Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tools of My Trade

I've been meaning to make this post for a while now but for one reason or another haven't. It's mostly because usually at the end of a project my desk looks like this:
 The level of chaos here is quite...remarkable. I have patterns sticking out left and right, a mug, sewing machine stuff (bobbins & needles) sitting on top, rubbing alcohol (even though I'm not working with clay), and it's just quite..chaotic to say the least. So after looking at that for a while, I really needed to clean it for my sanity's sake. After a cleaning makeover it looks like this.
Cinderella Pop Up Paper Cut Out was a homemade VDay gift 
I am quite limited in elbow room once my sewing machine gets added to the desk. When I'm hand sewing though, I like to take it to my bed. One thing I pride myself of is being able to pack all my sewing supplies for a single project into a 1 quart zip lock bag, so I thought it was a time to show you what I use and give a brief description of how I use them.

1. Sewing Scissors, 2. Regular Scissors, 3. Embroidery Scissors, 4. Hemostat

  1. A girl's best friend has to be these sewing scissors. I absolutely love them. When I originally started sewing I never used sewing scissors because they weren't worth the investment for me since I had a 3 dollar pair laying around, but the more fabric I worked with, the more stress my hands felt, and I simply needed them. I ONLY use these on fabric, ribbon, and thread and nothing else.
  2. I use my regular scissors for pattern making, cutting cardboard, cutting plastic nubs off plastic eyes, and lots of other miscellaneous things. 
  3. Curved embroidery scissors are useful for trimming threads in small tight spots as well as trimming the fly aways off my needle felting. The curve keeps the scissor from cutting more than it should. I pair all three of these scissors with a scissor sharpener which for 2-3 dollars saves you the cost of having to replace your scissors.
  4. Last but not least is my smallest hemostat. I have these in 3 sizes and with different tips but I personally prefer the curved tips. They act as a combination of tweezers with the leverage of a scissor. Mine generally have teeth on them for added grip and they are great for turning small pieces of fabric and stuffing. Choose the size that best reflects your projects otherwise you'll end up with a hand cramp.
    5. Felting Needles 6. Darner Needles 7. Pastel Brush 8. Paint Brush 9. Permanent
    Pastels 10. Doll Needles 11. Pin Cushion & Pins
  5.  Next up are my assortment of things I need to make the face of a doll. First off I start off with felting needles, and I have these in a variety of sizes for shaping and doing the detail work of my doll's faces. They have little barbs on them that catch the wool fibers to lock them into place in order to form a shape.
  6. I use darner needles to put in eyes and also as a substitute for an awl. They come in a variety of sizes and I use thick or thin ones depending on the size of the hole I need. For example, when I joint a doll, I pick the darner needle that is the same size of the pin so I know the hole I am making will be sufficient.
  7. This pastel brush has a sponge applicator that slides onto the pastel blade. I used this to add more concentrated amounts of color
  8. Camel haired paintbrush that I use to apply pastels when I want a softer feel to the shading. 
  9. Permanent pastels are chalk pastels that contain pigment with a binder. You can purchase these in sticks or already ground up (panpastels) I use these to blush my dolls and shade their faces, ears, and limbs.
  10. When I do any type of needle sculpting, I use doll needles of an appropriate length for ease of sculpting. Used in conjunction with a strong thread, this will give you control to create more depth for the eyes on a doll
  11. Most important thing for sewing and for marking. I like a flat bottomed pin cushion so the pins cannot disappear into the cushion. I use both quilting pins, normal pins, and the small tailor pins (the ones you see on men's formal shirts)
    12. Water soluble marker 13. Gel pen 14. Jewelry pliers 15. Fiberboard discs
    16. Tailor's Chalk 17. Sewing Gauge
  12. Water soluble markers (comes in white and blue) are always useful for tracing on your pattern or making any markings. Simply spritz with water after you're done sewing, and the color should fade. (Might want to test this on a scrap piece just to be sure. It's harder to get it off some fabrics)
  13. Gel pen for marking dark minky because nothing else will stick to minky
  14. Jewelry pliers are used to joint dolls. I have a combination one that also has a wire cutter. The tip of the pliers is used to curl the cotter pin
  15. These discs are half the team in a cotter pin joint. The pin itself is not shown. I use several sizes depending on the size of the doll
  16. Tailor's chalk (comes in white and blue). I use this to mark fabric when I want nice straight lines. It's water soluble but it should also rub out, so I find it is best to use this when the marked fabric isn't being extensively handled. It would be annoying to have to constantly reapply
  17. A sewing gauge can help check seam allowances, make small measurements, and just to double check markings. It has a slider to help mark the measurement
So those are all my essential tools. When I'm packing up my sewing to work somewhere other than my desk, I usually bring some combination of these 17 items in addition to fabric and thread. These are not all the things I use in my doll making, but I use these each time I make a doll.

Hope this mini guide can help you build your own tool set.

Until next time,

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