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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Jenny’s Little Laying Tool / Stiletto


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This has been a long time coming!

Well over a year ago, I was sent a wee needlework gift (Thank you, Holly!). And ever since then, I’ve wanted to tell you about it. But I couldn’t, without burdening the person behind it.

But now I can! Yay! Why? Because Jenny Adin-Christie, needlework designer and teacher extraordinaire, finally has a new website with an online shop. If you haven’t seen her new site, you must.

I said it was a wee needlework gift – and it is small. Small, but Mighty! A testament that big things really do come in small packages.

Jenny's Little Laying Tool / Stiletto

This is Jenny’s little laying tool / stiletto. It is hand-turned, stainless steel, polished to a glorious shine, and made by her father.

The stiletto function of the tool is found in its sharp tip and graduated shaft. A stiletto is used to open holes up in fabric, to a given diameter, and is very handy to have for making eyelets in whitework – or really, in any situation where you want to ease open a hole in your fabric.

The laying tool function of the tool is, of course, part of its smooth barrel and easy-to-hold and control shaft.

If you’re not familiar with what a laying tool does and how it’s used in embroidery, I’ve explained what a laying tool is here and, using a video tutorial, I’ve demonstrated how a laying tool is used here.

Jenny's Little Laying Tool / Stiletto

I’ve been using the tool for well over a year now on a regular basis. There are four aspects to the tool that I’ve become so attached to that I find myself reaching for this little thing over any other laying tool.

1. It is short. Most laying tools are long – and while I have used long laying tools for a while, I’ve become rather fond of the shorter length of this one. Why? Because it is so easy to control. There’s no accidental snagging or catching of your threads or fabric while you’re stitching. It becomes an easy extension of your fingers.

2. It is comfortable and easy and natural to hold. The double twisted, three-side turn at the holding end of the tool feels good in the fingers and gives you a three-sided surface to hold onto that makes sense.

3. It is weighty in the right way. For being so small, the tool has a nice, weighty feel to it, adding to the comfort of the hold and to the perfect balance of the tool.

4. It is fabulously smooth. There’s No Chance Ever in the World for this thing to snag your threads. Threads of every ilk just glide over it. There’s very little friction. Brushed stainless steel tools seem to offer a bit more friction between the tool and the thread. There’s a toothiness of sorts to brushed stainless steel. But this polished stainless steel is like… like… I really don’t have a word for it, because the only thing I can think to compare it to is highly polished stainless steel, which is what it is.

Jenny's Little Laying Tool / Stiletto

Another feature of the tool – which you can see in the very first photo of this article – is the little ring at the holding end. Here, you can tie a ribbon or affix a small fob or something similar, to keep the tool visible and at hand.

At one point, admittedly, I tied it onto a very long ribbon and hung it around my neck when I was using it repeatedly on a project. But I discovered this is not perhaps the best idea in the world because 1. it’s easy to forget it’s there, and the next thing you know, you’re sporting a somewhat lethal-looking tool around your neck while you’re out in public (but hey, it opens up many a conversation!); and 2. I almost got a belly button piercing for free. Stick to a fob or a short ribbon!

Finally, you can use the tool for a lot of other purposes. I find myself using it as a nudger, as a placer, a prodder, a turner – anywhere my fingers need a little extension or I need a small tool to move things around.

So there you have it! It’s a tool I love, and if you’re in the market for an excellent stiletto and laying tool, you’ll want to put this one on your list. You’ll probably grow just as fond of it, and you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it!

You can find Jenny’s little stiletto / laying tool available here on her brand spanking new website, where I challenge not to sigh over all the other gorgeous tools in what is aptly called the Jennyland Treasure Trove. Personally, I’m besotted with the hand-made tool section. Those wooden trays? The ceramic heart waxers? The needle minders? My little heart goes pitter pat…

US readers should be aware that Jenny is located in the UK, so you’ll need to do a currency conversion and you’ll need to keep an eye on the shipping costs.


