In a world filled with endless products and tools, I try to keep things simple when it comes to sewing and quilting. I’ve never been one for having lots of rulers and gadgets that I only use for one project. Instead, over the years I’ve found a handful of trusty notions and tools that make my sewing and quilting process easier and more enjoyable.
Today, I’m excited to share with you 5 of the must-have tools I need to have for sewing and quilting:
Quilters Select Rulers
I’m not a quilter who has a ton of rulers (or even specialty rulers). I love having a good set of basics and are my workhorses. Up until a few years ago, I didn’t pay that much attention to the brand or type of acrylic ruler that I used. If it was clear and had an edge I could run my rotary cutter down, that was good enough for me. I felt this way until a friend at a quilt shop showed me the Quilters Select brand of rulers. Oh my gosh—these rulers changed my cutting life! The rulers have a special non-slip coating on the back that makes for accurate cutting. Also, I have found that the lines and numbers printed on the rulers are the easiest for me to read. I love these Quilters Select rulers so much, I have them in three sizes:
• Quilters Select 6″ x 12″ Ruler (great for cutting individual pieces of fabric and trimming small blocks)
• Quilters Select 6″ x 24″ Ruler (great for cutting yardage when folded in half)
• Quilters Select 12″ x 12″ Ruler (great for cutting larger pieces of fabric and trimming larger blocks)
• Quilters Select 3″ x 12″ Ruler (super cute and handy when cutting small pieces or thin strips)
If I could only have one size (or was starting out with my Quilters Select ruler collection), I would pick the 6″ x 24″ size. I think it’s the most versatile!
Iris Superfine Pins
If you’ve ever taken a class with me or watched a video tutorial, you know that I achieve precise results by pinning. Pinning takes extra time, but I find that the results are well worth the effort. Carefully aligning and securing my pieces before heading over to the machine allows me to focus solely on my sewing. This enables me to achieve a consistent seam allowance and makes piecing more enjoyable. Not to mention, I use my seam ripper less often!
I recommend using pins that are extra thin and don’t bend. My preferred brand of pins is Iris Superfine. A super thin pin will slide through your fabric easier. Super thin pins also make your piecing more precise, since a thinner pin takes up less room in your fabric.
3. My favorite pressing / ironing tools:
Oliso Mini Project Iron and Pressing MultiMat
Ironing and pressing is probably my least favorite part of quilting. I’m always looking for tools and tricks that make this part of my quilting life easier.
Irons are often the bane of a quilter’s existence. They often stop working or don’t get hot. Once you find one that you like, it can make pressing less tiresome. I’ve been using my Oliso Mini Project Iron now for 4 years and it’s still going strong. I LOVE how it heats up fast and gets really hot. The small size is great for concentrating on seams I want to flatten.
In addition to a good iron, I also love pressing on a Wool Mat as it allows for efficient pressing. The heat from your iron absorbs into to wool, so when using the mat it’s like you are pressing from both sides of your fabric. This is especially helpful when foundation paper piecing since you can’t press from the paper side of your piecing. I do find that I can flatten my seams and fabric flatter and faster when using the mat. I love using the Oliso Felt Pressing MultiMat. It’s modular so you can always start with one and add on more with the handy connectors included!
4. My favorite lighting options:
Daylight Company Lighting
Let’s talk about the unsung hero of our crafting spaces: lighting! It took me a while to appreciate the immense impact that good lighting can have on my sewing and quilting projects. Not only does extra lighting enhance accuracy, but it also adds an extra dose of ease while reducing strain on my precious peepers. For this reason, I’ve made it a point to have a few special lamps strategically placed in my workspace and home. I acquired a few lamps from the Daylight Company years ago and they’re my absolute favorite. In terms of color temperature and brightness, they produce excellent quality LED light and their lamps are super functional and are beautiful, minimalist objects that I love having in my studio and home.
I have a few Daylight Company lights:
• Slimline Table Lamp (I keep this between my pressing area and my sewing area so I’m able to swing the light between the two spaces)
• Slimline 3 Floor Lamp (I keep this at the end of the couch that I do handwork at — quilt binding, embroidery, EPP, and needle turn applique)
• Smart Clip-on Lamp (I bring this around the house anywhere I need additional light or when I’m traveling. I love that you can have it sit on a tabletop or clip it on to something. It also doesn’t require any batteries—it has a USB charger and the battery lasts a good amount of time)
• Wafer 1 Lightbox (A great thin lightbox for tracing or aligning fabric — I also have the clear cutting mat that goes on top. I have the small one, but it also comes in a medium size: Wafer 2, and a large size: Wafer 3)
5. My favorite hand sewing needles:
I LOVE these needles for handwork. These high-quality needles are made in Japan and are nickel-plated steel, with gold plated eyes. They are polished lengthwise to ensure smooth fabric piercing and needle eyes are polished from both sides to ensure easy threading. I highly recommend these needles to all of my students as they glide right through your fabric, don’t easily bend, are easier to thread than most other needles, and you get what you pay for—they last a while. I tend to lose my needle before it wears down.
My go to types of Tulip needles are:
• Tulip Applique #10 Big Eye Needles (for binding my quilts and needle-turn applique)
• Tulip Milliner #10 Big Eye Needles (for thread basting and English Paper Piecing)
What are your favorite sewing and quilting tools?
I’d love to hear your recommendations. Comment below!