Blog Written By: Carolina Moore
If you’re an experienced quilter, then you likely have a sewing room filled with standard quilting supplies. Over the years, you’ve collected sewing tools and likely upgraded those sewing tools as needed. A well-stocked sewing room has fabric scissors, thread snips, rotary cutters and rulers, a cutting table with a self-healing mat, a quality sewing machine, and plenty of thread, fabric, and batting.
But did you know that there are more tools that can help you level up your quilting game? Here are the top 7 tools experienced quilters want in their sewing room!
The Accuquilt GO is a die-cutting machine designed especially for quilters. It comes in several sizes. The smaller GO Me cuts up to 6” wide dies, the larger GO cuts the smaller 6” dies as well as the larger 10” dies. The GO Big is an electric machine that will feed the dies through without needing to use a hand-crank and cuts dies as large as 14 inches.
There are hundreds of Accuquilt dies to choose from. These dies will accurately and safely cut your fabric. If you’ve ever worried about cutting yourself with a rotary cutter, or you’ve had a ruler slip while cutting, you’ll appreciate the ease of using an Accuquilt machine. And, these machines cut multiple layers of fabric at a time, which can cut down on cutting time so you can get to your favorite part – piecing your quilt!
While many of your favorite patterns can be easily converted into Accuquilt patterns, there are also hundreds of patterns written for the Accuquilt dies. Owning an Accuquilt machine gives you a whole world of new quilting possibilities! There are regular piecing dies that cut squares and triangles, specialty shapes like oven mitts and burp cloths, specialty projects like English Paper Piecing and rag quilt dies, and fun applique shapes for every season! If you enjoy machine embroidery in addition to quilting, you’ll find machine embroidery files to go along with most Accuquilt applique shapes.
There are three important parts to making accurately pieced blocks. The first is accurate cutting. The second is an accurate quarter-inch seam. And the third is well-pressed seams. When first quilting, many beginners don’t realize how much of their block’s size can get lost with an inaccurately pressed seam! While there are differing opinions on if pressing quilt blocks should be done with or without steam, what all quilters agree on is that an iron needs to be hot and have an even temperature across the entire sole. Oliso irons are designed with quilters in mind. Not only are they excellent quality, but they have been designed to prevent wrist fatigue.
The larger Oliso iron has feet that are touch-activated. Place the iron soleplate down on your ironing surface, then remove your hand from the handle. The feet will activate, lifting the iron off the ironing board. This prevents scorch-marks without needing to pivot the iron. Because you can keep the iron with the soleplate facing towards your ironing board the entire time you are using it, your wrist won’t need to continuously pivot a heavy iron after pressing each seam.
The Oliso Mini doesn’t have retractable feet like the larger Oliso, but it does come with a silicone trivet. Place the iron on the silicone trivet between pressing seams for a similar result. And the trivet doubles as a soleplate protector. Bring your Oliso mini to retreats and sew-ins, and use the silicone trivet as a soleplate cover when traveling. It locks into place easily and can be pulled into position even when the iron has not fully cooled down.
Oliso irons also come in three colors – yellow, purple, and teal – so that you can coordinate your iron with your sewing space!
The tailor’s clapper is not a new tool, but it is a more recent introduction to the quilting world. After pressing a seam, the seam won’t immediately lay flat. It will lift up before cooling. And once it cools, it stays lifted. To help seams stay flat after pressing, you can use a tailor’s clapper.
Made of wood, you cover your seam with the tailor’s clapper immediately after pressing the seam. Allowing the seam to cool with the pressure of the tailor’s clapper over it helps set a flat seam. An inexpensive tool to add to your sewing room, you’ll wonder why you never knew about it before!
Wool does a remarkable job of retaining and reflecting heat. And that is precisely the purpose of a wool pressing mat. You’ll find your seams lay flatter faster when using a wool pressing mat because the heat from the iron is reflected by the wool mat. You are essentially able to press your seam from both sides! However, the wool pressing mat has enough give that it absorbs the bulk of your seams so that you don’t get a shadow or crease from the bulk of the seam being pushed up into the top fabric. Wool pressing mats come in a variety of sizes to suit your sewing room. You may find that you like a larger wool mat on your ironing board and a smaller wool mat next to your sewing machine (combined with an Oliso Mini) for pressing quick seams while chain piecing.
Many of our favorite patterns require lots of strips. Which means lots of cutting. Cutting fabric down into strips has never been easier than it is with the Stripology ruler. Available in three different sizes, the mini is great for cutting smaller scraps into usable strips, and the larger rulers are great for yardage.
The rulers are large, with slits at every half inch for cutting. The Stripology rulers have markings on them to measure inches and have stars and squares at strategic measurements. Never cut a 2 ½” strip at 2” again – even when watching your favorite show or catching up with a friend while cutting. You don’t need to count or measure, just cut on the slits that are marked with a star, and you’ll get perfectly accurate 1 ½” strips, or cut on the slits marked with a square for perfectly accurate 2 ½” strips! If you need to cut a strip with a ¼” or ¾” measurement, simply cut your strips twice as wide, shift your ruler and line up the cuts, and then cut each strip in half.
You can also cut very fast squares with the Stripology ruler. Cut strips to the desired width of your squares. Remove the ruler, rotate 90 degrees, then cut to the same width. You’ll have stacks of squares in minutes!
And, because the Stripology rulers have the Creative Grids no-slip grip all along the bottom, the ruler stays put with minimal pressure.
Another popular shape in quilting is the half-square triangle. Making HSTs is a multi-step process that involves marking the diagonal on your squares, sewing either on this line or on either side and then trimming up the seam allowance. Half-square triangles are easier to make when you can cut out a step. In this case, you cannot mark your squares if you use diagonal seam tape.
With a removable adhesive that won’t harm your sewing machine, diagonal seam tape is easy to use. Simply apply it to the sewing machine from the needle forward in a straight line. Make sure the center line lines up with your needle. Now, place your two unmarked squares right-sides-together on the diagonal seam tape so that opposite points line up with the centerline and stitch. As long as you keep the point closest to you on that line, you’ll have a straight line of stitching. If you need to make two half-square triangles from your set of squares, simply line up your points with a line on the left or right, rather than the middle line. This will give you your ¼” seams right down the middle when you cut them apart.
After you’ve made your half-square triangles, you can remove the diagonal seam tape. The next time you need to make more triangles, simply add another strip from the roll. One roll will last you many, many projects.
Possibly the least expensive and most versatile sewing tool, every sewing room should have more than one of “That Purple Thang.” An incredibly useful tool, you can use That Purple Thang as a stiletto to help feed fabric into your sewing machine. You can use it as a ¼” seam gauge. It has a hole that makes it helpful in threading elastic or drawstrings through a casing. And, the points are perfect for stuffing the arms, legs, or tail of a stuffed animal or for poking out the corners on a pillow or bag. You won’t ever want to be without one, so keep a Purple Thang next to the sewing machine, at your cutting table, and in your sewing tote.
There you have it! Seven incredibly useful tools that are perfect for experienced quilters! Do you already own all of these items? If not, which will you be adding to your sewing room next? And do you have any must-have sewing tools for experienced quilters that we missed?