Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

The most wanted inventions

bonkers | Posted in Talk With Us on

I think this is a good time to list some most wanted sewing inventions. I wish someone smart would invent a sewing machine that does not use a bobbin. Why couln`t a machine work using a spool of thread feeding though the bottom? This would eliminate the aggravation of filling bobbins and alse running out of thread at a crucial time. If a serger can work like this, why not a regular sewing machine? Get on it ,some smart inventer!! Also, I wish the iron manufactures would sell an iron that does not make steam. With no holes in the soleplate. Like the irons of the 40s. This would make fusing some interfacings much easier, no moving around to cover the spaces left by the steam holes.  What would you other sewers like to see invented? Bonkers


  1. Josefly | | #1

    Hey, those are great ideas, and I heartily second your wish for a hole-less soleplate.

  2. smr | | #2

    I keep waiting to purchase a dress form until someone comes up with one that you just slip on, mold to your body, take off and put on a stand.

    I truly don't understand why such a thing is not possible....


    I also agree...no more bobbins!




    1. fabricholic | | #3

      It is possible. If they can take a mold of our teeth and then pour in something in the mold, they could do this. They make molds out of styrofoam or something similar for engine blocks and then just pour in the metal and the syrofoam melts away. If we had the resources we could do it, I think.

      Edited 3/12/2007 3:16 pm ET by fabricholic

      1. smr | | #4

        I love your idea.....

        I was thinking a wiry type of material....that would be modable.....then you could pour a quick setting product that would dry solid, but pin-able, to make the form....

        maybe by talking about it someone will come up with the engineering....

        1. fabricholic | | #7

          Now, don't we have some engineers that are Threads discussion readers?

        2. Linda03052 | | #24

          I actually HAD a moldable dress form when I was a teenager.  It was made of a plastic-coated, heavier chicken wire type of material.  It separated by snaps up the back and the front.  I remember my mom put it on me, and painstakingly molded it to my figure.  Then we unsnapped it, put it on the metal stand that came with it, snapped it back up, and VOILA!  It even came with an elasticized fabric that fit over it so you could pin things to it when draping.  I've seen it over the past year or so on a book cover, but I couldn't tell you now which one!  I don't know why they don't still sell those!


        3. barbchr | | #35

          Some years ago, there was a wire "cage" type dress form out there. You molded the cage to your form. The molded cage was then affixed to some sort of upright pole and a pinable fabric (maybe knit) cover pulled over it. Don't know where they all went. Even all those Ebayers out there are silent.I wish they'd bring it back on the market. Don't care much for what's out there now.

      2. mimi | | #8

        I'm envisioning a large try that would be filled with polymer.  You would lay down in it until it was set and then have it peeled off very gently.  Repeat for the other side.  Fuse both together and fill with something firm but pinnable.

        It would be cheaper to buy designer originals!

        Back to the drawing boards.


        1. MaryinColorado | | #9

          And if it's inflatable we could take it with us and it wouldn't take up storage space. 

        2. fabricholic | | #14

          Probably would cost a fortune. If I could afford designer originals then I could afford a tailor and she could figure out how to fit me.Marcy

          1. mimi | | #18

            Ahh yes, if we were rich!  If I was rich I could afford a personal trainer who would get me into shape and a tailor to make sure everything fit.  Gee, I hope I don't lose my humble demeanor when I'm gorgeous :)


          2. fabricholic | | #19

            I know, we gorgeous women will have to watch out for that when we become rich. LOLMarcy

    2. User avater
      Becky-book | | #12

      Have you tried the duct tape dress form project? It is not instant but it is fairly cheap and disgustingly realistic!! (if your form is not quite what you wish it was!!)


      1. User avater
        TwilaTee | | #25

        I made the duck tape dress form. I haven't stuffed it yet, So it sits in the corner..... deflated. It reminds me of a sad old metal toad that got hit by a bus. It smells weird too. It seems like it will be a good tool to do alterations, but it does SMELL. I know that's a weird thing to harp on but..... Have you ever seen the tape veterinarians use on horses legs? Its kind of like an ace bandage but its sticky? Its sticky but it only sticks to itself. Its made out of material-plastic-rubbery stuff so its stretchy too. I was thinking that that tape would be good to use for a dress form. I think that pins would take to it better. and it doesn't have such a weird oder. I'll do a quick search and see if I can find a link. - Twila
        I'm sure you could find it cheaper somewhere, but this gives you a good idea.

