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Quilting Sewing Studio Tips Sewing tips

Starch

Starch is the unsung hero of the sewing room.  We often overlook it but I have a favorite use for liquid starch and so does Sherry McCary, seamstress extraordinaire at Designs. I apply liquid starch to the wrong side of delicate fabrics that will be embroidered with water soluble adhesive stabilizer. It not only adds body to soft fabrics during the embroidery process but also creates a shield between the adhesive and the fabric. After the embroidery, the water soluble adhesive stabilizer just slides away and does not penetrate the fibers. Read how Sherry depends on it for piecing projects.

Smooth Cutting and Stitching with Starch

By Sherry McCary

At a sewing retreat my good friend Pat Fountain saw me struggling with sewing some bias blocks together and gave me this great tip to tame cantankerous bias edges. It also saves money on starch and can transform even lowly muslin into a fabric that can be used for “real” projects:

Buy a half-gallon container of inexpensive starch and a pump-type spray bottle from the grocery store. Fill the spray bottle half-way with starch and fill the rest with water.  Before you begin a project, drench the fabric with the starch mixture. It should be soaking-wet. Hang or drape it somewhere and let it air dry 10-15 minutes, or until it’s almost dry, but not quite.

Next, iron the barely-damp fabric, spraying with another layer of starch as go. Fabric will be super-easy to cut and work with following these starching instructions. Quilters especially will love the ultra-flat seams that can be achieved with fabric that has been treated this way.

In addition to the savings to be had by mixing your own starch, you’ll save “pointer finger fatigue” since you won’t be having to press the spray button on purchased cans of pre-mixed starch!

Here’s your assignment this week:

Leave us a comment below about your secret sewing or embroidery weapon and one comment will be chosen to win a secret weapon of their very own, Target Stickers! These handy stickers are reusable, repositionable and provide you with perfect placement everytime. Thanks and good luck!

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Leave a comment below about your favorite scarf on the Love My Scarf Blog Tour and what inspired you to create one of your own! One lucky winner will receive this beautiful butterfly pin created on behalf of the Brookharts family in memory of their wife and mother, Joanne. If you’d like to pick up one for yourself or a friend you can do so here.

And the winner is…“The scarf is beautiful and the scroll design is so delicate and doesn’t overload the scarf.” – Karen W.

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145 COMMENTS

  • Liz

    My favorite go to “tool” in my sewing room is my mascara brush! When I finish my tube of mascara I thoroughly clean up the brush and use it to clean up the threads and dust in my serger and sewing machine. It’s also perfect for help in finishing threading my serger and also moving tag end threads out of the way or under more stitching while working on machine embroidery.

    • Linda

      What a great idea! I will use this idea for sure!

      Linda in OK

  • Donna

    One of the go to items in my sewing embroidery room is my lint roller. I use it to pick up loose threads, expired placement stickers, and small scraps of fabric from my projects, the table, my clothes, etc.

  • Nancy D.

    One of my favorite tools is a long handle magnetic “picker – upper”. It will find pins on the floor I can’t see on my carpet. Since all my family walks barefoot in the house they all love it.

  • Patricia LaPorta

    My go-to tool is a hemostat—-narrow enough to reach small places, and grips even thread for help w/needle threading….also good for reverse sewing and holding fabric when you need a 3rd. hand….

  • Debbie S

    My favorite tool in the sewing room is an old tole painting brush. I use to clean lint out my bobbin case, and when I am embroidering, I use it to pick up or brush away threads that have been cut and my hands are too large to get with out taking the hoop off my machine.

  • s

    I love learning the suggestions and will use lots of them in the future now i know them. My favorite tool is my magnetic pin holder, it is always there and i use it to pass over the floor to pick up lost pins and needles. After my grand got a needle stuck in her foot i try to be extra careful now.

  • Beth R

    My favorite tool in the sewing room – my sewing glasses! I had a pair made so I can see my machine area clearly when I am sitting at the machine, and can see everything closeup with the lower part of the bifocals.

