Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Notion Commotion, Part 1

I have pretty much neglected this sub section of my blog. It was supposed to be the place I share my sewing knowledge... but I'll be frank, looking on it now, it seems kind of redundant, seeing as I typically do that somewhere on this blog anyway. The only difference is that I'll be adding my sewing buys and reviews, which might've made it to Spooky Basket in the past... but I'll keep that for my non sewing related rants and raves.
That said, I think it's about time for another post consolidation session, AKA a blog clean up.

What was formerly Creepy Crafty Crusades will be henceforth known as Mortem's Sewing Tricks or Treats.
I like the sound of it better than C.C.C ... I feel like it better reflects what I do, and it fits better with the new design I have going on.

To begin this post kick off, I want to share some of my favorite notions.

The inspiration for this post came during the beginning weeks of January, the shop where I work at has been buzzing with the new floor plan laid out by boss lady and her best friend. Why is this relevant to sewing notions? Well, dear readers, along with the "unsalable" outs of the shop, we have uncovered a few unsold old notions-- notions from the 80's and 90's hiding away all this time...

We didn't uncover anything that significant, but the discovery reminded me how much I absolutely love sewing gadgetry. Things that are pleasantly helpful but ultimately frivolous... not that I care whether or not my sewing room is wracked with capriciousness.

This is what this post is about. Cool things, neat things, things that make you exclaim 'Ahhh' gleefully.

I know, in the same post I talk of redundancies... I beat the 'sewing notions' dead horse some more, heh.

In my selections, I have included a few of my recent purchases, mixed in with older but they all serve me very well despite not technically meeting the "absolute must have" criteria for me, that so many people seem to place them under. So while I do rave about the items, I do mention their alternatives.

Anyway, onto the product rambling.

1. Dritz Quick Turn 

There are plenty of ways to turn a tube in sewing. Lots of frugally inclined people prefer the ever economic pencil, which has the only benefits of being cheap and easily accessible... but, it's a tool that has been vastly improved upon since its humble beginnings as a writing implement... you can choose from many tube turning gadgets, which include the point former and tube turner, (that looks as though it belongs on a medical tray than in a sewing box) and the classic Loop Turner for example (which offers nights of shrieking in frustration because that darn hook frays your fabric like crazy).

All great choices ultimately, but for my dollar and highest recommendation, I love the tube turners pictured; The Dritz Quick Turns. It's not a new revelation, in fact people used different size straws and chopsticks before this was mass produced... but certainly one nevertheless. To turn tubes with these, one of the ends of the tube is basted shut and the plastic portion shoved inside to that end on the inside, then it's a matter of taking your stick portion and pushing through the tube from the outside. The result? Making extremely quick and easy work of one of the most tedious tasks in sewing, with little to no shrieking in the process. It helps that they're also purple. Can you believe I phoned 3 different Joann's in the surrounding area and even contacted a Dritz representative to find these in a purple colorway? Yes, I am that passionate about my sewing equipment, especially if they're available somewhere in the world in the color purple. By the way, the customer service rep at Dritz was a doll, she was extremely amenable to a sewist as picky as me-- you're technically not supposed to use that channel for purchasing, but I was very persistent (bad me for being so pushy-- do not follow my example in that regard *cough*).

2. Seamfix Seam Ripper

I received my first Seamfix from a retired (and escaped to Phoenix) friend in Holbrook who was downsizing a few things from her sewing room. She gave me a teal one, and I have never looked to another ripper since. As you can see I upgraded to purple, and the usefulness of it continues to gain copious amounts of popularity.

The rubbery/silicone tips remove the cut trimmings after they've been ripped. I am not a pro seamstress, I make many mistakes... so this is just beautiful and saves my poor RSI/CT ridden hands from having to pick them out. They're easy to clean, and much more portable than your average travel sized reusable lint roller (but it does do the job, if that's all you have).
I find the hive like side the less useful of the sides surprisingly enough... perhaps it's because I deal more with fiddly curved areas than the typical straight line in quilting (the target audience for this tool). The "nipple" side is the best side for us garment sewists-- small and pointed for more accurate short strokes.

It really looks like mammary gland.
Unfortunately, these aren't at all cheap in their full sizes-- averaging about $12 U.S. for one... they have little pocket sizes, but they're not that much cheaper and you lose out on one of the two sides. Still, once you try it... you won't be able to look at seam ripping the same without one.

3. Bohin Silicone, Steel tipped Thimble

I'm not 100% on this, but I am pretty sure Clover was the first company to mass produce these sewing marvels that combine the flexibility and grip of a silicone thimble with the added strength of your typical metal one... but Bohin made it heaps more attractive by adding little designs and of course, being the only of the two companies to offer one in purple. Sadly enough, just like Clover's, the color indicates the size of the thimble-- I should've technically bought the pink one, as it's the small, and purple represents the size large... but, purple... 
That's ok though, I forgive them for that slight oversight, I'm fine using a thimble two sizes too big because the silicone makes it practically a non-issue.

