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Notion checklist
What do the experienced sewers recommend?
FirecrackerKTM
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FirecrackerKTM
Intermediate
Colorado USA
Member since 3/28/08
Posts: 2333
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Date: 4/14/08 3:09 PM

I am sure there are lots of little things that make your life easier that I may never have seen before ... so please list them here!

Right now the contents of my sewing stuff include:
Cheap chalk marker thingy
Rotary cutter & mats
marking wheel and transfer paper
2 sizes of scissors and pinking shears (all Sears brand and older than I am, probably once my grandmother's!)
cheap pins and pincushion
Cheap seam ripper (do they all go dull this fast? I've found the $2 ones last just as long as the $10 ones)
Tailor's ham
Cheap iron

I would like:
Better seam ripper
Better pinking shears
Buttonhole cutter
Better iron (but not too much$$$)

Speech girl
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Speech girl  Friend of PR
Intermediate
Georgia USA
Member since 5/11/03
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In reply to FirecrackerKTM


Date: 4/14/08 3:38 PM

I've had good luck with the clover seam rippers--have you tried that brand?

Notions are fun--I'm not a gadget person in general but I do have a few nifty sewing notions.

Some of the ones I consider essential:

wash away wonder tape is wonderful--it's great for basting in zippers and such

fusible bias tape--I have only bought this stuff online but it's handy for stabilizing knits and wovens

1/4 " twill tape

glass head pins (don't melt)

magnetic pincushion

a quilter's ruler --I have an inexpensive one that I use constantly

tape measure

seam guide (ruler with an adjustable marker)

button hole chisel or an exacto knife for cutting buttonholes

beeswax for strengthening thread when hand sewing


not essential, but nice to have:
If you are making lots of tubes--a fasturn is useful

If you make lots of bias tape--bias tape makers

applique scissors are not absolutely essential, but now that I have a pair I love them--great for trimming seam allowances without worrying about poking holes in the garment.




------
Kim
formerly mikkim
http://girlwithatimemachine.wordpress.com/

FirecrackerKTM
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FirecrackerKTM
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Colorado USA
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Date: 4/14/08 3:46 PM

OK I confess--one of the reasons I am asking is because I don't even know how to use some of these things.

What do you DO with a seam guide? Is that the same thing as a hem gauge?

Same with the twill tape, fusible bias tape and wonder tape--what are they used for?

I like the glass-top pins. Good idea.

Speech girl
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Speech girl  Friend of PR
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Georgia USA
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In reply to FirecrackerKTM


Date: 4/14/08 5:34 PM

Okay, I'll elaborate a bit--

The seam guide is really just a ruler with a sliding marker--it is actually called a seam gauge--here's a picture:
seam gauge
I like it because it's an easy way to mark hems, button distances--I just set the marker where I want it to be and use it as my guide instead of having to look at the actual lines on the ruler. They are very inexpensive--under $2.

The wonder tape is a double sided tape that can be used instead of basting--it's great for holding zippers in place, or trim, or slippery fabric. When you wash the garment, the tape dissolves.

The fusible bias tape has many uses but I mainly use it to stabilize knits--where I don't want a seam, neckline, etc to be too stretchy and stretch out of shape, and I fuse it to wovens for areas that I want to be stayed and don't think staystitching alone will work. Here's a link:
fusible tape

Twill tape is also used for staying--it's handy for the neckline's of wrap tops and dresses, waistbands, and crotch seam of pants-- bias seams that you don't want to "grow" while you are wearing your garment.
Hope that helps!

------
Kim
formerly mikkim
http://girlwithatimemachine.wordpress.com/

FirecrackerKTM
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FirecrackerKTM
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Colorado USA
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Date: 4/14/08 5:38 PM

Wonder tape sounds especially nifty.

I've never used any of the other stuff. I will have to try it next time. Does it make a big difference?

