• October 25, 2014

Quilting tools have come a long way

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Posted: Friday, August 15, 2014 4:30 am

Way back in quilting history, all a person needed to make a quilt was fabric (usually scraps from previous clothing construction), a needle, thread and scissors.

Basically that’s also true for today’s quilter. We’ve come a long way when it comes to inventions to make our quilting faster and easier than our ancestors.

I’ve covered the rotary cutter previously. But there are hundreds of items on the market that may deserve recognition.

Straight pins are a staple in a quilter’s room. There are many varieties of pins to choose from. There are pins called “quilter’s pins” that are rather large and have a big yellow ball head. Then there are the glass head pins, which are smaller and sharper. There are pins with heads on them that look like little flat flowers, and there are pins with heads with numbers and letters on them to help organize your rows and columns when laying out your quilt.

Irons also play an important part in the quilting process. These appliances come in large, steam generator sizes. These generators also are good for steaming clothing and drapes and the occasional steam facial. Many makes of regular-size irons have wonderful features. Some have little feet that pop down so you don’t have to set your iron on its heel every time you stop pressing. Some have ergonomic styles to help fatigue. There are little irons measuring from a couple of inches down to less than one inch.

Scissors. Gosh, where do I start with these? It seems there is a scissor for every type of cutting you could ever do.

Tiny ones for delicate appliqué work with sharp tips. Regular-size ones with all types of handles made in different shapes and materials to make cutting a comfortable process. Steel scissors, graphite scissors, brass scissors, to name a few. Scissors that look like they have melted in the manufacturing process, which help cut difficult appliqué pieces, to scissors specially made to cut batting.

There are special bulbs, as well as all sorts of lamps to make sure we are sewing and quilting in the best light possible. There are floor lamps, lamps that clamp onto tables, and lights that stick to machines. There are lights we can wear around our necks for pinpoint lighting and small lights we can take with us while traveling.

There is a gadget that turns fabric inside out to form “tubes.” There are little thread cutters disguised to look like necklaces so we can take our work with us on an airplane. I haven’t flown in 13 years, so I can’t tell you what is allowed these days.

Unsewers, also known as rippers, also come in many shapes and sizes. I recently bought a gadget that looks like a miniature barber’s clipper. It runs on a AA battery and “shaves” sewing lines or quilting away in a few strokes. It’s the best $20 I’ve spent this year.

I’ve just broken the surface of all the wonderful items that are available to quilters. We’ve begun to depend on them to perform our craft. Thinking back to the early quilters, we’re really spoiled.

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