Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Archive

Book has lots of ideas about sewing notions

I love to collect sewing books, and I go through my bookshelves from time to time to get inspiration. I came across one book that I hadn't looked at in a while, and I thought some of the information in it needed to be shared.

The one I'm thinking of is called Notions _ Over 50 Great Gadgets You Can't Live Without, and it was published in 2000 by Taunton Press.

As I was one of the contributors, you'd think I'd be a little more familiar with it, but I greatly enjoyed picking it up and refreshing my memory about the notions discussed in the book.

My contributions were fairly classic _ spiral steel boning, horsehair, grosgrain ribbon, tracing wheel and tracing paper _ but there's an awful lot in the book that's fun to know about and worth adding to the sewing room.

My friend Sandy Scrivano writes about a specialty-edge rotary cutter; Sandy sews with leather (and writes about it and teaches it), and she uses this tool to make decorative edges on her fabulous garments.

Another great gadget is the spinster _ it sort of reminds me of an eggbeater. It twists threads and yarns to make decorative trims and cords.

Another sewing friend, Barbara Deckert, writes about pressing equipment. Any well-equipped sewing room should have a variety of tailor's hams (shaped, not surprisingly, sort of like hams). You should also have a sleeve roll (a sort of giant hot dog), which makes pressing seams on fragile fabrics a snap and eliminates seam allowance show-through.

Barbara also talks about point pressers, wooden pressing tools that allow you to reach even the trickiest areas of a garment.

Sue Hausmann writes about clear elastic; my friends who sew a lot of knit garments swear by it, and I recently found it invaluable for a lace dress a student made. There was no underlining under the lace, and we used the clear elastic around its top edge, which rested _ barely _ on the wearer's shoulders. The elastic helped the garment gently "grab" the shoulders. It worked beautifully.

I supply very fine (and very wonderful) Japanese sewing needles to the students in my classes, and fabulous though they are, I must admit they're a little difficult to thread. The Clover Needle Threader, however, not only stores the needles, it also threads them automatically as you pull them out of the case. Very slick!

There's also a Scallop Radial Rule (from Katie Lane Quilts), which is awfully handy. If you've ever tried to figure out just the right width and depth of scallops using a small plate, you'll appreciate a more sophisticated approach.

I've touched on just a few of the notions that are included in the book, but they're all useful, and I guarantee many will be new to you. In addition, there's a great resource guide in the back of the book. Happy sewing!