Hello Friends! Every week we will be learning a new technique. These techniques have been around for ages, and the good news is that there are many tools out there that now make things faster, easier, and more efficient! Here you will find most of the tools that we will discuss, and a link to where to find them for purchase. Urban Sewciety has many of these items in the store, but I’ve included links to also find them online (Please note: These links are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase).
I will update this page with additional items week to week as needed.
I have a tendency to use resources on the internet whenever I have a question, am in need of inspiration, or am looking to learn a new technique. That being said, I am still really drawn to having physical books on hand. I love being able to flip the pages and have the weight of the book in my hands, add notes in the margins with sticky notes, and the option to grab the book and go if I’m traveling or want to share it with a friend. I don’t have that many books because I try to keep my workspace generally uncluttered, but I splurge every now and then. The following books I seem to reference time and time again.
WALK: Master Machine Quilting with Your Walking Foot by Jacquie Gering is one of the newest books in my personal library. It is filled with helpful information, tips, and tricks to master your walking foot on your at-home domestic machine. Designs in the book range from easy to advanced, and are laid out with clear, concise directions and visual aids. I purchased this book with the intention of falling in love with the quilting aspect of the craft, and I’m excited to apply some of the techniques to my projects!
Scraps, Inc. Vol. 1: 15 Block-Based Designs for the Modern Quilter and Scraps, Inc. Vol. 2: 15 Block-Based Designs for the Modern Quilter are perfect for any quilter who is stockpiling all the extra cuts and bits from their projects. Fast, fun, and gorgeous quilt designs in many different styles and aesthetics.
5,500 Quilt Block Designs is my go-to block book. It is an encyclopedia of block images, and is the perfect addition to any designer’s library. These blocks do not have any instructions; however, if you are interested in trying your hand at quilt design, this book is an invaluable resource for inspiration.
I’m all about savoring some parts of the craft, and breezing through others. I love planning, designing, and choosing my colors/fabrics, but I try to be as efficient as possible when it comes to cutting, pressing, trimming, and sewing. I use the following tools on a regular basis, and I think that they help tremendously when it comes down to efficiency without sacrificing accuracy.
The Rowenta DW5197 Partner of Fashion Focus Steam 1725-Watt Micro Steam Iron with Stainless Steel Soleplate, 400-Hole, Purple is an incredible iron for this price point. There are many fancy irons out there that have lots of bells and whistles for a higher price point, but if I have learned one thing about irons it is that THEY BREAK!
I have a very hard time investing a lot of money into something that I know will break in about a year. This particular iron has now lasted two years for me. Some of my favorite features include the weight of it (I like a somewhat sturdy iron, I don’t have to push so hard that way!), lots of steam, easy to clean, and easy to store. It is also fast to warm up and has NO auto-shut off. This is important to me because I will have to use my iron for large blocks of time, and I really get annoyed when I have to keep flipping the thing to get it to turn on.
Mary Ellen’s Best Press Clear Starch Alternative 16 Ooz, Scent Free is a great product. It doesn’t stain or scorch, and leaves no residue! I do not starch my fabrics very often, but I do find that it helps tremendously when working with blocks and strips on the bias. I prefer scent-free products, but BONUS! It comes in a range of scents including Linen, Cherry Blossom, Lavender Thyme, and Lavender Fields too!
If I need to cover a project to protect it while pressing, I usually use an old piece of scrap fabric that I have laying around. I will say, however, that I do have one of these 5-Pack OPCC Protective Ironing Scorch-Saving Mesh Pressing Pad Mesh Cloth for when I am using adhesives at my ironing board. I am not particularly fond of having to spend any more time than necessary cleaning, so this snazzy cover helps me avoid residue on my iron’s plate. I have one of these mesh sheets assigned to the sticky duty so I don’t have to worry about spread adhesive around to where it doesn’t belong!
Cutting is a huge part of sewing a quilting, and takes up a large part of the process. You can go with just the basics (rotary blade, mat, and acrylic ruler), but I really believe that one or two well thought out purchases can have not only a huge impact on the amount of time you spend cutting, but the experience you have while doing so. There are a lot of cutting tools out there, so take some time to evaluate the types of projects you do, and if it is worth investing in a cutter or ruler that can reduce strain, minimize time, and/or increase accuracy.
Oh there are so many rulers out there, for so many different projects! If there is a type of block or technique that you do often, that it is definitely worth investing in a ruler to help the process along.
If you are looking to invest in a pack of square rulers, the Omnigrid Ruler Value Pack 1, Package of Four is a great place to start. All of these rulers are great for trimming common block sizes, and will really fulfill any sub-cutting and trimming needs that you may have.
Although this ruler doesn’t fall under the “completely necessary” category, Omnigrid Quilter’S Square-2-1/2″X2-1/2″ definitely gets points for being “super useful.” I use this ruler more than I would have ever expected. I keep it close to my sewing machine to check seams, turn edges for pressing, and fiddle with my machine needle alignment. I also use it for fussy cutting, and it was absolutely a key to success during the Polaroid Quilt Sew-Along.
The Omnigrid 4-6-12-Inch Marking Ruler Trio are very helpful, especially if you find yourself making a lot of half square triangles, flying geese, economy blocks, or square-in-square blocks. These rulers are narrow and lightweight, which allows you to easily mark your fabric without shifting your blocks out of place. I find that when I use my larger rulers, it is difficult to maneuver them due to their inevitable width and/or length. After taking the time to set my fabric, simply shifting my cutting rulers is enough to move my fabric out of place. This can be very frustrating, especially when working with large volumes of blocks.
This is one of the more recent additions to my studio. I bought this Creative Grids Stripology Slotted Quilting Ruler Template CGRGE1 while working on a quilt that consisted of hundreds of strips. Although I enjoy cutting, all the time on that quilt really affected my wrist and shoulder. The Stripology ruler took the counting, shifting, and repositioning out of the picture, allowing me to cut and subcut my strips much faster. These rulers come in two sizes, the other being a square slotted template.
Bloc-Loc rulers are absolutely amazing, and another time saving tool. MAJOR time saving. When they say that using these rulers will cut your trimming time in half, they are not exaggerating. At first I didn’t want to purchase these rulers because I was a very stubborn quilter who would only press their seams open. I read one positive review after another and decided to give them a try. I am so glad that I did! In order for the ruler to work, you need to have your seam pressed to the side. This allows the ruler to “lock in” on the seam. Brilliant, folks! I use the Half-Square-Triangle rulers as well as the Flying Geese rulers, but I know that they have a huge selection of rulers for specific techniques now!
In order to quilt, all you really need are some pins to baste (ok, a lot of pins to baste), some thread, and your machine. There are, however, a lot of tools that can make the process go faster and a bit more smoothly!
I rarely pin baste anymore, instead I use Odif USA 505 Spray and Fix Temporary Fabric Adhesive 12.4oz to baste my quilts. It has a tendency to leave a sticky residue on the floor, but I believe that the time to clean up the small mess is much less than the time it takes to pin baste!
If you are going to pin baste, then you need to make sure that you have the right kind of safety pins! No ordinary pin will do. These Dritz Quilting Curved Basting Pins Bonus Pack, Size 1, 300 Count will make it easier to close the pins thanks to the bent arm. They are also rust proof, so no worries in regards to staining your quilt top.