Some UnConventional Sewing Tools

Sewing, Sewing, Sewing which I do on a daily basis to keep items available for my Etsy shop – – as well as for my personal designs and treasures!!  I “LOVE” to sew and have many unconventional type tools that I use on a day-to-day basis to help make my projects easier and look their best.

Looking at the above picture – I will give you a brief idea of what I use some of these household items for to aid me in my sewing endeavors:

  • Flour Sack T-Towels – These are probably my all time favorite item to have on hand.  Not only are they a perfect item for your kitchen or bathroom but these towels make a wonderful pressing cloth.  They are big (26″ x 26″), lint free and you can lightly see through them when you are pressing your project.  The cloth can handle a hot iron and protects your fabric too.  I get them in white so I can bleach them, if need be.
  • Soap Scraps – I collect all those small soap remnants and use them for marking registration lines, sewing lines, notches, etc.  These soap pieces don’t clearly show up on white fabric so then I pull out a quilting type pencil.  All you have to do is steam them and the lines will disappear, however, if you can still see your soap marks, give a spritz of water to the mark and iron it out.
  • Wooden Spoon – These are great to help with turning items to the right side.  The long handle works good on narrow tubes and the rounded spoon side gives good smooth edges for pressing.  Should you get a rough spot on the wooden spoon, you can always smooth it out with an emery board (nail file) or some fine sandpaper.
  • Magnifying Glass – I use this when I sometimes have to verify my sewing needle information or checking out sewing stitches especially black fabric with black thread.
  • Envelope / Letter Opener – This makes for a great stiletto substitute or creating your own bias tape and need to be pressing very close to the edges of fabric and don’t want to burn your finger tips.  Mine is a metal style letter opener  and I just have to watch that is doesn’t get too hot when using with my iron.
  • Painter’s Tape – Great tape to use if you are working with clear vinyl.  You can tape your vinyl to your cutting mat to insure getting a nice straight cut line.  I also will stack several layers together on my machine to have a good edge for my fabric to follow for a straight stitching line especially if it is a really wide seam.
  • Magnet – Need something to help out on those occasions when you drop pins or needles on the rug.  I know they make expandable magnetic pointers too for those tight or out of reach spots that a pin always lands.
  • Cotton Swabs – These little gems work great to get in those small places to remove lint and dust from your machine.  You can always drop a little sewing machine oil on the cotton tip and oil those hard to reach places on your machine.
  • Small Mallet – I use this guy when I need to insert magnetic clasps.  This saves my fingers and nails when you have to push down the tab sides of your clasp.
  • Wire Cutter – This makes fast work of removing a shank on a button.
  • Small Can – I enjoy my Republic of Tea and the tea bags come in these very nice cans, which have a wide variety of uses – pencil holders, scissor keepers, cut Velcro, cotton twill tape, elastic, etc.
  • Old Medicine Bottle – Perfect to hold all my broken needles, bent pins, pins that the heads have come off – I just have punched a hole in the child proof bottle cap and drop those discarded pins into the bottle.  Doing this also saves your fingers when you are rummaging through your sewing trash can looking for scrap fabric to test your stitching.
  • Binder Clips / Paper Clips – Alternate method to hold several fabric layers together when pinning just isn’t the answer.
  • Calculator – Measure twice or three times but cut once.  I use this to double-check my math.
  • Small Flashlight – I keep this by my iron as the cover that houses the water is difficult to see through so I just light it up with my handy-dandy flashlight to see my water level.  I also keep a lint roller on my ironing board to “lint off” those cotton threads that always seem to be on everything.

I know that there are lots of things you can recycle too for helping to stay organized and making your sewing / craft rooms more usable – canning jars for buttons, makeup holders for scissors or rotary cutters, etc.  Please share if you have an “unconventional” sewing tool or idea that is unique to keep those “creative” juices flowing.


Blocking Your Crochet/Knitting Project

When I was a young girl first learning to crochet and sew, blocking your item was right up there with do I really need to stay-stitch my neck edge within my sewing project – duh, I learned the hard way, you DO need to do these steps to get the desired results and have an item that will last and continue to look good.  Think about it, you have gone to all this work to crochet a wonderful piece, now you need to block it so it will have the necessary shape, curves, points, etc. to look awesome.

There are basically 2 ways of blocking – called wet blocking and/or steam blocking.  STEAM blocking is exactly as its name implies.  I do this for small projects and I NEVER do it for anything that has been made with acrylic yarn.  I layout my project on my ironing board, spray it with a little water from my handy-dandy spray bottle that I always have hanging from my ironing board and sort of shape it with just my fingers.  I like to cover it with a pressing cloth, then I hold my iron just above the item but don’t touch it with the iron and steam away.  I usually give it a couple good bursts of steam.  Lift the pressing cloth, check it out and if all looks good just let it stay in place to cool and dry. If you aren’t totally satisfied, maybe an edge isn’t just to your liking, give it another spray of water, cover with your pressing cloth and give it another burst of steam.

