There are hundreds of products out there made just for sewing. I mean, I have written 3 articles on just that, sewing notions that are essential or really cool for your sewing arsenal.
But, sometimes objects found outside the sewing notion aisle work great as sewing tools.
Here are 4 non-sewing items that are really useful in the sewing world.
4 Mundane Things Used for Sewing:
The simple hairpin. It’s a cousin to the bobby pin. It’s primarily used for up-dos in women’s hair for special occasions. It differs from the bobby pin in that it has two prongs that, before use, run parallel to each other (except where the accordion bends are). The bobby pin had the two prongs, but one is flat, and the other has the accordion bends which touches the flat part and then turns up at the end.
I haven’t tried using a bobby pin in the same way I use a hairpin. If you try it, let me know. I suspect the turned up part could cause problems.
How it Sings in the Sewing World
The hairpin makes an indispensable tool for turning small tubes of fabric right-side-out. Think of spaghetti straps, and loops for buttons. These tubes are often only 1/4″ wide when flat.
To use, make a small slit in the non-sewn part of the end of the strap (about 1/8″ from the end of the fabric. Slip the hairpin through the slit part, and feed into the tube. Use as you would a bodkin sliding it through the fabric and pulling the tube right-side-out.
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Erasable Gel Pens
Strangely enough, erasable gel pens are not made for sewing. But, they have become a favorite with sewists and quilters. They behave just as if they were made for sewing.
I don’t know the chemistry behind the ink, but it differs from other inks out there. So, don’t try this with “Normal” ink pens. You might not like the result.
Why Sewists are using the heck out of these
Simply put, it possesses the quality of disappearing with heat, like magic. So, it’s best to be used on fabric that can be ironed. Also, though I haven’t had it happen to me, I hear it could re-appear in cold. So, for that reason, I would stick with using it on the inside of garments
Much like the chalk wheel, this pen can draw quite precise markings. It comes in darker colors so it only works on lighter fabrics. It’s great for use on interfacing.
I’ve used my gel pens a bunch for drawing seam lines on the interfacing of accessories I’ve made where I need to have precise finished dimensions, polished inside corners, or professional square outside corners.
Medical forceps – Strange, I know. I learned about this tool from an online teacher at the soon-to-be-closed Bluprint.
Forceps are cool because they latch closed pinching whatever is in them, pretty tightly and then you manipulate it without having to keep squeezing them closed.
The Surprising use of a Medical Device in Sewing
These work great for reaching into something you need to turn right side out, pinching the part to pull on, then pulling it through. For not-so-pointy corners, you can kind of use the tips for a pokey thing to poke out corners. (It works better than scissors cause it’s not sharp and won’t pull through.)
Now, keep in mind, you have to have enough space to shove the forceps through, open, and clamp on the whatever for it to be the appropriate tool for the job. But, when it’s the appropriate tool, it’s amazing to use.
Ah, the good ol’ dryer sheet. Used in countless dryers across the country to make clothes smell good, feel soft, and not stick to everything in their passing with static.
Did you know that the substance in dryer sheets will leave a streaky residue on satins? Yup. It will (so be careful).
Did you also know that the substance in dryer sheets will dissolve the adhesive used in no-sew, iron-on, hem tapes? Yup. It will do that too. So, keep that in mind if you want to be lazy like I was, and hem your pants with hem tape and nothing else. One wash and you will likely need to hem your pants again.
There’s more to dryer sheets than just making soft and fresh smelling clothes.
So, if it streaks satin and un-adheres iron-on hem tape, what could it possibly be used for in sewing?
Well, I use it as a quick-and-dirty way (ok, maybe not really dirty) to clean my iron when I inevitably get fusible adhesive on it from any number of heat melting glue things in sewing. Things I’ve glued to my iron: fusible web, fusible hem tape, and fusible interfacing.
Yes, they make a product to clean your iron while it’s hot. Probably that’s the best thing to use? But, if you don’t have that, and you get fusible adhesive on it, don’t despair! Just iron a dryer sheet (while it’s hot). Then iron a washcloth or something to get the dryer sheet residue off before going back to the fabric, especially if you’re working with satin.
While you might not have the special iron-cleaner, you probably do have a dryer sheet. I actually keep one in my sewing room and use it till it doesn’t look like it has any more use left. 😃
So there’s 4 non-sewing-specific tools that work wonders in the sewing room. You might even have 3 of them lying around already.
Want more great sewing tool ideas? Check out my other articles: