Off The Wall Notions

       Blue painters tape - A ‘must have’ for all sewing kits. It will pull off fabric without leaving a residue. Use it to mark the right sides of cut out pieces so you don’t end up with two left sleeves. Use it as a seam guide on the bed of the machine. When  changing the needle, tape the package to the machine so you know which needle is being used. When finished with that needle, if it doesn’t have too many hours on it, blue tape it to the package for later use. 

Extendable magnets  - from the car parts store. They are made for mechanics to pick up screws that fall into hard to reach places. They will work just as well for picking up pins before vacuuming. Give it to a child and they will gleefully hunt down all the dropped pins in the room.

Make-up brush - or a small paint brush to clean the machine. It will get into all of those hard to reach spots without scratching. Cotton swabs can also be used to get the fuzz out of the nooks and crannies. Built up fuzz is one of the main reasons for repairs. When vacuuming the sewing room, vacuum the machine.

Hard shell eye glass cases - Store rotary cutters, small scissors and other sharp items that need to be protected. Tools that will be carried to class can be organized. The sharp edges will be protected and so will all the other items that are in the tote bag. They also work as small jewelry cases when traveling.

Heavy clear plastic zippered bags - The kind that sheets are sold in. Use them to hold you projects so that you can see what everything. These bags are often found at second hand stores. Get several sizes. When you cut out a garment place all of the pieces, left over scraps, thread, buttons, and anything else that goes with that project in one bag. Then when you are ready to work all parts will be together and clearly visible.

Scratch awl - This looks like a short ice pick, it is found in hardware stores. It is great for making holes and acts as a skinny extra finger. Professional seamers in factories always use them. Use it to hold the fabric just before it goes under the presser foot. Keep it right next to the sewing machine.

Skinny metal spatula with a wooden or plastic handle - The type that is used to frost cakes. Keep it by the ironing board. Use it to hold that seam open right in front of the iron. No more scorched fingers.

Washable glue stick - The stuff from the kids school supplies. Apply a thin film of glue stick to the fabric you want to keep in place and press it. The iron will set and dry the glue. Then stitch right through the glue. It works well to apply ribbons. Lightly smear the back of the ribbon, press it in place and stitch the edges. No pins needed. All of the glue will come out with the first wash. 

Hemostats - They are used by doctors in surgery and by others for hobbies. Look for them with fly tying tools. Use them for griping and holding small things. Especially handy when using hot glue guns. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Great for pulling little bits of thread out of the bottom of the machine. They also make threading your serger easier.  

Bar Soap - Plain soap without color. Take a bar of soap with the paper wrapper still on and cover it in a couple of layers of  fleece or other thick fabric. Use this as a needle cushion.  The needles won’t slip in and disappear like they do in a regular pin cushion and they will get a touch of soap on the tips which will make them slip through fabric easier. 

A thin sliver of bar soap is a marker for dark fabrics. A little piece like a left over bit from a motel bar is great. Just use the edge like you would a piece of tailors chalk. It makes a fine line that will wash right out.

If skipped stitches occur when sewing on a densely woven type of fabric like micro-fiber there are two things you can do. First change your needle to a new ‘sharps’ type. The right needle will really make a difference. Second, draw a light thin line of soap down the seam line before stitching. The soap will help the needle slide through the fabric.

Postage stamp moistener - Keep near the ironing board to use when a direct bit of water is needed. Use it to remove water soluble marker before ironing. Or to moisten a stubborn wrinkle without spraying the whole area. When pressing a seam open just run a line down the center to get the moisture where it is needed and not all over the project. 

Dental Floss Threaders - Found next to the tooth brushes. An easy way to get thread through all of the serger guides. They can be used to thread tails back through the stitching when finishing serger work. Also handy for threading larger eyed needles especially those used in crewel and embroidery work. 

Crochet Hooks - Keep a couple in smaller sizes in your sewing stuff and with your craft supplies. When un-sewing use a small hook to get under a line of thread and pull. Use a hook to pull the bobbin thread from under the presser foot instead of grabbing the seam ripper. 

Nifty New Notions - Frixion Erasable Gel Pens by Pilot. - They must be this brand. Get them in the office supply store. Several colors are available. Use them to mark fabrics. When you want the mark to go away just iron it. The marks are suppose to come back if the garment is frozen for a while. None of my dance dresses will be subject to freezing, so I don’t think this is an issue.

Grandma’s Secret Stain Remover - This stuff is really as good as the label says. I got a lot of trailer hitch grease smeared across the front of a brand new polyester blouse. I poured Grandma’s Secret on the grease and worked it in with my fingers. It took 3 rounds through the washer but the bloused is completely clean and I can wear it out to dinner. This stuff smells faintly of citrus, does not hurt your skin and is made in America.

Mary Ellen’s Best Press - The clear starch and sizing alternative. This stuff is great. It does not form white flakes like starch. It does not build up on the iron. It does add a nice crisp finish to dance skirts and seems to add a bit of soil guard and wrinkle resistance.

Thread Heaven - If you do a any hand sewing you want this little blue box of goo. Thread your needle, hold the thread in the box with your finger and pull it through. The thread will be coated with goo. It will slide through the fabric easier. It will not tangle and it does not leave stains on the fabric. 

Soft Tooth Brush - Use it to brush away tailor’s chalk marks. Brush along the seam line you just ripped to pick up stray bits of thread.

Frixon Pens by