Like many sewists, we sometimes face a very stubborn seam that likes to play tug of war with us and our needles, and in this situation when I usually reach for a needle gripper pad, I simply use the same thimble I used to push the needle through to pull it out. Easy peasy.

4. FriXion Erasable Pens by Pilot

Another popular one that is much raved about, these Frixon pens are very dandy... not just for the quilter. The ink disappears with enough heat; by friction or the steam from an iron.
Being a "non pro" sewist, mistakes also happen in the drafting process... where a dart may be placed an inch in the wrong place; a quick blast of steam will make those markings disappear quicker than you can ctrl+alt+delete.
I like the clicker model much more than the needle tipped; it doesn't get caught in the folds as often, but really it's preference because pen style markers are always going to get caught in the drape of fabric. It just depends how heavy handed you are, and I am oafish.

These are fairly reasonably priced... compared to other novelty type pens. The markings are clear, and extremely easy to remove, and that's enough reason for me to buy them, though I also highly recommend the chalk pen, chaco liners, and duo tipped water/air solvable marker-- which are a lot easier to find and cheaper to get a hold of at your local shops than the Frixion pens.

It comes in a variety of ink colors... one being purple that I don't currently own; the reason for that is that I haven't had the chance to go shopping for that color set... especially having drained my significantly smaller disposable income for the month, having allocated more of those funds towards more important matters.

5. Clover Point 2 Point Turner

Finally this last (but not least) product is probably the most underrated-- even I admit to a little halfheartedness towards it (I debated its inclusion to this list). The Point 2 Point Turner by Clover. Maybe it's because it looks underwhelming in which many people tend to overlook it...  
The opinions tend to stay very tentative about this product, and I agree to a certain extent. I bought it because my kittles chewed up my last point turner that I bought at the dollar store up in Canada. My key complain with many generic point turners is that they're a little stubby, so when I laid eyes on this one my main attraction to it was its length. 
After the first few uses, the other uses began unraveling, and unveiling like it was the most natural purpose of a point turner-- every curve on it adds comfort and works to smooth out harsh and soft curves, and turning out the pointiest of points, to the dullest ones. The edges are made so that they can make temporary indentations on fabric that act as markings for a variety of purposes-- like marking the center seam when joining binding ends, or a line that you can follow when stitching ribbon into a design that you won't worry about removing after its sewn on.

A tailor's board is meant to answer the need for smoothing out clipped curves during ironing, but it doesn't always handle well on smaller curves, and it's definitely not cheaper than this little tool. Another thing is simply using the other end of a standard point turner to smooth out the curves, or something similarly rounded off... but it does not have the ease of this tool when doing so.

Tell me what you think; have any of you tinkered with these notions?
Up next, the notions I don't own but definitely have on my wishlist....


  1. Replies
    1. Two of the things that seem to be integral parts to my life =)

  2. Awesome post! I was considering buying a loop turner the other day, but I settled between chopsticks and a few crochet hooks lol. I'll have to look into those. :)

    1. My mom gave me my little steel loop turner, it does do the job like a lot of things would, but these ones are without a doubt the less time consuming. A 3 min tube turning session turns into 1 minute. You should definitely try them out if you get a chance.

  3. My tool for turning tunnels is a safety pin with a cord. Very simplistic, but it works best for me! ^^ The seam ripper looks amazing though, so I might keep my eyes open if it is available in Germany as well.

    1. These babies are like a race car for me, I've timed my longest tube turned against other methods (because I genuinely wanted to see the time break down lol) and it's pretty impressive!
      But that's why there's a hundred ways to turn a tube-- there's definitely going to be a method that works best for you!

      As for the seam ripper, it's kind of like my pair of scissors now-- I don't lend it to anyone lol. Here's hoping they're available to you =)

  4. I love that thimble ... very Art Nouveau looking for something that's made out of silicone! The ghost doesn't hurt the overall effect either. :)

    1. The design and color really won my heart. I was literally on the cusp of purchasing the clover one... and the Bohin came up on my suggestions before I proceeded to check out.

      Oh the ghost? He's the thimble and washi tape keeper. Makes sure these small items return to his care after use... it seemed only right to give him props ;)

  5. This is a very helpful and awesome post! I've actually been looking for a thimble, so I will definitely look into the Bohin. Thank you for sharing!

  6. My first entry for "you learn something new everyday" is most definitely the fact that such incredibly cool hybrid thimbles exist. Thank you so much for introducing them to me. Though not a sewer (really), I do cross stitch, embroidery and hand stitching on paper crafts and for mending jobs, so do usually have a thimble nearby. This one look considerably more comfortable and shall be going on my to buy list for this year big time.

    Many thanks again - both for that and for the thoroughly lovely blog comment on you left me yesterday. It is a sincere pleasure to "meet" you, my dear.

    ♥ Jessica


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