Sewing Tools

Let’s take an in-depth look at sewing tools and notions for the Modern Quilter! These are some of my favorites in my own sewing room.

  • What is a Walking Foot?

    Walking Foot

    What the what? Yes, a walking foot (also known as an even-feed foot). I’ve had questions about this tool before. Why I use it and if it is truly a necessity for beginner level quilters. Here is a bit long, tell it all, post on the Walking Foot.

    Answers to your Walking Foot Questions

    Is it a standard sewing foot? – No, your sewing machine (most of the time) does not come with this attachment.

    Do you REALLY NEED it? – I honestly did not start out with one. I used the same sewing foot on everything (yes, everything. I’ve moved on, thankfully. Being self-taught has its drawbacks, ok?) It wasn’t until I was struggling with more advanced quilting techniques that I upgraded to a walking foot and man… It was like night and day. I’m not going to say that I’m not dramatic or anything but I swear I could hear the angels sing. ‘So this is why people enjoy quilting’… If you’re serious about quilting, I highly suggest looking into getting one. It will be the grease to your quilting gears.

    Walking Foot

    How much does it cost? – It is more expensive than most of the sewing feet but you can find one for anywhere between $10-$70 depending on brand and where you buy from.

    Some walking feet are brand specific models designed for you machine. There are also generic one-size-fits-most models. As you can guess, generic is a little cheaper.

    There are a few on Amazon for around $8. I personally have not tried those and can not either recommend or not recommend those products. I suggest going with a middle of the range tool unless you’re just curious for a bargain. Sometimes you really do get what you pay for and I would never ever steer you towards something that could be a waste of your money.

    These are a few models I have personally used and DO recommend:

    Singer Walking Foot


    Singer Even Feed Walking Presser Foor for Quilters – $22.79





    Janome Walking Foot

    Janome Even Feed Foot (Open Toe) – $59.99




    What does a walking foot do? – A walking foot makes sewing thick layers easier because of the presser foot on top of your fabric moves (or walks) too. It moves with the feed dogs underneath. In theory, this means that the top layer will move at the same speed as the bottom and middle layers.

    Sewing Machine Feed Dogs


    How do you put on the walking foot? – It is a little different than your regular sewing feet. It takes a little practice, but if it wasn’t worth it, I wouldn’t bother with it myself. It’s totally worth it, trust me. There is a little bar that fits over (or on) the needle tightening screw. You’ll know if you don’t put it on the right way because your machine will make a terrible noise when you go to sew but rest assured because once you install it right, you’ll know what to look for!

    Here are some close-ups of the walking foot on my machine and what to look for when you put yours on.

    Walking Foot Walking Foot

    When do you use the walking foot? – It is a must-have accessory for straight line quilting. It keeps the layers together and prevents the top layer from getting pushed ahead of the middle and bottom layers. This prevents puckering and tiny pleats from occurring when you change the direction of your quilted lines. I use the walking foot whenever I am straight line quilting, which is what most beginner quilters will be using.

    You can also use it when sewing on your quilt binding. It will keep the top layer of the binding from shifting ahead of the bottom layer. Essentials, you’ll want to use your walking foot whenever you are sewing multiple layers and feel like the layers are not moving at the same speed. Your walking foot will solve that problem.

    Do you have a walking foot yet? What is your opinion? Do you just love yours? Did you notice a huge difference when you switched to a walking foot for quilting like I did? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. I would love to hear from you!

    This post uses affiliate links. I wouldn’t recommend products that I didn’t own and love. If you make a purchase using my links, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for allowing me to continue to provide you with patterns and tutorials!

  • The Best Seam Ripper!

    Seam Rippers. Ugh. You know its real when you have to pull it out to correct a seam. But what is the best seam ripper?

    Do you have a timeout corner somewhere in your sewing space?

    Maybe its known by another name, but you know what I mean… you sewed something wrong, or the bobbin went haywire and you just.can’ right now. It’s usually when I’m in a hurry to finish a quilt and then things go bonkers. Heres a tip: Never let your sewing machine know that you’re in a hurry. Ever. 

    We all make mistakes. Sad but true. I usually save my seam ripper sessions for a night in front of the TV on the couch with some tea…. *ahem* ok… so it’s usually wine. My mistakes are usually not a quick and fix so why not make the most of it? And if you’re going to correct your mistakes, why not do it in style? So now I present…

    The BEST Seam Rippers

    Go ahead, make some mistakes.

