Free-Motion Friday · Notions

Beyond the Needle: Tools of the Trade

Last week, I made a life-changing, sewing-related purchase.

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It’s hard to tell from a photo, but this little bowl has magic powers. Wherever stray pins might be—sprinkled across the cutting table, strewn across the sewing desk, embedded in the carpet—this gravity-defying device finds and yanks them into its shiny belly. Some may say its power comes from magnets, not magic, but personally? I’ve never met an ordinary fridge sticker that can do what this guy can.

I’m kidding about the magic (kind of!), but the Dritz Longarm Magnetic Pin Bowl really has changed my sewing life. Prior to this purchase I’d been keeping my pins in the small plastic box they came in, which had become a problem. Mostly because I’d stepped on the small plastic box more than once, and tiny quilt daggers were constantly slipping through the resulting cracks. It was time for an upgrade, and for me, this bowl was the perfect choice. Not only does it keep pins secure, it also finds them! I can run this baby across the carpet and fallen pins will literally ping to its center like, well, magnets to metal. I can’t recommend it enough!

And since I’m sharing this glistening gadget, I thought I’d also share some of my other favorite tools of the trade. These are things I knew nothing of when I first started sewing, and that I learned about as time, and projects, went by. Like the Magnetic Pin Bowl, they might not look like much, but they’re mighty handy!

Border Guide Sewing Machine Foot

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This little foot is a HUGE help when quilting. If I wanted straight lines before, I’d have to measure and mark every single one, which was tedious and time-consuming. But with this nifty little contraption, I can simply follow seams and other stitched lines via the foot’s red markings, have perfectly spaced gaps—and save a ton of time. I’ll still draw lines as needed, but for 1/4″ and 1/2″ straight lines in particular, this tool is invaluable. The link takes you to a Janome model, but there are others for different sewing-machine brands.

Sewing Clips

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These aren’t exactly a secret, but it took me a while to find them! Prior to this purchase I’d pin everything when sewing. That was time-consuming—and occasionally painful!—when quilting/binding, and often impractical when sewing with canvas, faux leather, and thicker fabrics. The clips solved all those problems, and now binding and sandwiching thicker fabrics couldn’t be easier. There are many kinds on the market, and some will swear by one brand in particular, but I’ve found these to be super strong and durable. I also love the pastel colors—and the price!

Self-Locking Hemostat Pliers

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Hemostat pliers? For sewing? Yes! These handy grabbers are ideal for turning hard-to-reach inside-out items, like straps and other small projects, right-side out. I used to have another sewing tool that was designed specifically for this purpose, but I could never get it to do what it was supposed to. These guys, on the other hand, can slip into the narrowest of spaces, grab the tiniest piece of fabric, and hang on tight while you pull and tug. I most recently used them for my Quilted Little Leaves, and they couldn’t have been more helpful.

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Are there magical sewing tools you can’t live without? If you’d like to share, please do!

And have a wonderful weekend!

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