I don’t know about any of you, but I’m a gadget girl. I like toys, better known in the sewing industry as tools of the trade. And there are a few I just can’t live without. I thought I would share some of them with you.
A tool or piece of equipment I can’t live without at this stage of the game is definitely my coffee maker. I’m not kidding! But seriously, one of my all time favorite tools is an 18″ long 2″ wide clear plastic quilter’s ruler with the red lines. I don’t know why I like the red lines better than the blue lined ones but I have gone through about 6 of them in the last ten years. Alaska weather is kind of hard on plastic and they don’t last long if you whip them around like a sword. Don’t laugh I have nieces‘, this kind of stuff happens, ya know.
Another of my best tools is my spiked tracing wheel. The good kind that are hard to get a hold of. I found mine on eBay. A good piece of advice with this tool, don’t drop it on your bare foot. It really hurts. Oh yeah, lots of pencils and stick pens, but you probably knew that.
Everyone has their favorite way of marking things but I tend to prefer a permanent marker. It’s a little crude but I can see the lines on the muslin front or back whether it bleeds through or not. So when I am working on a piece I tend to do the first draft markings with a black sharpie and the next with a different color, I just love that sharpies come in different colors now. Speaking of marking tools, when it comes time to mark on your final fabrics for fitting adjustments I have found a couple of things that work wonderfully without leaving permanent lines. The water soluble marker is fabulous. I usually use a Q-tip dipped in water to erase my lines or marks and have to reapply this technique a number of times should I mark too heavily. But eventually it comes out completely and with dry cleaning there isn’t any permanent water damage to silks and the like. For marking on dark fabrics, a notions supplier turned me onto what’s called a Chubby crayon. It is the fattest wax/chalk marking crayon I have ever used. However it is easily sharpened into a point with a nail file and comes completely off the fabric when ironed. Even on very delicate silks the marks come right off without a residue. Just love this little thing.
Who can forget the tape. I make lots of patterns and then I make lots of pattern adjustments. They are crude and I am sure a professional pattern maker from a big design house would cringe if they saw my patterns but I can read them so I really don’t have a problem with them. I try to remember to make the correct markings and notes and things but I tend to get carried away with making the pattern and then the garment and forget things. It’s one of the reasons I am a designer and not a pattern maker. But I do keep my patterns and label them what they are and when I made them. I have found that the letter size manila envelopes work great for this. One of my favorite ways of keeping track of patterns that I have altered is to copy the face of the pattern I am manipulating and draw over the top of the pictures what I am doing and then tape them to the front of the envelopes. This works great for my archives, but do what works best for you. The best way of doing something is what will work for you, not someone else’s idea of organization.
Some of my favorite things in my work room are my music, my cats, and a tape roller for delinting things. You know the kind that peels off and has a fresh piece of tape underneath. Well it works great for getting cat hair off the ironing board. They like to get up there just after I have ironed something because it is warm. I love my baby’s and they keep me company when I am sewing and they keep me laughing even when I am ready to cry I am so tired from working late into the night. So yeah, my girls help keep me sane when I am ready to go nuts over a design.
Another ingenious little gadget that I ran across in a Clotilde catalogue years ago at the Puyallup Sewing expo was a Wahl mustache shaver. I know what you’re thinking. What could you possibly use that for? Right! Well this little battery operated doodad has saved me time and frustration when seam ripping or taking out a mess of embroidery stitches. You do have to be careful with what types of fabric you are seam ripping because the shaver doesn’t care whether it’s thread or fabric it eats. I have found that it works best on bridal satins and heavy fabrics rather than sheers and linings. And, when you use it on embroidery you just turn it so that the blades are vehicle and run them across the surface of the threads you don’t want anymore. Eats them right up.
And finally, I have found that I can cut my fabric cutting time in half by using a roller cutter and cutting mats rather than a pair of scissors. Don’t get me wrong. Scissors have their place and uses but when I am in a hurry to get something cut out and I am tired of the strain put on my wrists from handling scissors a roller cutter is the way to go. I use weights to hold my fabric and patterns down and then just roll along the lines I wan to cut. I like the smaller rollers rather than the big fatty’s that quilters tend to use most because I have more control over the blade the smaller it is. The mini rollers are too small though. At least they are for me, it just doesn’t feel right in my hand when I am working with it. So best advise, use what works for you.
I run across tools most often when I am hunting for a way around a difficult or complex sewing project. So I will keep working and post items when I run across them but I would love to hear what people come up with in their own endeavors, so please post comments at the end of this article in the comment section.
Can’t wait to hear from you.