Jane emailed me a couple weeks ago with a question. She’s been a reader here on Needle ‘n Thread since 2007, which is a pretty long time!
Mary, you review a lot of interesting needlework tools, but when it comes down to it, what do you use every day? I imagine most of the tools you review (like the aficot or the stumpwork sticks you showed us) only come out occasionally.
What I want to know is what are the tools and accessories and other things that surround you all the time when you’re doing embroidery – not the expensive specialty tools that only do one job, but the things you find yourself working with every day, that you couldn’t work without?
I pondered this for a bit. It’s a fair question! And so, at the end of a work session one day, I set about to show her the answer, by gathering all the tools – and other things – that I use in my workroom on almost a daily basis.
Here’s my answer:
My collection of embroidery “tools” looks kind of jumbled and messy, and it might even look like a lot of stuff, but in reality, there’s not a whole lot there.
I didn’t include fabric or threads, but just the tools and accessories I work with pretty much every day at some point, that make the stitching side of my life easier, more pleasant, more manageable, or just plain doable.
I have several small tins on my work table, and they contain wonder clips, sewing pins, packs of extra needles, and push pins.
Every day, I access these tins, whether it’s for pins to pin a pattern in place, or for just the right sized milliner needle that isn’t in my pincushion, or for a wonder clip or two to hold a fold closed on a piece of fabric, or push pins for blocking finished projects or for pinning up a note or reminder.
In the lower left of the photo, you can see a green circle template. I use this a lot, so I keep it easily accessible; otherwise, I’d never be able to find it.
I use different sized hoops repeatedly – specifically, six inch, four inch, and three inch hoops, which all have at least the inner ring bound.
These are the embroidery hoops I use, and I’ve been using them for years and years. They’re essential for me, not just for projects, but for tutorials. Practically every stitch tutorial you see on Needle ‘n Thread involves one of these hoops.
A roll of Scotch tape is always within easy reach, too. I use Scotch tape for lots of stuff, from taping patterns in place, to removing fuzzies from fabric.
I have a tin of pens and pencils, erasers, and small rulers that I access daily, whether it’s for pencils for sketching, pens for tracing patterns, or just general doodling or list-making or whatnot.
An 18″ quilter’s ruler is also always on hand. I’m always measuring, and I like see-through rulers marked in 1/8″ intervals. They’re great for working out evenly spaced straight lines on paper or fabric.
Scissors. I use lots of scissors. I use good scissors for stitching (specifically, the ones I use most for embroidery are these Premax ring lock scissors and my Dovo scissors).
I also use fabric shears all the time. Cutting a large piece of fabric with a tiny pair of embroidery scissors is a most uncomfortable task, so having a good pair of fabric sheers is pretty important to me.
I use my laying tool often. Maybe not every single day, but pretty close. (It’s the tool encased in striped wood. Here’s the information on these tools and where they come from.)
Also tucked in the tool caddy (which you can read about here and which is a very nice accessory that’s always within easy reach) are several pairs of tweezers. These are used often, usually for picking out mistakes!
In the foreground of the photo, you can see a spool of thread. I always have a spool of blue sewing thread on hand, for marking visible lines on fabric with basting stitches.
In the background of the photo, the red thing is my bluetooth speaker, over which I listen to music or audio books while I work.
The jar on the right is my orts jar, where I store thread scraps. Next to that (you can only see part of it) is a jar with thumb tacks and my e-z tack-it tools, that I use for stretcher bar frames.
I use Evertite frames all the time, so the yellow T-tool here is a daily friend.
Paper scissors – they’re always very close on hand, so that I’m not tempted to cut paper with my sewing or embroidery scissors.
A pad of gridded vellum and a sketch book take part in my daily routine, too.
I use this pincushion basefrom Lorna Bateman all the time, and I use the needles in it pretty frequently.
I haven’t had a chance to embroider the pincushion yet, so the base is naked right now. Some day, I’ll dress it up!
Outside the photos
There are a few things you can’t see in the photos above:
Stitching stands – I use them interchangeably, depending on the project. For small projects, though, I most frequently use the Needlework System 4 table stand that you can see in the first photo.
Lights – I use these BlueMax lights daily.
Camera – which, second to needles and scissors, is one of my most frequently used tools.
As far as daily tools go, that’s pretty much it – nothing too exceptional!
But while I don’t use specialty tools every day, when a certain type of job needs to be done, it’s always nice to have the right tool for the job.
What are your daily tools?
What tools do you find yourself using on a daily basis? Do you have any pet tools that never leave your side? The rest of us would love to hear about them, and sharing what you use may be very helpful indeed for other stitchers looking for tools that can help make their stitching time more pleasurable.
Feel free to chime in below and tell us about your most frequently used needlework tools!
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