  • Marjorie

    My can’t live without tool, is my Ott floor lamp. Age dictates that I must use my strongest bifocals and strong illumination. Ott light is the best!!

  • Penny Kitzmiller

    I use freezer paper on my test stitches. It works great for me so far..I know there are ones out there who are totally against this, but so far I have had no problems. I have been doing this for 5 yrs now and my machine is as good as new!!

  • Pamela Beeth

    I love and use all the above suggestions except for the mascara brush. (I guess I don’t use enough mascara now that I’m retired.) Instead I use cosmetic brushes. The medium sizes are wonderful for cleaning the thread throat of machines and sergers. I even use the larger one to dust the machines and their tables.
    The starch idea is terrific. I learned to use 3 ‘sprayings’ when cutting and sewing lingerie fabrics. Now I will be using more and spending less, thanks to this article.

  • Joyce D

    I have thought about using the liquid starch before, but wasn’t sure how to mix it. Now I know & will use it. My favorite tools are my eyeshadow brush that I use to clean the lint, etc from inside my machine because it has a long handle & will reach where I can’t see and my Havel snippers.

  • Lorraine

    My favorite tool in my sewing room is the old fashion, inexpensive, thin metal needle threader…it is a blessing when I am doing any type of hand sewing!

  • Susan Novak

    One of my favorite tools is a thread stand. Now ALL threads sew perfectly – even metallics.

  • Louise Moon

    My favorite tool is/are my digitizing programs. I’m learning Art & Stitch and have so far been able to make small motifs and frames and motifs to add to labels for quilts and to create computerized quilting designs. Also love using Embird to work with colors and 4-D Pro for combining lettering and other designs to finish the labels. The creative possibilities are endless even though I’m not an expert at digitizing.

    • jeanie jones

      Which is the least expensive and best..(dream on)
      digitizing program that my very limited funds would buy? I signed up for a class thinking it was included, NOT!

  • Linda

    I do a lot of machine embroidery, so my tool of choice would be the wooden multiple spool rack to put my threads in order before sewing. Love everyone’s ideas !

  • janice

    My favorite tool is my “blue ball” jar that holds my 6″ ruler, pencil, paint brush (to clean out bobbin area)

  • Sherry Poole

    I am so glad I saw your post… I had one of the slap my forehead moments because I did not think of this… Thank you

  • Joanne Gilliam

    My favorite thing in the sewing is my magnetic pin cushion. Sure saves pins from going all over.

  • Paula Barnett

    My favorite “tool” in my sewing area is a clear pocket shoe organizer hung on the inside of the closet door by my sewing machine. It keeps everything handy in individual pockets and I can see everything through the clear vinyl.

  • Virginia

    I actually have 2 tools I love for embroidery. One is a washaway glue stick . I buy the Elmers washaway stick which is just like the expensive fabric kind and when doing applique embroidery in the hoop like the raw edge applique that Eileen does I put a small dab of fabric stick instead of spraying the back of the fabric and the applique piecing in the hoop I put a small piece of scotch tape to keep the sides of the block down for easier trimming.

  • Peggy Schroeder

    Hi,
    I actually have two items that make machine embroidery much easier. The first one is the litte curved embroidery “snips” that you just have to squeeze, no holes to put old, arthritic hands and fingers in. I open them up, and put a squiggly foam or gel pencil protector on both sides. I use so many of these scissors that when starting with a new one, I put the foam or gel pieces in the same color on both sides. I then change my older ones to have a different color on each side, then I know at a glance which are the newest, sharpest ones. The other really helpful hint is, I lightly spray with temporary adhesive, a piece of bridal tulle and use it for a topper when I am doing terry towels, or other fabrics with a fluffy, (such as fake fur) nap. You can trim, or rip the excess off quickly when the design is completed. If there are pieces still stuck, after washing they will be fluffy, and then you can easily get it off. I have NEVER had the stitches separate, or the background fabric come through, even after many washings. Just remember to match the tulle as closely as possible with the background fabric.

