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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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Favorite Embroidery Tools – Your Input, Please!

 

The essential tools for hand embroidery are pretty simple: needle, scissors, and a hoop or frame pretty much cover it.

When considering those essential tools, though, no doubt we all have our favorites. We like a certain type of hoop or frame; we have our favorite pair of scissors; and there are certain brands of needles that we gravitate towards, because we know they’re reliable.

Chances are, along our different needlework journeys, we’ve also acquired other tools that we’ve become attached to – tools that go beyond the basics, but that make our stitching lives a bit easier or perhaps just more pleasurable.

So that we can collectively help each other – and especially help stitchers new the art and craft of embroidery – I’d like to find out what your favorite tools are and why. I’ll recap some of mine below, and then ask you to tell us about yours.

Favorite embroidery tools

Here’s my list of hand embroidery tools that I use often. Most of them, I’d be lost without!

Embroidery Hoops

When it comes to hoops, I use 4″ Hardwicke Manor Hoops practically every day. Admittedly, I have a glut of them – six or so that have the inner ring of the hoop bound with twill tape, and that are always ready to take on a small project or perhaps a doodle cloth.

These are by far my favorite hoops. They’re smooth, well-fitting wooden hoops with very strong, sturdy hardware. They’re not “disposable” hoops in the least – if you take care of them, they’ll last forever. I’ve been using the same hoops for years and years and years.

Embroidery Frames

When I got to the point in my embroidery pursuits where I needed a frame instead of a hoop, I went through all kinds of options for frames and tried just about everything out there.

I’ve settled into Comfortable Reliability with three types of frames: Evertite stretcher bars, slate frames, and Millenium frames.

I use these types of embroidery frames interchangeably, depending on the type of project, how long the project will last, where I’m going to work the project, and sometimes just depending on what’s close at hand and most convenient.

Needles

Bohin needles are still my favorites! I’ve talked about them before. As the years have passed, this hasn’t changed.

Embroidery Scissors

Scissors! Oh, scissors! It’s really hard not to become obsessively attached to a good pair of scissors!

I have two favorite types of scissors for hand embroidery: these Premax ring lock scissors that I reviewed a while ago, and a pair of Dovo scissors. Both are excellent scissors.

Dovo scissors are uniformly excellent, no matter what pair you select. With the Premax scissors, I’ve had a lemon or two along the way – scissors that squeak, hesitate, or that loosen up. But the Premax ring lock scissors are superb, and I use them daily.

For goldwork and metal threads, I use inexpensive, plastic handled tiny scissors that last pretty well, but that I can easily replace when the blades are finally too ruined to cut well.

Lighting & Magnification for Hand Embroidery

I absolutely love my stitching lights. I use these BlueMax lights that I reviewed a few years ago. Truly, I’d be lost without them!

Good lighting makes all the difference in stitching well and comfortably, and it’s crucial for avoiding eye strain, especially as you get older.

For magnification when I need it, I use this Dublin Craft Light & Magnifier that I reviewed many years ago. It’s held up well!

A Pincushion

When I stitch, I have to have a pincushion close by. I’m always switching out needles, and it drives me nuts if I don’t have a place to stick them.

After I dissected my last pincushion, I started using the base that came with this Lorna Bateman pin cushion kit…which I haven’t actually decorated yet. I’ve just been using the naked pincushion. It’s a wonderful pincushion!

Laying Tool

With certain types of stitching and certain types of thread – like flat silks, rayons, or just cranky threads – a laying tool is indispensable.

My favorite laying tool is the BLT, encased like these from JR Crafter. It’s super-smooth, nicely weighted, and works great. It does have a very sharp tip, but I like that, because I use it as a stiletto, too, to open up larger holes in fabric when I need to.

Tweezers

My tweezers and I are good friends. When it comes to picking out threads, you won’t find a better assistant!

Any tweezers will do, as long as the tweezing ends fit together nice and pinchilly. You can find mini tweezers in handy cases at needlework shops. I just have a regular pair from pharmacy.

Interestingly enough, the word “tweezer” comes, ultimately, from the French word etui, which is a small box used for carrying or holding things. In the needlework world, an etui is a small needlework tool box.

And even more interestingly, if you say tweezer ten times in a row, you’ll realize what a weird word it is.

Storage / Organizational Options

I’m not going to go into all kinds of storage and organizational options, because I suppose they aren’t really “tools,” but I do use some things in this category every day.

For example, I have a few small trays on my work table – basic, plastic trays – that come in very handy for keeping my work area in some semblance of order. I can put all the supplies for a given project in one tray and keep them straight and organized that way.

I also have a few small decorative gift boxes and the like that I’ve repurposed to hold tools and supplies that I use frequently.

I like mesh zippered project bags for packing up individual projects.

And I use little ziplock bags quite often, for stray skeins of thread that don’t have tags on them anymore, or for loose beads or buttons or whatnot.

Quilter’s Ruler

I keep a small quilter’s ruler at hand – the clear kind, marked off in 1/8″ increments. Comes in handy for a lot of things – like measuring.

Notepad & Pencil

Definitely worth keeping a notepad and pencil in your workbox or near your work area. I jot down thread types and colors that I use in projects, or I jot down little notes about projects that I don’t want to forget. I’m always jotting.

A Fingernail File

For obvious reasons.

Hand Wipes

I keep hand wipes available at my work table and I use small travel packs in my project bag when I’m traveling.

They’re a fundamental part of the transition from chocolate to stitching.

Your Turn!

Ok, what are your favorite needlework tools – the ones you use every day, or at least quite frequently, that you’d be lost without? What’s that one particular tool that makes you exclaim, “How did I ever live without you?”

I’d love to hear about your favorite needlework tools – and by joining the conversation, it’s a great way to let other embroiderers know about tools that might help them, too. Feel free to chime in below!

 
 

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(122) Comments

  1. My favorite tools reflect the silk and metal work that I prefer:

    – Beeswax
    – Pin cushion or towel with threaded needles sitting waiting in my working colors.
    – Melor – mine is stainless steel
    – Aficot – lovely wooden tool for pushing threads into place
    – Best Laying Tool (BLT)
    – Tweezers in multiple styles and sizes
    – Slate frame
    – Trestle stands

    These are always sitting out. The others come and go with the project of the moment.

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    1. I would like to know more about the tools mentioned, Melor, Aficot. I’m not familiar with these tools.

  2. The best thing I ever did for my needlework was to lay down the cash for a needlework 4 system. Indispensable! I’m always on the hunt for a good pair of scissors so maybe I’ll make the investment in a dove set.

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  3. I’m generally not fussy about tools – I use whatever needle comes to hand, for example. But I stitch a lot of Hardanger and other drawn thread techniques and I wouldn’t be without my Dovo Hardanger scissors! They have the thinnest blades I’ve seen, and cut beautifully.

    Mary in MN

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  4. Hi Mary,

    Instead of tweezers, I use a small hemostat for many things. Especially handy retrieving needle when ending/starting thread next to frame. Better grip than tweezer. The curved version extra helpful.

    This is a surgeon’s tool but they seem to be throwaways today so check with a surgeon or nurse to find one.

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    1. I should have added hemostats to my list! The three I have were gifted from my sister-in-law, who is a nurse. Well-made tools are a joy to have in hand.

