Favourite Notions as a Self Taught Quilter

Quiltipedia defines notions as “...small tools that are used for sewing. They are general necessities like multiple types of pins and needles, thread, scissors, seam ripper, iron, and for quilters also includes rulers, self healing cutting mats and rotary cutters.”

Every quilter is different for what notions they like to work with. Admittedly, I have a drawer full of tools that I have maybe touched only a few times. Some notions require instructions to use and others are as simple as a small mason jar sitting next to your sewing machine. The best way to figure out what works for you is by simple trial and error.

Kodiak’s Studio 2021, Colour Series Quilt White, rotary cutter and ruler.

Must Haves for Quilters:

  • Rotary Cutter
    • always keep the the rotary cutter closed! It is very easy to cut yourself
  • Self Healing Cutting Mat
  • 2-3 Basic Rulers
    • 6” x 24”
    • a square ruler of a handy size, I started with a 6½” square
  • Snips (small snips for threads) and Fabric Scisssors/Sheers (10” blade is my standard)

Some of my favourites and how I use them:

Wonder clips or no name brand clips, both large and small sizes

Useful for hand binding, I find my hands fatigue less when I have the binding clipped and I can loosely hold everything as I stitch. While using thick stabilizer or having too many layers that you are unable to use pins I will use the clips instead. Sometimes I will use the clips instead of a straight pin. Sometimes is important to mention because the fabric can slip and if you are trying to match seams it may not be exact.

Curved Safety Pins

Game changer for basting! I store the pins open and in a hard plastic container. If any of the pins are dull or difficult to close/open I banish them to the scraps container* so I don’t have to deal with them the next time I baste a quilt.

Good/comfortable seam ripper

No sewist can be without one of these. Mine is always within arm’s reach for any project I am working on. Sydney and I went to a workshop recently and there was no seam rippers provided, we made our own with scissors. However, we both agreed never to go to a sewing workshop without our own sheers and seam ripper.

Painters’ Tape (Green)

I use this to label everything. And I mean everything. Boxes, fabric types, pages in a book, and blocks in a quilt. The tape is also used to tape the backing to the floor whilst I am basting a quilt.

Small Mason Jar

I converted an old kitchen jar that was missing a lid to sit next to my sewing station. It acts as a thread catcher, and my bobbin ring fits perfectly around it so they stay together as one piece. I sometimes have clips on the lip of the jar, and my seam ripper and tweezers are usually hanging out in there as well.

Favourite quilting notions. Photo by Sydney Toole

Things to invest in:

Wool Pressing Mat

The flatness of your seams after investing in a wool pressing mat is such a game changer for the accuracy of your piecing.

Hera Marker

A tool that can crease your quilt so you have a line to follow when you are quilting your quilt sandwich. Takes away the need for chalk, disappearing ink, or etc.

Things to wait to buy:

One trick ponies (a tool or ruler that only has one purpose/function).

Wrap Up

This list is only the tip of the iceberg! You can talk to any experienced quilter to find out just how easy it is to collect many different types of notions. What are the notions you can’t live without? What are some notions that you’ve tried and not liked?

*A sharps container is a small container I have in my studio for old pins, hand sewing needles, machine needles, rotary blades, and etc. Basically anything that is sharp and I don’t want someone cutting themselves in the process of taking out the garbage and out of reach if any small humans wander around the studio.

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