  • Ginger Sheppard

    My two favorite things in the sewing room are: the seam-fix seam ripper that has the rubber ball on the end to get the excess threads off and the other one is the big magnifying glass to see the size of needles! Couldn’t do without either one everyday!

  • Peggy Schroeder

    Hello again, I forgot to add tht for cleaning the bobbin area and other parts of my machines, I find “canned air” works great—-gets all the lint and dust out without much effort on my part. I have been using the liquid starch for years and it works great. Buying spray or pump starch in the small containers is so vastly expensive, and it seems like it is never the right consistancy for the job I am doing at the time. I can add more starch or water, whatever it calls for.

  • Jolan Dallatore

    I keep a dental pick handy-it’s long enough to reach under any foot, the pointy curved end will snag any stray thread that I can’t reach. I found a set at a dollar store which 3 tools, one of which is a little mirror (just like the dentist uses). It helps when I can’t quite set the needle in properly. I also use hemostats to help with the needles.
    All of these hints are great!

  • Debra Wilson

    My favorite tool is the surgical seam ripper. Hate to have to rip out seams but when I do this makes it go quickly and smoothly.

  • Jennifer H

    This is a really great tip. Thanks so much! I don’t have any secret weapons…. I hope that doesn’t put me out of the running. I learn so much from the other’s secret weapon :).

  • Jane Anderson

    I do a lot of embroidery applique. My favorite tool is my double curved four-inch Gingher sissors. I can cut the fabric after the stitchdown very close to the thread. Thanks for all the interesting comments.

  • Donna N.

    My favorite tool for any kind of sewing is my “Purple Thang”. It helps getting the embroidery thread through the foot or out of the way to be clipped. It holds down seams as it goes under the presser foot. It has the scant 1/4″ at one end to let me quickly check seams. It acts as a stiletto. It is the first thing I look for when I sit down to my machine.

  • Jo of So TX

    Well, my favorite tools are double stick tape (must be permanent type) to hold fabric on hoop area when I don’t want to hoop it. The other has been mentioned, glue stick. It really works great to hold material together until you get it stitched. I use a lot of them when making my quilt as you go t-shirt qulit. It held the layers of each block together until I could get them quilted.

  • kathy

    I love to use chopsticks in my sewing room. They can push out points and also use as a stiletto

  • Nancy Weber

    My very favorite sewing room tool is a good pair of tweezers. They are so handy for so many things, from grabbing stray threads to helping to pick out bits of stabilizer and so many more. I could not be without them!

  • Debbie Tribble

    My favorite tool is a time saver and it also helps me keep my area clean, and saves me from digging out threads from my vacuum cleaner beater bar.
    It is… an old fashioned toilet brush. I purchased a new one just for this purpose, cleaning the threads off the floor. Seems like I just can’t help it, with my embroidery and quilting, I just end up with threads everywhere. The toilet brush picks them up easily and then I can gather and throw them all away. No muss no fuss. Looks kind of funny to have hanging in my studio, but I absolutely use it everyday! Do remember to use only a brand new one, mine is a lovely shade of blue with a long handle.

    • Sandra

      Thank you for a great suggestion. I have the same problem with threads everywhere.

    • Jeri johnson

      Love all the ideas too! I’m going to buy the toilet bowl brush for sure!

  • Jill T.

    My favorite tool is my 18 X 2 in clear ruler. It’s used in every project. The marking help me get everything lined up just right.

  • beth daniels

    My favorite embroidery weapon is painter’s tape. I almost always tape my water soluble on top of my fabric that I am embroidering. I also use the painter’s tape for picking up threads that I rip out in my quilting projects. It picks up the little pieces of thread that is still on the fabric after ripping.

  • Lulie Felder

    My favorite sewing tool is Eileen’s Blog!
    I always learn something new that
    I have not tried before!

