Favorite Finds ~ Sewing & Quilting

You know we all like to sew, right?  And if we’re quilters, then it probably follows that we all have plenty of stuff.

Let’s start with the big stuff… amazing quilter and all-around really neat lady Natalia Bonner of Piece ‘n Quilt listed her sewing machine and long-arm quilting machines in her “favorite finds”- a Bernina Aurora 450, Anniversary Edition and a Gammill Premier with a 10′ table.  The extended base for her long-arm machine was also listed.  You have to love a girl who loves her machines.


Celine Perkins of Perkins Dry Goods – the creator of gorgeous quilt patterns the the best seam-measuring-tool ever – also loves her sewing machines – a Janome 6600 and a 1600P.

Janome MC 6600PJanome 1600P-QC


Side note – Do you have more than one sewing machine?  Are they back-ups?  Or are they machines you don’t really use much but are too good – or too sentimental – to part with?  (I have “multiple” and both.  They’re back-up and they also have sentimental value.  If you doubt the value of back-ups, I have two in the shop right now… one is in for regular service and then one suddenly developed a “tension issue”.)

Related to sewing machines, our buddy Thelma Childers of Cupcakes ‘n Daisies has the sewing machine table of my our dreams…


The Horn of America Multi-lift Table.  I love the size of the work-space.

After that, it was all about the tools.  Rulers.  Cutting implements.  Thread.  Rulers.  And various other notion-y sorts of things.

Let’s start with scissors… Amy Friend cited her prized Gingher Buttonhole Scissors.


Do you know what distinguishes these from “regular” scissors?  That little knob-thing.  It can be adjusted to limit the size of the cut to a precise length… like the length of a single button-hole.  Pretty cool, don’t you think?  (FYI – I had to look that up because I didn’t have a clue.)


Sherri K. Falls of This & That mentioned her 5″ Gingher scissors.  These are the “regular” knife-edge scissors.  I forgot to ask Sherri if she preferred these or what Gingher calls their “craft scissors”.



These have slightly shorter, nubbier blades for cutting.  My favorite by-the-machine scissors are more like these craft scissors.

Roseanne Kermes also cited a pair of scissors – the Olfa Precision Applique Scissors.  A picture of those… next!


The yellow scissors – those are Roseanne’s favorite.  I like them too – those are mine in the picture.  The Elan 5″ embroidery scissors were mentioned by several people – lightweight and very sharp.  One thing is clear – 5″ scissors can be found on a lot of sewing tables.

The polka dot scissor case!  Emma Creations has done a small version for embroidery scissors for several years and they finally – finally! – came out with a slightly bigger version for larger scissors.

Barbara Groves of Me & My Sister mentioned the Clover Wonder Clips.  I don’t know what color Barb prefers but I love the multi-color box/package.  The red, neon green and pink are very nice but really… I want all the colors.  (On a side note, the really funny part of this is that Wonder Clips had been around for years but Barb only discovered them recently.  But when she did find them, she was all-in!  I was a bit late to the party too.  I’m glad she mentioned them because they’re one of my most favorite “finds” too.)

Seam Fix!  Kate Spain mentioned this seam ripper as one of her favorite tools… even though it’s gathering dust because she never ever uses it.


That Clover white seam ripper is the favorite of yours truly – and several others.  I buy them by the box.  Yes, I use them frequently… I have quilts that I know I’ve made twice because I’ve sewn – un-sewn – re-sewn so many times.

Thread Heaven and Thread Magic.  Barb – of Me & My Sister – mentioned the Thread Heaven as being crucial, necessary, required.  A couple of the ladies in the office mentioned the Thread Magic as their preferred “thread conditioner” because they like the slots in the case.

Pat Sloan listed the Sewline Cuticle Oil Pen… I thought Sewline only did glue pens!  When did they start this?

The Fun Tape Measure?  I think it’s the colors.  None of the ladies who mentioned these do much garment sewing so… I’m thinking it’s about the colors and the “fun tape” part.


Brenda Riddle mentioned the Thimble Pads.  They’re my favorite too!  (I could never get used to a thimble so these had to do.)  Do you suppose these pads are the secret to doing gorgeous applique and embroidery like Brenda does?

Peels!  I need a couple packages of these peel-things from Smartneedle.  I was skeptical, I wasn’t sure they were going to work but the peel stays nicely snug around the spool, even larger spools and cones.  As someone who always has a couple of spools unraveling in a drawer despite being certain they’re secured… I think I’m going to need a package or four of these Peels.  The cool two-sided – two-ended? – seam ripper is also from Smartneedle.  Given that Tammy recommended both of these… we’ll have to start calling her SmartTammy.

Speaking of thread…


Celine, Thelma, and Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life all mentioned Aurifil – the 50 wt. Mako cotton thread.  Sherri also mentioned Aurifloss, as did Brenda – she has a gorgeous new Aurifloss assortment color-matched to her coming-soon Windermere collection.