    2. I have a surgical style grabber (hemostat) in my tool-kit as well. If you do not know nurses or doctors, you can also buy those style hemostats (and similar grabbers) at computer stores. My father works with computers every day and he has half a dozen types, one is like the number 0 on the end, in his work kit. That is where I got my hemostat, from a computer store. πŸ™‚

  5. First let me say, that I look forward to your posts every day. I am really more of a counted needlework aficionado. Most of the time I am just in awe of your work and am inspired. But always learn something fascinating.

    Scissors are an obsessions with me. Dovos are my favorite. I also have some Solingen scissors with extremely fine points for Hardanger. I try to keep a scissor fob on all of them to make them easier to find in my project bag or wherever they like to hide when I’m stitching. πŸ™‚

    Piecemaker tapestry needles are my favs because they seem to tarnish more slowly for me.

    As a counted thread stitcher, I like to use counting/marking pins when moving from one area to another or when I have a very long band of stitches. They keep me from having to recount the whole band several times to determine when I’ve reached the end.

    I absolutely love my good old Dazor swing arm magnifying lamp. Most of the time I only use the lamp, but I can position it right over my stitching and don’t have to worry about casting shadows. When I stitch on 40 or 45 count linen, I do resort to using the magnifer that is centered within the light bulb.

    Looking forward to hearing about other’s favs too. I may end up on a shopping binge if I see too many goodies.

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    1. Hi Tommye

      I’ve never heard of counting/marking pins. How are these different from regular pins? Where would I get some? Thanks.

  6. Q One of the things I always loved about embroidery is simplicity of the tools — a needle, a pair of scissors, and a hoop — all relatively inexpensive.

    I would guess my favorite tool would be my lighted magnifier stand, for all the reasons. My eyes consider it as a blessing. Eyesight is everything in embroidery!

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  7. #1 on my list is the Dublin craft light. I have had mine for a couple of months now and it certainly makes a world of difference. I like the idea of a floor stand but need to research again as mine is having issues. And storage/organizational tools……you cannot stitch without them! I recently lead a beginner class and stressed that aspect. Since then, several participants have mentioned what a help it has been for them but not something they even thought about as a beginner. Good habits start early.

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  8. my new wonder is my Stella light! It bends and it has multiple settings. It is expensive ($200-250) but so worth it. Floor , desk and clamp on versions.

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  9. Hi Mary, again,

    I am interested in buying some Bohin needles. Could you put together the best assortment of types and sizes that would cover most projects?

    Thank you for all you do on behalf of needleworkers worldwide.

    Mary

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  10. I couldn’t do without a needle threader. I have 2 favorites: the Bohin needle threader that sits on my work table and one from Clover called an Embroidery Threader–its relatively new. And one other indispensable item, the small round leather finger pads. I have a beautiful silver thimble, but the finger pad does a great job and is more comfortable. I forget I have it on.

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    1. I prefer thimbles. I have a couple of steel and a couple of brass thimbles that I use, depending on which finger is an crafting sessions ka-bobing victim. πŸ™‚

  11. Hi Mary,
    My “I can’t live without” embroidery tool is artist graphite paper. I always keep a sheet of black and white on hand. It is greaseless and transfers in a very clear, smudge free fine line that doesn’t brush away like dressmaker’s transfer paper. I do my design transfer on a glass topped desk with and extra fine ballpoint pen so I end up with a very clear pattern and I can tape the layers to my desk so nothing shifts while transferring (with painter’s tape for sensitive walls). I have never tried to erase lines once transferred and I always make sure to cover all my transferred lines because I’m not sure it would wash out. As I have arthritis in my hands, they get a bit painful when transferring a complicated design. Using this transfer method, I can work for a bit, take a break, and come back later and finish up the design.

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  12. Hi Mary,
    You’re spot on about Dovo scissors. I love mine.
    I use Clover “Black Gold” needles #9 appliquΓ©/sharps and love my needles. When I sew with 1 or 2 strands of floss, these needles are divine. They pierce the fabric smoothly and quickly. Sometimes my finger too πŸ™‚

    My newly discovered (most) FAVORITE tool is my embroidery hoop that I stumbled upon at a quilt show last year. Anyone familiar with Morgan Hoops and Stands, Inc., a small company out of Chanhassen, MN? The owner, “Clay” came up with a unique tongue and groove design that locks fabric and believe me, fabric will NOT move or give one little bit. I am absolutely in love with my hoop. No more Hardwicke Manor hoop for me (too heavy for one and you will never need twill tape ever again). The downside is that 5″ is the smallest size he manufactures and embroiderer’s need a 4″ hoop. I’m begging him, but he said he needs more feedback from embroiderer’s about this size because he sells to quilters who use the larger sizes. (he has 7 sizes, with size 5″ the smallest.) BirdBrain Designs sells the hoops, but you can google Morgan Hoops & Stands, Inc. for information, or telephone at 612-387-2183. Fabulous hoops!
    Roxanne

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    1. LOVE the Black Gold needles for hand-piecing! I prefer them even over Hiroshima, which are excellent needles.

  13. I am in the US, so I’m not sure that my sources are available to you, but here are suggestions about very useful tools. I have multiple vision and neuro/ortho problems and need many different aids but have devised many types of workarounds so that I can continue to do the neeedlework I love. I am always willing to suggest a solution for anyone who is frustrated by a medical problem or disability.

    Favorite tools:

    1) Clip-on magnifier glasses; gooseneck magnifier that clips onto the work surface; head-mounted magnifying assembly with two different sets of lenses. These can be found at Jo-Ann or at Harbor Freight, the inexpensive US hardware/tool chain.

    2)Hemostat for gripping needles from Harbor Freight.

    3)SnagNabIt or very small locker hook for pulling through snags in delicate fabric. Source is Michael’s or Jo-Ann.

    4)Universal craft stand from F.A. Edmunds in the US. They make a wide variety of crafting and quilting stands and frames. Don’t know the UK URL.

    5)Lacis makes an inexpensive tambour embroidery set that’s far better than the little locker hooks made by Clover and others for bead embroidery. I highly recommend an authentic Luneville hook for this rather than a tiny locker hook. Lacis provides three sizes of needles/hooks with their product, and it is great value for the price.

    Please let me know if I can pass on other suggestions for those who have physical problems doing embroidery and fine needlework.

    Have many more suggestions for those with limited vision and dexterity. I am constantly on the lookout

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    1. Hi Cameron, Lisette here. I too am a tool innovator, with fibromyalgia, and I work daily on making art and crafts easier. It is devastating to have to stop creating, and it feels so good to make something easy to use! Great work;)

  14. Dear Mary

    It has to be my Swiss thimble. It has Balux written on it. It is silver, with a royal blue dome on top. If you have some nails that is not too long, it accomodate this on the inside under the dome. It is light weight, I bought it in about fifteen years ago, it has never tarnished, it has silver marks on the side. It is the best thimble I have ever used. I gave my spare to a friend who recently decided to get into quilting. The only thing I would improve on, would be to make the dimples deeper for gripping a needle better, when I hand quilt.

