12 Household Tools for the Machine Embroiderer
- Digital Camera– best design tool in the house (besides pencil and paper). I use a digital camera to record my progress when designing an embroidery layout, auditioning fabrics or setting blocks in a quilt. Any task that takes several attempts to get a certain look can be confirmed by documenting the different versions. I usually step away from the task and return to view the images after a brief hiatus. This break in time and space gives me a fresh eye to select the winning design.
- Pet brush– for picking up embroidery threads. Look for it in the pet aisle in your local discount store.
- Skewer, chopstick or unsharpened pencil– for protecting fingers under the needle.
- ¼” chisel– found in hardware stores, the ¼” chisel provides the exact opening needed to insert the prongs of magnetic snaps or purse feet into fabric/interfacing/lining sandwiches.
- Plastic zip lock bags– These handy storage bags come in a variety of sizes. I use three sizes: snack size for buttons and beads; quart size for spools of threads and appliqué pieces; and jumbo for keeping all the pieces of a project in one place. Just remember to close the zip lock top!
- Wooden dowel– Achieve crisp seams by centering a sewn seam over a wooden dowel and pressing.
- Glad Press ‘n Seal– When I have to store a project in progress, I place a sheet of Press ‘n Seal over the fabric/appliqué/ buttons/beads to keep everything in place. A quick smooth by hand and everything stays put – even if I roll it up into a tube for quick storage.
- Binder clips– for holding hooped garments out of the needle area.
- Pony tail holders– come in a vast array of colors and sizes. Walk down the hair accessories aisle in your local drugstore and see how many you’ll have to choose from. Use the pony tail holders in lieu of a length of narrow elastic. They make a quick closure over a button and add a bit of color whenever you need a mini bungee cord.
- Zip ties– add shape to the top of a purse. Zip ties can be found in the electric supply aisle of a home improvement center. They are also known as cable ties.
- Painter’s Tape– a wonderful visual reference when hooping long strips of fabric. Place the tape on the fabric strip and align the edge of the tape with the edge of the hoop. As you rehoop and continue to align with the tape, it will keep the fabric square for each hooping.
- Ironing board– besides the obvious use of a pressing surface, an ironing board doubles as a hooping aid. Place your embroidery hoop on the narrow end and slip the shirt over the board. This ‘dressing the board’ method helps you square the shirt over the outer hoop without getting the back of the shirt caught in the hoop. Just slip the inner ring in place and then nest the shirt around the hoop before attaching to the embroidery machine.
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