Of course, they’re all winding their bobbins on the Side Winder by Me & My Sister.

Corey Yoder of Coriander Quilts loves using Size 8 Perle Cotton for hand-quilting.


Doug Leko of Antler Quilt Designs cited his two new 60 wt. thread collections for Presencia and Janice Vaine – embroiderer and hand-stitcher extraordinaire – loves Superior Silk Applique thread – and thimbles by T.J. Laine.  She also loves porcupine quills for a stiletto or laying tool – if you haven’t tried them, they’re very nice because they’re long, thin and surprisingly lightweight.


Thelma mentioned the Folded Corner Clipper by Prairie Sky – given how perfect her piecing is, I think I’m going to need to try this.  Several people – but not Celine! – mentioned Celine’s Perfect Piecing Seam Guide as helping them achieve and maintain a perfect scant 1/4″ seam allowance.  Pat Sloan loves the narrow Omnigrid ruler – it comes in a set of 3 rulers called a Marking Trio.  They’re a 1/2″ width and either 4 1/2″, 6″ or 12″ long.  For marking and quick measuring, this little ruler is terrific.

The Olfa Frosted ruler says right there on the ruler that it’s 1″ x 12″.  But look closely.  1 1/4″ x 12 1/2″.  Whatever – Betsy Chutchian loves this ruler and so do I – it’s a new favorite – found because of Betsy.  I’m a little surprised I didn’t have it as the Olfa Frosted rulers are my favorites.  (Thank you, Betsy.)

Sherri mentioned the Itty Bitty rulers by Lisa Bongean of Primitive Gatherings.  (I agree – they’re awesome.)


The Ruler Pal by Jodi Nelson of Pleasant Home is another one of Sherri’s favorite finds – as is Jodi’s legendary Polka Dot Magnetic Pinbowl.

Pins!  Celine loves the Glass Head pins by Collins.

The Little House pins from Japan were listed by Thelma and I don’t remember who else as a favorite. (I had a list… but I’ve misplaced it right now.)  They’re super-fine, very strong and very, very sharp.

Little House Sewing Pins


While the pins come in a lovely little tin, I prefer substituting something a little more… fun.


Candy tins.  I don’t care about the candy, I just want the little tin.  World Market always has something entertaining, as does the aisle by the checkout at that big-box sewing store we don’t like to mention… the one with the coupons.  These tins are very secure, making them a nice addition to a little sewing bag or pouch.


The Beatle Bag by Abbey Lane Quilts.


The Abbey Bag by Abbey Lane Quilts.  Do you see a theme here?  Abbey Lane does really awesome bags!  Janice and Marcea of Abbey Lane created these and while they both mentioned them as being favorites, so did several others.  Janice loves the Abbey Bag and the Beatle Bag is Marcea’s favorite.  The Beatle Bag came up a couple of times as being an awesome traveling bag for sewing and other stuff – especially since you can get refills for the clear plastic inserts.

So what did we forget?  What favorite sewing tool or find do you have that we should know about?

After all… if you think it’s cool, we probably would too.

We might even need it.

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17 thoughts on “Favorite Finds ~ Sewing & Quilting

  1. I have 2 Featherweights – they were both my mother’s so they have sentimental value – but they are remarkable machines so they are my go-to machines. I like having 2 machines so that if something happens to one (or it just needs cleaning), the other one is there. A few years ago I bought a bottom-of-the-line Janome ($200!) so I’d have something with fancy stitches. One day I’ll figure out how to use it – of course, I could take the box of attachments I have for the Featherweights and try those as well…maybe when I retire. I’ve tried Aurifil thread and it’s lovely…and very expensive, so I stick to Mettler and Gutterman – both excellent threads and more reasonably priced. I think the Wonder Clips are adorable, but I use hair spring clips that do the same job and I can get 200 of them for $10 at the hair supply place. I’m basically a hand piecer and I swear by Thread Heaven! I also keep my straight pins in small tins – they are handy, keep the pins safe and can be tucked into my sewing kit. I use a an envelope stand for my rulers – I found a pretty one – white and lacy – way back when, at the Container Store. It does a great job. I love Jodi’s Ruler Pal and her polka dot magnetic pin holders – they are brilliant.

  2. My hands-down favorite tool is my magnetic pin cushion (probably by Clover). Other pin cushions may be cuter, but the magnetic one is SO functional! I use both sides of it, for different size pins, and keep the cover over whichever side I’m not using. As I’m sewing and pulling out pins along the stitching line, I can remove the pins and toss them towards the magnetic pin cushion, where they (usually) adhere. When I used to use a traditional pin cushion, I’d practically have to stop sewing to stab the pin into place on the pin cushion as it scooted across my sewing table.
    I’m really enjoying learning about other people’s favorite tools, and have discovered some new ones of interest!

    1. I love pincushions – I’m obsessed by them! But what do I use by my machine? A magnetic pinbowl! You’re so right that the magnet makes such a difference – you can almost toss the pin in the general direction of the bowl and know it’ll catch.