    I have owned several of these little mistake erasers. I have found some that I hate and a few that I LOVE (as much as you can love a seam ripper?).  I’ve tried so many thinking it would make the process better. When you’re quilting and learning quilting, you’re bound to make mistakes… but buying the wrong seam ripper doesn’t have to be one of them!

    Let’s start with the No No Seam rippers, shall we? Honestly, if you find a seam ripper for the bargain price of $1… that is a risk you take. It may work just fine for today but in the end, you get what you pay for. You need the blade to be sharp or it will pull your fabric too. You need the pokey part at the end (is there a more formal name for that part?) to be small and not bulky so you can get in the stitches with as little damage to the rest of your project as possible.

    Don’t roll your eyes at me, I’m not saying you have to spend a fortune on the bedazzled one either. Seam rippers are actually among the most affordable tools in your sewing kit. So let’s get started

    These are my favorite seam rippers

    Dritz 5101 Ergonomic Large Seam Ripper – $6.07

    This little purple gem is one of my favorites because the shape is ergonomic and fits well in your hand. You’ll never appreciate an ergonomic seam ripper until you’ve had to rip apart a whole quilt. I speak from a very frustrating ‘learning’ experience. If you’re going to be sitting for a while, this is the route to go. The texture of this one is also non-slip so it stays put in your hands. Bonus!

    Mini Seam Fix Seam Ripper $7.49

    This one reminds my kids of ice cream, but don’t let it’s bubblegum and rainbows exterior fool you. This seam ripper means business. It has your standard pokey/ripper pieces inside. The rubber pieces on the outside work like the back eraser end of a pencil to grip your stray tiny threads and gently pull them out. It’s total magic. So tiny and so cute!

    This gorgeous little bite of terror is something that I’ve wanted to try but just haven’t been able to bring myself to do it (yet). I adore Tula Pink. Everyone I know raves about this seam ripper and how amazing and powerful it feels. Sewing goddess and wielder of the stitches fate. It’s a surgical seam ripper, y’all. A bit scary for the clumsy girl like me. If you’re a seamstress by day and expert surgeon by night, you’ll fall in love with this one! Just be careful, please!

    So when you’re browsing the isles of your craft store or going through the pages on Amazon (one of my favorite places to shop for a good deal) remember that your seam ripper and you are one day going to be forced to become BFFs, whether you choose to or not. You might as well pick one that you’re not going to detest later on.

    Turn on some late night TV shows that you’ve got stored on your DVR and a glass of tea… oh who are we kidding, grab the wine sweetie. You deserve it. Now, go and you show that quilt who is boss. If you like to save the small talk, you may look into adding this shirt to your wish list. You got this!

    *This page contains affiliate links. – That just means that if you make a purchase using my recommendations/links I receive a small commission of the sale at no extra cost to you. I wouldn’t recommend a product that I don’t already own or love. Thanks so much. I appreciate your support and I appreciate you!

  • My FAVORITE Pins for Quilters

    How do you find the best pins for quilters?
    There’s like a jillion different kind of pins at the craft store. There are cheap pins and expensive ones. There are ones that are long, short, silver, gold, some are glass, some are butterflies. AH!

    Does it all just come down picking your favorite color? Or is there a method to the madness?

    Short answer? You CAN pick your favorite color. And yes, there is a bit of method to the madness.

    Let’s get started.

    This post will cover the which pins are best for quilting (and when is it ok to buy pins just because you like the pink ones).

    For Quilting, you’ll want to look for long and strong pins. The shorter ones will not go through as many layers of the quilt without damaging them. And the flimsy or easy bend ones? Don’t even bother. You’ll just end up stabbing yourself more than you need to. Side note: If you can create a whole quilt without pricking yourself once, I’ll give you a medal. 

    It’s also important for them to be brightly colored. You will want them to be easily seen on your fabrics/project as well as your floor (Do I need to explain this one? I think not. ouch.)

    I use these pins all.the.time. BRIGHT YELLOW is super easy to see. They are made by dritz and they are long enough to go through layers of fabric + quilt batting without bunching of the fabric. I never have to worry that it is going to accidentally slip out either. My carpet is a beige color so these yellow pin heads stand out against the dull color easily!

    You can see the difference in the pin lengths below:

    When I’m pinning to my inspiration board or I need one that I can easily grab, I switch to my pretty ones (like the butterfly ones above).

    Pictured below is my absolute favorite because of the way the end curves up. It makes it easy to grab and the colorful tips are easy to spot on your projects. And just look at that magenta! Ah, I love it! (you can snag your own colorful leaf pins here)

    If you’re going to be quilting, you need the longer quilting pins. From there you are free to decide what color and style and how fancy you want to be. For just regular sewing, you are free to use your standard pins. Do you have a favorite style pin? Give me your oPINion in the comments – get it? 🙂 haha… ok ok. I tried.

