Your Quilting Toolbox: Everything you need to get started…and then some 😊

Your Quilting Toolbox: Everything you need to get started…and then some 😊

Your Quilting Toolbox Graphic

Insights for Beginning Quilters and Experienced Stitchers

Hey there, Soul Stitchers! As I read through the comments and messages I get from videos and content that I post, I’ve noticed a trend. Quilters who are ready to give quilting a try, but they aren’t sure which supplies are “you have GOT to get this," which are “if your budget allows you should have,” and which are “don’t bother!”

If you’re ready to dive into the wonderful world of quilting but not sure where to start with all the tools and supplies, don't worry! We've got you covered with a laid-back guide to what’s useful and necessary, and what’s just plain fun to have. Whether you're a newbie or a seasoned pro, having the right gear can make all the difference in your quilting escapades.

Essential Quilters Toolkit


Let's kick things off with the star of the show – fabric! Does it matter what kind of fabric you buy? Well, the short answer is…nope! Historically, quilting was always about ‘repurposing’ fabric from old torn clothes, feed and grain sacks, old sheets, table cloths, and probably many other things I can’t think of right now.  So whether you buy fabric at a large box store, use old clothes that your family has outgrown, or pick up some sheets from the thrift store, the minute you cut into it to make a block, it transforms into QUILT FABRIC lol… That said, if budget allows 100% quilting cotton, well now you’ve opened the door to a whole world of rich vibrant colors, beautiful patterns. Quilting cotton comes in varying degrees of quality and since, as I like to say, there’s no quilting police, you do you and buy what speaks to you and fits your budget. 

Cutting Mat and Rotary Cutter

Say hello to your new best friends – a self-healing cutting mat and a trusty rotary cutter. Perfect for getting those clean cuts every time! Look for a mat with clear measurements and a cutter that feels comfy in your hand. There are several great brands of mats but make sure you are getting a self-healing   They are better for the blades in your cutter and last much longer than most hard plastic “craft” mats.  Rotary cutters also come in many different styles, from ergonomic (Martelli makes a great one); and spring loaded for safety (Olfa has a great one).

For my lefty friends, Olfa rotary cutters can be loaded for either right-handed or left-handed users.

Acrylic Rulers

These bad boys are your go-to for measuring and cutting fabric like a pro! There’s lots to know about these guys though!  If you’re just starting out, here’s what I think you should have as a starting lineup (we can talk brands in a minute): 

    • 6 ½” x 24”
    • 3 ½” x 12 ½”
    • 6 ½” square
    • 4 ½” square

For our lefty friends, Creative Grids makes left-handed rulers just for you!!  Which brings me to the brand discussion.  As quilters you all know that we are brand loyal!  Once we find something that works for us we stick to it!!! 

Creative Grids rulers are my personal preference, but others are Omni Grid, Quilter’s Select and many more.  Since rulers can be spendy, I’d say read as many reviews as you can find and rather than buy all of them at once; buy a small ruler and try it out, see how you like it.  If you have quilty friends close by maybe you could try theirs and see if you like them.  Each brand has a trademark quality, so research is your friend here.  

Sewing Machine

This category could be its very own blog post!! I won’t go into brands because (see #3) we are brand loyal and I’d rather not get into which brands are best, BUT…..

You’ll need a machine that allows you to change your stitch length, and one that allows you to use a walking foot (since you’ll probably want to do some quilting on your machine).  Everything else is bells and whistles. Decorative stitches, some embroidery stitches, interchangeable specialty feet, and buttonhole attachments just to name a few!  If you’re just starting out, let your budget be your guide.  In my personal and very humble opinion, there are no really ‘bad’ machines out there.  For beginners sometimes simpler is better. Grab that machine from your grandma's garage and give it a try!  

Pins and Needles

How do we keep our fabric in line? Pins of course…  How do we sew a straight line? Needles of course!  Pins come in many different lengths and head types (plastic, or glass).  I suggest some glass head pins (Dritz and Clover both make good ones).  Why glass? Well because the iron won’t melt them…and because they last longer (imho).  But, as always, use the pins that fit your budget and work for you.  I do recommend two different lengths.  Try a 1” and 2” length to start.  Some for applique and some for pinning block segments or rows together.

Iron and Ironing Board

Your iron is one of the most important tools in your kit. Spending a bit more on a good iron is a great idea! You’ll spend less time at the ironing board and your seams will lie flat as a board if you’ve got a good quality iron.  Iron brands like Rowenta, and Oliso are both great brands.  Their full-sized irons get super hot and are perfect for big pieces and backing.  If your budget is smaller consider a smaller “mini” or project iron.  Half the price but not half the performance!  I use an Oliso mini and also recommend the Panasonic cordless.  There are lots of inexpensive irons out there that work great, but after trying a few when I started quilting, I realized that there’s a reason the good ones are more spendy; they really do perform better.  Whichever you choose, I recommend spending as much as your budget will allow. 

Quilting Gloves

If you’ve watched any of my YouTube videos ("Pick Fabrics for Any Project!), you might see me wearing quilting gloves while I’m sewing strips together or rows together. They really do help, especially if you’re like me and have very dry hands!  If you sew quite a bit like me, the fabric will naturally absorb the moisture from your skin.  You might find you need a bit more “grippiness” and gloves will absolutely do the trick.  There are some great brands like Machingers, that I use and love.  When I first started quilting however, I found a pair of “gardening” gloves for $1.99 that worked just as well!!!  If you look up quilting gloves on your favorite browser, there are bunches of them out there and they are all great, but remember that if budget is a concern as it is for all of us these days, gardening gloves work too 😊 


Oh my goodness another divisive topic LOL… Let me break it down for you. There are a few main batting categories, and I’m only going to address batting for quilts and not other projects like potholders, bowl cozies, or bags. When it comes to quilts there are a few things to consider.
  1. Blends:
    • Cotton Poly 80/20 is cotton and polyester blended together. It’s less spendy than others but 100% polyester is cheaper still.  It washes well and shrinks very little compared to 100% cotton.
    • Bamboo – Sometimes 50/50 cotton/bamboo, other brands blend with cotton and silk, and percentages vary. It’s one of the more spendy batting to choose from but WOW buttery soft and great drape!!  My favorite!
  2. Other:
    • 100% Cotton – Stiffest among batting. Cotton shrinks so you have to consider that when using it.  Also, cotton batting tends to crease (imagine folding up a quilt and storing it for the summer) when you store it and needs steaming or washing to try and get the folds out.  The upside is that cotton is great for wall hangings, or other projects you won’t be storing in the linen closet.
    • 100% Polyester – This is your least spendy option and contrary to what many would say about using all cotton all the time in your quilt, we now know that fiber technology has come so far that your quilts will be just fine using cotton fabric and polyester batting or thread If your budget isn’t a bamboo batting budget, no worries polyester batting works just fine and comes in many different lofts (thicknesses) so your quilting will show up so well with high loft polyester😊 

Armed with these essentials, you're all set to tackle any quilting project that comes your way! Remember, quilting is all about the journey, so enjoy the ride and let your creativity run wild.

Stay tuned for more quilting tips, tricks, and inspo right here on our blog. And don't forget to sign up for our newsletter to score some exclusive goodies. Happy quilting, friends!

Soul Stitchery is your home for education, inspiration, and supplies to create modern quilt treasures and heirlooms. New here? Watch me take projects from start to finish on my YouTube channel. Learn more about me and my journey to become a quilter. I'd love for you to join the Soul Stitchery Crafty Crew on Facebook!

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.