Thursday, January 26, 2023

Tips, Tricks & Tools, Part I: What's in Your Sewing Kit?

This is Part I of a 3-part series of my favorite Tips, Tricks & Tools when it comes to quilting. 

One thing I was advised when I first started quilting:  Always use the best tools and supplies you can find and afford: sewing machine, scissors, rotary cutting equipment, fabric, needles, thread, even good quality pins can make a difference.  

Here are a few of my favorite tools and toys in my quilting arsenal:
Favorite SCISSORS:  Gingher dress shears - always sharp and reliable.  Pinking shears - often neglected in the sewing room, absolutely perfect to clip curves.  Do you have some pinking shears hiding in the sewing room?  Maybe it's time for a new pair!  I prefer Kai or OLFA snippers - small, sharp blades that cut all the way to the tip.  

I can't live without my Easykut nippers with a small curved blade - especially great for clipping threads when I'm longarm quilting!  Then, of course you need a variety of some cute, tiny scissors for embroidery or snipping threads at the machine (don't use your good cutting scissors!)

Finally, a good, sharp seam ripper, you know, for those rare moments...  I love Cindy's Seam Ripper  by Cindy Cloward of Riley Blake Designs, along with Clover's #463 brown-handled seam ripper.

Cutter: Olfa 45mm  rotary cutter with a quick-change blade, by Lori Holt.  It has a contoured design for a comfortable fit and grooves at the end to prevent finger slippage. Aaaaand, it's red.

I also use a Fiskars Ruler/Cutter combo unit.  The 45mm blade is enclosed and the 6.5" x 24" ruler grips fabric perfectly with less chance of accidents, especially when quilting with kids.
Rulers: I get the most use from my 6" x 12" or 6-1/2" x 24-1/2" rulers.  My preferred rulers are from Creative Grids.  Made with clear acrylic, easy-to-read with a back that grips fabric well for making perfectly straight cuts with the rotary blade.  

My favorite trim tool is a Triangle Square-Up ruler by Quilt-in-a-Day.  Can't live without this!

And for paper-piecing, the Add-A-Quarter  and Add-an-Eighth rulers are lifesavers!
Mats:  I mostly use a 24" x 36" Olfa self-healing mat.  I also like Cute Cuts reversible mats by Lori Holt.  These come in a variety of sizes and colors.  I have tried several rotating mats, but the one I like best is the SKOW 14" Rotating Mat from Sew Kind of Wonderful.  This has ridged edges that make it easy to turn.

QUILTER'S BIBLE:  I've compiled this booklet of charts and quilter's math formulas.  Size charts for different quilt blocks, setting triangles, binding calculations, enlarging/reducing formulas, and all the basics right at my fingertips.  I refer to this almost daily.


 Size 70 to 80 sewing machine needle with a sharp point for most piecing.
For hand-stitching, applique' and binding I like Bohin large-eye crewel embroidery needle or a longer milliner's needle.

My preferred thread for piecing, applique', binding and machine quilting is "So Fine" by Superior Threads.  It is a strong, thin polyester thread that feels like cotton and really sinks in to the fabric.  I've also used Aurafil cotton for piecing.  Both are 50 wt which means that they're thin and smooth.

Instead of the old cumbersome metal thimbles, I use a leather ThimblePad or Jillily's Poke-A-Dots adhesive dots to protect my fingers from damage when hand sewing.

My favorite pins are Clover's fine, sharp glass-head silk pins that glide through the fabric and don't leave a large hole.

Lastly, can you ever have enough pin cushions?!  Maybe, but then again, maybe I need more!

I keep a couple of useful odd things from around the house that I find essential for sewing:  Chop stick, glue stick, vinyl glove (grips the quilt when applying binding), reading glasses (a pair in every room), painter's tape/washi tape, and a little snack.

And finally, SNIPPETS!  I keep a set of sewing essentials in my little laminate "Snippets" bag for each of my sewing stations.  

These include a tableside trash-stasher, scissors and rotary cutter, pins, needles, extra machine needles, small ruler, marking instruments, measuring tape, and a variety of pincushions.   Not only does it keep things organized at each of my sewing stations, but I'm all set for quilting on the go!

What's in your sewing kit?

Happy Sewing!


1 comment:

  1. It is fun to get a peek at some favorite tools from your sewing room.


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