equilters home   Search this site   Q-Nuggets Sign up  Quilting Forum

Favorite Unconventional Quilting Tools?
A Discussion from the Quilting Forum

Unconventional Quilting Tools
page 1 - this is page 2 - page 3

Sometimes a Quilting Forum discussion is so interesting that I feel it should be saved for more to read.

This is Part Two of this Thread


I use those nut and bolt plastic drawer organizers. You know the kind with the little 1.5"-3" clear drawers. I have two that I use... the smaller one (18 drawers or so) is for all my rotary cutting, machine & handsewing needs, needles, bobbins (empty and full), oil, brushes, thimbles, new rotary blades). The other is a bit bigger, about 35 drawers, for sorted buttons (color), pearl type beads for doll buttons, snaps, grommets, bindings, some thread and other small notions. I can always find what I am looking for quickly.

Orange sticks for turning small tubes. Great for making hair scrunchies.

You all have some great idea I never thought of. Thanks for sharing

Daisy Shirley In Denver, CO


I use chopsticks from Chinese takeout, instead of a stilleto. Also have a pair of suture removal scissors for "unsewing," they have a little hook on the end of one blade, so it's easy to slip them under a stitch. Love the pill bottle idea for discarding needles and pins; a mini "sharps container." Was that suggested by someone in the health field? I tape a small paper bag on the edge of my table to catch snips of thread and scraps too small to save. And, I have a small address book that I list all my quilt books, alphabetically. Wouldn't want to buy a duplicate! Also, when I loan out one of my 250 or so books, a use a little Post-it note, in the appropriate page in the addy book, to remind me of who has my book.

fun thread!!

katie ann


I have found that the traveling soap bar boxes are excellent for extra bobbins. The easiest way to remove stubborn buttons from a card is with a staple remover. I use the round brushes you find in the hardware department to clean the lint from my machine. Also, the tins from candy mints make great containers for pins.


Rotary cutter holders....You can make or purchase a potholder. The thicker the better. Sew down one side and across the bottom of one end. Insert your rotary cutter. This holds your rotary cutters perfectly and helps protect you if traveling.. also the little hook on the end of potholder is great for hanging cutters on the wall...keeps them in easy reach and also...protects you.


I have an Olfa rotary point cutter that works great for taking out seams. I used to use my rotary cutter and carefully touch it to the threads to cut them and then I found this little jewel. It is easy to hold, you adjust the point to the length you want and just touch it to the seam as you hold it open. It comes with spare blades that are stored in the handle. Then I just take a lint roller and roll along the opened seam line, picks up all the threads and I am on to better things.



Pizza boxes are great. I covered one in fabric and a cute button closure just so it'd look more like something you should keep.. just in case someone thought of throwing it out..and my pizza place gave the clean boxes to me free!


I use empty 35mm film containers

I use these things for all kinds of stuff!


I also use the pizza boxes...they were free from my pizza place and are plain white!! I was forgetting to pull my threads back when starting to sew so I stuck a piece of Velcro on my machine and stick my threads to it as I cut them and they're ready to go next time. I will definitely use the pill bottle idea! That was great.


I use a card/picture holder.. the one that has long arms that go up like a fan, to hold cards or pictures. It has 10 little holders on it. I use it for small things I cut out of papers or magazines about quilting. When my DBIL finishes my new sewing table, I'll take a picture of the table and this card/picture holder so you can see what I mean. It's the greatest!

And my DH made me a ruler holder out of some nice scrap wood. It's just like the ones you see in the catalogs. Only this one I could have him make to my size specifications. Now he's making a couple more for a couple friends. It has 5 rows to hold rulers. Nice stain, it's just great! Next he is going to figure out a pattern for a rotary cutter/scissor holder. Looking something Like an old pipe rack, probably he says.

I also use a small plastic tackle box for holding my machine feet. I label the top with names of each foot, with my Brother P Touch label maker.

