Friday, September 19, 2014

Sewing is Easier with a Few Nifty Tools

image of 1974 Kenmore portable sewing machine
1974 Kenmore is 40 Years Old and My Primary Sewing Machine

Twentieth century sewing was more difficult than it is today. You’ve seen that with the newest sewing machines and sergers that do stitches we never imagined before the millennium. I had a straight-stitch Singer for 10 years and when I got my Kenmore in 1974, the zigzag was a thrill. So was the automatic reverse. Likewise with the cams I could use for fancy stitches for my baby girl’s clothing.

I’ve buzzed along for 40 years with the same Kenmore sewing machine, and haven’t needed an electronic machine or many new doo-dads. Since I quilt and sew as well as do fabric crafts, I’ve added a few tools to my “notions” that you may not have considered necessary if you sew.

Olfa rotary cutter and C-Thru self-healing mat
Rotary Cutter and Mat

Rotary Cutter and Mat -- Old cutting boards were usually a piece of cardboard with a one-inch grid. Add a self-repairing mat and a rotary cutter to make sewing easier. A large mat and a small one are most useful, as you don’t have to clear the table completely to use the small mat. This isn’t for dressmaking, as nothing works better than your old cardboard cutting board and a pair of scissors for following a curvy pattern. If you make home d├ęcor like curtains, drapes, pillows or bedspreads, you need the rotary cutter and mat for more accurate and easier cutting. Gingher, Fiskars and Olfa all make rotary cutters now, and Olfa makes a pinking blade for a rotary cutter.
Silver colored lightweight metal needle threader
Needle Threader is Inexpensive and Useful

Needle Threader -- If you don’t have a needle threader because you have excellent eyesight, you’re missing out on a handy tool to thread your sewing machine as well as the hand sewing needle. Maybe your machine has an auto-threader -- but I can thread a needle the first time every time with an ordinary needle threader and good glasses. A built-in needle threader for sewing machines doesn’t seem to be an improvement over the fine wire needle threader I’ve used for years.

Seam Ripper is an Essential Tool for Sewing
Strong Glasses -- Sometimes drugstore glasses are better than your prescription ones. I have a pair of 3.50 magnification that are about the strongest I’ve seen available at the local stores. I leave them at the sewing table and use them only when doing close work. They have saved me hours of time with threading, accurate sewing and (occasional) ripping.

Seam Ripper -- Rippers have been available for years. If you thought you didn’t need one, now is the time to treat yourself to a sharp ripping tool for removing stitching mistakes and old seams for alterations. It’s an indispensable tool for sewing, crafting or needleworking. 

Right Angle -- A right angle isn't just a quilting tool. It helps you cut on the grain by lining the edge with the selvedge, and it is useful for many crafts. You can make a right angle from cardboard, or purchase one at Hobby Lobby, Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics or Hancock.
Cardboard commercial right angle ruler in package
A Right-Angle Ruler is Handy for Crafters, Quilters and Seamstresses

Other Notions -- A quilt basting spray holds pieces into place on one another, and a fray checking solution will keep your fabrics from fraying while you work. Sometimes it's just easier to pin items in place or zigzag stitch around the edge, but occasionally, these products are handy. Pinking shears are not essential, but are sometimes useful as well, but there's nothing worse than a cheap pair of pinking shears. The chew the fabric -- so you might as well have it frayed. I keep a crochet hook on hand when I sew, and use it as a bodkin to make points sharp when I turn a belt or a craft item. A knitting needle will work just as well to push in the corners to get them sharp.

Think through what you could use to speed your sewing or make it easier, or take a look on the notions wall at your local fabric, craft or hobby shop. New items are available and many aren't necessary or very useful, but a useful tool can save time and errors. Make your sewing, quilting and crafting easier by using notions suited to your style.

See you soon!

Cajun Collection