Quilting Supplies and Tools
These are the tools and supplies I use in my studio. I’m a pretty minimal quilter and not a big fan of gadgets, so I don’t buy many specialty tools unless I know I will use them a lot. I’ve linked to online retailers because it’s easier to make this list, but I encourage you to support your local quilt shop when purchasing tools and supplies whenever possible. Most shops will be able to order things for you if they don’t carry them regularly, too.
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Most links go to US websites, but I've included some Canadian links as well.
I bought my Bernina Aurora 440 QE almost 20 years ago and it has been an absolute workhorse all these years. It isn’t being made anymore, but Bernina now has quite a range of sewing machines that come with quilt-specific functions.
Rotating cutting mat
This Fiskars rotating cutting mat is perfect for trimming HSTs and FPP pieces without having to reposition them. I don’t use this as often as I thought I would when I bought it, especially if I’m only trimming a couple of things. But for large numbers of HSTs, or when I do one of my scrap cutting Sunday afternoons, it’s such a help.
I’ve had this Olfa rotary cutter for probably 15 years now. I’ve used others in workshops but prefer how this one fits my hand. Although that may in large part be because I’m just so used to it.
I started out with a no-name ruler from the craft store when I first started quilting, but have since upgraded (partially because the markings on the old ruler were starting to fade) to Creative Grids rulers. I like that their markings are very easy to read, they all have the regular inch markings on one side and then the in-between half-inch markings on the other side. So if I’m cutting lots of, say, 4.5” strips, I just flip the ruler around to the half-inch markings and can easily see where my 4.5” mark is. No more “oops, my eye slipped and I cut a 1/4” too small”. Plus, they have a non-slip strip on the back, which I like.
Creative Grids 8.5” x 24” - the workhorse ruler
This ruler technically has everything you need to make a quilt. It’s long enough to fit across half a WOF to cut yardage, and 8.5” width means I can cut a fair number of sizes without needing a second ruler or using the markings on the mat. It has markings on all four sides, and 45 degree lines so you can use it easily to cut squares, square up a block, or trim HSTs as well. And the non-slip strip on the back is especially helpful with this large ruler. If you’re only going to get one ruler, I highly recommend this one (or the 6.5” wide version of it).
These two square rulers are perfect for cutting squares, squaring up all the standard sizes of blocks, trimming HSTs, etc. They have both half-inch (1.5”, 2.5”, 3.5” etc.) and full inch (1”, 2”, 3” etc.) square markings, depending on which way you rotate them, making squaring up any size block super easy.
I love this ruler and I think I probably use this one the most. It’s easier to handle than the large rulers for trimming things or cutting smaller pieces to size, and it’s got the same easy to read markings and non-slip surface on the back like all the other Creative Grids rulers.
I don’t use this ruler very often, mainly because I don’t work with triangles as much. But I love that it is very versatile, and lets you cut both 60 degree triangles and half hexies in a large number of sizes. If you're in Canada, you can find it here.
Basting and Quilting
This is my go-to for spray basting. I’ve tried a couple of other basting sprays as well but either had issues with them gumming up the spray nozzle, or the needle, or spraying too much and leaving wet marks that didn't always come out in the wash. Canadians check here.
I use 80/20 batting (80% cotton, 20% polyester) for the extra loft, and my favourite is Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 which I buy by the roll. In Canada I usually order mine from Dinkydoo Fabrics when they have their big batting sale, but for smaller sizes you can find them here as well.
I love this tool for marking my quilting lines without having to worry about whether chalk or marker will come out in the wash. I’ve had both “washable” marker not wash out, and chalk somehow integrate itself into the thread and then not come out. So now I use the Hera marker almost exclusively for marking quilting lines. You could use a butter knife instead of the Hera marker as well, but I happened to be gifted a Hera marker so I use it all the time.
These thread snips were a total spur-of-the-moment purchase at a quilt show, but I love them and have not regretted the purchase one single moment. They are spring-loaded, sharp, and very comfortable to hold. Plus they’re a Canadian company, so… Yes I could live without them, but I don’t want to. And I’m actually considering purchasing a pair of regular fabric scissors from them, too, because they just feel nice in the hand.
Flatter ironing spray
This is a starch-free smoothing spray that gets the tough wrinkles out of fabric and has an ever so slight stiffening effect. Not quite like starch, which I also use, but it gets the wrinkles out of fabrics that have been folded for a long time, and stiffens them up just enough to make sewing more precise. I love the scent, and they’re a Canadian company, too. If you're in Canada, you can get it here.
I prefer to use these clips instead of pins for thicker things like holding binding in place or when making things like bags or pillows. Pretty much whenever multiple layers of quilted fabric are held together and pins sometimes struggle.
Freezer paper - for freezer paper FPP
Discovering freezer paper for foundation paper piecing was a life changer for me. I almost exclusively use freezer paper now for FPP, and think twice before making a block if I have to use regular paper for it. I use both freezer paper from the roll to trace larger shapes onto, and letter-size sheets to print templates directly onto the freezer paper. Canadians, check here.
Quilt Design Software
I've used EQ8 since it came out, and still design most patterns in EQ8 first. I like how easy it is to use and I can quickly see what effect a colour change has on the overall design, or switch a block out, twist and flip it, etc. It doesn't tell you how to make the quilt, or how to cut and piece blocks etc, but that's what we pattern designers are for ;-)
In addition, I have created an Amazon storefront where I've linked items I use, some of them regularly, some are one-offs for specific projects. This one links to amazon.com, I'm working to get one set up for amazon.ca as well.