My Most Used Sewing Notion

I am always telling you that I am a pretty frugal quilter. I use what I have…I collect. I use scraps. I make quilts from recycled men’s shirts.

I had earlier been paging through an old quilting magazine and they had asked the designer their favorite sewing notion. As I was looking around the sewing room while I was piecing I started to wonder. Hmm…If I was asked, how would I answer that question?

I kept thinking about that as I pieced…What was my most used sewing notion?

All of a sudden I bust out laughing. My answer would have to be little square containers.

I had been working on my triangle quilt…see the square container in the background?

I’ve been working on my Oregon or Bust quilt…I have two containers I’m using for that quilt.

I’ve been working on my star block quilt…I’m using three of them for that quilt.

Oops, four actually. The one in the photo below shows blocks I’ve finished but not ironed.

I just love these little containers. They are the perfect size for me. I use them for organizing all of the time. I often have containers with something I am taking up or down the stairs. I’ll sew in the morning before the grandkids come and then take the bucket downstairs and iron the pieces while the kiddos nap. They work so well for organizing. They aren’t very pretty though…they are just frozen eclair containers or dishwasher pod containers. Over time I have likely collected 15. The majority of the time, at least half are in use.

Some are deeper than others but they all work perfectly for what I need. I often have pieces of blocks in different containers. I can grab two containers and sit down and start piecing. I love them so much.

If I could buy some this size that weren’t covered in labels, I might buy them, just so that they looked a little prettier. I thought about making a cover that buttoned onto them so they looked a little neater but I decided not to because I often stack them one inside the other and then they wouldn’t be able to do that.

I have more…These are half-square triangles I need to put into a quilt. This project is from Ila.

I have another that has collected scraps left over from my Oregon or Bust quilt. I have a plan for these…I think. It’s still in the planning stages.

I really do love these containers. I don’t know that they would actually be considered a “notion”. So if I have to pick my favorite notions I would say these three things…

My Karen Kay Buckley scissors that a blog reader gifted me. I just love it. In fact, I ordered a second one so I have one at each machine. If I won the lottery I would buy about five pairs and get rid of the Fiscar scissors I have. You can find them HERE on Amazon. There are other sizes. I prefer this one for most everything I need a scissors for.

The longer I sew the more I realize organization is so important. I now use these little clips all of the time. Amazon sells them for anywhere between $5 and $9 for 100 clips. Pricing depends on which tin you want or if you don’t want the clips to come in a time at all. I love these so much.

The other would be my Third Hand Binding Tool. I did a video to show you how I use it. You can watch it here by clicking the arrow or you go HERE on Youtube, save it, and watch it later on your television or device.

(HERE is a link for one.  If you put in the coupon code “JOSENTME” you can get 20% off the entire site.)

If you subscribe to American Patchwork and Quilting, they recently featured this very tool in their notion section of the magazine. I was so happy for Heather the owner of the company. It was a well-deserved honor to have it featured.

I’d love to hear what your favorite sewing notion is. It doesn’t matter if it’s dishwasher pod containers or something a little more conventional. Leave a comment so we can all read them and get ideas for notions we might be missing out on.

42 thoughts on “My Most Used Sewing Notion”

  1. It would have to be my seam ripper. It not only “rights the wrongs” but I also use it as a stiletto to hold tricky seams together as they go under the presser foot, snag the bobbin thread loop out from the bobbin or when you start to FMQ, etc.

    1. Ditto. I also use mine to “clip” threads as blocks are sewn on the machine and between blocks. I have a roll of heavier duty freezer paper. If I need to cut a 3″x5″ piece of notepaper I place the freezer paper on the mat and use the seam ripper to score a cut. It tears well on the mark made and I avoid dulling the rotary cutting blade.

  2. I have to say ‘pins’, specifically my white topped very thin pins. I’ve been a garment sewer most of my life and used pins to put in sleeves and collars. So when I started quilting, I used pins to match each seam. And now 18 years later, I still love my pins. I like them to be very thin as they go through the fabric wonderfully. My seam ripper is a close second.

  3. Stephani in N. TX

    I love the cheesy little pointed scissors you can get just about anywhere you buy fabric. If you have a dozen pairs, they are always sharp enough for quilting-stitching purposes. I keep one on my sewing machine bed and others around and about my quilt room. I’ve packed them up since a new grandchild comes frequently but I also like one on my ironing board, one on my wool mat, etc. I love having them and picking a favorite for a season, a particular project, etc.

