Mary Corbet

writer and founder


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

Contact Mary

Connect with Mary



2024 (61) 2023 (125) 2022 (136) 2021 (130) 2020 (132) 2019 (147) 2018 (146) 2017 (169) 2016 (147) 2015 (246) 2014 (294) 2013 (294) 2012 (305) 2011 (306) 2010 (316) 2009 (367) 2008 (352) 2007 (225) 2006 (139)

Beautiful Needlework Tools


Amazon Books

When we really get into any hobby, art, or craft – when it becomes a significant part of our lives – the tendency to accessorize becomes part of the the whole experience.

That’s not to say that we can’t dabble in our hobbies or delve into our arts and crafts without tools and accessories, but if it’s true that the right tool makes a job easier, then isn’t it also true that the right tool that happens to be beautiful can add another degree of pleasure to the pursuit?

Laying Tools by JR Crafter

Last year I ran a series here on Needle ‘n Thread called The Twelve Days of Christmas. It was a series of twelve days of give-aways during the real “twelve days of Christmas,” which fall after Christmas. It was a remarkably fun series, and many fine needlework-related businesses contributed to it.

Laying Tools by JR Crafter

One of the contributors was JR Crafter, a father and son team that makes beautiful tools for hand embroidery. They made my favorite laying tool, which you can see above. It’s a BLT (Shay Pendray’s Best Laying Tool), situated in a perfectly weighted, perfectly smooth, perfectly crafted acrylic casing. It’s a wonderful tool! And so I was really happy to have JR Crafter as part of my blog series last year.

I use this tool practically every day, and I love it. It encompasses everything I look for in a tool, in this order: it is perfectly functional – it does the job it’s supposed to do; it is of excellent quality – it will last; and finally (the icing on the cake), it’s beautiful!

Laying Tools by JR Crafter

This year, my laying tool was joined by two more pieces to complete the set – a matching pen, which is perfectly weighted and writes really well, and a needle tube on a ring. The top of the needle case twists off, and there’s plenty of space within to store spare needles.

Laying Tools by JR Crafter

Lovely, aren’t they? But not only lovely – they’re useful! There’s nothing better than the combination of beauty, quality, and serviceability in a needlework tool!

I wanted to point out these tools to you particularly because I really admire the quality of Jack and John’s work at JR Crafter. I’m not affiliated with the company at all. But I love to see a family team come together and pool their talents to create beautiful, well-made things.

If you’re looking for a needlework gift for someone this year, or if you’re in the market for a new laying tool, or if you just need a little something special to add to your basket, keep JR Crafter in mind! You’ll love their tools!

So, what about you? Do you have a favorite tool? What do you look for first in a tool? I’d love to hear your views on tools and accessories for needlework! Have your say below


Leave a Reply to Shere'e in Seattle Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


(29) Comments

  1. I’m sad to say that although these are beautiful, I don’t even know what a laying tool is used for. I need to research that more.

  2. My absolutely favourite gadget is my retracto-reel. My embroidery scissors are attached to it. Every morning I pin it through my shirt, to my bra strap on my shoulder and unpin it at night. I never lose my scissors, I just pull them from my shoulder to snip threads and, best of all, my husband can’t “borrow them quickly” to snip his nose hairs.

    1. LOL! Any tool that keeps your husband from snipping his nose hairs with your embroidery scissors is a Must Have! I can see why it’s your favorite! I have one, too – I use it daily! But not quite for the same reason! 🙂

  3. Mary, I can’t say that I have a favorite. I use so many when I’m stitching. I do have and use the BLT all the time…however mine is the plain jane and not beautiful like yours. Saying that, I find it functional and the square end keeps it from rolling off my table. I am placing one from JR Crafts on my wish list…I love beautiful tools. Maybe my husband will get the hint and get it for me although HE thinks I already have too many! LOL

  4. Dear Mary

    Oh these are beautiful, Just been on their site what lovely colours but I think rainbow is the best. Apart from satin or flat silk stitching do you use your laying tool for ordinary stitching, are you using it for your Hungarian redwork project would love to know.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  5. It not pretty like those tools. Wow, but I love the magnetic sheet to put under your cross stitch page and the line keeper you use on top.

  6. Those are very pretty tools.
    I thought, wow, I really don’t much if I don’t even now what a
    laying tool is.
    Regardless, good to know a family business is making beautiful things.
    Favorites tool…
    A really good embroidery needle and really good hoop.
    That sort of sums it up for me for now.

  7. I am a scissor aficionado. For me, scissors (and John James needles) are like potato chips. One is never enough. I tend to like Gingher the best.

  8. Really nice! My boyfriend is a turner made me a seam ripper this year for Christmas and the feel of it is just out of this world.

