Who doesn't love a good gadget?! There are so many different accessories and gadgets out there which can make sewing a much more fun and enjoyable experience. Here are a few of my favourites...
Magnetic Seam Guide
Keeping a straight seam is not always easy, particularly for those who are relatively new to sewing. A magnetic seam guide makes getting that elusive perfectly straight seam a breeze, every time.
Simply place the guide on your needle plate, line it up with the seam allowance you need, and use it to help guide your fabric through the machine. I love these things as they make it so much easier to get a straight seam.
Slip Reduction Mat
If you have a lightweight machine which tends to jiggle around whilst you sew, a slip reduction mat could be a lifesaver. These mats reduce sewing machine slippage and vibration quite substantially, and as a result will definitely improve the quality of your stitching.
There are two additional benefits to using one of these mats:
- Because the mat dampens vibrations from the machine, it will tend to reduce the noise your machine makes.
- It will protect the surface you are working on.
Sew Easy is my brand of choice for sewing machine mats, and they are available in several different sizes.
Mini irons are extremely handy tools for pressing out seams and working with appliqué. Although you can always get the job done with a standard iron, a mini iron just makes everything so much easier. It is very light, which makes pressing effortless, and its small size means you can get into the little nooks you wouldn't be able to reach with your standard iron.
On most mini irons the tip on the end is replaceable, so you can swap out different tip shapes depending on what you are using it for (for example, you could choose to use a narrow tip when working with seams).
I particularly love using my mini iron when I am doing a lot of patchwork, as it is a super efficient way of pressing all those 1/4 inch seams!
Enhancing your lighting setup is one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to instantly improve your comfort at the sewing machine.
The lights in most sewing machines aren't powerful enough to properly illuminate the workspace, particularly when working in a dark room. This can lead not only to poor sewing, but to more serious health issues, including eye strain! If you have experienced headaches, dry eyes or blurred vision whilst sewing, you should know that these are some of the symptoms of eye strain. And the culprit is almost always poor lighting!
An LED light solves this problem instantly. LED lights attach directly on to your machine, either via a magnet or an adhesive strip, and most have a little adjustable gooseneck so that you can adjust the position of the lighting at will.
If you feel like your current lighting setup is inadequate (either because your sewing machine's light isn't powerful enough, or because you tend to work in a poorly lit room), you should definitely get one of these. No more squinting and eye strain - your eyes will thank you!
Needle Inserter and Threader
Older sewists (and clumsy sewists too!) can sometimes struggle to replace the needle on their sewing machine. It is quite a fiddly operation after all! A needle inserter is a handy little tool which helps you place the needle into its slot in the sewing machine.
Dritz do a great two-in-one tool which has a needle inserter on one end and a needle threader on the other. With the threader side of the tool you can thread a needle in a matter of seconds, so it is ideal if your sewing machine isn't equipped with its own needle threader!
The two-in-one tool isn't anything fancy, but it does the job very well indeed and costs almost nothing. I highly recommend having one in your sewing box!
Bias Tape Maker
If you make bias tape even just occasionally, you will save yourself so much time if you use a bias tape maker. I can't believe I struggled away for so long making bias tape without one of these! Feed your strip of fabric (either straight cut or bias cut if you will be using your tape on curves) through the large end of the bias tape maker, and it will come out of the other end perfectly folded, ready for you to press it with your iron.
Bias tape makers come in a few different sizes, each giving you a different width of bias tape, so I have a few different ones in my sewing box. The image to the left shows a bias tape maker from Clover.
Another nifty little timesaver is the pattern notcher. If you make a lot of garments, you should really consider getting one of these. These handy little tools are used to mark keys locations on your pattern, by cutting little notches in the edges of paper patterns.
You can then use a fabric pen to mark the location of the notch onto your fabric, or you can even use the pattern notcher on the fabric itself.
Pattern notchers are guaranteed to save you time when working with patterns!
Free Motion Guide Grip
A guide grip is absolutely essential for anyone who does a lot of free motion quilting. The grip is similar to an embroidery hoop, but is placed directly on top of the fabric. Friction between the bottom of the grip and the fabric keeps the fabric taut as you move the grip free hand through the sewing machine, using the handles attached to the guide grip.
Using a guide grip gives you a maximum amount of control over the movement of the fabric, allowing you to move it much more evenly and precisely, to get perfectly consistent free motion stitches.
A knee lifter is a small lever attached to the front of your sewing machine which you can operate with your knee in order raise and lower the presser foot. I love sewing with a knee lifter as it frees up my hands and lets me focus on the fabric.
This one won't be for everyone, as only some sewing machines have a knee lift mounting slot, but if yours does and you aren't using it, I highly recommend that you give it a go!