“What are YOUR favorite sewing notions? Which ones should I buy?” This is a question several of my new sewing students (and their mothers) have asked me lately. Sew…I decided to really survey what I grab all the time to use as I sew. Let’s put it this way – when I go to a sewing retreat in Texas with my sister in August, these are the sewing tools/notions I will FOR SURE take with me – and WHY. Each heading is a LINK – because, guess what – I sell these tools at my website. Some, I have overstock on right now – so they are ON SALE.
I tell my students – you may as well learn to UN-Sew, because it is just a necessary evil – you WILL have to rip. This one fits in my hand just right. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it for ripping. How to rip? On one side, rip through a stitch every 3/4″ or so. Then the thread on the other side should just pull off.
To remove any left-over thread pieces, grab any left-over threads, the Japanese TWEEZERS from Clover.
Side note: these are the BEST eyebrow tweezers you’ll EVER find!!! So – treat yourself to 2 of them!
To SAFELY push out corners so that they are nice and pointed – there is no better tool than this one. I know, it kinda looks like the beak sharpening thing in a bird’s cage… Try it, you’ll love it.
This tool is indispensable for getting curved seams ‘on edge’ and I even use the flat end for working out corners as well. I have about 5 of these in our ‘tools’ for making the shields for the Days for Girls feminine hygiene kits (Charity that I head up in town and that ‘has my heart’ – read about it at my March Blog Post HERE).
This gadget seems to just work quick and easy for turning any tube inside out. And inexpensive compared to the ones with the fancy tubes – which I have as well, but this one just works for me in most cases.
Though I hate to admit it, threading needles for regular hand stitching on a garment is not an easy task any longer. This tool works GREAT and is worth every penny. My favorite hand sewing needle is an Embroidery size 8 – for what it’s worth.
My young students love these as well as I do. Honestly, you can just throw your pins toward it and it just pulls them – not to mention pulling them from the scrap pile on the floor! The pins radiate out from the center, making it just so easy to grab them.
While the Zirkel magnet thing is great, I also love this LARGE, flat-bottomed wad of wool that naturally lubricates my pins with lanolin. I keep this one at my ironing station, so most pins get some lubrication along the way.
This is the best deal on quality pins I have found. Formerly known as IBC (Imported by Clotilde, the package now sometimes comes saying ‘Annie’s’. they are sharp, fine, but not too fine and work in everything from fine silks to the sweat-shirting I so often work on. I NEVER use the old ‘dressmaker silk pins’, as they are just TOO small and whimpy for my liking.
Chakoner & Refill in White – $17.95
In my book there is absolutely NO easier and more dependable and safe marker than this one that has a very fine wheel that dispenses the chalk. From Japan, it is just the BEST! The chalk lasts forever, and with the refill, most sewers will be set for several years. Though the company sells colored chalk as well, I don’t find that it removes – so I stick with the white. My top-selling item, hands-down! In my Sunroom Sewing Studio, I have one at each cutting station, each ironing station, and at my sewing station. THIS one is labeled LR for MINE at my cutting station.
I use these large large eyed blunt needle for ‘tucking tails’ of serging and for burying ends of couched yarns/threads on my sweatshirt jackets. I love that there are 3 different sizes in the package, and it comes with a nice case with cap so I can keep track of them.
This is my absolute favorite for marking, measuring when doing pattern alterations. It is just lighter weight and easier to read than the larger heavier rotary cutting rulers.
Never cringe when you have to space buttonholes when you have this tool on hand. My carpenter-in-training son-in-law will get one of these in his Christmas stocking, as I’ve had many tell me that their husbands love them for woodworking. This thing just easily divides any span evenly. INGENIOUS!
Replacing the old Beeswax, this thread lubricant makes hand sewing much easier – and I always teach my students about it.
I have 2 ironing boards in my Studio. One is my late mom’s board with her ironing board cover that REALLY needs replacing, but I just can’t make myself do it. It just seems like ‘her’ there with me. BUT – the other one, I always keep covered with this nice PLAIN duck tan colored ironing board cover. And, no, I do not successfully wash it – I just replace it. Just a luxury I give myself…but I just like a PLAIN cover.
Schmetz Sewing Needles – prices are what I sell them for, which is much less on many than ‘regular’ pricing at Jo-Ann’s.
These are the types/sizes that generally fill my needs. Though there are other, more specialized needles I also use, these are the most-often used needles for the fabrics with which I most often work:
Stretch size 75/11 ($4.99) and Twin Stretch 4.0/75 ($5.99) to sew all my knit garments.
Microtex 60/8 and 80/12 ($3.75) for anything fine, delicate. This is a sharp needle. Smaller size for lightest fabrics.
Denim/Sharp size 90/14 ($3.95) for anything heavier – like denim.
Cutting Mat and Rotary Cutter/Blades & Scissors
Scissors: OK – 9-year-oldyear old and up students PREFER a rotary cutter and ruler for cutting! Me too! Why? Because things stay FLAT instead of being raised with a cutting shears. This is for cutting accurately, cutting things out to sew. There’s always a place for scissors – and for those I swear by KAI Scissors. I used to sell them, but can’t compete with the pricing out there. Just GET YOU SOME! I like the 5135 for at the machine and the 5220 for large work. 5165 is inbetween. I have each of these – several pairs – each at different ‘assigned places’ in my Studio.
Cutting Mat: To use a rotary cutter, you need a BIG mat – if you’re doing clothing. The smallest I would get would be the 32″ x 60″ ($81.00), available HERE. This one fits on a 6′ x 30′ table you can get most anywhere. Put the table on bed risers to get it to the proper height. For my Horn cutting table, I like the 40″ x 72″ ($138.00). I sell these both frequently but please note in the description, that you have to agree to pay the actual shipping. If you can find them on sale where you don’t have to pay shipping, go for it! Mine are kinda milky translucent – ‘pinnable’, meaning you could stick a pin in. They last a long time, but even these need to be replaced eventually. I’ve finally ‘retired’ the ones I used in my shop – which I closed in 2003!
Rotary Cutter: My favorite is the Olfa Ergonomic Rotary Cutter – 45mm. ($31.50) I think it is safest because you have to squeeze it to make the blade come open and work, and it is lockable. One year into my teaching kids again and NO ONE has had anything but a teeny knick in using them. Then, I DO scare them into safety telling them that I faint at the sight of blood (almost true – ask my hubby!). I have preferred the Roll the Gold Titanium Blade. 9$49.95 package of 10.
Honestly I don’t know if the quality of these blades has changed, or if it is just because they are cutting SO MUCH flannel in my studio with the Days for Girls project, but they don’t seem to last as long as they used to. I’ll try to watch that more closely, and report back.
The WAVE BLADE ($11.29) is another one I’m frequently using on edges on lots of my knit un-hemmed garments. I just think it looks more ‘finished’.
There you have it – what I’ll be packing to go to the retreat with me. The ‘hard’ tools, not actually incorporated into a garment are the ones I’ve listed above. Perhaps I’ll do another post later with the ‘soft’ items like fusible web, interfacing, etc. that I find indispensable.
Just like the kids go get their school supplies, maybe it is time you treat yourself to some of these for your ‘work’.
What would you add to this list? What are YOUR favorite notions/tools? Please share them below – we’d all love to know!
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