If you’re like me, you have a limited amount of time for sewing, and even though you’d like to spend every waking second working on your latest projects, it’s just not possible. So you want to maximize the time you have to sew by using tools that increase your efficiency and make everything easier.
In this post, I’ll show you all of the sewing tools that I use to make life easier, so you can spend more time sewing and less time on prep work.
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My Favorite Sewing Tools
Everyone knows that ironing is a key step in sewing, and that ironing can make or break a project. When I first started sewing, I got a second hand iron from a thrift store. I think it was $3. It served its purpose initially, but I found that I was spending sooo much time ironing, and sometimes my fabric was still wrinkled, even after I’d spent ages ironing!
I decided to get a better iron, and after reading a bunch of reviews and doing some research, I decided on a Rowenta iron. You can see how much larger it is than my original iron, as well as the difference in steaming ability by the number of holes in the bottom. Using the Rowenta iron saves so much time and results in a much better press. I don’t know how I ever lived without it!
Quilt clips are great for holding pieces together when you don’t want to use pins (or when you’re too lazy to use pins). Pins will leave permanent holes in leather or vinyl, so quilt clips are perfect for holding these materials. You can even hold your quilt binding on with them, as they were originally meant to do!
When I first started sewing, I used a larger 45mm Fiskars rotary cutter, and I really struggled with it. I had trouble controlling it when cutting around curves or sharp angles. It fought me every step of the way, and I cut myself on it more than once. I was nearly convinced that I just didn’t have the necessary skills to use a rotary cutter.
The 28mm Olfa rotary cutter was a game changer for me. The smaller size allows for greater control, the blades are higher quality, and the design of the cutter just worked better for me. My pattern cutting time was dramatically reduced by this tool, which is great because it leaves more time for sewing!
I may not like Fiskars’ rotary cutter, but I love their mats. Get the biggest mat you can afford because it will make your life so much easier in the long run. This particular mat is large enough for most projects, but small enough to easily store when you’re not using it. I like the fact that Fiskars prints the grid on both sides of the mat, so you can use either the white or the gray side, depending on the color of your fabric. This way, it’s easy to see what you’re doing by selecting the best contrasting mat color. It also means that you get two mats in one, if one side starts to get sliced up. It is self-healing, but these mats do wear out over time.
I have several rulers, but this one is my favorite by far. It’s long enough to use for bigger projects, but great for smaller projects, too. The colored edges easily mark off 1/2″ for reference on the bottom and side. It’s great for squaring up fabric, evening edges, and cutting precisely. It includes various angle lines as well, in case you need to cut on the bias or use other angles for pattern drafting. If you need a general purpose ruler, this is a good choice.
It’s important to be able to mark your fabric to note any darts, center points, notches, or other key points on your pattern. I’ve struggled to find a marker/pencil that works well, but this ceramic pencil does a great job of marking the fabric, while remaining removable, but not easily wiping off/disappearing. With fabric markers, I’ve found myself going over and over a point on the fabric just to get a decent mark. This pencil marks fabric easily and clearly. You can also get dark colored lead for this pencil.
This might seem a little pricey for a thread chart, but if you like buying thread online, it’s a must-have. This makes it super easy to match your fabric to a particular color, so you can order it in bulk online. I like to order my thread from wawak.com because they have the best prices, and this thread chart makes my life so much easier!
I didn’t have a dress form for over a year of my sewing life, and once I got one, I couldn’t believe the difference it made! It’s much more difficult to fit a piece of clothing on yourself than it is to fit something on the dress form. With the dress form, you can step back and examine the piece of clothing, clip/pin it to see how alterations might look, and you won’t mess anything up by holding it closed at an odd angle while you try to determine how things are going.
Dritz 1/4″ Wonder Tape
I love this tape. Using it feels a bit like cheating, but that’s okay. The tape is double-sided, safe to sew through on your sewing machine, and it washes away in the laundry. It’s perfect matching up seams, holding hems in place, or making sure you have the perfect mitered corner on a quilt or pot holder. If you only need single-sided tape, surgical tape works well for that. I use single-sided tape to hold zippers in place and keep purse straps where I want them.