Tag Archives: sewing

Essential Notions

What is a notion? Essentially, a sewing notion is any tool used when completing a project that would not otherwise be classified as a sewing machine, fabric, nor thread. The world of notions is vast and can quickly become overwhelming. I’ve narrowed this down and compiled a list of multi-use essentials that are key for any successful sewing or quilting venture.

Regardless of the pattern selected, most projects rely on the same basic sets of foundation tools. These can be broken down into two flexible categories: preparation and process.

Preparation can be described as any tasks that need to be completed prior to the actual task of sewing. This predominantly encompasses cutting, but also marking and preparing the fabric for smooth stitching.

Process includes anything that takes place simultaneously with actual sewing or quilting. Ensuring fabric remains in the proper place and fixing any errors as you go are vital to the success of any creation.


Olfa Deluxe Rotary Cutter (Item #80979)

I’ll start this list off with my absolute favorite cutting tool. This is one of the few times I would recommend getting an upgraded version of something straight out of the gate- and it is so worth it. There are a huge variety of rotary cutting tools available, but this one outshines the rest by far. When not in use, the cutting tool automatically secures the blade and nestles it within the top of the tool. This safely retracts the sharp edge and keeps it from swiping against fabric or fingertips. The amount of accidents and miss-cuts I’ve avoided by this simple feature is astounding. When in use, a very lightly pressured squeeze pops the blade out and keeps it in place- ready to cut. Because the squeeze release is worked into the handle design, it takes no more pressure than just simply holding the handle. Even after hours of standing at my cutting table, the handle’s curved design helps prevent hand and wrist fatigue. It is also a delightfully bright yellow, so unless I carelessly place a pile of fabric on top of it, it is always easy to find.

Sew Great 45mm Rotary Refill Blade (5 Pack) (Item #82503)

While we would love for a rotary blade to last forever, they’ll eventually need to be replaced. The Sew Great refill blades are fabulously economical and vital to keep on hand when you finally realize you’ve been pushing harder than necessary to slice through that pile of half-square-triangles.

Omnigrid Rotary Cutting Mat 12” x 18” (Item #81692)

With precision measurement grids across the entire surface, in addition to multi-degree diagonal guide lines, this mat serves as a dual purpose of protecting table surfaces while also guiding rulers and cutting tools with expert precision. The 12”x18” size is absolutely ideal for fat quarters or smaller pre-cuts, but can also accommodate full yardage with a careful quarter fold. This size offers the most versatility of use without requiring a large amount of table space.

OmniAngle Ruler 4×18” (Item #82582)

Carefully selected to coordinate with the 12”x18” cutting mat, this 4”x18” ruler makes use of the full length of the cutting space. With no need to fold, a fat quarter is truly this duo’s best friend. Once my blocks are assembled, I take them straight back to my mat and use this ruler to square everything up. The ruler acts as a guide for the rotary cutter, ensuring smooth, straight lines every time. With it’s clear design and guided grid lines, finding and staying on grain is a breeze while the 4” depth helps work as a thick pivot point to ensure enough overlap to verify all measurements are in-line and nestled right where they should be. Built-in angular guide lines creates a simple multi-purpose tool and eliminates the need for specified angle rulers. 

Point 2 Point Turner (Item #82171)

When something can be considered “multi-use,” it immediately holds a higher value within my notions box. This Point 2 Point Tuner is, without question, one of those things. A hera maker and blunt point combined, there are few projects that don’t have me reaching for this tool. When working with fabrics I don’t want to mark with a fabric pen/pencil, the flat rounded tip of this tool is sharp enough to contour creased dents that stay firm in fabric until I no longer need them. It is always my go-to for half square triangles or four-at-a-time flying geese when I need a quick seam-allowance guide as it can dent through multiple layers at once. The opposite end is absolutely perfect for poking out corners of zipper pouches or keeping your fingers out of the way when holding down binding. When ready for finger pressing, the smooth rounded end glides evenly across fabric and saves your fingertips from having to battle out the chain-piecing on their own.