      I’ve seen the Clover “pincushion” and I know you’re not alone in loving them. I use one by Rosenthal… as in, I made using a small dish from my Mom’s china. It might be a finger-bowl. She was a bit surprised – horrified? – at first but then it made her happy because it meant I was using the china daily. 🙂

  3. You’ve pretty much covered the field, but I have one thing to add. I love the vinyl reinforced mesh zippered pouches that come in three sizes from the Container store. They range in price $1.99-3.99. I’ve seen the same pouches in quilt stores for $8.99. I use them to keep my projects separate and they are great for transporting too.

    On another note, why doesn’t Moda, or other fabric companies put some kind of designator on solid fabrics like a color number. Of course, if I were smart enough to mark what I buy, I wouldn’t have this problem!

    1. Carolyn – you had to mention The Container Store! I’m going to be thinking about those bags all day… wondering what I’ve missed! I think this means I’m going to have to stop on my way home today – I live less than 5 minutes from the store.

      As for color designations/numbers on the Bella Solids – and other solids – that would be difficult to do. When fabric is printed, it can be added to the selvage and printed at the same time. Solid fabrics are not printed, they’re dyed. So adding text of any kind to the selvage would be a secondary process and – big surprise – it would probably raise the cost. A Sharpie is a better option. If it makes you feel better, I always forget to mark the color number on the selvage of Bellas when I get them too. 🙂

  4. Nice to know about these supplies. Moda only sells wholesale, right? I wonder if the supplies will be difficult to find elsewhere – hope not, but I’ll have to start looking. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yeah… unfortunately, Moda/United Notions only sells wholesale. But most of these items are available in quilt shops or online, and it never hurts to ask your local quilt shop if they’ll order something. Many years ago, I asked my LQS to order the Little House pins and they were so popular, they had a hard time keeping them in stock. 🙂

  5. Love all the “favorite” little sewing notions, especially the scissors. The little ones with the screw that limits the cut – I was told by my great grandmother that those are eyelet scissors! I still have her pair – they are well over 100 years old. They were used to cut out small areas inside hand embroidered eyelet designs – much the same as cutting buttonholes.

  6. I don’t have a second sewing machine but I can always borough my mum’s if I need. Pretty good, isn’t it?
    My most favorite sewing tools (and the ones I’m using rmost) are my Omnigrip 12″x 8.5″ ruler and my Olfa aqua rotary cutter. The rotary cutter because it’s aqua (also it would be even cuter if instead of the yellow it’ll be red or white or pink … just saying) and you can the blade really easily and I use my ruler for almost everything. Really. Unless I need to cut something WOF or square up a bigger block I use this ruler. You can square HSTs because it has 30°, 45°and 60° lines, 1/8″ lines and you can easily see through. The perfect ruler (at least for me:-)

  7. I didn’t see my favorite ‘by the machine’ tool. I know machines have thread cutters of various kinds, BUT my nippers are the best – the kind you don’t put your fingers thru. My mother said her little black handled Gingher nippers were the best. I have three different brands, but my spring loaded Fiskars are a favorite. So are my smaller bright blue handled ones. It’s quite old but very sharp still. I see folks raving about the new Creative Grids ‘shape cut’ type ruler. The ‘automatic’ cutters are nice of course, but rulers waste no fabric.

  8. Thanks Carrie for talking about “our favorite things ( hard to write that without singing)”! I love my Purple Thang!

  9. I consider myself more of an appliquer’ then a piecer. When I do piece I want it to be as perfect as I can get it. I love using Bloc_Loc rulers to help me accomplish this unhealthy obsession. Especially for half square triangles. More recently I found Karen Kay Buckley’s shorter Perfect Pins. I have been using these on a hand applique’ project where I pin several layers of fabric at a time. They are so fine that my blocks stay flat without distorting the background fabric. I will never be without these pins.
    Love reading about what everyone else uses and why. Another great posting Carrie. Thank you.

  10. Thank you for this awesome information! I’m going to buy some of those Little House Pins, and another seam ripper (I can never find one when I need it). This is a post to keep handy.

  11. Thanks for all the lovely reviews, I also love my Tulip needles, all sizes. Tulip pins, literally tulip shape. And both Soak, and Soak Flatter. Love getting your newsletters, keep them coming.

  12. Dear sister, you of all people – the grammar/word/punctuation police: “…despite being certain their secured”?? Huh? Try “they’re” since “their” is a third person plural possessive adjective and used to describe something belonging to someone/thing whereas they’re is the contraction of “they are, which is what would make better sense in your sentence. I love you and every chance I get to best your chops! Other than that, keep up the good work!

  13. Thank you for all the info on new stuff. Sometime I would like a feature on pin cushions and what the inside filler is. I love a pin cushion that is weighted and doesn’t move around or fall off the sewing table. I lost my contact with the supplier for a metal filing product that I put in my pin cushions when I lost my home in a tornado.

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