28 Sewing Hacks That Will Change Your Life

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Sewing is a craft that requires great concentration and skill. Though thoroughly rewarding and enjoyable, certain aspects of sewing are also difficult to manage. From threading a needle to keeping track of your sewing supplies, the little challenges of sewing can add up to make for a draining and frustrating process. However, it doesn’t have to be. We here at Seams and Scissors have compiled 28 Sewing Hacks That Will Change Your Life that will make your sewing experience easy as pie. These amazingly clever tips will save you so much time and allow you to create fun and creative sewing projects without stress. Once you learn these amazing tips and tricks, you won’t believe you ever lived without them.

28 Sewing Hacks That Will Change Your Life

1.  When threading a needle, spray the tip of the thread with hairspray. It will stiffen and easily pass through the eye of the needle.

photo 3-2

2.   Keep a magnet handy to pick up spare pins and needles.

3.  Use steel wool as stuffing for pin cushions to keep your pins and needles sharp and shiny.

4.  If you don’t have a bodkin handy,  you can use a safety pin to add elastic or cording to a waistband or seam.

5.  Use binder clips instead of pins for fabrics such as leather that are easily damaged. They can also be used to hold binding together on a quilt.

Image Credit: The Sewing Loft
Image Credit: The Sewing Loft

6.  Washers, nuts and bolts, or even coins can be used as pattern weights in a pinch.

7.  To prevent fraying, cut your fabric out with pinking shears.

8.  Apply clear nail polish to the top of buttons to keep threads in place.

9.  Use a bar of soap as a pin cushion.

10. Fake a hem with bias tape.

How to Attach Bias Tape

11. Tie your scissors around your neck with ribbon to make sure you never misplace them while sewing.

12.  Use old blankets as batting for quilts.

13.  Use toe separators to store your bobbins.

Image Credit: Sew 4 Home

Image Credit: Sew 4 Home

14.  If you’re using a slippery fabric, put a layer of muslin under it and pin the layers together before cutting.

15.  Cut a straight line through burlap by pulling out one strand and cutting along the gap.

16.  Use a hair straightener to press fabric between buttons or embellishments.

17.  Add an easy sew allowance to any pattern by rubber banding two pencils together and tracing the pattern.

Image Credit: Sew McCool
Image Credit: Sew McCool

18.  Substitute soap for chalk when tracing lines on fabric.

19.  Store pins, needles, and thread in a matchbox for a mini, on the go sewing case.

20.  Have a spool that is too big for your sewing machine? Place it in a mug next to your machine directly under the spool pin.

21.   Pin a button hole so you don’t rip it open too far.

Image Credit: Simple Simon and Co

Image Credit: Simple Simon and Co

22.  Attach a tape measure to the edge of your sewing table so your measurements are always exact and you never misplace your ruler.

23.  Sew extra buttons on the inside of a coat sleeve so you never lose them and they’ll always be handy.

24.  Use freezer paper to cut out patterns by pressing the paper to the fabric, causing it to adhere. You will easily be able to cut the fabric without weights and without cutting out your pattern pieces.

25.  You don’t have to buy expensive fabric to print photos or designs. Instead, soak your plain cotton fabric in a mixture of Alum, washing soda, fabric softener, and hot water to get vibrant colors that won’t bleed.

Image Credit: Infarrantly Creative

Image Credit: Infarrantly Creative

26.  Use bobby pins to hold pleats in place while ironing.

27.  Use sponges to move fabric while machine quilting.

28.  Sharpen dull scissors by cutting tin foil or sandpaper.


Which sewing tricks make your life easier?



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  1. Donna Yarbrough says

    I also read that if you wet the eye of the needle instead of the thread, the thread will go right into the hole.

    • Luv2qlt says

      I’ve done this and it works pretty well. ALSO… if you’re having trouble getting the thread through one side of the eye, turn the needle around and try the other side. I’ve learned that one side of the eye is concave and one is convex…this often works too. 😀

      • Kim says

        I didn’t know that! I’ve been sewing for almost 50 years and that is the first time I’d heard that. Thanks for an interesting lesson!

        • Fran Wilcox says

          most american machines won’t work properly if the needle isn’t ” groove facing” you it can actually cause the needle to break and possibly damage to the machine

          • Linda says

            She means hand sewing needles. If I can’t get the needle threaded in 1 or 2 tries, I rotate the needle.

            The flat part of a sewing machine needle should go where the manufacturer specifies, often away from the sewist.

          • Kathryn Brakefield says

            @Fran Wilcox, YES! You are so right about sewing machine needles with the miniscule ditch or ferule facing toward the side that the thread is to enter. My old Singer it faces toward the throat, modern machines it faces front. I worked in a factory where we even used needle nose plyers to make certain it was correctly straight. The screw tightening can throw it off a bit. I learned to do this for my home sewing too. 🙂

        • Barbara says

          Me too! I often thread several at a time to avoid the delay and that way I’m less frustrated while I’m actually sewing.

          • Judy says

            Me too keep a needle threaded close & have several! Also buy a self threading machine. I have found tweezers work well for my serger.

          • VJ says

            My mother used to find plastic like from say a sheet used to protect paper and cut them thin and long and it went into the eye of the needle and she could pull the thread through easily. She had arthritis so it was a method that was easy to use.

        • jana giraud says

          Jean, I’m with u. My eye site for close up, tiny work is hell on my eyes. So I just use a needle threader.

        • Ruth Kasul says

          One new idea I heard recently was to thread MULTIPLE needles onto a spool for HAND sewing. When you need to use it, grasp one needle (the last one) and unwind enough attached thread for your use. Leave the rest of the needles attached to the spool and tape to secure. I love the idea that the needle is then pre-threaded!