Sewline Mechanical Pencil – Blue (Item #82790)

The perfect companion to a set of stitch and flip strips or squares or anything else that needs an extra precise spot of placement. I also use these extensively with bag and pouch making to pre-mark pocket or hardware placements. While the refillable lead comes in a variety of colors to accommodate numerous fabric hues, I find myself reaching for the blue option more often than the others. The pencil markings wipe easily with a damp cloth or the built-in eraser. Generally, I find the damp cloth method a bit easier while also avoiding accidentally stretching my fabrics by rubbing at them. When it comes time to quilt, the pencil pairs beautifully with rulers or stencils to pre-mark stitch lines (though, I always test on a scrap of fabric first to ensure a full wipe off before starting!).


Premium Wool Small Pressing Mat 9”x12” (Item #82597)

Few things are as magical as a wool pressing mat. At 9”x12”, this mat accommodates a variety of quilt blocks without needing too much movement or adjustment to get the full piece pressed. I keep this next to my sewing machine constantly – with an iron at the ready for pressing as I go. While a small iron is great for convenience, it isn’t entirely necessary as a standard house iron will do the job just fine. The magic is in the wool. It accommodates either dry or steam ironing depending on fabric type and preference. Buddy it up with a tailor’s clapper or a spare piece of wood for ultimate crispness.

Clover Wonder clips – 100pcs (Item #82705)

While there is a bit of a division in the sewing world between clips and pins, my personal preference plops me right in the middle of this dispute. I absolutely prefer both and switch between the two for various projects. Where pins fall short, wonder clips pick up the slack and level the playing field. With these Wonder Clips, Clover has designed the ultimate tool. The clips stay put even with fine, slippery fabrics. The handy seam guide on the back allows me to double check my points before sewing. I can quickly clip my blocks and line up the ¼” seam guide on the clear bottom of the clip. Once secured, I flip open my pieces and make sure everything is precisely where I want it to be, or make any necessary adjustments without having to unpick stitches. Wonder clips are also my absolute favorite for thick seams and binding.

Magic Pins – Extra Long (Item #21611)

These heat-resistant beauties are a dream. Extra-long and thin enough to not damage fabrics, these pins are an obvious must-have for any notions box. After years of use, these pin tips have remained sharp, straight, and delightfully reliable. In tight spots where clips can become cumbersome, these pins will pick up the slack and keep everything ready and where it should be until pressed or stitched into place.

Clover Seam Ripper (Item #82862)

While I would love to pretend mistakes never cross my sewing table, this little seam ripper is there when I need it. The sharp edge slices smoothly through misplaced stitches as the red safety edge prevents accidental slips through the fabric. The light handle and ribbed grip makes it easy to hold for quick, precise unpicking that gets me back to my sewing table quick and efficiently.

Safety Scissors with Blunt End (Item #82281)

Thread snips are vital for absolutely any project and I’m always sure to keep a set close at hand for trimming tails and tidying piecing. While these are no replacement for the rotary cutter when cutting fabric, they make quick work of small snips needed while at my machine. The blunt ends prevent accidental fabric damage and make separating chain-piecing a breeze. They’re also the cutest oil-slick color so they clearly stand out amongst the pile of threads I inevitably set them on.

Curved Brass Basting Pins – Size 1 (Item #82184)

While everyone has their own personal basting preferences, these curved basting pins are my absolute favorite. At just over an inch long, they’re the perfect size for keeping that quilt sandwich in place. A single package is plenty for an entire Queen sized quilt, with a few left over for tidying up a few spots that may have been missed. They are perfectly sharp and poke through the multiple layers with ease, gliding back up to the top of the quilt with help from the curved shape. The nickel-plated steel stays sharp for years of repeat use.

Tulip Sewing Needles – Asst. Sizes (Item #82832)

Once quilting is finished and edges are trimmed, I like to machine sew my binding to the front, then curl it on over to the back (securing with wonder clips) and hand sew that final step for a nice, clean finish. Whether using a blind stitch or opting for big stitch binding, this needle assortment is ideal for accommodating a wide variety of threads. When I’m feeling overly ambitious and opt for hand-quilting, the largest size needle is perfect for the thicker, size 8 perle cotton.  These needles are flexible and long, which makes a simple running stitch a breeze by catching 4-6 stitches in a single pass without dropping the backing. 

One of the most delightful things about sewing is no two artists operate in precisely the same way. The only true necessary components to modern making are fabric, thread, and a sewing machine. Everything from there is built up with personal preferences and trying new things through the process of creation. 

