My Tools & Materials & Books

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Affiliate Links to items I use on my stream:

I also have a Wish List if you want to send me a surprise from it.

Sewing Supplies:

Clover Seam Ripper I really like the size and shape of this one. And it stays sharp. Be wary of those seam rippers that are 'ergonomic' and then roll right off your table. Ergonomics are always important, but you're not holding this for 40 hours per week (at least let's hope you aren't).

Tapered Tailors Awl (there are a few styles, this is my favorite. The Straight style is too sharp and the curved isn't the right style).

Clover Buttonhole Cutter (I admit I don't use this all the time. But sometimes it's handy for very thick plackets).

Simflex Buttonhole Marker (I've heard some of these get a little wonky. Definitely store it and treat it well. It makes marking closures a lot faster. It can also be used for pleats, shirring, and smocking.)

Soapstone Marking Pencil (I love this thing. I've linked one cheaper than the Dritz one that is marketed to sewists since it comes with 14 replacements and an aluminum holder. This can be fragile, so store it and treat it nicely. You sharpen the tip however you prefer using a razor blade. Works on medium to dark fabrics.)

Clover Hera Marker (My absolute favorite marking utensil. It dents the fabric rather than adding anything to the surface. It's not ideal for, say, polar fleece or pile fabrics. The fabric needs to be smooth enough to dent.)

Crayola Ultra Clean Fine Tip Markers (These are so good. The tip is pretty pointy and I haven't encountered anything it doesn't wash out of. And with 8 colors, it covers everything but you very dark fabrics)

Karen Kay Scissors 4" These things are very sharp. Very. They're also very light. You can't squeeze them very firmly-they're not meant for that. The handles are soft so you'll just squish the handles. If you need to cut thick stuff, you need another pair. These are great for threads, buttonholes and trimming precisely. Plus they don't dull quickly.


I like all kinds of machine brands. Currently I'm using all Juki except a Bernina home machine.

Juki MO1000 Serger Four thread overlock. I like this serger a lot. I selected it because it handles thickness differences really good. It's not heavy on features-you can certainly get fancier sergers (my previous one had more features) but it's reliable. I don't have problems adjusting the tension for different fabrics and it takes every day Schmetz needles- nothing specific.

Juki MCS1500 Coverstitch  I also selected this because it handles sewing over different thicknesses really well. I also got a couple binding attachments from Erika Syskrin that work great. It can 2 or 3 needle and you can adjust the width and position of the needles. You can certainly get a fancier coverstitch but in my opinion, a coverstitch machine isn't necessary unless you primarily sew knits. I use it for sewing elastic to legs on underwear-but I think zig zag stretches better. My only pet peeve about this machine is that you have to make sure your threads are secure at the end of your seam. And most coverstitch machines are like this unless you spend more. A fancier machine will secure the threads so they don't pull out at the end of sewing (not a back stitch mind you but more like a lock stitch).

Juki 8700-7 Industrial Machine Note: This link is for the exact type of machine I use. the -7 part of the title is important. You can save a lot by getting the 8700. You won't have the auto back tack, thread trimmer, or heel lift but your machine will still sew just like mine! It's a great machine and usually less than $800 Just make sure you know what you're getting: you need the machine head AND the table unless you already own one and know it's compatible. Here's a link to a video of mine that will compare go through the features of the one I use. And if you want to understand the difference between the two industrials as well as a  home machine, check out THIS VIDEO.


I look for an iron that is heavy, has great steam and a big reservoir, and the tip of the iron is narrow and pointy. I also mostly iron clothing- not quilts.

 Hot Steam Electric Gravity-Fed Iron  I use this iron and I really like it. I don't think it's the BEST one you can get. I found many that look like it on Amazon but hesitate to link one just in case it's not the same. So the link goes to Wawak. Here's my opinion: I love how hot it gets and the steam it produces. It is right handed. I have trouble using the knob to adjust it so I leave it on high. The red silicone mat it comes with shouldn't be trusted. The iron slides off of it in some cases when it's hot. Mine slid and rested on a wood table. Good thing I made it sure it was off before I went home. I started using my ironing board again since it has an iron holder on it because I didn't know where else to rest the iron. Trivets weren't good enough either- it SLIDES. And don't skip getting a stand )or have a plan to hold the water bottle). You could install a hook on the wall and hang it. I used pipe from the hardware store and mounted it to a wooden table next to my ironing board. It works great and it's very sturdy. But permanent.

Rowenta Professional Iron I've used several of these. It's affordable and works really good. But I have not shopped around to others! Professional is in the name.

Wool Iron Pad These things are so great. They're compact, hold heat and most are large enough. Just don't place it on a surface you don't want steam to reach. It will definitely penetrate the wool mat.

Ironing Board: I haven't ordered one in a long time (I purchased 2 full sized ironing boards with iron rest from Target a long time ago and still use them.) Find one that is heavy duty. The iron rest is very nice.

Organizing Supplies: 

Fabric ID Tape I've been using this tape to organize my fabrics as they arrive. It's really great. Simple, no residue, easy to use. It's a lot like masking tape.

Clear Envelopes with Snaps I use these to store my pattern pieces. They do not fit in filing cabinets (I use manila folders with sides for that), It's nice that you can see your pattern cover inside and they snap shut.

Pattern Drafting Supplies:

Lumograph HB Pencils If I'm drafting a lot, I'll use a harder lead. But the HB lead will give you a darker line. These are my favorite to grab. But you'll be sharpening them more often to keep a fine point. Higher the number, the softer the lead and more visible. HB is in the middle.