  • LJ

    Smooth Cutting and Stitching with Starch…Is that a book? a blog post? I did a search and didn’t seem to find anything.

  • Angeline Brady

    My laptop which stores embroidery software, designs, and sewing tutorials.

  • Sue Winnie

    My favorite things are my large magnet pin cushion dish. If I spill, drop needles or pins it’s right there. My second item is a pair of curved famore scissors. I have hanging on a piece of bias tape, and wear them all the time. My third item is my euro steam iron with Mary Ellen’s best press. Fabrics are crisp.better seams and end projects.

  • Sheila Wagner

    I always like to keep a couple of pieces of batting near my machine. It is great for keeping the machine and other plastic items clean and also picks up the loose threads around my machine.

  • Vicki B

    I love my 6″ metal ruler, fits right in the hoop so I can see exactly how the design will come out.

  • Greta Kanegae

    I have some of my dads old dental tools, they are great for removing stitches and making sure corners are pushed out all the way.

  • Mary Haggenmaker

    One of my best tools is the cup holder that fipts on the bottom of a cup, like Starbucks. I had a problem with a whole lot of thread got wrapped around the handle on the right side of the machine that revolves without me noticing it until I took it into the shop. It looked like the entire 5000mm spool was the culprit. I now take that cup holder and tape it around that handle on 3 sides. I leave the bottom untaped for air circulation. No more thread wrappings! The second best is my upright vacuum cleaner that has a hose that you can designate whether you want the floor or hose and the hose gets used when I clean my machine and when I pick up threads from the floor.

  • Ellen Perry

    My favorite tool is curved scissors and duckbill scissors
    Ellen

  • Pamela Hoelscher

    One of my favorite things for my embroidery is my digital drawing pad.
    This allows me to create and fine tune designs.

  • Carol K E

    My lighting is all daylight full spectrum florescent. It is great when colors are similar or when coordinating thread with fabric.

  • Valerie Brown

    My “go to” tool in my sewing area has to be my sewing machine. I absolutely love my Ellisimo Gold. It has changed sewing from a job to a delight. I haven’t even had it a year yet, and I’m still learning all that it will do. I find myself feeling like that guy on the Ginsu knife commercial — “but wait, there’s more!”

  • Jessica

    My secret sewing weapon is my good ol’ iron. It only takes a few sweeps to make a big impact on the final result. I love steam!

  • Judy Wentz

    My favorite tools are a good pair of tweezers and my curved scissors for clipping jump threads.

  • Elaine Staats

    My favorite tool is a small desk tiered lazy Susan type organizer, purchased at an office supply. It holds my small & large scissors, pencils, pens, fabric markers, small rulers, embroidery clips, sewing gauges, tweezers, sticky notes and etc. I no longer have to hunt these items because they are all conveniently located at my finger tips.

  • Carolyn R H

    My favorite tool is my 6″ metal sewing gauge. It has an adjustible slide to mark the length you want.

  • Tammy Hammond

    My favorite tool when doing machine embroidery, is a baby monitor. I can run downstairs or else where in the house and be able to tell when my machine has stopped for whatever reason.

  • Jacque' Curtis

    One of my favorite tools are the Gingher applique scissors. They get get in nice and close when trimming on applique projects, which I do many when doing machine embroidery. Many times I need to trim both the front and back of the project.

  • Trish S.

    When I go into my sewing room, I take coffee and listen to music. Listening to music doubles the calming factor of sewing. After a sewing session I feel better. When I am stressed about something, my husband will sometimes suggest that I take time for a sewing break. Works for me !

    • Elaine Staats

      I agree

  • Jean

    Thanks for all of the great tips! I keep a bottle of Witch Hazel handy to clean my embroidery hoops, as it quickly takes off the sticky residue from spray adhesive.