Before I discovered the Point 2 Point turner, I used a library card for creases and a capped pen for my blunt edge. Prior to discovering curved basting pins, I either used straight pins (with a lot of accidental palm-stabbing) or simply kept layers on the floor as I crouched over them, hand sewing every single quilt-line. None of these substitutions worked nearly as well as their proper notion counterparts, but they were the tools I had at my disposal as a very early beginner, just barely testing the waters.

If I were to start again today, these are the supplies I would deem absolutely essential and would have given me the opportunity to sew with confidence rather than struggling where I otherwise didn’t need to.

Looking over this list and glancing at your own collection of essential notions, are there any that you haven’t tried before, or any that you’d add? Leave us a comment below and continue the conversation!

Kwik Klip

Featured Tool: Kwik Klip by Paula Jean Creations, Item #82219

What is this tool typically used for?

This tool is for anyone about to use safety pins to baste their backing, batting, and quilt top together.

Upon first glance, what were your initial thoughts?

At first glance it looks like a giant seam ripper.

How did you use it?

I took my safety pins and and inserted them down into the three quilting layers, coming up through the top. Then, I took the Kwik Klip and gently pushed the sharp end of the pin up and into the pin chamber.

What do you like best about the Kwik Klip?

I love that it was much easier to use than I thought it would be! It’s comfortable to hold, and goes pretty fast. Plus, it only took a minute to learn how to use it.

What did you like the least?


Why do you NEED one?

It’s fast, safe, and easy to use! Plus, it puts less stress on your hands and fingers–this would be great for anyone who has to work with a lot of safety pins on a regular basis. I recommend this tool for sure. There are also pin covers that go with this tool called Quilter’s Delight Safety Pin Grip Covers, #82218.


Black Gold Needles

Featured Tool: Black Gold Needles – Appliqué Sharps by Clover

What is this tool typically used for?

General hand sewing.

How do you use them?

I use the Black Gold Needles for binding and when I am doing hand sewing. They’re great!

What do you like best about the Black Gold Needles?

I really like these needles for hand sewing and especially for binding. They are thin and glide through the fabric nicely. They also don’t bend as easily as some of the other needles I have used. Package 21201 has two needles of each size: 9, 10, and 12. It’s a great way to try them out and see what size works best–it’s usually dependent on the fabric you are sewing on and personal preference. The special black plating on the surface allows the needle to pierce effortlessly through fabric, enabling sewing with little resistance.

What did you like the least?

They are a little harder to see if you drop one.

Why do you NEED them?

Because we all need lots of needles.

Who would appreciate the Black Gold Needles – Appliqué/Sharps most?

These are perfect for:

  • Beginner, Intermediate and Expert quilters
  • Embroiderers, Paper-Piecers
  • Someone acquiring “the basics”

Chaco Liners

Featured Tool: Chaco Liners by Clover

What is this tool typically used for?

This tool helps trace lines perfectly to mark fabric prior to sewing or quilting.

What were your initial thoughts?

Well, I’ve known and used these for years now, but at first glance I thought they were just short and fat markers.

How did you use it?

First, I aligned my ruler onto my finished quilt top. I then ran the Chaco Liner down the side of the ruler to mark a straight line in preparation for quilting. You can also mark organic lines too (without a ruler).

How did using it go?

Wonderful! I love using these markers because they are chalk-based and it easily rubs off.

How long did it take you to learn how to use it?


What did you like best?

I love that it comes in three colors: yellow, blue, and white. No matter what color of fabric I’m working with, I can find a liner that shows up well. The chalk comes out easily and plus they are easy to hold.

What did you like the least?

There’s nothing negative to note about these liners!

Could you see another potential use for Chaco Liners?

You could use it for apparel marking and general sewing.

Why do you NEED it?

If you want a simple, easy-marking tool in a variety of colors, these Chaco Liner Pens are awesome. They are our go-to marking tool by our staff sewists.

Who would appreciate Chaco Liners most?

These are perfect for:

  • Beginner, Intermediate and Expert quilters
  • Anyone looking to acquire the basics

Hang It Dang It

Featured Tool: Hang It Dang It by Innovative Solutions, Item #82328, 82131

Connecting Threads Reviewer: Ann

What is this tool typically used for?

