Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tools of the Trade

There are so many great quilting tools, notions and gadgets out there, and I love discovering new and useful ones.  I am often asked about my quilting technique and I am happy to share with you just some of the notions and gadgets that I like to use.

 Walking Foot and Quilting Guide

If you are keen to try straight line machine quilting, investing in a walking foot for your machine will make for a much better quilting experience.  A walking foot is an attachment for your sewing machine that helps, together with your built-in feed dogs, grip and feed through the layers of the quilt evenly, thereby avoiding puckers.  A walking foot is available for most sewing machines. More information on why a walking foot is a quilter's best friend can be found here. 

I also use a quilting guide that attaches to the walking foot.  A quilting guide is a bar that acts as a guide to set precise distances between one quilting line and the next (by measuring distance from the needle) and therefore ideal for quilting parallel lines.

When quilting parallel lines I start quilting in the center of the quilt. I use a Hera Marking tool (made by Clover) to mark the first straight line on my quilt.  This nifty little tool is great for marking lines directly on to fabric, and is often used for creasing sharp lines on applique.  Thanks to Lurline for pointing me in the direction of this tool.  I will then continue to use the quilting guide for the next few parallel lines, but will use the Hera Marker to mark a quilting line every now and again just to ensure the lines are still running nice and straight.

I have also been known to use a Chaco Liner (Clover) which is a pen style powered marker, that does leave a light chalky residue on the quilt.  I have had great success with the white marker, leaving no noticeable marks on the quilt.  

 My new ruler - (Note to self:  Don't stand on it!)

There are a number of different size rulers that I use when rotary cutting or marking lines on quilts.  All have one thing in common though.  I am left-handed and use left-handed rulers.  They are the same as a standard right hand ruler, however, the numbers on the ruler go for left to right which is just so much less frustrating for me.  Most of the ruler manufacturers do take into account the needs of both left and right handed quilters, you just need to know that these products do exist.

I use only 100% cotton thread when quilting, and have tried out both Gutermann and Aurfill thread.  Both are strong, durable, and come a huge range of colors.  However I often use a neutral thread for quilting, such as a beige, light gray, or white, which blends in well with the wide variety of fabric colors that I use in my quilts.

I hope this information is useful and that you too will have a go at quilting your own quilts on a domestic sewing machine.
I am leaving you today with a snippet of what is on my design floor.  Have a great day!


  1. As always, a wealth of information! Love what is on your design floor.

  2. I love the concept of a design floor. I have one too.

  3. Loving that design floor!!
    Now I see why you finish up your quilts so quickly!!
    So you can clear the floor before the kiddos get home!!!!

  4. I specifically love the chaco liner. They are just wonderful to use! I love your newest creation.

  5. Very helpful! Thanks for sharing. Maybe this will be the push I need to buy a walking foot...

  6. I am in the middle of a quilt right now and I am hoping to try some straight lines on the machine. I have the walking foot, but will be on the lookout for the Hera tool.



  7. I'd love a left handed ruler! I wonder if that's something you can get in the U.S.?

    I often end up flipping the thing over...and then get myself all confused.

  8. Thanks so much for taking the time for these Quilting tool tips. I've been quilting for a few years now..but self-taught and ALL tips are so very helpful to this gal!

    I love your blog and the Gorgeous Quilts you have made.


  9. Wonderful.... thanks,

    where can you find a quilting guide?? my mom had one with her old treadle machine... and i've seen them with older sewing machines... didn't know you could still find them.

    i'd like to find one. .. any tips??


  10. Thanks for sharing your tips on quilting tools. I love the look of your new quilt on your design floor - will look forward to seeing it sewn together.

  11. I guess if I plan to do more quilting in the future, I should invest in a walking foot. I did my last quilt with straight lines (not FMQ-capable) and it turned out decent but there were times when sewing the long strips to piece the top or the odd pucker when I had trouble. Thanks for sharing some of your favourite tools!

  12. Thanks Rita. You mentioned the Chaco liner a few weeks ago. When last in Melbourne I bought one from Amite (fab) and it's become my new best friend! Love your quilts and am constantly amazed at your productivity and creativity. Kate

  13. I love all those tools but I'm not left handed, I didn't even know they made them. I especially loved the Hera marker I got this year. I see some tesselating going on, how exciting.

  14. Left handed rulers? I'll be on the look out. Love my hera marker.

  15. I'm left handed too and I didn't even know these babies existed!! Hooray!!!

  16. I love my walking foot! Thanks for posting this...I had no idea what the quilting bar was for. I think I was using it wrong. Too bad I broke it last night by accident though.

  17. Ooo...loving the design floor!

    I have a Pfaff with a built-in walking foot. I wonder how well it works? I've never used any other kind...

    I've heard of that Hera marker...I'll have to look into it. What I don't like about the chaco is when it smudges a bit, then you don't know where the actual center of the line was...

  18. Great info... I needed it!

    I Love what's on your design floor, can't wait to see it finished.

  19. Great info thanks, I'll have to try to find that Hera marker :-)

  20. Great post! I have the marking guide for my walking foot but it never stays in place! how do you keep it from moving when the fabric bumps along?

  21. I never could figure out what the long metal plastic thingy was used for up until a few weeks ago when a fellow quilter/blogger said it was a guide!! Its genius, seriously! Why was it not in my machine handbook?
    LOVE the new layout too :-)

  22. thanks for the tips...i also love my walking foot...without it i would never quilt anything. i would be too frustrated...and gutterman is great..i am going to have to pick up some light gray and add it to my thread basket for later use. i am loving what you are working on right now.

  23. Thanks so much for all the information!

  24. Thanks for all the great info! I'm a leftie too an never knew they made left handed rulers. I'll be looking for one of those!

  25. If you are only using the white Clover Chaco Liner, Spotlight sell one from Birch which is in red plastic in a traditional tailors chalk shape. It has a rectangular chalk refill which you can buy for a fraction of the price of the clover ones. I think it is $4-5 for the marker in the first place, and then about $4 for 2 refills. I've used mine for everything from dress making to quilting. It has exactly the same marking method.


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