I think it was last week that I shared my thoughts on the perfect sewing machine for piecing. Things get a little confusing this time of year–Night is day, and well, there is no night. Here is our deck around one in the morning a couple of weeks ago.
I like this light, but it can confuse things. That and the ongoing litany of picking up dirty socks and empty cereal bowls makes for a endless summer.
My thoughts about the perfect sewing machine for piecing came from crafting the Ultimate Supply List. This supply list is for machine piecers. I have been adding to it off and on for several years and this is the version I most recently finished. I hope all of you will find helpful. If you find I am missing your favorite tool, please let me know.
The Ultimate Supply List
Sewing Machine–the best piecing machine has the needle up/down, a free-hand-system, and a heel tap needle up/down. I talked about all of these things in detail as well as useful sewing machine feet in an older blog post.
Stitching Thread–My favorite is Auril 50wt. Color 2600, but really any light weight, low lint producing thread will do the trick.
Pencils- I don’t have favorite but I never use mechanical pencils–I press down to hard and am chronically breaking them.
Pens- I am very partial to these pens. I kind of can’t leave without them.
Sharpies–Got to have them, because you do
Hi-lighter- I like the old fashion kind.
Pencil Sharpener–These little gold ones that you can find at art supply stores are very good and very portable.
Dressmakers Chalk–I am still searching for my favorite here too. Currently, I like these Singer Dress Chalks mainly because of the neat storage container.
Erasure- This is the one I’m using right now
Awl- I find that this Clover one fits neatly into the palm of my hand.
Seam Ripper- Unsewer, whatever you want to call it. You need one.
Snips- My favorite snips are this little pair that you wear around your neck. I have three of them. I purchased a new pair but was very disappointed to find that they are no longer made in Germany and are no longer nearly as good.
Other Snips– In a perfect world, you’ve got a pair next to your iron and a pair next to your sewing machine.
Quilter’s Chalk or Pencil- I suppose you could get by with just dress maker’s chalk but it is nice to have a pencil too.
Measuring tape– I like to have both the 60” and the 120” versions around.
Value Finder- I used mine ALOT when I first started quilting. While it is not the entire story about color it is a good tool for training your eye. (No image because I forgot to put it in my box!)
Rotary Cutter- I like the Olfa 60mm with the old school handle. I suppose that is more about habit than anything else. I like how it feels in my hand and it provides good visibility for cutting free-hand.
Rotary Cutter Blades–Change them often, you will feel better about yourself if you do.
Paper Scissors- So you are not tempted to do something bad with your good scissors.
Sewing Scissors- KAI everything is the best by me. I thought there was nothing new under the sewing sun, but I was wrong. I just discovered these scissors last year and could not be happier with their performance.
Sewing Machine Needles- I usually just travel with universal needles. But have an assortment in my at home stash.
Camera–Getting into the habit of taking photographs of your work in progress is an excellent thing to do.
Portable Printer- This is great for documenting your work. As you are working, take pictures, then print them out, and glue them into your journal. Cannon has a tiny new one called a Selfie which I have heard is very good.
Glue Stick- The jury is out here. I have not found the ultimate glue–Any suggestions?
Journal– I like a really big journal that can lie perfectly flat.
My journal has all kinds of things in it. I use it to document progress on deadlines, think through particular pieces, and as a store house for information. Straight pins and magnetic pin cushion–I do like these clover pins with blue, white, red, and yellow heads because they are stable enough to use frequently with an assortment of textiles.
I like these thicker pins for pinning on the design wall.
Design Wall–My permanent design walls are covered in white felt, but my portable design wall can be white fabric, white felt, or white batting.
Sticky Notes–I find these things very handy for jotting down measurements and other notes that I need to move around from the design wall, to the cutting mat, to my journal.
Calculator–I suppose most of you use your phones, that is just fine. I am getting there, but in the meantime, I like an old school calculator.
Lip Balm–if you don’t pack it, you will wish you did.
Hand lotion–ditto here. I have been enjoying these hand balms.
Readers– It you are that age, and I am, you will need them.
I think that covers it. Did I miss anything? Please let me know.
I’m on board! Yes, we didn’t agree 100% on the sewing machine, but this is a good list that anyone would find useful. A couple comments on my own preferences — for pinning, I like very fine pins as they distort the fabric length less. For cutting, I like scissors everywhere (machines, iron, cutting table, living room where I do hand-stitching….) Recently I did add Fiskars blunt-tipped school scissors to my inventory to keep at the long-arm, as I always felt like I was one slip away from doing something really bad to my work. They are plenty sharp for threads and even snips of fabric, but I’m not putting my quilting at risk anymore. I’ll end up buying another couple of pairs, too. And I’m a calculator gal, too. There is always one nearby.
Melanie- Thank you for your very good suggestions! I love those little Fiskar scissors. They are really good and inexpensive, so they are a win-win in my book.
Well, I would add a package of hand sewing needles, an Omni gird ruler to square things up at the end and my time planner. Maybe that seems weird to stick that in there but I travel with it and live with it at home to make room and time for my art. 🙂 Other than that-your tools are my tools and I cant live without them. They travel back and forth with me to VT. Great posts.
