My Favorite Longarm Quilting Tools

My Favorite Longarm Quilting tools

Welcome to the last Main Crush Monday party of October. It’s hard to believe that November is only a couple days away – where has this year gone? Some days I wish there was a way to slow things down a bit, but since there isn’t let’s get on with this party!

My Dad always used to say that using the right tools makes any job easier. I grew up hearing that often and I have to say, Dad was right.

So today I thought I would share with you some of the tools that make my job as a longarm quilter easier and more efficient. These are my favorites.

Fine mist spray water bottle. Say what? When loading the backing fabric, I will drape the fabric over the frame and spray it with distilled water before rolling it. The water helps any wrinkles to practically fall out of the fabric, and rolling and smoothing the fabric finishes the job. Voila! No pressing needed! Some of the backings I receive from customers have been folded for a while and are wrinkled pretty badly. I don’t have the time or the space to press these large pieces of fabric, so water misting is a great alternative. If you try it you don’t need to soak the fabric with a lot of water. Just give it a spray with a really fine mist. This was a tip from the guys who set up Freddie, and I’m always impressed with how well it works.

HQ Zinger. This gizmo clips to your shirt and holds a small pair of scissors for trimming threads. The scissors are attached to a retractable string, so when I’m not using them, they stay put and don’t get in my way. This way I always have a pair of scissors when I need them. I’m sure there are other brands available, but I only have experience with the Handi Quilter brand.

Magnetic Pin Pal. When I quilt, I tie and bury a lot of threads. Having a self-threading needle at my fingertips is extremely helpful. Before I found the PinPal I was sticking the needle through my t-shirt to keep it close by. That works, but I’ve lost a needle or two because I forgot they were in my shirt. Uh-oh!  The PinPal has a magnet and fastens to my t-shirt like a magnetic name badge does. Then the needles just stick to the magnet and I have a  needle available whenever I need it. It also sticks to the belly bar of my frame, and to the side of my machine. So if I don’t want to wear the PinPal it can still close by when I’m quilting. It’s strong enough to hold a small pair of scissors but since I use the Zinger I don’t really need it to.

Magnetic Pin Pal

Masking/Painter’s tape. Sometimes when I’m quilting I’ll come across an area that needs attention (i.e. a broken thread or a seam that wasn’t sewn very well), but can’t be taken care of until after the quilt is removed from the frame. I will place a small piece of tape over the area as my way of marking it. The tape stays in place, doesn’t mess with the quilt top, and is easy to find when I unload the quilt and need to find the problem area.

Templates/Rulers. Almost every quilt I work on involves some kind of ruler work. It may be as simple as stitch in the ditch, or more complicated designs. I love my collection of templates and wouldn’t be able to quilt without them. My most favorite ones are the HQ Versa Tool (great for ditch stitching) and a 9″ straight line ruler from Green Fairy Quilts. I also have a few oval ones that I’ve been using a lot lately. HandiQuilter currently has a ruler of the month program and they are offering 6 (one each month for six months) special rulers. There is a larger ditch stitching one that I can’t wait to get my hands on. You can read more about the program by visiting the Handi Quilter website or visiting a participating dealer. (Not an affiliate link)

Some of my favorite rulers

Padded Floor Mat. I always wear shoes when I’m working at my machine. Standing for hours at a time kills my feet. I recently added a padded floor mat and it makes a world of difference. Hubby picked up mine from our local Tractor Supply store. It measured 4 ft x 3 ft. He cut it in half on the long side, making two mats 4 ft x 1-1/2 ft. It fits my workspace nicely, and the half inch of padding feels really good on my feet. I still wear my shoes, so now I have double the protection!

A cushion-y floor mat

So there’s my list of a few of the tools that make my job as a long arm quilter easier. And here’s a bonus tool – my playlist. Putting on some good music makes the time fly by, because I’m so busy wiggling and singing and stitching. It’s a good time, people!

What are the tools that you can’t sew/quilt without? I’d love for you to share them in the comments.

Now it’s time for you to share what has you excited to be in your sewing space this week. What projects are you working on? You can link any blog post, Instagram or Flickr pic – here’s how:

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About Beth

I'm a wife, mother of two, and lover of all things crafty. I love to cook up new things in the kitchen and in my craft room, and sometimes get "licking the spoon" mixed up with "licking the fabric"!!
This entry was posted in Longarm Quilting, Machine Quilting, Main Crush Monday. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to My Favorite Longarm Quilting Tools

  1. Susan says:

    Some great tips there. I hadn’t heard about the water spray, either. The thing I couldn’t live without was free! I cut scrap pieces of leftover batting into about 6 x 8 pieces and stuck one to my shoulder – they were cotton, so no need to pin, but you could. Whenever I found a thread or cut one, I slapped it on my shoulder pad and it became so automatic in ten years, even after I sold the machine, it was a long time before I quit trying to put threads on my shoulder!

  2. Patricia says:

    Thank you for sharing your tips. Though I don’t quilt my own projects, you have given me a great perspective on all the work my LAQ and my daughter (she quilts my smaller projects) go through – plus you provided great ideas for gift giving! Thank you!

  3. Teresa says:

    Hi. Thanks for sharing your ideas. I too am interested in where to find a pin pal, that would be so handy.