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(19) Comments

  1. Mary, I loved this tool so much when I used it, I had to contact Jenny and get her to send you one. You are so welcome. I’ve learned so much from you.

    I also use it at the sewing machine to hold the end of a stubborn fabric where I can’t get my fingers in.

    I love the waxers and bead trays. Jenny promised that one of these days (in the far future) she’ll teach at SF School of Embroidery. I can’t wait.

  2. I love this little gadget. I bought one from Jenny when she was teaching day classes in Williamsburg a few years ago. The shaping at the top fits perfectly into my fingers. Itโ€™s one of my favorite tools.

    1. I know! It’s not “as bad” as it could be, as far as conversion rate goes (though it was better a few weeks back…) And the shipping is about the same that you’d expect to pay if you were shipping from there to there.

  3. It looks lovely. I also think the Abalone waxers and bead trays are awesome. I always wanted a laying tool by Shay Pendray and never got it. I don’t know how long hers was but I think a shorter one would be nice so I’ll put this on my never ending wishlist.

  4. Thank you Mary, I love learning about all of these accessories, and your video exactly shows why I need one ๐Ÿ˜‰

    But I don’t have a stand so using one may be slightly difficult, but it would make my stitches much more beautiful.

    Is it something you would use on a stem stitch if using multiple threads? Or is it really just more from when you want this nice flat effect?

    I just want to thank you for creating this website. I am able to pick up a needle and believe I can do it thanks to you! Knowing I can access your tutorials and how-to. It’s been wonderful to learn. Many thanks!

    1. I think most people use laying tools with satin stitch and the like, but I use them anywhere I want to keep my thread from twisting, so I often will use it with a stem stitch, or even a chain stitch. But you’re right – it is easier with a stand. After a while, though, you can get used to using one with a hoop. You end up holding the laying tool with two fingers on the same hand you hold your hoop, and you use it just to catch the thread as you begin to pull through, so that the thread is passing over the tool with a little tension, to keep things straight.

    2. Dear Mary,
      Thank you for your reply. I can see what you mean on how to use it without a stand. I think it would work when I’m using one of my small hoop actually ๐Ÿ™‚
      I’m glad that you write about these accessories, and his to use them. It is so helpful to a new comer like me!
      I’ve started to add embroidery to my clothing, and I love the ability to personalize my clothing in this manner, as well as starting to prepare little gifts for my family. It is such a nice feeling to do this, knowing the joy it will bring to the other person. Many thanks for the inspiration ๐Ÿ™‚
      Best wishes

  5. Oh, joy! Thank you for the link, Mary. I spent hours on Jenny’s new site. Every page, some more than others. I want it ALL! Marvelous eye candy.

  6. It took awhile and several back and forth emails with Jenny, but I was finally able to order the laying tool and some of her pretty waxing thread holders. She is SO nice and so very patient.

    I find myself using a stiletto with both my embroidery and my quilting.

    Can’t wait to receive it. And the shipping wasn’t nearly as bad as I feared. Thanks for the review.

  7. Oh you just made me giggle right now Mary! I love that little laying tool but I will definitely be avoiding the long ribbon lanyard idea! Yes, Jennyโ€™s shop is fabulous and I do have my eye on one or two things there.

  8. I couldn’t resist this laying tool, and it arrived the other day. So perfectly designed! I’m still searching for the best way to store it in easy reach, but I think I’ve figured it out.
    (I keep my needle threader, extra needles and thimble in a small saucer. It fits nicely there, and I think that’s where it will stay.)

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. Delighted to learn about her website, too.

  9. I’ve been reading through the blog, seeing you rave about various laying tools. As a lace-maker whose embroidery is limited to Hardanger and (hopefully soon) Lefkaritiko, I just couldn’t see a use for one. When I went to Jenny’s site to look at this stiletto, I suddenly had an “aha!” moment. I also do needlelace, and this would be a perfect tool to help regulate my thread tension. Now I want this tool, but I wish shipping from the U.K. to the U.S. weren’t so expensive!! And then there’s that aficot. . . Sigh!

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