Category Archives: Tools & Accessories

Things we find useful to have

Needle Books

If you have pets, you need to be very careful with your sewing needles. Many years ago, Bobo rolled over onto a sewing needle that was in our carpet and it went into his leg. He had to be operated on to have it removed. I was a complete wreck for days with guilt and worry… The house we lived in had costumers in it all the time working on projects, so I don’t even know how or when the needle got dropped, but I’m super careful now to make sure I always keep track of all my sewing needles.

I’ve found a good way to store and transport needles is in a needle book! I love making these because they require very little fabric so are great projects for those pretty scraps you have sitting around.


  • A.  5 14” x 3 12” of cover fabric
  • B.  5 14” x 3 12” of inside fabric
  • C.  5 14” x 4 12” of inside fabric for pocket
  • D.  1 12” x 20″ of bias tape fabric
  • E.  4 34” x 2 34” of felt for needle pages
  • F.  2 12” x 3 12” of peltex, cut 2 (can be found in the interfacing section of JoAnns)
  • G.  2 12” piece of elastic
  • button (not pictured)

To start, fold the pocket piece (C) in half and iron flat.

Place the cover fabric (A) face down.

Lay the inside fabric (B) on top.

Lay the pocket piece (C) on top. Line up all the bottom edges and pin the pieces together.

Lay the felt piece (E) on top, centering it and pin in place.

Now you need to mark the 2 stitching lines that will make up the spine of the book. From one edge of the book, measure 2 12” and draw a line.

Do the same from the other edge of the book.

Stitch along the 2 lines. Remember that the bobbin thread will show on the cover of your needle book so you might want to pick a color that matches.

If you have pinking shears or scalloped scissors, you can trim the edges of the felt pages with a decorative edging. If you don’t (or have no idea what pinking shears are), no worries, you can just ignore this step!

Now take one of the Peltex pieces (F) and slide it in between the cover (A) and inner fabric (B).

Pin the Peltex in place.

Repeat with the other piece of Peltex on the other side of the thread book.

Baste around the outside of book with as small of a seam allowance as possible.

Make a loop with the elastic (G) and sew it on to the back of the book. (I forgot to take a photo of this step when I was making the first needle book, so I took a photo on the second needle book, which is why the fabrics are different here.)

I didn’t think any of the standard bias tape sizes you can purchase worked for the needle book so I opted to make my own. You don’t need a lot of bias tape so it goes very quickly!

Take your bias tape fabric (D) and fold it in half lengthwise and iron. 

Open up the fabric and then fold each side in to the center fold and iron.

Fold the bias tape fabric back up, iron it one more time, and you’ve created bias tape!

Take your bias tape and bind the edges of the book. I’m not going into the details of how to apply bias tape here as there are a lot of tutorials online on how to do it.

Random tip: if you have some stitch witchery handy, use that to hold your bias tape in place until you sew it all down. I find that helps me keep the bias binding on my craft projects very neat.

Another thing that I found helpful is pinning the needle book pages together and out of the way so they don’t get caught as you are stitching down the bias tape.

After you’re done binding the edges, sew a button onto the front. You can use a regular button or a decorative button. In one of the samples at the top of this post, I used a decorative cat button which I thought was appropriate for this blog!

And you’re done!

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Posted by on November 12, 2012 in DIY, Tools & Accessories, Tutorials


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D.I.Y. Magnetic Thread Rack

I’ve been pretty ADD with my projects lately. I’ve got like 4-5 projects going on at once, each with their own thread spool and as I no longer have room for a  thread rack on the wall, the spools sit on my sewing table, getting lost in the piles of fabric or waiting for some errant cat to come along and knock them off.

I decided I needed to make a small thread rack that could be put away when not being used, so I made a magnetic thread rack.


  • magnetic tray like a toaster oven pan or small baking pan. (I found mine at a dollar store.)
  • magnets
  • long screws with flat screw head
  • super glue
  • fabric to cover the tray

I used really small earth magnets because that’s what I had on hand. If I had to do it over, I’d use bigger earth magnets because these magnets aren’t strong enough to support really large spools of thread.

Create your thread rack pegs by super glue-ing the magnets to screw heads.

Cover the tray with fabric. I used hotglue to glue the fabric on.

Now you just put the screws with magnets on the tray so they can be used for thread spools.

I wanted to have the thread rack propped up, or hanging on the wall, so I swung by the framing section of JoAnn Fabrics and picked up a plate holder rack and a plate hanger.

A plate holder rack is like a small easel and is perfect for when I want the thread rack on the table within reach.

The plate hanger attaches to the back of the tray and is good for when I want the thread rack hanging on the wall.

Or in my case, when I want to hang the rack on the mirror behind my sewing table. I used a suction cup hook to hang up my magnetic tray.

