Do you have a favorite quilting notion? While there are a few items that every quilter needs to make quilts, many of the absolute necessities have to do with fabric preparation. Have you noticed that? For example, most quilters would not be able to work without a rotary cutter, ruler, and cutting mat (I know I couldn’t); all those items are used together to cut up the fabrics. So for brand new quilters, I’d definitely first recommend a bundle with those 3 items, like the McCall’s Quilting Essentials for Beginners bundle, available at Quilt&SewShop.
Once the fabric is cut, you just have to sew and quilt it, so that requires thread and a needle, plus probably a sewing machine. I know a machine is not necessary, and many people enjoy handwork, but if I did not have my machine it’s not likely I would be much of a quilter. And thread and needles get used up so quilters have to continually replenish those things, as long as they want to quilt.
So out of 6 necessary items, 3 are used for fabric prep and 3 are used for sewing (and 2 of those need continuous replacement). You can make a million quilts with just those items (assuming access to fabric and batting, of course, but those are not notions). But as we all know, there are many more than 6 notions on the market and it’s tricky to know which are useful. So I asked the experts (my colleagues) to tell me which non-essential notion they use so often that it’s become a necessity for them.
Carolyn was the first one to answer—I’d barely finished the question and she immediately said “The Fons & Porter 1/4” seam marker!” So I think she uses hers a lot. They’re pretty great for marking Triangle Squares accurately and efficiently.
Erin likes the Clover Desk Needle Threader. She says it’s a great threader for hand-sewing people, and as she is a hand applique expert I will take her word for it! Nobody wants to fuss over threading a needle; they’d rather be sewing, and this really helps people with that.
Tricia said, “I really like these Havel’s Curved Tip Scissors because I can snip those small threads that hang out between some of my patches knowing I have minimized some of the risk of cutting the fabric.” I tend to pull on those threads on my quilt tops and sometimes they just come out and sometimes they just…don’t. It’s a bad habit so I should probably look into a pair of these for myself.
Lori told me that her sewing life has been better since she started using these Dritz Extra-Fine Glass Head Pins. She said she can iron right over them and not make a mess on the bottom of her iron. The pin part on these is also extra slim, so there won’t be any big holes or distortion in your fabric where you’ve used them.
Mary Kate’s choice, Fons & Porter Half and Quarter Triangle Ruler, was new to me so I’m going to have to check it out. She said, “As specialty rulers go, this one is really versatile. The thing I like best about it is the 1/8″ marking on the top corner that makes it easy to cut triangles with a 1/4″ seam allowance, which eliminates bulk and makes it easier to work with strip sets.” I don’t have any additional info on this one because I haven’t tried it yet!
As for me, I like the Clover Wonder Clips. When I first encountered them, I was a little skeptical, thinking they wouldn’t be much better than pins to hold binding in place. I was totally wrong! They way they clip the binding so that the fold of the binding on the back of the quilt is just beyond the seam is perfect. I stitch all my binding by machine and I use them every single time now. I would not like to go back to pinning. People who stitch binding by hand seem to like them a lot too.
Is there a tool you love that I’ve missed in this list? I would probably like to know about it! You don’t need much to make quilts, but anything that makes the process easier is worth trying. Happy quilting, however you choose to do it!