        • Kathryn Brakefield says

          I now keep a piece of white candle in my sewing machine drawer, I pull my thread through the wax to make the thread straight and easier to get through the eye of a needle. I learned it from a man who sewed fantastic handmade buttonholes for re-enactment uniforms.

    • says

      I have used hair spray for stiffening the thread when sewing, but “Fray Check” is handier since it is in my sewing cabinet. But lately I have found the “wet the needle” technique quite satisfactory. Wet both your finger and thumb and run them on both sides for the needle.

  2. sonya says

    I found your suggestions interesting but had a problem with a few of them #4 who ever heard of a bodkin. #10 more info is needed to understand how the hem is faked with bias tape, #14 totally unclear!!, #24 Will the freeze paper not leave a film or residue on the fabric & howis it that the freezer paper help in not cutting out your pattern pieces very unclear, and last #25 who has alum or washing soda around the house and how in washing soda diffrent then regular baking soda also need so idea of the amount of these items. THX for the info.

    • chrissy says

      if you click on the photos she has links to show you how to do them, # 14 makes perfect sense muslin is a type of fabric find some at a fabric store and you’ll see why, #24 no the freezer paper wont leave a residue I’ve done this multiple times that way I don’t have to cut the pattern out of the tissue paper so I can reuse the different size pieces later if needed. all you do is trace out the pattern onto the freezer paper then cut it out of that instead of the tissue paper and you can either iron it onto the fabric or use safety pins, #25 a lot of people have that stuff laying around the house I do as I make my own laundry soap, you can pick these items up at your local Walmart. look up the differences online: washing soda is better in homemade soaps then baking soda

      • says

        Baking soda is for baking, you don’t want to use it in washing, kind of a waste. Washing soda is for washing, you DON’T want to use it in baking, that might make you ill. Look at the ingredients.

    • Shanna Bauman says

      Not being ugly, but you need to have Sewing 101 under your belt. After that, all of these will make perfect sense to you. These techniques are brilliant and so handy!

      • katy brezger says

        Yes learning how to do it properly helps, im self taught, but had sewing in school afterwards, nice to get the basics. Lved the tips a lot. Already knew a lot of them, butalways looking for more ways

      • Jean Hardner says

        Shanna, Thank you for sharing these sewing techniques in one place! (Pictures were not necessary to understand the info.) I have used several of them myself. I didn’t know the actual name of a “bodkin”, but have used “one” frequently. Happy thoughts and Happy sewing!

          • Lois says

            You know, that’s a good idea too. One of those large plastic needles would work, I think. I have one and I’m going to try it. Also, I read #24 backwards…I thought she meant iron the pattern paper to the freezer paper which is also a great idea if you plan on using the pattern more than two or three times.

      • Kay says

        I have found your comments very rude and poorly spoken. Perhaps you should return to manners #102. You haven’t learned much in 101. Sewing is a pleasure and even better when you can share your craft. I’m sorry that she responded to you that way! Most crafters are kind and willing to share or help others out. Please , were not all like her . you.Feel free to ask and someone that cares will be glad to help.

    • Sharon R. says

      a blunt, thick needle with a large eye used especially for drawing tape or cord through a hem.
      a small pointed instrument used to pierce cloth or leather.

      I have 3 or 4 bodkins. There are several styles, my favorite has a rounded, ball-like end to easily slip through casings.

      • crafty cate says

        I have seen one of these but had no idea what it was for! I have also heard the word “bodkin” but for some reason I thought it was an animal! I’ve always used a large safety pin. Thank you for this info! 🙂

      • Marian Young says

        I use a “hooker” needle which is a crochet needle with an eye at the end used in rug making. I like that it is long (6″) and heavy so it helps slide the elastic or what have you thru the casings. I simply thread it and tie a knot in the elastic and away I go!

    • Colleen Keays says

      A bodkin is a needle with a blunt end to sew together knitting or crocheting projects…also used to thread elastic. I bought some last month for a sewing project 🙂

    • Labby says

      I have several bodkins. The seem to work better than safety pins because they are longer. Love them. Check at the fabric stores…they usually have them.

    • Beth says

      I found alot of these hacks really interesting and I’ll be trying some of them but I, too, was totally confused by #24. There is no picture to click on AND it doesn’t mention anything about tracing the pattern onto the freezer paper. The one I really like was #17.

    • Barbara says

      A bodkins is an adjustable ‘pincher’. There is a little metal slikde on my bodking that I can move up and down. Put the elastice (or ribbon) in the bodkin teeth, push the slide as far is it will go up and then thread the bodking through the tube for spaghetti straps or waistbands and other tubed sewing projects. They are very inexpensive and worth TONS of time when sewing larger projects. I enjoy using mine.

    • Linda Brawner says

      A bodkin is used for stringing elastic through a casing. I haven’t used one in ages. I find it much easier to sew the casing around the elastic.

    • says

      #10 – bias tape hem – The photo used here doesn’t quite show the trick that I think the author was trying to share. There is a tailoring method for hemming a pair of pants that don’t have as much hem allowance as you would typically like for professional results. The bias tape is sewn to the pant, right sides together as demonstrated here, and works to basically add more fabric in this situation where you didn’t have enough fabric to start with. You’d want to use a bias that was close the pant color.

      #14 – cutting a slippery fabric – those sensual “silkies” are shifty and hard to cut. Using big, long, sharp shears helps, but what REALLY helps is to add a layer of fabric underneath: the muslin. Now you’re cutting through the pattern tissue, the silky and the muslin, which adds stability. Some people keep old sheets around and use them instead of buying muslin.

      Thanks for the idea with the toe separators! I wonder if this will work with the large bobbins that my industrial machines use? I’ll give it a try!

    • olivia says

      Haha. Sonya, I had the exact same thoughts on the exact same ones. 😀
      And thank you everyone for the clarification. I was especially perplexed trying to figure out how bias tape helps fake a hem.

