Friday, December 3, 2010

Tools of the Trade

My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whisky. --William Faulkner 

As a beginner quilter, I've bought supplies without really knowing what would work best for me.  I thought I would share my tool experiences for quilting in a small space. Perhaps you can save some money by reading about my learning lessons.

In terms of pin cushions, I started with the traditional Dritz Tomato Pin Cushion, which I still find helpful for hand sewing. However, when machine sewing, I noticed that I would put my pins down on my desk (which would lead to lost pins, random sticks, and fear that the dog or cat would find them on the floor), as opposed to pushing them back into my tomato cushion.  Perhaps this was due to the fact that the tomato would often find itself lost under a pile of fabric or rolled on to the floor. (I'm not the neatest fact it often looks like a tornado blew through when I'm really getting down to business.)  I also lost a fair amount of needles into the center abyss of the tomato, never to be seen again.

So, next I purchased a Collins Daisy Wrist Pin Cushion, thinking that if it was attached to me I couldn't avoid putting the pins away, rather than just flopping them on my sewing table.  WRONG.  I stuck myself a few too many times; the daisy petals are thin and are not backed by plastic so the pins go right through.  Ouch.  And it was a two step process, having to put the pins in the wrist cushion and then transferring them to the tomato at the end of the day.  Eh, too much work.  Also, the pins would stick so far up, that they would get in the way when folding and sewing my quilt, and wind up getting flung out of the cushion.  This one got sent to Goodwill. 

 √ MY SOLUTION: The next purchase was a Grabbit Magnetic Pincushion.  VOILA--PERFECTION! This is perfect for me.  I can toss my pins toward the Grabbit and it does exactly that-- Grabs It! It is easy for me to secure and store my pins.  And if I drop pins on the floor I can waive the Grabbit around and it sucks them right up.  It is a bit more expensive, but I think it's worth every cent.  I am thinking of buying an extra one for my quilt basting pins.

Living in a relatively tight space in San Francisco, I originally bought a mini (sleeve) ironing board.  Although I used this for years, it was ultimately super annoying.  I struggled with avoiding creases where the fabric hung off the edge of the board. 

 MY SOLUTION: Then, I decided to try the Fons&Porter Portable Ironing Pad and I LOVE IT! It arrived wrinkle free and allowed me to have a large and flat ironing surface right on my coffee table!  The pad is thick enough to protect my table surface and it comes with a handy storage bag.

I bought this BobbinSaver, thinking it would be a great storage solution for me, but came to realize that was not the case.  My biggest gripe is that there is no place to elegantly store an awkward
plastic ring.  Secondly, the thread ends come loose and lastly, if the ring is not full, the bobbins sort of float around.  Some folks love this thing, so perhaps it just isn't my cup of tea.

√ MY SOLUTION: I like the idea of these Bobbin Buddies.  They keep the bobbin thread tidy and I can pop them in a section of my thread box.  MUCH SIMPLER.


First, I bought this Fiskars 45 mm Stick Rotary Cutter and immediately disliked it.  The blade felt kind of flimsy and wobbled a bit.  This made it hard for me to cut straight lines (or it could have been my inexperience!! or a combination thereof ;-). The blade also seemed to have a hard time getting through multiple layers.

√ MY SOLUTION: I then replaced the Fiskars cutter with a Olfa 45mm Ergo Rotary Cutter and was much happier.  This made cutting EASIER! (not easy, but easier ;-) I was able to cut more layers, with straighter lines, and less stress on my wrist.  Woohoo!

What tools have you bought and replaced??  What are your favorites?


  1. I have a lot of the products you showed. I love gadgets!

  2. Thank you for the advice about the wrist pincushion, i have always been curious about those but i've never tried one!

    thanks so much for stopping by my blog :)


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