It probably won’t surprise you when I say I really believe the right tools and gadgets make a huge difference to my sewing projects; whether it simplifies a process, neatens an outcome or just makes me smile in using it. So I thought I’d share a collection of the latest gizmos to have quickly become indispensable to my sewing kit. Who knows, something here may catch your eye! They’d all make great Christmas Stocking fillers; just sayin’.
First up, I’ve got this funky little acrylic sleeve placket template from LunaGrafix.com’s Etsy Store. If you’ve sewn sleeve plackets before, like me, you may also find the trickiest part is actually marking your fabric pieces sufficiently. There’s a lot of marks to transfer (fold lines, notches, slash mark etc). This nifty little tool, designed to produce a 1″ wide placket, has cut-outs in all the right places to make pattern transferring that much easier. I’d also imagine this is really handy if you’d like to add a placket to a sleeve that isn’t drafted with them. As a caveat, I will say that this template is obviously of a fixed average size…and it may be bigger (or smaller!) than you want; however, I still think it’s useful for transferring those pesky markings!
It comes with an illustrated instruction booklet or see Inside The Hem’s vlog on how to use it here.
Next up we have what I think is one of the handiest little tools, perfect to pop into your bag when out fabric shopping or if you’re wanting to check your stashed fabric meets the stretch requirements of your pattern, I’m talking about the …
Stretch Percentage Ruler – I know, I know … your going to tell me how easy it is to calculate this using some magic mathematical formula or simply using a standard ruler…but I’m telling you, it ain’t happening! For whatever reason, my brain just refuses to cooperate and I get a ‘Computer Says No‘ sign (with accompanying Claxon noise) flash before my eyes every time I try…I needed a gadget and this is it! To use, simply fold your fabric, hold the initial 10 cms to its mark then stretch that to the point it will comfortably stretch – this sample stretches 35% for e.g.
I bought mine from its maker (@sewitwithDi on Instagram); or you can email Di at email@example.com if you’d like one!
Bodkins – I’m just going to come right out and say it, waggy finger an’ all, if you’re still using safety pins to thread elastic or ribbon or whatever…stop it. Stop it right now; pins bursting open half way through your elastic channel sound familiar? Why give yourself that grief!? I’ve used the plastic threaders in the past but this ‘Pinch & Grab’ bodkin is truly The Biz! You can slide that little nodule up and down to accommodate different width and thickness of elastic. Release it, insert your elastic between the teeth then slide the nodule as far up as it will go. Your elastic is held super securely and you’ll have that casing threaded in no time! I bought my Clover ones here.
Tailors Press/Clapper – Oh my goodness, I’d been wanting one of these for sooooo long and I’m really chuffed to have finally got my hands on one! Perfect for setting seams, pleats, creases and flattening bulky seams…just steam/press with your iron then press your clapper over; it will absorb the steam and lock the heat into your fabric. I still haven’t quite figured out how to use the points presser bits for pressing cuffs, lapels, collar points and whatnot but all in good time! (I got mine here). It has its own ‘pride of place’ on my pegboard!
…and talking of my pegboards, I’ve got to say, my IKEA ‘Skadis’ pegboards are a constant source of joy. Since my ‘Sewing Area Set-Up’ post at the beginning of this year, the area has continued, ahem, unsurprisingly, to expand. I added a second pegboard as part of that….and I’m currently eyeballing a third! You can get so many different accessories for them to enable you to put all your most-used tools within arms reach.
I was sent these adorable Reel Pattern Weights by the very lovely Lou; the talented maker behind Foxglove & Field. They may look adorably cutesy but don’t be fooled; these handmade pattern weights are hefty beasts weighing a whopping 130g apiece! Yes, each. Perfect paired with a rotary cutter when you don’t want to use pins, or simply if you just want to hold your fabric still on your cutting table as you pin, these fab weights are sold in packs of six in a variety of finishes…mine are the ‘Scatter Cat’ ones. (You can find the rest of the range here).
Clover Double Tracing Wheel – Seam/Hem Allowance Marker – quite a nifty little tool this, especially if you want, say, to work with a Burda magazine pattern (which don’t have seam or hem allowances built into the pattern pieces). In a nutshell, it allows you to place one wheel on the pattern line with the second wheel then marking out your seam or hem allowance to the width you require; the wheel spacing is adjustable between 10 mm and 30 mm.
Wonder Tape – ah Wonder Tape…this single sided adhesive tape truly lives up to its name and washes away in the first wash! I practically use this stuff on every single thing I make; it’s incredibly versatile and useful. For example, I use it to hold patch pockets (and their folded seam allowances) in place before sewing (really helps with accurate pattern matching!) No need to baste zips in place before sewing in, just back them with this tape instead; pinion buttons, hold seam allowances flat out of the way in casings etc etc; I’m sure you can think of a million uses for it. Ok, a million might be stretching the point a bit but you get the gist. I buy mine here.
Tailors Awl – oh I don’t need one of those; I’ll just raid a kebab skewer from the kitchen. I said that. I was wrong. This super-sharp awl makes punching holes through fabric much less of a risky nerve-wracking prospect; great for rivet insertion etc.
To be fair I could go on and on and on but I think perhaps I best leave it here for now! However, if you fancy, you can read my first ever tools/gadget roundup type post here.
Until next time, please tell me : what’s your favourite – or most unusual – sewing tool/gadget!?