        1. ineedaserger329 | | #26

          I found another do-it yourself dress form....I haven't made it yet, but it looks like a good plan:http://www.sewnews.com/resources/library/0806form/I like that it can be personalized, you can put kids fabric on it if it's for you daughter or something bright for those who have a sewing room in the dark corners......

          1. ccf | | #32

            My Twin Dressforms are made with plaster bandages wrapped around your body, cut off when dried, filled with foam and covered with ribbing. I have two dressforms (one for the thinner me and one for the current me.) It is kind of weird to actually see the twin of myself...boy, was my mental body image off.  I love these dress forms...they have made fitting garments so much easier. Patterns and fabric can be pinned to the foam.

            I found out about the My Twin Dressforms from an article on making dress forms in Threads a number of years ago. I've also seen the company advertise in Threads.



          2. ineedaserger329 | | #33

            That sounds so much better than the one I found....Sounds a little messier than duct tape, but I bet it will hold up for a long time

          3. crafter4me | | #43

            hello newbe here on threads, new at sewing clothes and allso the dress forms ,I been thinking about makeing a clone .I thought I could make my own clothes collection for me ,needless to say not much time on my hands ,I  hardly find time to finish anything, Do you or anyone tryied all the methods ,the plaster,Duck tape,etc, I don't want to spend much money on a form if I am really not sure if I can do anything with it.any sugestions.greatly appreacated

          4. starzoe | | #44

            A dress form is just an aide to sewing, not a total solution to fitting.
            It is useful for draping, for general fitting but the final result comes down to actual fitting on the body the clothes are designed for. I would never suggest a beginner sewer, or one who sews only occasionally put out the substantial amount of money for a dress form. I have had several; gave the first one away to a design student in need and now have one that is accurate to a point - the bust height is not changeable which is a real disadvantage - but you get no idea of how a garment reacts to movement of an actual body. The truth is, I guess, that I have sewn for so long without the dress form, it is really not a necessity but an attractive and occasionally useful addition to my sewing room.

          5. Cityoflostsouls | | #54

            I could not fit on my old dressform because I couldn't adjust it properly but I loved having it for pinning in linings etc, and tailoring jobs.  Much better than working at a table.  I have sent for one altho actual fitting may not work on it.  However I'll throw my muslin up there and try!  I'd rather stand than bend or sit.

          6. sewingkmulkey | | #61

            I, too, have sewn for many years (50) and for hundreds of clients and never felt the need of purchasing a dress form other than for having one to display garments and photographing them as many bloggers do.  I guess I would say that my muslims are my dress forms as I know they perfectly fit me and my clients.

            There has been a lot of discussion about making muslims on this forum and steamstresses agree (nearly 100%) on their usefulness in achieveing properly fitted garments. 


          7. ccf | | #49

            I have dress forms that were made by wrapping my torso (at two different weights) in plaster bandages, letting them dry, cutting the cast apart, injecting it with foam and covering with ribbed knit. I love using this dress form because it is a replica of my actual body and I can fit on it. The forms were pricey so if you are just begining to sew I'd wait to invest in a dress form like this. For more info on the dress form I purchased, see: http://www.mytwindressforms.com/custom.htm

            Good luck with your sewing projects.


          8. Roznos | | #56

            We made dress forms using the Connie Crawford DVD -available in the back of Vogue Magazine.  You need at least two people - one to tape and on to get taped.  I think the total cost of the dress form (less the DVD) was about $50.  Was it worth it?  I can't really say.  I was the one doing the taping and I never learned to sew with a dress form but rather with a sloper ( I have a top sloper and a pant sloper).  I think the gals that had them themsleves taped were mostly amazed as to what they were really shaped like.  We ordered the tape (brown packaging like tape) from Connie Crawford and as we watched the DVD as we made the forms, too.

          9. Alexandra | | #36

            That dress form looks very intriguing but I'm sure it would take longer than 1 hr!

