As I was packing up to go teach a class the other day, I got to thinking about all the tools I needed to remember to bring. You know, all the items I would be so absolutely lost without in this wonderful world of quilting?
So I wanted to share my top ten with you all to help give you some insight if you don’t already have any of these items in your own go-to bag of notions. Here’s the list in no particular order:
1) Rotary Cutter — I couldn’t cut precision pieces without them. I know there are still quilters who do it the “old fashion way” with scissors, but I’m an instant gratification kind of gal. I like things done relatively quickly and as precisely as they can be done. I don’t know a time before rotary cutters as my quilting career doesn’t span that far back…but I wouldn’t want to know that time anyway. ;)
2) Calculator — As a pattern designer as well as a seasoned retail quilt shop employee, I can’t tell you how much I’ve come to love my calculator. From figuring out backing measurements, borders, block sizes, and how to make a quilt from crib size to queen size…I just don’t know what I’d do without it. You don’t need any sort of fancy calculator either. I’ve had my cheap-o little dual powered battery/solar powered one forever now and it does just what I need it to do — basic calculations. (Hopefully I didn’t just jinx it by saying that…but it truly is a great little calculator.)
3) Fabric Scissors — These are MINE!! ALL MINE!! And they are JUST for fabric. A lot of sewers and quilters probably already know this, but it is almost absolutely necessary to have a pair of scissors JUST for fabric. I even own two pairs of fabric scissors. Mostly because I do so much machine applique (cutting out all the fused pieces and all that fun stuff) and am constantly misplacing them, but also because I’m so worried about one of my family members taking them and using them on *gasp* paper!! — I’m cringing just thinking about it…
4) Wooden Seam Presser — I know it’s a bit unconventional and probably wouldn’t be on too many people’s “top ten” list but it’s a MUST HAVE for me. I do a lot of binding for other people as well as myself and I don’t know what I’d do without it when it comes to mitering the two ends together by machine. It’s also a great tool for paper piecing as well. (Side note: A local artisan made some and sold them locally to shops in the area. He made them all out of different types of wood and each had different carved details in them. Nothing fancy. But being the huge nerd I am, it was almost like watching Harry Potter find his wand…I knew mine when I saw it. It’s a beautiful tool.)
5) Box of bobbins in an assortment of wound colored threads — I do A LOT of machine applique. A LOT!! It’s my super-fave and I just don’t know what I’d do if I had to wind a new bobbin of thread every time I wanted to switch colors. I like having a large assortment of colors in a range I know I’ll use when appliqueing. (Tip for storage: I recycled that cute little box that holds my bobbins in the picture above from the original packaging of a box of pins. If you’re not using it to actually hold your pins — mine are on my magnetic pin holder — then turn it into a bobbin holder. It holds my green Viking bobbins perfectly! — Excuse the thread stickers on top. I have a habit of sticking them random places. lol!)
6) Seam Ripper — Can’t leave this one off the list. Every quilters best friend in those times of hopelessness, sometimes anger, and anxiety that comes with having to un-sew a seam.
7) A great pair of thread snippers/shears — My favorite are a smaller sized Gingher shears. They have a LOVELY point on the end for super tight knots/stitches you might have to snip out and the quality blades last forever. I swear..I’ve had mine for quite a few years now and am JUST about ready to need them sharpened.
8) Walking foot — This item is actually on my list NOT because I do so much machine quilting but actually because its a great tool for machine sewing bindings on to quilts. Like I’ve mentioned before, I do a lot of bindings for other people and I don’t know if I’d ever be as successful at it if I had to shove a quilt through my regular foot. In fact, I know I wouldn’t be. Don’t get me wrong though, I do also use it for other things like straight line quilting, piecing scrap pieces of batting together and a few other odds and ends things.
9) 5 bucks (Yes, like 5 dollars) — I know it’s not a quilt notion but it belongs in my go-to quilting bag. Sometimes I call it my emergency quilting money…most of the time though it’s there to remind me I haven’t emptied my entire bank account on fabric and other quilting addictions…yet.
10) Flat head pins — I love these! I always tell people at the shop that they’re a good investment. I know it can be a bit daunting looking at the price of a box of these special little pins compared to other generic pins but the quality of them are great. They have a nice sharp point on the end, are nice and long, and the flat heads have “no-melt technology” make them easy to iron over if absolutely necessary. I will say however, I have bent a couple and had a couple of the heads pop off a couple as well..but I still wouldn’t go back to my always dull, super bulky, generic sewing straight pins.
I’m sure there are plenty more notions I could include on this list. And let me tell you, it was hard to narrow down but there you have it! My list of top ten quilting notions and other items I just couldn’t live without when quilting. Everyone is different and I would assume ones preference on quilting techniques would lead each of us to narrow our list of “top tens” to a variety of different notions.
If you had a Top Ten list, what would be some of the items you would include?