Friday, April 19, 2013
It would be awesome to show you a completed or nearly completed Quilt Top for my Q post today, but since I don't have one ready, we'll have to improvise and show you the basics of my Quilting Supplies.
I have mentioned previously that I have been involved in quilting almost all of my life, but have always done pretty basic, simple quilter patterns, and only recently started trying more of a variety of pieced block quilting. The above picture shows the very basic tools that a beginning quilter would need: Scissors, rulers or tape measure, pins, needles, thread, and of course, fabric.
Of course, before sewing machines were invented or became widely used, quilts were still lovingly crafted by hand with needle and thread. I can't imagine the hours and hours of time that have spent in the history of the world by tailors and seamstresses and homemakers sewing clothing and bedding by hand. We are so blessed to have sewing machines! This Bernina was a gift from my DH many years ago. It is considred quite old in today's world of computerized machines, but it is an awsome, well proved classic machine and I love it. I learned to sew on my mother's old black singer sewing machine . . . at least it was electric and not a treadle machine like my grandmothers used. My parents gifted me my first sewing machine when I graduated from high school, and I used it a lot and wore it quite out. I think that I even used it on the very first quilt that I ever pieced:
This was the type of quilting that I grew up with. We used fabric leftover from sewing clothing to piece simple patchwork quilts. The pieces were usually squares, but I wanted to do something different, so I came up with this design made up of quarter-square triangles, but I didn't know they were called that back then. I cut each piece by hand with a paper pattern and scissors, and it is made from a variety of types of fabric.
Another very necessary piece of quilting equipment is a good iron. To do a good job of quilt piecing, a good pressing of each seam is essential. This little iron has served me very well for many years, but if the truth must be told, it has just about given it's all. It's time for a new iron. There are many different kinds of wonderful irons available, even little tiny ones just an inch or two in size, perfect for pressing the quarter inch seams used in quilting.
A quilter also needs some good instructions, patterns and ideas for planning the quilt, as well as lots of paper for sketching out design ideas and notes. I love browsing through books of quilts and quilt patterns. Pre-cut kits for different quilt blocks are widely available and fun to try. Graph paper is wonderful for sketching out designs. In the old days, patterns were handed down from older generations to the younger and shared with friends. These days the internet brings us many many friends and neighbors who are willing to share their patterns and ideas with us.
Most serious quilters today also have a wide variety of other tools including rotary cutters, cutting mats, and a variety of rulers and templates, usually made of clear plastic. My DH bought us rotary cutters and a cutting mat about 20 years ago for sewing and crafting use (he has been known to sew too!) back in the days when our oldest children's elementary school had craft fairs for fundraisers. We made quite a few fun things back then, but didn't really get into quilting. That mat actually wore out or cracked, and so we bought an even larger one about 10 years ago, and it's still going strong. The clear acrylic rulers and templates were my own purchases when I attended a quilting class several winters ago. They make cutting accurately sized pieces much easier than my original paper pattern and scissors method of 35 years ago, and come in hundreds of shapes and sizes. I only own a few. I still love using my unconventional metal yard stick too for measuring and cutting larger pieces of fabric.
Quilting fabrics are very specialized these days too. For accurately pieced quilt tops, 100% cotton fabrics are the preferred material. It of course can be bought by the yard, but "fat quarters" are popular products for quilters. These quarter yard sized pieces of fabric make cutting and figuring amounts and layouts of cutting much simpler. These are a few of the fat quarter samples in my stash.
And of course, we can't forget the layer of batting that makes the quilt the warm and comfortable covering that we all love. I grew up using the polyester rolls of batting, but the class I took recommended the 100% cotton batting. It is generally a bit more expensive, but thinner and easier to work with, and of course is 100% cotton to better go with the 100% cotton usually used with quilting today. I've even heard that some people use batting made from bamboo fibers that they prefer even above the cotton. I haven't tried that though.
And there you have it: the basics of my quilting supplies!