Monday, 28 December 2020

My Top Sewing Accessories for 2020

Hello sewing doves! It's been a while I know. I've been doing lots of sewing but not much blogging. 

I hope despite the challenges of this year that you all managed to find some peace and joy this Christmas time with loved ones near and far.  

So with our pockets bulging with Christmas gift money and many January Sales already underway, I thought I would do a round up of my favorite sewing accessories of 2020.  

Some I bought myself, some I received as gifts from kind and thoughtful friends, and all I love and find to be really useful additions to my sewing room.

Fancii LED Magnifing Visor

So, you probably won't win any beauty prizes wearing these bad fact I laughed myself silly when I saw this photo 😂. However, these fabulous Fancii Magnifying Glasses with LED light are my out and out favorite sewing aid for 2020. (aff link)

I cannot begin to tell you how much I love these and just how useful they are. They are now permanently on my sewing table. I pop them on every time I have a needle to thread, seam ripping to do, hand sewing, precision cutting. In fact anytime I need to do closeup work. They really have proved to be indispensable and well worth the investment of £20. Mine were a birthday present from my fantastic sewing buddy Lesley 😍

Surprisingly comfortable to wear, they come with a range of interchangeable lens of differing strengths all in a handy storage box. Simply pick the lens strength which corresponds best with the closeness of what you are working on. Both the lens and LED lamp can be adjusted to suit the angle of your work. 

Mini Iron

I have a standard iron I hear you say, so why do I need a mini iron? Trust me you do! This iron may be small but it packs a punch in terms of heat, steam, ease of use and overall practicality in the sewing room. 

You're not going to use it to iron meters of fabric. You're probably not going to use it to make a coat or jacket either. Where this little workhorse comes into it's own is making a breeze of everyday seam pressing and in ease of handling. It's small and very light with an ergonomically shaped handle which fits nicely into the palm of your hand. For anyone with arthritis or grip problems it's a godsend and even if you haven't, the weight makes pressing far less tiring on your hands. 

I find mine especially useful and easy to handle when ironing seams over a tailors ham or roll. With a heat proof board on your sewing surface you don't even need to get up to go to the ironing board. How fabulous is that!

I was lucky enough to pick mine up from Lidl at very reasonable price. I've never seen them there before or since however don't despair it is identical in every way to this Mini Iron by Prym (aff link).

The Clover Hot Hemmer

I just love love love this hemming tool by Clover (aff link). It makes accurately measuring and pressing hem allowances a doddle. 

And as if being a lovely hem gauge wasn't enough, this beauty is made from a stiff felted material which can be ironed over. Just turn your hem allowance up over the Hot Hemmer to the desired depth and iron in place. There is even an curved edge for pressing curved hems in place.

I find mine indispensable for all manner of wovens, knits and even narrow hems. For all you imperial gals out there it is worth noting that the measure comes in centimetres only.

Kids Washable Felt Tip Pens

I struggled to find the best way to transfer marks onto pattern pieces, particularly knits. Tailor's chalk just seemed to make an insipid wide mark which soon "fell" off stretch fabric whilst branded indelible sewing markers cost a fortune for one measly pen which dries out before you've got your pdf printed and stuck together...I exaggerate a little. Then urika! I came across this simple solution... children's washable marker pens (aff link). They are cheap; come in lots of different colours, very helpful when marking different colour fabrics and they do what they say on the packet, they wash out completely! Not having school age kids I'm probably the only person on the planet who hadn't already worked this one out. 

They even work great on stretch fabrics. I did also pick up a little trick with tailor's chalk. Wet it before you use it and it makes a clearer, finer and more durable mark on stretch fabrics.

Ultra Sharp Bladed Embroidery Scissors / Snips

I just love these fabulous little scissors (aff link). Not only are they really pretty but they are also soooo practical. With stainless steel blades these babies are razor sharp right to the tip and perfect for all precision cutting. Large rounded handles make them easy and comfortable to grip and use.