The steaming method works really well for cotton yarns.  I would be cautious with WOOL items too as heat will do funky things to wool yarn.  As one time my hubby was trying to be so helpful and threw a lovely sweater in the dryer and it shrunk to fit a Barbie doll.

WET blocking is probably the best way to block your yarn projects.  Basically, soak your crochet in a nice sink full of cold water, add a very little drop of a gentle soap, give it a nice swish around, and rinse really well to make sure soap is all gone.  Gently squeeze out some of the water, you can let it drain a little in the sink, layout a big towel and place your project on the towel.  You really don’t want to wring or twist – I like to fold up my towel in half and then fold in the sides and press easy on it to help remove extra moisture.

Then off to my blocking mats with my rust proof pins and tape measure.  Layout your project and gently stretch it out, finger open those fine details that you have made and pin away.  Use your tape measure to make sure you are getting the size and shape you want.  Again, have that handy-dandy spray bottle at hand if you need to dampen your project during the blocking process.  For a shawl with fine picot points, be sure to place a pin in each one.  Believe you me, it is worth it!!

Round shaped items, like booties or hats, I like to shape using wet paper towels.  Put wet paper towels inside your booties to shape them the way you want and let them stay that way until the paper towels are dry.  I use fabric covered styrofoam balls for shaping hats but if they need to be a little fuller, again wet paper towels to fill in those spaces – works great.  Just do final shaping with your hands and let air dry completely.

Take a moment and check out Shibaguyz Designz blog.  Some really interesting ideas for blocking here using wire, #10 cotton thread and/or unwaxed kitchen string.  Recommends the string for nice shaping of curved areas.  Another recommendation – block your swatch piece to really ensure you are getting the correct gauge.  Excellent reading 🙂

Here are some pictures of the blocked shawls and scarves that I just did – talked about the patterns on my last blog That’s a Wrap!!  Good examples of how blocking really gives your item that WOW factor.  You’ve spent lots of hours crocheting or knitting that beautiful piece – now spend just one more hour to truly give your item that professional, finished appearance.

Blocking on mats


Before blocking

After blocking

Before blocking

After blocking





That’s a “WRAP”

Well I’ve been super busy “wrapping up” with hooking shawls, scarves and cowls recently so I thought I would share with you some of my projects and what patterns I used.  Can’t quite call them totally “finished” as I still need to complete detailed blocking for everything so that is what is on my agenda for this week.  Plus, all the yarn I used was already in my stash!!  Yeah!!!

Before I go further, did want to share with you pictures of my finished knitted seed/moss stitch scarf.  I am very happy with how it turned out – especially since knitting seems to challenge me a bit 🙂

Seed/Moss Stitch

Anyways, take a look and hopefully you will get inspired with a “wrap” of your own 🙂

  1.  These pictures show a lovely summer shawl.  I used a free pattern found on Ravelry called the Dixie Charm pattern by Kathy Lashley. I used 2 skeins of Sunseeker  Multis (color #107) by Cascade Yarns and an I hook (5.5) for this pattern.  I just love the beautiful peachy tones which highlights just a touch of sparkle throughout.  This yarn was a combo of cotton, acrylic, and metallic yarn.  Very nice to work with too and I’m really pleased with how it looks so far.  Blocking will give it that totally finished look!!

    Dixie Charm

  2. Next I liked this great Moogly pattern called Berry Harvest   Bandana Cowl.  Crocheted this one using the pattern recommendations of an H hook and a DK weight yarn.  I chose Rowan Creative Linen (1 skein) which is a nice 50% linen and 50% cotton.  Worked up lovely and the berry design and edging will truly benefit from a good blocking.


Back to Ravelry again, I found a pretty lacy scarf called Summer Sprigs Lace Scarf by Esther Chandler.  The yarn I decided to go with was Folio by Berroco (blend of Superfine Alpaca and Rayon) but was considered a Light (3) category and her pattern used a Fine Lace yarn.  I only had 2 skeins of this yarn, so I chose a Size E hook (3.5) using the Folio yarn and only chained 232 + 1.  I used 1 full skein and a little more than half of the other skein for my scarf.  It still wraps around your neck nicely and drapes on the sides.  I know too once blocked, it will enlarge the size of the finished scarf.

Summer Sprigs Lace Scarf

I enjoyed making the Summer Sprigs pattern so off to my stash bin again and found 4 skeins of Folio in an awesome charcoal gray color.  So I have started pattern using this yarn, changed hook to a Size C (2.75) and began with the pattern recommendation of 386 +1 chains.  Not very far, but I think  the outcome will still be a lovely, light weight scarf.

Work in Progress

Of course, I just purchased an awesome pattern by Christina Hadderingh called Hotel of Bees shawl from Ravelry and looking forward to participating in the #HOBCAL (Hotel of Bees Crochet Along) through Cherry Heart’s Cozy Corner group.

And, That’s A “Wrap”!!







Spool Knitting Finished Project

Well, I finally finished my “cattail” and bound it off from my 4 pronged spool.  My cord is 195″ long or almost 5  1/2 yards.  I am planning to roll my cord into a circle and use it as a trivet for my kitchen.


