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4 Reader Tips for Improvised Sewing Notions

Threads #217, Spring 2022

1. Best Tip: Invisible zipper stops

I needed an invisible zipper for a dress, but I didn’t have one that was long enough. Then I remembered that I had a roll of invisible zipper in my stash. I cut a piece to the desired length and installed it in the garment. However, there were no zipper top or bottom stops. I couldn’t use the stops from another zipper because the coils on the zipper I used were larger than the other zippers tI had. 

I got the idea to make stops with glue. I applied drops of glue at the desired top location to create little balls. You can remove the teeth above the stops before or after adding the stops. The glue dried clear and I was able to zip the zipper without worrying about the slider coming off.

—Aliece Bristol, Boca Raton, Florida

2. Skewered spools

I hammered short bamboo skewers into a cork board hanging above my embroidery machine. I then arranged all my embroidery thread spools on the skewers. The skewers have remained in place sturdily and create a convenient storage place.   

—Vera Ussyk, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

3. Chalk guide

When zigzagging around a patch on dark fabric, rub regular, not tailor’s, chalk around the edge of the patch on the garment. The edge for zigzagging becomes much easier to see for guiding the stitching. Just brush off the chalk when you’ve finished stitching. 

—Peggy Yackel, Plymouth, Minnesota 

4. Machine-needle identification 

I have tried many methods for keeping track of which needle is in use in my sewing machine. This is the practice that works best for me: I upcycled one of the thin flip-flops from the nail salon and fashioned it into a strap to hold the package of the needle currently in the machine. I measured the standard pack of a few types of needles, so the pocket would be snug but big enough to hold either the smaller paper packages or the hard plastic needle cases that some of my needles come in. 

I sewed on a small scrap of Velcro, so I can remove the strap or move it to a different machine. It leaves no marks and doesn’t interfere with operating the machine. Now I don’t squint to read the side of the needle, or hunt around for my paper notes or my needle book, or guess based on the several needle packages near my machine. If you don’t have pedicure sandals to reuse, you can purchase a sheet of craft foam or use fabric scraps.

 —Jane Salter, Charlotte, North Carolina 

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