Hanging quilts of various sizes on walls. The larger one can hang quilts between 35″ and 68″ and the smaller 21″ to 40″.

How did you use it?

I hung a 41″ square quilt in our bedroom with the larger Hang It Dang It.

How did using it go?

The Hang It Dang It does require a sleeve – which my quilt already had. The instructions were simple for centering the quilt on the rod. I did have a little trouble hanging the quilt at first. There is a grooved area nailed to the wall for the rod to clamp into. The rod fit well but the fabric of the sleeve bunched up so the quilt did not hang evenly. I found that making a small slit in the sleeve allowed the rod to fit in the clamp directly without any fabric involved.

How long did it take you to learn how to use it?

It took a bit to figure out the issue mentioned above – but overall it was quick and easy to install.

What did you like best?

One nail in the wall works for either size of hanger- and the flexibility to display wall hangings of different sizes as well.

What did you like the least?

Having to fuss a bit with getting the quilt to hang straight without bunching up the sleeve. It is so easy to fix with a little slit in the sleeve or making a two-part sleeve that it is a non-issue.

Could you see another potential use for Hang It Dang It?

It will hold up to 40 lbs so perhaps there are other applications, such as tapestries or banners.

Why do you NEED it?

The Hang It Dang It is a quick, flexible, and easy way to hang quilts up to 68″ wide. It is especially useful for quilters who like to change their wall hangings with the seasons, as new projects are completed, and with changes in decor. Having the two sizes increases the possibilities.

Who would appreciate a Hang It Dang It most?

These are perfect for:

  • Beginner, Intermediate and Expert quilters
  • Anyone eager to display a finished project!

Embroidery Hoop

Featured Tool: Embroidery Hoop by Clover, Item #82034, 82035 

What is this tool typically used for?

Keeping your fabric taut while you embroider. There is both a small (4-3/4″) and large (7″) size.

Upon first glance, what were your initial thoughts?

It has a very sturdy appearance; it’s made of thick plastic with a bulky, metal screw.

How did you use it?

I loosened the metal screw to separate the two hoops, which left me with an inner and an outer hoop. Then, I placed my fabric evenly over the inner hoop. The outer hoop was placed around the inner hoop and I pulled my fabric to tighten it. I adjusted the screw to keep the hoops and fabric tight and in place. Once it was set up, I was able to embroider a design onto the fabric.

How long did it take you to learn how to use it?

It took no time at all to learn to use. It is used exactly like any other embroidery hoop except it is sturdier and more solid.

What did you like best?

I liked how easy it was to tighten the screw, it is a very large metal screw. And I liked how it kept my fabric very secure and in place.

What did you like the least?

I was hesitant to use a plastic hoop, because I thought the fabric would slip – but it did not! I liked everything about this embroidery hoop.

Why do you NEED a Clover Embroidery Hoop?

You need it because it takes out all the problematic tension issues I’ve experienced with inferior hoops. It also made transporting my embroidery work easy because I could throw it in my bag and not worry about the hoop falling apart. It kept my work in place and very secure.

Who would appreciate a Clover Embroidery Hoop most?

These are perfect for:

  • Embroiderers
  • Someone acquiring the basics

Wonder Under

Featured Tool: Wonder Under by Pellon Consumer Products, Item #21206 

What is this tool typically used for?

Wonder Under is ideal for applique–it allows fabric to maintain its soft feel after fusing. It is also machine stitchable, fuses easily in seconds, and bonds to fabric or any porous surface.

How did you use it?

Since it is so light weight, it is really easy to trace your applique shapes. You need to remember to trace the mirror image of the pieces especially when applique letters. Because it comes on a roll, you can applique large pieces with only one sheet, which you can do when you are using the pre-cut sheets. Sometimes the paper can be hard to peel off especially on small pieces. I find scoring the back of the paper with my scissors really can help.

How long did it take you to learn how to use it?

The fusible part is super easy to use, but if you are having a hard time peeling off the paper, make sure you let it cool first.

What did you like best?

It is light weight so when you are sewing through it for finishing the edges or quilting it is easy and doesn’t gum up your needle. Also it is nice if using several different layers of applique.

What did you like the least?

Sometimes the paper is a little difficult to peel off, but for me the quality and light weight of the fusible is really worth a little difficulty.

Could you see another potential use for Wonder Under?