When rolled, the trivet will measure 9″ across which will be a perfect size for plates or bowls to keep the heat directly off my table.  It will also look great as a decorated piece under my kitchen centerpiece.





Because I used up all the thread that I had to make the cord, I am going to whip stitch it together using all 6 strands of a coordinating DMC floss.  Beginning in the center and rolling as I go, I will whip stitch it together using a cross stitch type needle which has a little bit of a blunt tip so that I don’t snag any of my threads.


This is a wonderful activity for a child to do and a super way to use up all those “little balls” of yarn leftover from other knit or crochet projects.  As you collect your bits and pieces of leftover yarn, just tie them together with a secure square knot (right over left and left over right) and keep adding to make a big multi-colored skein.  I would try to keep your category of yarn about the same; that is, I wouldn’t tie a chunky (category 5) to a sock weight (category 2).  How fun to see all the different colors come together!!


Enjoy making your own “cattail” ~~ you can find more information on using knitting Nancy’s here.  FYI: I did purchase a super little tool from my local big box store ( which worked great to lift my lower loops easily over the upper loops on my spool.  🙂



Keeping your Sewing Foot Pedal in place

If you are like me, I do a TON of sewing especially this time of the year!!  One thing that always seems to happen to me is that I am forever chasing my sewing machine foot pedal all around because it is ALWAYS moving out of my comfort zone for sewing!!

I have tried placing self-adhesive felt pads on the bottom of my pedal without much success and have even used sandpaper stickers on the underneath side of the pedal and I am still always having to move it back into place.  However, these sandpaper stickers work super on your quilting rulers to help keep them from sliding around!!  Sorry, I digress.

Anyways, I have designed a platform that I place my sewing machine foot pedal on and it really seems to help keep it from moving all around.  Believe you me it is nothing fancy and you probably have these items around your house so NO COST which is right up my alley.  This is what I presently use:






See I told you it is nothing fancy  ~ ooooh and pardon all my thread explosions LOL!!  I have taken a couple of card board mailing boxes and covered them in the rubberized shelf lining material with some extra-large rubber bands to hold it all together.  The boxes I used are about 16″ wide by 11″ long and I covered three of them for some thickness and height.  You see I am also vertically challenged so it works better for me to have my foot pedal raised up a little bit.

My foot pedal will still move around ever so slightly but it doesn’t travel way out of reach. This works for me and keeps me from getting frustrated 🙂

It would be great if you could share your ideas that you use to help with this issue!!




Storing Bobbins

Came across this super inexpensive and clever idea on Pinterest showing an easy and neat way to store your bobbins using pedicure forms.  So I went to the blog site, Manoa Road, to get further information.

Myself I have these plastic snap cases that I use and I do really like them because the bobbins are quick and easy to pull out and put back away ~~ especially since I seem to do this procedure one-handed.  However, they tend to get messy with the threads having a mind of their own and they get stringy even in the case.  So I thought I would give the pedicure forms a try!!


Now I didn’t actually go and buy anything at this point just used a couple of pedicure forms that I had on hand.  Voila, it seems to work nicely and threads are all tucked away neatly but not sure if it is the way to go for me. As I mentioned earlier, I tend to grab and replace my bobbins using only one hand (probably why my threads get unruly but is a timesaving process for me and my sewing needs). This solution needs two hands to replace the bobbin back into the pedicure form.  Also,  my bobbins seem to make the form curve a bit ~~ not sure if my bobbins are larger/smaller or my forms are not new and maybe too soft and flexible.  Brand new forms are probably a little sturdier and might not curve.


For me I’m not sure if I will change my current bobbin storage system, however, I still think this is a grand idea worth looking into and maybe will work for you and how you sew with your tools.

Hmm ~~ probably next time I am shopping I just might have to pick up a couple of new pedicure forms though!!  Let me know if you have success with this idea 🙂





Repurposed Keepsake

Here’s an idea to keep on your bulletin board or where ever you might have future projects waiting to be made (under fabric and yarn, taped to a calendar, in a drawer, etc.)  Always working hard at staying organized but some of you know how that is!!


 Take a moment to click on the picture to see the entire Cat family!!

Anyways, I was working my booth at a craft show and got to talking with a very nice woman who had lost her husband about a year ago.  Some of my handmade merchandise is made from 100% cotton and she wondered if I would be willing to sew for her using fabrics provided by her.  To make a long story short, she wanted to give her children and grandchildren a keepsake made from her husband’s shirts.  In particular, she wanted cats.


So I found this cat pattern and she gave me several 100% cotton dress shirts as well as polo style and T-shirts.  I used her husband’s clothing to make these really adorable cats.  She said that some of the shirts were gifts given to her husband by their children and grandchildren.  So she was going to give back to them this remembrance cat made from the gift they had given to her husband.  What a touching keepsake!!

Ribbon was added as a cute accent.  She was thrilled with how they turned out and I was touched each time I sewed one.  What a beautiful repurposing memory for all of them to treasure!!