    • Maureen Teachman

      Hi

      I bought Witch Hazel today perhaps I purchased the wrong type. It didn’t remove any of the overspray from my basting spray. Or maybe it is a different type of Witch Hazel. More information would be appreciated.
      Thank you

      • Peggy Schroeder

        Hi,
        I use a product called Dawn Power Dissolve, and just lay the hoops in the kitchen sink, spray them good with the stuff, wait about 15 minutes, and then it just wipes away with paper towels. Then rinse them, and let them dry. They will look brand new. I have been doing this for years and it has not done any damage to my hoops at all, they just come out clean and sticky-free. Sometimes it is hard to find, it is usually on the top shelf above the dish washing liquids, but it has been a while since I have seen it. When I find it, I usually buy 4 or 5 bottles at a time. Hope this helps.

        • Maureen Teachman

          Thank you for the info abt Dawn Dissolve.

          Is it by the same company that makes Dawn Detergent?

          If not would you happen to have a bottle to check the name if the manufacturer. I can’t find it in the stores. Thanks
          Maureen

          • Peggy Schroeder

            Hi, Yes, it is made by the same company that makes Dawn dish washing detergent—Proctor and Gamble, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45202. I have been finding it increasinly difficult to find lately, so am thinking of writing to the company. It is usually on the top shelf above the dish washing soaps, and when I find it, I buy several bottles. It also works great on pan bottoms, and the area around your stove burners. Just spray it on, let it sit, and it usually just wipes off. It is actually called Dawn Power Dissolver. If you have any luck finding it, let me know the name of the store, please!! I was getting it mostly at WalMart. It is so great to use on the hoops, and I have never found it to make them brittle, just shiny clean!!

  • Jane

    My favorite tool would be my quilting gloves – Whether quilting, embroidering or sewing by hand – they will provide the protection as a thimble would and would grip the needle for my not so young hands. I have a fondness for Machingers gloves – They fit snug – and are thick enough for protection. I own five pairs – I only use on on my right hand (I am right handed).

  • Prior to this post, my favorite tool was my bulletin board and shutters to organize things, but now my favorite tool will be the notes I’ve taken from this post. Reading these comments has been like a free embroidery class. Thank you for the info and the drawing chance.

  • Nancy

    My favorite tools are my curved scissors that you squeeze together but has no finger holes and a little fish bowl for collecting all the clipped threads (it helps with keeping threads off the floor and I may use them in a future art project).

  • Dianne Sanders

    I am new to embroidery and this board…trying to learn this wonderful craft. I have many of the items mentioned here, plus a big bag made in class to organize hoops and all my goodies to take to class.

  • Gayle

    My favorite tool has got to be my computer. I learn so much from sites like this and also get most of my inspiration from web surfing, not to mention all the file downloads and such. I would be lost without it!

  • Terri

    My “secret” sewing weapon is white vinegar and water for taking out wrinkles and creases. I use a formula of half white vinegar and half water. Always test this on your fabrics, but I find I can use it on almost any cotton or cotton blend with no trouble or residue. Not only does it take out wrinkles, but it can set creases in pants for instance.

    • Wilma McAlister

      I learned the vinegar & water method in college Home Economics class 50 years ago.

      • Terri

        I know that it is an older tip, but I have been surprised by the number of accomplished sewists who have never heard of it. I use it a lot and have had great luck ironing those pesky wrinkles in my fabrics when using vinegar and water.

        • Jewell

          I didn’t know this so it is greatly appreciated. I took home economics but was not told this trick. Thanks a million for the tip, I will be using it.

  • Phyllis

    My favorite tool in the sewing room has to be an old serrated blade steak knife for getting birds nest cut away from the machine!!!!! A very thin blade works best, and I am sure everyone has one.
    Second favorite is my mini vacuum attachment for getting my machines clean, as it gets all the lint and thread pieces out of my machines, specially my serger.

  • Agnes B. Bullock

    my favorite tools are painters tape, for holding fabric away from the stitching area, my iphone so that I can listen to the Rosary while I stitch, my four dachshunds who closely supervise my every move while I am in my “cave”

  • Kim

    My favorite sewing room tool is the thread stand made by my father. It is very handy as it holds 16 spools of thread and every time I use it I remember him.

