Quilting Tools :: Free Beginners Quilt-Making Course, Class 2


Quilting Tools & Supplies :: Class 2 :: Free Online Quilting Course for Beginner Quilters ~
with practical quilting tips you can do at home. By Janeen van Niekerk.

quilting supplies, quilting tools


Beginners Quilting Workshops :: Class #2
Fundamentals :: Quilting Supplies & Quilting Tools


Last week we took a look at “fussy cutting” (How to Make a Quilt: Free Quilting Beginners Class) because the idea popped into my head and wouldn’t get out.  I just wanted to give you a little taste of the sweetness of quilting before I would start at the beginning of how to make a quilt. In this course, we are going to work our way right through to the finished product – a quilt.

Quilting Fundamentals

While you may think of quilting tools as a boring topic, as well, there are no pretty, colorful fabrics in sight, think again!  This class today is arguably one of the most important classes in the series. Today we’ll discuss fundamentals which saves you from wasting hours correcting mistakes or dealing with other quilting havoc. Take it from me: get a cuppa, sit down, and read this now. Pretty fabrics…. we’ll discuss in the next classes. I promise! I really will.

Quilting Supplies & Tools

quilting supplies and quilting tools

We’re going to start with quilting tools. What do you really need?

  1. One or more cutting mats
  2. Fabric Scissors
  3. Rotary Cutters
  4. A Snipper
  5. Fabric Pens
  6. Sewing Machine.
    Let me explain why you need each of these quilting tools and quilting supplies in turn.


>Quilting Tools #1 :: Choosing Your Cutting Mats

quilting tools, quilting supplies :: mats

A fabric cutting mat is probably the single most important quilting tool you are going to use. A fabric cutting mat will save you the heartache of seeing a load of cuts made into your tables by the fabric rotary cutter. It will also avoid gouges made by sewing scissors. It will create more professional work and save time.

The size of my cutting mat is 16 x 22 inches. However, the cutting mats for sewing and quilting come in all different sizes. The mat feels rubbery and takes all the punishment you can give it with your blades. Very Necessary!

And there’s another benefit to using a cutting mat: you can use quilting patterns from all over the world. How so?   Most quilting patterns talk of inches and cutting out your fabrics in inches and half inches. In the neck of the woods where I live, we use the metric system. So inches was very foreign to me. The hardest part of it all is this: quilting is a precise work, and it’s hard to be precise when converting inches to centimeters.  The aim is to get it exactly right. So, I went to the art shop and just bought a cutting mat that showed inches. Problem solved. If the pattern says cut a square 5″ I can just line up my fabric and make the cuts along the 5 x 5 inch line. 


Quilting Tools #2 :: Specialty Cutting Mats

quilting supplies and quilting tools

I also have a smaller harder cutting mat that I sometimes use on my small projects because it has a wonderful marked angle section where I can cut triangles or measure up small pieces.

For a start – just one large cutting mat is okay.

Quilting Tools #3 :: Fabric Scissors and Rotary Cutters

quilting supplies and quilting tools, rotary cutter

Other sewing tools that are vital to a quilter are fabric scissors and rotary cutters. Without a sharp good scissors you are not going to produce a good quilt. I have a scissors that only cuts fabric.    I have to almost fight off the hoards (I mean: the family) so that they don’t use it on paper.  I hide it, so they won’t find it. (wink)

Quilting Tools #4 :: Dedicated Fabric Scissors are A Must

I also have a back up scissors somewhere safe in case the horrible deed happens. Nothing will dull your blade faster than using the scissors on different items like fabric and then paper or cardboard. Each different project (craft or kitchen or arts) must have their own scissors. NO LIE!

My small sharp nosed scissors help with snipping off threads and a ‘pick’ can come in handy too. We all make mistakes – it happens! Unpick and move on……

Quilting Tools #5 :: Rotary Cutters

Rotary cutters are there to make your life a little easier. Measuring and cutting out with a scissors is possible but very time consuming and your wrists and fingers feel like ….. when you’re done.

Quilting Tools #6 :: Rotary Blades

quilting supplies and quilting tools :: blades for rotary cutters

I have a 45mm cutter (with a straight blade) and this refers to the size of the blade. Be very careful! The blade is very sharp and will cause damage in seconds if you leave it lying around. The blades can be changed – again, very carefully. Once you get over that initial ‘fear’ of the cutter, it will be your best friend. When cutting strips of fabrics or making a whole bunch of squares or triangles, you will see that this is an amazing piece of equipment. They come in various sizes and with different types of blades too.

This is a closer look at the blade which has a safety feature when not in use. The replacement blades are made by a few companies, but I have found that if it measures 45mm its fine. The rotary cutter blades do also eventually become a little dull and I find that once I have to press harder or that there are little uncut pieces in the line and I have to go back to cut them again, its time for a new blade.


