In this case I am talking about those little gadgets I keep in my drafting and sewing kit that make my life easier, make me more efficient, and help the whole experience be more pleasurable. I’ve included links below to where you can find these, if you are interested. These are, of course, in addition to your basic sewing and drafting tools, and a good pincushion.
- I’ll start with my favorite. A nice sharp pair of dressmaking shears that are ONLY used for fabric. I didn’t opt for the most pricey pair, and my favorite ones are a pair of Gold Gingher Dressmaking Shears that my brother gave me for my birthday about 15 years ago. I recently had them sharpened and they are now, again, like new.
- The second little gadget I love is my thread snips. My favorite pair are ones I bought years ago at the Wellfleet Flea Market. I think they were probably some sort of haircutting scissor, but they work wonderfully. But I recently bought a pair of fiskars that I like just as much.
- I’d have to list my magnetic seam guide as the third most used item. I picked it up a few years ago and now keep one in the drawer of each of my machines. It magnetically attaches to the metal plate on your sewing machine, so on those days when i’m a little more tired or distracted, it’s easier to keep track of my seam allowance, as all I have to do is run my fabric to the edge. It does require that you pin vertically and not horizontally, and can be a little tricky when sewing inner corners and curves, but all in all, it rarely leaves my machine.
- The next two items go hand in hand. I hate sharpening pencils and I despise eraser streaks. I’ve found that these two, when kept in my drafting kit make things go much more smoothly. The Papermate pencils I love are a retro throwback and come in all sorts of cute colors, and the click erasers are soft and white so there are no streaks, even on tissue paper!
- My construction teacher Sara turned me on to this next little happy item. The Frixion pen is a thermo-sensitive gel ink pen that can be used on cloth. The best part is…the marks IRON away! Great on muslin or on fabrics you know you will be ironing.
- I finally found a transfer paper that I love. For a long time I was using those small sheets of chalky annoyance. While those are great for silks and brocades because you can just brush them away, I found that I prefer the wax-like quality of the ones carried by Richard the Thread. Not only are the huge big sheets that you can break down into any size you need, they are perfect for muslin, and as you are going to trim off the seam allowance a bit anyway, or cut just inside the lines, they are perfect.
- The next thing to list are my drafting rulers. I have a few, but these three are my favorite. The first, an 18” x 2” clear grid ruler is the perfect tool for drafting. I also bought a smaller version, which I prefer for adding seam allowance as it lets me get around corners much better and only measures 6” x 1”. Great sewing kit size. The third I think classified as a quilting ruler, but I like the transparency and solidity when using either my xacto or my rotary cutter, because it’s solid enough that neither will slice through it. They come in both a 2.5″ width and a 3″ width. I use both equally.
- My lockable rotary cutter. Seriously. I can’t tell you how many times I have cut myself with one of these. This one has a grip like handle and will self-cover when released. It also has a lock button which I rely on when carrying my sewing kit anywhere.
- Another little favorite of mine is the measuring gauge. This is another one of those things I keep in my machine drawer. It’s really handy for checking your seam allowance and needle positioning.
- When I am sewing tricky fabrics, like slippery silks or leathers, I always reach for these little double pronged hair clips. You can find them in a lot of beauty stores as well. If you can’t find the hair clips, there are quilting “wonder” clips—although though I prefer not to use these on easy-to-cruh fabrics, they are great for bulky fabrics and leathers as well.
- The last thing I’m going to list here is my sewing stiletto. I have a beautiful rosewood stiletto from Lacis and another bone one that was a hand me down from Justin’s grandmother. You can find all types of sewing stilettos online. The most important thing is that it is small and fits easily into the area near your presser foot. It’s handy for helping to feed tricky parts through your machine, whether making pleats, stitching over seam allowances, or making sure your edges stay down. If you are in a pinch, you can also shorten and sharpen a chopstick.
Well that’s it for now. Happy sewing!