Hey there, new quilter! Welcome to the wide world of quilting. Are ya feeling a bit overwhelmed? I bet! There is so much information out there and you just want to know where to start, right? You have come to the right place! Follow along and you will be quilting in no time.
The first thing you need to do is gather your supplies and notions. Here are the Top 10 Supplies and Notions needed by a new quilter. If you’re on a budget, no worries. These items come in a variety of price points.
- Sewing Machine – Yes, you need a good sewing machine. And yes, they come in a variety of prices. Sometimes the $5 sewing machine from the yard sale down the road is fantastic. Sometimes the $5000 machine is also fantastic (But, you do not need to spend near that much to get a good machine. I promise!). What is recommended for a beginner? If you buy a used one, take it to an experienced sewing machine tech who can get it in good running order and give it a “once over” before you begin. If you’re buying a new one, look at reputable brands and remember that if you buy from a quilt shop or a sewing machine store, you’re going to get all of their service options, possible classes, and tons of support when purchasing from them. If you buy from a big box store, you won’t get any support and you should also be leery of the cheapest machine at the box stores. Many times, with the cheapest option, comes a lot of frustrating issues. It is more likely to come unthreaded frequently or it may jam up more often than machines at a very slightly higher price point. This can cause so much frustration for a new quilter that they quit. A good machine that sews without any hiccups is a must-have. There are some good sewing machine options here if you’re shopping for a new machine.
2. Good scissors are a must-have notion for a new quilter. These scissors will be your fabric scissors and remember to use them only for fabric! Guard them with your life. Ha! Husbands and children are notorious for swiping fabric scissors to use on paper. That’s a no-no. To keep scissors sharp and cutting correctly, use them only for fabric. You may want to try out a few different brands before you land on the right pair for you. If you’re left-handed, be sure to buy a pair that will work for you. You should also consider buying a pair of snips, or just a small pair of scissors to use for thread and to keep nearby when sewing. Check out a great scissor selection on Missouri Star.
3. A rotary cutter. Every quilter needs a good rotary cutter. If you need more information on what this even is and why you need it, check out this article. When you’re purchasing your rotary cutter, be sure to also buy a package of refill blades. How often should you refill the cutter? You’ll know. When it stops cutting all the way through and you have to go over all your cuts more than once, it’s time to change it. Or if it continually misses just a tiny stitch of thread when you’re cutting, it’s time to change it. Be warned though, to say these blades are sharp is an understatement of significant proportions.
4. Cutting Mat. If you have a great rotary cutter, you can probably guess that you also need a great cutting mat. Are you thinking that a cutting mat is a cutting mat? Are you planning on using one Aunt Sally left you when she passed away? Ugh. Not all cutting mats are the same. Some will dull your blade so fast, you won’t know what hit you. If you’re looking for a good quality mat selection, check these out. And remember to always store your mat flat. They will warp. And they’ll be curved. And you’ll be sad.
5. Seam ripper. Jack the Ripper. The Unthreader. The Unpicker. It goes by many names but it has one purpose. It erases your mistakes. You’re going to make them. A lot of them. All quilters do (even experienced quilters!). You may decide to buy more than one. It’s not a bad idea. Most quilters have them all over their sewing rooms. It’s a necessity.
6. Iron. You may not consider an iron a notion or a quilting supply. However, many consider it to be one of the most important items in their sewing room. It does not need to be an expensive fancy iron (although those are great!). It can be the cheapest one you find and probably do just fine. Quilting involves a lot of ironing or pressing. After each seam is sewn, it needs pressed. Be sure to have an iron on your list of quilting must-haves. There are some great irons here.
7. Starch. Along with the iron, you need starch. There are so many types of starches and pressing aids. Check out the complete article on that here. Starch will help you to have very flat seams and very flat blocks. This will be invaluable when it comes to squaring up your blocks and getting your quilt to go together nicely.
8. Thread! Of course a new quilter will need thread. Not all thread is the same. There are many types – cotton, polyester, silk, etc. For piecing blocks, a 40 or 50 weight thread is usually recommended. Missouri Star offers some great piecing thread here. Remember that thread does “expire” in a way – if it is very old or has sat in the sun, it may be brittle and break easily. If you inherited a bunch of thread from Aunt Sally, you may want to check it out carefully before using. To read more about thread choices, read this article on Thread 101.
9. Pins. Every quilter needs pins. Pins are invaluable when it comes to putting your blocks together and getting them to fit together so that your points and seams meet up where they are supposed to. There are many different types of pins. Flat head pins, round pins, thicker pins, thinner pins. So. Many. Options. The best way to know which ones you like is to just buy several kinds and play around. It’s a personal decision. Everyone has a different favorite. Check out all the sewing pin possibilities here.
10. Quilt Clips. These quilting clips are a new player in the quilting game. They’ve only been around for the last several years and they just keep getting more popular. Their popularity is increasing due to the fact that they are awesome! In many instances, they replace pins. They can hold your pieces of fabric to each other. They are easy to use and you can use them one-handed (unlike a pin, which usually takes two hands). If you add these to your sewing notions, you will find 101 uses and not all of them will be in the sewing room.
And there you have it! These are the Top Ten Notions and Supplies you should have as a new quilter. If these items are in your arsenal, you will be well on your way to finishing your first quilt!
I always liked Nancy’s Notions I used to look at her tutorials on tv….& I miss her catalogs…!!
Been trying to find Nancy’s template for Hearts and Gizzard patterns and for Dresden pattern for a long time. Let me know when its back in production. Couldn’t afford it when Nancy was still with us (too many children still home thdn. But now that I’m retired and watching the few “best if” pbs shows from Nancy’s videos, I am really wanting to find tgese templates again.
welcome back to life…I used to be a devotee.
Thanks Katalina. Although we can never replace Nancy, we are happy to continue her legacy of education and all things sewing. 🙂
I have a 3-ring binder of Nancy’s Notions How-to papers. I watched her 1980’s? PBS shows faithfully. I’m happy to see these good information discussions here. Hope to see more videos like the “old” days.