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  15. Frames: I have to use a frame. I use Cozy Cottage StitchMate (no longer available) as my stand. It’s perfect. I like Evertite stretcher bars and the scroll rods that came with my Stitchmate.
    Needles: Bohin. I buy them in bulk. 25 in a zip loc baggie for $5 vs 5 in the card for $3.50. I put them in silver or tin cigarette cases that I’ve put sheet magnets in.
    Embroidery Scissors: I have lots. I need sharp narrow points for Hardanger so my Dovo and my Gingher are my usuals. I ordered a pair from Ernest Wright and Son LTD a year ago and they just came–haven’t tried them yet. The metal threads get the dull old pairs.
    Lights: Must have! I have many but my favorites are my Daylight Lamps; one has the clip, the short magnifier, and the light, all adjustable. The other is the very expensive articulated magnifying light on a stand. It broke, I cried, and then a lamp repair fixed it. Whew!
    Laying tool: I use the bent tapestry needle soldered to a thimble one. It’s so hard to find that I buy 3 when I find them. My finger feels empty without it (but don’t scratch your face!). I can’t stitch one stitch without it. NOT the trolley needle.
    Tweezers: I use the Hardanger in a tube tweezers. Precision point
    Thread Heaven. Every time
    Mini Craft Organizer (large) from Nordic Needle; about a 7 x 10 x 3 inch silk box with multiple zippered compartments
    MAGNETS: For needles, mostly, but I don’t get any with rough or sharp edges (cute but cuts or snags fibers). I love dichroric glass ones.
    Project bags, tool bags, etc from Ashland Sky: vinyl, mostly see-through, zippered bags to keep projects protected and separate
    Telescoping Magnet Wand: we all drop needles, I always find them
    Needle park: I made my own to keep prethreaded needles handy and labeled.
    Pin cushion: Again, made my own over the chair arm combo of pin cushion, scissor holder, ort collector
    Pencil
    Magnetic chart holder
    pillow case: to keep my project dust free in between stitching times

    Wow. Takes a lot to get me out of the door for travel stitching!

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  16. I do enjoy my Q Snaps 8 inch for smaller projects. They don’t work for things with beads but they’re great for the basic stitching.

    I haven’t found the Bohin needles yet so I use John James. They are my go to brand. The other day I saw some new needles called Hiroshima. Apparently they’re made with longitudinal grooves (can I even use that term with a needle?) so they glide easier through the fabric. I just don’t want to spend $10 to try a few. Have you seen them before?

    And not sure if this is a tool but I love my little ort container. Something about all the bits of color and metallics sparkling through the glass keeps me motivated.

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    1. Hiroshima are new to the U.S., and are one of my favorite needle brands. They are polished lengthwise instead of around, and they really do glide through fabric like a knife through soft butter. I prefer their tapestry, sashiko, and embroidery needles over any other brand…although Bodin is my back-up choice. Their betweens, for hand quilting, are very good, but I will never,ever,ever give up my Piecemakers’ betweens needles!! I haven’t tried the Hiroshima milliners’ needles yet.

  17. My favorite tool for needlework is the 4 in. KAI scissors from Japan. They have a very sharp point and most importantly they are very lightweight. I am still experimenting with different types of needles but I do like Bohin quite a lot. I have bought a couple of Hiroshima needles but I have not yet try them. I am quite happy going from needlework, to quilting to rug hooking.

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  18. I cannot live without my stitch fixer. The little tool with the wire to loop loose escaped or too short threads. If it’s not handy I have to loop thread on a needle and use that. I’m the worse to try and work that one last stitch off that short piece of thread.

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    1. I’ve never heard of a “stitch fixer.” My husband is cheaper with threads than I am and will keep going till he’s down to the last 1/2 inch. When it’s that short, he uses one of those fine wire needle threaders. I wonder if your stitch fixer is easier to use.

  19. Good morning Mary
    One of my favourite tools is a needle magnet. It is a pumpkin that says ‘trick or treat’. It divided in half some time ago but superglue
    fixed that. This does keep track of the needle, or, in some cases, the needles of the project at hand. As a backup tool, I have a magnet wand. No need to explain what this does on a regular basis. Everybody who does embroidery has spent time on the floor looking for rogue needles and pins.

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  20. My favorite tool is my old pair of ophthalmic suture scissors. They are tiny, about 3″ long, and have a wonderful curved tip of one leg. That tiny curve is Rey useful when removing thread.

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  21. Two things you didn’t mention come to mind.

    First is a thimble but not just any thimble. Mine is the traditional design made of sturdy metal and is sized to fit snugly. Saves the end of my fingers which is great.

    The second is something to be able to figure out what a needle is. I use The Needle Index from the Valley Quail chapter of EGA. It has life sized pictures of 12 kinds of needles along with a description, a piece of felt for parking needles and a table showing types of thread for each size of the needle.

    And thanks to you, Mary, for continually expanding what I know about embroidery in all its forms.

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    1. Yes! I highly endorse th e Needlr Index! I use it often when I can’t remember what size/type needle I have in hand.

  22. I would add:
    1. A Trolley Needle.
    2. A pair of (really good, if expensive) folding scissors (which came from Garrett Wade) – they go everywhere with me and in their tiny case they can’t poke an unexpected hole in anything. 3. A hanging “toilet kit” – mine is Vera Bradley quilted with 4 zip pockets.

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  23. My favorite tool is the Barnett Thread Caddy with the perle cotton adaptor which Harry designed for me. I use it with every embroidery or hand quilting project I do. I’ve had it a little over a year now and I don’t know how I worked without it. It keeps everything I need in one place with it’s very strong magnets that hold needles and scissors, posts to hold thimbles and a place for the thread heaven. Harrys craftsmanship and customer service are wonderful. http://stores.laptophoops.com/barnetts-thread-caddy-with-thread-heaven/

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  24. For my cross stitch, I cannot live without my old folding music stand. It’s one of those open back metal ones where you can hang your scissors over one of the spikes. It holds my pattern at whatever height I want, my highlighter and needle threader right where I need them. The paper holders that can swing up I use to hang threads I’m using frequently (like your pasta holder).

    I also cannot live without a needle threader. I buy those 3 pack of tin threaders and each individual threader tends to last about a year. So 3 years investment for $2.

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  25. I had to make an inviting room in which to do my needlework. I created an area in my sunroom. Bought a comfortable wing back chair with low arms. I have to be surrounded by all my supplies, floss in drawers (many are just plastic cabinets) but I also had a craftsman make me a special wood cabinet for floss. The room has to be bright and cheery. I have a craft light and a stand. I do need better hoops and find that my needles always seem to dull even when new.

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  26. I have my favorite scissors and needles and appreciate my stitching light every single day, but my absolute favorite new stitching accessory is the Librivox app on my cell phone! Reading and stitching are my passions and audiobooks let me do both at once. With Librivox I have a huge library at my fingertips. Now, if someone could invent a bottomless, always-hot cup of tea I would be in stitching paradise.

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    1. For an always-hot cup of tea, get an electric candle warmer. It keeps my cup at drinking temperature as long as it’s on. But, I do have to get up when my cup is empty.

  27. Mary…

    My favorite tool is a quilted wallet. When it is closed it is 4″ x 7″ and when it is open (like a book) it is 8″ x 7″.

    When it is open, there are 6 pockets on each of the two sides (like they are on the inside covers of a book) that are suppose to hold credit cards. I put my John James embroidery needle packets in all of the credit card pockets on the back inside cover. The John James packet is too long, but if I fold over the top part then the packet is about 3″ high and that fits nicely in the credit card spot. I keep my new needles inside its packet so that I can check through all of the packets to easily find whatever size that I need. On the front side of the “book cover” I put small packets of pins in each of those 6 credit card pockets. I have applique little bitty pins, flower pins, long pins, etc. each in its own card and they fit nicely in the other credit card slots.

    The middle of the quilted wallet has two pockets –both with zippers. I imagine that one is for coins and the other is for paper money. Not in my wallet!! One holds emery boards, small 6 inch ruler, fabric eraser, and a small tweezers. The other zippered pouch holds two different sizes of small scissors, seam ripper, and 3 or 4 thimbles.

