Using the right quilt tools makes all the difference when you are quilting. Good tools help you cut and sew more accurately and generally make the entire process more enjoyable.
And, you don't have to spend a lot of money--just focus on a few high quality items and they will last forever.
Here are some of my favorite tools. No affiliate links--opinions based on personal use only.
As always, please check with your favorite local quilt shop or local shops with online shops before going to 'big' retailers. Note: there are NO buying links in this post because I serriously want to encourage you to select the local/small biz retailer of your choice.
Such a personal choice......We all have our favorites. One way to decide is to try several that your friends use and decide which is the MOST comfortable for you to use. Retreats are a great place to try out various cutters.
Another thing to think about is SAFETY! I am constantly reminding students in my classes to close the rotary cutter BEFORE you lay it down on your table.
I forgot to close my cutter a couple of years ago and ended up with a very bad cut on my finger when I reached under a pile of fabric without realizing the cutter was there. That's why I decided switch and start using this Olfa Rotary Cutter. It closes automatically when I let go of the black handle on the bottom. It comes in 45 mm and 60 mm size. I admit it--I have about 6 of these. I keep one or two in my 'go to retreat' bag, one in my checked suitcase for traveling to give workshops and at least 4 in my studio.
I am completely sold on the Quilters Select rulers for every day cutting. These are truly non-slip --I don't need to use a lot of pressure to keep them from moving while I cut my fabric. The rulers come in a wide range of sizes--rectangular and squares. ( I have also purchased a couple of specialty triangle rulers from other manufacturers as well.)
The yellow coating color is a bit opaque and can be difficult to read under low light. My solution is to use a bit of blue painters tape to mark my desired cutting line when I am doing repetitive cutting. (see below for an example)
I use several types of batting depending on how I will use the quilt.My favorite brands are Hoffman and Quilters Dream.
When I make quilts that will travel with me on the road, I use 100% wool. I've also used wool in quilts that I use at home. They wash perfectly fine in cool water and a medium dryer. Note: I do not prewash my fabric so your results could vary.
I use 80/20 from Quilters Dream for my at home or gift or charity quilts.
LEFTOVER BATTING -- TAPE IT!
We all end up with various pieces of leftover batting. I find that the easiest way to piece them together is with this batting tape. It's fusible--a medium hot dry iron for a couple of seconds is all that it takes. No sewing--why bother when you will be quilting the whole thing anyway?!? I've never had a problem with the batting coming apart after many washings.
ROTARY CUTTING MATS
Nothing beats a rotary cutting mat when you are cutting multiple sides of a block. I'd rather not move the ruler OR the block so I usually grab my Martelli Rotary Mat. It comes with an ironing pad top which is convenient at quilt sew days or retreats.
Here's an example of how I use the rotary mat to square up these striped blocks. I'll write a longer post about this quilt at a later time.
I also have a couple of square rotary mats when I need a different size. If you do NOT have a rotary mat, you can put a square or smaller mat on top of a larger mat. It works pretty well in a pinch.
We all cuts lots and lots of strips. I have the Stripology ruler from Creative Grids. (Check out the Creative Grids YouTube videos. I started using the ruler and then watched the video. Good thing that I did because I wasn't using it to best advantage. I was also holding my rotary cutter incorrectly. I know, I could have READ the instructions...but I'm so visual (she whined......).
When I use this ruler, my strips are straight and even. No weird V shape in the middle. With a sharp rotary blade, I can cut up to 8 layers of fabric at a time.
Last but not least, I use EQ8 software for most of my design work. Yes, there is a bit of a learning curve, but if you want to estimate yardage or make quilts using their library of blocks, this is a wonderful tool. EQ8 provides lots of contemporary fabrics so that you can try out a design idea in different colors. Here are some examples of my Triangle Joy pattern available on Etsy that I re-colored in EQ8 with just a few clicks. This is a paper pieced pattern but it is PERFECT for freezer paper piecing. If you want to find out more about that, visit, Rebecca Bryan's site here. With freezer paper piecing, you do NOT have to sew through the paper or tear it out. Rebecca has a free guide on this technique.
Want to learn EQ8? I highly recommend Kari Schell of OnPoint Quilter tutorials and classes.
No affiliate links or sponsorships in this post. All opinions are my own.
What are some of your favorite tools and notions?