Saturday, May 9, 2009

I have a notion for you

Just a Notion

In January 2009, I taught a notion class at both of our local American Sewing Guild and at Pensacola Quilters Guild. I encouraged the members to bring their favorite notion and I brought a couple bags of mine, and we shared what helps us sew and quilt. I decided after many requests to write up a paper with all the notions. So below is what I learned from fellow seamstresses and what I have gathered through the years of sewing myself. I hope you can use some of this information to either save money with your hobby or to make your life easier. I thank my fellow seamstresses for their suggestions and regret that I can not give them the credit for their suggestions, as I only wrote down what the notions were and did not write down who gave what suggestion. My memory is such that I can not remember everything, so rather than give wrong information; I will just say that Pensacola Florida has some of the best seamstresses around. Please forgive my short comings and enjoy. I have tried to organize the tips to make it easier to find

Organization for your craft/sewing room

  • To organize your books and magazines, take an empty laundry detergent box and cut one end side down. Cover the box with decorative paper or contact paper. Label the box with the magazine name or type of book it will contain and then you can file it on your shelf in alphabetical order.
  • Organize your fabrics by color and list the fabric size. Have one container for less than a yard cut, one for a yard cut, and if it is larger than a yarn fold it and label the length and as you use it, adjust the label with the length amount.
  • Take a 3 ring binder with some page protectors and make an information book with all the package information of your notions. A lot of manufactures have their instructions on the package label instead of having an insert with instructions. We toss the package into the garbage and lose the instructions, or we mislay them and can not find them.
  • When you cut your pattern pieces for a garment, place them back in numerical order. Then if you need to find a particular pattern piece it is easier to find. Also use zip lock bags to put the pattern back. Put the pieces in the pattern envelope and then put the pattern envelope and instruction in the zip lock bag.

Notions from unusual places

  • A carpenters metal roll up tape measure, make it easy to measure curves. Roll out the needed amount and bend it (on its side) around your pattern piece or object you are measuring.
  • A make up brush is excellent to brush the lint from your serger or sewing machine.
  • A rotating kitchen utensil holder makes a great notion holder to keep all your scissors, markers, and other notions together and at hands reach.
  • A toilet bowl brush is an excellent tool to get all the little threads that land on the floor. It prevents hours cutting them out of your vacuum cleaner brush roller. I would suggest you label it so as to keep it out of the bathroom.
  • An adhesive lint roller (the one that you use and tear off the section when it is full, looks like masking tape) is also great to pick up threads and small pieces of fabric or paper. They actually make one on a long handle to make it easy to use on the floor.
  • Rubber shelf liner is excellent to keep your machine in place, also your foot pedal. Just cut a piece the size needed and place under your sewing machine or serger. For the foot pedal, you can use double sided tape to adhere it to the underside.
  • Painter’s tape and clothes pins are great to use when you can not use pins in your project. Painter’s tape has a low adhesive residue and is easily removed from your project.
  • Some of the suggestions for pattern weights:
  1. Clean river rocks.
  2. Heavy bolts or washers (from the hardware store) that have been cleaned and covered with fabrics.
  • To keep your bobbins from tangling, get some pvc tubing (not pipe) from your hardware store and using an craft knife cut it into ¼ inch sections and then cut it so that it will open up and fit around your bobbin, thus encasing your thread. If you do not know the size, just take a bobbin with you when you go to the store.
  • A magnetic bowl that mechanics use to put spare parts in: makes an excellent pin collector. You will find it in any automotive department or store. You can also use the magnetic advertising that is meant for your refrigerator door.
  • There is a Suction Bathtub and Shower Assist Handle that you can use on your plastic rulers when using your rotary cutter. You can find these at most box stores in the bathroom areas. They are easy to place on the ruler, and then snap the suction cup tabs. When done, flip up the tabs and the suction is released.
  • The poly cord strapping that is used on boxes for shipping, is excellent boning for purses and other projects that need a firm opening.
  • The little battery operated razors for removing facial hair, is excellent to rip out sewing seams. Just open up your seam and place the razor where the thread holds the seam together, and presto magic it cuts it fast and easily.
  • A silicon spatula that you normally would scrap a cooking bowl with; makes an excellent tool to use with your iron to hold your seam while you press. Keeps your fingers from getting burned. I just remove the handle and keep the silicone spatula with my iron.
  • The silicon oven mitts are great to use when you are trying to shape your garment while ironing. You can use the full size oven mitt or the finger tip oven mitts.
  • Chop sticks and medical hemostats are great for point turners.
  • Vinyl that is sold by the yard can easily be cut into strips to keep your thread spools from unraveling and also to wrap cords to keep them from tangling.
  • In the dental care section of your favorite store, you will probably find a dental mirror. This is a small circular mirror that is angled, your dental hygienist uses on when cleaning your teeth. This is an excellent tool to get your needle up into the machine when changing needles, especially for sergers.
  • An old prescription bottle is great to put your old needles into, once they have been dulled by sewing. I will use these needles when I sew on paper to make homemade cards.
  • If you like to keep your bobbins with your thread, find a golf tee. You can then put the bobbin on the tee and fit on your spool of thread. I even have some tees that I have made a pin cushion on the top of it. Take a circle of fabric (approx 3 inches in diameter), and sew a basting stitch around the edge. Pull the tread to close the circle and stuff with batting. Using the tread from the basting, sew circle close to form a ball and glue to top of golf tee. This is great when you are hand sewing and need to put your needle down temporary.
  • Geotextile fabric that is used as a soil separator for drainage and septic lines can be bough at your hardware store. This makes an excellent pattern tracing paper.
  • A Swiss army knife is useful to keep by your work table. With all the tools included in it, you can save your time from running around looking for different tools.
  • Your bar soup when it is used to a sliver, makes an excellent fabric marker for dark fabrics.

