Good evening, friends! I had intended to take you on a “before-and-after” tour of my sewing room, but the before pictures are, well, just embarrassing. And we haven’t quite gotten to “after” yet. I have too many sewing projects going for that. It’s one of my New Year’s resolutions, you know — finish all the unfinished sewing projects. I’ve knocked out two already, almost three, but we’re not there yet.
Instead, today we’ll talk about my “most favoritest” sewing tools. As most of you know, I have a Bachelor of Science from Lipscomb University, in Textiles & Apparel and Fashion Merchandising (and was valedictorian, too). I’m also a bit of a gadget fiend. I think that, at one time or another, I’ve tried out almost every item on the notions wall at the fabric store. And some items that I’ve had to special order. You know, the things that, when you ask for them at your local craft store chain, they give you a totally blank look and say, “You want what?”
In no particular order of preference (because I love them all), here are a few of my favorites.
Left to right — first, my Fiskars “Soft Touch” scissors. They’re recommended particularly, I think, for people with arthritis. While I’m just 24 and (hopefully) still a long way from arthritis, these are a great pair of scissors that really helps to reduce hand fatigue.
Next are my little Ginghers. My wonderful college fashion professor, Kathy Bates, suggested these. At a weird size somewhere between embroidery scissors and full-size shears, these are truly a beautiful thing. They’re probably the scissors I use most — great for trimming seams, clipping threads, and pretty much anything else. And the cutting action on Ginghers — it just makes my heart sing.
Across the top, we have a vintage 1970’s pair of Wiss pinking shears. I bought these as new old stock, feeling around cobwebs in a pitch-dark back corner of a tiny little general store in Rover, TN, while I was in high school. Best $4.75 I ever spent (yes, $4.75 — can I have a high five for that one?). They’re superb and very heavy. I use them primarily for a quick and easy seam finish.
Next is my Olfa rotary cutter (to be used with a special Olfa mat, not pictured, but also amazing), used for cutting out patterns. I have them in three sizes. And I have two of the regular sized one (I like to have backup tools, okay? And the floral one was too cute to pass up). To be perfectly honest, the regular size is probably the only one you really need for general sewing. I got two tiny ones on clearance, and had them for two years before I used them. I discovered recently, however, that the tiny version is ideal for Barbie clothes.
Finally, we have my new pair of Gingher knife-edge scissors. I got these shortly before Christmas, after drooling over them for two years. They perform exactly the same function as my Fiskars, but I like to have options. And these scissors are simply divine.
Another favorite item — my sewing weights, for use when cutting out patterns. They’re faster than pins for holding the pattern pieces in place, and much better for delicate fabrics. My absolute favorites are these “Wiggle Weights,” a Christmas present from my mom several years ago. Unfortunately, a Google search for these a little while ago yielded nothing — apparently they’ve been discontinued. If you wanted to make them yourself, you could get a similar effect by sewing a tube of knit fabric and filling it with fishing weights. You can also get small round sewing weights from Joann Fabrics — at my store, they were at the very bottom of the notions wall, unnoticeable unless you’re looking for them. I have both varieties. My mom (who is typically reluctant to spend money on new gadgets) also loves her sewing weights. She was dubious at first, but I made her buy them and now she’s addicted — actually, she emailed me this afternoon and told me that I should mention them in my article.
Next we have something that I’m slightly neurotic about — tracing tools. I’ve been through, oh, four or five wheels and about half-a-dozen different types of paper. While the “best” method, of course, is always to mark everything with thread, let’s be real: Sometimes, you just can’t do that or you’ll never get it finished.
I’m very persnickety about my tracing tools. I started out with a crummy Dritz wheel and paper. The paper was chalk, and the markings come off if you even LOOK at them the wrong way. The wheel was wobbly and dull. Vintage wax tracing paper, on the other hand, works beautifully. I snatched it up at every estate sale I could find, until I discovered that Clover Chacopy paper is just about exactly the same as the vintage stuff. The only caution about this type of paper is that the darker colors sometimes don’t come out of the fabric, so you typically want to try to get close to the fabric color with your markings. White typically disappears when pressed with a hot iron, so it’s safe on any fabric. For wheels, I love my vintage ones, which have super-sharp points that really make the marks show up. If you can’t find vintage, the Clover tracing wheel appears to be the same type as the vintage ones (although I haven’t personally tried it).
Another item pictured above is my little blue powdered chalk tracing wheel tool (I don’t know the actual name for this item). It’s a nice little piece for use on darker fabrics — quicker to use than tracing paper, although the marks can brush off if you’re not careful.
In the next post, we’ll focus on some other obscure, but indispensable, tools — pressing aids and other things.