I’m so happy and excited to host this tutorial series! I hope to convert at least a few more people into professional fabric hoarders! Over the next couple of months, we will be sewing this disappearing nine patch quilt together, starting from square one. As in – what do you need to sew a quilt?! What is sewing even?! (Jokes…they don’t get any better.)
Best part – the tutorials will be around for.ev.er. So if you can’t join the quilt-along this spring, these tutorials will live right here for you to visit later. A never ending virtual sew-along!
Now – let’s talk about what you need to get started. There is an overwhelming amount of tools and supplies (called notions) at every price point you can imagine. In two posts, we will go through what you need to make this quilt, where to get it, and if you’re on a shoestring budget – what you should prioritize. A $10 spool of thread will make a nicer quilt than a $30 cutting mat. Most of my notions come from Walmart or Amazon, but don’t forget to browse your local quilt shop if you’re lucky enough to have one!
Part 1 of this week will cover sewing machines and thread. Part 2 will cover cutting and pressing supplies. Not the most exciting, but my goal is to give you enough time to shop around for your supplies before diving into fabric selection. (The best part!) A full schedule is located at the end of the post.
Alright – take a deep breath…
Let’s do this!!
This is the thing I get asked about the most, by far. I’m going to assume most of you don’t have one and have already googled “best sewing machine for beginners” and want to gouge your eyes out in frustration.
Oh, believe me. I’ve been there.
I’ve owned four sewing machines, and have pieced quilts on three of them. There is an overwhelming amount of options and a huge price spread on machines, and you’ll find everything from basic mechanical machines to crazy fancy computerized gadgets with 100,388,232,398 types of stitches that embroider and free motion quilt and do your laundry for you.
One thing to remember – to make a quilt, you only need to sew a straight line. That’s all. Nothing fancy required. In general – you get what you pay for and the cheapest machines will not perform as well as a pricier machine, regardless of the feature list.
Here’s how I found my dream machine, and what I recommend to others: borrow if you can, or buy an inexpensive machine, until you know a) that you’re going to keep sewing and b) what you want in a machine. There’s no good substitute for personal experience, and you’ll find 20 different quilters that happily sew on 20 different machines.
If you’re curious – here’s a list of sewing machines I’ve used with approximate prices:
Let me know if you have specific questions – I can’t possibly know everything about every machine, but I will try to help out as much as I can!
The cast of characters in my sewing room – Jukester and Ms. Janome.
Okay, once you’ve secured a machine to use for a couple of months you’ll need a few miscellaneous “sewing” supplies to go with it. Most importantly – a 1/4″ quilting foot. Also called a 1/4″ piecing foot. Or simply a 1/4″ presser foot. It measures just shy of 1/4″ from the needle to the edge of the foot – quilting patterns use a 1/4″ seam, so this is a must-have to sew accurate blocks!
You can buy one with a guide or without – personally I found the guide to be a nuisance. Presser feet are machine specific and a 1/4″ foot rarely comes supplied with a new machine. Your best bet? Google “<your machine make/model> 1/4 inch presser foot” or go into a quilting store and ask for help finding one that fits your machine.
I found my 1/4″ Juki foot at www.sewingpartsonline.com and the Janome and Singer feet on Amazon.
You’ll also need:
Talk to those same 20 quilters, and chances are you’ll find varying opinions on thread choices. I exclusively use Aurifil 50 wt. cotton thread to thread my machines. Why? Because that’s what my mentor uses and recommended, and it’s always worked beautifully for me.
I prefer to use cotton thread with cotton fabric – you’ll find folks adamant that using polyester thread will eventually wear holes in your cotton fabric due to differences in fiber strength. I haven’t had a quilt long enough to tell – but just in case, I use cotton.
If you’re on a budget:
I haven’t quilted with a budget brand of thread and therefore can’t recommend any. Aurifil will be $10 well spent but if you can’t afford it, ask your local quilt store for recommendations!
Whew – that was a lot of shop talk! If you’re still hanging on, take a couple of days to digest it and shop around if you need a sewing machine. Shoot me your questions or comments – next up will be cutting and pressing (ironing) and then we talk fabric while you gather supplies!