    • Mary says

      Washing soda is baking soda that was baked to strengthen the chemical reaction you can actually make your own by putting baking soda in the oven. I use it to make my own laundery soap.

  3. Emily says

    When threading a needle, of course just use a needle threader! They cost under a dollar and can be found anywhere with a sewing section. If you own a sewing kit, you probably already have one. They are typically a flat handle (often silvery with a face on it) with a flexible loop of wire. Put the loop through your needle eye, then the thread through the loop, and pull it through. It’s ridiculously easy and makes the most frustrating part of hand sewing go away.

  4. Nena says

    Here’s what: NEVER cut into aluminum foil with your good shears. It will ruin the blades and the balance beyond repair.

    • Monica says

      100% agree! If you really need to sharpen them at home, just buy one of those scissor sharpeners to use until you can get them into a professional sharpener, they’re usually under $10. Way less damaging than tinfoil!

  5. Dina says

    My hint: I like to sew with the serger cones, so I just stick a drinking straw over the metal pin that holds “normal” spools of thread. With the straw in place, my cone fits & doesn’t fall off or wobble.

    Obviously, this works only with sewing machines that hold the spools vertically – it wouldn’t work if your thread loads horizontally.

    • Ruby says

      Your straw tip would have been useful for the past 8 years as I often used cones.. So simple I just got a sideways machine that can hold either but I am kicking myself here
      I do already use old slivers of soap instead of chalk to mark my material it’s easier to see dosen’t rub off and washes away

      The only tip I can think of that is not here is if you have to hem a fabric that dosent hold well with heat you can use a temp glue there are ones designed for sewing but print to works too just be careful not to get it on the part where you will see as it may gunk up your machine

    • katy brezger says

      Yes, i like thread cones too on one of my machines i took the spindle off and used a chop stck, on the other i inserted a smaller cone inside the larger one. When filling the bobbns i hold the tpp of the cone with a finger top to keep it from flying away

    • Sheesh says

      I thought cone thread was thinner than spool thread and was not supposed to be used in sewing machines. Are you using cone thread for regular garment sewing, and is it as secure?? Do you use it in the bobbin, also? Thanks in advance.

      • Mary says

        “Cone” refers to size of the spool, not to type of thread. I have 2-ply serger thread on cones, which I would never use for garment sewing on my sewing machine; but I also have 3-ply polyester thread on cones, which I use all the time for my regular sewing machine. I also have another type of thread, bobbin thread for machine embroidery, and it’s on cones. So cone is just the size of the spool, not the type of thread.

  6. says

    Thanks for the great tips! I’ve been sewing for over 45 years and I’m always impressed with the clever new ideas I get from younger generations! I’d like to add a couple of tried and true tips for you. I use painters tape a lot. It won’t hurt any fabrics, but works great for holding pleats, creating straight lines for decorative top stitching and marking points of reference on your fabric. It’s a great and inexpensive item to keep on hand. The other tip is dental floss. When gathering fabrics for a ruffle, just zig zag over a string of floss(being careful not to catch the floss in a stitch). Then you can just slide your fabric, gathering it as full or as thinly as you like. It works great! Thanks again!

    • Susan says

      Oh you angel you! Dental floss for gathers. I’ve had such a hard time with them. One of those ‘where have you been all my life??’ moments.
      Above though, using tin foil to sharpen scissors, I don’t think I’d risk it myself.

    • Stacy says

      Great ideas. I have been sewing for almost 40 years ( ;-/ ), since I was 8 yrs old. Now run my own seamstress business. All of these are useful hints.
      Here is my own….
      I keep a trash can at my left side to catch strings and other cutting..less sweeping.
      1/4 ” dowel rod cut to 8″ with center of one end drilled into, place on spool pin to secure the cones in machine.
      take apron with pockets and cut ties off. Place apron under machine with pocket hanging down to your lap, makes for easy storage for tape, pins, scissors while sewing.

      • Darlene says

        One of my recent hacks is to mark the little “slit” in each spool of thread with a sharpie. Helps these old eyes to find the spot to secure the end of thread when storing my spools. I also write navy or black on the ends of the spools of those colors to help me identify those colors easily.

    • Wanda B says

      Another good use for painters tape. I use it all the time to remover threads from my fabric after ripping out a seam.

    • Barbara says

      Dental Floss! What a great idea! I’ve been using #10 crochet cotton, but dental floss is so much better!

    • Vikki A says

      Be careful with dental floss, be sure it’s waxed & don’t colored or flavored, it might discolor your fabric. Learned this the hard way, and no way does it wash out.
      Lot’s of great tips.

    • Sophia Schultheis says

      Never thought of dental floss!,I’ve always used #10 crochet thread!…Tried the foil for sharpening scissors…..bought a nice new pair of scissors!….Love using freezer paper for temporarily holding fabric in place,also use it to protect my drawing/painting board from excess pigment stains. A year or so ago I found some green plastic/nylon needle threaders on Amazon, they are THE best I’ve ever used, I hate those little metal ones, they’re always breaking.
      My own tip….years ago when I bought my down filled quilts, it was next to impossible to find nice patterned duvet covers, so I would buy a set of sheets,with a fitted and a flat sheet, with matching pillow cases and then buy an additional. co-ordinating flat sheet and make a duvet cover out of the two flat sheets for my own unique duvet set!

  7. Tracey says

    Hello everybody! I wad just wondering if anyone could help with my sewing table dilemma. I have an old sewing table but my new portable sewing machine doesn’t seem to have the two holes on the bottom to attach to the mounting pins on the table. Its a Brother LS 2125. Any ideas on how to mount the new machine in the old table? Thanks a lot

    • Stephanie says

      I’m curious about this one also as I am in the same situation. My new Brother does not fit the holes therefore the table is never let down.