    This wallet is my favorite “tool” because all of my “stuff” is always in one spot. I can grab the wallet if I am sewing at home or “on the go”! I always have the same “stuff” with me and I know where it is! And, in a pinch, I can use this quilted fabric wallet as a “pin cushion” if I can’t find the red tomato!

    I have used “My Sewing Wallet” for many, many years. While I have stashes of pins and needles and other sewing tools in my sewing room, I seem to always reach for this wallet when I am working on a project.

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    1. What an absolutely brilliant idea, I am adopting that today, you accumulate so many packs of needles in your stitching life and your idea is one of the best I’ve heard to keep them all handy.

  28. Dear Mary,
    While I use all the ones you named, there is one other that you did not name. For a nearsighted, 68 year old, it is essential. It is a needle threader. The one I use has two hooks, for different sizes of yarn, and one side with a thread sized wire for ( duh) thread. Often I use the common, little tin handled one like you find in those sewing kits kept in desk drawers.

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  29. Just read through all of the comments and can’t believe only 2 people said a needle threader! Can’t do without one. And those little metal ones break! Am always having to buy another one. Finally I bought three at a time. Love your columns Mary Corbet.

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    1. When I was taught to embroider in 4th grade the teacher had her needle threaders altered. She hot-glued the tin part between two flat buttons, so that they would last a smidge longer in the hands of 4th graders, πŸ™‚

  30. It is such a pleasure to read your articles,just love them, please keep up the good work,Favorite hoop red plastic 4″, Stork Scissor I’m using them ever since I started to work with thread, just love those. Craft Magnifier Light combo,floor,desk and clam.(I also have another one clamp for extra friends that comes along to stitch with me).Nice homemade pincushion Biscornu style.I have a small baking cookie sheet where I put some magnet stripe to hold my pattern, and some extra small rounds magnet to hold some extra needles,I also spread my threads. So everything I need is in there and it’s easy to put away.I also use ZipLock bags for my projects (future ones) they are all ready to go as soon as I finish one I am ready for another one, πŸ™‚
    I also have this long magnet tool that is like a wand I pull on it and it stretch and gets my needle that falls on the floor. And I love metal box I also use one for special projet everything is in there just begging for me to use.I teach Hardanger and Embroidery painting and always tell me student you need to have everything on hand, Oh yes and my Coffee and music is a must, a happy stitcher Diane. Thanks Mary

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  31. I can’t stitch without my Lowrey stand. I comes apart easily so I can take it wherever I’m stitching. It allows my to work on my project at just the right height and angle. I use Q snaps, stretcher bars or a scroll frame with it depending on the project.

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  32. I love my Roller Bars. I can make them any size I need. And if I am working on a large piece. I can adjust it to the size I feel comfortable working on. ( so that I don’t have to teach way up there to get my stitches in.

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  33. My traveling embroidery case. I altered the Road Trip Case from Noodlehead, adding and altering pockets so that I can carry and easily access everything I need. With older parents who are often in the hospital, I spend a lot of time working on embroidery while sitting bedside.

    Second to that would be the magnified lamp, mechanical lead pencils, Bodin and Hiroshima needles, graph paper, and beeswax and Velcro for conditioning thread. I prefer wooden hoops to plastic, and my frames are two that I made when I couldn’t find and/or afford the ones I wanted.

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  34. So far what I have read no one has mentioned the needle I.D. cards. I do a lot of stumpwork designs and use a variety of needles types and sizes. they are a great help as I never put each needle back in it’s proper pkg. but all together in one pincushion. If I am appliqueing I use a home made thumb cushion fits my non-working hand and is handy to hold the smallest clover applique pins. I also use the mag eyes for close work with a small lamp the cord around my neck is adjustable and shines the light directly on my work. I sometimes use the Stella lamp and prefer the evertite if frames are needed the new Susan bates hoops come in a wide variety of sizes down to 3″ they have an inner frame with a lip that will never let the fabric slip even with out wrapping. The dovo scissors are the very best, some of mine are 20 years old and never needed sharpening. I do store them in their sheaths to protect the points.

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  35. I could not do without a very simple piece of equipment – my plywood board! My Elbsee table clamp hoop is attached to the 6″x24″ board instead of a table. This way I can stitch anywhere I want; it lays across my knees, the arms of my armchair or my garden chair. It’s also a very handy place for my pin cushion and scissors.

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  36. After reading all comments, thought I would add this about vision since it is so critical and many of us are of “that” age. When I had my cataracts removed, I elected Restore lens and have loved them. Before I could not read a newspaper or do any np without “cheaters”.(they were always around my neck on a chain) Told the Dr. what I did and approximate distance from work. I can now work on Congress cloth in the car sans glasses. I very seldom put any on. Only for silk gauze, etc.
    Now the downsides: Not everyone can have them. Depends on your eyes and condition. They are expensive and Medicare does not cover. They will not even give you what they do pay towards them.
    Still, the best thing I ever did!

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  37. Dear Mary:
    My favourite tool is my chart stand. It started life as a music stand but is now re-purposed to my needs. The stand can be adjusted to any height, is light weight and portable and can fold up into a 2″x 2″x 12″ space.I have a facecloth draped over one part so I can hang thread or threaded needles if necessary. I can hang my embroidery scissors from the part at the top and put spare needles on a little magnet on the ledge. It also has the benefits of being relatively inexpensive and readily available.

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  38. My favorite stitching tool lately is my 17 inch Q-snap frame. I stitch big projects and this is my favorite frame to work them on.
    In Christ,
    Gail J.

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  39. Two things I cannot live without are (1) my ball-tipped needle for withdrawing fabric threads in drawn-thread work but I also use it for gridding lines and long stretches of running stitch as the needle is nearly 2″ long. (2) my cheap-o metal awl which is roughly finished so that it is perfect for counting ground fabric threads and when you push it through the fabric, your “hole” stays showing. Somehow the rough finish of the awl works with the fabric to leave the fibres open for awhile (while you’re counting) but doesn’t destroy the fabric. I wrote a blog post about them back in 2010 if you want to see them here:
    http://italian-needlework.blogspot.ca/2010/08/gadgets.html
    Both of my tools come from Italy but I’ve recently seen the ball-tipped needles available in the US from Filet By The Sea as they are also used in Filet Lace:
    http://www.filetlace.net/product/FL1027

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    1. Jeanine, thank you so much for the link to your earlier article. In one of the comments there you gave the link to TuttoRicamo (http://tuttoricamo.blogspot.co.uk/). I thought I had lost the links to the site. I had very much enjoyed the book reviews and the links to the tutorials. I will save the PDFs to disc this time for fear of losing them.

  40. My all time favourite possession is my pair of Dovo embroidery scissors, I would cry real tears if I ever lost them, they are so hard to find in the UK and another little thing that is so simple, but so useful when pulling thread and needles through thick or stiff cloth is a bohin rubber needle gripper, just a little 1 1/2 inch circle of rubber that makes pulling a stuck needle through in a trice. A pair of burling irons for pulling out the tiniest little scraps of thread that get stuck in your fabric and my japanese Tekobari smoothing tool is the best thing I’ve used for the job.

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    1. I’ve found that the non-slip shelf liners cut into a small little piece works well for needle grippers and for about $1 you can beat the price, for a “lifetime” supply. LOL.

