sewing small talk: favorite non-essential sewing tools

Hello friends.

It’s a full week for many of us, with the Independence Day holiday in the middle of the week in the U.S. this year. I’m sure many of you are busy making plans or even taking a proper holiday. So let’s have a little fun and talk about something almost every sewist is passionate about: our favorite sewing tools.

What's your favorite non-essential sewing tool?

Aside from what I would consider to be sewing essentials–like a sewing machine, seam ripper (an absolute essential, right?), scissors, etc.–there are other tools and notions which I absolutely love and am convinced that I can’t live without. For me, this includes the Chaco Liner and the Clover Protect and Grip thimble. I don’t like to sew without a thimble anymore. I think it’s a remnant of design school and all those tailoring classes I took.

What are the one or two essential non-essential sewing tool you can’t live without? If everyone shares one thing they love, maybe we’ll all discover something new which will make our lives easier.




  1. Jennifer McCann

    Choco liner. And snips.

  2. Kate

    Buttonhole chisel! I held off buying one for a long time because I figured small scissors or a seam ripper did as good a job. Nope! The chisel gets such a nice, clean cut and is far more accurate.

  3. liz n.

    The Sewline ceramic lead mechanical pencil–and the six different colors of refills!

    The Ottlite magnifying lamp. I have the one that can be used on a table top or as a floor lamp. This thing’s a godsend.

    1. I’m not familiar with that pencil! Off to check it out, thanks!

  4. Elisabeth

    I have a magnetic pin dish and it’s so nice. It really helps in terms of picking up any pins I may have dropped during sewing and I knock over my pins way less often.

  5. I still like to mark my darts with carbon paper and wheel – finding a good carbon paper was a challenge! Some brands are just awful – the best I’ve found so far is Burda. A BIG pressing ham, clapper and sleeve board. I have serrated Olfa scissors that I found in a tool shop that have squared off tips which are great for clipping! No more fear of cutting through the stitches 🙂

  6. Maria Richards

    chaco-liner, gingher embroidery scissors, 4″ by18″ quilting ruler for marking hems and glass-head pins.

  7. Sharon Frey

    I love my Purple Thang, great for turning fabric and pushing out corners.

  8. Maria Richards

    chaco-liner and 4″x18″ quilting ruler for marking hems

  9. Emily

    The Clover hot ruler! I can’t imagine my sewing life without it!

  10. Rebecca McKenna

    Rotary cutter & cutting matter with measurement lines – saves time for almost everything
    And a water soluble fabric marker ( for the notches I cannot cut with rotary cutter)

  11. Donna

    It’s a hook that fixes pulls in fabric or knits or any type of fabric

  12. It’s a hook used to fix pulls in all fabrics it’s a must have.

  13. Extendable magnet to pick up pins etc. From tools department in big box stores.

    1. Rebecca McKenna

      Yes – this is a great way to pick up pins I have dropped!

    2. liz n.

      I use a refrigerator magnet, LOL!

      I should probably upgrade.

  14. I love what are called hemostats in the medical world. They clamp on to the filler of mini piping when you are removing It from the seam allowance and they are great for pulling thread caught in your machine. I have even seen them at JoAnns but I don’t know what the sewing world calls them.

    1. Snap! I have a pair of Allis forceps that are great for turning tubes of fabric right side out!

      1. Of course you do! 😉

  15. Victoria

    Hemostats (, for reaching all the places my fingers can’t — turning things inside out, grabbing elastic, packing in wool stuffing, manipulating fabric for ease or lack thereof under the presser foot. . . .

  16. Kim Dimond

    After trying what seemed like 100’s of marking tools I finally discovered the Chaco liner just 2weeks ago. Life changing! Also love my button hole chisel and #10 Bernini foot, I also have a beautiful chopstick that my dad brought home from Vietnam.. it is great as a point turner or stylus. Finally I have to say my Clover hand sewing needle threader is pretty nifty.

  17. There are so many! Just yesterday I was using a plastic shim to help sew belt loops on the Field Trip pants and it makes sewing up and over a bump a breeze.
    I love the Sewline mechanical pencils too.
    An unexpected one that I love is double sided sticky tape for securing buttons in place before machine stitching them on.