  8. ExtraordinaryGyrl says

    Some of these tips are pretty brilliant!
    I cringed at the thought of cutting aluminum foil or sandpaper with my expensive fabric shears, though. THAT’S NEVER going to happen!

  9. Lucy says

    Thank you. I have been sewing since I was four? Now
    I am 66.

    I can’t believe I never thought about putting a pin at the end of the button hole so you don’t cut too far.

  10. Karen says

    Wear new gardening gloves with the raised plastic dots on the palms and fingers to move the fabric when quilting a quilt.

  11. says

    Using a multi-sized pattern and want to keep the original for future use? Buy a roll or wallpaper lining paper (or similar) and place below the original pattern piece(s) Make pinholes along the cutting line for the size you want and then cut the new pattern from the lining paper by following the dots!

  12. Kez says

    Another use for dental floss – it’s great for sewing on buttons so they’ll never come off – especially good for active kids or kids who take their clothes off without unbuttoning! Of course, it’s no good for darker buttons unless you want a bit of contrast, but it’s been a lifesaver for me with my son, the button popper-offer!

    • Tonia Larson says

      Would it work to color the floss with a marker before sewing the button on? Assuming,I guess, that it’s not waxed floss. You could color match to the button, or to the fabric, if it is an option.I’ve never thought of using dental floss, so I haven’t tried it..

  13. says

    I like #5 use binder clips for leather or to hold quilt binding on (no finger pricks this way). I used spring clothespins for vinyl when I made giant carry all bags for all the family members to carry home their gifts. Linda

  14. Virginia Severns says

    Like all the tips.
    One I learned a few years ago and have used.
    When you need to see something round, I needed to sew round potholders, measure the radius (half the size) of the circle from your needle and using tape, tape a thumb tack upside down on your machine or table, put the fabric center on the tack and a cork or eraser over the tack to hold. The fabric under the needle will be seen in a circle. Only need to gently hold the fabric to feed smooth and may need to hold the cover on the tack so the fabric don’t pop off, especially if fabric or potholder is thick. I’ve used this to make circle potholders or sewing other circle items even stitching a circle to cut out for any reason, makes a perfect circle every time.

  15. sylvia11770 says

    Thanks for so many brilliant ideas, especially the one for sewing circles!!! I too, would not use sandpaper or aluminum foil to sharpen my scissors. I used fined sandpaper to sharpen a rotary blade and totally ruined it. However cutting into aluminum paper has saved lots of rotary blades.

  16. Laura says

    I love these helpful tips! So many clever people in the world!
    One tip that I’ve used for years is this and it’s useful in 2 ways:
    If you end up wasting a good portion of your sos pads (or equivalent) due to rusting between uses,
    just cut them in half with your “everyday scissors” and use one half at a time.
    This will reduce waste and keep your scissors sharp.
    Around my house, if people can find a sharp pair of scissors they leave my sewing stuff alone.

  17. Michele Cariveau says

    Thank you for the great ideas! I never thought of using the freezer paper for cutting out patterns..but am going to in the future! I also agree with the other ladies, I don’t think it’s a good idea to try to use tinfoil to sharpen scissors. I love my Gingers and don’t want to chance damaging them.

  18. Doreen roos says

    Some great ideas and I knew most of them as my mother was a designer and millner. She always sharpened her siccisers wit foil. I just recentl sharpened my quilt blade with foil. I did purchase a knife sharpener until I can take them to the knif man.

  19. Monica T says

    I like #13 (toe separators for holding bobbins).

    PLEASE PLEASE do not try to sharpen scissors with foil or sandpaper!!! I ruined a good pair that way!

    • katy brezger says

      I took a piece of wood with holes drilled into it knitting needles glued in a second piece of wood below the needle heads to hold them up i put bobbins and cones.on the pointy part of the knitting needles and chop sticks in other holes for more bobbins, an extra hole for the scissors so everything is always handy. The holder takes up so little room on my machine table which is a sofa back table that now has casters, two small drawers for smaller spools of threads. It is a narrow table perfect for my sewong room, glassed top and painted to match my room.

  20. Betty says

    Great tips. Thanks. My tip: get a tomato pincushion, write the needle number in each section, put your needles in their places. When using a needle, place a PIN with a colored end (always use the same one) in its place. I a
    lways know the size of the needle in my machine. Also included BP (ball point) and size. Hope this makes sense.

  21. Brenda Anderson says

    Love #13!! I want to try gluing the straight edge of the toe separators into a shallow container. I will try using my heavy-duty glue gun sticks to see if this will work. This way, I’ll be able to see the bobbin color easily and all of my bobbins will be stored in the same place. Can hardly wait to try it. Any ideas on where I can get inexpensive toe separators??? Thanks!

      • Torry says

        Not only does the Dollar tree in our area have them, but they have two of them in a set that also has nail clippers and a nail brush, too. And they come in several colors. So I bought a blue set for blue threads and green…well, you get the idea. I’ve bought them for many of my sewing friends! Inexpensive “just thinking of you” gifts.

    • Pdudley says

      You can also go to the office supply store and purchase the spirals for binding papers. They come in a variety of colors and can be cut to fit any storage box. They snap perfectly around a bobbin to hold the thread in place.

    • Marian Young says

      I use this trick. I notice that the foam bends as you add bobbins so I don’t think gluing them flat will be wise. I also note that the similar one sold by crochet dude that is green, a stand with several clips, is round probably because of ease of use. Any how you could punch a hole in one end of the base and put it on a binder ring. I just lay mine flat in my sewing drawer.

  22. Juanita says

    i use button thread instead of dental floss because it is smoother and you can purchase in colors. Just zig zag over and gather

  23. says

    Many, many years ago, my Mom always told me that if I was having trouble following pattern directions to read them out loud to myself. Don’t know why, but it seems to help…..

