Fabric stores and craft stores are filled with sewing gadgets and notions. Some supplies, like good needles, have no substitutes. Other sewing notions, however, do have alternatives. Here are some common kitchen and workshop items that can double as sewing notions.
Sewing Supplies from the Kitchen
Parchment paper is great for baking. Its heat-resistant properties also make it an ideal pressing aid. When pressing seams open, place parchment paper between the seam allowances and the garment to prevent imprint lines. Parchment paper can also be used to protect areas of the garment you don’t want to expose to heat while pressing the rest of the garment.
Freezer paper is used by quilters as an aid to cutting and pressing small appliqués. Be sure the shiny side of the freezer paper faces the fabric and the paper side faces the iron, or you will have melted plastic on your iron. For illustrated instructions, see: freezer paper appliqué .
Table knives or cans of tuna make great pattern weights. There is no need to spend more than $10 at the fabric store for a set of pattern weights. Just lay out your pattern, placing just enough knives or cans on each piece to hold the pattern in place for cutting.
An empty coffee or tea tin can be used as a cone thread holder by placing the tin on the floor behind your sewing machine, putting the cone of thread inside, then pulling the thread end up and threading the machine as for a regular spool of thread. I improvised this myself after my son used my pricey cone thread holder as part of a science project!
Sewing Supplies from the Workshop
T-squares are perfect for marking straight pattern pieces; no need to pin the tissue to the fabric, just measure the pattern piece and draw the lines on the fabric using the T-square and a dressmaker’s pencil. The T-square is also handy for marking cutting lines for rectangular tablecloths or curtains-no pattern needed.
Needle-nosed pliers are used by dressmakers for pulling needles through thick fabrics. In bridal sewing, pliers may be used to crush beads within seam allowances when taking in a beaded dress. Crushing beads leaves the threads intact, so the beads on the outside of the dress will not come loose. Be sure to borrow some eye protection from the workshop as well before crushing beads.
Drafting tape or masking tape can be used to hold layers of fabric on a cutting surface and keep them from shifting while patterns are pinned and cut.
Can You Think of More?
Next time you are considering the purchase of a sewing gadget or notion, ask yourself, “Does this item resemble anything I already have at home?” You may realize you already have that item in your kitchen or workshop!
Personal experience as a dressmaker with an engineering degree