Quilt Tools to Save Time and Money

Here are some of my favorite quilt tools that help me save time and money….and keep my fingers safe!

Do you have favorite tools?  Post in the comments what it is and why you like it.

NOTE: I purchased the items reviewed here with my own funds–no affiliate links. Check with your local quilt shop FIRST before buying online.  Thanks for supporting local businesses.

[divider]Seam Ripper Deluxe

I love my Bohin™ Seam Rippers because they are super sharp.  They seem to hold that sharp edge a long time–or maybe I just don’t have to use them much for un-sewing (ahem…..smile….ROFL!).  They come in several really cool colors–which makes them easy to find in the sewing notions drawer.

[divider]Olfa™ Rotary Cutter–automatically retracts!

I’ve posted about this tool on Instagram and elsewhere. It automatically retracts when you release it after cutting. It works for lefties as well as righties because you can mount the blade on either side. I have a bit of arthritis in my thumbs and I still find this cutter very easy to use.

When I purchased this cutter, I THREW OUT all those other cutter handles.  I don’t care how cute the others are….when you lay them down on your table with the cutter blade still out, you risk cutting yourself.  (Ask me how I know……). The little red button will lock it closed for safety when transporting in your sewing case.

Also, there’s much less risk of me cutting my finger deeply when I use this blade handle.  If I hit my finger, or even see I’m getting too close,  I automatically flinch and move my hand so that the black handle retracts the blade quickly.  That way, any cut should be potentially less deep or severe.

[divider] Fusible Batting Tape

OK–how many times have you been left with smallish cuts of that expensive batting–or have a large piece that is 10 inches too short for the next quilt?  Sewing the pieces of batting together with a wide zig zag stitch is one answer BUT it just seemed like more time consuming work to me.  Plus, sewing batting left tons of lint in my sewing machine–which led to more cleaning work.


Then, I found fusible batting tape.  It goes on with a dry medium iron in about 3 seconds.  It comes in white and black.  Genius product!  One roll lasts quite a while and it saves me many times what I paid for a roll of it.

[divider] 3M Tape for Rulers

Most rulers are very slippery and can cause inaccurate cutting.  If your rulers slip, go to the Pharmacy aisle at your local grocery store and buy this semi-transparent first aid tape.  It is sticky on one side, and slightly rough on the other side.  Put tape on the wrong side of the ruler.  It’s easy to see through and makes the ruler less slippery.  I like it better than any other notion for slippery rulers.

[divider]Rotating Cutting Mats

I love my rotating mats!  I can cut a block from different directions without having to move my ruler. I just spin the mat around. It’s great for squaring up blocks as well.

I have 3 in different sizes so I can cut any size block needed. Olfa makes several, but so do several other companies.

My largest is my square 17 inch Olfa™ mat.


My favorite is my Martelli™ round mat.  I can cut a fairly large block — up to 10 inches square.  It takes up less space on my cutting table AND it comes with a pressing surface. I use the pressing surface at retreats and workshops when personal irons are allowed.

[divider]Prewound Bobbins

OK, I think the prewound bobbin is an awesome notion.  My favorites are from Superior Threads.  I like the SoFine!™ 60 wt. in the bobbin.

If you’ve been in my workshop, you know that I use  yellow as my piecing thread in the needle and the bobbin. The color was recommended by Gyleen Fitzgerald who pointed out that yellow is so much easier to see.  Superior’s 50 wt. in the cone is a nice fine thread that sinks into the seam without a trace even when I piece dark fabrics.

I usually buy the large box of 72, but you can buy a dozen in many colors.

Yes….I recycle the empty plastic bobbins.  I also saved a few to wind with other threads for quilting.

[divider]Thread Stand Holder

Superior Threads also makes a very handy thread holder.  It’s light weight but steady and has a small ‘footprint’, taking up less space on my machine table.

Easy to assemble. comes with adapters to hold different sizes of cones or spools.
My thread cone holder at home with a cone of Superior Threads 50 wt. Color #419 and a box of prewound bobbins in assorted colors.

2 thoughts on “Quilt Tools to Save Time and Money”

  1. Hi Carole! Some nifty items here. Some I have and some I want. That said, I bought the retractable cutter…AFTER cutting myself! I have to say that it just doesn’t seem to work so well for me. I don’t feel it gives me the same control. Any thoughts?
    As always, thanks for your tips and inspiration!
    Valorie Webster…@facetfully

    1. Hi Valorie,

      I was fortunate and I didn’t have a problem with the retractable cutter in terms of control.

      Here are a few things you might try. First of all, practice with it on scrap fabrics with your favorite rulers. Maybe it will take some getting used to.

      Here’s a yuotube video on assembling the cutter. Make sure all the parts are in the right order. https://tinyurl.com/y9naprzv

      Assembly Video

      If you are left handed, you can switch the setup–putting the blade on the other side. In other words, I usually set my cutter up so the blade is on the left side left because I am right handed.

      Make sure the blade isn’t too tightly or too loosely wound on to the cutter. I’ve made that mistake a couple of times so the blade didn’t turn properly. It should turn free and smooth.

      Take the cutter apart and make sure there’s nothing caught in the mechanism like fuzz or even a tiny piece of fabric. I try to clean mine every few days.

      I usually use the 45 mm size–is that the size you are using? I only use the 60 mm size if I am cutting a stack of fabric (more than 4 layers).

      Adjust your grip–are you holding it too tightly or too loosely? Are you gripping it too close to the blade area or too far away?

      Also, check your cutting mat. If it is old or heavily used, it probably has micro-indentations, that might be causing your cutter to wobble. Try different mats to see if that might be the problem.

      Finally, every once in a while, even a new blade is a dud. Try changing the blade to make sure it is sharp.

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