    • Mimi says

      Dottie, I know why reading the pattern out loud helps. I took a Developmental Psychology class years ago and the instuctor and she said that we often talk out loud to ourselves when we are processing something difficult. I’ve noticed myself and many others doing that. Your Mom was wise!!

    • Christy J says

      I used to teach study tips to high school students. Silent reading goes from your eyes to your brain. Reading aloud goes from your eyes to your brain to your mouth to your ears and back to your brain. Involving more parts of your body and extra pathways does seem to help.

  24. Trish Gillette` says

    HI can you expand on 25 with more directions. Not quite sure how your putting the actual picture on the fabric after treating it?

  25. says

    For a sewing travel kit you can also use an eye glass case. This way you can put scissors and anything else you might need for your trip ie. buttons, elastic and a whole bobbin of good thread.

  26. Voni says

    Toe separators only work with full bobbins. Another – you can use tissue paper under slick fabric also. You only need it along the seam line. It will tear right off when you are finished. The feed dogs grab the tissue very well and the fabric won’t slip and slide allover.

    • Torry says

      I have successfully use mine with half full bobbins. Perhaps it depends on the bobbins? I use 66 bobbins for a 1960’s Singer. The bobbins are always available at Joann’s. (I bought my machine used and wanted to be sure that I could buy more locally when I needed them.)

  27. Melody Lems says

    The trick I like the most is to fill bobbins with thread from a cone, and use them on my serger in the needles. This way I only buy 2 cones of thread, and use those for the over stich threads. This saves me money. I will also use a color of thread that is in the same family, but not a perfect match on the over stich threads. They do not shiw. If I have to have a perfect match, I buy a spool of thread, fill two bobbins with that color, and use a neutral color for the outer needle and over stich threads in my serger. I use to bobbins on my sewing machine, and no one knows. The other tip is I use my camera on my phone and snap a picture of the end of the bolt so I have the washing instructions for the fabric that I buy. I make sure that a piece of the fabric is in the picture so I can identify it. I then take a piece of ribbon, put the makeup of the fabric, and washing guide on it, and using stich Witcher iron it to an inside seam. Just like store bought!

  28. Anne Coles says

    I always broke needles when sewing the bottom of jeans at the seams. A man told me to put the scissors, closed, under the foot at the rear, making it the same thickness. No more broken needles.
    Thanks for all the new tips!

    • Mary says

      There are actually gizmos on the market for sewing over the “hump” of thick seams at the bottom of jeans. But when I was about 10 and learning to sew, I invented my own method. I grabbed an empty matchbook cover and folded it several times to put under the foot, First to keep the back of the foot level with the front when approaching the seam, and then switched to the front of the foot as I was coming down the hill on the other side of the seam.

    • Kathe Mayer says

      A piece of plastic the same height as the seam also works and won’t damage your needle if it goes under the needle as you are sewing (usually it just falls back as you sew.

    • Sheri says

      Wow, I’ve been sewing for over 50 years and my mother was a professional dressmaker for 60 years – but I’ve never heard of putting a pair of scissors or something under the back of the foot! So I’ll try that next time I shorten a pair of jeans for my ex!

      I’ve always just done as my mother taught me: pressed up the hem then put the jeans on a firm surface (usually the floor!) and bashed the folded hem at each side seam. It’s amazing how much thinner the layers of denim get when bashed with a heavy hammer 🙂

  29. says

    I absolutely love this list! I’ve used a few of the tips before, like the pin at the end of the buttonhole (got that one from a sewing machine store). I wanted to let you know that I’ve linked to this page on my blog, where I have a list of sewing resources. Let me know if you would prefer I remove this page…or if you have any other sewing resources you could recommend! Thanks again for these amazing tips!


    • joanne says

      i also use bees wax. i bought mine years ago and i still have it. it comes in a round form so it is easy to run the end of thread thru it. it is the best i have found for that chore. the needle threader on my machine has never worked that well ! thanks for the tips. i also am always looking for ways to be organized in my sewing room. i am a person that lays things everywhere and then stop in the middle of sewing to find whatever it is i need. very frustrating!

        • Leanne says

          Yes I was taught to use beeswax by a Dutch hand quilter 30 years ago and never have a problem threading the tiniest needle. And I still can’t use the needle threader on my machine. Love these hints, my Mum uses a few already.

  30. Marlene says

    #1: cut thread @ an angle like an arrow & the thread is easier to thread any needle.
    #28: the small scissor sharpener by Fiskar (under $10) works great for sharpening scissors.
    an additional tip: writing on a T-shirt/cap & then iron over wax paper. to set a coloured garment soak in 1 cup vinegar in 4 Liters of water for 1 hour.

  31. Pam Wemhanee says

    When sewing a narrow strap that will need turning, stitch a narrow piece of ribbon or bias tape at the very end of the strap on the right side of the fabric, usually with a 1/4 inch seam allowance, perpendicular to the seam to be sewn. Make sure your ribbon is longer than the strap. Sew your strap with the ribbon inside. When done, pull the ribbon thru, turning is a breeze and removal of the ribbon is a snap.

  32. Marina van Rijswijk says

    I live in South Africa and to my knowledge, freezer paper is not available here. Could someone please describe it to me? We have lunch wrap, which is an ordinary white waxed paper, but that wouldn’t stick to fabric, I don’t think. I’ve been intrigued by this product for a long time.

    • Tina says

      Freezer paper or “grease proof paper” in the UK, is paper with a waxy finish on one side. It is generally used to wrap and protect food that will be frozen. Hope this helps.