Lumogaph 2H Pencils If I'm drafting a lot and precisely, I get the 2H or 4H leaded pencils out. (or even H) They stay sharper much longer. But if you're not used to these, be warned, the lead isn't dark and if you press too hard, you'll rip your paper. It's that hard. Higher the number, the harder and lighter the lead- H to 4H is the darkest of the hard leads.

2" x 18" C-Thru Graph Ruler I will never use anything else. I always have several at a time and a few unopened. They wear out just like anything else. And to stay accurate (and keep my patterns clean) I'll use a new ruler. This ruler is the fastest way to add seam allowance.

Removeable Tape This stuff is so good. I don't know how anyone who sews and adjusts patterns lives without it. You can reuse your pieces a few times too. No residue, works pretty good on tissue but don't leave it for long. It's just to temporarily hold something in place while you measure and adjust. It is far superior to something like washi tape.

Cutting Supplies:

Olfa Rotary Cutter 45 mm I prefer rotary cutters but I have nothing against scissors. I like 45 mm for most cutting. the smaller 28 mm is great for tighter curves.

Japanese Screw Punch  I love using this to drill holes for pocket and dart marks on fabric. It feels like cheating. I don't have to use marking utensils at all. But it horrifies my viewers sometimes since you are cutting a hole (that won't fray) in to your fabric. I bought it and still use it for marking my drill holes on patterns too. The tips will wear out but they're replaceable. It comes with many sizes too. You'll see a big price difference for these- get the better one. I've had mine for 25 years.

See marking utensils in the Sewing supplies above and Rulers in Drafting Supplies.

Muslin When it comes to making prototypes and samples, muslin is so perfect. It's not precious, you can see your changes and marks on it, and it can be affordable. It's not suitable for testing knits or heavy weight items, but it does the trick. I suggest buying it someplace like a JoAnn fabrics. Buy the 44" wide, unbleached, whole bolt on one of their sales and you can get it for $2 per yard. Having a lot will make you more apt to sample and not keep your muslin precious. You can use your muslins to stuff things- I mulch mine in the garden.

I don't recommend many books-not because I don't love books but because many are just not that great. Here are a few I stand behind and would buy again. The textbooks listed are the same books I learned from in fashion design school and I still use today. (There were others but the information in these have held up over time).  The other books are ones I've discovered to have good information that I think leave the reader more informed with accurate information.

I've bought many used books from Thrift Books. I've also heard of Abe Books. You can probably find many of these at your library too.

Textbooks for Pattern Drafting & Draping:

Pattern Drafting for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph Armstrong This is my go-to drafting book. And the textbook I received in design school.  I have a much older edition- no matter what edition you get the information is accurate. It's fashion, don't worry about the decade. It all comes around.

Designing Apparel Through the Flat Pattern by Ernestine Kopp This is my backup drafting book. It's just as good (and it has an index which the other one doesn't have). It similar info-missing a few things but it probably has other things the one above doesn't. Also a textbook from my school.

I only kept and reference these two drafting books.

The Art of Fashion Draping by Connie Amaden-Crawford. This Draping book is good but most people don't drape- they draft. But if you're interested, here's the latest edition of the one I have. Draping helps you understand FIT!

Fabric Science Kit PLUS Textbook. These are two items. You need both to understand the instruction. The Fabric Science Book and Kit should be used together. Be sure you know what you're getting when you purchase. One is a binder with over 100 swatch samples and some tools to help you identify and learn different fabric types. It's like a Lab. The other is the text book that goes along with it. These books are technical and pretty meaty. I still have mine from college.

Home Sewing Books for Fitting:

Ahead of the Curve The first book on fitting curvy/plus sized women, it's simple and accurate. It's not extremely in-depth but it is specific to fuller figured women. Jenny Rushmore also has the book, Sewing the Curve, which is focused on learning to sew and comes with curvy size patterns.

Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting This is a great book on Fitting. The techniques are explained in step by step photographs. The format makes for a lot to read and digest- but I always like information that explains the WHY or HOW and doesn't skip anything. I'm not sure it's the most home sewist friendly fitting book since it's focused on fitting a client. This would be my biggest negative since most people are fitting themselves and there are far of those people than tailors looking for this information. It's a bit of a shortcut. It's a little hard to search sometimes. I'll KNOW I saw something in there when I want to refer it to someone looking but I have to be clever to find it sometimes often thinking about another fitting technique it could be associated with. The pants section is pretty good but it's not very in-depth. I'm only saying that about the pants section since I know many just want ONE fitting book. You may want more for pants but I got you...

Pants for Real People.This book may be older but it's the best pants fitting book around. It has all the fit changes you could need plus multiple examples on real people and multiple combinations of fitting issues. The content is dated and somewhat not socially acceptable in some cases but the fitting content is accurate and empowering. It could do with a bit of an update for cohesion and delivery since it sometimes feels like an ongoing monologue and like there's so much to consume at once. But this is where it will help you really focus in on only what you need. Fitting is work. And if you're on the pants journey, be prepare to do the work if you want good results. There's a few methods out right now that shortcut the steps. It features many fit issues on real people of all ages and sizes. And this is the most complete fitting guide you'll find. (Although Fitopedia will hopefully surpass it in thoroughness). Tip: you can find these used at Thrift or Abe Books!  I wish I would have known about this Pants Fitting book long ago! I could have been buying them and handing them to anyone who asked.


The Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing This is such an excellent book. I'd buy an older one (I can't link the oldest ones on Amazon). I just researched how to sew books in 2023 for a personal project and this one is hand's down the most amazing. I wish I'd known about it sooner! You can find this used on Thrift or Abe Books.