Thursday, April 11, 2024

Quilting Tools - The fun essentials

 Let's dive into the quilting tools that are fun to use.

We went over the very basic, essential tools last week in this post. It can be overwhelming to start with those big purchases, but now we can get into the good stuff. (Although I admit, when I bought my new sewing machine, I did a true happy dance.)


So many rulers, so little time, but there are a couple that I would deem essential.

The 6 1/2" x 24 would be the one I would say you must have, especially if you are cutting yardage. The length of the ruler will make it so you don't have to move it to get one long cut, the width of it will give you extra space for your hand to hold the ruler down.

A square ruler. Square rulers come in handy so often, and I like the 6 1/2" square rulers. It fits well in my hand, can be used for cutting, trimming and marking and is just a good all around size.


The 6 1/2" by 12" ruler is one of my most used rulers. It is the perfect size for cutting FQ (Fat Quarters) as well as sub-cutting strips.

The 12 1/2" square ruler is another ruler I use often. It's great for cutting larger pieces (7" squares, etc) and for help in trimming the 12 1/2" blocks I make for the Monthly Color Challenge.

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This is where the fun rulers come in. There are so many specialty rulers out there that I would need multiple blog posts to cover them all. So I'm going to touch on the "essential" specialty rulers. As with all things quilting, quilters have their absolute go to specialty rulers and they feel strongly about them. I'm going to share three types of specialty rulers, you will have to find the brand that works for you. My personal recommendations can be found on my "Favorite tools page."

HST (Half Square Triangle) trimming rulers will make your life so much easier. When we make our HST units oversized, which is what I always do for accuracy, we need to trim them down to the required size. You can absolutely do this with the 6 1/2" square ruler, even the large rectangle ruler, but a specialty ruler will make this process a bit faster and more accurate.

FG (Flying Geese) trimming rulers will do the same. It's also the same process, make the FG units larger, than trim them to the correct size.

SIS (Square in a Square) and QS (Quarter Square) rulers are also out there as well as many different triangles.


You will need a way to mark your units, whether it's diagonal lines or quilting lines, and the quilting world has you covered.

For marking the wrong side of the fabric on light fabric, I like the simple mechanical pencil (or any sharp pencil). It makes a nice thin line to follow and is usually narrow enough that it fits against the ruler nicely.

On dark fabric I like the Bohin pencil. It gives a nice thin line AND it's refillable.


Frixen pens. *NOTE* use these only on the wrong side of the fabric as the color can return. It has also been my experience that they will take away the dye on batiks and leave a white trail. All of that being said, I like them for marking on light fabric.

Chalk. I started with chalk many years ago and they were my go to for a long time. They are easy to apply, brush off and are also refillable. You can also use them for marking quilting lines.

Hera Marker. I use this for marking quilting lines when I am quilting on my domestic (regular sewing machine).

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For writing my labels I use the Micron pens. These are permanent, so I don't recommend them for other marking.

Markers and Place Holders

When you are making a lot of quilt block units and quilt blocks keeping them organized is essential.

Post it notes are a great way to mark your units. Simply write what it is (unit size, row, etc) and put the note on top of the pile.

For rows, I have also used bits of paper marked with the row number and pinned it to the first block in the row before stacking.


I found these clothes pins years ago in the Target $1 area. They are great for keeping like units together as well as keeping my rows in order.

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If you want your markers to be as pretty as your fabric there are many options out there. They are a fun way to keep things organized.

Pins and Clips

Eventually you are going to need to hold things together, in your quilting life anyway. Ha!

Pins come in many sizes and lengths. They don't need to be pretty, but they do need to be sharp. I also recommend getting longer pins so when you are putting units together you can get through all of the layers easily.

Safety pins are used for basting your layers. The best type is the curved pin. This makes it easier to get through the layers and then close it.


Wonder clips are actually a tool I didn't think I needed. They were a game changer when hand stitching my binding though, as well as for keeping layers together when I sew clothes.

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Safety pin covers can provide a larger gripping space to make opening and closing the pins easier. It also makes them easy to see when quilting.

For links to all of my Favorite Tools click here.

This is the second article in the Quilting Tools - Essentials series.

Week 1

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the tips. I have worried about markers ink returning. Want to try a Hera Marker. Someone gifted me a bag of Wonder Clips years ago, and they are very useful. I also use mini clothespins and zippered bags for separating quilt top pieces until sewn.


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