Podcast Episode 5 – Top 10 must-haves for quilt-top making with Marni Franks

Podcast episode 5 Quilting with Marni Franks

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Welcome to The Craft Room!  Today I am joined by Marni Franks, of Frankensteins Fabrics, who is sharing with us the top 10 supplies & tools you will need to create a quilt top. Sure, there are lots of wonderful toys you can buy to make quilts, but we’re talking bare basic necessities.  We’ve each thrown in an honourable mention each, so stay tuned till the end for those.



Buy patterns from reliable sources to ensure that you are not supporting infringement of the pattern designers
copyright/intellectual property . Buy direct from designers where you can. Give feedback to designers where you can. Do not photocopy and share purchased patterns as this is a breach of
copyright/intellectual property and theft. Support designers by telling people where you bought a pattern from.

Sewing Machines

Rotary cutter

The 2 brands I prefer are OLFA and Fiskars. Both companies are super reliable. They both do similar sizes but I love my 45mm ergonomic handled OLFA and my 28mm curvy handled Fiskars. I use them for cutting different things as its easier to do smaller controlled cutting with smaller rotary blades. When I’m cutting large pieces like strips, borders and background squares I always go a bigger blade to make it faster and more efficient.

If you end up doing lots of strip cutting I also recommend purchasing a ruler with a rotary cutter built into it. This is a faster way to cut and protects your fingers from the blade.


Patchwork rulers come in all shapes and sizes. My most recommended sizes for when you are starting out are a 6in x 24in ruler and if you are doing lots of big squares a 12.5in square ruler. I also found quite handy when I started out a small square ruler and there are two sizes which are good depending on your hands – a 4.5in and a 6.5in square. I tend not to be brand specific when it comes to rulers as not every company makes every style of ruler. I do recommend Matilda’s Own, Australian Rulers and Templates, Hobbycraft and Sew Easy. 

Self-healing craft mat

Best recommended brand OLFA. Sizes are small 12in x 18in, medium 18in x 24in and large 24in x 36in. OLFA is by far the best in my opinion as I’ve still got my original mat from 16 years ago and it’s in excellent cutting condition.

1/4in sewing machine foot

This foot is a must for accuracy. Most of these feet will come with a small tongue guide that sticks out of the right hand side of the foot and helps you guide your fabric under the foot while stitching. The guide prevents the fabric from moving further to the right and creating seams that are bigger than 1/4in. There are a few out there that don’t have a guide, so if you feel you want to start your quilting with a little bit of extra help don’t buy one of these.

Your machine feet are purchased from the dealer who sells your machine model. I can help with Bernina and some selected snap on feet (Brother, Janome, Bernette).


When you are first starting out its okay to use cheaper fabrics, however you do run the risk of having issues if the quality is poor. Keep to 100% cotton patchwork fabrics as they are more stable and easier to piece than many other fabrics. Once you’ve gained confidence you can play with other fabric types and compositions.

Marni’s favourite sewing thread

Honestly thread is totally personal preference and selected on the basis of what I want the project to look like. So I tend to piece with Rasant (core spun polyester/cotton blend) and quilt with whatever takes my fancy. Rasant is by far the most economical way to piece quilt tops – there is 1000m on a spool and costs vary from store to store but its around $6-9. It takes me approx. 3 months to use an entire spool when just piecing. If I’m quilting with it however 1 spool will do approx. an entire quilt top and bobbin thread.

My other favourite threads for quilting are Kingstar (machine embroidery thread that’s shiny) and Aurifil. They are more expensive but definitely worth it for special projects.

I used to use a lot of Gutermann threads but the cost became prohibitive so I stopped using them. There is nothing wrong with them, they are fabulous threads and very good quality but when I was making lots of quilts (30 a year at one stage) it just became too expensive.


There are lots of different pins out there but Flower head pins are highly recommended because they sit flat. They are longer than most standard pins and generally are considered sharper as well. I like two brands when it comes to these pins – Clover and Hemline. Clover are the better quality in my opinion but they don’t contain very many pins in a packet so if you do buy them be prepared to be moving pins around your work more often.

Hemline brand are cheap and cheerful. Lots in a packet, brightly coloured and pretty good quality.

Ironing and Ironing Board

Personal preference again – but basically an ironing board with a decent cover and foam, set at a comfortable height. An iron that you can use with or without steam, a good long cord and if possible one that turns itself off.

Special mentions:

Quick unpick/Seam Ripper

Make sure your seam ripper is comfortable in your hand and has a nice sharp blade. If it has a lid, please use it. Always better to be safe than sorry.

Thread Snips

There are a few types of thread snips that I recommend. Cheap and cheerful ones are fine but generally I’ve found that they don’t stay sharp for very long. I do suggest buying a pair that cost a bit more so that you get good use out of them. Spring loaded snips (as well as scissors) are great if you have issues with your hands like arthritis as the spring mechanism takes the pressure off your hands. I have a small spring loaded pair on my long-arm to snip threads as I quilt but when I’m at my sewing machine I prefer a pair of duck-billed scissors. These are mainly used for machine embroidery to get better access for trimming jump stitches.

PRO TIP – Proper seam pressing

Part of the key to gaining accuracy in your finished patchwork item is in the ironing.

It takes practice to not put too much pressure on your fabrics and press them into oblivion. The trick is to lift and press, not to push. Pushing will warp the fabric and make your straight seams bow out of alignment. Check both right and wrong sides of your pieces to ensure that the seam hasn’t “rolled” over onto the joining piece and that all seams are pressed open/or to opposite sides for joining junctions. Steam can be both your enemy and your best friend but use it sparingly until you are comfortable with ironing in this manner.

Check Marni’s blog post for more HERE.

Here are the places you can view Marni’s work and contact her with your burning quilt-related questions …

Website – http://www.frankensteinsfabrics.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/frankiesfabrics

Instagram – https://www.facebook.com/frankiesfabrics

Email – frankensteinsfabrics@hotmail.com

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