          10. ineedaserger329 | | #37

            I believe it!!!! I think if I were going to spend all of that time trying to make a dress form on my own, I think I would just go get a slip, some chicken wire, and plaster strips.....Growing up with two brothers, I have tons of experience with them.....we used to make molds of our faces and hands into candles....it was the scary things we melted on Halloween.....but good fun.

          11. MaryinColorado | | #38

            Wow!  That is so creative!  I can just visualize how spooky and fun that must have been!  We always got pretty inventive on Halloween too, everyone really enjoyed it!

          12. ineedaserger329 | | #39

            Yea, we got inventive, but the first time I was the guinea pig and they put the plaster right on my face....It took forever to grow my eyebrows back....I wish I had more of that creativity now....

          13. MaryinColorado | | #40

            Ouch!  I bet it took awhile to forget the memory of the pain too! 

            Speaking of eyebrows, my granddaughter decided to pluck her brows for the first time....she removed too much from the wider area and I had to teach her how to camoflage it....My hubby laughed a little too hard....karma came his way.....

            A week later, dear hubby was trimming his bushy brows with a beard and mustache trimmer and used the wrong side.....now he had half a brow on one side.  I came to the rescue again....next day he went in for a haircut, the people in the shop got an earful and lots of giggles hearing how I "fixed" this macho big man's eyebrows for work! 

          14. ineedaserger329 | | #41

            I had a friend in grade school that tried to pluck her eyebrows...with similar repercussions she then got frustrated and shaved them entirely off......thank goodness your granddaughter had someone to come to!!!

          15. MaryinColorado | | #42

            Yes, it was quite traumatic for her, they have grown back nicely though, thank goodness!

        2. User avater
          Becky-book | | #27

          Yes, that tape looks good, but at only 5 yards per roll you will need more than the suggested 2 rolls of duct tape (60 yards each).  The horse tape is twice as wide as duct tape so you will need to cut almost all the strips in half lengthwise.  The 2 inch wide duct tape was too wide for some of the finer points of construction!  And since it is stretchy, what will keep it in the right shape once you are out of it and it is left to its own devices?!!

          I am hopeful that the duct tape will lose its smell over time, maybe you could hang yours out in the garage for a while!


          1. ineedaserger329 | | #28

            LoL.....But if yours is anything like mine, the dress form will then smell like garage......but what can you do? I think they have 4" wide tapes out there.....for the bulk of the dress form, it would be great.... And another idea....my boyfriend suggested styrafoam...either 2" blocks or one big block that you have to cut down....I think it would be better in the 2" blocks, but it would be a lot of work, if you are only making one, it would be great.....just cover with fabric and either pin or glue in some way.....I would imagine just a couple long pins and a sturdy stand....

  3. User avater
    wghmch | | #5

    "I wish someone smart would invent a sewing machine that does not use a bobbin. Why couldn`t a machine work using a spool of thread feeding though the bottom?"

    Here is a "cut & paste" from one of my standard answers:

    A message to you from the desk of:

    Bill Holman
    Madison, Wisconsin

    “Why Can’t They Invent a Sewing Machine That Uses a Spool for a Bobbin”

    If I have heard this question once, I have heard it a thousand times, for the last forty years. The answer is, “They did,” but here is why it cannot work as people vision that it would. The original “two spool machine” with a place for a spool in the bobbin case was built way back in the treadle days, and there are still a few of these floating around today. The problem is that in order for a lock stitch machine to work, it has to form a loop from the upper thread, large enough to pass around the bobbin case, and draw it back to the fabric, for every stitch. If you need to make this loop large enough to pass around a spool instead of a bobbin, the take up lever that draws up the loop would resemble a small fishing rod in length and stroke. On an ordinary machine, any given spot on the upper thread must pass back and forth through the eye of the needle 30+ times before it ends up in the fabric. Every time it seesaws back and forth is another “opportunity” for the thread to break, and if the loop size were increased this much, you would be spending much more time rethreading the machine from the upper thread breaking.

    Another result of having to draw up this very large loop would be to slow the process of completing each stitch, so that the speed that the machine would be able to run would not be acceptable to many people.

