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What are Quilting Notions?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 17, 2024
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Quilting notions are the small tools and accessories used in the craft. The word notions is almost always used in its plural form and is thought to date back to the 18th and 19th centuries in the United States. During that time, Yankee notions was the name given to the items such as pins, needles and household tools that peddlers sold door to door. The most common quilting notions used today include pins, needles, cutters, frames, stencils, marking pens and threads.

Cotton, silk and polyester are popular types of thread used for quilting. They are all available in a wide range of solid and variegated colors as well as different weights. Whereas 28 is a common thread weight for hand quilting, 40 is for machine use and is considered an all purpose type. Thread quilting notions are sold in many different sizes from small spools to large cones.

Marking pens are used in quilting to add cutting lines to fabrics. As an alternative to markers, iron-on stencils can be used. There are other types of stencils, such as paper ones that the quilter keeps on the fabric and stitches over. When the quilted section is complete, the remaining paper can be easily removed.

Frames are necessary quilting notions, as they help hold sections of the project tightly enough for stitching. The two most common quilting frame shapes are rounds, called hoops, or squares. The frames are designed to hold all of the quilting fabric layers steady during stitching. Quilting frames are available in different sizes that vary depending on the project size.

Other than regular scissors or pinking shears, different types of quilting cutters are used to cut many cloth squares at once. Some are small and light enough to transport easily, such as to quilting clubs or retreats, while other quilting cutting machines are heavier. Some quilters prefer to use fabric cutting machines while others like the simplicity of old-fashioned quilting notions such as scissors and shears.

Hand and machine needles used for quilting vary in thickness and length. Sharps are used for intricate quilting such as in sewing on appliques. Appliques are fabric cut-outs that are often added on to quilted sections as further decoration. Betweens are quilting needles used for basic stitching, as they're designed to go through layers of fabrics.

Pins used for quilting notions range from long and thin to extra sharp depending on the types of fabric. Extra sharp pins hold thicker layers of quilt materials together better than a regular pin style. Long, narrow needles may work best to hold delicate appliques onto quilted surfaces.

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Discussion Comments

By Grivusangel — On Apr 20, 2014

"Notions" is almost exclusively used for sewing items, anyway. Quilting has become so popular that sometimes it's difficult finding fabric and notions for regular sewing. There are all sorts of calicoes available in every color, but as garment making has gotten less popular, quilting seems to have taken over.

I love quilts, and quilting is a time-honored art form, but it would be nice if it were easier to find something in the fabric stores besides quilting notions.

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