This week I have been working on some quilt projects and using some tools I have in my sewing room. It got me to thinking what are my favorite tools, both conventional and unconventional, that I use everyday while quilting? I say conventional and unconventional because some of these tools are those you can buy at a quilt shop and some of them are created from things you already have around the house. So, I will share my favorites with you here and I’d like you to comment below with yours. Let’s get started.
Tool #1: We all have cutting mats and rotary cutters that we use when we’re quilting, but my favorite tool that goes with these when cutting fabric is this little item. It’s call a ruler safety shield.
I found this tool after I had a rotary cutting accident that sent me to the ER. It was not fun, trust me! This tool is made to fit on the long 6 1/2 x 24 1/2″ rulers most of us have, but I ordered a few extra and had my husband cut them to fit my smaller rulers:
These safety shields help to stop the rotary cutter from skipping over the edge of my ruler and hitting my fingers.
Tool #2: If I have to use a ruler that doesn’t have a shield, my next favorite tool is my “klutz” glove.
I recommend having a pair of these gloves on hand. They add an extra layer of safety and they make me feel a little more comfortable when cutting fabric.
Tool #3: Speaking of rulers, this is one of my absolute favorite rulers. I use this one a lot because I make many quilts with half-square triangle (HSTs) squares. This tool is the Quilt in a Day Triangle Square Up Ruler.
This tool makes squaring up HSTs easier by allowing you to trim the squares before you press them open. This way you only have to trim two sides instead of four. That may seem unimportant but when you have a pattern with hundreds of these HST squares, it’s a time saver! Here’s a photo of me using it:
Tool #4: Wood pressing stick. This is a tool I bought really early on in my beginning quilting days. I still see some version of these being sold in quilt shops today. Some are wood like mine and some are made from heavy duty plastic. Either way, they work the same.
As you can see, this tool allows me to press individual small seams and keep piecing until it’s absolutely necessary for me to go to the ironing board. I like this because many of my projects have blocks made up of a lot of small units.
Tool #5: Bobbin Ring. I love this tool because I can place my bobbins in it while still seeing the thread color. And it also keeps the bobbins from unraveling.
Tool #6: Finally, my camera is a favorite tool. I know you don’t purchase this at the quilt shop, but it’s something I use a lot. Whether it’s a conventional camera or the camera on your cell phone, it’s a great sewing room tool! I use mine to remember block placement, photograph a stack of fabric to see if they look good together or to remember where appliqué pieces go in a motif I’m working on.
Now onto some of the items in my sewing room that are not necessarily those you would find in a quilt shop. I really like to up-cycle household things and find new uses for them when I am quilting.
#1: This is related to the bobbin ring above. If you do not have a bobbin ring, or you do not want to buy one, here are a couple of fun ways to store your bobbins.
Grab some golf tees. When my son was on the golf team in high school, I was swimming in golf tees. I found them all over the house, in the washing machine, in his car, etc. You would think I would have thought of this much sooner than I did. So here’s what you do. Match the bobbin with the thread and secure them together with a golf tee. It’s that simple!
Most standard size spools of thread have a hole in the center of the spool that will fit the golf tee.
If you don’t have a golfer in the house or you don’t want to go out and buy a bag of golf tees, try using this:
This is the toe separator that is used when you paint your toenails. I have tried it and not only do the bobbins fit, it also serves to keep them from unraveling. You can stack several of them on top of each other to fit nicely in a drawer by your machine.
#2: We all have a lot of pins in our sewing room. Well, I took some of my pins and a bit of washi tape and made myself a set of numbered pins.
I use these pins when I have a lot of rows to piece for a quilt top. By using the pins, I do not mix up the order of my blocks or the order of the rows. I spend a lot of time at my design wall positioning blocks into rows so the quilt top looks right to me before piecing it together. The last thing I want to do is mix things up when I am carrying the blocks to my machine.
#3: Whether I am hand sewing or at my machine, I want my scissors to be easy to find. I don’t know how many times I would lay my small snips down and then have them get “lost”. So, the solution I came up with was to put this old ball chain to good use.
These chains are easy to find at your local craft store, usually in the jewelry department. Now I can wear my scissors around my neck and never lose them!
#4: Finally I use these…. a lot!
What do I do with a skirt/pants hanger? I use them mostly to store my smaller quilts like wall hangings and table runners.
If you like to change out small quilts for the season, this is a good way to store the ones not in use in a closet. I also use these hangers to store extra cutting mats and rulers:
So that’s it for my favorite tools, both conventional and unconventional. Share with me in the comments some of the quilting tools that you can’t live without. You might inspire another reader, or me, to try them out!
I will draw a winner from the comments and you will win a set of these scissors. The perfect size for those mobile projects! The drawing will be on Monday, April 17th.