Unsung Heroes in My Sewing Notions Drawer


I spent some time this past weekend sewing some props to illustrate an upcoming Stitch issue. The main construction technique involved bonding two colors of wool felt with fusible web, then stitching the two-sided felt into a shape. (The props turned out very well–but the issue is still under wraps so I can’t show this project to you yet!) 

I have different sizes and styles of
non-stick sheets. I can’t imagine working
with fusibles without these.
A dab of hot iron cleaner and a soft terry
cloth works magic!
My iron is shiny and ready to go.

Using the fusible reminded me of why certain sewing notions are on my must have list–even though they seldom see the light of day unless they are being used.

First, if you’re going to do anything with fusible web, get some of those non-stick ironing sheets. Non-stick sheets are generally made from a temperature-resistant plastic or fiberglass material and can withstand the very high heat that fusible requires. You simply place it beneath your projects as you are ironing the fusible to protect your ironing board cover, and over the project to protect your iron.

When I first bought one, I was skeptical that the non-stick sheet could really hold up against a hot iron. But it did. I’ve had mine for years, and it’s still holding up. I know that in theory I could be careful and not get the fusible on my iron or ironing board cover, but who am I kidding! I still work carefully, but it’s far more relaxing to iron fusible with this “safety net”. (If you spend quality time with a hot glue gun, you’ll also want to have a few of these to protect your work surface agains glue gun havoc.)


Second, I’m a big, big fan of hot iron cleaner for my iron’s soleplate. I’ve used several brands over the years and found that they all work well. Even if I’ve managed to avoid getting the fusible on my iron by using the non-stick sheets, over time the soleplate picks up what is technically called gunk. A quick cleaning makes the soleplate shiny and swift

Neither of these sewing notions gets top billing in my studio. But I would miss them if they weren’t around when I needed them.


If you want to see the fabric and notions that do get top billing in some very inspiring sewing spaces, check out the digital edition of the Fall 2012 Studios in the Sew Daily shop.


Do you have any unsung sewing notion heroes? I’ll bet we can come up with a good list. Let us know your favorites!

Happy stitching,








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9 thoughts on “Unsung Heroes in My Sewing Notions Drawer

  1. Two things I have discovered for fusible project. Parchment paper, the kind you bake cookies on is a great “non-stick” sheet. I put one on the ironing board, and one over whatever I’m fusing, or just keep a folded sheet on the ironing board and slip my project inside. Any extra fusible sticks to the sheet, and after cooling a few seconds, can be scraped off with your fingernail and tossed in the trash.

    The second discovery is water-based “Goof-Off”, NOT the solvent based kind. My iron was gunky, and I sprayed some of the Goof-Off on a paper towel, swiped it over a COLD, (I emphasize COLD) iron, and voila! it was clean and shiny. I get my Goof-Off at the Home Depot.

    And I do love my Teflon sheets, but they are expensive and not everyone has one.

  2. I use a brass stiletto when piecing, the ability to hold the last micro bit of fabric from shifting under the presser foot is invaluable. The sharp metal point on the stiletto holds the fabric better than pinning method at the end of a seam.

  3. I trim off the selvages from new quilting cotton when I need to add to my stash of “turning tools”. To use the selvage strip inside a tube as a turning aid, lay it against the fold of the strip of the fabric that is folded right sides together. Leave one end stick out an inch or so and be sure the selvage strip is long enough to stick out the bottom end of the tube. Double stitch across the short end of the tube, catching the selvage material, then stitch down the open side. It is easy to pull on the free end of the selvage, turning the tube right-side out.

  4. I was introduced to “Thang Purple Thang ” at the Sewing and Quilting Expo this summer. I immediately purchased 2 of them. They have multiple uses and I keep them nearby for all types of sewing! Below are some of the advertised uses.

    It pushes, pokes, pulls, p-fudges, p-turns, p-stuffs. It makes its own uses! Every quilter/crafter/seamstress needs one.

    No more struggles with stuffing, turning, pulling, and poking at your projects. Just reach for That Purple Thang! Use the 1/4 inch flat edge to score stabilizers or paper stencils along stitching lines. Pull ribbon or elastic through elastic casings using the slotted end.

  5. I have three favorite items in my notions drawer. The first is my mother’s darning egg–the type with a handle. The second is a chop stick for turning small things inside out. And the third is my seam ripper. I may not use it often but when I need it there is absolutely no substitute.

  6. Great choices! I had heard about using parchment paper, but have never tried it–even though I do have a roll of it in my kitchen pantry. And bless all bodkins. After growing up and painfully inching elastic through waistbands with a safety pin, the bodkin was a gigantic Eureka! moment.

  7. I use several patterns, making Halloween costumes for the kids and I, and clothes for myself. For this I have always used butter knives for my pattern weights. Also, when it comes to hemming jeans I have to have a set of pliers near by or the seams never make it under the foot.

  8. There are so many great tips here. My unsung heros of 40 years are my medium sized needle nose plyers, long bamboo knitting needle, and a long, thin crochet hook that has a flat head on the end. I can not tell you how many times those plyers have helped me remove pins with broken heads from thick fabric and leather, change needles in my machine, etc. The needle hook has been one of my primary “pushing” tools when turning fabric. BUT NOW… I have a new favorit – a long very thin hemostat for turning. Woo Who!