  41. Hello Mary, I’ve just enjoyed reading all of the comments posted thus far. IT is lovely to hear what others are doing. I use many of the tools that have been mentioned but my favorite needlework friend is a small 1 1/2 inch diameter bouncy ball. Let me explain. I was having pain in my hands from embroidery, knitting , and chopping vegetables. Wanting to continue stitching and not ready to add another doctor to my appointment list I decided to Google “Hand exercises for knitters”. I found a number of sites. One recommended using the bouncy ball to help the hand relax and another have easy exercises to strengthen the hands. So far it is working wonderfully. They where 3 for a dollar so I have them in various places around the house and in project bags. It is allowing me to continue my love of needle work and for that I am grateful.
    Victoria from VA

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  42. Your list just about covers it for me…. I’ll be 70 this year (Oh my..!) so I’ve tried a lot of gimicks…. But the best for me is my thread sorting cards..I do a lot of counted cross stitch. And my magnet pattern holding board with its ruler. …. So I never loose my place with the most intricate of instructions…… But best of all was my Mom who had the patience to give the time to a curious little girl with very small and clumsy fingers…..

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  43. Dear Mary

    My favourite tools are the Millenium Frame which I use for nearly all my projects. My favourite needles are Bohin they are so small and smooth to work with. I use Sew Mate scissors for everyday use, I have a gold pair of scissors that I use for goldwork and a dovo pair, but my Sew Mate is my favourite. I have the Dublin Craft Light and Magnifier which I can’t sew without. I have a stainless steel Laying tool which is excellent for satin stitch. I have a small 9 drawer cabinet for needlework storage and various embroidery boxes where I store my needles and various other needlework related items. I also have a pullout needle catcher for when I drop needles on the floor I don’t have to bend to retrieve them. I have Micron pens which I really like for drawing patterns with. I have a cork board for damp stretching and various pincushions as presents but my favourite is my tomato pincushion. But my all time favourite tool is my real Soie D’Alger thread chart which I recently bought, which has real threads so that I can look at the colour of the thread before I purchase them, I love it. I have various other tools and embroidery equipment which are all close by me when I stitch so I don’t have to leave my chair to access them. Thanks for sharing with us your favourite tools it’s a useful list. I hope you have a great weekend.

    Regards Anita Simmance

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  44. My favorite needlework tool is my mother’s metal embroidery hoop. I know I need to invest in a new one and I may check out the Morgan non slip. The other is leftover from my teaching days, a very strong small electro magnet. It lives in a small tin on my desk and manages to hold my stork scissors, crochet hooks at the ready. It also makes my scissors and hooks magnetic so they can collect my stray needles.

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  45. I have enjoyed reading everyone’s “tool” list! I, too, have a variety. whenever anyone brings up this subject in general discussion, I am always compelled to mention KAI scissors. Their 4″ embroidery scissors are NOT fancy and NOT expensive, but have the best cutting blades I have EVER used — and I have a stable full of embroidery scissors!

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  46. My favorite is Clover’s Fabric Folding Pen. I use it to straighten the impossible kinky rayon threads. This is a felt tip pen, filled with water & 5 drops of the chemical that comes with the pen. It relaxes thread without leaving a residue. I also use it to finger press seams and the turn under for applique.

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  47. Mary,

    My favorite tool, one that I can’t survive without, and actually own 3 of them, is the “World’s Best Laying Tool”. I mostly do canvas work and couldn’t place my fibres without this fantastic tool. Also great for opening holes for eyelets and I use it in place of an awl when making teddy bears.

    Heather

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  48. I have a very large magnetized piece of pipe my husband gave me, I place on the metal arm of my magnifying glass lamp, on it I add several needles threaded with the color of thread/yarn I am using so I do not have to be looking for more needles and threading again and again.

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  49. Teckobari! So much better than the BLT for laying filament silk (and other threads as well).

    Needle threader

    Duplicates of everything – one in my grab and go bag, one set by my stitching chair, and one for my traveling needlework suitcase. This includes magnifying light, etc.

    K’s metal stand!!! long arm and floor base for my recliner, table clamp and short arm for class and traveling

    Extensible magnet to retrieve dropped needles, etc.

    small multitool – knife file, screwdrivers, pliers – indispensable

    needle pullers made from sections of tourniquets used when drawing blood – most labs will give them to you. They don’t scratch needles like hemostats and pliers do.

    burling iron – best tweezers ever!! VERY sharp!

    Melore for gold work, with velvet working pad and cellophane envelopes for gold – non tarnishing bags. and beeswax, always

    Want an Aficot – hard to find

    Hardwick hoops – inner hoop wrapped with bias tape.

    Dovo stork scissors – others as needed for metal, etc.

    evertite stretcher bars

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    1. Warning: the link Cassandra provided leads you to a website full of gorgeous, hand-made tools that will have you salivating all over your keyboard! (The Hedebo gauges are lovely!!) πŸ˜‰

  50. The first thing that came to mind is my simple square frame, cheap, which I put together with glue in the joints . Very square and solid…I use brass tacks to mount my fabric on it, my fabric stays tight as a drum, which is very important to me. I have yet to find a hoop which gives this firm feeling. (Although I haven’t tried Hardwick… do they really keep the fabric tight as a drum?!)

    OK, now this is going to sound silly, but my sturdy metal C-clamps (from the hardware store) for securing my frame to a table are terribly important to me. I LOVE the freedom of using both my hands while I stitch, drum tight fabric, and the frame fastened so it won’t budge, to my work table.
    Speaking of work tables… not exactly a tool, but part of my stitching world. I recently bought two table/desks from Big Lots, and set them up in an L shape. They are metal frame, tempered glass tops. I LOVE THEM! They were inexpensive, under $100 each, and a very good value. Choice of colors too: I got rosy pink!

    I love the fact they are see through, because the light comes through the windows, and isn’t blocked by a solid mass of furniture, so it makes my whole studio much brighter, which makes it easier to see the embroidery more clearly. And the smooth glass top is a great surface when transferring designs.

    Speaking of light, I can not do without my two Ott-Lite floor lamps. I have the magnifier attachment for one, but I haven’t used it yet, after many years, because it just seems to get in the way.

    Hand tools… I have a wood laying tool which I bought in a needlepoint shop. It is walnut, and shaped ergonomically. Very comforting to feel, and easy to use due to its shape.

    Up to now, my favorite scissors have been Ginghers, but I am definitely going to look for a pair of Dovo scissors. All the Ginghers I have used eventually start to “miss” at the tips. I have a small basket with my old Ginghers, which I use either for paper or whatever. I keep thinking to get them sharpened, but I doubt they would be like when new, and so I don’t want to waste the money on sharpening. So I wait for the coupon from Joann’s, and buy another pair, all the while thinking of that basket! I would love to have a reliable pair which would last a long time.

    Beeswax, I have a big piece shaped like a flower which I bought on Etsy. Aside from using it, it smells SO good! LOL. I bought it when I realized that the average beeswax you can buy at a sewing store isn’t pure beeswax, and isn’t nearly as good. This flower piece I have will last decades, I am sure! It’s huge.

    Pincushion… I have a delightful felt pincushion I bought on Etsy. It is embroidered with little felt flowers, just darling.

    Another thing I have which I couldn’t do without are little 6″x8″ trays which I keep on my work table. I bought them at a local hobby shop, they were sold for beaders. They have a little spout at one end for emptying the beads out. I glued a beading pad in the bottom of each. When I put beads of various sizes in the tray, they don’t roll around because of the glued down pad. VERY handy!! It makes the work much more enjoyable and quick. I also use them to keep small scissors and tools in.

