Our tools accumulate as our skills grow. Chances are there are several that you have outgrown, or ones that you have upgraded and ones that have been overused (but you keep them just in case).
And there is also a good chance that you have inherited the tools of at least one other sewer/crafter/quilter.
This week, we are digging into our tools. Today we’re starting with an easy one. Pins and needles…and clips. Why bother, you may be wondering. Sharps are so small, and they seemingly take up little space. Well, like all clutter, it takes up valuable space both in your head and in your sewing room. Most quilters are not overly sentimental about them, so it’s good practice for the days to come.
Different pins are for different jobs. So the first step is to identify which pins you are actually using. Eliminate the ones that you don’t.
Step two is to cull out the dull, bent and rusty. Remember to dispose of them safely. I keep an old pill container beside my sewing machine. Whenever I need to dispose of a sharp, it immediately goes in there. And when it’s full, I give it to our metal recycler.
I came from dressmaking and found I used pins totally differently in quilting. And as my skills have improved, it has also changed the way I use them. I have four different types that I currently use. Short Spanish lace pins for piecing, these bendy flower headpins for when I sew blocks together, safety pins for quilting sandwiches and these heavy-duty corsage pins for longarming. I also have a bag of clips for binding and EPP.
Last year I eliminated so many sets of straight pins that I had not touched for over 10 years. They were so dull that they were useless. I had also found a stash of safety pins in my drawer. The container was old, chipped and four times the size that it needed to be. Another bit of space was found.
And how about your pincushions? How many do you need? I have one with for each area of work…which is 7 but still, I have had to toss a couple.
Now the needles. We have the hand sewing needles and the machine needles.
If you do a lot of handwork, your stash is going to look different than crafters who only machine quilt. And you might need different sizes and shapes depending on the work that you do.
But no matter if they are for hand sewing or for your sewing machine, if you cannot identify their purpose or you don’t do that kind of sewing, they can go.
Last year I found all sorts of doll-making needles. They sent me down that rabbit hole of “what can I do with it” before I realized that they were very replaceable. I also tossed a bunch of sewing machine needles that had lost all their identifiers and I'm pretty sure were older than my children.
Remember to set your timer. Not only will it provide a pace, but it will also keep you on track.
This might be an easy day if you did this last year. Or It might be a tough one if you are dealing with years of accumulated sharps. Regardless, be sure to reward yourself with time for you at your sewing table.