We’ve Come a Long Way!

My first quilting class back in 1990 required many tools. Since I’d been sewing for years, I already had these: a sewing machine, basic sewing supplies (like needles, a seam ripper, scissors, pins, tape measure, and a foot for the free motion quilting), a good pressing surface and a steam iron.

What I still needed were: a self-healing mat, 6″ x 24″ plastic ruler, rotary cutter, marking pencil, safety pins, binder clips, masking tape and a walking foot.

100 0571 e1339004647524 Weve Come a Long Way!It didn’t seem like too much of an investment. I figured that if this quilting adventure didn’t work out, I could probably still use them all. (Can I tell you how intrigued I was by that rotary cutting system? Even though rotary cutters had been out a few years, they were new to me in 1990. Believe me, I was never inspired enough to trace dozens of patches from little templates.)

My first quilt wasn’t that impressive, but the quilting bug bit me something fierce!

100 0335 226x300 Weve Come a Long Way!

my first quilt: the Rail Fence

I still prefer many of the same simple tools today. But that hasn’t stopped me from checking out every new quilty gadget. In fact, I think I’m quickly becoming a quilt tool and notion hoarder! A quick inventory revealed 7 cutting mats, 3 irons, 4 rotary cutters of various sizes, 5 different OttLites and dozens and dozens of rulers.

100 0573 e1339005438755 291x300 Weve Come a Long Way!

9 of my most frequently used rulers

I’ve experimented with just about every marker out there.

100 0574 e1339005656972 227x300 Weve Come a Long Way!

markers of every kind

(Sadly, in 1997 I had an experience with pencil marks that wouldn’t wash out of my quilt top, but the fabric color did.)

100 0577 e1339016148263 300x285 Weve Come a Long Way!

pencil marks remain, fabric color disappears

With my ever-expanding supply of notions and tools, a better system was needed to organize them all.

100 0580 e1339016315763 300x261 Weve Come a Long Way!

organizer for small notions and thread

An old dresser was the perfect way to combine storage with an ironing station. My husband helped me construct the extra large ironing board that fits perfectly on top.

100 0381 e1339005771574 300x207 Weve Come a Long Way!

converted dresser for notions storage and ironing board

I’m amazed the number of new quilting tools and notions that are unveiled every year. Luckily, I have the fun task of reviewing them. What could be more fun than checking out all the latest quilting products? How about sharing some of those tried and true products we’ve found over the last 30 years. To see a sampling of our favorites, check out Quiltmaker’s July/Aug ’12 issue.

Leave a comment here about a quilty notion or two you can’t live without by noon MST on Monday, June 11th. I’ll share a few of our favorite notions with 3 winners selected at random.

About Eileen Fowler

I am an Associate Editor at Quiltmaker. My quilting hobby, that began over 20 years ago, turned into a career when I was hired by Quiltmaker in 2008. My quilting passion is slowly taking over every nook and cranny in my house. I have a supportive husband who makes it all possible.
This entry was posted in Giveaways & Contests, QM Issues, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

66 Responses to We’ve Come a Long Way!

  1. rick bialac says:

    Can you give some details on the ironing board on the chest. Construction material and thickness? How is it mounted?

  2. Laura Rhodes says:

    Frixxion pens that erase when ironed are great-as long as you test on your fabric first and you remember not to wait too long before using heat. Of course the rotary cutter and mat and rulers. I recently purchased a “Quilt Halo” but haven’t used it yet — believe it will a good helper — its a plastic ring with a slightly sticky surface designed to lay on top of your fabric and move it around while free motion machine quilting – like using a steering wheel.

  3. Cindy Maki says:

    Olfa cutting mat and my rotary cutter by far.

  4. Carolyn Loewen says:

    Thanks so much for your story of your ever expanding collection of quilting tools. I must admit that I laughed out loud as I read the list of items that you’ve “grown into” since first starting to quilt. I chuckled again, and nodded in agreement, when you mentioned the necessity of “needing” places to store them all. I guess the next step will be taking over and remodelling a double garage because everyone needs elbow room when they quilt! Ha!

  5. Diane Austin says:

    Having just moved recently, I took my rotary cutter and mat to the kitchen. All cupboards are lined. Nice straight cuts. Who can live without good quality multipurpose sewing tools….now to finish finding everything :)

  6. Hattie Thompson says:

    I love my Olfa Rotary Cutter and 18 inch ruler . Other must haves include many
    rulers used. For squaring blocks, corners, and cutting quarter square triangles,
    Fussy cutting, etc.