And I have a wonderful old LARGE straw basket (about 2 feet tall) with handles, that was my mom's. She used to keep rolls of wrapping paper in it. After she passed away, I made sure it came home with me, I remember seeing it in her closet for years. Anyway, I finally figured out what to do with it! It is under my cutting table to catch all the "savable" scraps. When it gets full, I smush it down, and when I need a scrap, it's right there! Thankfully it is very big! I am sure someday it will get completely full, then I'll have to sort those scraps and put them in containers, but for now this works well.

Love all these ideas you have shared...KEEP IT UP! Give us more!!!


Oh, oh I forgot the best one.. I use a toy matchbox car holder to hold all of my feet, needles, etc..so when I go to class all I have to do is grab it up and I have everything I need. Cost $4.00 compared to the ones at stores for $20. and it holds more than I will ever need to put in it.


I use eye glass cases to keep my rotary cutters in. I have to wear my glasses all the time so have no reason for a holder except to put my rotary cutter in!



I just yesterday found something that I think might save my sanity --
my sewing room is a very small bedroom and I have tried all sorts of storage ideas for my fabrics -- Target's ad this week showed a set of 6 wire cubes that you can stack and connect in different combinations. I bought 2 sets -- put one set together last night - VERY easy and quick to put together and VIOLA! -- I had 6 roomy and sturdy cube that store a LOT of fabric -- the depth is perfect, about 14in., I think. I like the "airy" look to them in this tiny room -- they aren't overbearing. The beauty of it also is that you can knock each cube down into 5 flat squares. Not that I will ever come close to using up my stash, so I won't need to knock them down to use for something else! but hypothetically, I could move them to any other room of the house for other purposes.

The price was right -- $12.99 or so -- I went out and bought 2 more sets today as I think I can stack them 4 high, and add more columns of them - to fill the wall. I LOVE these basket/shelves.

If anyone else is interested - they are in this weeks Target ad - which you can find on line -- obvious disclaimer -- I don't work at Target, I don't work for the company that makes the shelving and I'm not married to Mr. Target -- just excited to FINALLY find something that works well for fabric storage - without paying huge prices for wooden custom mades --


My Pizza boxes aren't pretty, but my Pringles cans are! LOL I have found that the little plastic bag from the newspaper fits inside the pringle can and they are excellent for storing and gift giving. I love to use them for christmas crafted ornaments. If you put the bag inside and leavet the edges out over the top you can insert one ornament (bead Angel or such) then add a bit of tissue and layer another and just let it keep sliding down until the tube is filled. Then twist the bag shut or use a twist tie. Snap the lid on and and its safe and then when you want them they are easy to retrieve. Just pull on the bag rather than dumping or shaking the items out!

A decorated coffee can makes a wonderful travel sewing kit for yo-yos. The plastic lid is the perfect size for a templet and you can put some precut circles in the can along with small scissors, pencil, needle and thread, etc. The while you impatiently wait in the doctors office you can make up a bunch of yo-yos! You can store the finished ones in the coffee can too! (Doctors! Are they ever on time? And why is that little room where they stick you always sooo cold??? LOL


I use the used sewing machine needles as "nails" in my walls. I hang all sorts of things on them from silk flower wreaths to sewing notions, etc. Not an original idea; think I picked it up from a TV quilter back in the 1980s. My 1980s "needle nails" are still in use.

Think someone else mentioned something similar to this. For catching those cut-off threads and small scraps, I have a paper bag attached to the right end of my sewing machine cabinet. Those threads are great to throw outside for the birds to build nests in the spring. So is dryer lint after washing/drying all that fabric.


We use cut up balloons to pull the needle thru when hand quilting.

A fabulous on the go storage for Janome Gold machine & others of that size is a molded plastic toolbox found a Wal-Mart blackish-gray with yellow-gold trim. The top smaller toolbox which is perfect storage for accessories, etc. lifts off; the lower box is just made for the machine to fit in; it has wheels & a retractable pull handle. Seems it was in the 20ish dollar price range. Some other ladies at our guild have the same boxes so I decorated mine with sewing/quilting stickers.