My last sewing project was making a bunch of sewing organizers that I assembly line produced, and I had to constantly swap threads spools and bobbins on 2 different sewing machines. The magnetic thread rack was super useful in helping me keep track of all my thread.

As an added bonus, it kept Bobo from chasing my thread spools right off the table which is one of his favorite activities.

I’m pretty happy with how my makeshift magnetic thread rack turned out! It’s been really handy and when I don’t need it anymore, I can take the pegs and throw them in a baggy and put away the tray.

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Posted by on October 22, 2012 in DIY, Tools & Accessories, Tutorials



Sandbag Weights

It’s great to have a network of friends who have the same hobbies as yourself.  I have certainly benefitted from folks who decided to upgrade or sell spare equipment because they outgrew it and I am growing into.  For sewing, I think I could be “little AJ” because in addition to her spare sewing machine I also inherited her old dress form.  (Wow, miles better than stuffing a dress with body pillows, despite the post-30 readjustment of body image, sadly, my bosom will never be pillowy.  Sniff.)
AJ did give me a bit of a warning though, “Watch out, that thing is INCREDIBLY tippy”.  Her kitties were constantly tipping the thing over with their antics and should I ever have a heavier dress on mine, I’ll have the same problem.  Once I took a look around the house, it did also seem like I was stocking my house with nothing but unsteady tripods – camera tripod, photography light stand, background stands.  Tipping over a dress is one thing, but expensive electronic equipment?  Nu-uh.

I ordered this set of sandbag weights from Amazon (sand not included) – studio photographers use these to weight down various bits of equipment to prevent tippage.  Each one has two side bags so it can drape over tripod legs and distribute the weight more evenly.  The color is a little bit unfortunate, however, the material is extremely tough.  I filled each side with about 5 lbs of fish tank gravel I picked up at my local Petco.





I especially like how each side has a double zipper – so it’s very secure against the sand leaking out.  I imagine that other things that will work equally well if you weren’t inclined to buy this particular set of weights.  Those arm/wrist/leg eights for working out would probably do well, though you’d have to get a few of them to provide enough stabilization.  Or anyone out there put dumb bells on the legs of their dress form?  Hey, even a bag of rocks would probably work!

Ten pounds of gravel makes me feel much more kitty safe – and fairly “I-bumped-that-thing-with-my-hip’ safe too!  So, I’ll be sure to have my weights out any time I’m using my equipment for proper safety.   Look at the kitty already coming to check it out!  HAHAHA…kitty safe now!

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Posted by on August 27, 2012 in Shopping, Tools & Accessories



Fabric Organizers, Part II

The three of us are totally enablers for each other. We will often link things to each other during the day and end up putting in an order x3 by that night 🙂 One thing we’re all eagerly waiting for are these completely adorable iPhone headphone jack dust protectors: THEY’RE KITTIES!? HOW CAN YOU SAY NO TO THESE?? 🙂

A-hem…getting back on track…

Today’s post is just a quick continuation of AJ’s post last time about fabric organizers. She had originally discovered them and linked them to D and I – of course, we thought they were the most genius thing ever, and each of us picked up no less than 20 each. And by that, I mean more than 20. Perhaps a lot more.

AJ’s the master of large rubbermaid bins. Me? I’m kind of an IKEA girl! As if the Billy bookcase mod didn’t give that away…

IKEA’s Expedit System is my favorite thing in the world. Their 2×4 shelf is the most versatile, in my opinion – it’s not the easiest thing to assemble, but I will mention that I have been able to do it by myself 🙂

As open shelves are, of course, a magnet for cat hair (and general dust, I won’t blame it all on the cats here!), I also supplement my shelving system with the lidded Kassett Boxes. Think of them as those boxes that reams of paper come in from Staples, except prettier. They are incredibly easy to assemble, and they are basically just made of cardboard – you unfold them and screw a few tabs into place, and you’re done! They’re cleverly reinforced at the points of most potential damage, so they end up being both light AND sturdy.

Obviously, an organizational re-haul has yet to be performed on the LOWER half of the shelf 🙂 But that’s an entirely different blog…

The top row are the Kassett boxes; the bottom row are clear plastic drawers that are sized to fit the Expedit exactly, but I don’t remember their name at the moment. Sorry! They are usually sold right next to the Expedit shelves at IKEA. 🙂

Before, my boxes looked like this:

Total free-for-all and a shot in the dark to find anything 😛 And, of course, I would always end up taking forever because I would tear through the box, throw everything around, and then spend time neatly folding everything back – just to tear it apart the next time.

After the Fabric Organizers were put to good use, my boxes looked like this!

Bolts of cloth! I approximate sizes by their fatness 🙂

Patterns Stash!

