learned to quilt just so I could learn the basics of sewing and how to use my machine.  It was the best thing I could have done. If you don't have anything like that close to you, there is always YouTube.  

Be sure to get a 1/4" foot as well.  In quilting we use a 1/4" seam so having this foot will make it easier to achieve this seam allowance. There are all kinds of gizmos and gadgets you can get like magnetic strips for your machine that help with 1/4" seam allowance as well. A 1/4" foot looks like a regular foot but has a piece that hangs off the right side that acts as a guide. Again, your local sewing and vacuum store can help. 

It should also come with bobbins. The bobbin is what holds the bottom thread.  Bobbin size matters.  And the material the bobbin is made out of matters.  Make sure you get the right ones for your machine.  Refer to your machine manual to know which ones to get.  Get several of them as you want to have bobbins ready to go when you get started with your quilting. 

2. Thread

When quilting use 100% quilting cotton, at least for the piecing.  Cotton lasts longer than other threads and is more stable/stronger as well.  We want our quilts to last a long time so we only want the best.  Good quality thread is important as well.  Examples of good quality thread are Aurifil, Connecting Threads, Mettler, DMC, Omni.  Those are a few.  I primarily use Aurifil for all my piecing, which is also the preferred thread that we sell in the store. 

3. Rulers

There are several brands of rulers out there. Omnigrid/Omnigrip, Creative Grids, Bloc-Loc and so many others. I use the Creative Grids rulers, which is also the preferred ruler we sell in the shop.  There are so many great features with the Creative Grids rulers.  You can check out my Blog on these rulers HERE

Check out all available Creative Grid rulers HERE

4. Rotary Cutter

Another tool where there are many brands to choose from.  The one seen above is an Olfa and the curved handle makes it ergonomic.  I have early onset arthritis in my right thumb so regular straight handle rotary cutters are painful.  These work best for me.  I also like that there is a safety button to lock the blade. There are also different sizes for the blades. 

Check out these rotary cutters in the shop by clicking HERE

Safety note: rotary cutters are SHARP. You can slice your finger off if you are not careful. Exercise extreme caution when using a rotary cuter. 

5. Scissors

You will need a pair of good fabric cutting shears and a pair of smaller snip scissors.  Remember - fabric scissors are for FABRIC ONLY! 😆 Using them on anything else will dull the blade quickly. 

6. Thread Clippers

The second item on the left in the above picture are thread clippers.  These are good for trimming threads that are sticking out of seams.  They allow for a close trim without damaging the fabric.  I use this tool all the time.  This is definitely an essential tool. You want to use these instead of fabric scissors to trim thread because if you use scissors you run the risk of cutting the fabric and making a hole in your quilt. 

7. Seam Ripper

You will grow a love/hate relationship with your seam ripper.  Use of the seam ripper usually means you made a mistake and need to take the thread out to re-sew it.  Hence the love/hate relationship.  You will love how easy it is to remove thread with this tool but you will hate that you have to use it. This is another essential must have tool. 

8. Cutting Mat

So many brands, so little time.  You just need one that is at least 22" on one side. Find what works within your budget.  Store your mats flat.  Any bend or curve and they might stay that way.  Keep out of the sun as well as it can warp it too. 

And there you have it.  These are all the essentials to get started in quilting. If you have any questions you can comment below or send me an email at:

If you are not new to sewing I would love to hear about your favorite sewing machine or favorite tools!  Tell us about them in the comments!

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