    To keep various tools and supplies, I have some of Sajou’s beautiful paper boxes. They are a joy to use, sturdy, with lids that stay in place yet slide off easily, and the designs are so pretty too.

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  51. My three favorite items- Bohin needles, my Davos scissors and my lighted magnifying floor lamp on wheels.
    The lighted magnification has brought much joy back into my embroidery. I didn’t realize how diminished my vision has become and it is fun to sew again getting the results expected.

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  52. I work in many mediums and so I have used some tools designed for another purpose which I use for embroidery and beadwork. My favorite is a pair of angled tweezers designed for crafting, it helps me grab the needle even if it is barely sticking through the cloth. I keep many types of needles handy, with pincushions which are devoted to their needle types. So, one pincushion will be full of needlepoint needles, another with sharps, etc. I have a big square tray where I keep my pin cushions at the ready. I also look for good stackable plastic storage units, I scored at a discount store and bought 10 divided containers, which I can gently stack on one another. I also use sterilite chests of drawers, stacked into towers, and with good visibility. I write on the outside of the drawers exactly what is inside. For instance in one tower I will have my floss, another for my wool, and another for my specialty threads, and so on. It pays to stay organized with your threads, and I also have my threads sorted into numerical and type groups. As far as frames go, I have many hoops, but I myself have recently come up with a unique embroidery frame which I hope to sell. I call it my “Omniframe” and it is amazingly versatile, and I am excited about it for sure, lol! I do not use a “needle sharpener” to stick my needles in, because the truth is they do not work for the intended purpose, if a needle has ANY little flaw, it’s into the trash for that needle. It’s ok, needles are meant to be used until they develop a flaw. Occasionally, a needle will be flawed from the beginning, so I test my needles on a scrap of silk to detect burrs. If more than one needle is flawed from the beginning, I won’t buy that brand again. Another lowly object makes a great storage device, I save toilet paper and paper towel tubes, and I roll my fabrics, such as silks, into a tube shape, and slide the fabric into the tube. I then am able to stack the fabrics without creasing which is vital because if a thing is left folded it can create a crease which may never come out. So, I have open storage towers which hold my many different fabrics neatly rolled up. I can see them clearly, so I don’t have to rummage around for a particular piece. One tower holds velvet, another satin, and so on. I think I’ll save a few tips to share next time;)

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  53. Hi Mary – My machine quilting gloves – Machingers –
    is my “always” embroidery helper. They grip the needle perfectly, cover any hangnails/rough nails,
    and keep my fabric clean. Then, too, my Ott light –
    for relaxed vision. As far as the needle, hoop and thread – I have good quality, but nothing special. I usually embroider on objects – clothing, handbags, curtains . . . so that solves fabric. I really enjoyed reading and learning from the comments. Fun11

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  54. To my assortment of scissors, I have added a small, curved bladed manicure scissors. It works great for cutting off errant (heaven forbid) French knots. I keep a knitting needle ‘point protector’ over the points.

    I enjoy your blog so very much and smile at your sense of humor. The phrase, “transition from chocolate to stitching” was spot on.

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  55. My favorite tools are the needle and scissors, but the most necessary tool for me is my Uncle Bill Tweezers. I use them constantly as I have a long haired black and it can make are terrible mess of a light colored thread. Of course, I cannot live without my beautiful wood hoops and I have a fabric tray to keep my tool in check on the sofa. No more scissors behind the cushion.

    Tanis

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  56. I use an Ott floor lamp. It was forever tipping over. I placed a 2 pound hand weight (so much for exercise!) on the base and now it does not tip over.

    My second tip is what I use as a pin cushion. I like candles but will not burn them in the house. A nicely scented candle in a wide-top glass works well for holding needles and the needles remain sharp.

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  57. In addition to everyone’s else essentials and suggestion I would like to add a couple of things. Preventively clean hands to start and the use of a good hand lotion. A lapcloth which alternates black on one side and white on the other for good contrast. Sleep, always useful (LOL)

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  58. my favourite frame for a major project is the Q snap I have them in 2 sizes 4″ 8″ the beauty of them I don’t have to take the project off each time.
    Must haves are -pincushion,
    ort box for snipped off threads
    good embroidery needles(Piecemakers or Richard Hemingway)
    tweezers
    sharp embroidery scissors
    various size hoops (I use them for sticheries)

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  59. My favourite tools are – gift from my husband.

    1 A silver thimble – engraved “simply the best”.

    2 A silver Meller – engraved “better than all the rest”.

    Used offer, I love them.

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    1. Hello Mary…wow just read everyones comments on tools….well I have two tools I cant do without and its my oti light…and one other tool my mini lint roller that I use in my sewing room daily especially after I complete an embroidery project or quilting…one morning I dropped a needle and I couldn’t find it so I got on my knees looking for it and of course I have carpet which made it even harder to find…so I decided to use the mini lint roller and low and behold I found it…it also cleans my embroidery on the hoop when I cut the small threads that have to be cut and removed….thx everyone for all the great information….god bless….Trish

  60. a really strong magnet needle minder has recently become my indispensable tool. I use all the ones Mary mentioned, but was always losing needles, and small scissors. Usiually down e sides of the chair! A strong needle minder will hold a needle or three securely and even hold scissors too!

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  61. hello mary, as always, look forward to your wonderful newsletters. i must admit that i have an addiction to scissors. i never had this until i started embroidering. the longer i played with this calming hobbey the more i started collecting them and the more i collected the better quality of scissors i had to have. NOW there is nothing more “fitting” in my hand then a great pair of scissors. next, i guess would be the frame, which i also have a great collection. they all are not great quality but i cant seem to pass one up at an estate or yard sale. i prefer the wooden ones, but it just depends on the size and project. 3rd would have to be floss. i used to use anything i could find, but now i try to buy the best i can find. as far as lights go, i have to have an ottlight when i am sewing or embroidering. and i only use a magnifyer when i am doing extremely small pieces. thank u mary for giving me inspiration and knowledge to something i enjoy and could not live without. marcella

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  62. When I began embroidery, I was using the MICPOS hoops that they sold at Michaels for a buck or less. A few years ago, I got sick of having to replace them when the hardware tore out of the wood, and I purchased (online) several different brand hoops. DMC, Anchor, Elbesee and Hardwicke Manor. They are ALL much better than the (balsa I was told) MICPOS but with Elbesee you need to sand them, but only once so far. πŸ™‚

    I do not have room for frames so I am a strict hoop-ster. πŸ™‚

    Needles, I just use the ones from the store, I have never noticed any sort of difference when I mixed three of the easy to obtain with three of the expensive ones. Perhaps I am missing something…..

    My scissors are snips I purchased for 3$ at a local museum, they are old-school style. I believe that they make them in the museum blacksmith area. I like them because I can drop them a bazillion times and they will not break. Being an epileptic, extra-sharp, delicate scissors are no good for their existence or mine.

    I have a pocket Ott-light that I stuck a lanyard on it so I can hang it around my neck when I need extra light. I also have a tiny magnifying glass that I purchased at a museum store, it is also on a lanyard. πŸ™‚

    My pincushion is a terra-cotta saucer (3inches?) a blob of fiberfill and a circle of fabric.I made a “pillow” out of the fabric and fill and hot glued it into the saucer. I do not need my pincushion to roll around, so that is why the saucer makes it bottom heavy. I also have an emery.

    My laying tool is a large, plastic, blunt needle. I have two pairs of tweezers (one wide, one pointy) and a hemostat in my kit.

