My Favorite Things: Small Tools Edition
I'm a lover of tools that help make my sewing more efficient and easier. In the past 3 years since I started sewing consistently, I've found some must haves in my sewing practice. I've compiled what are my go-to items here. These are perfect for any seamstress!
This is the rotary cutter that I use for cutting almost all of my fabric. I prefer the size and shape since it sits nicely in my hand and maneuvers around curves well. The only downside to this rotary is that the shield does not lock so if you have small children and are concerned they could reach it, I'd stay away. The blades are replaceable and order able online or in stores.
This was my original rotary cutter when I just started out. It works fine but I quickly started reaching for the smaller 28mm when cutting fabric. I still use this cutter for cutting all of my PDF patterns I've assembled. A benefit to this cutter is it has a child lock to lock the blade closed. Alternatively, you could use the lock to lock the blade open if you prefer. *I wouldn't recommend using the same blade for paper and fabric.
I don't use scissors often but when I do, I want them to work well. I looked at Kai scissors at a sewing expo earlier this year and decided to add this pair to my birthday list. I opted for the 8" size since I had no real need for the larger 9" or 10" sizes. I'm happy with my decision as these cut cleanly through delicate to heavy weights. My main goal with them was to pick a design that I could cut flat with. These have a bent handle so I can cut straight without having to contort my hand.
These are my most used cutters by far! If you don't have thread snips, they are such a necessity! I use these to trim all of the things including serger threads, sewing machine threads, drawstring lengths, grommet holes and so much more. This version of snips has an interesting hand feel that is ergonomically more comfortable to hold and use for longer periods of time. I'd highly recommend the few extra dollars on these over the cheaper plastic versions.
I know, you probably are wondering why I'd talk about glue. Well I use it a lot! I've also found it's not all the same and has different uses. Here's a few that I keep on hand all the time.
I can't remember who mentioned they use liquid glue to assemble their PDF patterns but whoever it was changed my life. Using liquid glue seems to ensure my patterns stay assembled and don't unglue while being folded away. I've been using the clear version as that's what we had bought in bulk but I'm sure white glue would work too. I also only recommend Elmers as I find it's a superior product that actually works long term.
I don't reach for glue sticks that often anymore as I use liquid glue for most pattern assembly. When I do though, it's the Elmers extra strength glue sticks. I find these stick the best of all the glue sticks out there.
These are my new secret weapon! Did you know that washable glue sticks work well for stripe matching? If you keep the glue in the seam allowance, it'll be serged off or come off in the wash. Make sure you are using the washable glue stick though or else your fabric will be stuck together longer than you want. An easy tip, I only order the purple washable glue sticks so that I know it's washable if it's purple.
I converted to using wonder clips or an off-brand of them a couple years ago. I find them easier and less painful to use than pins. I've ordered several different brands and haven't found a huge difference between them. I do find I prefer the smaller size over the larger ones though. If you are someone who batch cuts or has a lot of projects going at once, I'd recommend a minimum of keeping 50 clips on hand at a time. I usually order 100 at a time.
I know everyone chooses to use different pattern weights but the common point is, use them! They not only hold your pattern on your fabric but make sure that your pattern piece doesn't shift while cutting. I used large washers for a while before my father-in-law used his 3D printer to print me stackable holders for them. If you want custom made weights, there are some great options. One of my favorite shops is Sew Cute-N-Quirky on Etsy. KiddyLiddy features donut or cake polymer weights. Timestitcher offers dyed marble weights that are visually stunning in color.
Tweezers are really helpful with threading your machines. I find I reach for them quite a bit especially if they are a good pair that has great grip. I use tweezers for threading my machines, especially with my serger air-threading.
I find this is an easy tool to use for marking grommet and button placement. Since it has ink and acts like a felt tip pen, you can be precise with your markings. It's tip is similar to a felt tip so it's thin but is thick enough to be visible. It comes out in the wash or with a damp cloth. The only disadvantage is that it doesn't show up on dark colors.
I purchased the chaco liner to solve my problem of my purple marking pen not showing up on dark fabrics. The chaco liner comes in white, red, yellow and blue so can basically show up on any fabric (I have the white version). It's not quite as precise since it's a roller rather than a pen but still works well. Another advantage to it is that it can be refilled.
This is my newest tool and it's so cool! There's a video here on how it works but basically it can turn knit or woven tubes around quickly and easily. Think custom drawstrings... It also has the ability to feed elastic through too. I'm thoroughly impressed with it!
I find a bodkin as an essential tool especially for feeding drawstrings or elastics. I know a lot of people use safety pins rather than bodkins. I find safety pins open up too easily when used in a casing where bodkins can be closed tighter. You can use a bodkin for turning drawstrings also but I find the EZ Point & Turn above easier for that step. Then I use this bodkin to put the drawstring in the casing.
I have several of these because I seem to always be seeking them out. I love that these sewing guides have an adjustable piece to mark a certain distance. I use them most for creating an even hem.
My husband found me this seam ripping kit from one of his favorite shops, Lee Valley. It includes a blunt stitch picker and very sharp seam ripper tool. It also includes tips and techniques on seam ripping different stitches. I find it the most efficient of seam rippers I've used, especially when seam ripping an entire seam.
I purchased this micro vacuum kit last year to help clean lint out of my serger and sewing machines. It works remarkably well and comes with quite a few parts to get in the nooks and crannies. How it works is that the kit comes with a coupler that attaches to your home vacuum. I'd make sure to check the listing to ensure your vacuum is compatible. I have a German vacuum that this works with. I use the small brush and angled small piece the most to get in the nooks and crannies to get out all of the lint.
This tool was a gift from my mother in law who sews also. It's a tool I didn't know I needed but now that I have it, I use it all the time. One end is curved and works well to feed fabric under the presser foot rather than using your fingers. I also use it to pull my coverstitch threads forward before snipping them. It also has an open spot in it to feed elastic with. Basically it has endless uses.
I'll update this post as I find new tools that I use frequently in my sewing. I chose not to publish prices on this post as the pricing changes frequently and would be difficult to update. Follow the links provided to see the current pricing for each item. Have a question about an item? The best way to reach me is through my Instagram @Gabeandzach or on Facebook.
My posts may feature affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase from these links, I receive a small percentage in compensation at no cost to you. I may have received patterns or products to test or review but the opinions I voice are my own.