    Bonus Project idea

    And if you’re looking for a fun way to store all your pretty pins, check out my free tutorial: The Less than 5-minute pincushion! It’s super cute. You’re going to love it!

    This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you make a purchase using one of the links on my page, at no additional cost to you, I receive a small commission of the sale. My opinions are completely my own and I wouldn’t recommend a product if I didn’t already own it and love it!

  • Essential Quilting Rulers & Why You Need Them

    How Do I Know Which Ruler To Buy?

    Why do you need quilting rulers? Which ones should you buy?

    Did you know that quilters of past generations used to use cardboard templates and scissors to cut their precise pieces of fabric? I’m amazed at the accuracy they achieved with that! I don’t know about you, but I feel like its ok to admire their abilities and realize that I ain’t got time for that all in the same breath.

    Modern quilting techniques, mean more modern tools. (yay!) I love my quilt rulers and acrylic template pieces. And me and my rotary cutter? We are total BFFs. (fun fact: the rotary cutter was invented in 1979!Thank you, Yoshio Okada!)

    When I first started out quilting and rotary cutting, I was intimidated by all the ruler options out there – little ones, triangle shaped ones, rulers so big I have no idea where to store it, rulers for curves etc etc. And guess what? Those rulers are EXPENSIVE. Even with all your fancy  40% off coupons, a large ruler can cost you close to $20. You’ll be lucky to find any of them less than $10. Costs can quickly add up.

    So, what do you actually NEED?

    [This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission for each sale at no extra cost to you. I own all of these rulers and purchased them myself, so I would not recommend them if I did not believe they were of good quality!]

    The wondering and confusion ends now.

    We’re going to go over The Essential quilting rulers!

    First of all, you do not need 47 of them right now!  – Your essential rulers will serve two basic purposes and they will get you through many many quilts without having to keep buying more (unless you want to).

    1. Rulers will help with cutting quilt pieces to the correct size
    2. And trim blocks to the correct size before final assembly into a completed quilt top

    There is no need to go clean out the entire ruler isle. You can totally start with just 1 or 2 rulers and work your way up as you begin to desire more advanced quilting techniques.

    Decide which one is going to be the most versatile for your quilting level and then add the others to your Christmas wish list down the road.

    Rulers with the best bang for your buck:

    A Small Rectangle Ruler

    I use this 6″ x 12″ ruler daily for all kinds of projects. I love this one for cutting smaller shapes and strips. The brightly colored lines are easily visible on every single fabric that I’ve tested it with. It’s super lightweight and small enough that I can keep it next to my machine for quick trims or over on my cutting table.

    Even Up Blocks

    Though not technically a “ruler”, I use this 6″ x 6″ even up for measuring a lot of my quilts. When I’m making quilt blocks and I want to make sure my corners are square, I pull out this baby.  It helps me make sure that my blocks are all exactly the same size before piecing them all together. (something I’ve learned NOT to just assume because if you’re wrong, you will spend time with your seam ripper later when things don’t line up) It comes in several other sizes too! (Side note: I love everything that The Gadget Girls carry. The quality of their quilting gadgets and their customer service is out of this world. I highly recommend taking a look at their website.)

    The “Big One” Ruler

    This ruler is a biggie!  Most of your fabric bolts are 44″wide (then they fold them in half ).  This 6″ x 24″ ruler is handy for cutting strips along the whooole width. You can certainly take careful measurements and move your smaller ruler up and down the fabric but this just makes life easier and leaves less room for error. Once you get used to using this ruler, you’ll wonder how you went without it before.

    The “Itty Bitty one” Ruler

    I have like 5 of these things floating around because I could never find the one when I needed it, but I misplace the 5 of them just as often haha. I love this little guy to double check my seams and smaller measurements. It is a cheap one that is easily affordable and indispensable in your sewing arsenal.

    The ruler that is designed for your project

    Sometimes, there is just no way around it. When you want specific results in a particular project, you need to have the right tools. I’ve botched my way through several projects, making due with what I had on hand and fudging my way around here and there. You know what? I should have just bought the darned $15 ruler. I would have saved myself a lot of headaches and frustration. If you can’t afford it right now, borrow from a friend or look up quilt patterns that use the rulers you have on hand.

    What about you? Do you have a favorite ruler that you just can’t live without? Tell me about it in the comments so we can all share the essential quilting rulers!

