Updated: Dec 19, 2020
Once you are on the road with sewing you pick up certain items that prove really useful to your sewing life. These 10 items are indispensable for me and not ones you would immediately think of.
1. Eucalyptus Oil. Available in Chemist shops and places like health food shops. Of course if you live in Australia you can get it in the supermarket. Beautiful clean smell and useful for a number of things. If you make frame bags or purses it will clean the glue off the frame. It will take the sticky residue off your embroidery frames, sole plate of your iron and any stickiness on your machine. You just use a clean cotton cloth, soak a little eucalyptus oil onto it and wipe. (Added bonus is, if you have a cold it will help you breath easier!)
2. Frixion Pens by Pilot. I love these pens. You can get them practically anywhere. They come in loads of colours and have a really fine point. The best bit is if you these for marking on your fabric the marks iron right off. That's right, put a fairly hot iron over where you've marked and the mark disappears. Keep the lid on when not in use and always test on a scrap "just in case".
3. No I am advocating using your moisturizer itself, but if you buy your moisturiser in these heavy jars (L'Oreal, Clarins, Estee Lauder, Lancolme, etc) don't throw them out. Wash them out and save them. You can then use them as pattern weights. Empty they still have a good weight and as an added bonus you can use them for some small item storage.
4. Artists Grey Board. As you can see this is called grey but comes in shades of grey to beige. It comes in different thicknesses from quite thick and rigid. I use this instead of plastic grid or other materials for bag bases. If you are making a weekender it provides an absolutely rigid base but doesn't add weight. But don't be fooled - this isn't like cardboard. It doesn't go floppy when it gets wet and it's not bendy. You need something like a craft knife or Stanley knife to cut it. It's available from Art shops or online.
5. Although this looks like a pair of tweezers, it is in fact a Bodkin. This works like tweezers but has a ring on it that you push down to keep the bodkin closed. It is ideal for threading elastic or ribbon, for turning out a casing or narrow strap or for grabbing small items that might be difficult to reach. Mine came in a packet with a bodkin needle, which is a thick non-sharp needle with a really big eye. Also useful, but I am a bodkin fan.
6. Headliner. This fabric is called Headliner and it is used by the automotive and boating industries to refresh or repair interiors. It is thin foam covered on both sides with a thin fabric. The foam comes in different thicknesses and I mostly use the 6mm. This is like Stiff Stuff by Sew Lazy, Soft and Stable byannie, Bosal 493-18 In-R-Form Double Sided Fusible Foam Stabilizer or Pellon Flexi-Foam. It's not exactly the same as anyone but is a brilliant substitute. When used as an interfacing in a bag or purse it provides structure and bounces back if squashed. You probably need to do an online search for it as it isn't normally stocked by sewing shops. Once you have a source hang on to it because it is an essential I can't do without. Oh and it's usually cheaper than other foam stabiliser.
7. DIY storage. Have you been to craft and sewing shops and seen the price of storage for threads and sewing items? Expensive isn't it? This is where your DIY shop comes into play. Check for nail and screw storage and you are likely to come across little chest of drawers like those pictured. As you can see some are exactly the right size for small reels of thread. If you have different sized things to store then they have different sized drawers, and one might be the right size for you.
8. Tiny Bull Dog Clips. No doubt you've seen and probably bought those small plastic coloured clips to use instead of pins. Now I make a lot of bags and some of these have a number of layers and sometimes the pegs aren't strong enough. Then I use these little metal bulldog clips. They are strong and perfect for bags and relatively cheap to buy.
9. Low Tack Making Tape. This is mostly used
when painting for masking off around light switches and skirting boards. But this is also brilliant for using on fabric without it leaving stickiness or marks. You can use it to mark straight lines or instead of pins. Also you can use it as a sewing line for quilting.
10. Fusible Thin Interfacing. Now before you say this isn't unusual - I use this all the time, well I'm going to tell you how I use it. If you are careful you can iron this onto commercial pattern pieces (you know the tissue kind) and it makes them very robust. No more tearing or not being able to fold it up again when you're finished. This actually makes repacking a pattern easier. Make your patterns stronger and last longer.
That's my list of ten. Happy sewing!