While I don’t have a large fabric stash, I do have a large supply stash. In my opinion, having the right tools is just as important as having the right fabric and trims. No one sees or knows about your supplies when the project is finished, so it’s easy to skimp in order to save a few bucks here and there. But these are the tools that make the final project show worthy, so they deserve the investment. There are many supplies I think are important, but these are my essentials. If I were to run out mid project, I’d stopped and get more.
After reading, I’d love to know your favorite tools. Ones you couldn’t sew without. Include your tips for using too!
Unless black or beige, I buy white bra notions and dye per project. Because almost all of my bra trimmings are nylon, I use acid dyes. Acid dyes are mainly used for wool and other animal fibers, but can be used to dye nylon too. RIT dyes are an option, but they’re an all purpose dye that contains two kinds of dye – a direct dye which dyes cotton, and a leveling acid dye, which dyes both wool and nylon. Because nylon only absorbs the leveling acid dye, the direct dye is wasted. If you use an acid dye to dye nylon, the dye bath will eventually become clear, meaning the dye has “exhausted,” or been used up. If you dyed that same nylon with RIT dye, the water will never become clear because the nylon will never absorb the direct acid.
The best place to buy acid dyes is Dharma Trading. If you’re hesitant to start dyeing, don’t be. Dharma has great customer service. Shoot them an email with details about your project and they’ll walk you through it. Amy and Anne have also given insight to their dyeing adventures, and you’ll be sure to pick up a trick or two from them.
Woolly Nylon Thread
I’ve known about woolly nylon thread for years, but only started using it recently. As the name suggests, it is made from nylon fibers, which results in a stitch that stretches and recovers, provides more coverage and has a softer touch. That’s the perfect equation for lingerie, which needs to stretch as well as needs to be gentle on the skin. Although it can be used in a sewing machine, I have only used it in the two lower loopers of my serger. It can be used in the lower looper only or in all three/four threads too. It’s more expensive than polyester or cotton, but it’s worth it. I compared woolly nylon and polyester thread, so if you don’t believe me, check out the post. You’ll be a convert too!
Temporary Spray Adhesive + Eucalyptus Oil
This has become my best friend. I use it mostly to spray baste the main fabric to the lining prior to cutting (it’s the same concept as block fusing interfacing). Doing so has reduced the time it takes me to cut a pattern from approximately an hour to 30 minutes, maybe a little less. There’s no drying time, so you can spray, adhere and cut immediately. It’s also odorless and does not gum up on needles. My preferred brand is Odif’s 505. I’ve used Sulky in the past, but the spray was not as even. Buy the largest can. Like 1.5 or 2 ounce hair spray for traveling, you’ll go through it in a snap, and if you ordered it online, you’ll end up paying double for shipping. Be aware of the time between when you adhere to when you sew. I make sure to sew within a couple days after adhering. If I don’t, the glue wears off and the lining and main fabric become independent. It’s a real hassle to spray baste back together!
I also use spray adhesive during sewing. One example is when I attached hooks and eyes. I open the tape, spray a little inside, fit it over the back opening, press in place and then sew. Having it firmly secured before sewing helps with getting the topstitching straight and even. I have never achieved the same look if I used pins.
Because a lot of the fabrics I work with are sheer, residual glue builds up on my cutting mat. So, after I use the spray baste, I wash dab a few drops of eucalyptus oil on the cutting mat, use a wash cloth/sponge to spread it around and then rinse with warm water. Goo Gone is another option if you don’t want your kitchen to smell like a forest.
Duck Billed Scissors
In almost every weekend post, you’ll spot my duck billed scissors, and that’s because I’m always using them! They are one of those tools that as soon as you discover, you never go back and you don’t understand how you did it before. Even Karen loves them! I’m going to be brand loyal – I love Gingher! Expensive? Yes. Worth it? Totally! The paddle-shaped blade serves as a shield and a guide, which makes it easy to trim and grade seam allowances neatly. That’s super important in lingerie when even if lined, the seam allowances are still visible.
Want to know more about scissors in general? Check out Karen’s post where she breaks down her scissors collection.