11 Basic Quilting Tools For Beginners

As a beginner quilter, all the gizmos and gadgets can be overwhelming and, frankly, confusing. 

Do I need all these templates?

How many different kinds of pins could I possibly need?

Do I purchase a bunch of patterns, or do I make my own?

I remember asking myself these questions when I decided to attempt quilting for the first time. 

Luckily, you don’t have to purchase every single item in the quilting section of your local hobby store to create a gorgeous quilt.

We share the top 11 quilting supplies in this post to help you begin your quilting journey.

New world settlers brought the art of quilting with them, but the only surviving quilt from that era is the 1704 Saltonstall quilt. (The age of this quilt was determined by the template cut from a Harvard College newspaper dated 1701.)

During the 19th century quilting spread across America. There are quilts in museums across the country, but most quilt-makers don’t quilt for professional recognition.

They quilt because they love the art and take pride in the quilt blocks they create.

Beginners always want to know how they can create a Nine-Patch, Shoo Fly, Churn Dash or Prairie Queen quilt block pattern like seasoned quilters.

And the answer is pretty simple.

The right quilting tools and supplies, a little research, and the conviction to create a quilt that expresses the innate beauty of quilting is what any beginning quilter needs to get started.

Starting with the right supplies, and knowing what each tool does, is one of the first steps to quilting success.

Here is a list of the needed quilting supplies for beginners:

The Rotary Cutter

Rotary cutters come in different sizes, but the two most popular sizes are the 45-millimeter blade and the 60-millimeter blade.

The expert quilters usually tell beginners to choose an ergonomic cutter if they have wrist issues.

Good quality rotary cutters are more precise, especially when the fabric has a high thread count. They produce quilt blocks with clean edges, and the size of the blocks are more uniform.


Straight Pins And Needles

Sharp and sturdy pins, pin cushions, or a magnetic pin bowl, are a quilter's best friends once the block cutting is complete.

The pins hold the components together as the piecing process takes shape.

You’ll need straight pins for the handwork and needles to do the legwork on your sewing machine.

Invest in some extra-long quilter's pins with multi-colored heads so you can easily see them as you work. (It’s a good idea to have several pin varieties available for different jobs.)


A Rotary Cutting Mat And Rotary Rulers

A rotary cutting mat serves two purposes. It protects the cutting surface, and it also keeps the cutter blade sharp.

A slightly rough mat will help keep the fabric stable; and it’s self-healing, so the blade nicks disappear. Good cutting mats are also reversible.

A see-through rotary ruler allows you to hold the fabric to the mat firmly. A ruler with very thin lines helps align the edge of fabrics better.

There are hundreds of rotary rulers, but start with a basic 6” x 24” ruler—you can add others as you need them.


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Scissors

There are all sorts of quilting scissors on the market. Beginners need two types to get started. The first is a pair of lightweight fabric scissors that feel good when you hold them.

Use these to only cut fabric.

You’ll also need a pair that can cut plastic, paper, and the other materials you need to cut to do the job.

Heritage rag quilt scissors are popular because your fingers rest outside the handles instead of being caught inside the handle holes.


Seam Ripper

A seam ripper with a fine head usually does the trick when you need to rip out a seam that doesn’t belong in the quilt.

There are plenty of seam rippers on the market, so find one that feels comfortable in your hand and has a hard cap to protect the blade when not in use.


Fabrics

Quality fabrics are essential to well-crafted quilts. Tightly woven cotton will extend the life of your quilt, and vibrant colors will give your quilt the pop you desire.

Most beginners start with a variety of multi-colored cotton fabrics, but some choose tone-on-tone coordinated quilting fabrics.


Cotton Threads

Most beginners use a lint-free 50 weight cotton thread for basic stitching. But you can use other weight cotton thread for fancy and decorative stitching as well.

Cotton is the thread of choice for most quilters since their fabric is cotton also. Matching cotton with cotton keeps your quilt soft and consistent to the touch.


Ironing Board And An Iron

There’s no need to reinvent the ironing board or the iron to quilt. Any well-constructed, full-size, ironing board will work.

And any iron that heats high enough to press the fabric is acceptable.

Some quilters use a portable ironing board, so they can go from one room to another, while other quilters use a four-feet-long by 12- or 18-inch-wide ironing board that is part of a kit that attaches to a door.


reliable sewing machine

Reliable Sewing Machine

Contrary to what you may think, you don’t need a fancy, expensive quilting machine to piece together your quilt top or even quilt your project. I recommend going with a well-known brand sewing machine and something that fits your budget.

If you want to try free-motion quilting on your projects, make sure the machine you purchase allows you to either lower your feed dogs or comes with a cover for the feed dogs so you can move your quilt freely under the foot.


basting tools

Basting Tools/Supplies

We already discussed straight pins, but safety pins are also a beneficial tool for basting your quilt sandwich. You use basting when you put your quilt sandwich together (quilt top, batting, and quilt backing).

You can baste with safety pins, Elmer’s glue, or spray glue. Also, some batting has an iron-on adhesive attached to it. You may need to figure out what works best for you. I use a combination of Elmer’s Glue and safety pins.


graph paper

Graph Paper

If you want to design your own quilt pattern or design, graph paper will quickly become your best friend. Think of each square of the paper as a square in your quilt design.

Graph paper is a cheap tool that you can use in several different ways. If you already have a quilt pattern picked out, you can draw it on graph paper and then color it in to see what colors you’d like to use. 


FAQS about Quilting Supplies

What supplies do I need to begin quilting?

Fabric, batting, thread, sewing machine, rotary cutter and mat or scissors, ruler, seam ripper

What is the easiest quilt pattern for a beginner?

Either a simple jellyroll strip quilt or a patchwork quilt using squares that are all the same size. Precut fabrics are a GREAT option for beginners.

How do you start quilting for beginners?

I suggest you start with a small project like a table runner or pot holders and just go for it! You won’t learn without actually trying. Practicing is the best way to start.

What tools do I need to make a patchwork quilt?

You’ll need a sewing machine, rotary cutter and mat or scissors, ruler, and seam ripper.


These are the basic quilting tools beginners need to join the growing crowd of energetic quilters.

With these tools, you can create quilts which will provide protection from the elements and keep your friends and family warm at night.

But remember: quilts also have an artistic side. That’s the side that most quilters like to show off.

Quilts are unique works of art, and every one of them has a story woven into each block.

Once you learn to use these tools, you can tell those stories in a way that expresses your individuality and creative expression.

What are some of your favorite quilting supplies? Let us know what you would add to this list for beginners!

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