    I have over 40 tools in my tool kit.

    I have a skinny 6 inch metal ruler (purchased at a computer store) in my kit.

    I keep the pencil and paper around mostly to keep a floss color shopping list going, so when the floss is on sale…………. πŸ™‚

    I also keep an emery board and hand wipes in my kit.

    I also have a repurposed small metal breath mints tin in my kit. I used a plastic version as a teen. It contains a couple of alcohol wipes and some spot sized band-aids for when I attempt to ka-bob my fingers. First-aid kit style. πŸ™‚

    I also keep a large flat (floppy) style refrigerator magnet in my kit. I use it (sometimes on the end of my hemostat) to find needles on the floor of the car or in the carpet etc.

    (MICPOS=made in china piece of shtick)

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  63. The first thing I must have are my clip on magnifying lenses. They are made by Eschenbach and were quite expensive but were the only ones I could find over ten years ago. I have since bought a set by Daylight as a back-up which has four lens of different magnifications.
    The next thing I couldn’t work without is my thimble. It nearly as ancient as me, the brand is Stratnoid, it is made of aluminium and luckily I have two.
    Thank you so much for your e-mail, I look forward to reading what you have to say every day and to the other site on line which you lead me to.
    Pam

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  64. A thimble, whatever happened to the Thimble, I CAN NOT stitch properly, let alone pain free, without a thimble. My first thimble was given to me by my Mother, it belonged to her Mother, (my Grandmother) who brought it to NZ from England over 100 years ago. Incidentally I now have in excess of 400. Ruth

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  65. Good scissors, check. Fingernail file, check. Needles, check … uh, needles. One of the banes of my life. I prefer the ones that aren’t made in countries closer to mine than to yours. My husband also rails against, in particular, Chinese metallurgy and will not buy tools made from Chinese steel even though the ore they used is from our country. Needles that are still being made in either Britain or France are the only ones worth paying for apart from handmade Japanese needles.

    Frames and hoops, also check. I have a Millenium frame and stand and I have recently bought a sit-upon frame with hoops which I understand you Americans call a “fanny frame”. This makes us Australians laugh like crazy, since a fanny here is not what is in your country. I am going no further.
    More recently I have bought a plastic hoop by Clover which I am finding quite useful for the contemporary abstract style of embroidery I am doing at the moment. It is nice and deep with a well-integrated brass screw for tightening.
    I also like my BLT for all sorts of things, tweezers for frog-stitching among other things. And above all, I wish, I wish, I wish my mother had insisted on my using a thimble when I was learning to sew!

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  66. My absolute favorite tool is not a real tool in the common definition… but the thing I have discovered, that while I can stitch anywhere… I get most accomplished in a comfortable chair!

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  67. One tool I haven’t seen mentioned that I love is my double ended clamp. My favorite crewel work teacher introduced it to me. Clamps at both ends so you clamp it to a table and the clamp on the other end holds your hoop. This way both hands are free. Daylight makes these. You can also use it to hold a chart, instructions, etc.

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  68. I have to admit, I can’t tell one needle from another. πŸ˜› But I do like some new hoops that I found at JoAnn fabrics, which are similar to the ones someone mentions here from the Chanhassan company, and I can get them in smaller sizes. 2 brands that I’ve found, can’t remember the name of the one at JoAnn’s but the other is by Loops and Threads and both have that ridge running down the center to hold the fabrics tighter.
    I love my light which is a floor lamp, daylight bulb, with bendable neck, looks just like the really expensive ones, and I got really, really lucky and found it at a local Menard’s (like Home Depot type) for only $30!!! Also found a desk type for $20. So they are great and what a deal! As my dad says, even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then. LOL.
    I love my floor stand- a cheap one from JoAnn’s again, which I “embellished” to make it more like a really expensive one I coveted but could not afford. I like to “improve” my own stuff or make my own and being a woodcarver I have saws, drills, etc. so I added a little tabletop, made it so I can choose angles, little “towers” of wood to hold some dowels to hold my threads when I separate them, a hook to holdm y scissors, I wrapped the hoop holder area to hold my hoop good and tight and then added a pin cushion to that to have a quick, convenient spot to park my needles, and the coolest part- a “neck” with a little ball thingie I got at Rockler that allows me to flip my hoop over so I can see either front or back, and I just slip a little wood piece with a groove over the wood/ball area to hold it from turning, very easy to move and flip. Hope this makes sense. Anyway, for about $30 or so, I got myself a darned decent little floor stand that has the “amenities” of one I wanted that cost over $200. πŸ™‚
    And my favorite “tool” is my lounge chair that I can lay back in, put my stand with hoop over my lap and just embroider away. πŸ˜‰

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    1. Forgot to add: my $ store “reading” glasses which I put over my other glasses so I can see to embroider! How could I forget those?!

    2. Carol, I would love to see pictures of your stand too. My husband is also a woodcarver/sculptor and he made my stand from a photograph of a well-known brand on the internet. It would be great to see your embellishments.

      Mary, can you give my email address to Carol for this purpose please, or is that a strict no-no?

  69. My favourite (indispensable) tool is a needle threader for yarn. It is an inexpensive flat disc with a hole in the centre and two arms, each with a hole. I keep it tied to my hoop with a piece of yarn about 10″ long through the centre hole.

    I do crewel embroidery. Although I can thread my needle without it, this makes dealing with the frequent thread changes so much simpler and quicker. The thin wire threaders simply break in use. Since it is tied to my hoop I don’t lose it.

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  70. I absolutely agree with you about Bohin needles and Dovo scissors. I also have some good Premax scissors, and a recent not so good pair (it was cheap and bought for metal fibres, but is rusting?!?) I also love the millenium frame and a good hoop. I’m considering obtaining a slate frame and am keen to try evertight stretcher bars (but I have to get them from overseas).

    One tool I find indespensible for counted work from a pattern are a few needle minder magnets. I use these to hold my pattern in place on the fabric near the area I’m stitching so that I can quickly look from one to the other. My favourites are “Mag Friends” which are lovely and smooth. I like to decorate them with a fancy button.

    Another indispensable tool is a needle threader that I can use in tight spots, e.g. finishing a too short thread, especially near a hoop edge. Because so many brake easily, or are neither long nor flexible enough to use where I need them, I now make my own. They will thread anything down to a number 10 beading needle. I’m also working on designing a hook to use to pull the thread end through the loop of the threader, but haven’t got this quite right yet.

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  71. My favorite tool is my Mac which connects me to the world wide web of needle artists, creative ideas, history, stitches, materials and generous teachers.

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  72. Hi Mary, firstly I am an ardent admirer of your work & love to read your newsletters.my favorite tool which I simply can’t do without is my thimble and my magnifying glass cum light.sorry I am not aware of what melor , aficot means. Thank you for inspiring & teaching me.

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  73. Precious ladies,
    I had an 18K gold needle made for my mother. She never used it. I inherited it, but after a few stitches it bent, so back to steel needles. I have a delicate silver thimble, put a hole to it, so back to Cinderella tools, and how relaxing that is! Stork scissors and flower pincushion and a… cup of coffee, best tool ever.

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  74. My favorite tools are the embroidery hoops with a lip on them. They are so useful for a multitude of things. I usually cross stitch in hand. I, too, have a 4″ wooden hoop which is perfect for small things and has also been used in hand applique and hardanger. I would be lost without my magnifying light, my curved scissors-essential for cutting in hardanger, and instead of tweezers, I use a haemostat. Its great especially if you shake a little. Finally the last item is a piece of Tupperware which has a tray in it. Its about the size of a Kleenex box. I keep my scissors, needles, thimbles etc. on the top tray and in the bottom, pens, scissors, haemostat,small hoop, very fine crochet hook for pulling threads through, and a small project.