Quilting Tools #7 :: Rulers

quilting supplies and quilting tools :: fabric rulers

Yes! you need a good ruler – a quilting ruler is even better. Normal school rulers are not ‘high’ enough and the rotary cutter can jump up and you don’t want your fingers in the way – plus they’re really thin and the cutter will just hack into them really fast. Ask me I know this from experience.

Quilting rulers are see through and will have inches marked onto them and believe me, you really want this. There are different sizes when it comes to rulers and if you’re starting out – I would say get a large and a small.

Larger rulers help when you need to cut larger pieces of fabric into strips, when you need to line up your fabrics and also come with markings that help with the angles you might be working on.

Smaller rulers also come in a lot of different sizes. I have one that looks like a normal 30cm ruler, but it’s in inches (12.5 inches). On the one side it has an extra 1/4 inch which really helps when I need to cut a 1/4″ seam on my work. By the way 12.5″ is a standard size in many quilt blocks, so it helps to see if I have made the block the right size. The smaller sized ruler also is more easily moved around when cutting smaller pieces.

Having a triangle (45 deg) and a small square (4.5″) helps me when measuring small items, angles and also squaring up of blocks.

Starting out I only had the larger and smaller straight rulers.


Quilting Tools #8 :: Fabric Pens

These amazing little pens will really help when you need to mark a line onto the fabric without damaging your fabric and leaving a permanent mark. The blue dressmakers type pen will mark the fabric and then with a little water disappear entirely. There are also disappearing ink (purple) pens and you can make a quick mark and then sew on the line. I just find that the ink is very quick to disappear on a person and the blue pens run dry very quickly. But overall I do use them often.


Quilting Tools #9 :: Sewing Machines

quilting supplies and quilting tools :: best sewing machines for quilting

Obviously you will need one of these…..: a sewing machine.  Quilting by hand, not my thing……

For many years (more than 20) I had a tiny standard machine that could sew very few fancy stitches. It did however everything I asked of it. Let this be a telltale: I firmly believe that you don’t need the biggest and best to start with. My little baby (my sewing machine) even got a ‘generic’ foot that can do free-motion quilting. (Note: free-motion quilting is making patterns onto the finished quilt top). Only recently I got something a little quieter and newer, but still use the old one to do a few quick things for me.

For the record, my old machine was a Janome JB1410 and the new one is a Janome 8077 Computerized Sewing Machine with 30 Built-In Stitches.


Special Foot for your Sewing Machine that works so well for for Quilting Stitching

The stitching foot is also worth mentioning. I’m really lucky that my machine came with a zig zag foot that is 1/4″ wide and now I can line up my fabric to the side of the foot and I know everything will be exact. You really want exact. Not just an OCD trait. You can buy these feet at sewing machine shops. You just need to get one that matches your machine.

Now that you know what you need, you are ready to get your quilting supplies and tools.  See below for details.

Next week we’ll talk about fabrics and cottons and which is the best to buy. We will even try out a little block pattern that you can put together for cutting and sewing practice.

Till next time,


how to make a quilt



Want to begin sewing quilts with me?

Join our free online quilting workshops, which you can take at your leisure, any time you want.

how to make a quilt


Free Quilting Patterns & Tutorials & Classes in this quilting course by Janeen van Niekerk:


About Quilting Instructor Janeen van Niekerk

how to make a quilt patterns janeen van niekerkOur latest news of quilt making instructor Janeen van Niekerk is that she has just launched a brand new paper piecing magazine.


Quilt artist Janeen van Niekerk is an avid quilter. In particular, she’s an accomplished paper piecing designer. She does it all with a passion.

Janeen’s prolific range of hand-made quilts (she takes commissions for personalized, stylish portrait quilts), as well as her unique quilt patterns (think quilts featuring safari animals and trees, or kids toys) are inspired by her environs; she lives in sunny Pretoria in South Africa, with her husband and kids.

Janeen van Niekerk (spelled by some as Janine van Niekerk) is also part of the Free Block of the Month -club, offering a free paper piecing quilt block pattern, each month. Check it out here:FREE Block of the Month class at Craftsy.com


Quilting Pattern Library & Other Training Courses


Janeen offers her quilts designs & paper piecing patterns for individual sale Out of Janeen’s 230+ quilt patterns for sale, these are my top 5 Paper Piecing Quilt Patterns, Animals and Flowers. All really beautiful!!

This gorgeous owl quilt pattern is included in one of Janeen’s books and is for sale separately. Don’t you just love this quilt design?

The owl and all Janeen’s other patterns are for sale here at Craftsy. BTW. Crafty also has other quilting, sewing and other craft workshops, which I encourage you to check out, by clicking either the banner below, or the link above.

how to make quilt rows :: free online quilting workshop for beginners 

Or,… continue your journey with Quilting patterns, tutorials and ideas  featured here at FineCraftGuild.com (beyond Janeen’s quilting course).

Find more projects tagged …