    • says

      Freezer paper is used to wrap fresh meat. It is like butcher paper on one side with the other side having a heavily( waxed) or shiny surface. It will stick to fabric when ironed on and will come off leaving no residue. It can be used multiple times before it loses the ability to stick.. I use freezer paper in paper piecing. It is a great product for both the kitchen and sewing room.

    • Trudi says

      Here in Australia I can buy freezer paper at some quilt shops, but it is expensive and I use it only for applique. For tracing patterns I use baking paper (a thin type of parchment paper) or tissue paper. I have tried to use the waxed sandwich paper in the past, but didn’t like it.

      • Nicole says

        I too am in Aus and have found in the last 6 months or so Safeway/Woolies have started stocking it. It is with the tinfoil and baking paper. There is usually only a small amount of it so it doesn’t get much shelf space, but it is a home brand one in a plastic bag cover

    • Barbara says

      Try checking with your local butcher shop, you may be able to purchase the amount you need from them.

  33. says

    This is a very good tips and tricks for me as a crafter and tailor. I already try most of these tips and tricks and I might use the others, like #5 is great for sewing my craft projects, #17 also a good tip for sewing allowance, it’s easy and fast it really great for me. Thanks again for sharing these tips and tricks.

  34. sharon severs says

    Instead of cutting my tissue paper patterns, I buy a dollar store plastic table cloth and trace the pattern size onto the plastic tablecloth. Lays flat for storage, doesn’t tear, mark as much as you want with a marker. Ink pens don’t work, but markers do. I have been doing this for all my patterns.

  35. Charlotte says

    My tip is to keep a scrap of fabric next to your machine and drop the bits of thread on it. Threads seem to be attracted by fabric (they’re usually all over my clothes!) and seem to stick to the scrap of fabric rather than slide off the table and onto the floor.
    My only other tip (if it is one?) Is to sew a bit of ribbon or trim etc as a ‘label’ at the back of children’s clothes so they know front to back.
    I don’t use big serger’s spools of thread as I prefer good quality thread that doesn’t break easily but I did read that one of these blank cds cases is good to hold them in place when using with a sewing machine.
    Also, I made sure I bought some freezer paper in a canadian supermarket (and some Mod Podge) as it is imported here in the UK and is usually only available in craft shops and is expensive. I haven’t dared open it yet though!

    • Connie says

      If you look online there are DIY recipes for Modge Podge. They say it is just as good as store brand.

  36. says

    great tips ! and more in the comments – I love learning new hacks – thank you all – except please don’t tie scissors on a string round your neck – if you jumped up to answer the phone or put the kettle on and tripped over the cat ….. >.<

  37. says

    When I read the tip with toe separators I cracked up! So funny, but it works. Maybe you could post a list of common sewing tools and their uses so the lady that’s never heard of a “bodkin” will understand.

    • joanne says

      yes, because a bodkin is pretty well known for what it is/ maybe she is a newbie and further explanation would help out novices just starting out.

  38. Carmen says

    I had totally forgotten about the steel wool for pin cushions, which is pretty bad, since I had bought some a year or so ago, and just remembered it, after reading these tips. Thanks, because I’m going to be making the cushions.

    • Mary says

      A long time ago, straight pins made of steel would rust, Emery sand pincushions were just fine for these old pins. Modern (good quality) pins are coated with nickel so they don’t rust. Sticking your good pins into steel wool or emery sand will damage the nickel coating, and you cannot actually sharpen a steel pin this way. Old myths seem to hang around forever.

      • Sheri says

        Mary is probably right when she says that steel wool or emery sand will not actually sharpen modern steel pins :-/ But I doubt either of them would blunt pins either 🙂 And it could be a lot easier to stick pins into a steel wool filled cushion than into a fibre filled one? And most sponge pin cushions don’t hold the pins securely enough and also end up crumbling! Personally, I now use a magnetic pin tray and I love it because it’s also useful for picking up loose pins 😉

  39. Kim says

    i want to Thank everyone for such Great tips!!!! Love the ones in the comments too. Well, I am trying to teach myself to sew and all of these tips will come in handy. Still really nervous, but hopefully my first project will be a success!!
    Thanks again and PLEASE keep sharing for all of us “Newbies” out here!!! God Bless,
    Kim G.

    • sheila says

      Hi Kim, I have been sewing for 40 yrs. If u need help or have a
      question, I may be able to help.
      Just like to help when I can.

      God bless

  40. Carolyn says

    I do a lot of cross-stitching and sewing and I keep a little jar with me at all times. When it’s full I set it out on the railing of the deck for the birds to build their nests. They seem to love it and pretty soon it’s empty.

    • Dawn says

      I’ve read that thread should actually not be placed out for the birds. People tell stories of baby birds having their little legs caught in the threads. Fabric scraps also should not be placed out for the birds. They don’t dry well after a rain and can cause health problems for the birds.

  41. Margaret says

    great tips…thank you
    I keep my bobbins in ice cube trays. lay them on the side full and ready to go.

    • Cindy R says

      I like the idea of using peg board and placing thread and bobbin on the peg board with golf ball pegs and put them together on the peg board. Great way of keeping thread and bobbin together.

  42. says

    Love the toe-separator bobbin holder idea. Those lil suckers are constantly breaking loose from the container I keep them in. This should keep them orderly. Thanks! Great ideas.

  43. Nalini Murthy says

    Loved your tips.been sewing for past 55 years and a lot lf the tips are familiar. Some of mine which help are.. For keeping bobbins untangled, I simply cut 1/4″ strips of old garden flexible tubes and cut out one side. This fits a full or part filled bobbin and gives a little space to see the colour. To keep spools of thread untangled, I just slip a small rubber band criss crossing it over the spools. When using embroidery yarn, to keep the shade number code I snip off a couple of inches of the skein and loop it through the original paper tags which hold the skein, and make a simple knot. Helps when you need to get additional thread of same shade and number. Cut off the head of an old toothbrush, soften the edges slightly over a candle flame and quickly roll the edge a bit to make a pointed blunt edge. You can thread a tape through the ‘eye’ at the end of the toothbrush and use it to easily pull tapes through pajamas or anything needing .
    In India, a lot of garments need tapes. To avoid their slipping off during wash or otherwise, stitch a small stitch through the tape and garment at the centre back to hold it in place.
    Tks for your awesome tips.

