Sunday, January 23, 2011

9 Tools I Can't Live Without (& You Shouldn't Either!)

1. Shears

Investing in a good pair of shears will make a world of difference in your sewing life. Really, I have no idea how I used plain ol' scissors for so many years. My Ginghers were part of my graduation present from my parents, & they are kind of my best friend now. Twelve layers of corduroy to cut through using only the very tip? No problem! <3

2. Wrist Pin Cushion

Such a simple thing--but it makes sewing so much easier! I made my own using fabric scraps. Tany gave the hint of using a bit of steel wool for the stuffing, to keep your pins sharp. Brilliance! Never will I hold pins in my mouth again! Just make sure you don't try to stick pins in your wrist if you forget you're not wearing it... it's happened to me before! The Long Thread has a cute tutorial.

3. Razor Blade

It will make seam ripping more fun, I promise! Just be careful to not catch your garment fabric at all. Faster & cleaner than a seam ripper!

4. Clear Lightweight Ruler

Mine is 2x18, flexible, and SO useful. It's nice that it's bendy so that you can measure curves, it's good for cutting bias strips, and it's just generally useful to have around. Grid rulers are wonderful, but flexy, 3$ rulers kind of rule. ;)

5. Chalk Roller

This may just be personal preference, but it is so much easier to mark things, particularly straight, defined lines, with a chalk roller. Plus, they're refillable, don't need to be sharpened, & wash out easily.

6. Basting Tape

Use it to put in zippers. It will make you want to hug puppies. Enough said.

7. Tube Turner

Amazing tool. I use it to mostly pull serger tails back into the seam, but of course, it's great at doing what it is named for as well!

8. Rotary Cutter

Not just for quilters anymore! If you have bias tape to cut, layers of fabric, or anything without sharp curves, it's super fun & way quicker and very precise. Use it with a...

9. Self Healing Mat

I don't really know what these are made out of to cause them to work so well, but work they do. You don't get deep gashes or fraying plastic or anything with these boards, which also helps with precision. &, precision is everything. If you can't cut straight, your garment won't hang straight! (I guess that has more to do with grain, but still.)

So these are my favorite tools to get the job done! Do these work for you? What are your own Must Have tools?


  1. Can you show how the tube turner works? I'm a nincompoop and never figured that part out.

    My favorite tool is a stick of beeswax or a piece of white candle, or paraffin. Waxing your thread before hand-sewing makes your life a LOT easier!

  2. It's funny that you posted this Addie! I just posted a HAUL of some similar tools I scored! These indeed ARE a must have!
    Although I haven't used the Basting tape I'd wouldn't even know how to use it. :)
    Funny thing is, I have some that a friend gave me. Haha

    But on my pincushing I find that using batting or scraps of fabric actually dull your pins with time. So my grama said to put a piece of wire wool in the middle of the pincushion for the pins to get sharpen:) cool huh?
    I've also heard of sawdust but I'm not sure how that works XD

    MY fave tools are my rotary cutter and my pinking shears!! I'm addicted cuz I get way less fraying!
    Nice shears Addie!! 4 layers? Woah!

  3. When I taught my best friend to sew, she held pins in her mouth when I wasn't looking. Then, she laughed, and swallowed one.


    That's an uncomfortable emergency room visit right there- they stick a camera and a little grabber down your throat and find the thing to pull it out. If they don't, you risk it perforating your intestine, and a perforated intestine is a very, very, very bad thing. Accessible pincushions = good.

  4. This is a GREAT list. Thanks for all the tips!!

  5. I love my magnetic pincushion. I keep my hand-sewing needles stuck in a piece of soap covered with fabric. It helps keep the needles sharp, and it makes my sewing box smell wonderful. ^_^

  6. Janice - Oh, yeah! Once I find mine (haha) I'll do a quick picture series on it! Oh man, I always forget to do the wax trick, but I've heard it works like a charm!

    Tany - I saw that! You had such good finds, & for so CHEAP! :D Basting tape is incredible, just use it to position the zipper on your seam instead of basting, it's so much quicker! & thank you very much for that tip, good to know! I'll edit the post with that bit of info.

    Corvus - OUCH. What a story! Never, ever doing that, it sounds horrid! She was okay after it all, though, right?

    April - You're welcome! Glad you found it useful!

    Amber - Mmm, magnetic ones are so awesome, you can just toss them on there! & I love the soap idea!

  7. Hehe, I don't have 2,3,5 and 6. I use a generation-T magnetic pin holder I got at biglots.

    To Corvus...I ALWAYS have pins in my mouth while sewing. Thank goodness I've never swallowed any!

  8. what is the difference between sheers and scissors? I don't have any of the things you have listed! oh no =) I shall begin saving...especially for that tube turner!

  9. I have a pair of Gingher scissors, but I always reach for the easy to find orange Fiskars. For marking I've used tailor tacks, carbon, or fabric marking pen. The basting tape looks interesting. I have used plain old scotch tape for marking centered zipper topstitching. I draw a line down the center of the tape, and center it directly over the basted zipper seam. Then I have a topstitching guide.


I love hearing from people! Feel free to leave thoughts, questions, etc. Thanks, dolls!