Monday, 12 July 2010

Equipment for Machine Quilting

A few friends have gotten the quilting bug lately .. the big question is what do I need to get started. At a very basic level, tailoring chalk and scissors. But if you are like me and you want to do things FAST you will need to invest in a few more pieces of equipment.

Rotary Cutter

The good thing about rotary cutters is that you can cut fast, but you can also make mistakes fast. So until you master the art of using a rotary cutter and a ruler, take it slow.

Lots of different brands available. The cutter is only as good as the quality of the blade, but you might want some extra features:
  • safety lock
  • easy nut to replace blade
  • Ergonomic handle
  • a light?
Unfortunately, most of the rotary cutters are packaged away in tough one use plastic, so you can't hold them and see if they suit you. But if you head into a craft show, often they have models that you can handle and use. It took me a few go's to find a cutter I was comfortable with. I have an ergonomic handle and a quick lock to make the blade "inactive" if my daughter is in my sewing room. You are probably looking at paying around $40 for a decent rotary cutter.

Cutting mat

Firstly, buy what you can afford. I started off with a small A3 cutting mat. It has been a faithful companion, and it is only now after quilting for a year that I have invested in an A1. Make sure you get a self healing mat and not one of those mats from the chinese shops.


I like the tandem idea of two rulers. One for cutting and one for measuring. I use a ruler with my left hand (small 5 1/2 inch square) to measure then secure the left hand one (4 inches by 14 inches) to cut the sash or strip.

I work in inches, because most of the quilting world works in inches. Jelly rolls are all 2 1/2 inches, so it is a bit easier if I work that way! I also profess that as I get older, the numbers are larger in inches!

What equipment do you find "essential" for machine quilting?


Kelli said...

Hey Margaret! Great post idea!
I can't piece without my quarter inch foot. It makes things so much easier! Worth its weight in gold!!!

quiltmom anna said...

Hi Margaret,
Good tools make it so much easier don't they? Having a good sewing machine that is versatile is important too. Everyone has their favorite machine- I have two a babylock quilting machine and an Elna quilter's dream. Both do the things that are important to me- they are easy to use, have a reliable stitch and don't require intensive maintenance. They also don't require a degree to figure out all their bells and whistles.
I have an ergonomic rotary cutter and I really like using it, especially when I am doing lots of cutting. I also think having a square ruler is invaluable for quilting- It is so helpful when finishing for squaring up blocks and quilts.
Happy quilting,

polly pratt said...

So funny you posted this, i was only thinking that i had to ask you how to cut with a rotary cutter ,just the other day. I still might call on your skills.

Cat from Raspberry Rainbow said...

I think I have a cheap and nasty rotary cutter, as it takes 3-6 goes for it to cut through one layer of fabric...this is not right, is it? I am used to cutting card with scalpels (in one go) and have been very cranky at this rotary cutter.
I'll change the blade, and hope this works.
Great post, thanks for sharing :)