A big thankyou to the wonderful Madame Samm for inviting me to share a post with you on tools. I don't know how she fits everything into her life but she does and does it so well!
I am Kerry from verykerryberry. Vintage inspires me and I love to sew and design paper piecing patterns. I do like a gadget, especially a low cost little tool that makes my sewing life easier. I have been working on a basket quilt block- a traditional pattern that you can find in the Farmer's Wife Sampler book or many other quilt block books and these are some of the tools that helped me along the way. I'll start with a pen. I have jars full of mark making pens and pencils and thanks to Florence, Pilot Frixion pens are something I use a lot.
They easily draw on to fabric and the ink disappears instantly under the heat of an iron.
You can rewrite in the same place and make it disappear as many times as you like. In reality, the 'ink' is still there, if you put the fabric in the freezer, the line magically returns, so I tend to use these pens for places that will finally be covered rather than for designs on a quilt, but useful and cheap nevertheless.
Clover produce some helpful, simple plastic tools that are very helpful in mark making. The Hera marking tool will produce a beautiful sharp crease that you can use for folds or marking the fabric. The folds wash out so no mark is left.
For the bias strip of the basket handle, the Hera was ideal for creating the 1/4" fold lines. I find it an invaluable tool, the sharper curved end is useful for turning out curved edges too.
I make a lot of small projects and I do not know how I have managed without a finger press. I only bought this Clover version a few weeks ago and now I wonder what I was waiting for. There are many times when an iron is a too big and I don't want to burn my finger tips, or I just need to flatten a tiny seam quickly and this is where the finger press comes in. I used it along the fold lines created by the Hera to turn the edges of the binding in.
On the Clover finger press, there is a dimple for your first finger to slide into and push along the seam. For a bias strip, it was ideal as an iron can easily distort the grain.
And now for the unsung heroes; needles and pins. I am a big fan of Japanese sewing and crafting and there is a Japanese festival, Hari-kuyo, which celebrates the needle and reflects on the job they do. Old needles are placed in a block of tofu along with secrets and things to painful to say. It is such a beautiful idea and it also makes you consider that pins and needles do wear out, they break, their sharpness fades, you might move your best pins to a lesser purpose where their bluntness will not bother you. My pincushions hold a hole range of pins. My favourite Clover patchwork pins are especially sharp, strong and thin at 0.5mm wide, and 36mm long.
The heads are iron proof glass. The points pierce easily without disturbing the fabric threads.
They can hold tiny seams of fabric without shifting. I keep these pins well away from paper piecing where the paper blunts them just as it does with scissors.
And finally the humble needle. I recently tried Clover Black Gold eye needles. There is no going back now, they are the business!
They glide through layers, no strain, no effort. Much easier on your hands and fingers.
Tiny stitches can disappear into the fabric, there is some flexibility built into the needle which is great for needle turn work and hand sewing binding to a quilt. I bought an applique/sharps mixed pack. They are a total pleasure to sew with, mine have their own felt page in my needle book!
I should mention here that I have no connection with Clover, I have just found many of their products to be the best. All the tools I have mentioned are low cost and easily available online- I have bought all of these from ebay and Amazon. We all spend so much on fabric but, don't forget the other essentials, they are often overlooked and are worth a little investment for the help they give us, you won't regret it.