Any time you delve into a new hobby it's easy to be enticed by all of the "shiny" and eye-catching things to purchase. If you're completely new to a hobby, however, it can be difficult to know exactly which of these "shiny" new items are really necessary, or if you can get away with a similar product that doesn't have a name brand, isn't as expensive and so on.
I completely understand that it can be intimidating and expensive to really get into quilting. Yet, I also know that with a small investment (about $175) you can set yourself up with all of the best quilting supplies in order to be very successful with your early projects.
To help you out, I've compiled a list of essential quilting supplies that I believe are worth investing in, as well as a list of things that you just don't need to spend much money on.
Some of the basic supplies that you should purchase as a new quilter just need to be "good"—it's that simple.
- Scissors, for example, don't need to be a top of the line, name brand. A new, sharp pair of fabric scissors will be sufficient.
- This also applies to thread snips—pick a pair that is comfortable and sharp.
- Quilters use a lot of straight pins, so make sure the ones you purchase are sharp—yes, that's the only requirement here! Sounds fairly simple, but until you start getting into particular techniques that require a specialty pin, just make sure you have a small box of sharp, medium-gauge pins.
- It is important to have sewing machine needles on hand, as we can't stress enough the importance of replacing your machine needle frequently. (We promise it will make all the difference in the world with your sewing and quilting.) Here again, as with the pins, a basic, all-purpose needle will work. Look for a package of Microtex or jeans needles, in size 80/12.
- Finally, quilt marking pens are handy to have, and you often need one when you least expect. Although we have our personal preferences for brand, we suggest you choose either a wash-out or fade-away marking pen. These tend to be the easiest to use, and are forgiving when you make a mistake.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are a few items that we really encourage quilters to invest in—doing so will help you be that much more successful in your projects, which will help to keep you excited about quilting.
- Purchasing a rotary cutter can be a difficult choice because there are so many options—various handles, self-closing, colors, sizes-how is one to choose?! We recommend a 45 mm cutter with a traditional handle. Once you've been cutting awhile you may want to switch to a different handle type, or perhaps a cutter with a blade guard. Since rotary cutters came into the quilting industry we've continued to use the 45 mm standard handle for the majority of our projects.
- The self-healing cutting mats increase in price as they increase in size, but are absolutely worth every dollar. The 18 x 24" mat is a good size to start with. It allows you to cut a half-width of fabric easily and will be large enough for most projects you do.
- With the rotary cutter and mat you'll definitely need a acrylic ruler. Our favorite go-to size is the 6" x 24" style. It is incredibly versatile, works well with the mid-sized cutting mat, and will be one you can use for years. As a note, it is also common to find a 6.5" x 24" ruler. This is a good size as well, but make sure you know which one you have. That extra .5" can cause trouble with your pieces if you don't figure it in before you slice through your fabric.
- One item that we really encourage you to spend more on is your quilting thread. So many students get frustrated with their project or their machine, when all they needed was a quality thread. There are many manufacturers out there to choose from, so look for Aurifil (our favorite), Superior, Mettler, or Gutterman.
- Lastly, while it's not necessarily a big expense, it is a necessity to have a sharp seam ripper. We prefer Clover's Seam Ripper. It's not a good idea to use the same seam ripper for years, or to use one that your grandmother passed down to you. The little blade inside the u-shaped tool gets dull quickly. If you need to use it we guarantee you will want one that is sharp and in top-notch condition.
Those are the essential supplies that should be in every beginners basic quiltmaking kit. There are always going to be costs associated with starting a new hobby, and as your interest level increases you can make purchases based on your specific needs. However, making smart choices in the beginning will help you be that much more successful with your projects, and it will encourage you to keep learning and growing your skills.
What supplies have you invested in for your quilting?