Every craft and medium requires the right tool for the job. And while most men won’t need a Shape-A-Dart for altering patterns to match the proper cup-size, we do love us some gear, and sewing notions are no exception. Here are ten tools – beyond the obvious needle/thread and sewing machine/bobbin combos – you’ll never regret buying.
1. Seam ripper. I hate to admit it, but this is the sewing tool I use the most. One doesn’t nail every stitch every time, and there’s simply no better way to get it out and start fresh. These are also great for ripping apart clothing for fabric hacking and reuse.
2. Tailor’s chalk/Marking Pen As a pencil is to woodworking, tailor’s chalk is essential to proper seamster-ing. You gotta be able to mark what your doing – where to sew, where to cut, where to pin, and tailor’s chalk, in both white (for dark fabrics) and blue (for lighter ones) is my favorite medium, as it rubs right out. They also make markers and pencils for special projects and fabrics – a water soluble pen is handy for special projects (like embroidery) when you need drawing control.
3. High-Quality Knife-Edge Shears. Get good ones, keep ’em sharp, and don’t let them go anywhere near a piece of paper. These are the chef’s knives of the craft world, and you most certainly get what you pay for, so do it right (read: Gingher 8″ dressmaker shears) the first time.
4. Pins and pin cushion. Yes, you need ’em. Get a bunch; I go for the ones with the big shiny heads, cause it makes them easier to find by sight, rather than by bare feet. Bonus points for non-tomato pin cushions.
5. High-quality iron and ironing board. It’s amazing – the clothing iron your mom made you use to get wrinkles out of your clothes actually gets wrinkles out of clothes! Cool, huh? Most pros won’t start sewing anything that hasn’t been properly pressed. Also, ironing can be the catalyst to all kinds of magical tricks that happen when heat’s applied.
6. Rotary cutter. Perfect for cutting straight lines, either with the grain, or on the bias. Oh, and you have one of these already. It’s called a pizza cutter. ‘Cept don’t use that one, cause it’ll get cheese and tomatoes and stuff all up in your fabric. And it won’t work as well. These come with straight and wavy blades, which can be used for pinking. Get one of each, and please, please, PLEASE be careful.
7. Self-healing cutting mat. These guys are the perfect companion to the rotary cutter above, but are plenty useful in other situations. The measurements gives any surface a perfect grid system that eliminates lots of ruler grabbing. I say get the biggest one you can afford and store. You’ll be amazed by how much you use it.
8. Thimble. Don’t be a tough guy – a needle in the finger hurt your grandma, and it’ll hurt you. A lot. Plus, thimbles can provide sturdiness when pushing through several layers or tough fabrics. They come in lots of different sizes, so be sure its big enough to fit your man hands. I actually have one made of goat leather, which is flexible and way less irritating.
8. Flexible measuring tape. Sure, that yard of fabric you bought is more-or-less two-dimensional, but your body isn’t. These bend way easier than the retractable metal ones from the hardware store. And, once you have one, you’ll be surprised how often it comes in handy in other applications.
9. T-Square. Yard stick, straight-edge, and right-angle all in one. Awesome.
10. Organizing Tools. So, not really a notion, but, c’mon, it’s important to keep your stuff straight and protected. Be sure to grab a tool-box of sorts – Art Bin, old lunch box, tackle box, etc, that contains a way to keep sharp stuff stuff and safely away. And a bobbin case will really help manage those thread tails.
What have we missed? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.