In the office supply section of Wal-Mart I found a plastic goodie called a "Step Sorter" by Eldon. I use it for storing my rulers near the cutting table. Cheap, (about $2) works great for keeping all my different sizes easy to get to.

I use an small flat artist paint brush to clean out the lint acumulated at the end of a sewing session in my bobbin area and under my feed dogs. I then put a couple of drops of oil on a swab and run it around in there. My Brother is about 30 years old and it's still clickin' right along. Has a better straight stitch than my new one so I use it more.

I wrapped a piece of flannel around my machine arm on the top and stick pins in it as I remove them when sewing.



I use those metal needle threaders and when I change to a new one, I put a little piece of magnet on it (from those rolls of magnetic tape). It sticks to my machine where it's handy. I have a non computerized machine so it's okay.


I use the bag idea so that thread will not wind around my chair rollers, a nightmare.

I also glued a piece of cardboard to the bottom of a large paper cup, it won't fall down, that is portable and can used for the same thing andother needs you might need.

Dorothy C.


After trying all of the tricks and devices to help with machine quilting (garden gloves, rubber finger tips, that steering wheel thing, etc) I found the best one yet.

A little tube of Neutrogena Hand Cream. Apply a small amount to your hands and you can machine quilt without your hands slipping. No staining on the fabric and it makes your hands wonderfully soft. You don't need a lot--just make sure it's on your finger tips. You can guide your quilt to your hearts content.



I use an eye glass case that I bought at Old Navy that has a clip on it, and I can clip it to the outside of my rolling cart that holds all my "class stuff" It keeps it clean, sharp and safe!


And lets not forget this handy little notion..my grandma uses a fabric covered bar of soap for holding her needles. She Just crams them in, and they stay sharp and kind of waxed...I think she learned this one long ago!


I found that JoAnn's had two rolling "boxes" one for sewing machines at about $79 and one for crafters at about $30. The sewing machine one opens from the side (which I thought was odd). The crafters one opened at the top. They're about the same size. I bought the crafters' model for my Janome MC1000 - a large machine. It works ok although might not hold up over the long term. It's better than carrying it!



I use empty decorator tissue boxes to catch threads, mini-scraps and ears from the HST. I even bring an MT to my bee gatherings for the hostess. Saves clean-up and can be tossed when full.



I tie a lot of my quilts. And I have a collection of decorative tin containers in my sewing area. I use one of the smallish ones for tossing the tie ends in when I trim them off. Really handy for moving around the quilt with me as I trim.

Also I use 2 of those decorative tin containers with hinged lids to store my opened safety pins and my clips. I put the safety pins in the red one--warning to be careful; ezy for me to remember what is in which can without looking. And they look cute.

Another thing I use for storing small quilting/sewing notions is a Baby Wipes plastic box. Mine happens to be from Safeway--the lid is hinged. Really handy and big enough to store scissors, measuring tapes, & rotary cutters.

Another neat li'l box for a "travel sewing kit" is the Celestial Seasonings metal Tea boxes--they used to come with a box of tea; I don't know if they still do that. We have several of them. They are about the size of a Sucret cough drops metal box--these work well, too. It's just that the Tea boxes are more decorative.


My grandmother transferred embroidery patterns by rubbing a silver spoon on her scalp, then rubbing the desired transfer, with new fabric on top, and mom said it made a mark.. so do you think it's the oil in the hair, or the metal in the spoon, or both??


The best thing in my sewing room is......a steno chair. Especially for paper piecing, as you are working in a U shaped area, first you turn to cut, then turn to sew, then you turn to iron. The chair swivels, rises and lowers, the back is adjustable and the chair is on casters, I zip around my sewing room like a pro, from the sewing machine, to the computer. It is wonderful.

Ms. Holiday


Go to PAGE THREE of this Discussion - Click HERE


Susan Druding