When I asked a good friend to teach me to quilt, I really thought it was going to be such a complicated process that I'd do one quilt (maybe) and never touch it again. (read more)
See, she was a seasoned quilter. Really, that's an understatement. She quilts, she runs a quilting business, she has a room in her house that is double the size of my first apartment, and could easily double as a quilt store. That's not even mentioning the OTHER room in her house full of material.
Walking in to that type of setting as a beginner quilter was daunting, to say the least. My first thought was that not only would I not understand quilting, but that I simply wouldn't be able to afford quilting.
From one new quilter to another (if that's what you are), let me tell you that quilting doesn't have to be expensive or take up a ton of room. Even if I did save all of my pennies to buy kits, cloth, thread, etc. no amount of money is going to make my house larger. And I like to spend my pennies on traveling, so there's that.
I quilt in my bedroom, which is not any larger than your average master bedroom. I have a quilt desk that is amazing, and represents the bulk of what I spent when I started quilting. It's nice, but definitely not necessary.
Everything I really NEEDED to start quilting (aside from my cutting mat and ruler) could fit into a 14" x 9" x 6" Tupperware container. As a matter of fact, when I'm working on a quilt now, I store everything for that quilt in a container so I always have it all together when I'm ready to work on it next.
So, here's my version on what you really NEED to get started as a quilter. I will also put links under each item I mention so you can click on them and check them out further if you like.
1. A QUILT KIT - I would recommend a kit for a beginning quilter. It eliminates the need for you to have to visit a store to purchase fabric. Of course you can purchase fabric online, but for me, it was daunting, so a kit worked out perfectly. It will come with your pattern, detailed instructions, and every bit of fabric you need to get started. I'll put a link below, but I would also recommend looking at Connecting Threads. If you click that link, it'll take you right to the beginner quilt kit section.
2. A CUTTING MAT - Something simple, but large enough to give you a bit of wiggle room when you're laying out fabric. You can purchase a rotating mat if you like, it is helpful for squaring up blocks later on, but for starters I'd stick with a standard, no frills, self healing mat.
3. SCISSORS - Get a good pair. I like my Kai scissors. They're always right by my machine while I quilt and I don't use them on anything except material and thread.
4. SEAM RIPPERS - Get a good one, again, I can't stress this enough. You're going to rip seams. Even if you think your attention to detail is so great that you'll never mess up, you're still going to mess up, and you'll be thankful for a sharp, easy to hold seam ripper. I like the kit I bought because it comes with several, so I have no problem popping one in my purse if I'm going to quilt someplace. It also came with tiny scissors, so that was nice.
5. PINS - Make sure you get quilting pins with an extra fine shaft. It'll be easier to pin material together, unless you're glue basting. And (if you sew the material with the pins in place like I used to before I started glue basting) it's less room for your sewing needle to hit your pin. Really, you probably shouldn't sew with the pin in place, but...I used to. Either way, glue basting or pin basting, you'll need pins to baste your big blocks or long sewn strips together when assembling your quilt top.
6. PIN HOLDER - I love my Zirkel. It's magnetic so if you drop a pin on to it, the pin stays in place, and normally tends to land with the sharp side pointed in and the glass head hanging over the edge. How this works, I have no idea, it's magic.
7. RULER - I bought several rulers when I first started out because I really thought I needed more than one. Turns out, I use the same one over and over again, very rarely pulling out any of the others. My 6" x 24" Omnigrip does it all.
8. ROTARY CUTTER - You'll need it for cutting material, you'll use it all the time, and you'll be thankful for a good one. Still, the good ones aren't expensive, so it works out. Might as well purchase some refill blades while you're at it, just for good measure.
9. AN IRONING MAT - You'll need this when you want to iron flat the seams after you've pieced your material. It keeps them from feeling lumpy and bumpy in your finished quit. You'll also use it when binding, especially if you use a bias tape maker. A mat means you don't have to pull out your ironing board, but you definitely can use your ironing board if you prefer.
10. AN IRON - If you already have one, then you're set. I purchased a small one that would fit in my quilt table, only because I didn't feel like dragging out my big one all the time. You really do use it a lot.
11. SPRITZ BOTTLE - Perfect for spraying your seams to make the crease tighter. If you already have a fine spray bottle handy that you can fill with water, you're set.
12. STORAGE CONTAINER - If you've got a large shoe box or a container around that size, it's a great place to put your quilt material, pattern, and any extra bits you've cut that you're saving "just in case" you've missed a step. I personally never throw any part of my quilt material away until I am totally done with the quilt.
The one I'm showing you below is just so you can see what size I'm talking about. That link is for 12 containers. You do NOT need 12 containers, but that size is perfect. Find one at your local Walmart or wherever you like to shop.
13. BAGGIES - Great for kid's sandwiches and great for keeping your quilt material separated until you get a chance to piece them together. Keep yourself organized by sticking a group of cut pieces in the same bag, so when you're looking for a 1 1/2" x 5" rectangle, you know right where it is. (no link needed, right?)
THAT'S IT! These are the things I use each time I quilt (minus the ruler, rotary cutter, and mat when I'm piecing). If I had nothing else (aside from a sewing machine, of course) I could still get it done.
*** NOT NEEDED, BUT GREAT IF YOU CAN AFFORD IT ***
A QUILTING TABLE - I have an Aussie by Kangaroo Kabinets, it was not cheap, and I'd do your research before pulling the trigger, but I can honestly say it's one of the best purchases I have ever made. It fits in my room, holds all of my quilting materials, opens up into a massive piece of furniture so I can piece, cut, and even quilt entire king size quilts on my sewing machine. It's wonderful!! I'll make another post about the table so you can see it stashed away and opened up, it's really incredible.
SEW STEADY TABLE - This is a clear table that slides on to your sewing machine. It gives you a larger surface for piecing, and (if you pull it out just a bit from your machine) also provides a great little "dump area" where you can drop your threads and bits of cloth to keep them out of your way.
THREAD SPOOL HOLDER - Pop your thread spool or cone on to the holder, extend the arm, and feed the thread into your machine. It holds cones well, so you never run out, and I haven't had a single "jumbled thread" episode since I started using one.
About The Author
I started quilting in June of 2018 after attending a quilt show in support of my
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