    See, you weren’t the first person to ask this question after all.

    Bill Holman

    1. MaryinColorado | | #6

      Thank You for the information.  Very interesting.  Allways happy to have men join in. My son and grandsons all enjoy sewing and creating with all sorts of textiles as much as woodworking!  My grandfather once made a formal dress for his sister (their mother was deceased).  Some of my uncles crocheted.  I wish I had known this while they were still living, it really adds to the side I saw of husky outdoorsmen! 

      It is wonderful to know of all the men who digitize or design and make beautiful quilts, not to mention thier ability to improve on the software and machines and technical gadgets we love.

       Someone once explained a serger to me as more like crocheting as the stitches interlock too.  Mary

    2. User avater
      Becky-book | | #11

      Thanks for the bobbin-less answer, I was thinking something like that must be part of the reason.


    3. bonkers | | #17

      Thanks for your detailed reply to my question about the bobbinless machine. I had a vision of a way to run a thread into a bobbinlike device and catch it up rather than looping clear around a spool of thread. I know a real clever somebody could figure this out. After all, who would have thought a serger was possible in the 30s or 40s!! Meanwhile, I will keep on filling that darned bobbin!! Bonkers

  4. rsolish | | #10

    or at least some kind of sign(light, sound anything) when the bobbin thread runs out!!

    1. User avater
      Becky-book | | #13

      Bobbin out indicator...

      I read a tip, I think it was in Threads, about using a washable fabric marker to change the color of the first yard of thread you wind on the bobbin then you will see the color change between seams (not while you are sewing) and know that the end is near!!


      PS I think some of the new machines do have a bobbin indicator.

    2. fabricholic | | #15

      You need a Viking. Mine beeps when it is about to run out of bobbin thread. Marcy

    3. MaryinColorado | | #16

      My Viking has that, it is great!  Mary

  5. spicegirl | | #20

    No bobbin?  I just saw a demonstration using a serger to sew a cover for a toss pillow with a ruffle, cording and zipper.  Didn't watch that carefully, but it was on PBS's Sewing with Nancy.  The wesite for the PBS stations in your area should have a channel guide if you are interested in looking it up.  I know it was a few years old, as many shows like this are.

    I like the idea of having a non-steam iron.  Maybe sending in this request to the sewing and quilting divas would help - they may have someone's ear!  Some are listed in Threads as contributors and other magazines follow a very similar format in giving a little background on those who compose the featured articles. 

    1. solosmocker | | #21

      I too have often wished I had my MIL's old black iron without the steam holes and the fabric cord. Well, maybe not the fabric cord. I think an iron with no holes would be fabulous. My votes in on that one.

    2. bonkers | | #22

      Yes, I watch Sewing with Nancy every Sat. morning. I have thought of e-mailing her with my suggestions about the iron and other things. Believe I`ll do it now. Can`t hurt, right? That`s what we have these computers for!!I used to have my mothers old iron, but I threw it away about 1962 when I thought it was too old fashioned!! Oh , if we knew then what we have learned since!! Let`s all tell the manufacturers what we really want. Some times that works!! Bonkers

      1. spicegirl | | #23

        I found a smooth sole plate iron at the Vermont Country Store website.

  6. SueinNE | | #29

    Wish there was a laser-like device to rip out stitces.  Just shine the light on the thread and it is gone, but the fabric is untouched. 

    1. ineedaserger329 | | #30

      I think they have seem rippers out that look just like clippers used to cut short hair. I don't know how they last or how well they work, but they are out there.

    2. bonkers | | #31

      Now that would be a miracle!!! I think we will have to be content with the razor blades and seam rippers.

  7. fuzzer | | #34

    As to finding a steamless iron, try The Vermont Country Store.  They have a dry iron in their catalog and it's only 29.95.  I'm going to order one for myself.  Happy ironing.

  8. Ckbklady | | #45


    I'm just coming now to this thread and have some good news to share:

    Check out http://www.vermontcountrystore.com and put "iron" into the search box. It'll pull up 30-odd items, but one is called a Dry Iron and is exactly what you describe - flat soleplate, no steam.

