To choose the best quilting equipment, a quilter should first assess the skill level at which he or she is performing and then determine the type of quilting projects being undertaken. Basic quilting equipment can be used for multiple quilting projects, and is simple to find and relatively inexpensive. There is no reason not to buy the highest quality because these tools can be used over and over.
To begin, a quilter should have a good supply of needles in various sizes, pins with colored tops that will not be misplaced in the fabric, a seam ripper with an ultra-fine head that will cut evenly, and two pairs of scissors — one small for cutting thread, the other large for cutting cloth, both stainless steel with rubber grips.
Quilts can be created completely by hand, but most modern quilters prefer to use some kind of sewing machine. This valuable piece of quilting equipment need not be fancy or expensive. As long as it can stitch a 1/4-inch (6.53 millimeter) seam allowance (standard quilting stitch), it should be sufficient. If a quilt is large, smaller machines can still be used, but the quilting might need to be done in sections before being stitched together. In addition, if a sewing machine has a small motor, a quilter may need to stop every half hour or so to cool the machine down.
Other quilting equipment must be chosen with a particular project in mind. The first step is to choose a quilting pattern. For beginners, it is best to start with a simple or traditional pattern before working on more advanced projects such as bargello or picture quilts. These patterns can be found in quilting books, magazines and online.
After choosing a pattern, the most important piece of quilting equipment is the fabric, and there are few firm guidelines to this decision; it must be made based on the desired effect. Color, texture and fabric type will vary from quilt to quilt, but all fabric should have fast colors and be pre-washed, dried and ironed. In addition, a quilter should purchase plain cloth for underlining and 1/4-inch (6.53 millimeter) foam for inner filling. After choosing fabric, the quilter should choose thread that matches it, or is a complimentary color. Cotton thread is generally considered the best for quilting because it comes in every shade and is more durable and long-lasting.
For cutting the fabric, quilters should purchase a rotary cutter, mat and ruler. These are inexpensive and invaluable for cutting straight lines and squares. A quilter should try out several cutters to find one that has a firm grip and fits the hand. The rotary mat should be transparent, and no less than 2 by 3 feet (60.96 cm by 0.9 meters) wide to accommodate most pattern sizes. Likewise, the ruler should be transparent, and no less than 6 inches by 24 inches (15.24 cm by 60.96 cm).
The most crucial piece of quilting equipment, which must be tailored to each specific project, is the quilting frame. A quilter’s primary concern should be adjustability and ease of use — a frame must fit the quilter’s quilt and quilting posture. It is best to survey a frame in person, checking especially for the way in which it is adjusted, how tightly it holds the fabric, and how it fits with the quilter’s stance. A good frame is an invaluable piece of quilting equipment, and can be used for multiple projects provided it is adjustable.