These are the tools I find most essential for cutting, piecing and quilting. These might actually be my most useful tools for any sewing project. And some of them are useful for other kinds of craft projects like cutting paper or measuring stuff. So check 'em out!
1. Self-Healing Cutting Mat
A self-healing cutting mat is essential whether you're using a rotary cutter on fabric or an exacto blade and paper. The mat will protect your work surface from being damaged by the blade. As you can see from mine above, the mat does reveal wear and tear over time. This mat is probably over 10 years old and I use it all the time. Considering that, it's still in pretty good shape. This mat is the type sold in art supply stores and is a little thicker than the ones found in the quilting supply section of the craft store. I also have a thinner cutting mat but I find myself only using the more heavy duty one. Mine is 24 x 18 inches which works well for most projects. I occasionally find myself wishing for something larger but it would be a nuisance to store.
2. Transparent Grid Ruler
This is the best kind of ruler for cutting precise geometric pieces of fabric or even paper. I mostly use my 6 x 12 inch but when I'm cutting a longer piece of fabric I use a 6 x 24 inch ruler. There are lots of different sizes but I've been perfectly satisfied with these two. If I were to buy another, it would be a square, larger than 6 inches.
3. Rotary Cutter
This little blade works like a pizza cutter. Using this along with your self-healing mat and your transparent ruler, you'll be able to quickly and accurately slice up fabric. The blades are easily replaced by unscrewing the the center nut.
I invested in a Rowenta iron a few months ago and it's so nice. Ironing is essential whether you're making quilts or making clothes. I couldn't live without mine.
5. 1/4 inch piecing foot
This sewing machine foot is built to scale so you can easily stitch a 1/4 inch seam. Simple as that. A 1/4 inch seam is the standard for most quilting projects. Why is it important? If you veer from that measurement, your design mat not fit together correctly and it will look wonky and you'll be sad.
6. Quilting foot
This little gem helps you sew layers of fabric together by moving the top layer of fabric just as the feed dogs move the bottom layer of fabric. Without it, your fabric could get stretched out and yucky on the top layer. This foot is also great for sewing knit fabrics.
7. Long straight pins
Ever since I started using these luxurious long pins with lovely colorful beaded heads, I've known I could never go back to a little stubby pin. These pins are easy to pick up and handle and hold the fabric together steadily. What more could you ask for?
8. Small Scissors
Use these little snips to trim threads at the machine. It's so much easier to pick up a small pair for quick clip than a bulky full size one. And a small pair of scissors fits nicely on a crowded sewing table.
9. Disappearing ink fabric pen
Well, how can you not want a disappearing ink pen? Use this pen to mark your stitching lines when stitching across the interior of a fabric.
10. Seam Ripper
We all make stitching mistakes from time to time to all the time (or so it seems some days). The seam ripper will get rid of them. Invest in one with an ergonomic handle and you won't regret it.
Is there anything I left out? What tools can you not live without?