Each of the four boxes has a purpose – two hold my larger/longer bolts of fabric; one holds the smaller bolts; one holds patterns. I still keep my scraps (i.e. anything 1 sq. ft or smaller, used for arts and crafts) in small rubbermaid bins in the closet, it’s just not worth the effort of organizing those to this level.

This current system isn’t really scalable at all, I know; but that actually works for me – it makes me extremely honest about using up the fabric I have, before I buy any more. So I force myself to only own as much material as fits into my shelf. The method works! 😀

For now….

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Posted by on August 26, 2012 in Tips & Tricks, Tools & Accessories


D.I.Y. magnetic pin cushion/findings holder

In the last post, AJ showed off the usefulness of a magnetic pin cushion.   In addition to increased pet safety, I find that it seems awfully handy and much more HUMAN-safe as well to be able to drop your pin in the vicinity of the container and have it just go to the right spot!  How many times have you been sewing and in a groove and found it a hassle to remove pins and have to take your attention away from the machine to put the pin in the right spot?

The idea of magnets helping out clumsy people like me is a great idea!  So I thought I would try to expand on the idea with a simple DIY case that I could take with me many places, as I’m often crafting at fellow Krafty Kitties’ houses!

1. Magnets and a container of your choice.  I got these from Joanne’s for about $5 total.  This little plastic container is actually a bead container and screws into a stack of four.  But what I really wanted was a container with a lid.






2, Cut out two pieces of cloth to match the size of your container.  Great way to use up scraps!  And maybe some pinked edges for both the cuteness factor and to keep the edges from fraying.

It is helpful to make one piece slightly larger than the other, which I totally didn’t do here and wish I did!







3. Lay out your magnets.  If you have rare earth magnets which are super strong, you’ll only need one.  I used 3 to make sure I have enough magnetic power, and a bit of tape to hold them in position as they have a tendency to flip over onto themselves.







4. Stitch the two matching pieces of cloth together.  This is where one piece being larger than the other really helps out, because you’ll need that piece ON TOP – and what with needing to cover a three dimensional object it will make it easier to have the edges match up.







5. Drop your magnet packet into place and affix with glue.  And bam!  A nice little place to drop your pins.









6. Look Mom, no spills!

I look forward to taking this little container with me for portable sewing, I feel more secure because I can screw on the lid and drop it into my carrying bag.
The 4 stack of containers could be very useful this way for one’s beading collection of head pins, clasps, and jump rings. You can keep them all separate and don’t have to worry them all spilling out all over the place with the inevitable bump-off-the table.

I hope this tutorial has been helpful! 🙂  Any other uses for magnets you can think of?  Please share!

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Posted by on July 30, 2012 in DIY, Tools & Accessories


Magnetic Pin Cushion

Today’s tip is not really profound, but I’ve found it indispensable: Get a magnetic pin cushion! They’re very affordable if you wait for a 50% off notions sale at JoAnns, or use a coupon.

Thankfully, Yoyo and Bobo are not “steal the tomato pin cushion” type cats but I have a lot of costumer friends who have cats like that. They say that their cats like to run off with the little tomatoes, or sit there and pull all the pins out of them. Scary! What happens if the kitty swallows a pin by accident?

A magnetic pin cushion is too heavy to be carried off and generally, the pins lay flat on it, so cats are not as likely to be able to get a hold of them. I also find that magnetic pin cushions are kind of a time saver because you can just lay the pin on the pin cushion and it stays. I find having to stop what I’m doing to stab pins into a tomato pin cushion really aggravating, but that might just be me. (You’ll discover as you read our blog that I am an incredibly lazy sewer and I’m game for anything that makes my life easier.)

And because today’s post was kind of skimpy, I’m going to post a bunch of kitty photos!

My “assistants” that always show up when I’m laying out fabric for cutting.

Yoyo: looking as clueless as ever.

Bobo: the mighty stuffed mouse hunter.

What is it with kitties and boxes?

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Posted by on July 22, 2012 in Informational, Tools & Accessories


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The Bobbin Saver

Many years ago, Bobo discovered that the fastest way to get my attention was to knock stuff off my sewing table. Few things make quite as much of a racket as a plastic case filled with metal bobbins hitting a hardwood floor and exploding open. And then there was the fun part of crawling around on the floor to find all the runaway bobbins while the cats played floor hockey with them.

So that went on for a couple of years…

Then I came across the Bobbin Saver at my local sewing shop and they’re the perfect cat-proof bobbin case! The bobbins are held in really well so there is no explosion of bobbins when this hits the ground, and the rubber ring is a lot less noisy than a plastic box hitting the floor.

You can find the Bobbin Saver on Amazon in a variety of colors. I highly recommend them even if you don’t have a bratty cat that likes to test gravity!


Posted by on May 19, 2012 in Tools & Accessories