    Also, there does exist a sewing machine that works without bobbins. I have a Willcox and Gibbs chainstitcher treadle from the 1880s that works the upper spool thread above and below the fabric to "weave" a chain through it and create a seam. It's a bit of a learning curve to chainstitch - you have to learn how to secure the seam when you stop or the whole thing pulls out. I've been told that garment shops and fashion houses use modern. motorized versions of them for easily removable hems on garments in runway shows. They're a single function machine, but lovely to use (and the old ones are sure pretty to look at!)

    Hope that's good news!

    :) Mary

    1. Palady | | #46

      >> ... I have a Willcox and Gibbs chainstitcher treadle ... <<

      How did you come to own your marvelous treasure?  Do you have a resource for needles?  Is maintenance of it similar to other machines of that era?

      To my knowing, the only current machine making a chain stitch - other than those toy types which are less than desireable - is a Husqarvana/Viking 936 serger.  Certainly pricey if the chain is the priamry interest.  Overall the machine can be useful to a sewist inclined to use it to it's fullest capacity.




      1. Ckbklady | | #47


        Yeah, the chainstitcher is neat! I bought it from the owner of the Treadle On forum, the venerable Captain Dick Wightman (http://www.treadleon.net). I've seen similar machines occasionally on Craigslist, and I'm sure they come around on eBay from time to time. I bought a stack of needles from a pal in the Treadle On group when I bought the machine. Luckily, a modern needle company, Gros-Beckert, makes a very similar needle to the ones originally made for the machine. It's a good thing, too, since the needles are nearly 3/4 of an inch shorter than the modern Schmetz or Singer or Klasse needles (I believe they are currently made for toy machines and perhaps for vintage machines like mine). I stocked up and am incredibly gentle with the machine and the needles so they last!

        You asked about maintenance - in many ways it's much simpler to care for than modern machines. I dust down the exposed areas underneath the throat plate with every use, and wipe the machine clean with a dry, soft cloth. The chainstitcher hook is exposed by sliding a little metal cover, so most all of the works are easily accessible for cleaning. Of course, I coo over it too - just like plants, elderly machines respond to a little love. :)

        The chainstitch feature on the HQ Viking you mention sounds similar. It can be pricey to have a single-feature machine, but if it performs that feature well, it's worth it (to me, anyway). I suspect that there are industrial machines that chainstitch, since most IMs perform only one function (but FAST!). I like noodling around on the Singer site (http://www.singerco.com) to look at the industrial machine pages.

        :) Mary

        1. Palady | | #50

          Gracious of you to reply to my inquiries.   Having insight can only be  + in any circumstance.   MO.

          >> ...  perform only one function ... <<   In addition to the industrials,  this can be said of the earlier domestic machines.  They did a straight stitch and for the most part did it very well. 

          Do you attend the treadler get together?


          1. Ckbklady | | #51


            True, indeed on both counts - insight can be a positive and the early machines didn't "do no zigzag", giggle.

            I don't know which treadle gathering you're referring to - they have them all over the US. There are members all over the world, so I hope that members get together elsewhere, too. I've been too broke to go to any for a while, but I have machines that don't use any costly electricity and a huge stash, so I'm happy as a clam. :)

            :) Mary


          2. Palady | | #52

            >> ... treadle gathering you're referring to ... <<

            Only ones coming to my attention were held in the mid west or far west. 

            Delighted to read of your enjoyment.


          3. Ckbklady | | #53

            Hiya back!

            Yeah, thanks - the northwest ones have been, in the past, terrific.

            I bought a handcrank on Craigslist from a woman who turned out to be a Treadle On member too. We joked about my request to be cautious and arrange the trade in a public place for the safety and privacy of both of us. She replied, "I collect handcranks - how weird can I be?" :) Good people and good times!

            :) Mary

          4. soie | | #58

            Hello Ckbklady,

            Just browsing and noticed your post about a hand crank sewing machine you purchased.  Did you buy yours to use, or just because?

            Someone I worked with brought one to show me which has been in his wife's family, from Mexico, and he was interested to know more about it.  I don't have a picture of it or anything, but do you have any advice on where I could tell him to look for information on it?  Unfortunately I didn't notice a brand name either, but how many makes could there have been in the hand-crank era? 

