Tools of the Trade

I don’t want to spend tons of money on tools and equipment to do crafting, however, some tools are very useful, like the rotary cutter, which can be used for numerous projects. It is far less frustrating and tiring using the rotary cutter for me than scissors. Below are some tools I think are very useful to purchase and why.

A great pair of scissors is important for any crafter. Especially when working with fabric. It’s the difference between cutting straight, easily, safely, without pulling or damaging the fabric and not. There are a number of brands so just go with what feels right for you. If you’re a lefty, you must have a pair of left handed scissors!

Rotary Cutter/Cutting Mat/Quilter’s Ruler/Mat Smoother
The rotary cutter is a fairly inexpensive tool according to which size you purchase. The 45mm is the standard which does just about everything. It allows you to quickly and accurately cut through fabric, paper, and even cardboard. I use the Olfa. I have no experience with any of the other brands so I can’t compare it. I have not had any problems with mine and the blade is easy to change, I love mine. I typically cut through fleece (two layers thick) and the blade stays sharp for yards and yards and yards of fabric. You can also get a pinking blade for this cutter in the 45mm size. Not all rotary cutters are compatible with pinking blades. It was enough after making two no-sew throws for me to purchase a rotary cutter and mat!


Olfa Rotary Cutter 45mm blade

The expense comes in the the cutting mat. According to which size you purchase, they can be an investment. Mats can be 6″ x 8″ all the way up to 35″ x 70″. I personally have a 24″ x 36″ (I wish I had that 35×70!) This size is useful for most projects and it fits nicely on my small dining room table. The one thing about the cutting mat that is important, is to take care of it and it will last a long time. And only buy it when you can get it for 30-50% off, such as at Joanne.

The quilter’s ruler is used to measure and provide a straight edge and is typically used in conjunction with the rotary cutter to cut the fabric. The rotary cutter glides along the edge of the ruler to give you a straight sharp edge to your fabric.

I also highly recommend the Rotary Mat Smoother to clean and care for your mat. Gently rub the stone back and forth over the mat to remove fabric fibers and smooth out the cuts from your rotary cutter. Your mat will last a long time.


Cutting Mat, Quilter’s Ruler, and Rotary Mat Smoother

Pom-Pom Makers
I love my pom-pom makers. Years ago I used to use my hand or a cardboard form, and they can still be used, but the plastic forms make it easy and each pom-pom is mostly uniform to the other. They come in different sizes and usually come in a pack together. I have the Clover brand which includes the  35mm (~1.5″), 45mm (~2″), 65mm (~2.5″), and 85mm (~3.5″) pom-pom makers. These measurements are all approximate as it depends on the type of yarn or wool you’re using and how many times you wrap it, so pom-poms can vary in size. When done, you’ll need to trim your pom-poms so they look even and nice.


Pom-pom Makers (35mm, 45mm, 65mm, and 85mm)

Glue Gun
A glue gun is a basic tool to have in your arsenal. It can help glue together broken pottery, fix drawer fronts, make crafts…. almost anything you can think of that needs attaching. Glue guns are either low temperature or high temperature, and some are even multi-temp. I have never used the low temp glue gun but the high temp one works great for most crafts.

If you already have a glue gun, whatever temperature it is, I would suggest using that instead of buying another. Mine is decades old. That being said, it all depends on the project and the materials you’re using.

High Temperature Glue Gun

High Temperature Glue Gun

High temperature hot melt glue sticks are perfect for materials that require instant grab and a strong bond. They give you a longer working time so you can more easily place and move materials such as wood, fabric, florals, metal, plastics, and some polyolefins.

Low temperature hot melt glue sticks can be used on sensitive materials that may melt or distort from too much heat, such as thin foil or polystyrene foam (Styrofoam®).  It’s also the right choice when working with thin or delicate materials like burlap where high temp glue could seep through and burn your fingers.

Just remember to purchase the correct glue sticks for your gun. The diameter of the stick and whether it is for low, high, or multi-temp is marked clearly on the packaging. Some glue sticks are also offered in glitter, color, and for wood work.

When regular glue is preferred or required instead of a glue gun, I like Beacon’s FabriTac®.

Beacon's FabriTac®

Beacon’s FabriTac®

This glue is great for fabric, leather, wood, metals, foam, almost anything. I use it to glue pom-poms onto a polystyrene foam wreath. It’s also washable so it’s great for things like tree skirts or quick fixes to clothing.