Five Must-Have Sewing Tools
by Barbara Emodi
from Threads #92, pp. 20 and 22
Good tools are an extension of your sewing machine and basic for any sewing room. They make most tasks easier, improve results, and certainly add to sewing enjoyment. But there are so many great gadgets available today, how do you choose tools that are really effective and useful and won't just clutter your toolbox? For me, a good tool is one with a simple design that easily accomplishes the task it was meant to do, and it's one that I reach for over and over.
Shown below are the five tools that I absolutely could not live without. They're all inexpensive items that you can find in most notions departments, or see "Tools by Mail." I know there may be other similar products available, as well as several additional items tha are equally useful depending on the type of sewing your do, but these are my favorites.
1) Bamboo point turner/creaser forms crisp corners and seams
This little, unassuming tool costs around $2 and is probably the simplest on my list. Its pointed end is used to poke the corner right side out when turning corners, and its rounded, beveled end smoothes out curves and seams.
The tool's soft, bamboo wood minimally stresses the fabric and stitching, yet gently helps form a nice, crisp corner, curve, or seam. You can even use it as a pressing tool, inserting it into a point or curve, to shape the fabric as you press over it.
2) Buttonhole gauge simplifies positioning buttonholes
This exotic device, which costs around $15, looks complex but actually simplifies positioning and measuring buttonholes, pleats, tucks, or anything else needing to be evenly spaced. It's a great time-saver, because it eliminates the need for calculating and carefully measuring intervals. It's easy to use--simply mark the position of the top buttonhole or first pleat, for example, and stretch the gauge to fit.
3) Loop turner turns tubes right inside out
This inexpensive (around $3) and delicate-looking tool is the best there is for turning narrow tubes of fabric right side out. A loop turner is basically a long wire with a tiny latch hook at the end used for making spaghetti straps, button loops, and fabric tubes for things like frogs and knot buttons (see the photo below). The tool is also perfect for retrieving elastic or cording that has gotten "lost" while being fed through a casing.
To use a loop turner, insert the long wire through a narrow fabric tube; hook the end, close the latch, and pull the hooked-end to the right side.
|Loop turner||To use a loop turner, insert the long wire through a narrow fabric tube; hook the end, close the latch, and pull the hooked-end to the right side.|
4) Open-toe appliqué foot lets you see
What a great idea--a presser foot that's open in the front so you can actually see what you're stitching. This is an accessory that's available for most sewing machines, but there are also generic varieties in metal or clear plastic for low-shank, high-shank and slant-shank machines. The price can vary depending on your machine, but the generic feet range from around $5 to $15. Some open-toe appliqué feet also have a cutaway channel underneath that allows the foot to slide easily over dense satin stitches. It's great for all kinds of precision sewing like topstitching. I especially use mine whenever I make a jacket with a lapel and want to make sure the topstitching on the collar exactly meets the topstitching on the lapel.
5) Point presser/clapper makes ironing easier
Here's an invaluable piece of equipment that sells for around $20. It's a classic, hardwood pressing tool that's really two tools in one. The top, narrow-surfaced, point presser side works like a tiny ironing board for pressing hard-to-reach seams and enclosed corners, like those on collars, lapels, and cuffs.
A point presser is invaluable for pressing hard-to-reach seams. Slip the seam, wrong side up, over the point and press open.
The bottom, clapper side is used to apply pressure to set permanent creases, form crisp edges, and flatten bulky seams. To use it, first apply steam to the area with your iron, then press with the clapper, leaning on it and applying as much pressure as possible. Hold this position until both the fabric and wood (which presses the steam into the area without adding heat) have cooled.
|Point presser/clapper||A point presser is invaluable for pressing hard-to-reach seams. Slip the seam, wrong side up, over the point and press open.|
If you don't already have these great tools, consider adding them to your sewing box. I bet they'll soon become your favorites, too.
Tools by Mail
Louisiana, MO 63353
Joanne's Creative Notions Plus
PO Box 44030
1 Wexford Rd., Unit 9
Brampton, ON, Canada L6Z 4V7
333 Beichl Ave.
PO Box 683
Beaver Dam, WI 53916
Barbara Emodi sews and teaches in Halifax, NS, Canada. You can contact her via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos: Sloan Howard