  7. Irene Onderweegs says:

    My Clover Pendant thread cutter! Cannot live without it!
    It makes it possible to carry around all and any protable project, without having to search for that **** scissors all over the place! And I really love to be that quilter in disguise, secret agent sew-sew-seven =^}, as it goes with all my baggy sweaters (snips here; hexagons other pocket). Made the cord adjustable, it fits evening dresses as well LOL!

  8. Jeri says:

    My favorite sewing item is my Babylock Melody sewing machine. Just sarted quilting again after 42 years. New machine was a must. Quilting sure has come a long way!

  9. Jean Schlenk says:

    I really love the dresser/ironing board. What a great idea and great use for that old dresser.

  10. Jan Luna says:

    I love my sewing machine. That’s my most important tool! (:o)
    All of my rulers and my rotary cutter and cutting mat, my spin mat, everything I use I love. I also am mad about my Osilo Smart Iron. That was a gift given to me by 3 very special people in my life. And I must say, all my quilty Sisters are important, and very much loved. Hugs, Jan

  11. Carol S. says:

    It has not always been so, but now my computer is my favorite quilting tool. I use it to look at magazines, (Quiltmaker, of course!) try layouts in EQ7, check out the latest and greatest tools and notions, and of course shopping!! I spend way too much time exploring websites and becoming inspired. Then I sew with my Janome Horizon 7700, my other favourite tool.

  12. Barb says:

    I just bought an Omnigrid 8.5 x 24″ ruler. Why didn’t they think of this before? I have a 2 prs. of little curved scissors tied to a ribbon & the cord of my serger & sewing machine, so I don’t have to look for them all the time. I use the BIG square ruler (is it 20.5″?) for squaring up quilts, cutting large squares or other shapes.

  13. Denise Wallace says:

    I love my rotary cutter, especially after a blade change, and I can’t get along without a seam ripper, I have several of them!

  14. LisaT says:

    Unfortunately I need to break out my seam ripper from time to time. Also, never thought I’d enjoy quilters gloves – don’t use the in the garden or in the sink – but they are awesome to wear (even with the holes) when stippling. Thanks!

  15. I’m too late for the giveaway, but I just had to say how much I love the ironing board/dresser storage idea. I’m going to show that picture to my husband. Maybe I’ll get one, too. Have a super day!

  16. Pam says:

    One of my favorite notion items would have to be 505 basting spray. Very quick and easy to use. I’m still fairly new to quilting but I really like my rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat!

  17. Hilda Villalobos says:

    My favorite is a seam ripper. I was recently puting a long neglected UFO together and made a stop in your tracks, can’t go any further, mistake. Couldn’t find a ripper anywhere. Went to the store and bought 2. A few days later my mom needed ribbons for a project she was starting. So I start looking for the container that they are in and of course, I find 2 of my original seam rippers with the ribbons. Go figure. Long winded story but I just wanted to share. Love to all. Hilda.

  18. carol l says:

    I have more than one favorite, it is a toss up between my cutting board/rotary cutter set or my bendable lite that sticks to my sewing machine. But it seems if you have one you always need the other items. They all go hand and hand together whatever the item is.
    Carol L

  19. Lisa Marie says:

    I love no-melt template plastic for applique. The plastic, my iron and some starch allows me to turn the edges of simple applique shapes and get a nice smooth edge. I also recently learned of the existence of fork pins and find that they are really useful.

  20. Robin F. says:

    My big blue rotary cutter that is pressure sensitive is my favorite tool- I can use it right or left handed and I never worry about cutting myself!

  21. I’m kind of a minimalist when it comes to supplies, but I really like my fine pins, 24″ ruler and rotary cutter. When I first started out I didn’t get a rotary cutter because I wasn’t sure I was going to like quilting, half way through the first quilt I did away with the templates and got one!

  22. thunder says:

    rotary cutter, mat. Ott light. 6.5 and 12.5” square rulers, and the mini one ? 1” x 4”?? something like that.

  23. Nancy B from Many LA says:

    My favorite sewing notion is my seam ripper. I use it all the time, so it must be my favorite. LOL!

  24. Kate says:

    Have to have a seam ripper as I kinda suck at peicing. :) And of course the rotary cutter, the must have item!

  25. lindawwww says:

    I would be completely lost without my seam ripper. No matter how careful I am, there are still times when I need to take out some stitches.

  26. Debbie T says:

    I think that the Clover Needle Threader is one of my favorite gadgets. I can use it to thread a needle without looking for my glasses.

  27. Cathryn H. says:

    I could NOT live without my seam ripper! Mistakes seem to be a way of life for me. Can you imagine trying to take a seam or even quilting out without a seam ripper? What a nightmare that would be.

