I’m always on the lookout for cool sewing/quilting tools and gadgets; anything to make sewing more enjoyable! I’m running down some tools that I’ve found lately – some you may already have but hopefully you’ll see something new to consider adding to your arsenal!
For each tool, I’ll show you the item and give you a quick run-down. The link provided for each item is sometimes the manufacturer’s website if they retail the item, but in some cases I have linked you to another retail shop that stocks the item, as some manufacturers do not sell retail. I just wanted you to easily be able to find the product if you were interested in getting it; I believe that I purchased nearly all of these items myself (or they were given to me by friends), so all opinions are 100% my own. 🙂
Earlier in the year, I asked my friend Roseann for a recommendation for a fun quilting notion, and she suggested this ruler. I am sometimes skeptical about rulers since many of them have only one function, but Roseann knows everything, so I got one. This seems like such a simple idea but it has several functions that quilters would use on a weekly basis. For starters, this tool helps you cut and trim flying geese and half-square triangle blocks and sew them without having to draw those diagonal lines on them first. It also leaves little notches at the corners so your fabrics are easier to line up before sewing. My favorite use of this ruler, though, is to prepare binding. When cutting fabric strips on the bias and sewing them together, I’m always eyeballing how I should sew the strip and at what angle, and sometimes it comes out wrong. This ruler helps you cut the ends of the strips so that you can easily sew them together. Here’s a video I found of the Folded Corner Clipper in case you’d like to see it in action.
2. Snap Setter
I had one of these years ago, but when we moved I lost it. Okay, I know what you’re thinking, “The snap kits from Joann’s that you use a hammer with are the same thing.” No my friend, no they are not! That’s exactly what I thought last year when I was making my Beatnik Waist Bag, which I designed with snap closures on the pockets. I must have hammered about 20 snaps in with the Joann’s kit, and none of them were coming out right. Maybe there was some kind of trick to it? I was near tears. Finally, a friend sent me another Snap Setter kit (I use Size 16) with pretty colored snaps, and they worked on the first try. If you have any desire to use snaps (bibs, bags, etc.), just get this and save yourself the frustration.
Okay, raise your hand if you have ever had trouble threading a hand needle. I do have one of those little plastic tools with the wire sticking out, to help with threading my hand sewing needle, but the wire comes out really easily. I was suggested this at my local quilt shop, and it’s like magic! This tool sits on your desk, the thread lays in the opening, the needle is inserted, you push down on the lever, and voila! I’m not sure how much easier it can get than that. No more licking your thread to get it to go through or squinting because that needle opening is too darn small.
I saw this item last year at Quilt Market. Swatch Buddies are little sturdy plastic tags that are bundled together on a small chain, for putting your fabric swatches on. There are also small labels included in the pack so that you can write down the names of your fabrics. This is very appealing to me as I like using solids in my quilts, and I have solids from a lot of different manufacturers. Once the fabric is added to my stash, I no longer have any idea what color names that they are. Now I label them (I have a Swatch Buddy for each color, i.e. pinks, purples, etc.) and can easily find and compare. This is also great for fabric designers, as you can put your Pantone swatches on it.
I have 2 irons in rotation, and I am always switching them out because they *constantly* get the gunk on them from all of the fusible interfacing that I use, even though I use a pressing cloth. It just happens. And that brown gunk can be transferred onto any fabric that I am working with. Iron Safe is a lightweight, flexible sleeve that is attached to your iron using a metal spring that goes through the opening where your handle is and attaches to the other side. You can leave it on your iron all the time, and if you get any gunk on it, you can just wipe it right off the Iron Safe instead of dealing with cleaning your iron.
When I am sewing, say, the lining of a bag to the zipper, this sometimes is done by hand. I have a bad habit of always piercing the skin on my thumb at the nuckle. I’m not really into wearing a thimble, it’s just too bulky for me and I’m not used to it. I like that these ThimblePads are sticky and reusable for several times. I put them anywhere on my fingers that I find I need the protection.
Jaybird Quilts has 3 specialty rulers, the Hex N More, the Sidekick, and the Mini Hex N More. I have used all of them in the past and they are a dream – each ruler cuts multiple shapes, so you are getting the bang for your buck, and these are shapes that would be tedious to cut if you had to make a template from template plastic. Added bonus is a lot of shapes have notches to help you piece together more quickly and accurately.
8. Frixion Pens
This is one of the few sewing supplies that you can find at any office supply store (Staples, Office Max, etc.) or even at Target. They are made by Pilot, and they’ll just be in the section with the pens. I use them on a daily basis to make markings on fabric; they are my favorite sewing tool. Lee from Freshly Pieced wrote two articles about the Frixion pens, here and here. For me, they are super convenient as I especially use them when writing my bag patterns – I can use them on my fabric to make any measurements or markings, and then when I’m referring to the instructions on paper, I can make edits on there too, all with the same pen. Double-duty.
Sort of like a glue stick, this will help with glue basting your fabrics together, and the tip is small enough to keep the glue within the seam allowance. It comes with one refill and is water soluble.
I actually have a second glue product that I love, and it is the Glue Tips from Purple Daisies. They come as a two-pack and will attach to a bottle of washable Elmer’s School Glue, which you can find anywhere. Christy from Purple Daisies has two fantastic tutorials for use of the Glue Tips, the Glue Basting Your Seams video and the Piece-lique for Drunkard’s Path and Circles tutorial, both of which are life-changing!
11. Purple Thang
This little and inexpensive tool is especially great when you are piecing blocks and need to hold the layers of fabric together when they are going through the machine. I especially like the little square at the end, which is a helpful gauge for 1/4″ seam allowance.
This tool is especially great for machine quilting, when you’d like to mark a quilting pattern on your quilt sandwich. I used it last week when I made my Indelible Table runner (I had straight line quilting in different intervals). It’s a plastic tool that makes a crease in the fabric that you can see and stitch right on top of, so you’re not actually ‘drawing’ on your fabric with a fabric marker.
I don’t do a whole ton of free motion quilting, but when I do, my arms and shoulders get really tired. I started using these gloves and it helped a lot with that. They have a finger grip that helps guide the fabric through your machine with less drag on the fabric. They come in several sizes (I have S/M) and are washable).
14. Supreme Slider
This is another tool that I got to work hand-in-hand with the Machinger’s Gloves. This is a teflon sheet that sits on the bed of your sewing machine and can be removed and reused. Another tool that will help with stress on the shoulders and back, as it helps the quilts glide more easily through the machine. Leah Day has a great video of the Supreme Slider in action. I have the queen size, although the smaller size is available as well.
This is a starch alternate spray for flattening fabrics while quilting. It is available in several scents or unscented. I got the Yuzu scent, which is a pleasant floral/citrus smell. I actually dropped my bottle right after I got it and the spray nozzle wouldn’t press in after that, so I poured my Flatter liquid into a store-bought spray bottle (it’s a gigantic bottle for the amount of liquid I have, but oh well, it works). I really enjoy using this as it makes the fabrics crisp and flat.
16. Wonder Clips
Besides my Frixion pens, this is the other thing that I cannot do without. Especially for bag-making, try to get through all those layers with regular pins; I had many a bent pin and pricked fingers before I found out about Wonder Clips. They are also great for attaching quilt binding, as the seam allowance is marked on the clip. I started out trying to be cheap with the 10 pack, and once I tried them I realized I would need more, so I got another 50 pack.
Hope you enjoyed my little list! What other sewing tool do you love that I’ve missed?