Having the right tools for the job makes all the difference!
The machine quilting supplies listed below are just those items that you will need for practicing the free motion quilting (FMQ) patterns in the coming sections.
You may already have the majority of these quilting supplies on hand.
If you've just finished Beginning Quilting 101 (BQ101), use the practice sandwich you made for that lesson here.
Otherwise, prepare a simple one out of a solid color fabric and batting. I usually take a half yard of fabric and sandwich that for practice sandwiches. You want a solid color so that your stitches are easy to see.
In a pinch you can use a piece of felt instead of an actual quilt sandwich. The point is to make it easy for you to practice when you have time.
As we learned in BQ101, use the same 50 wt 100% cotton thread in the needle and bobbin (my go-to thread is Aurifil on the orange cone). This works best for beginners. There are few, if any, tension adjustments to make.
Choose a contrasting thread color to practice with. It's easier to see your stitch length and spot any tension problems that occur.
Confused about thread?
Go to Quilt Thread and Tension for a quick overview.
The Universal 80/12 is fine when you use the recommended cotton thread above. If you use a different thread, remember the needle eye should be roughly three times larger than the thread. Do not use a ballpoint needle; it's not meant to quilt with.
If you ‘needle’ quick review see BQ101's Your Sewing Machine Needle.
These are to cut thread tails. A small pair is easiest to use for clipping threads close to the top of the sandwich.
Knit gloves with “grippy” fingers, wonderful for traction when moving your sandwich. To learn more about them and other methods to 'grab' the quilt sandwich, visit our page, Quilt Gloves.
Now just because it's ‘machine quilting’ supplies doesn't mean they come from the quilt or fabric store.
On your FMQ journey, you'll also want the following items.
Your machine quilting supplies arsenal should include a spiral notebook for doodling designs. You'll use it for the FMQ patterns you will learn shortly. Keep it handy for when you're waiting to pick up kids from school or dentist or doctor.
Practicing on paper helps commit a particular pattern to the brain and the motion to the hands. You can draw odd shapes and fill them in with these doodles so that you can learn to get into and out of tight spaces.
Doodling does not, however, take the place of time spent stitching at your sewing machine.
Nothing can take the place of that practice.
I can't live without this stuff!
It's not greasy and it doesn't leave a residue on your quilt sandwich.
Moreover, it helps moisturize your hands during long sessions of FMQ AND gives your better control while moving the quilt sandwich.
You can substitute this product for the Machingers above.
'Sounds kind of silly, doesn't it?!
You need to get up and stretch periodically as you quilt. Especially as you get older (and as I've learned over the last couple of years!)
When you're in a groove you'll find you can go for days without moving...
...I don't know about you but my poor ol’ body just can’t take it anymore.
You can ignore a timer, even when it's set up across the room...but you can't fool with Mother Nature.
As you progress in your FMQ journey, you may encounter problems:
I've found these optional tools and supplies are helpful in avoiding such problems in the first place.
Sometimes it's as simple as wiping the gunk off.
If you find it hard to move the sandwich—it feels like it's sticking to the machine—before spending a dime, wipe the bed of your machine with a cloth dampened with warm water and a drop or two of soap.
If that doesn't work, the Supreme Slider may be just what you need.
This teflon sheet adheres (without glue) to the bed of your sewing machine.
It comes in two sizes: Queen (11½" x 17") and Original (11½" x 8")—I use the smaller one.
It reduces the friction created as you move your patchwork on the bed of the machine.
Learn more about it here.
This is a teflon washer that sits in the bottom of your bobbin case.
Just like the Supreme Slider, the teflon reduces the friction created as the bobbin spins during the creation of a stitch.
Less friction means fewer tension problems. Fewer skipped stitches.
They are available from Amazon.com.
If you're not having these issues, then save your money for fabric, books and classes.
Now that you've gathered these simple machine quilting supplies, it's time to move on to the set up of your quilt studio or workspace.
If you can have only one in your library...this is it!