I can’t believe I forgot the ruler (and hand sewing needles too). Those are excellent additions to the list! Thank you Colleen!
You are right Jeanne! I keep a little bag of chocolate espresso beans in my sewing machine feet drawer. Emergency chocolate and caffeine all in one!
A good audio book so that I can do two things at one- read and sew!
Thank you for sending me that pattern for the cooking mitts. The pattern is splendid!
Sharon- you are most welcome! I have become addicted to audio books this year. They are perfect for machine quilting–great suggestion.
Ironing board and steam presser/iron. Spritzer bottle with distilled water in it. Serger for finishing selvedges before preshrinking fabric. I use soap slivers for marking. New and sharp razor blades around are a must for undoing seams. I have a clamp third hand that helps me hold things to rip out safely. TV set to HGTV channel to keep me company. Phone plugged in at arms reach or cordless/cell so I don’t have to get up to answer it.
How could I forget the iron and ironing board–that is a whole new post! I have been known to buy an iron when I am traveling just so that I have my very own. Lots of good suggestions here. Thank you Carole!
Super stupendous and timely, as I am cleaning my supply cupboards this week and find I have many duplicates which I likely will NOT use again… time to gift the students at next workshop with “free stuff”. Thanks so much… and I agree with everything from Carole! And, yep, a phone where you don’t have o stop what you are doing and run. I usually don’t answer when working, but have missed a few great opportunities this way!
Bethany, I have little supply kits for my students out in McCarthy filled with the right tools. I am amazed by how many people get by for years without snips–using big clunky scissors to cut tiny threads. It a small mission of mine to share tools–they can make such a difference in our work and comfort.
Hi Maria, I have a question. I use my scissors a LOT, like way more than my rotary cutter. And I have always used Ginghers. I wonder if you have used them, and how you would compare the Kai scissors to them. (I need a new pair and am debating which one to order.)
Debby- I had always used Ginghers until I tried Kai. I love the way they feel and cut. Everyone I know who has tried them has switched over to Kai. I hope you like them!
I’m not a quilter, but I love your list! I do have to do finish work on the large pieces and stitch small pieces to linen. I’m going to look up that printer.
Sherri- The printer is a really useful thing to have. I keep one in my studio and just print as I go.
Thank you Renata!
Like my grandmother before her, when my grand daughter was 6, she helped me organize my sewing room. We had fun sorting the buttons by color and size. She learned a lot about the names of sewing implements and the basics of how thread a needle, to properly knot a thread, to sew on a button and some of the names of fabrics like polyester and natural fibers like wool, silk,and cotton and what is comfy to wear in winter and summer and other characteristics of each. She learned how to thread and sew on my reliable Necchi straight stitching and then zigzag until her practice was even while sitting on my lap. At ten, she took a sewing class at the museum and made a cute short skirt with elastic waist, a felt pin cushion for me and then a ceramic pinch pot in school that I still use for my silk pins. I hope all you sewists have the same joy and common bonding we found through our creative art that may lead at the least to mending and hemming but hopefully something more. We are an endangered species and must keep the craft going.
Great thoughts Carole! Thank you. Not only is it important to pass this skill set down, I also think there is a craving out there for it. Making is great for just the sake of making, but it also calms the soul and connects us to each other. Ummmmm. You might have just inspired a new blog post.
i cannot live without my leather thimbles that Clover makes — 3 styles that I use for embroidery or hand quilting, 2 of which have metal pitted disks for pushing. Also, my enormous WIESS tailor’s shears that I’m a much better cutter with than the rotary, and rolls of trace for pattern making that I swipe from my architect husband. Oh, and an 18” hoop for hand quilting…and my hand-held steamer…and podcasts, many, many podcasts.
And children. Always children. No, wait … I think I have to leave them behind to get any work done. A BABYSITTER, yes, and summer camp, and a laundress, a cook, and a house cleaner, and a Girl Friday.
Yes, that sums it up, plus all of everyone elses wonderful tips, too. Thanks for this Maria!
Amy- I would love to see you write a post about these supplies! Three types of thimbles. Wow. I am always on the hunt for a better thimble. Duct Tape does work in a pinch. What is this tracing paper you are writing about. I know architect’s have good tools that can be used for quilting too. Thank you for taking the time to share your great tool ideas!
i purchased a Chinese thimble while in Hawaii. It is a metal ring with divots all the way around. i wear it on my ring finger between first and second knuckle but would like one to fit my first finger. i use it every time i bind a quilt.
Wow. Margaret, I’ve never heard of this type of thimble. I am going to have to try it! Thank you for taking the time to share.
I am new to quilting so ‘out there’ looking for advice, especially on what tools to purchase and how to look. I can hear your gasps of disbelief but I am learning and blogs that this are so helpful, even the comments would love to find the above thimble but not had any joy yet. Any links?
MY favorite thimble I bought at MaryJo’s Fabrics in Gastonia, North Carolina. I have not seen them since. They are brown leather and made by Clover. Clover also makes a black leather thimble that is easy to find at the mega chain Joann’s or other local quilt shops.I do like the black ones, but I tend to wear them out and have to replace them. A third option is to make a duct tape thimble–they do really work. Here is the link to how to do that . Thank you for stopping by! And questions are good. Keep asking them!