Tools for Christmas. Like a 1950’s dad. (aka New Scissors, a Marker and a Rotary Cutter)

When my boyfriend asked me what I wanted for Christmas I had no idea. I’d already decided to get him a haircut (amongst other things). That was an interesting day, which he wrote about over here,  an exercise in patience but the barber is a pro at creating a good quiff.  I’d mentioned something about wanting  this book on The KLF but as I’ve become a bit enamored with my e-book Emil wanted to make sure I had something to unwrap, rather than just something to download. Nothing immediately came to mind. I don’t really want more stuff, I have enough stuff and any new stuff should be useful. “What about something sewing related?” he said.

New tools

Semi-permanent marker, all set for some temporary graffiti

In praise of rotary cutters.

I was  bit late to the party with regards to rotary cutters but I’m definitely a big fan now. So, so much easier on the hands, less slipping and movement of fabric and much faster. Another major bonus is that it’s less likely to be used for cutting other things around the house so you don’t have to hide your “Good Scissors” from other people in the house. Rotary cutters do, however, look like pizza cutters so as long as they’re kept out of the kitchen, they’re pretty much safe. The blades are easy and cheap enough to replace and extremely sharp so you need to cut on a surface that can take that kind of punishment. I picked up a cutting board from Atlantis Art Supplies– about 10 quid, A1 size- ideally it’d be bigger but it suits my workspace/tiny flat. My cutting board claims to be self-healing, like a vampire.

Good scissors.

The idea of “The Good Scissors” always makes me think I’m making some kind of moral judgement on an inanimate object. And that’s weird. So, in honour of Emil’s affiliation with Liverpool, from now on I’m going to refer to these scissors as Boss Scissors.

These scissors are boss.

These scissors are boss.

As much as I enjoy using the rotary cutter, scissors are still a necessity. Scissors with sharp blades, decent handles and easy movement are a joy.  I’ll be keeping these scissors safe from paper and will keep them sharpened. I usually go to the lovely, knowledgeable people at  Sew Amazing in Bow for this kind of thing.

Semi-permanent markers vs chalk

I use both old school chalk sticks and flat tailors chalk. Call me a philistine but I prefer the old school sticks. Sharpened into a point, they’re even easier to use. Chalk is great, it’s cheap, easy to find and easy to brush off. It’s also useful around the house or for adding comments to bits of graffiti, like this……..

Spotted within spitting distance of the London Olympic stadium.

Spotted within spitting distance of the London Olympic stadium.

As I’ve been sewing with jersey quite a lot, chalk has become a bit of a headache. Maybe it’s just me but it just doesn’t take and I have to exert pressure to get it to show up.  Then the fabric gets stretched and the markings are all thick and imprecise, the fabric gets distorted and the darts and pleats are all over the place. Another problem is that I tend to handle fabric a lot while I’m sewing, it helps me think through the process. Then the bloody marks end up getting rubbed off and I have to go back to the original pattern pieces, argh.

Semi-permanent markers have their own charms. The lines are finer and more precise and, unlike chalk, they don’t end up crushed into the carpet if they get stood on.  But only as long as I’m sewing light colours, I’m yet to come across a light marker. I’ve used both air and water soluble markers and have never had a problem removing the ink. Just DO NOT IRON OVER SEMI-PERMANENT markers. Heat can set the ink, better not to learn this the hard way.

There are other ways to mark pattern pieces, tailor’s tacks (littleleecy’s tutorial ) look very professional but aren’t worth it for anything I’m interested in making right now. At the other end of the spectrum, you can use slivers of soap in place of chalk. Apparently. I’ve not done this before but I’ll keep that info stored away for 2am sewing panic when I’ve run out of chalk. I imagine you’d need to wash any marks out though.

Good gifts, I’d go so far as to say these gifts are boss.


About Vanessa

Sewing and assorted nonsense. For reasons that escape me, I left the sunshine and beaches of Australia for the crisps and glitter of London in 2001. I now live in the middle of some kind of feline drop-in centre in East London battling for space to make costumes and clothes. Over on twitter and instagram as @smittenness Email over here ------>
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