  28. Janice S says:

    My favorite tool is my Fiskars rotary cutter/ruler combination. It is a great tool for cutting but sadly it is no longer available.

  29. Jane says:

    I would say that my favorite accessory is a small pair of very sharp Kai scissors. I use them for cutting apart strip piecing, for seam ripping, trimming, everything!

  30. Julie says:

    I can’t sit down to sew without my thread nippers. They have one round hole in them that my right ring finger slides into and with a little effort from my index finger and thumb waa laa those threads and dog ears are a thing of the past. Thanks for the opportunity.

  31. I could say rotary cutter but I think my favorite goes even more basic than that. I like really good hand needles. I DO use a machine for most piecing and for more of my quilting lately, but what really makes quilting pleasurable to me is the actual needle in hand whether it is hand piecing, hand applique’, or simply sewing down the binding. Think how far we have come in fiber arts since the invention of the first needle to move sinew through hides!

  32. SewLindaAnn says:

    My fave tool for a long while has consistently been my Rotary Cutting Mat. I have the smaller one, and hope to get the larger one some day. It’s priceless for small cutting jobs and paper piecing at my machine.

  33. JoAnne T. says:

    My very favorite quilting notion is Pinmoor! They make basting a quilt fast and easy and the quilting is much easier because they are so much easier to remove than safety pins are. I will never go back to basting any other way. They may be expensive but I doubt anyone would regret buying them. Since I bought my first package almost a year ago, I’ve basted and quilted about 45 quilts. I finish my quilts now!

    My other favorite notion isn’t a quilting one, I have a little tool that’s a machine cleaning brush on one end and a hole in the other. It’s a needle holder for changing the needle in my sewing machine. I have a difficult time feeling the flat side of the needle and this holder makes it so easy to put in a new needle. I can’t find them at JoAnn anymore so I buy them by the dozen when I see them at a quilt show. I don’t ever want to be without one.

  34. LJ says:

    The first notion I think about is the “safety pin closer?” When I’m making my quilt sandwich, it is a finger saver!! I love my stiletto – it’s always beside my machine – and is invaluable.

  35. jmniffer says:

    I like my rotary cutting system (cutter, ruler(s), mat). I especially enjoy my rotating mat. I’m still working on finding a good marker and the perfect iron.

  36. Kaye M. says:

    I started quilting before the rotary cutter came along so that is my all-time favorite tool. Also I love my 12.5 inch square ruler. It is so helpful when squaring blocks and when checking to see if the corners of a quilt are square.

  37. I have a little 2″X5″ ruler that I use all the time. It is great for trimming little bits off blocks.

    I haven’t found a marking tool that I like yet.

  38. MarciaW says:

    My favorite tool has a sentimental attachment – it’s a seam ripper with a long turned wooden handle from my father. I have large hands so it works well for me. While I have some basic tools, I would like to have the “tool kit” for machine quilting.

  39. Amanda E says:

    I love rulers! Lots and lots of rulers! Also that new pen that irons off fabric, but also writes on paper and you can erase it off. It stays in my purse!

  40. Jennie P. says:

    I can’t live without my cutting edge vinyl strips and my rotating cutting mat!

  41. Christine M says:

    Sadly I have to say I can’t live without my quick unpick! Next would be my rotary cutter and rulers.

  42. Claudia says:

    I would take up too much space there to list all my favs, but I LOVE my Olipfa ruler. The first one has lines worn off from use, but if you get the light just right, they are still there ;}, and I have a second one waiting for the first to retire. Love my quilty gloves too. I’m working on my second pair.

  43. Brenda says:

    my rotary cutter,my 6 by 12 inch ruler,and the Alex Anderson 4 in 1 tool. thanks for a chance to win.

  44. Judy says:

    My rotary cutter and cutting mat are two things that I couldn’t live without plus my plastic ruler. I know that is three items but without these three I would not even attempt to try and quilt. I tried years ago and gave up as I decided it was too much bother to cut out each piece one at a time.

  45. Barb J says:

    Like you, I have tried many, many ways to mark quilts. Chalk pencils, air-erasable markers, special quilters pencils… they all have their own drawbacks. When I discovered the Frixxion pens that erase when ironed, I fell in love! I think I have them in every color made! They are truly my “can’t live without” notion.

  46. Kris says:

    Well, my 45mm rotary cutter is practically attached to me! Then there’s my big cutting mat that’s 24×36 – love the 36 for measuring yardage. And, when I quilt without my gloves I have to stop and put them on, then I can continue.

  47. Jackie says:

    Hard to choose only one or two! I would have to say my clover desk needle threader for my fine applique needles and thread, and the No-Math Flying Geese ruler.

