Learn to Quilt Series: Notions Part 2 – Cutting and pressing supplies

Ready for another installment of “allthethingsquilting”?! If you’re just joining, welcome! It’s not too late to sew your first quilt – we are just getting started! You can find the previous tutorials linked at the bottom of each blog post.

Now lets add just a couple more items to that shopping list and turn you loose to gather supplies!


Rotary cutters are basically the best thing since sliced bread. They allow you to make fast, perfectly accurate cuts that set you up to sew accurate blocks. Accuracy is the key to quilting, so a rotary cutting setup is a must. For this quilt, we’ll start with a basic package. If you keep quilting, you’ll find yourself using this setup all the time, and probably adding more rulers to your stash!

You’ll need:

  • A 45mm rotary cutter and blade
  • A 18″ x 24″ (or larger) cutting mat
  • A 6.5″ x 24″ quilting ruler

My recommendation:

I recommend the Fiskars 3-piece rotary cutter/mat/ruler set – it contains all three items. I have this exact set and use each piece on a daily basis when I’m sewing. I change my rotary cutting blade with each quilt, so the blade that comes with the package is enough for now.

You can find it on Amazon at Walmart, or at JoAnn’s.

Don’t forget to download the JoAnn’s app and take advantage of 20% off a full price item!

On a tight budget:

If you need to skimp on an item, skimp on the rotary cutting mat. You can get by with a really cheap plastic cutting mat and upgrade later to the self-healing mats if you decide to keep quilting. The plastic mats won’t hold up nearly as long, but will cover you for now!

Don’t forget to browse other brands for deals! I use Fiskars because it’s affordable, performs well, and is available at Walmart. However, any rotary cutter/mat/ruler for sale at Walmart, JoAnn’s, or another other sewing supply store will work just fine! Be careful ordering off-brand rotary cutters online – I’ve bought some too-cheap-to-be-good blades on Amazon. But feel free to shop around and get the best deal you can and save your money for fabric and thread.


Ironing (Pressing)

Hint – in the quilting world, we press fabric, not iron. More about that later. 🙂

Short and sweet – any old iron will do. As long as it gets hot, you’re good to go! I use steam when pressing quilt blocks, but if your iron doesn’t steam just get a spray bottle and fill it water. Misting the fabric lightly before pressing will do the trick.

Likewise, any ironing surface will work as well. Quilt blocks press best on a firm surface, so even though you’ve ironed your interview suit on a towel in a pinch, I don’t recommend it for quilting. I made my own pressing surface from a scrap piece of plywood and some batting, but many quilters use a regular ironing board. You’ll thank yourself later for getting the largest surface you can manage.

My recommendation: 

I use and love this T-fal iron, available at Walmart.

I started with a $100 Rowenta iron…worked great until it leaked water everywhere and was in the trash six months later. (Grrrr….) This $40 Walmart iron is lighter, doesn’t leak, and performs just as well. I highly recommend it!

DIY pressing board: Pressing boards lack the squishy foam layer and are firmer than standard ironing boards, so blocks press nice and crisp. If you have the supplies and time, they are great! Mine measures approximately 24″ x 36″ and works well for pressing blocks and ironing whole quilt backs.

  • Scrap piece of plywood, MDF, or any other firm board
  • Cotton batting – 2 pieces approximately 2 inches larger than your board on all sides
  • Cheap cotton or canvas fabric – 1 piece approximately 4 inches larger than your board on all sides. (I used canvas – you will probably scorch it someday, so shop the bargain bin!)
  • Staple gun

Cover the top of the plywood with two layers of cotton batting and secure to the back with staples. Cover the batting with your fabric and secure to the back with staples. Ta-da!

Here’s a similar tutorial with pictures from Samelia’s Mum.

On a tight budget: 

Chances are someone you know has an old dusty iron! If you can’t borrow one, get an inexpensive iron and test it out on a cotton t-shirt. If you can fold it over and put a crease in it by pressing the iron to the fold, it’ll work!

Making your own pressing board may or may not be cheaper than a store bought ironing board. If you have the room and budget for a simple stand-up board, it will be easier to iron the quilt on the large surface later, but a small table-top ironing board can work with enough patience.


Ok guys….that’s all the notions!! Make your shopping list and head out! Or, if you’re like me, make some popcorn and lounge on the couch while Amazon Prime does all the work for you…

Next week, we talk fabric. I can’t wait, it’s my favorite part! I’ll share what kind of fabric I use, where I get it, and how much you need for your quilt. I’ll also share photos of my fabric choices and some ideas for your quilt!

Have a wonderful weekend filled with cute little scissors and sharp pointy pins!


Shopping list:

  • Sewing machine
  • 1/4″ presser foot
  • Bobbins
  • Small sharp scissors
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • Pincushion
  • Sewing machine needles, size 80/12 or 75/11
  • Cotton thread
  • 45mm rotary cutter and blade
  • 18″ x 24″ (or larger) cutting mat
  • 6.5″ x 24″ quilting ruler
  • Iron
  • Ironing surface

Learn to Quilt Series: Tutorial links

  1. Notions Part 1 – Sewing machine and basic supplies
  2. Notions Part 2 – Cutting and pressing supplies
  3. All about fabric!
  4. Basic cutting, sewing, and pressing
  5. Making your blocks!
  6. Tips for staying organized and sewing blocks into a quilt top
  7. How to attach borders and piece backing
  8. To quilt or not to quilt – professional long-arm services vs. quilting at home, plus a basting tutorial
  9. Quilt at home – machine quilting yourself
  10. Binding your finished quilt and quilt care

10 Comments on “Learn to Quilt Series: Notions Part 2 – Cutting and pressing supplies

  1. Pingback: Beginner Quilt-a-long – Introduction! – RebaLeigh Handmade

  2. Pingback: Beginner Quilt-along: Notions Part 1 – Sewing machines and basic supplies – RebaLeigh Handmade

  3. Pingback: Beginner Quilt-along – Fabric! – RebaLeigh Handmade

  4. Pingback: Beginner Quilt-along: Getting started! Basic cutting, sewing, and pressing. – RebaLeigh Handmade

  5. Pingback: Beginner Quilt-along: Making your blocks – RebaLeigh Handmade

  6. Pingback: Beginner Quilt-a-long: Sewing blocks into a quilt top! – RebaLeigh Handmade

  7. Pingback: Beginner Quilt-along: Borders and backing (and block catch up!) – RebaLeigh Handmade

  8. Pingback: Beginner Quilt-along: Long-arm vs. home quilting and basting tutorial – RebaLeigh Handmade

  9. Pingback: Beginner Quilt-along: Machine quilting – RebaLeigh Handmade

  10. Pingback: Beginner Quilt-along: Binding and finishing your quilt – RebaLeigh Handmade

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