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Couture Sewing Tools | Video

Couture sewing expert Claire B. Shaeffer shares her favorite tools for hand and machine sewing.

Pin bag: This fabric pouch holds pins and needles. It is worn around the neck, and it’s a staple item in couture houses.

Hand-sewing needles and threader: Claire keeps a number of sizes and styles for different sewing tasks.

Thimbles: Choose the style you like best. Dressmaker thimbles have a closed top. Tailoring thimbles have an open top, so you push the needle with the side of your finger.

Marking tools: Claire uses chalk and prefers chalk wheels to solid chalk pieces.

Basting thread: Depending on the project, you may use easy-to-break cotton basting thread; cotton embroidery floss, if you can’t find basting thread; or silk thread, which is easy to pull from a seam.

Construction thread: Claire recommends 100 percent cotton thread, silk thread, or lightweight cotton-wrapped polyester thread, which is stronger than plain cotton. She rarely uses all-polyester thread on natural fiber fabrics.

Beeswax: This strengthens thread and prevents tangling.

Pins: Superfine pins are best. A good practice is to use only new pins on lightweight, fine fabrics. Once you’ve used the pins, place then in a different container, and use them for less delicate textiles later. You may want to have a set of extralong flower-head pins for some tasks, including securing layers of thick, open-weave fabric such as bouclé.

Shears: It’s helpful to have at least two pairs of 8-inch shears, one with knife-edge blades and the other with serrated blades. Also useful are appliqué scissors and 5-inch tailor’s points (small, sharp scissors used for trimming and clipping).

Seam rippers: You hope not to need one, but you’ll always find a use for it.

Measuring tools: Keep a measuring tape on hand and, if you like to use one, a seam gauge with a sliding marker.

Magnifying visor: This makes it much easier to sew neat, even, and tiny hand stitches.



About This Video Series

This video series features three hours of insider tips and secrets for creating high-end couture garments and home accessories. See an expert at work as Claire Shaeffer illustrates the basic techniques that take sewing to the next level -- from hand sewing and machine stitching to marking methods, pressing, and hemming.

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