Are you a sewing gadget minimalist? Do you have few tools and sew on the smell of an oily rag – with a secondhand machine, a pair of scissors, using the kitchen table and a household iron?
Or are you a maximalist – with a dedicated sewing space, a machine with all the bells-and-whistles, an extensive assortment of presser feet, and a different cutting and pressing tool for every possible occasion?
I guess most of us probably lie somewhere in between, but I’ve decided after a year of dwelling in sewing blogland, that I’m definitely at the minimalist end of the spectrum – some of you guys are better equipped than my workplace! In contrast, I actually have very few tools despite working in the industry for 20 years. I put this down to a few things:
- Entrepreneurial poverty – when I was in business there were always more important things to pay for than fun new tools – like suppliers, or funding the next collection
- The Kiwi number 8 wire mentality – outside New Zealand this is something like ‘make do and mend’ – there is usually an alternative cheaper way of achieving the same result, even if it takes longer!
- I am also a bit of a scrooge!
- Ignorance – I never knew some of these things existed
- I had access to industry contractors with specialised equipment – pressers, buttons/buttonholes, fusing, etc
Anyway, here’s my sewing gadget arsenal. Warning – it’s pretty unglamourous and uses a lot of ordinary household items!
- second hand industrial plain sewer
- presser feet – plain foot, R zip foot, teflon foot, invisible zip foot (that I never use as I get better results with an ordinary zip foot – if you look closely it’s a little rusty!)
- bobbin box with broken lid
- machine oil
- quick-unpic – never far from my side!
- machine needles, I have plenty of handsewing needles too
- thimble – used to stop beading needles wearing holes in my fingers and getting blood on almost-finished wedding gowns – yes, it has happened! I used this trick to save
my lifethe dress
- screwdriver – time for a new one, don’t you think?!
- Brother Homelock 3-thread overlocker – my Mum’s actually – when I was a student I kept borrowing it, until eventually she went out and bought a new one for herself!
- Mum’s old Elna Supermatic. When I get it fixed I’ll use it to do buttonholes and zig-zag at home, otherwise I just get these done at work.
- I almost forgot my new lamp – now I can sew at night!
- Shears – standard issue Mundial ones from school – reverted to after my expensive Wiss ones ‘disappeared’
- Snips – also standard issue, rarely used – why didn’t anyone nick those?!
- Weights – I got these from school too – the welding class made them especially for us! The artwork on them is my son’s…
- New – a Seam Allowance Guide!
- The kitchen table for cutting, or the floor for cutting big things
- Chalk pencils
- Tailor’s Chalk – I love how the box is so neatly packed and organised inside, although it’s getting a bit empty now:
- I do have some pinking shears somewhere too…
- Ironing board – this is wobbly after a failed light-bulb changing incident…(not me!)
- A Sunbeam domestic steam iron
- Scraps of cloth for pressing – old pillowcases, lightweight wool, silk organza, or the cloth I am working with
- Paper scissors
- Metre rule (metal)
- Grading square
- Tracing wheel
- Pattern notchers
- Pens and pencils
- Magic Tape
- Tape measures – I have several lying all over the place so there is always one on hand – theoretically!
- Button size/conversion card – this freebie from a button company is surprisingly handy
- Two Mannequins – one for fitting, one that now decorates the hallway
- Roll of pattern paper – 120gms kraft:
Now why am I showing you everything I own? Because I was browsing sewing books in the library the other day and noticed quite extensive lists of equipment being recommended. I thought a lot of it was quite specialised – and although nice to have, not what I’d call necessary for the average home sewer. If I was a beginner I would think it so expensive to start sewing I’d take up knitting instead!
I suppose I’m a firm believer that you don’t need all the latest gadgets to sew well – perfectly acceptable results can be obtained with a few basic tools – and a little bit of number 8 wire!
Would you agree? What’s in your sewing toolkit – are you a maximalist or minimalist? Do you have a few basic essentials, or is collecting sewing gadgets another one of your hobbies?!