Last month I messaged the amazing Heather of House. of A La Mode to see if she wanted to shop for sewing supplies with me. The catch? We were hitting the hardware stores! Another friend of ours, Irene, who owns a fabulous sewing studio in Southwest Portland, had been telling me about the class supplies she gets at Home Depot. So Heather and I hit the stores in search of useful tools and great deals. Here’s what we found.
Most fashion design and pattern-making books recommend an L-square ruler for drafting patterns. Because you have to measure both horizontally and vertically to mark a point on a pattern, an L-square makes it easy. A perfect right angle guide can also be useful for squaring up pillows, quilts and blocks. You wouldn’t want to use your rotary cutter next to the metal ruler, but it is a useful tool for measuring and marking.
Like the L-Square, the T-Square can be used for drafting patterns (think pants and long dresses.) Home Depot calls this a drywall ruler, but I actually have one of these that I use for squaring up quilts. After I’ve finished quilting and I’m ready to trim off the excess batting and backing, I mark cutting lines using this extra long ruler with a perfect right angle.
Painter’s Tape is kind of like big, inexpensive washi. It doesn’t leave a residue and it’s easy to get off, yet it adhere’s very well. Every sewist should have some in her tool box. Use it to tape your quilt back to the floor when making a quilt sandwich, audition fabrics in a room, temporarily fix a hem, secure an embroidery design on a window when you’re transferring it to your fabric, etc., etc. etc. Now if they’d only start making it in beautiful designs…
These inexpensive washers make the best pattern weights, which you can use to hold down your pattern instead of pinning. You can even make them pretty.
These red metal toolboxes are cheaper, sturdier, and bigger than most sewing boxes. I like the red metal, but you could always spray paint it or cover it in sewing stickers. Found at Harbor Freight.
Suction Mount Handle
Put a handle on your cutting ruler–it will make it easier to position and hold steady while you’re using your rotary cutter. It’s also safer. Found at Harbor Freight.
Paracord or Parachute Cord
Use it as drawstrings for bags or pants. Make bracelets. Cover it with fabric to make piping. Almost half the price as craft stores and it comes in lots of colors. Found at Home Depot.
These gardening gloves are very similar to several brands of quilting gloves. They allow you to hold the fabric more securely and give you more control while you’re quilting on your home machine. Found at Harbor Freight.
Some people swear by these 45mm blades, while other people have found that they’re not as sharp as the Fiskars or Olfa blades. For $1 each they’re worth a shot! Found at Harbor Freight.
8 Oz. Canvas
Irene cuts up these drop cloths and uses squares of the canvas to teach kids to sew on a machine. I use the fabric as interlining for bags. It will never be seen, so it doesn’t matter what it looks like. It also comes in different weights so you can choose a stiffer or softer canvas. The price compared to canvas or duck yardage can’t be beat! (Since the dimensions of the drop cloth differ from the bolted canvas at Fabric.com, I calculated the price based on square feet rather than yards.) Found at Home Depot.
All in all, we had a pretty successful shopping trip! It really proves that the prices on hobby supplies are significantly higher than comparable products marketed toward trades or home use. We’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you used any of these products? What did you think? Are there other sewing supplies you get at the hardware store? Tell us in the comments!