Top tools for the sewing room

Here’s a round-up of things that I find really helpful, let me know what your indispensables are!

Rotary cutter and mat

For overall speed and for thick or slippery fabrics, I’m a complete convert to a rotary cutter and mat. I still use scissors for tight curves and fiddly shapes, but a cutter, mat and long ruler make for swift, accurate cutting. Bosh! As I frequently cut out fabric on the floor, it means I spent half as long pretzelled up. Bonus.

Quilting ruler


I’ve got two of these, a little one and a big one. They make quick work of marking off right angles and I love using them to mark out the box corners on bags.

Bobbin washers


Bobbin washers are small Teflon discs that sit behind the bobbin and reduce backlash and birdnesting. I was sceptical. I am sceptical no more. They’re awesome. Treat yourself.

Thread Heaven

Thread Heaven

This magical stuff conditions thread so that it really, really doesn’t want to knot up or snag.  Just run your thread over it; it also tames cheap thread that I use for tacking stitches. And it lasts for aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaages.

Dressmaking pencils

FabricMarkersI have various temporary marking tools, including air dry pens, rinsable pens and heat transfer pencils, but my cheap go-to for most projects is chalk pencils. If you’re struggling to make a mark on fabric with a tailor’s pencil, try it damp. Wet the tip (yes, I lick mine) or use it on fabric that has just been steam ironed or sprayed with water. You will find it much more cooperative. I have about fifteen of these. And I can still never find one 🙂

Cereal boxes

If you’re making small projects such as purses, little bags or bunting, cut up old cereal boxes for your templates. They’re stiff enough to draw around (no need for pinning) and you can write notes on them just like a pattern piece. You can also print perfect hexagons and diamonds onto large label sheets, peel them off and apply them to cardboard. Cut them out (I find a scalpel and cutting mat more accurate than scissors but it’s your choice) and you’ve got a consistent and durable set of pattern pieces. You can die cut cardboard to achieve the same result. Or if you need a little frame for silk painting or fabric painting, you can build up strips of cardboard with PVA glue for a very economical frame in the size of your choice (it’s therapeutic while I’m watching TV and too tired to do anything requiring concentration).

Fabric shears

I bought my favourite fabric scissors from Sew Northampton a few years ago. They deal mainly in machines but have a good range of bobbins and tools and are really friendly and knowledgeable. I love the sound of these scissors at work almost as much as I love the purr of my Bernina.

Edgestitch Foot


There’s a nice exploration of the possibilities for this foot here, and I find it useful for creating seams with a narrow allowance, like tubing and French seams. I use it to create a narrow seam to save on fabric – or I’ve cut my toile pieces wrong and I’m sticking ’em back together 😉 Love love love the example of attaching trim…oh yes…and I like using my edgestitch foot for neat topstitching on bag straps and the like.