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Tool guide

Most of the techniques in this book require nothing more than a sewing needle, thread, scissors, an ironand some marking chalk. However there are some tools that I use regularly and recommend for particular techniques in this book. Always use the best quality tools and equipment you can afford. Changing from basic tools to professional tools makes the world of difference in the ease and success of your sewing.

Hand sewing

Always use the finest needle possible: ideally it should be about the same thickness as the thread you are using. While it is tempting to use larger needles as they have large eyes and are easy to thread, there are several good reasons not to: large needles can be hard to push through dense-weave fabrics; an over-large needle will leave unnecessarily large holes in the fabric and may even damage the fibres. If the needle doesn’t glide effortlessly through the fabric then it is too big. The more expensive brands are worth buying if you hand sew a lot with fine fabrics, and mid-range price needles are good for general sewing, but avoid cheap multi-packs completely if you are serious about sewing.

Sharps : These are the best needles to use for general hand sewing in sizes 5-10 (I generally use size 8 which is very small but works much better than a larger needle).

Appliqué : These short, fine, sharp needles are also very useful for many of the techniques included in this book.

Milliners or sashiko : These needles are longer and can be useful for gathering stitches.

Tapestry : These are blunt needles with a large eye and they are designed for canvaswork embroidery.

Crewel : These are smaller than tapestry needles but have a larger eye than sharps; they have a sharp point and they are useful for thicker threads.

Leather : These needles have a chisel-like triangular tip that glides through leather easily. They are available for hand or machine sewing. Other useful equipment

Thimble : This is essential if you do a lot of hand sewing. It goes on the middle finger of the sewing hand to help you push the needle through the fabric. (A finger protector is useful for the other hand if you find you prick your finger.) Modern thimbles are more flexible and easier to use than traditional metal thimbles, and you can even get stick-on metal or plastic thimbles just for the fingertip.

Needle grabbers : These small rubber discs allow you to grab and pull on a needle. Small pieces of old rubber gloves or fine suede can also work.

Tweezers : These are really useful for stuffing trapunto, pulling out stubborn thread ends from ripped seams, and for removing fluff and threads from the bobbin case.

Machine sewing

Most of the techniques listed in this book can be achieved using any basic sewing machine, but if you are planning on upgrading your machine, there are a few features I would recommend for professional results.

Moveable needle : This feature allows you to move the needle left or right from the centre, enabling closer stitching on piping or zips. Higherspec machines have a wider range of movement options.

Presser foot pressure : This feature allows you to vary the pressure on the presser foot – lighter for heavy or thick fabrics and heavier for fine fabrics. It makes the sewing of these fabrics much easier.

Fix stitch : This feature automatically reduces the stitch length to about 0.5mm for a couple of stitches, which fastens off the thread neatly without the need to reverse. (You can also do this manually.)

Knee lift : This is a knee-operated lever that raises the presser foot, enabling you to keep both hands on the sewing.

Presser foot height : Machines that have more clearance under the presser foot will make it easier for you to work with thick pieces of fabric.

Working space : Machines designed for quilters have more space between the presser foot and the main body of the machine, giving you more space to work, whatever type of sewing you are doing.

Quilting table : An extension table that attaches to the free-arm of the machine and this allows much more room for you to work and helps to keep larger pieces spread out flat.


Machine feet

Even-feed foot : This may also be referred to as a walking foot or dualfeed foot. It may not be cheap but it is worth the investment. A bulkylooking foot, it has an extra set of feed dogs (teeth) that move the top

Fabric Manipulation
150 CREATIVE Sewing Techniques

Ruth Singer