  • Wendy E.

    My favourite tool in the sewing room is a Microbrush bendable applicator by Tooltron — they are incredible for cleaning lint out of sewing machines (especially around the hook race)and are terrific for precise application of adhesives, lubricants and anything else you can think of. They have a very tiny head which you only have to dab in an area which you cannot normally reach and the microfiber tip grabs tiny loose threads and lint which are out of sight.

  • Brenda Melahn

    My favorite non-tool, tool is painter’s tape — works great when you don’t have the expensive sticky stabilizer, works on holding vinyl, and many other things — also not gummy, like scotch tape (which in a real pinch, I’ve been known to use also).

  • Barbara

    My favorite sewing information is youtube, any questions or confusion that set in that is my source of answers. It shows me everything.

  • Ann

    I have many tools I must have by me but one of my favorites is a bamboo skewer. They are inexpensive. I shorten them to a manageable
    length and use the to hold anything in place near the needle. If I get to close and the needle hits it there isn’t as much chance of the needle breaking as with a metal tool.

    • Karen W

      I’ve also found bamboo skewers, chop sticks or even different size dowel rods are quite handy. I sometimes sharpen them w/ a pencil sharpener to make a stiletto, sand one end flat on both sides to make a pusher, gatherer or even a small tool for creasing paper or quilt seams. So inexpensive you can quickly alter to fit your needs & saves a trip to the store.

  • Trina Coffey

    My favorite tool….if you call it a tool is my Genie Sit Upon. A nice comfortable cushion to sit on that helps keep your posture and support. I sit long hours sewing and with this my back no longer aches at the end of the day. If you need a tool…my tweezers are my best friend I have 2, one for my serger and one for my embroidery

  • Lori

    I have many tools as well that I love, my favorite for hooping with spray adhesive is… gallon milk jug with the bottom and the top cut off, leave the handle on. Now you can spray away and not get any on your hoops!!!

    • Sharon P.

      Fantastic idea! I’ve been spraying on newspaper, but the jug will really keep it contained. Thank you so much!

    • Peg Schmidt

      OMGoodness! What an idea, this is one that I have never tried and will do so promptly as I am doing 12 family fishing derby t shirts for next weekend. Using no show mesh fusible and then spraying a layer of tear away. I hate how the spray gets all over!

  • Tricia

    I use the mascara brush and makeup brushes for cleaning the machine, but I also use a pipe cleaner to get into the nooks and crannies. Love all the ideas.

  • Marsha N.

    My favorite tools would be my machine software and how I can manipulate the designs on the computer.

  • Becky

    My favorite tool for removing small bits of stabilizer from around an embroidery design or inside those little circles of letters is a pair of tweezers. The pointed side helps me get under the stabilizer and then I can use them to pull pieces too tiny to grip with my fingers.

  • valerie csmith

    My favorite tool is a large 16×24 metal square (the kind used in the workshop). Great for squaring up material. It stays in place. If you take your mans from the garage make sure to give it a good cleaning first! I also love my tape player that I use to do “books on tape” as I sew

  • becky3580

    I have several. The must have is my zippered tool set with nippers, tweezers, applique scissore, small tip scissors and basic scissors. Also from tool store I got a set of tweezers in various shapes and sizes, 1/4 inch chisel – perfect for purse hardware, zip ties for purse work and holding things together, copper washers or chain links to use as pattern weights, long alumimun ruler, painters tape, short set of screwdrivers. Lastly good threads and stablizers – or nothing else matters.

  • Tallgirl2u

    My latest favorite tool are the Frixion pens, they are fabulous. I use them to mark my fabrics and with a touch of the iron the mark disappears, if I ironed the mark by mistake I can put the project in the freezer for a short time and the markings come back. When the project is finally washed the marks are totally removed. Love, Love Love these.

