Bare Essentials of Quilting (10 Items or Less)
I have been thinking about my quilting journey thus far and what a fun ride it has been over the past 3 years. I remember when my mother in law gifted my first sewing machine. I was so hesitant to begin quilting as I didn’t know where to start. I searched the internet, watched videos and remember being very overwhelmed. There was so much information and I had no idea what to do with it all. So, I decided to create a short list of a few quilting essentials to get started.
- Creativity – Creativity is so important in this day and age. We seem to have steered away from teaching the importance of creativity, but there are so many benefits to your emotional and mental health when you flex your creative muscle. Creativity stimulates the brain, which can decrease stress and anxiety, improve focus, improve motivation, and can reduce negative emotions. For me one of the best feelings in the world is to create a quilt. It’s a sense of accomplishment and a chance to admire the beautiful art in something YOU created with YOUR own hands, and it’s such a wonderful gift.
- 2. Sewing Machine – I would recommend getting the best quality sewing machine that your budget will allow. Make a list of things that will be important to you as make your quilts such as types of stitches (straight versus decorative), weight of the machine, throat size (which is the distance from the needle to the right column of the machine), special features like automatic needle threader, needle/up down, speed control, feet and attachments to just to name a few. Find a local quilt shop or sewing machine dealer and ask to “test drive” a few of the machines and see how you like them. I personally use a Baby Lock Lyric. The Lyric is a great machine that won’t break the bank and is easy to use for the beginner quilter. What really makes this machine stand out are the many features and accessories that experienced quilters love to have. Keep an eye out on my blog for a detailed review of theBaby Lock Lyric soon!!
- Quality Fabric – Let’s talk fabric. Most quilter’s use 100% quilter’s cotton fabric. Quilter’s cotton is a medium weight, sturdy cotton fabric which is perfect for quilting. I would recommend buying the best quality fabric that you can find. Quilters have one of two mindsets about fabric: either they want to be frugal and plan to use the least expensive fabric they can find, or they want to create something that will last centuries so they use more expensive fabrics. Both viewpoints are valid, but neither one should take hold of any quilters entire quilting journey. The biggest difference between higher quality fabrics versus fabric that may be found in big box stores can be thread count, design quality, ink and printing. If you are on a budget and you love quilting, my recommendation is to buy less fabric, and focus on fabrics with better quality construction. You can find quality fabric at your local quilt shops or online fabric stores. Here are some of my favorite online quilt shops (and by no means is this list all-inclusive): Lamb and Loom, Great Heron Thread Co., Fabric Stork, Morgan Kelly Quilts, Fabric Bubb, Cottoneer and Fat Quarter Shop. Pick out pretty fabric that you love, it will make quilting a more enjoyable experience.
- Rotary Cutter – Quilting requires accurate cutting, and the best way to achieve this is by using a rotary cutter. Think of a rotary cutter as a pizza cutter for fabric…well, no…not really, but you get the point! Accurate cutting will lead to more precise piecing of your quilt top. Rotary cutters come in various sizes. I would recommend starting with a 45mm rotary cutter. I’ve used an Olfa brand rotary cutter for several years and I love it! Don’t forget to change your blade often. In fact, it’s ideal to change your blade every time you start a new project. If you are using a heavier or lofty fabric in your project, you may need to change it more frequently. A sharp blade will make your rotary cutting easier and more accurate.
- Self-Healing Cutting Mat –A self-healing cutting mat is essential. It protects your cutting surface and keeps the rotary blade sharp. Cutting mats come in various sizes and I would recommend getting the largest one your space can accommodate. I use the Christopher Thompson by Riley Blake cutting mat which works perfectly for all of my quilting projects. It has triple layers and grids on both sides for a longer life. If space or storage is an issue you can get them in various smaller sizes. One thing to keep in mind when deciding the size is that they do need to be stored flat so the mat does not bend and distort.
- Ruler – The best, most versatile ruler for a beginner quilter is the Creative Grids 6.5×24 ruler . Creative Grids makes quality rulers with grips on the back that aid in keeping the ruler in place while cutting. This size can be used for almost any cutting task. You can cut yardage, strips and square up patchwork blocks and quilts.
- Pins – “To pin or not to pin, that is the question!” Pins help keep our seams perfectly lined up and they keep layers of fabric together while sewing our projects. When looking for the best pins, I usually use something long and strong, so that they can work through all the layers of your quilt. These Clover Flower Head Pins are my favorite.
- Seam Ripper – Ah, the seam ripper! As much as I would like to say I never have to use one, I have to admit, I spend a lot of quality time with my seam ripper. I mean we all make mistakes right?! My favorite seam ripper is the Nifty Notions Brass Seam Ripper. It’s nice, sharp, and gets the job done. Did you know there is a “right way” to use your seam ripper? Well, I didn’t! Here’s a handy little video showing you how on YouTube.
- Pattern – The internet is full of so many great beginner quilt patterns. There are even designers that regularly publish beginner-friendly patterns. The Blanket Statement and Cotton and Joy are two of my favorites! Find something you love and happy creating!
- Confidence – Just go for it! This is my motto! You can do it! Okay, okay, I may be sounding like a cheerleader here. When you start your first project, just think of me, Keyana, cheering you on along your quilting journey.
I know I said 10 items or less, but it would be remiss of me to not provide you with another helpful resource for making your very own quilt. My good friend, Michelle of Meesh Quilts has a 3 week online course that provides weekly video tutorials, written instructions, with weekly Q&A’. She has created an online community of other new quilters, and a beginner friendly quilt pattern to use over and over again. The best part: ALL of your quilt materials are shipped straight to your door. Head over to her website using this link, and check out all the details of her “My First Quilt Online Workshop!”