Quilting can be spendy. I learned how to sew in middle school back when my income consisted of money I earned babysitting for neighborhood families. All the way through the early years of my career, I carefully weighed each dollar I spent on sewing supplies because, like most of us, it was a tradeoff between that and other necessities. I have forever been a coupon and sale shopper and would watch prices on coveted new notions for months or years before taking the plunge. I’m also good at making do and taking care of my tools so that my investments last.
I’m definitely happy to be in a better place financially now, but still can’t resist a bargain. I love the ability to do all my comparison shopping online instead of driving around to visit various chain and local fabric stores, Walmart, and Target to compare prices, and then drive back to the winning price.
Today I’d like to share some of my favorite sewing tools. Some are newer, some older. All are available for less than $20 with a few button clicks. All of the links below are from Amazon, and if you aren’t already a Prime member, you can get a free 30-day trial which gets you free shipping on many items, along with access to streaming video, books, and other perks. And, full disclosure, all links below are affiliate links. If you shop with my links, you will help support this blog so I can keep sharing new projects and ideas.I have owned this Olfa Rotary Cutter for more than twenty years. I started cutting apparel fabrics with a rotary cutter long before I started quilting because I loved the ability to attach the pattern to the fabric with weights instead of pins, and to hold everything flat on the table instead of the shifting layers I always get when cutting with shears. To make the shift to quilts, I only needed a basic ruler or two to get started. Today, there are newer versions with ergonomic grips and adorable colors. But my old yellow standby is a classic and, when you change the blade often (every few projects or whenever it stops cutting cleanly), this will last you for decades.
I have seen plenty of pricey travel sized irons for sale in the quilting community. Some are cute and colorful and have brand names that we all love and prices that we don’t necessarily love. I bought this little Sunbeam brand iron a few years ago and use it next to my sewing machine for pressing those quilt seams. It steams well, isn’t finnicky, heats up hot and fast, and is a great size in my hand. It also travels nicely to sew-ins. I’m sure the expensive ones are nice too, but why spend extra $ on an iron when you can buy fabric instead?
I recently made about a million half square triangles for a quilt (details coming soon!) By “about a million”, I mean somewhere in the 400-500 range, which feels like a million when you’re only a few dozen in. That’s a lot. I tried many methods (Accuquilt, 2-at-a-time, 4-at-a-time, etc) and honestly, my favorite was this simple ruler from Fons and Porter. It produced very nice HSTs with very little waste. Definitely a bargain.
I own a lot of Connecting Threads cotton quilting thread. Compared to other brands, their prices are very attractive and the thread is high quality. Their website is wonderful and they sell fabrics and batting and notions too, but I discovered that you can get the thread from Amazon as well. Price-wise its a toss-up depending on how much other shopping I’m doing–if I’m buying fabric, I’ll go straight to their site. If I’m buying other random junk of the ‘zon, I am likely to throw in a new thread pack as well. Speaking of which, I appear to be running low on black.
Best Press is magic for cutting quilt pieces. Spray this lovely potion on your fabric and press before cutting, and it adds just enough stiffness to make even triangles and hexagons behave and not stretch out. I buy the scent-free version, but don’t be fooled by the name–it does have a very pleasant, clean-laundry scent. Pick up a spray bottle and then buy refils by the gallon to save on packaging.
Do you have favorite bargain notions? Please share in the comments section!