Thursday, June 4, 2015

Spooky Basket: Oddball Sewing Essentials.

The list of sewing essentials will differ from sewist to sewist. I have personally made lists for notions you can make, notions you can buy (here and here), and notions that I've thrifted.

Lists are fun to make-- especially sewing related lists.

I also understand that most of my lists comprise of items that are typically not in everyone's budget at the start, and in the best of cases not exactly "essential" (but really, if you had the chance, you should buy them because they do make life so much easier).

When I first began sewing, and I mean seriously about it, my sewing box had some oddball things I had reclaimed for the purposes I needed in order to get my sewing done.

Sewing is funny that way; you think you'll never see a need for something until you actually come upon the circumstance which simultaneously gives you that ahh-ha and aww-darn, gleaning to the ohhh hey moment.

The sewing stiletto.

Marti Michell
You've probably seen various types of stiletto awls, from the recent bamboo variants to the mother of peal handled antiquarian commodities. I first found its use when I began working with tiny/fiddly seams that required a close encounter with the needle and my finger-- like those found when working with lightweight wovens that you can't exactly iron without ruining.

To this day, I have not given up the convenience and price of a manicure orange stick. These are literally available in any dollar store in the world, and the added bonus (a recent revelation, thanks to pinterest) of potentially having toe separators that I use to store bobbins.

Sewing Machine Cleaning Kits.
Most universal cleaning kits will look like the ones above-- they'll have some machine oil, some screwdrivers and a basic stiff brush.
Since a sewing machine has more tight crannies than a natural cave, this just isn't enough. Eventually dust and fluff will accumulate in the deeper crevices where you can't really reach with the basic tools, effectively lowering your machines efficiency... it might even break, and you might assume its the quality of the machine when that might not be the case.

Included with my basic cleaning gear my cleaning kit has:

  • A feather powder brush (mine came with shimmer powder from Quo makeup)
  • A head lamp 
  • A dental pick set
  • A spoolie brush
  • Microfiber lens cloth

It's difficult to locate an exact source for the feather powder brush with the thin pliable shaft I have, but it looks just like this and is of the utmost use when cleaning out a machine that cannot be sprayed with canned air.

Anna Sui
It appears Anna Sui once made one called the 'Finishing Brush' but has since been discontinued. A fingerprint brush might work well, but I have never tried it.

A headlamp is another essential tool for cleaning because your machine should obviously be off when you're digging around inside, but it's a little cumbersome trying to angle a lamp or juggle a flash light in such a situation; it wouldn't be a hard to see area if light were able to reach all spots of a machines innards easily.

The dental pick set is great to reach in even harder and more delicate areas of your machine; I use the scaler to grab little lumps of oily lint, and the mirror to guide me around. I found my set at the dollar store, it included a tooth brush which I also use for cleaning mucky gears.

I use a spoolie brush for areas that need all around cleaning with very little side to side movement, such as the bobbin race.

Lastly the microfiber lens cloth, because it doesn't leave lint behind like a regular cloth. Heh. I get one free every time I get a new pair of glasses.

Pattern Paper.

This is one I am always asked about, and I am honestly shocked every time it happens; where do I get my pattern paper?
It would be nice if I could afford yards and yards of the stuff with grids and dots on it, but I waste and use so much of it I have to turn to more economical choices.
I use simple and plain white gift tissue, meticulously glued together with an equally plain glue stick. Seriously.

Since I never cut into a purchased pattern, I make a point to copy it onto tissue paper-- the tissue paper also makes it easier when you're making adjustments of the pattern pinned onto yourself or your form, or you're turning it into a sloper. Once my adjustments have been made, and I consider the pattern tried and true, I glue the altered piece onto thicker paper with a spray on glue for continuous use and abuse. I get my tissue paper at the dollar store, and I had purchased a large roll of butcher's paper from some supply market that has so far lasted me going onto 2 years now. It's very very cheap, so I don't feel bad if I mess up.

Ok so my list isn't that odd or even that exciting... if not for the fact that so few of the ladies I encounter at the fabric shop realize these little tidbits, you might even call them simple.

Share some of your own "reclaimed" sewing essentials in the comments!


  1. Excellent list of essentials! And that bobbin organizer, I must try it!!

  2. I never heard of the foot thingy, I might try it though. And both pattern paper (in my stash it is white paper table cloth) and sewing machine cleaning supplies (diverse paint brushes and pressed air in a can) are definitively must haves!


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