Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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What is Your Favorite Embroidery Tool or Accessory?


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If you embroider – whether you’re a beginner or have been at it for some time – you probably have already developed a liking for a certain something that you use faithfully when you sit down to embroider… a certain something beyond your needle, thread, and fabric.

As I was plugging away through a major embroidery project this past weekend (which you can see the beginnings of here), I started contemplating the variety of tools and accessories in the world of embroidery. Think about it! Someone had to come up with all those ideas for this little accessory or that little necessity, and they market them somehow, and we, the faithful (perhaps a little “addicted”) embroidery consumers decide “Wow. That’s a good idea! I think I’ll try that out!” And… we buy it. The Inventors of Embroidery Accessories and Necessities love us for it!

Admittedly, there are some things you generally can’t get by without when you embroider: a needle, fabric, thread, and at least a basic pair of scissors. But what else do you use, what’s it used for, where did you get it, and why can’t you live without it?

I’ll give you an example:

I like this thing. It’s called “Judy’s Boo Boo Stick.” It’s great for removing mistakes. You just gently brush or roll over the place where you’ve snipped some threads, and they lift right off, without having to pinch them. I especially like it in areas where I’ve removed threads that leave a fuzzy residue. You can find it at needlework shops, and I think I’ve even seen them at Hobby Lobby, though I could be wrong about that. They run anywhere from $6.50 in a store to the whopping ridiculous price of $12.95 at one online store. (Look around before you shop!) You can find them at Nordic Needle for $7.95.

So that’s one of the little “necessories” I’ve picked up over the years.

So what accessory or necessity do YOU like having with you when you embroider? Give us all the details, and I’ll share them with readers – and perhaps you’ll be helping others enjoy their embroidery experiences even more! If you have anything you’d like to share, feel free to reply here or e-mail me at mary [at] needlenthread.com (it’s the normal format for an e-mail address, only spelled out). You can even send a photo if you want!


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(12) Comments

  1. Since I do stumpwork, I keep a pair of wire cutters with my needlework tools. I also have an eyebrow comb that I use to brush out threads when I stitch Turkey Work / Ghiordes Knot.

  2. My favorite tool is an item of fishing tackle called a spare threader. It looks exactly like a needle threader, but longer and sturdier. It is about 3 inches overall with a firm grip. It’s function is apparently to thread fishing flies onto a leader. I use it to nab short lengths of silk when they are too short to thread into a needle. It is a lifesaver for those occasions when your thread knots close to the surface and you have to tie off a short end.

  3. My favorite thing is Slip-‘N-Snip. Folding Scissors. I bought mine at Smokey Mountain Knife Works for about $4.00. I’ve tried other folding scissors and these are they best by far. They travel nicely and I don’t have to worry about the blades cutting anything in my bag.

  4. I ordered some embroidery floss on-line and it came with some self threading needles. These are a real time saver! It used to take me many minutes of fiddling to thread needles because of recent eye problems. Now I just place the end of the needle over the stretched out thread, snap it up and my needle is threaded! I don’t know how many sizes of this needle they have, but mine holds up to 4 strands (3 comfortably).

  5. Mary, while reading some of your past blogs, I found a note that you were working on a project with beetle wings. That date was Jun 23, 2011. I can’t seem find it in any of your index lists. I have been bitten by the beetle wing bug and have 200 ready to go the work on but I want to learn every thing I can before I start my first project. I will be very thank full for any help you can offer.
    Sincerely yours,
    Nelda Wagner

  6. I use an old mascara brush(nicely washed of course), clippers, a pair of tweezers, and a fine crochet hook along with thread heaven.

  7. I love all things handmade, especially embroidery. The boo-boo stick is actually a tool used in ceramics. It is one of the tools used to “clean” greenware before the initial firing. I love the multipurpose of tools.

  8. Judy’s Boo Boo Stick is actually a tool used in ceramics to smooth the surface of greenware prior to the second firing. You may find it for a better price at a ceramics shop.

  9. The boo boo stick looks like the old mascara brushes I keep with my cleaning tools for cleaning tiny spaces. I’ve also seen tiny brush kits for just a couple dollars at various websites. They usually are labeled for jewelry cleaning.

  10. Pliers!
    In case something is a pain to pull through a thick area.
    I’ve never used a thimble, I’m almost embarassed to admit that I thought it was to keep you from pricking yourself which confused me since I never have pricked myself that I’d notice or care about. I hadn’t thought about how it helps push the needle through, basically protect you from the the back of needle. I’ve definitely poked holes in my thumb nail before trying to push a need through. Might try one of the ring or palm thimbles.

    Also, because I have cats, I need something to catch my thread bits. Usually a pocket will suffice but I also have a plastic bag just full of thread bits. Figure it’s less waste and could make a very cool project someday. When I made my pom pom coat I also collected all the extra yarn from trimming. I had to use acrylic yarn because honestly cotton and wool just don’t really “pom pom” or fluff up quite right and I couldn’t justify spending so much more money for something that would look worse and be harder to work with. Also less bright colors easily available, there’s this issue that whenever something is “eco” they make it exclusively in wholesome earthy colors to go with that idea. And I’m more of a neon orange and pink kind of eco individual.That’s a whole separate issue about eco products generally– often so needlessly dull and made to appeal to a certain whole foods kind of aesthetic. So anyway, I compromised by keeping all the bits of microplastic I could in sort of “shame bags”. Hey at least if it’s in my basement I know it’s not in a river somewhere. I do this with faux fur bits too.

    So Pliers and a plastic baggies. Oh and a podcast. Most important tool.

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