  4. Jacqueline Spivey

    Acetone will take the “writing” off your buckets and leave you with nice white buckets you could could even spray paint! Red perhaps!

    1. I reuse containers all the time. I cover labels with scraps that i glue on. Spray glue works so does elmers, even double sided tape, whatever I have at the time.

      1. Thank you for this tip. I didn’t know it. I’m afraid we have a lot of ice cream containers that I would love to repurpose.

  5. One of my favorite tools is the Bohin mechanical extra fine chalk pencil. I have both the light and dark colors. Even in these days of rotary cutting, I still sometimes have a need to mark seamlines, or mark applique outlines with a light table.

  6. I have a wooden caddy that sits just to the right of my machine. It has a thread cone holder and guide, scrap bucket, pin cushion, and holes to hold 6 small tools (scissors, seam ripper, tweezers, etc. It’s all one piece so easy to grab and carry for sewing bees. Really makes me happy!

  7. It’s hard to pick just one favorite. I love my Stripology Ruler for cutting strips and the Easy Angle Ruler for cutting triangles. I have the turquoise-handled Karen Kay Buckley scissors, they are great! I even bought them for my daughter. My other fave notion is my wool pressing mat. I have a couple similar square containers that I got at Dollar Tree. Sadly, I can’t find those eclairs in my area.

  8. Great tools! I am not sure what my top three notions would be and I am assuming this goes beyond a rotary cutter, rulers, and sewing machine. I really like using a stiletto as I am piecing and I sure like having diagonal seam tape to help me make those HSTs. I also use containers on the order as you do, although mine are from meat (I often buy the 3 pound containers of ground turkey). I also have some larger ones given to me by a niece who is a nurse and the trays are from surgery kits (I guess that is what they might be called). All so handy.

  9. I do the same thing when I quilt, use everything I have on hand. Others give me fabric too, and I never need to buy any fabric. I like that, especially the cost of fabric now days. I love to recycle and be creative. Good job Jo.

  10. Marsha from Kansas

    The 1/4 inch presser foot was a game changer with my accuracy in piecing and I consider it a notion since I had to buy it extra, it was not included with my machine. I use Lock and Lock containers just like you use your containers and have nice lids. They are relatively inexpensive in sets on QVC. I like the colored sets so I know by color what is in them. Right now I have three different sizes organizing my Bonnie Hunter leader-ender project for this year. Two smaller containers have the background and printed squares and the next size up has the pressed twosies. The three notions I always have by my machine are my seam ripper, stiletto, and 5-inch Gingher scissors. It’s impossible to name just one, isn’t it?

  11. I use something like you do. But mine are blue tubs that mushrooms came in from Costco. I use them pretty much the same way you do – always have one by my machine holding my leader/enders and another to hold the completed leader enders. Also use them to hold blocks for quilts in progress.

  12. I am so glad you use what you have. Reusing those containers demonstrates that usefulness is #1 and “pretty” is a Jones thing. I too use what comes through and most of my (very few) containers are from my surgery job days plus the containers mushrooms come in these days.

    Happy Tuesday Jo!

  13. Well my most used sewing notion is my machine, but for me it’s paper and pen. I am always writing notes and making number/letter tabs for my fabric. I will almost rewrite a pattern so I can fully understand it.

  14. Those lovely plastic clips! I have been on blood thinners for years so the slightest scratch, even from a dressmaker’s pin, makes me bleed for ages. So much safer for me, haven’t had a scratch since. And now I have two more notions I love, thanks to you! I’ve recently bought a wool mat and travel iron and love them. Due to health issues I now can’t keep trotting up and down stairs to my ironing board downstairs and this works wonderfully for me. I deliberately didn’t keep an iron and ironing board upstairs as a way to keep me fit, moving and going up and down the stairs. Having seen your videos Jo I see how useful your arrangement is. I don’t have the space you have, Jo, but I have made it work for me. Making Piccadilly Circus at present.

