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Essential Quilting Tools You Need to Get Started

If you’re a beginner quilter or thinking about learning how to quilt, you need to start with the right quilting tools! These essential quilting tools and notions will get you well on your way to making patchwork quilts the easy way.

This article shares all my personal favorite sewing tools I use to make a quilt. I have categorized these quilting tools based on the step of the quilting process they’re used in. Be sure to also check out How to Make a Quilt From Start to Finish if you’re a quilting beginner.

If you’d rather see all these quilting tools in a video, check it out here:

This article contains affiliate links to some of my favorite quilting tools; these links allow me to make a small commission on purchases made after clicking on the links, but does not alter the shopping experience for you!

Quilting Tools for Preparing and Cutting Fabric

If you’re a beginner quilter cutting up quilting cotton fabric for a quilt project, you need to have a few essential tools.

1. Hot Iron & Ironing Board

Let’s start with an easy quilting tool! To get started making a quilt, you’ll need an ironing board and an iron. There are tons of really fancy irons out there – some that do push-ups and some that are known for great steam. I personally recommend using what you have! One of the best irons I’ve ever used was a cheap Black + Decker iron. It got hotter than any of my expensive ones and I’ve had it the longest!

beginner quilting tools start with a hot iron and ironing board, get a cheap iron or just use what you have. a fancy iron is not required for making a quilt

2. Best Press (Unscented) in a Spray Bottle

To go along with your iron, you might also want to get some Best Press. Using spray starch like Best Press on your fabric prior to cutting (and throughout the piecing process) makes the fabric easier to work with and therefore makes your piecing more precise. If you’d rather skip the cost, you could also use steam in your iron or a spray bottle with water in it.

3. A Cutting Mat is a Quilting Essential

A cutting mat is another essential quilting tool you’ll need to get started. The best quilting cutting mats are self-healing as as large as you have space for. I love my 34″ x 22″ Havels Sewing cutting mat, but tons of others are great too! The two most popular brands for quilting cutting mats are Fiskars and Olfa.

I do suggest getting as large of a cutting mat as possible for the space you have available. My first cutting mat was not even 22″ on one side which made cutting width of fabric (WOF) strips very difficult! Whether you are cutting quilting fabric yardage or Fat Quarters, a larger mat is super useful and helpful!

a rotary cutter is one of the essential quilting supplies you need to get started making a quilt

4. Rotary Cutter

Also known as a cutting wheel, a rotary cutter with a nice sharp blade is essential for cutting fabric for your first quilt. Rotary cutters come in a few different popular sizes, but the most common size used by quilters is 45mm. I also recommend buying a few replacement blades when you first get your rotary cutter so you always have some as backup. You should plan to replace your blade for every quilt or two that you use it on, or whenever it starts to feel dull. I buy my replacement blades in packs of 10 or 15 so I always have plenty on hand!

5. Quilting Rulers

The sheer amount of quilting ruler options out there can be so overwhelming for a beginner quilter. I’m here to say you really only actually need a few to get started (and then you can build your collection over time if you want to!) If you’re just getting started quilting, I recommend getting a 6″ x 24″ quilting ruler and maybe also a 6″ x 12″ ruler. Those are my top 2 most used quilting rulers! If you want to also add a large square ruler, a 12.5″ square ruler is a great choice too.

Quilting Tools for Piecing and Patchwork

6. Quilting Pins & Pin Cushion

If you’re already into sewing, you likely already have plenty of pins and a pincushion. If making a quilt is your first sewing experience, I do have a few of my favorite sewing pins to recommend. I personally love sharp glass head pins. I also prefer using a magnetic pin cushion like the Zirkle or one that goes on your wrist.

quilting cotton thread, 50 wt thread is perfect for a beginner quilter

7. Cotton Quilting Thread

AHHH THREAD. Thread can be so confusing for a beginner quilter. Going thread shopping for your first quilt can be very intimidating if you’re just starting out with quilting. First off, any thread will work, but some work better than others. If you have old thread that you’re not sure will work, give it a nice tug and it it doesn’t break, you’re good to use it!

If you’re buying thread specifically for a quilt, I like using cotton thread that is around 40 or 50 wt. Aurifil, Connecting Threads, and Gutermann are all great options! All purpose thread will also work out for piecing a quilt too.

the HUSQVARNA VIKING EMERALD 116 is a great sewing machine for beginners who want to learn how to sew and quilt

8. Sewing Machine with 1/4″ Foot for Piecing

While it is possible to piece and quilt a quilt by hand with a needle and thread, most modern quilters prefer using a sewing machine. There are lots of great beginner-level sewing machines out there. If you’re looking for a sewing machine for a beginner quilter, I personally learned on a HUSQVARNA VIKING EMERALD and highly recommend it.

quilters use a quarter inch seam while piecing their quilt tops, so it's best to have a 1/4" presser foot on your sewing machine as a beginner quilter

The most important presser foot for piecing a quilt is a 1/4″ foot, or even one with a guide! The 1/4″ foot for a sewing machine is an essential tool for learning how to quilt.

9. Small Snip Fabric Scissors

While you are piecing your quilt, small little scissors really come in handy! I’ve even known a couple quilters who hang theirs on the side of their machine so the scissors are always within reach.

little scissors are an essential quilting tool to keep on hand when you are piecing your quilt top. use little snips to trim any loose threads or snip whenever needed while quilting

10. Seam Ripper

Mistakes are bound to happen while making your first quilt! That’s why a seam ripper is an essential quilting tool for beginners to take out any unwanted stitches! Find out which type of seam ripper is my personal favorite in this article. Generally speaking, a real cheap one will do just fine for a beginner quilter!

Essential Quilting Tools for Quilting and Binding

11. Spray Adhesive

My personal favorite way to baste a quilt (the process of putting your 3 quilt layers together) is with a spray adhesive. There are a lot of options out there for different types of spray. Lately I’ve been using Odif 505 and recommend it! If you prefer not to use a spray, you could also use curved safety pins for basting your quilt.

12. Hera Marker

A Hera marker might be the least “essential” item on this list of quilting tools, but I personally use mine on a lot of quilts! I use a Hera marker to draw the lines on my quilt before quilting it. Read more tips for straight line quilting here.

a walking foot is an essential tool for making a quilt

13. Walking Foot

To be completely honest, I quilted for a couple years before I even got a walking foot! But I certainly would recommend getting one from the beginning if you plan on quilting your own quilt tops yourself. A walking foot feeds the fabric through the machine evenly when you have multiple layers, and is a lifesaver when it comes to quilting a quilt!

14. Fabric Scissors

While you might be able to get by just using your rotary cutter and small snips, it’s also very nice to have a large pair of fabric scissors on hand! I use mine most often to trim off excess batting or when attaching my quilt binding to my quilt.

Now that you have all your essential quilting supplies and tools, let’s get started quilting with this step-by-step guide to making a quilt!

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