  4. I think your dad was SO right about tools. I hate to waste any money, but, I really feel as if I need the best tools I can afford when I quilt. It reduces a lot of frustration and saves time. Great post!

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  6. Patricia says:

    Oh wow! Such amazing little tools! I really like those scissors! Yet another wonderful post that I will forward to my daughter! Thank you for sharing and hosting!

  7. Great tips about your tools! I’m not a long armer, but I like that magnetic needle/pin holder. I also have one of those retractable scissor lanyards.

    One of my favorite tools is a magnet at the end of a long, telescoping rod. It kind of looks like an old fashioned car radio antenna, the ones that we used to retract before driving thru the car wash 🙂 It allows me to sweep under my machine for dropped pins and other metal stuff. It will even pick up small scissors. This tool is easy to find at Home Depot or Harbor Freight and will save you a trip on your hands and knees, looking for a pin!

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  9. Hi, Beth! Thanks for sharing your favorite longarm tips and tools. I bought a Versa Tool from HandiQuilter, too. I like that it has a cutout for the presser foot and little lines on either end so you can line it up with the seam line or whatever. I also bought a few templates from the Gadget Girls that I’m eager to try — a few circles, two sizes of clam shells, an obtuse angle, and a right angle. There were many more I’d like to get (like EVERY CIRCLE AND OVAL THAT EXISTS) and only the price tags and my fear of divorce stopped me from putting them all in my shopping cart. 🙂 Another option that would work even better and faster than your spray bottle is a handheld portable steamer. I have one made by Jiffy that I bought a few years back for maybe $30 or 35. It just melts the wrinkles away.

  10. Tu-Na Quilts says:

    Hi, Beth! These are great tips. I especially like the spray bottle of water one. Spray bottles are not all created equal. I’ll have to check Walmart.

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  12. Bonnie in VA says:

    Great list of items. Where did you get the pin pal? I like to keep that self threading needle on my shirt with the same problem. Hum, I use the misting idea too but I always let the fabric hang and dry. I figure the weight of the fabric is holding it down. Then I roll up and mist again if I need to. It takes a bit longer but it works for me.

  13. Helpful tips Beth! I do many of the same! I have a padded mat at my ironing board. I couldn’t do without my magnetic pin cushion. I will certainly remember the tape trick! Thanks for sharing and hosting MCM!

  14. Denise says:

    Thank you for the tape idea. Normally I use a water soluble marker but if I have other marks on the top for other purposes they get lost.

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  16. Jayne says:

    I couldn’t agree more with you or you Dad! The right tool makes all the difference! From the right ruler, fresh rotary blades to the best sewing machine!

  17. I do the same with a spray bottle, adding a bit of Best press to the water. Works really nicely. I have the floor mats too, wouldn’t be able to quilt without them.

  18. rl2b2017 says:

    Hi Beth,
    Thanks for sharing your tools of the trade! I don’t have a long-arm but many of these tips certainly apply for DSM use as well. I love the idea of the scissor holder, HQ Zinger. I would use that when I cross stitch as well. Also, the magnetic pin holder just makes sense – I have been planning to get one for ages but just never did. I have heard about the fine mist spray bottle before . . . and wonder if I should use one. Hmm. I’ll have to give it a try. ~smile~ Roseanne

  19. Is that a regular spray bottle, or do you find one that says “fine mist”, and where did you find it? For other notions, I keep 2 super cute, empty kleenex boxes–the stand-up, oval-shaped ones, at either end of my LA and put all the threads I cut off in those. Only threads in there. Plus I keep my 120″ tape measure by lark’s head knot over the side of my LA, for handy access. I mainly just use it during loading.

  20. Kate says:

    After a many years of piecing, I finally have my sewing table set up so I can get to my most common tools. The best trick I’ve got is making sure everything goes back to it’s spot so it’s there when I need to grab it again. That has really reduced me looking all over the sewing room (and house) for something I need.

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  22. Liz W. says:

    And to follow up on my comment, I cannot to this day find a decent misting bottle. It seems all the bottles I get, even the ones with great reviews, just squirt a massive dollop of water. But not a fine mist. What brand is your bottle?

  23. Liz W. says:

    Thanks for sharing your tools / tricks! That tip about spraying the backing is wonderful. The worst part about quilting on a longarm, to me, is pressing the backing! I must know more about how you do it. Can you give me a bit more detail?

    • Beth says:

      Hi Liz:

      I picked the water bottle up at Walmart, and I believe it comes in a three pack. I tried several before I got this one, and had the same problem as you with spraying big drops of water. I don’t know that it has a brand name – it says on the front “Sprays at any angle” and it really does!

      As for the process, this is what I do. (When I load my next quilt I’ll take pictures and write a blog post so you can see how I do it.)

      I attach the backing to the backing bar and drape the rest of it over the take up bar, allowing it to hang down over the table. Then I give it a good spray with water. If it’s wrinkled really badly, I’ll spray all over. If it’s not, I’ll just spray on the wrinkles and fold lines. Then I start rolling it on the bar, smoothing it as usual. I keep spraying as I roll it up on the bar.

      If there are a lot of wrinkles I’ll spray it and wait a few minutes before rolling it up – I can see the wrinkles just disappear!

      I hope this helps. I know it’s easier to visualize with pics. I should be loading another quilt tomorrow or Wednesday and I’ll be sure to get some pictures.

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