  • Dorothy Reitsma

    My favorite tools in my sewing room are my bamboo skewers and my mini Shopvac for picking up threads.

  • Karin

    Like everyone else here, I love my painter’s tape, rulers (especially my centering ruler!), steak knives for removing birds’ nests, chop sticks for turning, my Magna Hoop, my iron & his ham, my thread stands, my Babylock Ellegante & my Husky serger, my computer with all its designs & patterns, even my surge protector! But, probably my most beloved is my generous and patient husband – he helps me select colors and place the designs properly (I’m color blind and have early-onset cataracts). He helps me hoop those thicker fabrics and, when I have to, he helps me take my machine apart and put it back together again properly. Plus, he makes dinner when he knows I’m working on a tight deadline. And he’s always happy to pay the lady at the fabric store…no questions asked. 🙂

    • eileenroche
      AUTHOR

      Karin, he sounds like a doll! You’re a lucky lady!

    • Phyllis S

      Does he have an unmarried brother?

  • Laurie d'Ault

    I have loads of hints; I should being a toolmaker. I’ve modified, adapted, or just made tools I deem necessary. But what I’m writing about is to respond to someone that posted earlier that they use “canned air” to clean their machine and it works great. Maybe now, but later you will pay dearly for that, particularly if it is a computerized machine. You are simply blowing bits of dust, fabric, and thread further into the mechanics and electronics of the machine. You are better to buy one of those sewing vacuum attachments. You can make a McGiver attachment out of a drinking straw that will get the crud out as far as you need to go. Take it from someone that has to repair machinery for a living…canned air is the worst thing you can do.

  • Carol Bartlem

    I have so many favorite tools and everyone has mentioned they but 2 new ones that I use are the Havel Snip a stitch These are great They are little snipers that have a grove on the ens so they fit into the stitch great for cutting jump stitches get right into the stitch so you have no furry tails also good for unpicking no more disasters with the quick unpick. Also my clover wonder clips I have found many uses for these. Great for holding fabric in place and out of the way and of course for holding binding.

  • Jewell

    This is the first time I have found this site. I have enjoyed reading all the ideas and will be using several of them. Thanks for sharing. My favorite tool has to be the small curved embroidery scissors; I couldn’t live without them. I have bought 3 pair as I use 3 different machines and just have to have a pair when I am working. Thanks for all the tips!

  • Lindee Goodall

    I’ve used this starch tip for many years. One extra tip when using it is to be sure to clear out the sprayer nozzle with clear water. I have had to replace spray bottles when the sprayer gets hopelessly clogged with dried starch. (Happens pretty quickly here in the Arizona desert!)

  • Margaret Brantley

    My absolute favorite sewing helper has been the Queen Size Supreme Slider that I use for free motion quilting. The quilt layers can be guided through the machine effortlessly and the results are so impressive. With the supreme Slider I became comfortable with free motion quilting for the first time in my life.

  • Maureen Teachman

    I have learned a lot reading these suggestions. Thank you all.
    I do have a few suggestions.

    To clean my machine bobbin area I have found that dental brushes, the ones that are used like dental floss, get into very tiny areas for cleaning. There is even one where the brush is at right angles with the handle.

    For thorough cleaning of my machine, a Singer XL 6000, I noticed there is a piece of the case, under the bobbin area that can be removed easily with only 2 screws. I open that with my machine on its side. I use my tiny vacuum attachments in this area. It is the only way I’ve been able to retrieve a needle that has fallen into the machine.

    After getting my embroidery attachment “fixed” because of tangled thread, I now vacuum the slots where the mechanism for moving the hoop are located. Every few months, I open this piece to grease the parts and remove any thread that I haven’t gotten out with my vacuum. The tiny sewing machine crevice vacuum attachment tool fits into my slots.

    A other hint is to use braiding elastic bands to keep my thread neat. It holds the thread end tight to the spool. Don’t get the clear ones as they are difficult to see. I buy these at a beauty supply wholesaler. The cost less than a penny each.