  44. Barb Draper says

    I have many pairs of scissors in m sewing room, so I purchased two pairs of everyday ones with blue handles and hung them in my room. My entire family knows that the only ones they can touch or use are the blue ones. Even the grandkids know, Nanny said only use the blue ones. I never worry that my good shears have cut paper.

  45. GAYEDEE says

    I don’t understand #20. Is there something that makes them smaller or what? I’d like to add that if you have small pieces of narrow ribbon or embroidery thread that is getting tangled up in your bag or drawer, you can use your too big bobbins to wind them onto using the bobbin winder.

    • Cindy R says

      She is talking about surger thread spools or large spools of thread. That are to large to fit on your thread post on your sewing machine.

  46. says

    Cutting sandpaper with your fabric scissors is an excellent way to burr them. Cutting it with burred scissors is an excellent way to ruin your fabric.

  47. Kathy H. says

    To prevent cutting into the edge of a buttonhole, just insert the larger tip in at one end and then come up and out before the opposite end, thereby contolling cutting without coming near the stitching.

  48. Leslie says

    I use the small scrunchies (like the ones for the ends of your braids) to keep my bobbins from unraveling.

  49. Robin says

    Whenever I finish using a pattern, I fold and iron each pattern piece so the pattern number, piece number, and size are all showing and in numerical order. Then, when I reuse the pattern, I can quickly find the pieces I need for the pattern view I’m sewing without unfolding all the tissue paper to locate each piece. If there’s a particular view I like, I put that view’s pieces in a sandwich baggie inside the pattern envelope.

  50. K Bain says

    I have a pair of Pinking Sears that need sharpen. Could I cut foil with them to sharpen them or would that ruin them.

  51. Dixie Estes says

    Thanks for the awesome tips. I have never considered myself a seamstress but have sewn most of my younger years and again after I had to retire. Several tips reminded me of things I use to be aware of but had forgotten. I found a number of new ideas that I had not thought of. I have not used the freezer paper but think I am going to have to start. Thank you and God bless each of you.

  52. Gloria Lindstrom says

    if you sew Color Catcher into your quilt, you don’t have to worry about colours running. I just put one under the fabric when I “sign” my name with machine printing.

    • Gloria Boutin says

      Love this tip! I am new and had heard of using color catchers when washing a quilt, but this idea takes that to a higher level!!!

  53. Deborah says

    A good way to tread a needle is to cut it at a slant. That makes it thinner and pointed. It will usually tread easily then.

  54. Delores Bruyette says

    Great tips. The tin foil and scissors scared the life out of me. I guard my Fiskers with my life. The one I m going to try is the plastic tube for the bobbins. Cant stand the loose threads all over the place. Thanks guys. Its my first time here but I’ll be back.

  55. ~Julia/bleu says

    Hello Newbies and Novices! …Wonderful Tips and tricks to the trade! Here are some of mine (been sewing since i could run a thread thru a needle):

    I hate hunting thru my bobbins to match colours to their corresponding spools, so i run a plastic coated wire bread tie thru the spool and the bobbin, folding edges over on both ends and putting both on my beg board making my dowels long enough to hold them. Link is for making your own peg board thread holder:

    When purchasing multiple sizes in one pattern, rather than cut just out one size, trim to the largest size and then neatly snip in towards the size you need (like clipping curves in your fabric) and fold them underneath the pattern, press the edges so as to not catch the folded tissue paper when cutting out the fabric. This way you retain ALL the sizes for further use. My aunt who was a wedding dress maker shared this tip with me decades ago! This is especially handy with children’s patterns.

    Keeping an aerosol can of air with the elongated straw in your sewing arsenal for quick blasts under the pressure foot and bobbin carriage to keep it lint free.

    Placing a piece of packing tape lengthwise at the front of your machine on the deck, measuring out from your needle and marking it accordingly for seam allowances: 1/4, 5/8’s etc.from the plate onto the tape aids in helping a beginner sewer to get the seam lined up prior to sewing it which ads in becoming more relaxed at sewing rather than getting up tensed up so as not to rush trying to keep it “lined up”

    Keeping a magnet close by ( i have one the size of a quarter) on the deck of your machine for loose pins, needles, etc when needing to pull pins whilst you’re sewing. They are also handy for the “occasional” dumping of the pins onto the floor!

    I like taping an open ended plastic shopping bag onto my sewing table for fabric scraps and trimmed threads, etc. My table is also made of plastic so there isn’t worry of residue from the tape and it is a smooth slide when putting the ends and bits of fabric, thread, scrapes into it.

    If you have any vintage sewing tools be it pins, needles etc, toss one of those silica bags that are often found in new purses or shoes, to absorb moisture in humid climates to keep rust at bay in your container, sewing box or whatever.

    One last comment, I sure do wish those lil $10 scissor sharpeners came for left handed scissors as well! My children never used my good scissors (thank the Lord) because the moment they put their fingers into them, it was too awkward for them being right handed! We always had plenty of other scissors handy for all sorts of craft and sewing projects, so they knew better!

    Enjoyed reading ALL the comments besides the tips! There is some great information here along with the 28 tips!


  56. Cindy R says

    When threading a sewing needle to apply buttons on shirt. Double thread the needle. You will only need to pass through the button once or twice.

