According to dictionary.com, the word notions has six definitions. The ones we care about in the quilting world are the last two: “an ingenious article, device, or contrivance”…and “small articles, such as buttons, thread, ribbon, etc.” No matter how your sewing space is setup, be it elaborate or simple, permanent or fluid, you no doubt keep the same notions next to you when you work.
The purpose of tools is to make whatever you’re doing easier. For me, the notions I can’t seem to sew without are these:
I probably have 10 pair of scissors in my sewing studio. I could certainly get by with just one pair but I like having choices. Some solely for fabric, a pair for batting, pinking shears, and ones just for tacky fusibles, to name a few. Snips are great for a quick clip. Precision tip scissors help when cutting small pieces of fabric, especially if part of what I’m cutting is still under the presser foot. I tend to do some finishing touches as I go when quilting. Embroidery scissors are great for closely cutting pesky threads that stick out but are caught in the seam.
I’m not talking about high heels here, but a pointy tool that is one of the most versatile in your toolbox. It pushes stubborn bumps under the presser foot, it can gently pull from behind, keep fabric lined up without a pin, and poke out the finished corners of a project. The “purple thang” by Lynn Graves (Little Foot LLC) can even act as a bodkin and has a ¼ inch measure built into one end of it.
✐ Marking pen
Choose from pen, pencil, chalk or marker. Air erasable, water soluble or a light touch but permanent, there is a marking device that meets your need. This helps to keep your eye on the line and comes in many colors to be visible on any fabric. Marking pens are great for free motion quilting too.
Like scissors, pins come in a wide variety. Long pins with large heads (like the yellow flower ones) are easy to see and grasp, plus the length allows you to go through several thick layers at once. Glass heads can be ironed without fear of melting. For delicate jobs, I like the ultra fine extra long plain metal pins. Safety pins are of course a staple too, but I tend to use those mainly for basting.
📌 Mini screwdriver
When changing needles or presser feet, and for machines without a pop-off throat plate, this little guy gives leverage in tight spaces. One usually comes with your machine and can look like a shortened version of a standard screwdriver or resemble a flat metal key. If yours has disappeared into the abyss along with missing socks, you know that nickels, dimes, and fingernails cannot do the job as well. Check out our 2-pack of “stubbies” – one flat head and one Phillips head.
🧹 Brush for cleaning
Lint removal is part of good machine maintenance. The rule of thumb is every bobbin change. A brush can get the big clumps out but what to do for those hard to reach areas? Tweezers are an option but a better choice, without the risk of electrocution, are our reusable micro Q-tips sold in packs of 12.
📏 Dressmaker’s ruler
Have you ever needed to measure right before your project goes under the needle? I find a small ruler invaluable to double check a seam or fabric alignment. I’d rather take a moment to be sure than to rip out a seam later.
💫 Wonder clips
Not just for binding – these beauties have a flat side and a curved side to accommodate any shape. They come in different sizes and colors and have strength to stay on. Depending on the project, I use them in place of pins especially if I’m turning and manipulating the fabric as with a bag pattern. Their strong hold and lack of pointy ends can be ideal for transporting without sticking to other thing. They can even double as a hair clip in a pinch!
For all my notions, I like having duplicates. Over the last few years I have put together a small travel bag that has everything I need for sewing away from home. Whether packing for a retreat or social sewing at a friend’s, I no longer need to run from room to room rifling through tote bags frantically searching for that one tool. I can grab my machine and travel bag in a jiffy.
All notions this week are 18% off!
Stock your travel bag or pick up holiday gifts for sewing pals.
Know a newbie sewer? Put together the notions they need!
Happy sewing everyone,
Phyllis and the QA staff