Sharena, the Creative Seamstress, shares with us her Top 13 must-have sewing items, alongside a few clever sewing tips and tricks to help you make the most of your sewing stash!
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No. 1: The one sewing item I can’t live without is the rotary cutter, because I can use this for everything, when cutting around fabric, a pattern, or undoing stitching. Although they are useful, sometimes it takes too long to use a seam ripper, and the rotary cutter is so much quicker. When I want to undo something, I always use this.
No. 2: My second would be my magnetic wand, to pick up all the needles off the floor. I’ll drop needles and can’t see where they’ve gone, so I get this and just whizz it around underneath the boxes on the floor. If there’s a needle, it’ll pick it up. It nearly made the number 1 spot!
No. 3: Fabric chalk. Regular chalk is more powdery, breaks apart and is more messy. Whereas fabric chalk doesn’t transfer to my hands; it’s more waxy and doesn’t create chalk dust. I draw on fabric with this and can either rub it or wash it out. I would use this if drawing around a pattern, or doing a stitch line. I’d use a ruler or set square and draw that line, so that when stitching it’s marked on so I know it will be straight; then I can just wash out the marks later.
For an alternative to fabric chalk, try Dressmaker’s Pencils.
No. 4: My set square. I use this when making patterns, to make sure my lines are straight and it’s symmetric. I can use it for other craft things, too; anything that needs a straight line.
No 5: A tape measure. I use a tape measure for everything. I might need to measure someone for a skirt, dress or any kind of measurements, really.
No 6: Of course – a glue gun! I love my glue gun and use it for everything, not necessarily clothes! I use the glue gun to make Barbie clothes for my daughter, so I use it to make little bits. Perhaps doll furniture – a makeshift bed or something, or even sticking gems onto costumes or doll clothing. Basically, it’s perfect for things you’re not going to put in the wash, as the glue would then melt.
No 7: Scissors. A handy hint – only use these to cut fabric and not paper! So have a pair for fabric and a pair for paper, and don’t use them for both because it blunts the blade, which I learnt!
No 8: Pinking shears. These are used for trimming the edges of fabric to stop them from fraying. Very useful as an alternative to using an overlocker or a zig-zag stitch to seal off the edges of your fabrics.
No 9: Pins. I use to hold fabrics in place. When cutting out a pattern, I’d pin the pattern to the fabric and cut it out, if I didn’t want to use the chalk.
No 10: Tweezers. They help me to thread my overlocker. With having little gaps and big fingers, you can’t get into those little gaps! So these solve the problem.
No. 11: Pattern weights are so useful – I use them to hold the pattern on top of the fabric, to keep it in place whilst I’m cutting or marking the outline with the chalk.
No. 12: Binder clips. I use them for the same things I use pins, but with thicker fabrics. If I’ve got layers of those fabrics, it holds better with the binder clips, as sometimes the pins can’t go through. Some of my pins are bent from trying to force them through a thick layer of fabric! Binder clips make this much easier.
No. 13: Last but not least, it’s my iron! I use my iron to press seams open or to iron fabric. It helps when you’re working on the machine, so you have your fabric ironed out so you can sew straight and not sewing over creases, which doesn’t make your finished product look good. It also makes your seams look more professional.