  15. My husband will definitely take on for the team and eat as many of the little eclairs as I need containers for!!! He loves them. I have used the mushroom containers, but they are a little too flimsy for me (I’m a rough customer, I guess). Also, the mushroom containers I buy are not big enough-whereas the eclair containers would be just about right. Thanks for the tip. I think my most used notion is tie between Clover brown handle seam ripper and the stileto made with a turkey pin and beads. Hugs,

  16. I’m not sure if they are considered a notion, but I couldn’t do without my Slidelock Rulers. I have two sizes. They are wonderful for cutting straight pieces. I prefer yardage to most precuts. The longer Slidelock fits the folded width of yardage. The smaller one is great for fat quarters, and it is perfect for trimming blocks. My husband bought them for me when I was just starting out–even though they were rather expensive. It seemed to me to be quite a gamble; but I’m thankful he believed in me.

  17. I keep a pair of snips on my sewing table and use them often when I sew. They are much faster to use than taking the time to put my fingers in a pair of scissors.

  18. Cynthia from Nebraska

    Definitely the 1/4″ foot, followed by cutting mat, rotary cutter, and rulers. I remember tracing patterns…

  19. Shirley from Calmar

    My favorite’s are Bohin mechanical extra fine chalk pencil, or Sewline Pencil Trio White Black Pink, and small automobile dent pullers as suction cups for my rulers, and love using the eyebrow razor trimmer (disposable or electric) as a a seam ripper is awesome.

  20. Favorite notions? The bright orange Fiskars thread snips with the finger loop that came packaged with the first Fiskars scissors I splurged on. And my old thimble that sits on the bobbin rewind spindle for those times I need to take a stitch or two by hand.

  21. I have a lot of notions I use daily BUT my favorite item is a bar magnet on wheels, I believe they are for picking up nails, I just sweep thru the room and it picks up pins, needles, seam rippers, scissors etc (ok, I’m a longarm quilter, lots of stuff ends up on the floor) it picks up stuff I don’t even see

  22. I have several cardboard boxes/trays that grocery stores have multiple strawberry packs sitting in. I can stack them and they hold so much of a project and can leave blocks flat. My friend had them and gathered more for me. As to the labelled square containers you have maybe remove the labels or add contact papers or something like a big label over the original label and your grandkids could color and decorate them for you.

  23. I love my clips, and my seam ripper and stiletto that my husband made for me using his wood lathe. I also use small baskets and buckets from various sources to organize things. I also am enjoying my wool mat – it really helps with pressing.
    The little chalk liners/markers with the wheel are handy for marking straight lines for quilting – I have 3 colors.
    The little screwdriver that came with my machine is quickly becoming a favorite – lately I’ve had to change needles because I forget to adjust from zig-zag to straight stitch when changing to my 1/4 in. foot!!! Sheesh!!!

    1. I broke many needles the same way, forgetting to change the needle position after changing the foot.

  24. Janet Corcoran

    Any container that might be useful, I keep on top of a large double closet in my “workshop”, so named by my grandson. I have a cardboard box with a nice closing lid that I marked, 17″ x 17″, that I’ve yet to use. Nice size for blocks, I think. Many other sizes also. Shoe boxes for scraps. Baby wipe boxes for small pieces. Long skinny Amazon boxes for FQ’s. I have acid free paper to line anything cardboard. You name it, I’ve probably got it for a container. I also save the little moisture absorbent packets that come in purchases to put in with fabric.

  25. Patricia Kendel from SE PA

    You Fine Ladies have sew many wonderful things to say, I always greatly enjoy all your comments as much as Jo’s wonderful blog.❣
    My favorite notion (really, so much more than a notion) would have to be my husband – ❤ he does all my cutting for me!!! Hugs to you all!

  26. I still am not getting the first article you write every evening. It all comes out in gobblelgook, unreadable. I have tried just reading it in the browser, and all other ways I can think of, but it doesn’t come out right. The second article usually always does.
    Don’t know what is wrong.

  27. Rebecca Burch

    Easy… my 2.5″ X 6.5″ ruler. And my beloved Featherweight. And Rubbermaid storage containers in all sizes. And clear project “bags” from Amazon.

  28. I still can’t read Kitting Up. Every time I see a comment by you that it’s working, I try it again.

  29. My husband used to work at a hospital. They replaced those little rectangle tables that are on wheels and slide over the bed so you could eat off of them. I can slide it around when I need extra room, but most often it’s behind me with the wool pressing mat on it. Sometimes my serger is on it. I also like the long 2 1/4” and 2 1/2” rulers for cutting out binding. Thanks Jo and everyone for all of these great tips.

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