  18. /anne...

    I bought a quilting ruler years ago. I still haven’t made a quilt! It’s about 24″x6″, and I use it to cut bias strips, align pattern pieces, level hems, find a right angle, add seam and hem allowances to patterns… I get stressed when I can’t find it!

    1. Yes! I have two of these rulers and love them for everything. They’re even good for weighting large pattern pieces when cutting fabric!

  19. Erica

    I used to think that I wouldn’t be able to sew a garment without one of those thin metal rulers with the sliding (flimsy plastic) red gauge… and I still reach for it often. Now I use the Clover Hot Ruler every time I need to measure and press a hem. It also allows me to press bindings and waistbands much faster and more evenly. Do I need it? No, but I really like it! I feel the same way about the Clover Wonder Clips. I don’t need them, but I use them often and am glad I have them!

    1. I’ve been meaning to get some Wonder Clips for a long time. Maybe this summer.

      1. Joanne

        5 years on I’m wondering if you ever lashed out and bought some wonder clips Liesl? ( game changer for me – though not everyone likes them )

      2. Believe it or not, still no! I’ll try to get some when I’m back in the U.S. this summer. Thanks for the reminder!

  20. Sondra

    Task lamps from target. The sewing machine lightbulb is not bright enough and desk lamps just cast a shadow. But task lamps are wonderful because you can direct the arm to move the light anywhere you want. It is like having your own personal spotlight and then are inexpensive. For hand sewing, I even use their clip on task lights to carry around the house with me

    1. Leigh

      I use the little flex arm led one from Ikea. I think I need more because I keep shifting my one around to my different machines.

  21. Rebecca

    I absolutely love my mini 1″x6″ ruler and an absolute must is Dritz Wash Away Wonder Tape. If you have never used the tape before, it is an absolute game changer. I use it to hold piping and trims in place as well as when I’m finishing up waistbands, collars and attaching patch pockets. So much easier than fiddling with pins. I also really love my Wonder Clips for holding onto binding and items where pins are not the best option.

    1. Those rulers are so useful, aren’t they?

    2. Megan

      Another Wonder Tape fan! And I JUST figured out it is amazing for sewing zippers–no basting!!!

  22. I guess it sounds silly, but Elmer’s glue sticks—the purple ones. I buy the big packages for my kids, and throw one or two in my sewing desk. They are perfect for holding narrow facings and sleeve vents in place for stitching, and work so much better than pins. The purple fades when it dries, and it’s washable, so as soon as the garment is washed, it’s gone. Um, and they’re cheap.

    1. I totally agree. Glue sticks rule!

  23. Holly Dumont

    I have a regular sewing tomato that I’ve marked needle sizes on. 12, 14, Knit, etc. When I’ve only used a needle for a short time, I stick it in the tomato at the end of my sewing session. Now, there’s no guessing when I come back to sew. Also, I know if I took out of the tomato, to toss it at the end of the session.

    I also couldn’t live without my pin cushion. It’s an antique weighted one, that I’ve had to recover twice during the years I have had it. It’s heavy so it never falls off the table or rolls away.

    Needle threader! As the eyes get older, that hole is harder to find.

  24. Lisa Fredericksen

    Not really an accessory…but I bought the Colette book to record my sewing projects. It has a space for the fabric sample, pattern sketch, yards used, etc….just a fun way to keep track of projects (I include tips for re-making the pattern, alteration info, etc.).

    1. Kathy Capps

      Where do you find this book?

      1. Lisa

        It’s sold through the Collette Patterns web site. I think it was about $28.00

  25. Mindy

    A bodkin for threading elastic. Hemostats for turning and stuffing. I got a set of LED lights that attach to my machine that make it so much brighter! I also use a grey ultra-washable marker for general marking.

  26. Bean bags! They work great as pin cushions and pattern weights. (As well as for entertaining small invaders in the sewing room. 😉 )

  27. Frances

    The SA Curve Ruler is pricey but indispensable ’round here for adding seam allowance.

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