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  75. Mrs. Corbet,
    I don’t have a favourite tool! Still being a beginner (as I consider myself) and not necessarily having money that I can spend on embroidery tools, I own basically the bare minimum. Pretty much all my tools I only have because they were passed down from my mother :).
    My workbag consists of this:

    Four or five Coats and Clark wooden embroidery hoops, passed down by my mother

    A box of my mother’s DMC threads, all on square cardboard bobbins

    A pair of Fiskars mini-scissors

    A small ruler

    A mechanical pencil

    An old plastic cross-stitch fabric tube, in which I store my current project rolled up so I don’t have to fold it and make creases

    A thread ring to put my selected threads on while I am working a project

    A piece of blue felt stuck with needles – mostly standard sewing needles, along with a tapestry needle, a few crewel needles, and a (I think) chenille needle

    I look forward to someday having some better-quality supplies. I put a gift card to Hedgehog Handworks on my birthday list. . . . .

    Sarah πŸ™‚

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  76. Mary, I know that you use the Laying Tool for when you do a Satin Stitch, but what are the other ways that you use it? You mentioned that you use it nearly everyday. It would be helpful to know additional ways that it would be useful. Thanks for considering this question. Louisa

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  77. Mary, one of my favorite embroidery tools is hand cream!! My hands are very dry generally, and my ability to handle fabric and thread and needles and pins greatly improves with a little bit of hand cream, particularly on my fingertips. I am sure I am not alone in this.

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  78. Hi Mary. I would like to know what size of Millenium frame and side bars you bought. I read the web site and I agree the product looks wonderful but I would find it difficult to decide what a good size would be. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks.

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  79. I am a person new to embroidery .. I have done canvas needlepoint (only one stitch & easy to learn). My most important tool is my computer. I can then access this site and the wonderful videos on learning to embroidery. Thank you Mary !!!

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  80. Dear Mary,
    My favorite stitching accessoire is the self-sewn cloth roll I use for keeping all my DMC and Anchor yarn in. I love rolls (for pencils, brushes, tools,…) and thought: Why not use one to keep the yarn? I certainly don’t own as many colors as you do, but for me it’s the ideal solution: The roll is lightweight and portable, and easily fits within the bag with my current stitching project (counted cross-stitch, so far).

    If I had more yarn, I could sew more rolls and divide the strands according to brand, or color, or type of thread, you name it.

    The only thing I had to buy was a lot of safety pins, one for each strand.

    So what I do is this: I take the label off a new strand (each new strand) and pin it onto the safety pin first. Then I take the whole strand and slip in onto the pin. If there are any leftover shorter threads, I wind them around my hand and and slip them onto the pin at last. And then I fasten the pin on the edge of the roll. The label always stays with the color it belongs to, no chance for the strands to entangle (because they stay in place when rolled up), and I always know which thread is which brand and which color number.

    Then I roll up the roll and put my scissor in, last. When I bind the roll, it can’t fall out. And I stick the stitching needles I need for the project onto the roll, too. Ready to travel, within home or abroad.

    I like to keep the strands sorted in rainbow-fashion, but when I have a certain stitching project (mostly only one at a time), I take the colors I need for the project and sort them to one side of the roll – no searching for colors among other similar ones, and no need to keep a list.

    I posted some photos here http://www.madewithbluemchen.at/stickgarn-in-der-rolle. It’s in German, but I hope the photos are self-explanatory.

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  81. My favorite tools are:

    – My Evertite frames
    – My needles
    – My scissors
    – My Hardwick Mannor Embroidery Hoops

    I need to produce more things to justify buying a Needle 4 system and a good lamp.

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  82. I bought a floor-standing magnifying lamp last year and it’s wonderful – much better than trying to stitch with my work 4 inches from my nose. The lamp necessitated my next essential item – a large and comfortable cushion on which to park the cat because I have not worked out a way to use the lamp when the cat is on my lap.

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  83. The one thing I cannot live without is the old metal hoop I have. I don’t know what I’m going to do when it gives up the ghost. I’ve been unable to find a metal hoop for quite a few years. This was my mother’s hoop and I was lucky enough to “inherit” it. It’s oval in shape and the bottom has a cork liner that grabs the fabric. The top is expandable to fit different thicknesses. It has lost a chunk of the cork and I baby it along.
    Judy Z-W in Kansas

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  84. Hello all,
    My favorite tool is this site. Always beautiful patterns to work on. Sage advice for us and many wonderful ladies willing to lend a hand for their work.

    I am truly blessed to be a part of all of this.

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  85. I admit that I’m often pretty casual about my tools, using whatever I have at hand at the time. The major exception to this is needles. I don’t worry so much about the brand as about what they’re made of. I can only use gold or gold-plated needles. Nickel and other metals react with my skin chemistry, becoming “sticky” to the fabric and irritating my skin.

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  86. My favorite tool is for near sighted people, who now wear progressive lens glasses. As you probably know, the top part of the glasses is for seeing in the distance, the bottom part is for close up (stitching/reading) and the in between part is for seeing the computer and things at that distance.

    I found that I still couldn’t see my needlework clearly. However, if I take my glasses off, anything up close is magnified. But then you can’t see anything far away, such as the TV, or people, etc.

    I asked for a prescription for ONLY the distance part. I then got a pair of glasses that are small, and sit up high on my face (like reading glasses, only the opposite). I wear these when I stitch, and as they are small and sit high, I am looking underneath them to do my needlework; therefore everything is magnified. And when I look up I can see far away. A lot better than taking my glasses off and on all day!

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  87. Dear Mary,
    To start I’ll say that I don’t do embroidery; I do cross-stitch. But I love your newsletter, and look forward to reading it every day. And I’ve actually learned a lot from you that applies to my craft. For example, tools. On your advice, my three main tools are a Hardwicke Manor 6″ hoop with the inner hoop wrapped in twill; I intend to also get a 4″ hoop, as the one I currently use is getting old. I love Bohin needles – they’re the only ones of the many I’ve tried that don’t have a small snag at the tip of the eye. And for scissors I have, again on your recommendation, a pair of Ernest Wright large bow scissors. I love them! (I have to say, though, that a small part of me wishes they were ‘prettier’. My last scissors were stork-shaped and pleasant to look at. But I’m coming to like the utilitarian look of the EW scissors, and their quality more than makes up for their looks.)
    I have one question that maybe you or another reader can answer. I use a product called Thread Heaven. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a wax that you run your floss over before you stitch with it. Sometimes I use it, because of the good things I’ve heard about it. But then I’ll stop using it, for fear that the wax will collect dirt. What’s your opinion?
    Thanks

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  88. Hi I’m wondering if I can use my rug hooking frame with Fine size metal gripper strips for hand embroidery or will the gripper “teeth” distort/destroy the embroidery linen?

    Thanks!
    Sandy

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    1. Hi, Sandy – I think I probably wouldn’t use them. I’m pretty sure they’d take a pretty hefty toll on the linen. You certainly couldn’t move the linen around – the strips would have to be on the outside perimeter of the fabric, so you’d be limited in the size of the linen, to the size of your frame. I’m not sure you’d get the kind of tension you want for surface embroidery. You can always try it, but I’d hate for you to waste a good piece of embroidery linen!

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