Based on the beautiful Gold Coast of Australia, where she lives with her husband and fluffy ragdoll cat, Louie, Sarah Olding is the patternmaker/designer behind Pattern Runway, a pattern boutique, sewing and sewing support blog. Garment construction and little design details are what makes her light up, and patternmaking books are what sends her off to sleep at night. Looking for sewing hints, tips and help? Join Pattern Runway on Facebook or Twitter.
I have sewn since I was a young girl, watching both my mother and grandmother masterfully whip up dresses, homewares and curtains. I fell in love with the what seemed like magic to me: turning something flat and nonfunctional into the gathers of a new party skirt, a pair of shorts, or pockets or bags to store my treasures. I remember jumping on the machine when my mother wasn’t looking and hurriedly sewing two scraps of fabric together — and I haven’t stopped sewing since. To make sewing that little bit easier on yourself, here are my picks for sewing tools to keep close at hand.
[Clockwise from top left: Tracing wheel from CKBLtd; Tailor’s chalk from squirlgirl; Thread snips from Minor Details; Tailor’s shears from SnipNCut; Pattern awl from porcelynne; Cat measuring tape from rodema; Pattern notchers from porcelynne]
Few of us have the luxury of an industrial sewing machine with auto back tack and a thread cutter (like my dream machine, the Industrial Juki DDL-9000B). Instead, hang simple thread snips on a ribbon around your neck, ready to trim stray threads. Arm yourself with a selection of tailor’s chalk in a few colors, accompanied by a short metal ruler ready to mark where seams match up, measure openings and to mark pocket openings. For cutting out, I love 8” steel dressmaking shears — they cut through a few layers of fabric at a time, handle anything from fine silks to heavy wools, and last a lifetime. You’ll need a tracing wheel to make any alterations or tracing off patterns, and I like to snip my notches on the pattern with a pattern notcher. To mark dart points, I use a pattern awl and push a hole right through the pattern and fabric. (While it sounds scary to be putting a hole through the fabric, when that dart is all sewn up you’ll never see any holes.) Lastly, a good (and cute!) tape measure is essential.
The right know-how certainly helps when you’ve forgotten how to sew something or pattern instructions are a little vague. From charming vintage texts full of helpful quotes such as, “If you want to have success, do not stint to give a press,” to the timeless, step-by-step instructions out of Vogue Sewing or Reader’s Digest, vintage books can be a great resource for both new and experienced sewers. Besides the wonderful old-world book smell that comes with a vintage book, you might even find a message or two from the crafty lady who owned it in the past.
Have a late-night sewing urge? You can download a PDF pattern at any time and get started whipping up a new wardrobe right away.
[Clockwise from top: Gold zag tray by upintheairsomewhere; Just Start print by CharmAndGumption; Beaded hanging planter by HRUSKAA; Foil-stamped notebook by HautePapier; Spotted black and white cushion by WhitlockandCo; Square gold leaf planter by TheSwedishGypsy; Confetti pocket notebook by PrintStitchAndPaste; Peach and gold dot dish by upintheairsomewhere; Chanel No. 5 Print by VivianandBeverly; Neon pink spot cushion by SeptemberDesign]
Turn your sewing spot into a welcome retreat with a few favorite gorgeous home wares. Keep clutter away with a tray or dishes to hold buttons, needles and threads. Frame a couple of inspiring prints and prop yourself up on those late night sewing marathons with a bright cushion or two.
Do you like to sew?