Supplies and Demand-- Part Two

Supplies and Demands Part Two

Okay, back to the supplies. I remind you that I’m drawing info from the Super Quilter book. However, I hope to have the "Patchwork, quilting, & appliqué (Reader's Digest)" by Jenni Dobson. Believe it or not, I just bought it from for a mere fifty cents. No, that’s not a typo; a hard cover book that gives excellent lessons and projects for a mere fifty cents. The shipping costs more.

I may pull projects and lessons from both books. I’m really impressed with both, and I think both have value.


1. For piecing and appliqué, common sewing thread is fine. She does recommend acquiring the basic colors: black, white, natural, red, yellow, blue, and green.

2. Quilting thread had also become readily available. Threads are designated by weight, so 12 weight is what you want. There are almost as many colors in quilting thread as the more common all-purposed threads.

3. You may wish to acquire 40-weight rayon for “pretty shiny” stitches. This thread is more expensive and a bit more fragile, but it’s like collecting jewels. You just can’t resist the shiny. Besides, if you want to eventually learn art quilting, thread painting, etc, you’ll want to build up your collection over time.

Tip: Next time you go to the dollar store, pick up those cheap Q-tips you wouldn’t normally buy. Put one down the hole in the center of the spool, and then put the bobbin with the matching thread on top, using the cotton swab to hold the bobbin with it. Voila! Easy to keep matching stuff together.

Tip: While at the dollar store, grab up some of those cheap bags of ponytail holders, especially if you can get multiple colors in the bag. If you have a bobbin and/or spool of red thread, grab a pair of red ponytail holders and put one on the spool and one on the bobbin. They’ll keep the spool and the bobbin from unwinding, as well as giving you a basic idea of what color the thread is on the bobbin.

B. Beeswax—While Super Quilter makes mention of using beeswax often to help keep your thread from tangling, it’s becoming more difficult to find. Most thread companies have engineered their threads to where this is becoming obsolete. However, we may discover a new/old use for it as we go through the lessons.

C. Fabric Markers—So many marking options are available these days, you have a crazy amount of choices. Chalk markers and pens are the most common. Cold-water washable felt-tip pens are also commonly available, but humidity and time may reduce the markings. No matter what, you may wish to test your pens by marking a piece of scrap and washing it before you confidently start marking up your fabrics, only to find out the ink doesn’t wash out as well as promised. I found a set of Crayola markers that worked very well, but their cheaper counterparts required the use of Spray-n-Wash, much to my dismay.

D. Rulers—Oh, you can go so nuts here. Some quilters become ruler and template collectors. In the beginning, you may wish to purchase a 6”x24” quilter’s ruler. Mine is the Donna Dewberry version, and has an extra ½” in pink on one edge. (1/2” is the most common “extra margin” called the seam allowance.)

I’ve been collecting for a few months now, especially since I’ve been playing with special quilt types like Dresden plate, and twisted cuts. Really, it’s an addiction.

D. Pincushion—Some seamstresses have a favorite type like the tomato, the wrist pin cushion, the magnetic pin holder, etc. Choose what you like. I’ll be honest and say that you may wish to make your own out of your less than perfect blocks, leftovers, scraps, and extras. If you like the tabletop tomato or similar types, look around your home for weights. I found drapery weights that had fallen out of vertical blinds, fishing weights, large metal washers, and of course a handful of coins. Weighted pincushions don’t slide around when you stab a pin in them. Many quilters collect pincushions or make them to give as gifts. (Merri, do you remember the pincushion made atop a mason jar?)

I keep a magnetic wrist pin holder on my wrist for cutting, a pincushion next to my sewing machine, another next to my favorite chair where I do hand stitching, and of course one in my travel basket for my needlework. You think about the type of work you do.

E. Thimbles—While I always had a thimble, I never needed one until I started quilting. If you don’t have one, purchase one for your middle finger of your sewing hand. The thimble is used to push the needle through the fabric as you sew, not the keep the finger on the other hand from being poked. An inexpensive metal thimble is just fine, but more expensive leather thimbles are available if you decide to do a lot of hand-quilting. Those can be custom fit to your finger.

F. Seam Ripper—As Susan can attest, you will be using a seam ripper. You may wish to purchase more than one so you have one for your sewing machine, one for your favorite chair, and one for your travel kit. “Humility blocks” happen to us all, and you will need one at the most inopportune moment. Fortunately, they’re cheap unless you get the fancy designer ergonomic models.

G. Weird items you may or may not want:

1. Clasp Manila envelopes—6.5”x9.5” can be ideal for template storage. You can label them with the project name, the template names, etc.

2. As an alternative, many quilters use clear plastic sheet protectors in a binder and label the templates themselves. The advantage to clear plastic sheet protectors is that they can also store the pattern, fabric samples, and note cards with your sewing machine settings you used.

3. Graph paper and colored pencils or felt tip pens—occasionally, a block design needs to be colored with your choices as opposed to the designer’s choices.

4. Loose leaf binders—You’ll find yourself with an ever-increasing collection of magazine articles, printouts of free patterns off the net, and notes from YouTube even if you never join a guild. Binders can be picked up most cheaply at thrift shops, but don’t neglect those sales at the discount stores.

5. Zip-top bags—from quart on up, you’ll want a set to keep around for keeping projects and cuttings separate. Again, dollar store types are just fine.

6. Masking tape to label your bags is a smart investment, but this handy stuff comes into play when it comes time to make the quilt sandwich. Keep a good-sized roll around.

7. Divided plastic boxes such as what are sold for organizing can come in very handy. The ones that hold embroidery bobbins I’ve used for years now also keep my collection of sewing machine presser feet nicely organized and accessible so I can change out from the monogramming foot to the zigzag without a lot of wasted time. Many presser feet are now standardized so you can buy one set that would fit several machines such as this one:

8. Freezer Paper—this simple item found in a grocery store is the basis of one common appliqué technique. It’s a good thing to have when you need multiple items of a similar shape. When you need fifteen hearts, draw them on freezer paper, iron the waxy side to the fabric, and then cut the hearts out. By making your mistakes on paper first, you don’t waste valuable fabric.

9. Iron-on fusible interfacing—this cheap substance can also act as a “pattern” for appliqué and similar techniques. I buy lightweight fusible in packs at Walmart. This is my preferred technique, but I keep freezer paper around as well. However, fusible interfacing stays with the fabric and can make it stiff. If you’re making a purse or table topper, this is a good thing. When making a quilt, this could be not so good.

Okay, this is the main list. There will be other items that appear on the project list, or I may mention a better way that Super Quilter’s author didn’t know about. There’s always a new gadget coming along. Some are worth the money. Some aren’t worth a moment of your time, much less a penny of your money.


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