    Lastly, if you are taking apart any machinery, take photos with every step. That way you can be sure to put it back together correctly.

  • Carol Howell

    My favorite tool is my scissors. I keep them handy by my machine and use them to help guide fabric, pick away loose threads, to unsew, and to cut threads and fabric.

  • Peg Schmidt

    My favorite tool is a four in one tool. One end is a stiletto and protected by the cover which is a finger presser.
    It is made out of wood and cut at an angle so works great on opening seams or pressing them in the direction you want. On the other end is the seam ripper, which is protected or covered by an end pointer. This wooden pointer allows you to push out the fabric to get to the very POINT. If I have confused you by my description, I apologize, and please know that this handy four in one tool I would not be without! (I believe it is made by Alex Anderson)

  • Virginia Cohn

    These are all great tips. My favorite tool to use is my lanyard with my little scissors attached so they are always attached to me and I don’t have to go fumbling around for them.

  • Jennifer Pumphrey

    I fashioned an extra large ironing board out of some plywood, batting and old fabric. It’s bolted to my ironing board stand so I can fold it and move it out of the way. But it saves a ton of time by giving me a large surface.

  • Donna Gauthier

    Great tips, wonderful imaginations!! Thank you.
    I like to find things quickly especially when tired. I buy metal
    Book rings, 1″,2″, 5″, 6″ etc.and punch a hole in stencils, rulers,
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  • Amy

    I am a gadget junkie so there are many choices in my sewing room but I would have to say it is a tie between the long fine (blue heads) flower pins and the clover extra fine patchwork pins (blue and yellow heads). The length of the flower pins comes in handy when trying to wrangle many layers etc. The thinness of the extra fine patchwork pins is nice because it does not leave a large pin hole.

  • Phyllis S

    My favorite tool is a pack of fabric markers. I can save almost any embroidery that goes a little askew and for what ever reason shows the bobbin thread in places or doesn’t quite have the colors in the design line up. Pick the closest color or do some blending, just remember most fabric markers need set with an iron after drying so they become permanent and won’t bleed.(follow the directions on the package)

  • Sue

    I love love love starch for fabric. I just finished a project where I used so much that the fabric was like card stock instead of fabric. My quilt turned out GREAT! Now I am going to RUN to my sewing room to starch some knit fabric before I embroider it! What a grand idea!!

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    • Barbara

      New to machine embroidery but also wondered re: liquid starch and making t-shirt like card stock and machine embroidery. Will I need stabilizer also or will the fabric that is like card stock be the stabilizer?
      Thanks

  • Shirley Story

    My favorite tool is a plastic toothbrush holder with a cup. I can put my small scissors in the holes where toothbrushes go to protect the points and pens, pencils, hem gauge ruler and other things in the cup holder. Keeps everything so handy. Also my mustache trimmer is great for trimming threads on the back of a design.

  • Marge Cramer

    My favorite item to use is the small baby hair ties. These are the fuzzy ones. They streatch just perfest around the spools of rayon thread for my embroidery and keeps the thread from slipping off.

  • Marsha N.

    I have two favorite items that I use often. The first is the seam ripper with a sharp blade and the second is blue fabric marker that disappears with water. Love both of them. Thanks

  • Marilyn Leahy

    My favorite tool would be a 3 inch pair of blunt needle nose pliers that I stole from my husbands tool box. I use these pliers to hold the sewing or embroidery needle when inserting it into the slot. The pliers help me to keep the needle in the flat position against the needle post until I tighten the screw.

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    Not sure I am in the correct place but my new favorite thing I am now using for my new embroidery machine is finding a place for my embroidery thread. I came across Costco’s eggs. I use the clear plastic egg holder when finished with eggs to hold my embroidery thread in it. I am using 1100 yard thread. each container holds 24 different color threads. it is great. Some have to go in upside down. I will now get the bands for hair in the dollar store to stop the thread from unwinding. Good idea I found here.

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