As quilting becomes an increasingly popular hobby, I’ve seen more and more specialty quilting tools pop up. Some of them, like non-slip rulers and sewing clips, have been insanely helpful, but others… no so much. In an already expensive hobby, save some cash for the fabric fund. Here are five quilting tools you don’t need.
Chain piecing thread cutters
If you’re chain piecing, you know at the end of sewing comes a lot of snipping all those pieces apart. As though cutting with your scissors is too much work, people (several different ones!) developed thread cutting products that look like little thread guillotines. I can’t post the pictures here, but these are a a couple I’ve found on amazon: upright thread cutter and the original thread cutter.
Even if you’re willing to spend a few bucks to make cutting hundreds of pieces apart–DON’T! This tops my list of quilting tools you don’t need, because you already have one. On the side of your sewing machine, you have a little thread cutter that works the exact same way. No need to spend money to buy another gadget you’ll use for ten minutes before you just need to find a place to store it.
This little wood chunk on a handle is supposed to ‘press’ your seams. While I’ve never used a steam roller, it’s completely unnecessary, because you should be pressing all of your seams with an iron. All of them! Quilting is a precise hobby. You’re not going to get by cutting corners by rolling a wood block over your seams.
Set up a little pressing mat next to your sewing machine–I used a wool mat— and then you can press as you go with out even needing to stand up and shift around. On top of this, you can use chain piecing to sew a lot of pieces together all at one time and then you can shift to pressing the whole lot at once to streamline things.
If you’re thinking about using a seam roller it in conjunction with an iron, you should get a clapper instead. A tailor’s clapper is a time-tested quilting tool that you press against a freshly ironed seam. It traps heat and creates crisp seams.
For the most part, I’ve found that I don’t really even need a clapper. If I have problems with seams lying flat, I squirt a spritz of water on the seam and press. But a clapper is something I’d like to experiment with. In the meantime, I’ve found my mini iron to be a cheap investment that makes pressing little pieces and seams a little easier.
The Purple Thang
Honestly people. The Purple Thang is literally a purple stick. I saw it making the rounds on the quilttube (quilting YouTube). Apparently it can do a great many things like feeding elastic, measuring a 1/4″, and a tip to help feed fabric through your sewing machine? Ridiculous! I say. The Purple Thang is truly one of the quilting tools you don’t need, because these tasks are things you can already do with very simple tools you already have.
First, you have your seam ripper, which I like to think of the savior of sewing. I use it for most things. Besides cutting threads, the seam ripper can be used to push out corners, hold fabric steady around the presser foot/needle, and cleaning out your bobbin holder, among others. Second, if you’re ever going to be using elastic (which you probably aren’t if you’re strictly quilting), a safety pin is cheap, tried, and true method. And third, for measuring things, don’t you have a ruler? Probably way more than you need?
The Purple Thang is just another cluttering quilting tool you don’t need. However, if they ever incorporated a seam ripper inside it, I may be interested.
More than one or two rulers
There are so many quilting rulers out there these days. they have different sizes, different shapes, different colors, different cutting holes. Some quilt-fluencers have a ruler of every size they show off as they trim their blocks. But do you need that?
I went years, nearly 10, with only one large ruler and was able to cut and trim my pieces and blocks just fine. More recently, I splurged on a smaller ruler with grips on the back that I’ve found easier to use with smaller pieces, but it hasn’t significantly cut down my cutting time. You definitely don’t need to get a specific ruler to trim the half square triangle blocks you just made. The ruler you have can already do that.
The only extra ‘rulers’ you should be buying are specialty shape templates like triangles, diamonds, and half- and quarter-circles. And often times you can make them yourselves with the instructions that come in your quilt pattern.
Color evaluator glasses
Well into the twenty-first century, we are past needing glasses with color lenses to to evaluate if the colors on our quilts are properly distributed. At this point, everyone has a phone with a camera that you can make to the exact same thing. Here’s how to use it:
First, lay out your pieces in your desired color placement, snap a pic, and then turn the color to grey scale. I just saved you 15 bucks.
When to buy quilting tools you ‘don’t’ need
Now, of course, there are a great number of quilting tools you don’t ‘need’, including the ones above, but sometimes it is nice to splurge. If you find yourself thinking ‘man, I could use that tool right now’ a lot, your future quilting plans have you making consistent use of the tool, and you have the space for it, then consider getting it. But give an honest thought to how much it would contribute the the timeliness and quality of your work, and weigh the price against other quilting item you could have bought. I vote for fabric!