It can be used any where you would need a double sided fusible, including some crafts.

Who would appreciate Wonder Under most?

These are perfect for:

  • Intermediate and expert quilters
  • Someone acquiring the basics

YoYo Makers

Featured Tool: YoYo Makers by Clover, Item # 81857, 81858, 81837, 81838

What is this tool typically used for?

The YoYo Makers are for making cute, sewn (cinched) fabric embellishments.

What was your first impression of Clover’s YoYo Makers?

They look like Mickey-Mouse ears!

How did you use it?

You cut fabric to fit 1/4″ around the plastic yo-yo maker, place the fabric inside, and snap the lid on. Yo-yo makers are a guide for stitching around your fabric so that when you cinch or pull the thread to tighten your yo-yo, the stitches are even. It also provides you something to hold onto. You’ll end up with a very nice yo-yo.

How long did it take you to learn how to use it?

Just a minute or so!

What did you like best?

I love using these yo-yo makers, it’s pretty fast and you can really crank out some yoyos in no time at all. There are four different sizes available: extra small, extra large, small, and large.

What did you like the least?

Nothing negative stood out to me about this tool.

Why do you NEED it?

They are FUN to use and super easy.

Who would appreciate YoYo Makers most?

These are perfect for:

  • Beginner, intermediate, and expert quilters
  • Someone acquiring the basics

Double-Sided Multi-Craft Carrier

Featured Tool: Double-Sided Multi-Craft Carrier by Creative Options, Item #82068


What is this typically used for?

This is a carrier for quilting and craft supplies.

What was your first impression of the Double-Sided Multi-Craft Carrier?

What a great way to store our Essential Threads!

How did you use it?

Storing my assortment of Essential Threads spools.

How long did it take you to learn how to use it?

Instant – open it, put in spools, and close it up.

What did you like best?

Double-sided = double the storage. It is see-through so I can see what colors are in it. I have two carriers and my threads are arranged by color (like a rainbow). It is easy to see which colors are in each side. They can stack or sit upright. It closes securely and has held up to lots of use.

What did you like the least?

I need a third one – but that is not the carrier’s fault!

Why do you NEED it?

It stores my thread safely and easily. I love that my thread is now protected from light and dust.

Could you see another potential use for the Double-Sided Multi-Craft Carrier

It is a multi-craft carrier so other craft supplies could be stored in it. I am thinking about getting one to store my spools of pearl cotton and maybe embroidery threads. Perhaps scraps, EPP pieces like hexagons, or cut strips of various sizes for a Log Cabin or other scrappy quilts.

Who would appreciate the Double-Sided Multi-Craft Carrier most?

These are perfect for:

  • Beginner, intermediate, and expert quilters
  • Embroiderers
  • Someone acquiring the basics

Frixion Erasable Gel Pens

Featured Tool: Frixion Erasable Gel Pens by Pilot, Item #82263, 82264, 82262


What is this typically used for?

Writing on (and erasing off) fabric.

What was your first impression of the Frixion Erasable Gel Pens?

I saw these demoed at a quilt show and immediately bought a pack!

How did you use them?

You think you have to use an eraser or the eraser on the back of the pen, but NO–it’s removed by friction (and heat) such as a hot iron!! The man that demoed it wrote some scribbles on some fabric and then ran over it with an iron and it disappeared! It was MAGIC!!

How did using them go?

I love them! I used them when I long arm quilt. I don’t mark out everything but, for example, if I’m planning on making a feather on a border, I don’t mark out the whole spine. I only mark out the outer edge points of where the spine should go, so maybe 2″ from the edge and then 8″ up and 2″ from the other edge and 8″ up etc. Then after I quilt the quilt I just iron over the feathers and the markings disappear.

How long did it take you to learn how to use them?

No time at all.

What did you like best? The least?

I liked how I can erase it easily and don’t need water like other pens. I think I only had one dark fabric not work well, but dark fabrics are hard to mark on in general. There was one fabric where I had a very faint line afterwards. I have heard that if you freeze the fabric the lines will show up again, but I haven’t tested that idea yet.

Why do you NEED to try them?

If you machine quilt, it’s great for marking

Who would appreciate the Frixion Erasable Gel Pens most?

These are perfect for:

  • Beginner, intermediate, and expert quilters