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Friday, November 11, 2011

The Very Basics of Quilting Part 1

I decided to write a few posts up about quilting how-to for the very beginning quilter. This may not pertain to most of you, but people always tell me they would love to quilt but don't know where to start.

This week we're talking equipment.
 These are what I would call the essentials. First off, you will need a sewing machine. However, if you're just starting out, please don't go buy one. Borrow Grandma's. Or a friend's. Or go to your local quilting store and see if they will let you use one before you decide to buy. Sewing machines can cost as little as $100 and as much as several thousand. A good beginner's sewing machine probably should cost around $500 although there are people who would argue that the less expensive ones are fine. The most imporant thing is that you get one you can try out first and then buy. And by all means, please don't buy one if you're not sure you love to sew yet!

In the top left corner, you'll see a little tin of pins. I like long pins with a flat head, but any sewing pin will do, especially if it's a quilting pin. You should be able to pick these up for under $5.

You will need a small pair of scissors for snipping threads, also around $5. And a pair of sewing shears, which are only used to cut fabric. Again, please borrow someone's if you're not yet sure this is for you. And when you're ready, buy the best you can afford. A good pair will cost $50 or a little less.

Every sewer needs a ripper because mistakes do happen. This is another item which will cost under $5. Extra needles are also a must have, because they break from time to time and also need frequently replaced. A package of 5 needles costs about $5.

The next tin is from Gutermann and contains thread. You don't have to buy this brand, but do buy a good quality thread. I normally piece with a polyester thread although cotton is also acceptable.

The final little silver thing on the right is a quarter inch foot. It shows you how to guide your fabric perfectly so that you always get a quarter-inch seam. This is the standard sized seam used in quilting. This foot cost about $15. Most machines have a similar foot available. You can also place a brightly colored taped at the quarter inch mark on your machine to accurately mark your seam allowance. An accurate seam allowance is possibly the most essential secret to good quilt piecing!

 The next things you'll need is a cutting mat, as big as you have room for. These are expensive, but they are a one time purchase. If you can't store it where you use it, make sure to store it flat on the ground as they do warp. A big cutting mat can get pretty expensive, so borrow one if it's your first time.

A good ruler follows the mat, and I recommend one that is 24" x  6" or a little bit bigger. Mine is 8 1/2" wide. Rulers can also get pretty pricey, but a decent one can be purchased for under $20 although you may have to shop around.

You will also need a rotary cutter. Scissors will work, but a rotary cutter is SO accurate. And accuracy makes beautiful quilts. I love the clover brand rotary cutter. You can buy one for around $20.

And finally, make sure you have a measuring tape as this will be essential when you apply the borders of your quilt. These cost around $5.

Maybe the most important piece of equipment in the sewing room is an iron. Don't go all out on this -- the discount store ones work fine. Or use the one you already have for clothes. And ironing board will also be needed.

Hope this helps you get a good start! Next Friday, on to fabrics.

Love,
xoxo

4 comments :

Patty@Granma's said...

Very Good Melissa! Here at the shop we offer beginner classes that take a new quilter through each step. They can use our machines and tools at no charge as long as they buy the materials from us, and there are NO dumb questions! Most of our classes are one on one, for the convience of the student.
Sure hope you girls can make it up for the Holiday Open House - we have lots of fun stuff planned!

Lisa Marie said...

All great points!
I disagree about the iron though. The "nice" irons five a much better, more accurate press. I'm mad that mine always get broken in class or at sew in and all I'm left with is a Black & Decker I bought ten years ago. :(

Elaine said...

As some one who looks lovingly at all the beautiful quilts on people's blogs and thinks 'Wow .... I'd love to have a go but don't know where to start', Thank you for doing this :)

I shall be following your posts with great interest.

:)

Denver Chiropractor said...

Oh thank you thank you thank you! I just found this on pinterst, and your tutorial is exactly what I need to read to get started. I've been wanting to get started with quilting soon and have been overwhelmed with just jumping into the tutorials.

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