Quilting Blog

Ready, Set, Quilt: Tools for Beginner Quilters

Ready to quilt, but wondering which tools you really need to get started? After all, there are hundreds and hundreds of gadgets out there for quilters. We’ve rounded up the essentials to enable you to tackle this exciting new hobby from the beginning to the finishing stages of making a quilt.

Beginner Quilting Supplies

Read on for a quick list of beginner quilting supplies!

1. Scissors

Nice quality scissors that you use only for fabric are a must. Using your scissors for paper crafts and other household uses will quickly dull the blades and make it difficult to cut fabric and thread. Choose a lightweight pair that fits comfortably in your hand. Small embroidery scissors are also nice to have when working on handwork and other small projects.

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2. Self-healing cutting mats

Cutting Mat

Today’s simplified cutting techniques require the use of a cutting mat to protect the surfaces you’re working on. Self-healing cutting mats will give you years and years of service. They are available in several colors and various sizes.

Choose the largest one you have space for as it will make it much easier to spread out your fabric without worrying about damaging your counter or table. There are also rotating cutting mats and cutting mat/ironing board sets to choose from.

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Related: “7 Tricks for Extending the Life of Your Quilting Cutting Mats

3. Rotary cutters

Rotary Cutter

As with other sewing and quilting notions, choices abound in the field of rotary cutters. The two most common sizes of rotary cutters for general quilting are cutters with 45 mm and 60 mm blades. Try out both sizes by visiting a quilt shop. One might feel more comfortable in your hand than the other.

Some people prefer the larger size and consider it more useful when doing a lot of cutting. On the other hand, others find the smaller size more comfortable. The Olfa Splash cutter is ergonomically designed and seems to be the cutter of choice for quilters who might have more issues with their wrists. There are also mini sizes of rotary cutters useful when cutting appliqué shapes and a variety of decorative blades are available for fun fabric finishes.

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Related: Learn 13 tips for using your rotary cutter here!

4. Acrylic rulers

Acrylic Quilting Ruler

Today’s acrylic rulers have great features. Look for clear markings that are easy to read. Make sure you understand the lines and measurements on the ruler you purchase so you can accurately cut your fabrics.

If you only buy one ruler, you will want either a 6″ x 24″ or 8″ x 24″ ruler. This way you’ll be able to accurately cut from yardage. The next ruler on your list should be a 12″ ruler in either the 6″ or 8″ width. It’s just easier to manipulate the smaller ruler when cutting smaller cuts of fabric. If you use a lot of fat quarters and precuts, the 12″ length might be your ruler of choice.

There are lots of specialty rulers that make quilting much easier. For example, some rulers come with non-slip “dots” on the bottom to keep the ruler from sliding around on your fabric. Also, square rulers come in a variety of sizes and really help to square up blocks. Specialty rulers for half-square triangles, flying geese, hexagons, log cabin blocks, and pineapple blocks can make even difficult designs as easy as pie.

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5. Basic sewing machine

Sewing Machine for Quilting

While today’s sewing machines are loaded with time-saving and decorative features and stitches, you will only need very basic stitches to start quilting. Choose a good quality, reliable sewing machine that fits your budget and you’ll be happy. The most important thing about your sewing machine is that you quickly learn to sew an accurate 1/4” seam allowance with it. Don’t be afraid to practice with scrap fabrics until you can sew that seam. Many machines come with a special 1/4” foot to help you along in this process.

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6. Thread

Aurifil Thread Rack

Good quality thread is also a must. Most quilters sew with 50 weight cotton thread for basic piecing. Other weights of thread can be used for decorative stitches, appliqué and binding. Purchase a few different types of thread to see which you like best with your particular machine. Also check the lint around and under your bobbin case while using each thread. You may be surprised to see that there is a big difference in the amount of lint produced by different thread (and less lint is better for your machine).

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7. Pins

Sewing Pins in a Pin Cushion

Choose sharp sturdy pins, and use either a pin cushion or magnetic pin bowl to make it easy to store and use them. Several varieties are available in different lengths. There are also specialty pins available for appliqué.

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8. Clips

Clips are a relatively new quilting notion. Not only are they amazingly helpful for securing your binding while finishing your quilt, but they are also a great alternative to pins when working with several layers of fabric. If you make bags or home accessories, these clips will be life savers.

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9. Fabric

The best for last: Fabric is the quilting supply you will have the most fun picking out! Choose good quality fabric in your favorite colors and styles. Remember, you are investing a lot of time to make beautiful quilts, so make sure the fabric is of quilting quality.

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quilting startup library

Learn How to Quilt

See the entire quilting process, step by step. Plus, you’ll find patterns, projects, and our comprehensive beginner’s quilting class.See the Tutorial


patricia corlew

Please pick me

Caroline Moore

I am excited about learning how to quilt!


if you are on facebook, i’d recommend the group Quilting on A Budget. Unless you already belong. It has many members at various levels of expertise, and all willing to lend advice, ideas and shre pictures of their projects. Hope to see you there! And good luck!

Tools of the Trade for Quilting Beginners

[…] What tools do you need to sew a quality quilt? Well, scissors, rotary cutters, and self-healing cutting mats can help you cut fabric cleanly and without damaging your table’s surface. An acrylic ruler can help you cut the cloth in the right dimensions. All of that aside, a quality sewing machine is a must have in order to put your quilt together. With these simple items you can make the quilt of your dreams for you and your craft shop customers. For more tips on quilting equipment, click here:: Ready, Set, Quilt: Tools for Beginner Quilters […]

Judith Schaffner

I am not sure where to ask this, so since this post dealt with basic equipment, I will try here.Has anybody built or bought a platform to put on top of part of a standard height table to bring that part up to counter height to make it easier on one’s back to rotary cut fabric? I am thinking a platform that would accommodate a cutting board of 18″X 24″ or better yet one 36″ square. It should not be too heavy so it can be easily stored and moved to clear that space for other elements of the quilt process. This is for a dining room table (padded) in a NYC apartment, so it is not a permanent sewing spot.


I cut on a card table size table and I use the bed raisers to raise it to the height I need but I’m only 5 ft 2 so this works for me.

Melba White

I would like a beginner’s book on how to sew baby quilts. And a list of all supplies needed to accomplish this task.


You do need equipment and craftsy has a list of what you need but making baby quilts you can find all you need online. Jenny Doan has some great instructive videos on craftsy and on youtube. My suggestion would be to pay for a basic course on craftsy because you have it for life. Enjoy!

Deloris smith

I hope you pick me


Gail kessler’s Craftsy “Piece, patch, quilt”
Would be an excellent first timer class or refresher. Also you learn other tricks and tips.


I really want to learn how to quilt. I love craft projects.


Aren’t the mats and rotary cutters OLFA not OLAF? Olaf is the cute snowman from Frozen… ☺ … But still, definite must haves!!!


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