Tools of the Trade

I’m often asked about the materials and equipment that I can’t work without so I thought I would share my top nine that I use every week in the studio. Some of them are tools I’ve used for years and others are new editions to the studio.

Good to Know…

There are lots of suppliers online and each of them have different prices for materials and equipment. It’s worth doing some research and getting the best price for your budget. Not all materials and equipment need to be costly. I have threads from the pound shop that are just as good as the more expensive brands.

Cotton Perle Threads

Cotton Perle thread is 100% cotton, it has a distinctive twist and a slight sheen which gives it a lovely finish. This thread doesn’t get fluffy easily and is suitable for many types of hand embroidery. The heavier weight of this thread will give your project a raised texture and great definition. This comes in 80m balls and there are so many colours to choose from.

I started using this thread when I was given a ball in a mixed bag of vintage threads. I love to use it in my Stitchscapes, building up layers and creating texture.

Table Clamp and Hoop

A few years ago, I was struggling with a neck and shoulder injury. Embroidering was really tough because of the way I sat to hold the hoop. When I started to feel my shoulder hurting again, I bought myself an Elbesee table clamp and hoop, it’s like a holiday for my shoulders.

I use the clamp when I’m sitting at my desk or on the sofa, it keeps both my hands free for stitching and I don’t get tired holding the hoop. You can get a universal hoop holder which works with your existing collection or they offer a range of hoops with the attachment built in which I prefer.

Curved Embroidery Scissors

I treated myself to some curved embroidery scissors a few years ago after working with cheap and cheerful nail scissors from the pound shop. I was struggling to cut away the threads on my digitally embroidered pieces, this is big part of the process too.

I saw another embroiderer using some curved scissors and I thought I’d give them a try. They are great for getting right on the surface of the fabric and cutting away loose threads as the blades are sharp right to the end. These are my go-to scissors for any hand or machine embroidery project.

Tip… Be careful when handling these scissors, the pointed blades can stab you if you leave them in the bottom of a box or bag.

Rotary Cutter

I picked up a rotary cutter about 8 years ago from Dunelm, it’s just a generic unbranded model with replaceable blades that I buy from Barnyarns. I was having real trouble with the pressure on it so I treated myself to a Prym Love 45mm rotary cutter this year. It has a safety blade which only cuts when you put pressure on it.

It’s lightweight and comfortable to use and you can change the blade when it gets too blunt to cut your fabric. I use mine in conjunction with my quilting rulers and cutting mat to get straight lines for patchwork and trimming work ready to frame and mount.

Gutermann Hand Quilting Threads

Gutermann Hand Quilting thread is a fine but strong 40 weight cotton. The thread has a special waxed finish which gives it added strength and it’s not prone to tangling like some other threads. There are 50 colours to choose from on 200m spools and I was lucky enough to complete my collection a few years ago.

I use this thread for all my tacking and utility sewing because of it’s durability. It’s also great for adding details like beading to a project.

Fabric Glue Pen

I’m a big fan of the Sewline glue pen, it’s really handy for temporary fixing of seams before you sew them and I use mine to secure paper hexagons to the fabric when I’m doing English paper piecing. The refills come in a variety of colours but dries clear. I use the fluorescent yellow as it’s easily visible on both light and dark fabrics.

Recently, I’ve been using to hold fabric pieces in place on a Stitchscape before I start to stitch them down. It removes the need for so many pins as I always prick my fingers.

***Please note that this is just my personal observation on the products I use regularly, everyone has their favourites and I recommend trying lots of different types to find the best one for you. ***