Do You Know Your Notions? Time-Saving Sewing Notions

Time Saving Sewing NotionsThe notions department of a sewing and crafts store holds a wide variety of items that can enable anyone to sew faster and/or better. Here are some of the best tools and gadgets.

Measuring and Cutting

Accurate measuring and cutting prevent time-consuming errors. Retractable tape measures are inexpensive, so keep one in your purse for shopping, on the cutting table, and at the sewing machine. Having a measuring device handy at all times eliminates the temptation to “just eyeball” a measurement and possibly make a mistake that will require ripping.A T-square is not just a drafting tool. Use one to straighten fabric at the cutting table. This tool is also great for marking simple rectangular pieces such as ruffles, quilt borders, or skirt tiers–much quicker than pinning a tissue pattern for cutting.Scissor sharpeners are a good investment. Prevent downtime while your best shears are at the shop getting sharpened. Dull shears make cutting slow and aggravating, delaying the pleasure of sewing. Shears should glide through layers of fabric without hesitation.

Pattern weights hold tissue patterns in place during cutting. Placing weights is faster than pinning and unpinning pieces. When pins are needed, don't use dull ones. Synthetic fabrics dull pins after a while, so toss pins when they no longer pierce fabric with ease. A new box of sharp pins is a simple pleasure and a time saver.

Marking and Basting

Skirt markers come in several styles. The clamp and pin enable you to sit on the floor and mark an even distance from the floor with perfectly placed pins while your model slowly rotates. What if you need to mark your own skirt? In this case, get a model that sprays a thin line of chalk. You stand next to the hem marker while holding a small plastic bulb. As you turn in place, squeeze the bulb at intervals to mark a line parallel to the floor.
Tailor's chalk comes in squares and makes a clear mark, yet disappears when touched with an iron. You need not be a professional tailor to enjoy the convenience of this chalk for marking buttonholes, pocket placement, or roll lines for lapels. It comes in white or various colors and lasts a long time. Unlike dressmaker pencils, it needs no sharpening.

Sewing and Finishing

Thimbles may seem old-fashioned, but they are indispensable for safely pushing needles through multiple fabric layers. While they feel awkward to an inexperienced user, they are far less awkward than the discomfort of pushing a needle through a fingertip–ouch! Try a thimble with an open end or a flexible leather thimble if you dislike the standard style. Be sure to get one that fits.

Extra bobbins are inexpensive and allow you to wind several at the beginning of a project instead of stopping to wind an empty bobbin in the middle of a seam. Prewound bobbins are available in white, clear monofilament, and other basic colors. Get the right style for your machine and zip through large projects with no winding at all.

Extra sewing machine needles should always be available near your machine. Keep boxes of the size you use most–stock up whenever there is a sale. Be sure to have the right needle for each project: ballpoint for sewing knits, sharp for firm woven fabrics, embroidery for thicker decorative threads. Often problems with skipped stitches or jammed bobbins can be fixed simply by changing needles.

Enjoy sewing projects more and complete them in a timely fashion by using the same simple tools professionals use. Turn even utility sewing and mending into something easy and enjoyable.

Have we missed any time saving sewing notions?  Please let us know in the comments below.  We'd really love to hear from you.

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16 Responses to Do You Know Your Notions? Time-Saving Sewing Notions

  1. GayleFromBoston says:

    bias tape maker

  2. Dee says:

    Aren’t these all just sewing tools? I thought notions were zippers, buttons, hook, etc.

  3. Shanleigh Hugo says:

    I find a sewing gauge, to be my best measuring tool. It is firm & far less cumbersome than a retractable tape measure, for small measurements such as hem & seam allowances. They are very inexpensive tin metal rulers with a sliding plastic marker (see an example 0icture uploaded).

  4. Lisa Stephens says:

    Oiling my machine.
    How much oil.
    How many drops.
    Where do i put the drops.
    Type of oil to use.
    How often do i oil my machine.
    Log sheet to keep track…

    • Kathleen Travis says:

      Before you go and buy that little can or tube of oil, determine what brand and model number.
      Most modern machines require NO oiling of any kind.
      Find your instruction manual and read through to determine if and where and how much.
      If you can’t find your copy, Google the brand and model. and a copy may be free or cost a few dollars. Probably worth the expenditure, especially if you have a box full of gizmos you have never used. You may be surprised what you can do!

  5. Carol James says:

    Thanks for all the tips and info for sewing. I have been sewing since I was a teenager, learned from my mother and home ec teacher. I’m not an expert, but I try almost anything, but I love learning new things about sewing, materials and all helpful tools to make clothing, etc. Thanks again.

  6. Judy says:

    Hi from New Zealand
    An iron together with a tailor’s ham and sausage are invaluable. I have my ironing board permanently set up in the laundry on purpose. This makes me get up and walk! Also makes me rest my eyes during a long project.

  7. Ione says:

    Did not know there were “new” hem markers on the market! My first memory of these was around 1950 when I was little. How I hated standing there and turning around slowly! Slow wasn’t in my vocabulary-just wanted that job done, as fast as possible!!

  8. Martha says:

    I have found a bodkin really useful snd easy for putting elastic, cord and ribbon through casings instead of using a safety pin.

  9. Cheryl Masters says:

    There isalso a double marking wheel with different width adjustments to add a seam allowance for patterns that don’t have one. The only one I’ve seen is at Nancy’s Notions, but there probably at other fabric or notions stores. Plus, they are very inexpensive. Just sayin’. Cheryl

  10. Jean Gilbert says:

    Thank you for all the truly useful tips you have given. I don,t usually do this but you have made such a difference to my sewing, so a big thank you to So Sew Easy and all who does all this work for our pleasure.

  11. Kathleen Travis says:

    One of the most essential tool is a good seam ripper! I like the double ended one by Dritz.
    Dritz 174; Seam-Fix™ Double-Sided Seam Ripper. It fits well in the hand and the two sides five you a choice of a large one for overall work and a very small one for tedious tiny problems.
    When I teach I tell my students to consider their seam ripper as their best friend because it can get you out of a lot of trouble!

    • Kathleen Travis says:

      I have taught sewing to many hundreds of kids and adults – even guys! – over my career of almost 50 years. I did then and do now continue to tell the students that their seam ripper is their “best friend”. It will get them out of problems involving thread and fabric, but it must be handled with care. Too much force and it makes it worse so it is a skill we actually teach on the first or second class.
      My sister whom I taught more than 60 years ago still preaches this fact when she visits my classroom. Guess I finally drummed something her head.

  12. Chinnu says:

    it was very helpful….thank u

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