Notions for sewers

  • Steam a seam is the best all around notion that I can not live without. I use it in so many ways. It comes in different forms from tape to sheets. I prefer the steam a seam light. It is a sticky fusible tape that will hold its place until you fuse it with an iron.
  • Serrated scissors for cutting slippery fabrics.
  • One piece Velcro. This Velcro has the hook and loops all in one piece.
  • Liquid stitch. This is the best fabric glue that I have come across.
  • Fray block is the best to use to prevent fabrics from fraying. It is better than Fabric Check, because it stays soft and flexible.
  • Sheer silk organza pressing cloth. You are able to see through it to iron your fabrics.
  • The bendable lights that attach to your sewing machine were a favorite of a lot of the members. I use a floor stand lamp with the true light bulb.
  • Clover Desk Needle Threader. I use this for all hand needle threading, wither it is for quilting, sewing, or jewelry making.
  • Folding Measure by Simflex. An expanding gauge to making even marks for button holes or other symmetrical items.
  • Thread Heaven is a substitute for bees wax when hand sewing. It is the best I have found to condition my thread for hand sewing.

Notions for quilters

  • A ruler that is called a “add a ¼ inch”. Great when you are making triangles from squares.
  • Liquid starch. I use it in sewing, embroidery and quilting. I use it full strength when I need the fabric to be stiff like paper, or I will use it ½ strength in a spray bottle when I need the fabric less stiff. This incorporates into the weave of your fabric and makes it stable to sew or embroidery.

Notions for machine embroidery

  • A scalpel type seam ripper is great for those occasional thread nests that form under your hoop when embroidering.
  • A set of fine tip sharpies in a variety of colors. If your outline gets off, you can use the sharpie to color in those minute areas to hide the flaws. Heat set with iron and it is there to stay.
  • Bridle netting or tulle. I use this when I embroidery on high nap fabric like towels, throws, and sweaters. This keeps the “loopies” down when used as a topping and when the embroidery is done, it tears away easily.

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