Quilting Supplies

It doesn’t take a lot to get started on your first quilt. Your supplies are easy to find, and don’t require a large investment.

Quilting Supplies
Here’s what you need:

If you’re going to quilt by hand, remember
the thimble. Otherwise, you’d better be
well-stocked with band-aids.
  • Pattern
  • Scissors
  • Fabric
  • Pencil
  • Yardstick, ruler, or measuring tape
  • Needles, Pins, Thread
  • Thimble
  • Batting
  • Quilting Hoop
  • Sewing Chalk or Marker (optional)
  • Sewing Machine (optional)
  • Quilting Frame (optional)

Any sewing or fabric store can help you with most of the quilting supplies in the list above, as well as picking fabrics. Quilting has grown to such popularity in recent years that you will find entire sections dedicated to quilting fabrics and supplies.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a specialty quilting store nearby, do check it out. Specialty stores are staffed by expert quilters who are happy to answer questions and make recommendations. Additional fabrics and supplies will be available.

And don’t forget – many of the Internet resources listed in this guide offer special-order fabrics, supplies, and related information.

Tips for Choosing Quilting Fabric:

Quilting Fabric Checklist
() Antique and older quilts are most often found in wool, homespun, muslin, and silk. If you’re new to quilting, stick to pre-shrunk cottons or cotton blends. They are easy to handle, to wash, and to care for. 
() Pick a combination of solids and patterns that are pleasing to your eye. Opposing colors can work well together.
() Don’t be afraid to combine stripes and a bold floral along with more subtle patterns, but do so sparingly.
() Machine-washable cotton is ideal for quilting.
() Consider the design of your quilted top when purchasing fabric.
() Many quilt shops offer pre-cut and pre-packaged fabric combinations to get you started. Consider trying one of these, in a color scheme to your liking.

Flower Basket Quilt
In this example of fabric selection,
note the combination of one small stripe,
one bold floral, three solids, and two small-scale patterns

Pros and Cons of Quilting Fabrics

The following tables explains the options that you have for quilting fabrics and the Pros and Cons for each.

Choosing the Best Fabric for Your Quilt:

Fabric Pros Cons Best use
  • Many colors and patterns available
  • Durable
  • Machine-washable
  • Inexpensive
  • Will fade with washing over time
  • Will fade in light over time
  • Some shrinkage
  • Bedding
  • Display / Decoration
Cotton / Synthetic blends
  • Many colors and patterns available
  • Durable
  • Machine-washable
  • Typically less fading and shrinkage than pure cotton
  • Inexpensive
  • Purists may prefer non-synthetic fabrics
  • All uses
  • Good option for heavy-use quilts that will be washed often, e.g. baby quilts, table coverings
Silk, velvet, other high maintenance fabrics
  • Elegant patterns & texture
  • High-end look
  • High-end feel
  • More difficult to wash
  • Some silks are more delicate (handle with more care)
  • Sewing silk takes skill
  • Silk and velvet are difficult to hand-sew
  • High-end bedding
  • Display / Art Pieces
Flower Basket Quilt
Amish Crossed T's
Holmes County Ohio
Collection of Shelly Zegart

While this Amish quilt has a repetitive pattern, it exemplifies
the clean geometrics and expanses of
solid cloth to emphasize fine quilting stitchwork.

Don't be afraid to try unusual fabric combinations. Consider
the effect of one brilliant color again black as in this example.

Quilt Batting


Sewing through two layers of cloth and a layer of batting in the middle can be both difficult and time-consuming. Beginning quilters should choose a small project to start, like a decorative hanging, or a baby quilt. Be sure to use light weight (thin) batting. It makes the quilt stitching easier and faster.

Quilt Batting is the material that is used for the middle layer of the quilt. It comes in a variety of thicknesses. Thin batting is best for baby quilts and wall hangings, since the quilt will be lighter as a result. Middle weight battings are good for most applications.

The batting that is available today in sewing shops is typically a synthetic poly blend, which washes well. Quilt batting was traditionally wool, but today’s quilt battings are an excellent option.

Unless you are planning on trying trapunto, and padding areas of your top piece, purchase the quilt batting that comes in rolls. When it’s time to handle the middle layer, it’s easy to cut, and easy to lay out.

If you want the extra warmth of thick batting, quilting by machine may be your best bet.   

Quilting Hoops and Quilting Frames

The purpose of a quilting hoop or frame is to stretch your quilt-in-process taut enough to stitch through three layers. The quilt needs to be held firmly, and without moving.

Some quilters work entirely on their laps, and use either a small hoop which is hand-held, or a special floor-standing hoop. Hoops for lap-quilters can be found in a variety of sizes.

Some prefer to use quilting frames, or large quilting tables. Frames and tables generally take up far more space than hoops. Quilting frames have the advantage of allowing multiple people to work on the quilting process simultaneously. Some frames are specifically designed for compact storage, and for a single person to use.

Hoops and frames can run anywhere from $10 for something very small (close to an embroidery hoop), to $120 for a larger, sturdier lap hoop, into many hundreds of dollars for quilting frames.

Consider saving the big ticket items for when you’re hooked on quilting. The traditional methods still work, and lap quilting your first work of art is a great way to learn!

To see the diversity of quilt frame options, check out these sites:

http://www.quiltcrafts.com/frames.html (simple quilting frame)
http://www.newjoyquilting.com/ (quilting tables)
http://www.pleasant-mnt.com/Frames.htm (various solid wood quilting frames)
http://www.hinterberg.com/ (hoops and frames, both hand and machine)
http://www.hinterberg.com/hoops.htm (floor hoops)

Mennonite Quilting Circle
Mennonite Quilting Circle
Courtesy of artnet.com, article by Wendell Garrett,Garret's Attic

Now that you're hooked, do you want to know where you can see other quilts to inspire you? Do you think you might want to collect quilts or even exhibit your own? Find out about collecting, quilt values, and exhibitions in our next section, Collecting and Exhibiting Quilts.

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