    I really admire the work that JR Crafter did in making these. Acrylic is really a hard and smelly thing to turn. Even with good tools, my boyfriend shatters quite a few blanks while trying to turn them. Some of the pretty interlaced acrylic is very tricky as there tends to be air bubbles or flaws in the acrylic that are not always noticeable until you get down and are working with it. It takes a true craftsman to turn out some of these smaller pieces.

    If you have a friend who is a turner, you can get the kits for the laying tool (awl or stiletto kit depending on the company), pen, seam ripper and needle holder (toothpick or pill holder kit depending on size). The kit contains the metal pieces and you supply the wood or acrylic that you turn.

  9. You mentioned my favorite (besides Needles 🙂 Last year on the 10th day of Christmas – it’s a do-lolly. Pat in SNJ

  10. Those tools are beautiful. My most used tools have to be a pair of Gingher embroidery scissors and an older thimble that’s just a perfect fit. I’ve gotten into collecting old needlework tools. Some of them are beautiful, some have a wonderful patina from many years of wear and some are just interesting – what did they do with this – things. I used to be able to find them at give away prices but not so much anymore.

  11. Several years ago, while attending Stitches West, a huge knitting show where I was ‘personing’ the info booth for EGA, I discovered a table of hand carved scarf ‘pins’. They were comprised of two parts, purchasable separately, a circle or oval and the ‘pin’ that pierced the knitted scarf. Wah-lah! The ‘pins’ were (in my embroidery hrain) perfect laying tools.

    By now, I know to search out that craftsman and others like him. I have 5 ‘laying tools’, all meant to be scarf ‘pins’. One is twisted bone, three are turned special wood species, one is laminated in layers of stained wood. None of them cost me more than $5.

    I adore my pretty, unique laying tools, they add a bit of pleasure each time I use them, and garner lots of questions when I teach or stitch in public.

  12. Beautiful! I’ll have to go look at their tools. My favorite tool is the “Perfect Stitch” laying tool. It’s a thimble with a bent needle soldered to it (not a trolley needle). I lay every arm of every stitch every time. I don’t have to reach for any tool because it’s always attached to my left hand. Just don’t scratch your face! I feel naked without it. I have the Perfect Laying tool but it’s hard to pick up. Love the setting they do with it.
    I’m also a gadget geek now and have tons of toys and tools. This is a chance to get more!

  13. Mary,

    I agree with your trio of requirements for needlework tools, and I can’t imagine living without my laying tool. My current favorite laying tool is glass and is exquisitely functional and beautiful. Sometimes the BLT is too pointy (working on a large piece with stranded silk, I kept catching the tip in my stitching, mussing up those beautifully laid satin stitches.) My wood tool avoided that problem but was not quite smooth enough for the silk. The glass laying tool is perfect. Of course it is smooth as glass, and the narrow but blunt tip doesn’t snag my previous stitches.

    Which brings me to my second favorite accessory–a magnetic holder for non-magnetic laying tools. I found it at Bedecked and Bedazzled (no affiliation). Very clever button with elastic loop. The button attaches to your working piece with magnets, and the laying tool slides into the elastic. Those glass laying tools are quite durable so long as you don’t drop them on the metal foot of your stand, and this laying tool holder holds the glass securely.

  14. Beautiful tools Mary. I have a question though. I have looked at needle cases before, but wondered, are the needles not ‘blunted’ when stored in a case such as these? Is there any protection for the needle points?

    1. Hey Yvoone!

      We just looked over all of the comments and found yours and wanted to answer your very good question.

      The insides of our needle cases a have a rubber pad on both the bottom and the twist off cap making sure that the needles don’t get dulled.

      We hope this helps!

  15. Dear Mary: I can’t tell you how much I enjoy and learn from your daily
    Blog posts, which I look forward to so much. I have to tell you that
    Your post on Full Spectrum Solutions lamps came at such a good time
    For my husband and myself. I do most of my embroidery in the guise
    Of crazy quilting, and had to have cataract surgery this fall, so my
    Husband had his as well. We both found this increased our need
    for good lighting dramatically. I thought the ott lights you see at the
    Big box chain hobby stores were the best you could get, then read your
    Post on these and ordered. Wow-they are fantastic! I just wish I had
    One to wear on my head. Wanted to thank you for this, Amy Britt LA USA

  16. I do like having the right tool for each ‘job’ and like Dovo scissors for fine blades and slightly larger finger holes than Gingher. The Premax ring loc curved blade are great for clipping needlepoint wool. My favourite laying tool is a BLT. Bohin needles are the best.I have overhead daylight bulbs in my studio and so far they work well.Mostly I use stretcher bars and scroll frames on a Hearthside Craftworks floor stand, easy to flip to reverse side. Sometimes a frame clamped to a table with Quick – Grips is the answer. My scissors are stored on a magnetic knife bar on the wall.

  17. I have been using a Japanese tekabari for many years [of course, it is similar to your BLT] and can’t stitch without it. Another great use for it is that the sharp point is the best tool for lifting stitches you want to remove from your work.

More Comments