            Thanks for any input on this.


          5. Ckbklady | | #59

            Hiya Soie!

            Actually, I bought one handcrank and "got the bug" to get more and now have five. They range in age of manufacture from 1887 to 1952. I never bought any simply for display - I bought them all to use. They're all very different in their use, threading methods and features, and it's been a blast learning about them. I also have a biggish collection of vintage electrics from the 50s through to the 70s. They're also very different and a pleasure to learn about.

            I had been learning to use a treadle but wanted something portable for vintage sewing get-togethers and vacations. A people-powered machine that requires no electricity is the ultimate portable! My first handcrank was the 1887 Singer 12 "fiddlebase" which takes really, really hard to find needles, so I'm super gentle with it and don't ask it to stitch anything thicker than two layers of cotton. The "youngest" is a Singer 99 from the mid-50s, and it's tough as nails and takes modern (read: cheaper!) needles, so I give it the harder jobs.

            There actually were gazillions of sewing machine makers that have made handcranks over the years (both handcrankable machines and handcrank conversion kits). be warned! You'll find yourself falling down a rabbit hole of questions, though, as many manufacturers made machines under more than one name, and some manufacturers made "clones" of others' models. A puzzle, yes, but so fun! You should invite your pal to check out:




            These sites have info, lots of pictures and discussion boards on which your pal could get help identifying the machine. Also, I would mention that Damascus Annie, a member of this group, is a talented treadler and an expert on a couple of manufacturers, so you might wish to contact her also for suggestions and advice. She just moved house and hasn't been online much, but I expect we'll see her back soon.

            Those "machines without a tail" (power cord) really get under your skin because they're so elegant and quiet and pretty. If you browse the sites above I'll bet you'll start scanning Craigslist and eBay for handcrank machines near you!

            Happy hunting, and let us all here know if you succumb to a handcrank!

            :) Mary


          6. soie | | #60

            Thankyou, sounds like you are quite the enthusiast!  I'll have a look at these sites and see if there are some pictures resembling the handcrank that was shown me.  It does sound like a fun hobby.  I had an opportunity to learn the treadle machine while visiting with relatives in Europe, but didn't have enough time to spend with it.  My auntie (who doesn't speak English) was surprised at me that I couldn't just sit down and work it, which she did so easily!  some fun learning to look forward to :)

  9. sewslow67 | | #48

    I just want to see the "Streamstress" come back.  It was a very helpful tool to have while sewing.  It was made of very hard plastic, produced a lot of steam (you could adjust to have a large surface of steam or just a tiny narrow amount) and the bottom of the steamer was cool to the touch, so you couldn't possibly burn the fabric.

    It worked better than any steamer I've ever used, was light weight, could get into small spaces to steam seams open, was powerful enough to fuse any amount of interfacing ...and on and on.  I loved it, and miss mine terribly.  It didn't "die" on me, but got cracked in a move when a friend didn't pack it carefully.

    I've tried and tried to find another one, but they don't seem to produce it anymore and I can't seem to find a used one.  If anyone has one to sell or knows where I could find another one, please let me know.

  10. Cherlyn | | #55

    I would love for this to be invented too!  I agree that it is frustrating to stop in the middle of a seam just to refill a bobbin.  I have looked at the bobbin winders several times.  For now, when I begin a project, I make it a habit to fill two bobbins first, before threading my machine.  I used to own a Singer that wond the bobbin in the bobbin case; therefore, eliminating the unthreading and re-threading.  It was wonderful! 

    1. bonkers | | #57

      Cherlyn, I bought the SideWinder bobbin winder about three months ago when it was on sale at JoAnns`. I like it just fine except I think it winds too fast for some thread. It is really handy when I run out of thread in the middle of topstitching . Just have to remember to always have an extra spool of thread to match or you have to  unthread the machine. Another great invention is the old Singer bolt-on buttonhole maker that came with a lot of the Singer machines from the 50s & 60s. They will fit on many of the newer machines and make the best buttonholes ever. They are rounded on the ends instead of bar-tacked. Very proffessional looking. Some times they can be found at garage sales or thrift stores. Keep sewing, Bonkers

This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All