Thursday, August 30, 2012

My Favorite Sewing Tools - The obvious and the unconventional

      Well, as far as storms go, God was very good to us, and we got off rather easy. We lost power for a day and a night (a very hot and muggy day and night I might add!), and the yard is rather trashed, but other than that, no damages. Funny how the loss of electricity always shows real quick just how spoiled we are! It'll probably take a decade for things to dry out around here, it's one soggy world outside my window.
      Okey doke, now that you've gotten a weather report...lets move on to the real post! It's no secret that sewing is my thing, I enjoy it completely. One of the purposes of this blog, is to help folks understand that sewing isn't as complicated or hard as people like to think it is. One way to make sewing easier is to have the right tools to use to do it. In this post, I'm going to show you some of my favorite tools of the trade...some of which you may already have, and some you may not have thought would be helpful.
  1. A sewing machine. Get the best one you can afford, and know how to use it, 'nuff said. I have a Bernina sewing machine (which I love), and a Kenmore serger (which I'm hoping to upgrade soon). By the way, don't assume a brand new model is better than an older used your homework. Sometimes the older models, although they have less bells and whistles, are actually of better quality than the new. 
  2. A cutting board with a measuring grid. I have a hard one that can be used with a rotary cutter, and this  card board one. The card board one is very inexpensive, less than $10 I believe at any local craft or fabric store. I use it every time I sew. The reason being, the grids lines save me from having to do more measuring and marking than is necessary. I can cut by following the lines on the board.

    3. A measuring tape. This is an absolute must. A sewn product will only be as good as the measurement you took to start with. Numbers are everything, and you need accurate ones. Again, this is not an expensive item to purchase, it is well worth the few dollars.

     4. A GOOD pair of scissors to cut fabric, and a small pair for snipping threads. Scissors are not thing to scrimp on, cheap ones will not do the job. I went for a long time hacking fabric up with the $10 pair of scissors. When I finally broke down, and bought a decent pair I saw the affects in my sewing immediately. I have several pairs of the small size that I keep wherever I work, I hate threads hanging out of things. Nothing screams handmade like hanging threads.

     5. French Curve Ruler. This isn't a "must" per say, but I highly recommend getting one. See this post if you want to see why I think they are so helpful to have.

     6. Marking utensils. I use tailors chalk (found at any fabric store), and a China marker (found in craft stores). The trick with a good marking tool, it to find one that doesn't require you to press down hard to get it leave a mark. Delicate fabrics, like chiffon, will slide everywhere if you've got to press hard to mark on it. The China marker does not wash off, so you if you use that, you need to make sure you cut the line off as you are cutting out the fabric.

      7. A note book. If you use patterns, using a note book will help you organize any changes you made to the pattern as you sewed it. If you don't use patterns, than the notebook becomes your "pattern book" to allow you recreate something you've already made.

      I use mine like this. I draw a sketch of what I want to make. Then I draw it out how I plan to cut it on the fabric. I figure out all the measurements of each piece needed for the garment on paper. I adjust the measurements for each size I plan to make of that garment. I make any notes about cutting or constructing on the paper to remember for next time. I try to make all the mistakes on paper first, before I've done it on fabric. I also give it a style number for organizational purposes, if I plan to sell it.  It doesn't matter how messy the paper is, or the bad spelling, as long as the garment works out correctly.

      8. A calculator. This goes hand in hand with the above. There is a lot numbers involved with sewing, and my little head doesn't work just perfectly. The calculator is my trusty sidekick to help keep me from stupid mistakes.

     9. Guides. This is a matter of preference for me. I like to save myself time whenever possible, so I cut neckline guides out of empty cereal boxes. I know for example, that when I want to make a boat neck top out of knit fabric, I need to use the guide that is 4 inches across and 3 inches down.

     10. Lastly, tweezers, a small screwdriver, and a stiff bristle brush (not pictured). Sewing machines are just like any other machine, they break, need adjusting, and need basic maintenance. Tweezers help me thread my serger and pull jammed threads out of small crevices. The screwdriver is needed to change out parts, or tighten loose ones. The brush is needed to  clean out all the fibers that collect in the machine parts, which if left, will cause the machine to malfunction.

       Obviously, a lot could be added to this list. I hope that pointing out a few of the less obvious sewing tools might be helpful to someone. Do you have a favorite thing to help you when you sew?

1 John 4:19   We love him, because he first loved us.
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1 comment:

  1. Nice to see the cardboard guides! I make and use mine all the time as 90% of my handbags are of my own design. At my home-based business, Expressive Domain, I create mostly handbags, and they help me measure the width of handle straps, pocket types, and triangles to help box the bottoms. :) Stop by my Facebook page to see what I've made with them: