I’m not much of a gadget person. The old fashioned way of doing things is usually fine by me but I have come across a few sewing gadgets over the years which I’ve used over and over and found really properly useful!
Each of these sewing gadgets would make a fabulous gift for someone you know who sews too.
I love my bias binding maker. I had it as a birthday gift several years ago and use it SO much. Mine is a Prym 2” wide one which makes bias binding that is 1” wide. Other makes and sizes are available.
All you need to do is cut strips of fabric on the bias, join them as necessary and then run it through the bias binding maker, ironing as you go.
If you want to make long strips of binding that doesn’t need to go round corners you can make binding that is cut along the grain instead of the bias too. I often do that for making bunting.
What a fabulous little gadget! This little ruler is heat resistant so you can iron on it. You use it to accurately measure and press hems, turnings etc.
You lay it on the fabric, fold the edge over, using the measured marks to get your hem straight and at the level you want and then press.
I bought a set with several rulers and then shared it with my friends so we have one each.
3) Needle Minder
If embroidery is your thing then I’d highly recommend a needle minder. All sewers have to do some hand sewing of course so it could also be a useful addition to the sewing box of anyone who sews.
A needle minder works by sandwiching fabric between 2 magnets. Whenever you are not using your needle you pop it on top of the needle minder instead of stabbing it in your fabric. This makes it ideal for delicate fabrics or those that would be marked by needle holes.
If you are looking to get a needle minder I would recommend getting one where either the magnets are completely enclosed or the clean neodymium ones . Some have the magnet exposed and if it’s a grey ferrite type it can leave marks on your fabric, kind of defeating the object really!
I sell a selection of needle minders in my Etsy shop which I think are the best of course! The covered button style ones have the magnet completely enclosed which I prefer.
While we talking magnets it’s worth considering a magnetic pin dish. You can buy these ready made or easily make your own. My tutorial to make a magnetic pin dish from a pretty little dish is here. I have a few ready made ones on offer in my Etsy shop too.
When you are sewing at speed it is a lot quicker to fling your pins into a magnetic dish than to replace each one into a pin cushion. A magnetic pin dish is also really useful to drag over the floor after sewing as it will pick up any dropped pins before your family find them with their feet!
6) Pattern Weights
Now I’m recommending pattern weights even though I don’t actually have any yet. I’m going by a whole heap of recommendations from lots of sewing friends who all say they can be really useful. Maybe not for very fine and slippery fabrics when you still want to pin pin pin but much quicker and easier on lots of stable fabrics. I’m planning to make a set for myself soon but you can also buy all sorts of different ones. Minerva have a few different ones in stock.
7) Tube turners
I wrote a review of the Prym tube turners for Minerva a few years ago. A clever little gadget which speeds up turning handles, straps and other tubes of fabric. The Prym set comes with 3 different sizes which are good for most fabrics. You might have an issue with very bulky fabric in a narrow tube but the largest one is fine for something like 2” wide bag handles made from denim for example.
8) Sleeve board
I love my sleeve board. It’s just a mini ironing board which is small enough to leave up in my sewing space on top of a cupboard and so it’s always handy to press a seam or whatever. I have a travel iron alongside it and so my need to get the big ironing board out is drastically reduced. It’s also really handy for ironing sleeves if you don’t want a crease in them which I assume is it’s original purpose. You’ll find one really handy for anything that is too small to fit over a regular sized ironing board.
Mine was an old second hand one so I did treat it to a new cover a little while ago.
9) Tailor’s Ham
Whilst we are talking ironing and pressing, a ham can be really useful. Not to be confused with a piece of meat, a ham is a very firmly stuffed blob that you can use to iron shaped pieces of fabric, anything curved, bust darts etc. Once you have one you’ll wonder how you managed without it!
10) Scissor Fob
Small scissors can be really easy to lose! They disappear to the bottom of your project bag or slip between the sofa cushions in a most annoying way. A scissor fob or scissor keeper can really help with this. They also come in really handy as a mini pincushion too. In a little bit of real life, this is what my most used scissor fob looks like right now, it is genuinely sitting right beside me as a write this. Because I jam so many needles into it so often it is a little bit the worse for ware these days, I have had it for years though. (If you love my stork scissors - and why wouldn’t you as they are a classic! - they are not expensive to treat yourself too!)
I’m not sure if all of these things are gadgets in the strictest sense of the word. My dictionary defines the word gadget as “a small mechanical or electronic device or tool, especially an ingenious or novel one.” They are certainly not all mechanical or electronic! But they are all little tools or devices that make my sewing life a little bit easier so you might find one or two of them useful too.
Do you have a favourite sewing gadget? Something you’d like to recommend? I’ll be keeping this list up to date by adding any new things I come across which make sewing just that bit easier.