A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

MY Favorite Tools/Aids

I thought I'd take this opportunity to weigh in on the favorite tools discussion. I have a few tools (besides those already mentioned) I use all the time. I'm not sure I really consider all of these to be tools; some I would consider to be aids.

As I've gotten older, I have more problems with my eyesight. I find that the light I have available is never enough. I really depend on the extra light provided by my “Bendable Bright Light” I have attached to my sewing machine.

The “Bendable Bright Light” is a small LED light that attaches to the side of my sewing machine with double-sided 3M adhesive. It puts out a bright light that can be directed exactly where it is needed. It eliminates the need to bring an additional lighting source when I go to a retreat or workshop. It is advertised that the product will last for 100,000 hours. No batteries are involved; you plug it in. When I first saw the “Bright Light” advertised, I thought it was too pricey. (You will pay anywhere from $30-$50 for this product.) I haven’t regretted the purchase a minute, though; I have trouble sewing without one now. An additional mounting kit that enables the “Bendable Bright Light” to be moved from machine to machine (if you use more than one) is available for purchase. The kit will cost somewhere between $8-$10.

I also would have a hard time doing without my Tutto luggage. I own the large-sized Tutto for use with my Janome 6500. (My Bernina 1260 will fit in it too.) I LOVE this bag. I had previously purchased a bag to transport my machine, but I wasn’t very happy with it. It was hard to pull and hard to maneuver through doors and around objects. The Tutto is a different story. It is very easy to pull (even when loaded down with a heavy machine).

For transporting a sewing machine, I like the Tutto for the following reasons:
1. four wheels make the bag easier to maneuver and cause less stress on my back and arms

2. the padded U-shaped pull bar (which is attached to both sides of the luggage’s metal frame) and the location of the wheels make the bag more stable when moving it

3. it is light weight

4. there is ample storage space for the machine’s knee lift, foot pedal, power cords, extension cords, and a book or two

5. it folds to about 3” in width for easy storage when not in use

6. there are extra pockets on every side of the bag for carrying miscellaneous items

7. there is an “accessory” bag (I think they may call it a serger bag.) available that can be strapped to this bag providing all the space needed for the “stuff” necessary for a weekend retreat

The “accessory” bag can be attached to the Tutto luggage. This bag can hold a tremendous amount of quilting-related “stuff.” Before I had my Tutto, I had boxes and bags of retreat supplies; it took many trips to unload my car. With the Tutto and the accessory bag, I make one trip. Everything I need will fit into these two pieces of luggage.

When I want to mark quilting designs (or any other temporary mark) on my fabric, I absolutely LOVE the Bohin mechanical marking pencil.

The “lead” available for the pencil is made of a waxy chalk. It adheres to the fabric long enough to quilt the design, but it is easy to remove when I am finished quilting. The mechanical pencil includes an eraser which actually works to remove the chalk if you make a mistake or change your mind. The chalk refills come in several colors; I know these colors are available—white, gray, green, and yellow (there may be more). This pencil is very easy to mark with making a nice thin (0.9 mm), smooth line on the fabric. The Bohin mechanical pencil costs around $12 with refills costing around $6. The only con I have found is that when the lead gets to be about 1/2 inch long, the pencil won't mark. You can't keep the lead from pushing back up into the barrel when you try to make a mark. I think this is a big waste of lead, and it is very annoying. I'm hoping new models will correct this problem.


Last, but not least, is a porcupine quill. I use the quill to hold my fabrics in place when I am piecing. I don't do a lot of pinning because I find that the quill does a fabulous job of holding the pieces together.

As you can see, there is a VERY sharp end. That is the end I use to "pin" my fabrics together as they go under the presser foot of my machine. These quills are not real easy to find, so I buy one or two whenever I see them.


  1. You can buy porcupine quills? And here I thought I had seen it all (smile). I DO love the big bright light. I have a huge Ott light and two 100 watt Fluorescent goose-neck lamps but that little beauty points right at the business end of the sewing machine - must get one. Thanks for your well thought out post!

  2. Thanks! Now to catch a porcupine! lol

  3. I have the marking pencil and love it. Finally a GOOD white marker although I also have pink for whites. I also have the bright light in my wish list on A mazon for next month (possibly)or soon!!

  4. I have a porcupine quill that a friend sent me and I LOVE it!

  5. Ok now this is way cool!! I have LOTS of porcupine quills. Purchased them a few years ago because I thought they were awesome and figured I would use them in some art project someday! Well...now I have a different use for at least ONE of them!! And since I've aged just a tad...I'm finding lighting on my work SOOOO important. This little light just might have to go on my wish list!!


Although this blog is no longer active, we will get your comments so please feel free to share them.