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Favorite Unconventional Quilting Tools?
A Discussion from the Quilting Forum

Unconventional Quilting Tools
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Sometimes a Quilting Forum discussion is so interesting that I feel it should be saved for more to read.

I think all of us after a while devise ways of getting things done using tools or gadgets that were never intended for sewing or quilting. My favorite is corsage pins. Big, long and sharp. I keep them in a crystal vegetable dish. How about you? What are your favorite unconventional tools?


One of my favorites is a lint roller. I use it to get those little threads picked up after removing a seam. It is also nice to just roll across a quilt top before quilting and pick up threads or pet hairs or whatever so they won't be stitched down when I am machine quilting.


I use a wallpaper seam roller to press seams when I do piecing. I also use and orange wood stick (usually used for manicures) when I turn things right side out as they are not as sharp as skewers or the bamboo sticks for running around seams.


My favorite tool is the cheapest thing! Rather than pay for a wooden press for seams (without an iron) I take apart a wooden clip clothespin, and use it! Works great for little seams, or pping....



I like those pointed erasers that you add to pencils when the other eraser wears down. They are just the right shape for running around the inside of a small item you have just sewn and turned. For example, if you sew a heart shaped fabric with the two right sides together, and then slit the back and pull it through, then you need to run something around inside to get the edges turned neatly... the pointy eraser on the pencil does the trick and is soft enough it does not strain the stitches. (I hope that makes sense! LOL) It also works great for shaping yo-yo's before you tack them shut.

Ok, but this has to be the funniest one anyone will post... OK, I will confess... I wanted to use cone thread because it is soooo much cheaper. I needed a holder so I converted my wooden banana tree into a thread holder! I drilled a small hole part way thru the bottom and glued in a peg. I bent a cup hook and added at the curved top as a thread guide. It is wonderful! It is well balanced and much sturdier than the plastic one I purchased for my sister! LOL


Hey, I guess I am kinda on a roll here... just thought of two more... I use a ceramic tile at the end of my ironing table to set my iron on and I also use one on my crafting table for my glue gun. My leftover tiles are 16" and it seems I am always finding a new use for one somewhere! LOL
And may I add... if anyone reading this has not tried using new pizza boxes to store your quilt blocks, you are in for a real treat! I pay 50 cents each at my local pizzaria, for the largest size. They keep blocks clean, flat and they take up very little space and can be labeled on the ends. Don't think I could live without them! LOL

Thanks for the clothespin suggestion. I love it and shall try it! :) This is a neat thread, glad you started it!


I use the salad spinner to "spin dry" small cuts (FQ or smaller) that I pre-wash in the sink. I also press fusible applique on the hard surface of my glass top stove. I plop larger spools of thread into a juice glass to feed them evenly (and keep them from careening around behind the machine.)


To make small circle-shaped applique, I use steel washers of an appropriate size. Cut the fabric larger, run a line of stitches around the outside. Put the washer inside, pull the thread tight, then press. Loosen the thread, pull out the washer (be careful, i'll be HOT) and press again. You end up with perfect little circles for applique with all the edges pressed under.

Sophie ... makes me think about appliquéing bunches of grapes :-)


I keep a good supply of wooden shish ke-bab skewers handy. I like using them in place of the metal stilletos to guide fabric, much safer in case the needle hits it.


I keep a roll of masking tape by my machine. When I need to unsew seams, I use a short strip of masking tape wrapped around 2 of my fingers to remove those tiny, pesky cut threads. Those bits of thread are so hard to remove from the fabric with my fingers. Then I just stick the tape to the sewing machine cabinet leg and it's there for the next time. Good thread. I'm learning, too. Good ideas here.


I do that, sort of. When I rip a seam, I'll just clip every 3rd stitch (or so), turn over and pull out the long thread and lay a strip of scotch tape along the sewing line - pull it up, and all the little threads come up too!


I use 2 to 3 old rubber door stoppers to raise my sewing machine in the back while I am sewing. It is cheap and keeps my back from being in stitches...he he

When quilt batting is on sale.. go buy it.. if you have an extra bed, make some pillow cases.. insert the batting and tie the ends closed.. now you have a some cute pillows on the bed and plenty of batting when needed.

I use empty 35mm film containers to store pins and needles while traveling.

You can use regular cardboard boxes..cover them with fabric.. I use elmer's glue.. it almost always dries clear and then you have beautiful decorated boxes for storage in your quilting area. The boxes can be cut to different shapes...

I hope some of these ideas help.. I have fun doing them.


I keep a sharp tweezer handy when I rip stitches to remove those pesky threads. Electrical tape on my 'under' finger when I'm hand quilting. Hope this helps someone.


I keep my extra batting on the spare bed. Unfold and put it under the quilt I have on the extra bed. This way when I need to use it all the wrinkles from being rolled are gone. Darby



I have just started using New Skin. I found it in bowling things. Bowlers use it to keep from getting blisters when they bowl lots of games in one day. It is a lot like air plane glue. But not as thick. So far it has kept my under finger from looking like hamburger when I quilt longer than I should. Glad you reminded me.


I keep the bottom half of a travel toothbrush holder taped with masking tape to the right side of my sewing machine beneath the hand-wheel. In the holder I keep two or three bamboo skewers and a plastic soda straw. I find the skewers wonderful for guiding my fabric (as others have mentioned) and JUST the thing for running under the presser foot to guide the bobbin thread out when you've just inserted a fresh bobbin and pulled its thread to the top of the machine.

The soda straw is for "saving" the last bit of thread on a bobbin that needs to be refilled. Instead of throwing that remnant thread away (which is sometimes a lot more than I thought it would be when I unwind it), I snip off about an inch-and-a-half of the straw and cut a small slit in each end. Then I insert one end of the remnant thread in the slit at one end, wrap the thread around and around the straw, and secure the tail of the thread in the slit at the other end of the straw. I drop these "mini-spools" into a plastic container, and I always have lots of different threads available for small mending jobs, sewing on buttons, etc. These are useful too, for making up a small mending kit for the office, for travel, for.....???



My favorite is a razor blade or exacto knife for undoing stitches/seams. It is MUCH MUCH FASTER that a seam ripper.


I did think of one other handy little tip. (Funny how we take our little habits and helpers so for granted that we forget to mention them.) I keep an old empty prescription bottle with a hole drilled through the top in my sewing desk drawer. Well, actually the hole is "melted" through the top using my kitchen stove burner to heat an awl from my DH's toolbox (but don't tell him). I drop bent straight pins and used machine needles through the hole, and toss the bottle when it's full. The pins and needles are safely discarded, and a new container takes only a couple of minutes to make.



Hi Sophie
I use this trick too but use mylar washers and a little bit of starch on the seam allowance. Saves burning the fingers.

Happy Quilting

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Susan Druding

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