I wear them on a ribbon around my neck whilst sewing so they are always to hand for snipping threads, cutting notches and wedges into seam allowances and any other precision work. They are constantly in use and worth every penny of the £7.90 price tag. 

Singer 4mm Twin Stretch Needle

But Linda, I hear you say, it's a twin sewing machine needle, so what! Well I will tell you my little sewing doves that not all twin needles are created equal and this is no ordinary twin needle.... oh no...this is sewing room alchemy!

Look carefully and you can see that this twin needle by Singer has a full metal shank. The twin needles are welded to the shank rather than joined to it by plastic. 

I had been really struggling hemming knits, especially fine slippery ones with my usual good quality stretch twin needles. No matter what settings I used, how often I rethreaded my machine, changed needle, nor how much stabiliser, or buckets of starch I threw at it, my hems remained a mess of skipped stitches and heartache. I found it so demoralising to spend days sewing a beautiful garment only to fall at the last hurdle of hemming and top stitching. I read about this all metal Singer Stretch Twin Needle (aff link) in a discussion group about hemming knits and despite the elevated price tag of £13ish I was at my wits end so decided I'd give it a go. 

I cannot tell you why it works but it just does. No skipped stitches and beautiful hems sewed with no drama, sweat, tears or swearwords. This fantastic singer twin stretch needle is worth every penny all day long! 

This brings me to the final item on my 2020 list of sewing room favorites. Maybe not technically an accessory but fantastic all the same! 

Tilly And The Buttons - Stretch

I love this sewing companion by Tilly Walnes. Whether you are new to sewing with stretch fabrics or if you've already got some experience the Tilly And The Buttons Stretch book has something for everyone. (aff link)

I bought my copy a few weeks back after the temperatures dropped and I started seeing so many gorgeous Stella Hoodies on Instagram and Facebook. I have had my nose in this book ever since! 

Stretch contains 7 fabulous fashionable knit projects complete with full size pattern sheets. Projects include a well balanced and versatile mix of skirts, tops, dresses and a relaxing hoody and joggers. All of which I guarantee you will want to make. The patterns are printed back to back so you will need to trace them. I don't know about you but I always do that anyway. Every project includes suggested hacks to make the garment your own which also vastly increases the variety of garments you could potentially make from each pattern. Step by step instructions are clear, illustrated and easy to follow and each project contains sewing challenges designed to build your sewing skills set. 

There is a useful section on choosing the right fabric, preparing and cutting knits along with lots of excellent advice, tips and trouble shooting on sewing knits using both a classic sewing machine and a serger. It's worth noting that you don't need a serger to sew any of the projects in this book. 

It's also worth noting that Tilly has her own sizing scale from 1-8. Personally I really like this as it helps us to stop thinking about our ready to wear (rtw) size and focus on our measurements when choosing the size to make. A TATB size 8 bears no relation to a rtw size 8. For example a size 1 fits a 30in bust/ 24in waist / 33in hip, whilst an 8 fits a 44in bust/ 38in waist / 47in hip. This gives you an idea of the size range.

I love the concept of this book and I love all the projects. My mind is buzzing with ideas and inspiration and I already cut out my first Bibi Skirt and I'm ready to go! 

I hope you found that rundown and review of my favorite sewing aids for 2020 useful. With so many products on the market it's nice to share those that we find particularly worth investing in. I would love to hear about your special finds so please do leave a comment below with your favorite accessories. It's always great to buy with confidence from recommendations coming from fellow sewists.

Finally I would like to take this chance to wish you all a very happy New Year. Let's hope 2021 brings us the chance to finally reunite and hug our loved ones 💖 something I'm sure we are all wishing for.

This blog article contains affiliate links to products. This means that the item doesn't cost you more to buy but I do get a small commission enabling me to keep bringing you pattern and product reviews. I personally own each of the products in this article and the views expressed are my own. 

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