Right now, I am finishing up a new little spring frock for my daughter using the Ice Cream Dress pattern from Oliver + S. As I’ve been working on this project, I haven’t been able to help but feel so thankful for my favorite tools and little tidbits of knowledge that help me along the way. I truly believe that sewing (as well as any type of crafting) should be as enjoyable as possible, and any little gadget or trick that helps ease frustration is worth trying out. That said, here are just a handful of my favorite things others have introduced to me; and I hope other beginner or intermediate sewers find them useful as well!
Pattern tracing paper. If you’re using a multi-sized pattern (which most garment patterns are these days), I highly recommend that you get yourself a roll of pattern paper and go to the effort of tracing off your pattern in the desired size instead of cutting into the original pattern tissue. This is my least favorite part of sewing, since it can be a little time-consuming; but the point is to preserve your original pattern for future use. After all, the beauty of modern multi-sized patterns is that you can reuse them as needed for larger sizes. This is especially the case when sewing for children, because we all know, it only takes little ones about five minutes to outgrow new clothes!
Sulky KK2000 Temporary Spray Adhesive. This stuff is a true lifesaver. Honestly, I hate to deal with pins, but I still want to be accurate, and KK2000 is really helpful in that way. My favorite way of using it is for adhering pattern pieces onto fabric for when I am cutting it out. The pattern doesn’t slip around like it can when pinned, and I feel like I get a more precise cut on my fabric pieces. Then when you’re done, just peel the pattern piece off the fabric and save it for next time. (FYI – KK2000 is also very useful in applique!)
Roxanne’s Glue-Baste-It. Glue baste is probably the only reason I have ever sewn a garment that didn’t look completely wonky. All it takes is a few tiny dots to literally glue two pieces of fabric together before sewing, and then it washes out easily with water once you’re done. I find it especially useful for holding small, tricky hems in place, such as around a shoulder seam or on a turned-under curve – anywhere that pinning and/or basting doesn’t feel secure or accurate, give glue baste a try! For me, it’s a miracle worker – and like KK2000, glue baste is also very helpful in applique work.
An edgestitch or center guide blade machine foot. I happen to own a Bernina at home, so this would be presser foot #10 for me; but visit your local dealer or search online to find a foot made specifically for your brand machine. I have found this foot to be a must-have for achieving accurate topstitching along a seam or folded edge. The metal blade serves as a guide along which you can run a folded edge, and when you adjust your needle slightly to the left or right, you’ll love how easy it is to topstitch precisely right along the edge. I love using this foot for topstitching along hems, collars, yokes or plackets. (Note: This foot is also extremely useful for sewing with lace, but that is another post for another day; in the meantime, check out this video from Sew Beautiful editor Kathy Barnard to see it in action!)
Shannon Miller is the editor of Stitch Craft Create magazine. Having previously worked as art director for Sew Beautiful magazine and with a love of all things crafty and creative, she feels blessed to work in such an inspiring environment every day. She admits to having a problem with coffee, an exploding stash of fat quarters, a strong dislike for cleaning, an addiction to reading blogs and an overwhelming affection for naps. Shannon lives in Huntsville, Alabama with her husband Nathan and their one-year-old daughter, Georgia Mae. She is due with their second child, a boy, this June.