  48. Duane Wiley says:

    My little cheater needles and my trusty seam ripper! Of course….my rotary cutter!

  49. Annette says:

    I love my Clover seam ripper. I also fell in love with my lazy susan cutting mat while trimming blocks for my latest quilt.

  50. Dell says:

    My favorite recent purchase is the Cloever mini iron. No more burns when working on tiny seams.

  51. Joan M says:

    My most favored tool is the seam ripper with the very narrow part leading up to the point. It works well for ripping small stitches as well as for guiding tricky seams under the presserfoot. Next up is the very thin cutting mat, rotary cutter and rulers!

  52. robin says:

    I can’t live without my little grippy awl-like thingie – okay, I had to Google it – it’s the Fons & Porter Machine Quilter’s Friend The Ultimate Stiletto. (whew – that’s a long name!) I LOVE it! http://www.amazon.com/Fons-Porter-Quilters-Ultimate-Stiletto/dp/B003VWFNJW

  53. Karen A says:

    I use my rotary cutters all the time and of course the mat and rulers to go with them. I have an extra large mat that covers the top of my cutting table that is so convenient.

  54. Jocelyn says:

    Aside from my rotary cutter, the next thing I love is the little wooden pressing tool (don’t know if it really has a name). I keep that tool right by my sewing machine, and when I sew a seam I can quickly give the seam a little press and not have to jump up and down to my ironing board. Yes notions and quilting tools have come a long way in that last 25-30 years!!

  55. Becky Greene says:

    I would say my rotary cutter, 6 x 24 Omnigrid ruler and a self-healing cutting mat. Give me that (and a sewing machine) and I am on my way!! Love the extra-large ironing board you made – would love to hear the details!

  56. Joanna says:

    At this point it’s a given that I can’t live without my rotary cutter, mat and 6.5 X 24 ruler with all of the eighth’s marked all the way down. But I also have a small pair of thread snips at my sewing machine that I’ve come to love because they are fast and grabable. Unfortunately, I also have too many notions that I’ve tried once and didn’t take to.

  57. Oh Gosh…so many cool gadgets and notions these days! I would say my latest fave is my tiny pair of Kai scissors with the rounded tip. Notions I can’t live without are freezer paper and fine line chalk pencil since I am usually working on hand appliqué.

  58. Sew Very Sherry says:

    I can’t live without my needle threader and seam ripper. Other nice to have tools are acrylic rulers that don’t slip on the fabric when rotary cutting.

  59. Jan says:

    Would you believe that my sister had never seen a rotary cutting system? I packed up my sewing machine and supplies and took them to her house (a couple of hundred miles away) last Thanksgiving to work on some things for her daughter’s wedding scheduled for New Years. She was so intrigued with them that I ordered her a set as soon as I got home and had them delivered to her house! Years ago, she used to sewed for a living but then started teaching and time for sewing went by the wayside. She is about ready to retire now and maybe she will get back to the machine.

  60. Robbin says:

    I have to say my Clover Mini Iron is one of my favorite tools. It is so handy for getting in the tiny spots. I also like the wand like shape of the iron. I also have about 5 rotary cutters each one with a special purpose.

  61. Jo Fifield says:

    My two favorites that I could not live without are my Spinning Star Designs paper for half square triangles. Since I am a scrappy quilter I can get 8 half square triangle units with continuous sewing. Love it! Also, I love my collection of Presencia perle cotton, Size 12 only, that I use to hand quilt Big Stitch style. The thread color and texture is wonderful. Using this thread you do not have to limit using Big Stitch hand quilting to just your primitive quilts.

  62. Marge Gordon says:

    Honestly there are three tools I could not work without. First my rotary cutter, second the appropriate ruler for the project and most importantly of all would be Electric Quilt.

  63. Cecillia says:

    I love my June Taylor shape cut…inexpensive gadget that makes it very easy to cut strips and squares!

  64. Katie says:

    I love my rotary cutter. Like you, I would never have become the quilter I am today without the handy tool. My mom learned to use it around the time you did and I watched and learned and a few years later dug in myself, using some of her hand-me-downs to start. I also love my bias tape makers to prepare stem fabric for applique. I can’t imagine ironing by hand a strip of fabric to finish 1/4″ wide. I’d probably burn off all the tips of my fingers! Thanks for a chance to win some new goodies to love!

  65. Melissa says:

    There are so many!! Right now my favorite notion is my pair of quilting gloves! I had been using rubber gloves – not very breathable. The grip of the gloves makes quilting much less fatiguing!

  66. Donna says:

    My Quilters Magic Wand for HSTs is hands down my favorite quilting tool. I love my 1/2 inch pretty, pink piece of plastic. Happy quilting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>