>My Top List of Sewing Tools and Gadgets

>It really is remarkable what a simple little tool can do.  These gadgets can save time or simply make sewing a joy!  In no particular order, here’s some of my favorites:

1- Invisible Zipper Foot.  This little darling is one of the most useful pieces of plastic I have ever run across.  It saves an amazing amount of time.  Especially if, like me, your previous encounters with invisible zippers included several attempts at insertion and having a war between the fabric and seam ripper.  Speaking of which- the best advice I have for invisible zippers is to put them in before you finish the side seam.  No joke.  It makes it SO much easier.  Here’s a great blog post about putting in invisible zippers

2- Piping foot.  While we’re on the subject of feet I might as well list a few more.  I am SO sad I misplaced this foot.  I think I will go buy a replacement one right now, because the piping and I have been having wars since it was lost.  I’m in the middle of making my husband a western shirt and it looks so homemade- and I know it’s mostly because of my total dependence on my piping foot for nice seams. *Sighs*  So yes, if you love piping, piping feet are awesome.  And making your own piping is really a fun way to add an extra finishing touch to your project.  I use Peaches and Cream cotton yarn that’s been prewashed, then sandwiched between bias fold.  More on that here.

3- Pintuck Foot.  I swear I’ll resist the urge to list more fancy sewing machine feet after this.  But really, if you’re interested in making dainty underthings or lingerie style blouses, this is such an amazing time saver.  Just remember to cut your pieces a little bigger to accommodate the tuck width (don’t want your blouse too small after all that work) and use a twin needle with two top threads.  I like all my sewing feet to be clear plastic, if I can help it, or a combination of plastic and metal.  I love the ability to see what the fabric’s doing all the way until it hits the needle, but metal vs plastic is just a matter of personal preference.

4- Cotton Basting Thread.  I was completely unaware of the pure and utter joy I was missing before the tailor I worked under at the opera opened my eyes to the glory of cotton basting thread.  If sewing is a sensory experience for you (as it is for me) this stuff is so soft and so lovely, and it holds things SO WELL because it’s not made of slippery synthetic fibres like most modern threads.  It’s a must for working with wools.  It’s really hard to find, especially since tailoring is such a lost art, but I bought mine here.

5- Buttonhole Gauge.  A completely different animal than the seam gauge (which is also handy, but not as nifty), this thing will save you LOTS of time, especially if math leaves you scratching your head.  Want five buttons that start 1/2″ down from the collar and end 2″ above the hem?  Just mark those two spots, then stretch this little gizmo until five of the points are spaces on your garment, and trace in the holes.  It’s handy for pleating, too.  Totally awesome.

6- Loop Turner.  I know this is pretty standard, but I do NOT miss the days of turning my loops or running my elastic through a casing with a safety pin.  This thing is cheap.  There’s really no reason why any sewing kit wouldn’t have one.  I hear they have a flexible one, too, that can go into curves.  That’s on my wish list.

7- Magnetic Pin Cushion.  I’ve used these my whole life, since my mom taught me early about the joy of sewing gadgetry.  If you’re a klutz like me, this is a great way to gather up those pins you’ve dropped on the table/floor/chair/lap, without having to pick up each individual one.  Only two cons- when I forget and stick my hand sewing needles in there and have to dig for them (why do those things always go missing?) or if you drop it… it’s like a pin bomb and they fly everywhere.  But other than that, they’re great.

8- Silk Pins.  It took me a long time to warm up to the idea of different pins, but I can seriously vouch for the fabulousness of shiny, new, pointy, thin, pins when working with delicate fabrics.  Words to the wise- use a microtex fine machine needle and change it often when working with delicates, make sure your machine is oiled, and use silk pins to prevent snags.  Nothing like snagging your fabric simply by pinning it before you sew it.  Seriously, pins are so cheap, you should be throwing out your bent and dull ones anyways.  Really.  Not snagging nice fabric is worth throwing away the old and dull pins.

9– Seam Ripper– the Clover brand one with the white handle.  Simply the best seam ripper I’ve found to date, and funnily enough, it’s usually in the quilting section of fabric chains.  I strongly dislike thos
e standard seam rippers with the blue handles.  Their points are just too thick to get into tiny stitches.  This one is super pointy, very narrow, and can get into those teensy stitches- but just make sure you don’t put a hole in your fabric.  Since we were on the subject of dull things- I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that just because I HAD a seam ripper, didn’t mean it didn’t need replacing.  Ripping seams is such a pain anyways, you might as well get a sharp ripper to cut down on the time it takes to take out the seams and the frustration of using a dull ripper.

10- Sleeve Board.  These are great! They fold up for easy storage, and they are narrow enough to get into sleeves to press underarm seams open without leaving those pesky press lines on either side of the sleeve.  Fabulous tool.  I need another one since mine finally bit the dust.

Well, I suppose I could go on, but we’ll leave it at ten today!  What about you?  What sewing tools can you not live without?

These images were borrowed from the internet and are the property of their prospective owners.  This post is simply to share the joy of gadgets and is not for profit.

14 Comments on >My Top List of Sewing Tools and Gadgets

  1. Lauren
    September 16, 2010 at 8:03 pm (14 years ago)

    >What a helpful list! Thank you :) I admit my cry of amazement when I saw the button gague was possibly an over reaction but I am definately going to buy one! Genius invention.

  2. Brittany_Va-Voom Vintage
    September 16, 2010 at 8:47 pm (14 years ago)

    >excellent list! I couldn't agree more about pins! I am always pitching my yucky pins and buying new ones. It's like new socks, that first time you use them is always the best! My husband doesn't get the new pin obsession, but oh well! I survive on my seam ripper too! :P Must get a piping foot (oooohh, aaahhh!)