KitnRose
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KitnRose
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Date: 4/14/08 5:43 PM

I need to get around to playing with some of the stuff on mikkim's list! My own must-haves - and it's a shorter list because we're in such a small apartment that there's simply no room for extra toys. Someday! Anyway, my list:
- Rotary cutters (45mm and 60mm, I believe) and the largest cutting mat I can store along with a smaller one for smaller projects
- Seam guide (easy to store, helpful for measuring)
- Twinfit dress form (space hog but worth it, imho. Especially useful for marking and pinning hems)
- White pencil for marking dark fabrics, water soluable marker for marking light fabrics
- half a dozen seam rippers. I'm always misplacing them!
- Good pair of scissors
- Retractable flexible measuring tape.
- Magnetic pin cushion
- Bees wax
- Clear plastic rulers - one small, one large

That's what springs to mind. Honestly I think a newbie could get by with pins, a pack of needles, light and dark fabric markers, scissors, and measuring tape. But there's so many fantastic notions out there that make sewing so much easier!

------
Kit
"Never underestimate the power of the right dress!" - drsue
"Hyu gots to know how to sveet tok de costumers, dollink" - Girl Genius, 11-24-08

Fictionfan
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Fictionfan  Friend of PR
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Date: 4/14/08 7:44 PM

There was a thread on a notions kit last month on the New to PatternReview? board that you might want to look at.

I don't use the knit/hem gauge ruler thingy, but I do like the metal eze-hem gauge thing that I can use to iron my hems easily. There is a 2004 review by sewgranny about this device. There is a similar device for making pockets, too, that I like if I want all the rounded corners to look the same. (Pocket Template?)

Fine, glass head pins are essential!!! A seam roll, weights to hold down your patterns so you don't have to pin everything (rocks will do, or large washers from a hardware store), a roll of exam table paper (cheap) for altering or copying out patterns if you want to preserve the original (and the paper can be used to place between seam allowance and garment to prevent pressing lines), water-soluble marker or chalk pencils for marking, and a press cloth.

I also use a lot of the paper tape/micropore tape for altering. It doesn't stick forever, and I can get it off without tearing the pattern. I also use it to hold zippers in place when I sew them. Easier than pinning or hand basting, and I can tear the tape off without gumming up the fabric. I also use it to mark the seam allowance on my machine if it is wider than I am used to using (like 1 1/4 inch, which is not marked on my machine). There are lots of others, but those are my essentials.

I agree with the twill tape, though you might want more than one width, depending on where you will use it. If you do any tailoring, fusible line roll tape is great, but you won't need that if you never make a tailored jacket.

Oh, and I use post-its to hold my fabric swatches with the yardage/width info, the fabric content, the price I paid, source, care requirements, and whatever else I want to know about the fabrics so that my stash is not a mystery, and I have the swatches to bring with me when I need to buy things like linings or buttons or threads or whatever.
ETA: and the swatches also tell me how to care for my garment when I am finished sewing it! Sometimes there is a delay between the acqusition and the use of the fabric, and I don't always recall what it was I bought...

-- Edited on 4/14/08 7:48 PM --

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Fictionfan

LuceLu
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LuceLu  Friend of PR
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New York USA
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Date: 4/14/08 8:00 PM

These are the things I use the most--

pattern weights-- don't use pins, it distorts the fabric
rotary cutters
small clippers (clip seams, where darts start)
white pencil/tailor's chalk or blue fade away for marking a dash 1/2 way down a dart and the point.
fusible seam tape for knits--hems
invisible elastic for knits-necklines and to reinforce shoulder seam
fusible knit low temp interfacing, to underline fabrics that need a little body (esp. wovens-- do not fuse woven to woven
a good steam iron
teflon sheet
french curve for pattern alteration
piping foot
edge stitching foot
fray check
a set of good measurements (get a good friend, a lady from guild, a seamstress/alterations tailor to do them).
thread heaven for stitching on buttons and doing a hand hem-- so the thread doesn't tangle.

set your stitch length at 3 or 3.5 for most of your sewing--2.5 is usually too small a stitch length (when you stress the garment, you want the thread to give, not the fabric).

cut your underlining and fabric at the same time (or two garments at once). Don't let your fabric hang off the table (bunch it up and set it on the top).

FirecrackerKTM
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FirecrackerKTM
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Colorado USA
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Date: 4/14/08 8:28 PM

I haven't even thought about other feet ...

What is a seam roll and what do you use it for?

How exactly do you use a french curve?

Fruzzle

Fruzzle
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Date: 4/14/08 8:45 PM

I love my wide transparent ruler -- it allows you to measure from 1-3 inches from the edge & draw parallel lines. Another great tool I use all the time is a right-angle ruler that I got from a hardware store; ditto my yardstick.

Also my wrist-pincushion.

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