  • How to master the quarter inch seam

    Mastering the Quarter Inch Seam

    The quarter inch seam. One of the most tedious techniques to master in quilting. I can’t stress enough what a difference it makes when your seam allowances are consistent and your pieces are precisely trimmed! That alone can make the difference of a professional looking quilt vs. an amateur.

    Why is it Important to Sew an Accurate Quarter Inch Seam?

    All professional quilters use it. Your pieces will line up correctly when your seam allowances are even. If seam allowances are off, pieces will not match-up with each other when it’s time to sew everything together.

    Here are a few helpful tips to help you master the quarter inch seam.


    Y’all, this was a game changer for me. When I got my new Janome machine, it came with a big collection of sewing feet. My old machine had 1… ONE FOOT and then I purchased the walking foot so I could quilt. I didn’t know what all the others were for… I found that this foot makes your quarter inch seams almost effortless! Most newer machines will come with a quarter inch foot, but many older machines do not. It is worth the investment if you do not have one. You can pick up your own quarter inch foot for under $10 on amazon by clicking here. This is what you’re looking for:

    The quarter-inch foot allows you to line up fabric with the edge of the foot to achieve a quarter-inch seam. See how nice that is in the photo below?


    A quarter-inch foot will help your seam allowances, but if you don’t have one or you can’t get one… no worries, just tape your machine. This is a total cheap and easy fix you can do RIGHT NOW. I use washi tape (because its pretty!). It doesn’t leave any residue when you want to pull it up. You can use whatever you have on hand. Mark from the edge of your machine all the way leading up to the foot. Then just stay in the lines and make sure you are lining up your fabric right. Be meticulous about it!

    With just a little extra effort, your seams will be perfect! The best way to ensure that you have a real quarter inch seam is to measure what you’ve sewn and improved upon it until you’ve got it right. It may be frustrating at first, but pretty soon you’ll be a pro and the quarter inch seam will be second nature to you.

    Want a new pattern to try out your quarter inch seam guidelines on? Click here. You can join my e-mail list and I’ll send you a beautiful quilt pattern for FREE. It is suitable for the beginner and intermediate level quilter and will have you looking so impressive with your sewing skills!


    *This post contains affiliate links. That means that (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase a product that I link on my website, I will receive a small commission of that sale. I would never recommend a product that I do not already own or LOVE 100%.*

  • The (less than) 5 Minute Giant Pin Cushion

    Hey there! We’re going to talk pincushions today: An essential tool in the sewing space. More importantly, a DIY Giant Pin Cushion!

    I have a pin problem. I love them all and it doesn’t matter how many I have, I always seem to run low on the big projects. So then I just NEED to buy more, you know? Tell me you have that problem too so I know I’m not alone. Anyone?

    I’ve tried everything under the sun from little magnets and bowls and bulky little tomatoes. They all work wonderfully… but can I be honest here? They aren’t all that pretty. There I said it. I feel a bit vain, but it’s out there now.

    It was so easy to make my own… and it is oh-so-pretty! Now you can totally make your own custom pincushion too! Get this… I made it in less than 5 minutes – With things I already had. NO sewing required. And it is HUGE. Like, hold all (or most) of my pins, huge.

    5 Minutes? Yeah, and most of that is gathering your pins and putting them on your new cushion. – Bonus, it even has a handle!! This is almost like finding out your favorite dress has pockets!

    The (less than) 5 Minute Pincushion

    Things you’ll need (and you probably already have)
    1 Large scrap of your favorite fabric. A 10-inch square piece of fabric will work
    1 Large Mug – I got mine from the dollar store because it was cute, but any mug will do.
    A ball of spare stuffing that will fill your mug. You could also use quilt batting or even other scrap fabric you have around.

    1. Place your ball of stuffing in the middle of your square of fabric.
    2. Wrap the fabric around it gathering the edges to one side – think like a  party balloon shape.
    3. Put the material in your mug with the smoothest part of the cotton stuffing ball on the top. All the corners and edges go inside the mug. My mug is clear and you can totally see the stuffed fabric on the sides. There is no science to it or wrong way to go about it. Just cram it in there.
    4. Make sure all raw edges of the fabric are inside of your mug.
    5. Boom. Grab all your favorite pins and go for it!

    Enjoy your new pincushion and change the fabric out whenever your heart desires!

    Until next time… xoxo

    P.S. – What are some of your favorite simple DIY hacks you have made in the sewing room?

    Note: If you make your very own giant mug pin-cushion, I would love to see it! Tag me so I can see your beautiful new creation! #iseestarsquilting