Tool tips – budget or quality? The Bodkin

Can you make sewing more fun, quicker or easier by using a quality tool compared to the budget version. Today - the bodkin.

I hope the series about spending in the sewing room has been interesting and useful these past few weeks. We've looked at whether spending more money on sewing tools, gadgets and gizmos can give you better sewing results, save you time or just make sewing more fun.

Covered so far:

With the holiday season coming up, I felt like splashing out a little to treat myself on a few new sewing supplies and trade in my budget versions for something a little better.

Today, the Bodkin

What's a bodkin you might be wondering?  Me too, I just wasn't sure what this tool was called, I just knew I wanted one.   You know when you have to thread some ribbon through a casing for a drawstring bag, or perhaps thread elastic through a waist casing for a skirt?  I've been using a big (rusty) safety pin.  It's not ideal, I can do better!


This is the new and improved version of the big old rusty safety pin.  A proper bodkin.  I bought this one from Clover, the Clip and Glide Bodkin, part of the Nancy Zieman collection.

Bodkin 1

Sometimes it's just the simplest things in life that give you pleasure, and this little tool makes my day!  It has a nice soft and smooth gently rounded end that won't get snagged on anything and will slip smoothly through, gliding through when you get to the tricky part at the seams.

It's flexible too.  Firm enough to push through easily and yet bendy enough that if you have a tight curve you need to negotiate around, like a casing in the end of a sleeve perhaps, it fits through there beautifully too.

Bodkin 2

The genius part is the way it holds the elastic.  There is a clip that comes up, slide in the elastic and it grips it nice and tight.  With the little teeth on the underside, that elastic is not coming out of there and getting lost half way around the casing so you have to start again!


Bodkin 3

My favorite thing about this tool though, even with that awesome clip, is just the length.  I never realised what I was missing pushing that safety pin through millimeters at a time until I had a nice long flexible bodkin like this.  Now I can slide it through the casing so much quicker, inches at a time instead of millimeters.

So in answer to the question, do you really need a sewing bodkin – no of course you don't need one.  I managed just fine without, but it can make sewing quicker and easier and therefore a little more fun if you get one.

So this one is a MUST GET for me.  Saves time, fun to use, does exactly what it's intended for and does it well. Plus we all need more pokey-tools in our sewing toolbox.

Buy yourself a smart bodkin, this one or many of the others on offer at:

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20 Responses to Tool tips – budget or quality? The Bodkin

  1. Christina says:

    I’ve used a Cable Tie before, a few stitches to hold elastic in place at the end, it worked well for me, threaded through in half the time.

  2. Barbara Showell says:

    I wonder how bulky this is compared to traditional bodkins. Would it slip through casings for toddlers and babies? Probably it’s real value is for the bigger longer ones any way, when you get real tired of pushing and pulling.

  3. Jennie says:

    I have great grandmas bodkin, it’s a loop from twisted wire that is machine pressed with an ornate design. I was confused at first how to keep the elastic or string on it. Thread it through the loop, make a tiny hole and that over the pointed end. Works every time. I love old sewing tools.

  4. Laura says:

    When we go camping, we use watertight boxes that have a rubber seal around between the lid and box, and that prevents cell phones and matches and things like that from getting wet if we tip over our canoes. I wonder if you have tried that option. It is pretty inexpensive, you can get one big enough for a rotary cutter for under $10 or so, probably cheaper on Amazon- I haven’t checked. Just trying to help! ☺️

    I live in a very humid environment where our brake discs on our vehicles rust overnight. I’m in southern Louisiana just outside of New Orleans and very near a river. We have to be careful with all of our tools and things. All of my jewelry tools are beginning to rust because I end up leaving them out in the kitchen instead of in their container. It’s not nearly as bad as your situation… we have air-conditioning that we even use during the fall and winter months because of how hot it can be, especially with the humidity making it feel hotter than it is.

  5. Karen says:

    I also had a metal one it was so useless I tossed it out and went back to the safety pin that worked.

  6. Marsha Law says:

    Ah geez, Deby! Stop making my shopping list grow! I already have 3 bodkins, plus big safety pins, but my mailman needs to bring me this one too.

  7. Ana Sullivan says:

    Because I teach children, I try to keep their supplies simple so we use big safety pins for elastic waistbands. But for feeding drawstrings through bags or turning straps I keep a Loop Turner on hand for all to use. I only works if there are no turns because it doesn’t bend. You put the turner all the way through where you want to go, then you attach the cord to the end and pull it through.

  8. Karen C says:

    My sewing machine (Bernina 2008) came with a pack of elastic “glides”… it took me ages to work out what they were for (nothing in the instruction manual)… they save me loads of time in fiddling around with a bodkin or safety pin. So, check out your accessory box first. They look like this (I’m nothing to do with Barnyarns, but this is the only image I could find, sorry).

  9. Gina B. says:

    Thank you so much! I see has it, so I’m ordering it rght now!

    Now will you please, please review the various tools for turning bag straps?

  10. Wendy says:

    It’s always nice when you have a “meh” solution to a problem, and then find a much much better one!

    For who would bear the whips and scorns of threading
    When he himself might his drawstring make
    With a bare bodkin?

  11. Michelle says:

    Deby, I was sure you were going to say your favorite thing about this new Bodkin was that it won’t rust because it’s not metal. It looks great! I have an older metal one, and it does slip out half way through, leading me to often resort back to the safety pin method. I’ll have to look at this. Thanks!

  12. Tori says:

    Oh I need one of those. I’m still using the metal ones that constantly slip off the elastic. Thanks for the tip.

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