Tools of the Trade.

Every job has tools of the trade; A tradie has hammers, drills, saws etc. A business person has their suit, computer, whiteboards etc. A seamstress/seamster, or Garment Engineer as I like to call myself, have their machines, measuring tape, shears, pins etc. I want to share with you the tools of the trade I use and what I do with them.

We'll start off with the bare bones of what I have:

My sewing machines.

Left to Right: Singer Ultralock 14U234 and Janome SL2022

Left to Right: Singer Ultralock 14U234 and Janome SL2022

I use a Janome SL2022 that was handed down to me from my mother, I swear it's older than I am. It's hard wearing and a strong machine, I may upgrade to a larger newer model one day but I'm not thinking about that anytime soon.

My machine does a lot of the grunt work in my seamstress-ing, it tackles every seam, hem, buttonhole and dart with ease. With every new project I use a fresh needle, it's no use trying to produce great work with a blunt needle that will just tear and ruin your fabric.

I also have an overlocker that was given to me by my grandmother. It's a Singer Ultralock 14U234 and it works wonderfully after I've spent 2 hours threading and re-threading and adjusting tensions and so on. When it works the way I would like it to it can create beautifully finished edges.

These two machines do pretty much everything I want and one day I'll add a coverlocker and maybe an embroidery machine to the collection.

My Rulers.

Top to bottom: Grading ruler, tape measure, french curve, set square, tape measure and standard 30cm ruler.

Top to bottom: Grading ruler, tape measure, french curve, set square, tape measure and standard 30cm ruler.

The rulers I use are the be all and end all for me. If I didn't have them I wouldn't be able to draft my patterns and I'd miss a whole lot of fun. Come to think of it, I should probably invest in some spares should the unthinkable happen, which is highly likely when you have young kids running around. 

My ruler set consists of a large set square, a french curve, a grading ruler and a standard 30cm plastic ruler. I use my set square the most, as it sets up the foundations for my pattern blocks. Then I use the french curve to, as the name would suggest, add in any curves I may need. For example; necklines, armholes, general body curves, etc. The grading ruler and the standard plastic ruler are what I use to make the adjustments from the base block. Add a style line here, transfer a dart there, extend out over this way, and so on and so forth.

Now while technically not a ruler I'll add tape measures into this category. I have at least 3 lying around at any given time because I am prone to losing them or other people I live with take them and forget to put them back. Tape measures are essential equipment for a seamstress, they measure the body, the garment and fabric. 

The Pointy Tools.

In photo: Quick unpick, thread snips, fabric shears, standard scissors, pins and needles.

In photo: Quick unpick, thread snips, fabric shears, standard scissors, pins and needles.

The pointy tools, pretty self-explanatory right? My arsenal has fabric shears, scissors, thread snips, pins and needles and a couple of quick unpicks. 

The shears are for fabric only, I don't let anyone use them because I don't trust them to use them on fabric only. (I have caught my husband out a few times so it's valid). I've had these ones for 9 years and I think they are due to be sharpened again, they're not cutting as smoothly as they used to. I use them to cut out my toile's and the good fabric when I'm ready to start construction. Before I'm able to cut fabric I have to cut out the patterns and that's what I use your regular everyday scissors for. I also have thread snips which, as the name suggests, snips thread. So cutting off loose threads, cutting tail threads, etc. I also use them to mark the notches in my fabric and add slits in the seam allowances on curved seams. Now, should it come to my attention that I've made a mistake, and it does happen, I have my quick unpicks that are at the ready to quickly undo what I've just sewn. Generally you aren't able to notice if I've done that because I like to make sure there are no rips or holes from unpicking.

 

And that's just a quick run through of my tools of the trade. Is there anything that you use that you think is an essential dressmaking tool?