I’m back from my trip to Florida, did anyone miss me?
The universe is conspiring to tell me to write this post about tools you need in your shop. First review the selection of sewing and drafting tools I’ve recommended before (also on pg 146 of my book). Buy those, not something else you think is an acceptable substitute or maybe even better or that costs less but is “just as good”. For example, to reduce occasional stitch skipping and seam compression, you need a sewing hammer. Please note I am being very specific. I’m not saying to buy a hammer you can use with sewing and to be creative or inventive or thrifty in your choice of one, I’m saying to buy this one and no other.
Speaking of being specific about tools, I have finally figured out what I dislike most about quilting rulers. Please do not buy the latter, they are not better than a B-95 and they cost much more. First they are too thick to be pliable, they are too shiny (high glare makes them hard to use for long periods of time), they are too wide to be handled readily in seam walking and lastly, the hash marks on them are also too wide. Do not use wooden rulers of any kind; if they are not yet warped it is only a matter of time . Buy Fairgate metal rules designed specifically for the apparel industry -these are two inches wide so you can weight them down with a pattern/cloth weight which you should do whenever drawing long lines. Buy a ruler that is at least as long as the widest fabric you have. Also buy an L-square. There is no other way to true off right angles for the length you need. T-squares have too small a head. Southstar has most of the rules you need.
But back to my opening premise, generic tools you need in addition to the basics I mentioned above. If you have sewing machines, you need:
- A flat and philips head screwdriver (in the drawer* of every machine),
- a metric and inch socket set (maybe even a nut driver set),
- a set of allen wrenches,
- a set of adjustable wrenches,
- a hammer,
- a pair of needle nose pliers,
- wire strippers,
- a drill with wood and metal drill bits
- and a can of silicone spray.
- If you’re feeling brave, a set of SAE and metric taps and dies. I’ve only used them myself once but people who have come in to help me fix stuff were thrilled I had them.
As far as tool size, get the mid range size. Not too small and not too large. FYI, bolts on cutting tables take a 1/2″ socket. If you are like me, you will need a socket on one side and an adjustable wrench on the other to loosen and tighten the table bolts. The sewing machine table bolts are larger but easily handled with a 6″ adjustable wrench. In the sewing room, a 6″ wrench is my favorite size (I hide my pair and don’t let anyone use them). When getting pliers of any type, get ones that spring back open or prepare to be very annoyed some day in the future when it’s all gone south already. Your basic wire strippers are fine. Any wire stripping you may need to do is 12-20 gauge (the higher the number, the thinner the wire).
Before I forget, take pains to notice what tools your stitchers bring to work and how they use them. You should probably buy them replacement tools so they can take their stuff home. In fact, you should buy a set for everyone. Most of the time, stitchers only a short (6″) metal rule, a pair of snips (aka nippers), a wax and a chalk pencil and maybe scissors. Personally, I think it is a bad idea that they have scissors because they should not need them. Most important are the snips, I keep a pair on every sewing machine.
Oh, I almost forgot. One of the reasons I wrote this is because a friend sent me a link to Amazon’s Supply, a beta site for tools and materials used in shops, labs and factories.
*One day Mr F-I and I were visiting his mother. She was saying her now deceased husband was crazy because when she sold their home, she found two screwdrivers in one drawer in every room of the house. Mr. F-I and I looked at each other and we both thought the same thing -“that’s brilliant!” and we’ve been working on doing the same here.