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Quiltd Studios Beginner Quilting Essentials

Quiltd Studios was born in the smallest of places, an incredibly overpriced 2-bedroom apartment in Washington D.C. We love the idea of minimalism, but quilting does require a certain amount of "stuff" that will:

1. make your life much easier, or
2. make you happy.

Both are important. We don't have all the quilty things, however, I've compiled a list of our most essential notions perfect for beginner quilters. You can find them at a local quilt shop near you, or we've linked to products that we've used and found to be a good option.

1 - A Sewing Machine

No need to buy the most expensive sewing machine, many quilters happily stitch on machines that over 100 years old! Find one that makes your life easier with basic functions. There are lots of great websites with in-depth reviews on great machines for beginners. 

2 - Rotary Cutter + Self-Healing Cutting Mat + Acrylic Ruler

This is at the top of the list where it belongs, rotary cutters are life-saving. You don't need the most expensive one (a medium sized 45mm works well), but maybe replace the blade every 2-3 quilts to maintain clean lines.

Self-healing mats are essential to protect your table/counter/etc. you're going to want a large one, so buy the largest you can afford (I have slowly worked my way up to a table-sized mat, certainly not necessary in my beginner days!)

The ruler is your guide when cutting, there are lot's of great options! Pick one that is good quality and at least 12".

*TIP when cutting using the rotary cutter and ruler, try not to use a flat palm, tent your fingers, and then walk them up when your cutter passes your hand.

3 - A slotted ruler

Many of our patterns use strip cutting. It's effective, fast, and fun to do! Our favorite is the Quiltcut Slotted ruler, in the largest size you can afford. This ruler squares fabric, cuts strips, and is generally my best friend when cutting anything. Except maybe triangles but I don't cut many of those.

4 - A Seam Ripper

No one is perfect. You'll need one at some point! Really any seam ripper will work. That's right, you don't need a fancy one, go to Joann's and spend $2. You can thank me later when you sew a strip on backwards and curse everything. 

5 - All the Pins

While piecing quilt tops you will use pins, the longer ones are more expensive but also more useful. When basting, you'll need a boatload of curved safety pins. I like the coil-less ones the most, but they are more expensive. You can store them in their original packaging or get nifty pin cushions.

6 - High Quality Fabric

High quality fabric will last much longer than cheaper fabric. It's more expensive, but also feels softer and has higher-quality dyes. Quilting isn't cheap, and fabric is often the most expensive part (other than labor). Some ways to keep it cheaper are

  • find fabric online (Facebook Marketplace or OfferUp);
  • get it on sale! Lots of great fabric shops have sales a couple of times a year;
  • buy what you need, not what you want. I know it's hard, but it cuts down on costs.

Here are some of our favorite brands of high-quality fabric: Moda, Rifle Paper Co., Art Gallery Fabric, Robert Kaufman, and Kona Solids.

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