Quilting and the Tools of the Trade

Tools Used in Making Handmade and Homemade Baby Crib Quilts

Tools Used in Making Handmade and Homemade Baby Crib Quilts

Whether you are a veteran quilter or a “newbie” just ready to begin your first quilt, like any great craftsman, having the right tools for the job and knowing how and when to use them is important to the success of your project.

In my family quilting has been passed on from generation to generation.  As a result, the new ideas and techniques, along with innovative tools and shortcuts have been passed on from one to another, so that the craft can continue to develop.  Always be proud of your work, sign and date all of the quilts that you make, so that you and those you give them to will enjoy them for many years to come.

There are basic necessities that are needed in quilting.  For example, you can use almost any type of fabric, as long as the different fabric of the quilt has approximately the same fiber and weight.  Cottons are used most often, but quilts made from flannels, polyester cotton, or even old blue jeans or men’s neck ties can give you creative materials for a quilt.   All fabrics should be prewashed by hand and in hot water.  If the fabric bleeds, use a combination of 1 ¼ cups of white vinegar and ½ cup salt to set the colors. Allow the fabric to soak in the washing machine for at least 4 hours or more.  The quilt should be labeled “dry-clean only.”

Choosing a color for your quilt is a personal preference.  Use a color wheel to pick colors that either compliment the room in which the quilt will be kept or if you are making a baby quilt, design the quilt to fit the new baby or keep soft pastels that would be perfect for any nursery décor.

How much fabric should you purchase depends on the pattern that is chosen.  Yardage amounts will be listed on each.  If you intend to enlarge the quilt, increase the size of the borders or add additional borders.  If the quilt is too large, reduce the size or numbers of borders.

Cotton batting is traditional, but polyester batting is much more common and easier to care for.  Depending on whether you plan to hand quilt or machine quilt, choose the batting right for you.

Since you want your quilt to stand the test of time, always select the best-quality thread.  Cotton thread is the best, but often time’s cotton-covered polyester thread is much more readily available and works just as well.   If you are sewing the pieces by machine or machine quilting, use needles # 14 or #16.   If you plan to hand quilt, a needle # 7 or # 8 is perfect.   Keep your sewing machine is good running condition, well-oiled, and the tread tension on the correct setting.  Change your needle after each project.  Have your machine serviced annually.  Unfortunately, there are many UFOs (Un Finished Projects) sitting out in sewing rooms due to improperly cared for equipment.

My Grandmother would be amazed with a rotary cutter and mat, since she only used card board templates to make her patchwork quilts.   I recommend you buy the smaller sized cutter, even though they come in large and small, because I find that it is easier to handle and requires less pressure when cutting.  Don’t forget to purchase the mat, if you are a “newbie” The larger mat is better, even though the initial investment is higher because it allows for more work/ cutting area.  Always remember to place the mat underneath your fabric before cutting or the work surface will be badly scored and the cutting blade will dull quickly.

Acrylic rulers are needed to measure and cut the fabric. These come in various sizes, shapes and are marked to support the cutting process.  An alternative to acrylic is Plexiglas.

For some patterns, drawing on your fabric is needed.  Washable pens and pencils are available.  A fine-line ballpoint pen is an option if you are marking the wrong side of the fabric and then cutting on that line.

Pressing as you sew is important, so keep your iron on hand.  It is easier to connect subsequent pieces when the seams on the first ones are pressed down.

The quilter’s best friend is your seam ripper.  No one is perfect, so this tool allow us to get rid of our mistakes quickly and cleanly.

From start to finish, from one generation to the next, quilting has evolved and changed.  Quilts have become more innovative and yet still resemble those of their “patchwork” past. One thing is still certain.  The correct tools of the quilter’s trade are needed to create these magnificent works of art.

Take time to quilt

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