Monday, September 24, 2012

My Top 5 Favourite Quilting Must Haves

Hi everyone:

Do you have certain items that you must have with you when you begin a project? No, I'm not talking about fabric, thread or a pattern - I assume that you already have these, as well as a rotary cutter, ruler and mat, but other tools and items that help you complete your project successfully. I have certain things I need with me before I start my quilt; items I reach for over and over again. They're not sexy or trendy, but reliable implements that help me create my masterpiece (okay, getting a bit carried away, but I think you get my drift). 

Here are my top five favourite quilting must haves:

Magnetic pincushion 

  • I've used different pincushions over the years, but still like a magnetic one. I have two of these (one at each machine - yes, I'm a bit lazy) and love how I can just throw my pins at them and they catch them. This saves me having to look where the pin cushion is before I can stick my pin in it while I'm sewing along. I also like the fact that I can use my pincushion to pick up errant pins from the floor or around my sewing area, should my throw be a little long. It can also double as a paper weight, if so required. Being the OCD person that I am, both of my pincushions are pink.
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Thread snips

  • I bought a pair of these at a sewing show a few years back and love them. I used to use small embroidery scissors to clip my threads, but have found that these slightly curved at the tip snips are the best. I just give them a little squeeze and they neatly cut my threads. I can easily slide them under my piece to clip the bobbin threads and they're small enough that I often have them on my machine bed while I'm piecing. They'll also stick to my pin cushion (see #1) if I want them to. And yes, I have two pairs of these.

Bendable Bright Light

  • We all have lights on our sewing machines, so why do we always seem to need more illumination? It can't be because we're getting old and our eyesight dim, can it? Well, whatever the reason, I find that having the Bendable Bright Light attached to my machine really helps to lighten up my machine bed. I like how I can adjust it so that the neck of the light is out of the way, but the light is positioned where I need it. The LED's in this light provide bright, white light allowing me to easily see my fabric and stitches. I also like the fact that I only need one light and can move it between machines - but I do have two of these as well. Seeing a trend here?...
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Mary Ellen's Best Press

  • I truly believe that you need to starch your fabric so that it is easier to handle, presses better and cuts cleaner. By starching, I mean applying a spray product which will provide sizing to your fabric - it doesn't necessarily have to be actual spray starch. My favourite sizing spray (for lack of a better term) to use is Mary Ellen's Best Press. I prefer the Caribbean Beach scent, but there are several others, including a scent-free one for those of you with sensitivities. I like how it takes the wrinkles out of my fabric, gives it body and doesn't flake. As a bonus I can imagine that I'm lounging on a beach in the tropics  - yeah, while I'm ironing. I only have one small bottle of Mary Ellen's Best Press that I use at the ironing board - the other gallon jug is under my ironing station.
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Reading glasses

  • Okay, technically these aren't quilting tools, but they do help me to quilt, so I'm adding them to the list. Maybe you don't need these - yet - and I didn't when I first started quilting, but as the years have gone by... let's just say that my ability to see the smallest details while quilting has been enhanced by my reading glasses. I have several pairs of these "cheaters" around the house, but always have a pair at my sewing machine (hah, you thought I was going to say I had two pairs, didn't you?). While I don't use them when ironing or cutting, I do find them useful while stitching, especially if I've been at it for a few hours. If you're finding it more difficult to see when you're stitching, do yourself a favour and pick up a pair of these. You can get inexpensive ones at the grocery store or pharmacy and you'll be surprised at how much easier it'll be for you to quilt once you can see what you're doing.
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So that's my list. Nothing too elaborate or difficult to find, just some items that help me in my quilting. If I'm at home, these are the things that are always by my sewing area, and if I'm at a retreat, these are the items I always pack. 

Do you have favourite items that you use when you're sewing or quilting? I'd love to hear what you consider your "must have" quilting items. 

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