  3. Steph
    September 16, 2010 at 10:47 pm (14 years ago)

    >Wow, I never saw a buttonhole gauge, but now I HAVE to have one. I'll see if I can get work to order them in.

  4. dancingwithpoodles
    September 16, 2010 at 11:07 pm (14 years ago)

    >Great list! My invisible zipper foot was just short of life-changing. Also, I've been using pins handed down by my mother and a neighbor…it's probably time to buy some new ones!

  5. Beth
    September 17, 2010 at 12:40 am (14 years ago)

    >I can't even imagine trying to insert an invisible zipper without the foot! I love invisible zippers – with the foot they're so much easier to do than regular zippers. I'm also a fan of the magnetic pincushion and the sleeve board. I don't have a ham, so I use the sleeve board to help press curves, too.Do you have a source for the buttonhole gauge? My boss has one that we all share, but I'd love to get my own personal one. We haven't been able to find them, though.My one other can't-live-without sewing tool is my little thread scissors – I put a cord on them and hang them around my neck, and then I don't have to go searching for them at the end of every seam. I use them instead of seam rippers sometimes, and they're the right size for clipping curves.

  6. Wearing History
    September 17, 2010 at 1:07 am (14 years ago)

    >I'm so glad you all like the list! YAY.Beth, good one- I used to do that- I think I need to start again… maybe I can figure out how to do it without stabbing myself ;) I bought my buttonhole gauge in the garment district in downtown LA- there's a place near the California Market Center- I think on 9th? Maybe 8th? It sells sewing machines and thread and zippers mostly, but it has all sorts of neat toys and gadgets. I did find it online, apparently called the Simflex Sewing Gauge. Here's one listing:http://www.voguefabricsstore.com/store/product.php?productid=10065

  7. Chole
    September 17, 2010 at 2:10 am (14 years ago)

    >Oh my gosh, I do the same as Beth & hang my scissors around my neck too! I was going to say it's my #1 favorite "tool". No more lost scissors no matter where I am sewing.Second is a good block of pure bees wax. I hand sew a lot so it's indispensable but it's also a nice sensory "touch" to my sewing. When mine gets too mangy, I just pop it into a muffin tin & remelt, pulling off all the thread bits before it cools again.My third and final favorite tool is the Coats & Clark Sewing Gage which I found in my great-grandmothers sewing box. It's just a tiny little red plastic "square" thing but it has every measure from 2" – 3/8" on it. It's so easy to just line up & measure something without pulling out a huge ruler. Perfect for those little lengths and seams. I've never seen one in a store so maybe they aren't made any longer, in which case I'd better never loose this one!http://dewittco.com/storefront/xcart/catalog/Unused-Vintage-Coats–Clark-Sewing-Gauge-in-Original-Package-p-703032754.html

  8. Iknowkaratevoodootoo
    September 17, 2010 at 6:22 pm (14 years ago)

    >I some how don't have a loop turner… and really should get one!!My favourite tools are my Iron (it's called the "Steam Storm"… and for good reason!) and my tailors press. I could not live with out that handy little thing! People always ask me what the heck it is… and then I go off on a tanget about how in love with it I am!-karlie

  9. merel
    September 18, 2010 at 3:40 pm (14 years ago)

    >I found your blog a couple weeks ago and I´m in love with your blog. I love it when I found christian sisters on blog world and I love what you doing. Thanks for that.Thanks for being special on your own way.

  10. NewVintageLady
    September 19, 2010 at 5:01 am (14 years ago)

    >6, 7, and 10 are a MUST. I love, LOVE mine! Great list!Ive been thinking about a pin tuck foot forever. I have one on my watch list on eBay for about two months now, that and a walking foot and a 1/8" hemming foot. Oh gadgets!

  11. Time Traveling in Costume
    September 20, 2010 at 1:53 am (14 years ago)

    >Thank you for the suggestion of the Clover brand seam ripper. I use rippers ALOT, and I hate those blue ones for the exact same reason. I'm using a teeny tiny one now since it's the only one thin enough to work decently. I tried one of those seam rippers that came with a light bulb & it's a great idea for those dark fabrics. But one day while pushing down the top button to turn on the light, instead I poked the ripper point deep into my thumb. Don't recommend those any more at all! Val

  12. quietandsmalladventures
    September 20, 2010 at 2:50 am (14 years ago)

    >oh this was fantastic!! as a total n00b sewist, i didn't know about some of the magical gadgets to help me! now to learn how to figure out what feet i have (and how to use them!)…..

  13. casey
    September 20, 2010 at 10:52 am (14 years ago)

    >Great list! I really need to get an invisible zipper foot–I tend to avoid those because it always ends up being a huge pain to get them in right the first time! :p I think I also need to break down and buy the buttonhole gauge; I've been eying those for years…I honestly feel like a bit of a newbie with sewing gadgets–even though I've been sewing for most of my life! I made it on just the basics for a long, long time (poor teenager/constantly broke college student–you know how it goes!). I'm finally investing in gadgets here and there that are making my sewing experience even more fun and relaxing! Right now I'm totally in love with my loop turner (why did I wait so long?!) and the vintage Dritz bound buttonhole device. Oh, and a brand new pair of pinking shears; the ancient ones I had were in serious need of replacement 5 years ago, and I finally got a new pair last Christmas. ;) ♥ Caseyblog | elegantmusings.com

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