  57. Trish Brown says

    I prefer using bananas for pattern weights. They’re especially good for cutting accurately around the armscye in bodices. 🙂

  58. Ruth says

    Great tips. I have sewn for close to 60 years and have forgotten many of the tips. Many are new. Loved the ones on using filled bobbins as thread on sergers, and the ones that keep bobbin threads from unraveling. Thanks.

  59. Laura says

    Ha. Bodkin, I got what that meant through context but I had to look in the comments to actually know what it was. Must be an American thing, in Canada it’s called a tapestry needle or sometimes yarn needle, which honestly is probably a much better name because you can picture what it is just from hearing the name. I didn’t know before this article that some people have difficulty threading needles! I remember I used to find it frustrating, but not since I was about 3 or 4 and I have awful vision and can’t wear my glasses making things because they end up falling off every time I look down 😉

  60. Ruth says

    Fold the end of your thread over your needle tight and hold between your fingers pulling slightly until you can just see the thread between you fingers. Pull out the needle, then lay the needed hole over the thread and wiggle slightly until the thread pops up through the needle. Grab it and pull it through. I’m 60 and can’t see as well as I used to and this works every time.

  61. Darlene in WA says

    Here’s one from my mother…..to better see and thread the sewing machine needle, place a white piece of paper, matchbook cover or (I use) my white plastic point-pusher (whatever it’s called) on the back side of the needle. You can see the needle whole much better to thread!

  62. Barb says

    I would be interested in the “recipe” for #24 with instructions for printing on cotton. I have experimented with printing on silk satin. I scanned and printed my parents Wedding Photo and made it into a pillow….Turned out well but I have always worried about the color fastness of the ink.

  63. Granny says

    I used to use a safety pin in place of a bodkin, but nowadays manufacturers have cut the quality of safety pins, thus they are too weak and pop open in the middle of it.

  64. Doreen says

    Nice tips from everyone I learned a lot. My tip or suggestion is about button holes instead of putting the pin at one end of the buttonhole place it across the middle of the buttonhole and use the seam ripper going from the end of the buttonhole towards the pin which will stop you from going too far then repeat from the opposite end. you will never cut through the buttonhole this way. I cut trough a few in my time before I learned this method.

  65. says

    Cutting fabric gives me ‘cotton lung’ so I use lint rollers to pick up lint on cutting tables and garments. A room air purifier helps reduce airborne particles that form dust.
    To keep rotary blades cutting longer, they get a frequent blast of compressed air to clean them out. But it’s not used to clear the machine bobbin or pressed foot area because it could drive more lint further into the machine. Instead, I attach small vacuum nozzles to the regular vacuum.

  66. Jacque says

    I have used many of these hints through the years & would like to add another one! I was hand quilting & had trouble keeping the extra large quilt rolled up when my husband recommended the large scissor type clamps to hold it in place as I quilted a portion. Easy to move along as I quilted on my PVC type quilting frame. Painters tape is great to make straight line to hand quilt or machine quilt by. Also rolls of adding machine paper tape pinned to quilt make great markers/spacers for quilting. The “L” square is a great hint I’ve used. Thanks for all the hints!!

  67. Nicole says

    I keep old sheets that have threadbare patches to cut my patterns out of. You can draw on them until your heart is content and they hold up to a decent amount of pinning to your good fabric before they need replacing. It’s a great way of keeping a copy of your altered to fit patterns for re use

  68. Carol says

    I think that the tip about putting a magnet on the deck of your machine, to catch pins, is fine, as long as you don’t use a computerized, or embroidery machine!

  69. says

    For everyone saying washing soda is too expensive you can make it from cooking baking soda at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes in a casserole dish. Great ideas love the tips especially the steel wool in pin cushion.

  70. joette says

    anyone want to tell me how to use a button holer? where do i use the measurments on it… I don’t know where to stop and start for the end back and forths…. so i can have right size hole first try. joettev hotmail

  71. Janet says

    Hi there everyone I am only asking but have any of you ever heard of self threading hand sewing needles I also have trouble threading a hand sewing needle. Also have needle threaders at hand as well.
    And I think you can also buy self threading needles for sewing machines.But of course there are brand new sewing machines that when you switch them on they almost make the tea or coffee lol lol well I did say almost lol lol.
    Happy sewing everyone…..

    Jan Uk

    • Hanora Crowley says

      Both self threading hand needles and machine needles are available in the UK. I have used Hobkirks and The Cotton Patch for the machine needles(both on web) and have seen the hand sewing ones at local haberdashery depts.(although not recently).

  72. Sheila says

    The two pencil idea is a great one. BTW when threading a needle a simple process is to bring the needle to the cotton, not the cotton to the needle – it sounds very simple but you’ll find the needle threads easier about 9 times out of 10!

  73. D. Newman says

    A bodkin is a common notion available at any hancocks or Joanne’s. It has clamping teeth to grip elastic and pull it through a casing easily. Works w ribbons too.

  74. says

    About #14: You might want to layer slippery fabrics between newsprint or tissue instead. It is free or cheap. I worked as a sample maker for years and did all our cutting between layers of paper to avoid fabric shifting.

  75. Yolande Bergeron says

    I enjoy knowing all hacks big or small.
    Thank you to share it with us.
    Bonne journée

  76. says

    Please be careful about magnets and magnetized pin holders around newer, computerized machines. I did not realize computers do not like magnets and I destroyed my 6 month old machine. Apparently, the magnet destroys the computer memory. Now, I have my pin holder on my cutting table and a baby food jar to catch pins at the machine

  77. David Geller says

    off subject, could use some help as a man with no rear end. No matter what kind of pants I buy they are always falling down. I remember a long time ago i had a pair of pants that an inner strip was sewn into the inside of the belt line and it was like rubber. This kept the pants from sliding down.

    Where could I buy this please? Many Thanks



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