Kestrel's Sewing Tools

To continue my itemization of all the stuff I use in my sewing studio, today's blog post is all about the tools I use for sewing — specifically, the things I use in my hands to aid in the physical process of quilt creation.

The blog posts in this series will include:

  1. Computer and Sewing Machines
  2. Sewing Tools This post
  3. Storage and Organizers
  4. Cricut Supplies Coming Soon

Simple Hand Tools

The tools in this section are all of my hand tools. They are either operated by my hands or assist my hands in performing a task.

Simple Hand Tools

  1. Bent-Nose Pliers: Link I use these pliers for grabbing bobbin thread and pulling stubborn needles through fabric when tucking thread or blind-stitching the binding and sleeve. The curved tip is surprisingly helpful for getting under the presser foot and pulling bobbin thread to the top.

  2. Angled Tweezers: Link These tweezers are amazing for ironing together little, fiddly pieces of fused appliqué fabric.

  3. Seam Ripper: Link Wouldn't be a real sewing room without a seam ripper! In truth, I have about five seam rippers, but this one is my favorite because it has the best fit in my hand. I use this seam ripper to pull bobbin thread to the front of the quilt more often than I rip seams.

  4. Thimble: Link This is the best-fitting metal thimble I've found. I use it on my middle finger with needle pullers on my thumb and forefinger.

  5. Needle Pullers: Link These needle pullers make it much easier for me to grip a needle when hand-sewing. I wear them on my thumb and forefinger and put the thimble on my middle finger.

  6. Bias Tape Makers: Link I use these tools to make folded bias tape in varying widths. Homemade strips of bias tape feed into the large end and come out the skinny end with the two edges folded to the center.

  7. 6" Easy Action Shears: Link These are my go-to scissors for cutting small areas. They have a spring that opens them automatically when not locked, and it makes them very easy on my hands.

  8. 8" Scissors for Paper: Link My scissors are green, not orange like the ones in the link, but they're just a pair of basic Fiskars scissors. I use them for cutting anything not fabric in my studio.

  9. Pinking Shears: Link I use these for preventing fabric from Spoonflower from fraying. Often my prints from Spoonflower are full yards of fabric printed with the background of my latest quilt and the edges tend to fray the more I handle it. Pinking Shears keep that from happening. (All of the other fabric in my quilts is Mod Podged to prevent fraying, so I only have this problem with the background fabric.)

  10. Tabletop Shears: Link These are my go-to fabric scissors for cutting anything bigger than my hand. The angle makes them much more comfortable to use.

  11. F-Shaped Bar Clamps: Link These clamps come in a 4 pack. I use them to clamp my teflon sheet to my table.

  12. 4" Brayer Roller: Link This roller is great for making sure my fabric is pressed to the Cricut sticky mats.

  13. Wonder Clips: Link These clips are fantastic for holding a binding on a quilt. There are many counterfeits out there, so buyer beware. My advice is to get them direct from Joann, but wait until they're on sale or you have a really good coupon.

  14. Fingerless Gloves: Link My gloves are green, but they're the same brand as in the link. These are half-finger cycling gloves and they make it very easy to FMQ my quilts without having to grip with my fingers. I sew open-handed and apply pressure to my palms. These gloves give plenty of friction to move the quilt easily under the needle.

  15. Teflon Sheet: Link I have several of these sheets, ranging in size from 24" square to 48" x 65". The link is an example of one. If you want one of these sheets yourself, look for Pure Virgin PTFE Film that is .005" thick. If you want one of these that's larger than 24" wide, you will probably need to order direct from a manufacturer.

  16. Rotary Cutter and Ruler Combo: Link This tool is the best thing ever for cutting straight edges. It's completely replaced rotary cutters for me, as long as I'm cutting something less than 24".

  17. Terrycloth Ironing Surface: Link I purchased 4 yards of this terrycloth and sewed it together along one edge to make this ironing surface. It covers almost the entire worktable, which is perfect for my big quilts.

Fingernails

Fingernails

My family can always tell I'm getting ready to work with fabric because I let my nails grow out. Fingernails are the best tool ever for holding little pieces of fabric in place while preventing me from getting burned. They're also really handy for lifting fabric off of Cricut sticky mats.

Rulers

I don't have a photo of my rulers because, quite frankly, they were too long to fit in one frame and be able to clearly tell what they were.

  1. 36" Ruler: Link This ruler is great because it's 1/4" thick. I like the thickness because it makes it hefty — it doesn't slide around on its own — and it feels safer for using a rotary cutter.

  2. 48" and 72" Rulers: Link Both of these rulers are Empire brand; the link is for the 72". I use these for marking my bigger quilts.

  3. Framing Square: Link My 24" framing square is perfect for making sure my quilts have square corners.

Electronics

Electronic Tools

  1. CraftOptics Glasses: Link I use CraftOptics glasses for hand sewing. I'm always sewing black thread on black fabric — all of my quilt bindings and backings are black — and these glasses make it much easier to see what I'm doing.

  2. Epson Home Cinema Projector: Link I use this projector to project my template onto my quilt if I have a situation where I need to arrange some appliqué pieces but can't see the template. I've also used it to project a drawing onto my quilt so I can mark stitch lines.

  3. Iron: Link This iron is the second one of the same make and brand I've owned. I had to replace the first after 15 years because I'd finally worn off the non-stick coating on the ironing plate.

  4. Cricut Explore Air 2: Link This is my cutting machine. This little gadget has cut more than twenty thousand pieces of fabric in the five years I've owned it.