10 Must-Have Sewing Tools

clover marking set

My head is buzzing with plans for my Fall wardrobe from InStyle magazine (my fashion favorite) - a good fashion magazine or two is where I always start. Once I've identified and torn out the styles I love, I head for the pattern catalogs or my own plentiful stash to see what I can match up. My goal is to turn "high style" into "my style" and have the pleasure of creating my own unique wardrobe while playing with the gorgeous designer fabrics (straight from the Fasion District in L.A.) I've brought home from our stores. Once the plans are made, it's time to gather up my BFFs - the tools I can't sew without! So, (or is that sew?), here's my Top Ten - in no particular order. They're all my "must haves"!

45mm Olfa Deluxe Ergonomic Rotary Cutter. I do virtually all my cutting with a rotary cutter and usually have a couple around. One with a regular blade and one with a pinking blade. I love using the pinking edge for quick seam finishes and like having two cutters so I don't have to keep swapping out the blades. My sewing time is too valuable to spend on blade swapping, so $21.99 each is well worth it to me. This Olfa Deluxe makes it easy to follow the golden rule of rotary cutters with the little red lock. Lock the blade every time you set it down! And the handle really is comfy enough for lots of cutting.

2. Collins Styling Design Ruler. I discovered this ruler ever so many years ago and it has been the source of many hours of designing and pattern re-vamping pleasure. There are markings for armhole and hip curves that have been invaluable and I find it actually inspires me to think "outside of the pattern" in so many other ways, too. I can't stand just following a pattern and must make it my own somehow. That's the creative part! So, I find that the curves, angles and straight edges of this little dandy are just what I need. Best $16.49 I ever invested!

3. Clear Elastic. I keep 1/4" and 1/2" around at all times and love the versatility of this ready to wear style elastic. It comes in 4 - 5 yard packs for about $1.99, so you can't beat the price. What do I do with it? It's a great elastic to use on a sleeve cap or neckline that needs stabilizing (apply it with a slightly less than 1:1 ratio). It's my favorite for gathering evenly (cut the elastic to the finished length and stretch while you sew), too. And if you make lingerie or swimwear, it finishes your leg, neck and armholes without the "bump" you get from regular nylon or cotton elastic.

4. Pattern Paper. I can't just stick to the pattern - right? So, pattern paper is essential! Plus, there are SO many great books out there that come with patterns for you to trace and use. The books are such a good value when you look at the price of individual patterns. I love the rolls of Bosal pattern paper we carry at Pacific Fabrics and the Palmer/Pletsch Perfect Pattern Paper is really cool, too. Find your favorite!

5. Wrist Pincushion. Lots of styles out there! I've used a wrist pincushion forever and my children say they remember me with one on at all times while they were growing up. I think they're exagerating, but I do remember going up to the mailbox with my tape measure (another essential) around my neck and my pincushion on my wrist numerous times. You don't want to stop sewing to plow through all the stuff around your machine and find the pincushion. Problem solved - easily!

6. Dritz Extra Fine White Glass Head Pins. Pins that stay in the fabric!!! Pins that I can see on the floor before I step on them in my bare feet! Lots of them! There are other colors, but somehow the white looks professional to me and I love that feel in my sewing studio. A bargain at $7.49 for 250!

7. Sharp Seam Ripper. As ye sew, so shall ye rip. 'Nough said!

8. Thread Snips. Right by the machine or around your neck on a ribbon at ALL times! I love the ones made by Gingher, but there are lots of brands to choose from. Just make sure you have some. Scissors don't count!

9. 8" Shears. Not for thread snipping (see above), but this is what I use for trimming seam allowances, cutting off excess length and re-shaping as I go. The rotary cutter is great for the initial cutting, but I couldn't live without my shears. Gingher in my case, again, but I know lots of Mundial and Fiskar fans, too. There's a shear match made in heaven waiting for you, I'm sure.

10. Clover Chacopel Fine Marking Pencil Set. Oh, how I love these! You get four colors on three pencils and one end to brush away the marks, plus a pencil sharpener for just $6.99. Great colors for any fabric and the sharpener means you can work with a nice fine point for accuracy. I really love these because my hand is very comfortable with holding a pencil shaped tool rahter than some of the other oddly shaped marking tools I've tried. Again - it's all about efficiency for me!

Okay, fashion sewists - ready, set, stitch! Get your "must" haves together and sew, Sew, SEW!!! Oh! And if you have a favorite on your Top Ten that isn't on mine, leave a comment. I'm always looking for more BFFs for my studio!

~ Annette

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