One day I was looking forward to teaching a hand applique class. When I woke up that morning, I envisioned my students coming to class – the project and handouts at every station; scissors and threaded needles within reach….. and then a bus tour pulled up to our door. Reality check!
God bless quilters because they are very adaptable! I set up the supplies like a Chinese buffet and had them pick up their project and handouts as they walked in the door. But, when it came time to applique, there wasn’t a threaded needle in site! I got out this needle threader, demoed it, and told them that stuff happens, and they were going to have to thread their own needles!
Eight out of ten people in the class bought it! They were not willing to spend $12 to $15 for a gadget, wrapped in a package, when they didn’t know it works. But, in this case, when Clover invented a better mousetrap, they all had to have it!
I learned that sometimes you can spoil your customers TOO much! By actually USING the needle threader, they knew it worked – and loved it! They got to play. And, since they were “playing” under my supervision, I could answer their questions….yes, it does work for straw needles……no, embroidery needles and pearl cotton are too big……and, guess what, if you hold onto the thread when you pull the needle out – you’ve just unthreaded the needle! We all had a good laugh over that one – but I’m glad she did it in class so she knew how to use it correctly when she got home!
Let’s face it, quilters are tactile people – we like to touch! At one point, my sales rep checked and said that I had sold over 150 of these needle threaders simply by letting my customers thread their own needles! Talk about a soft sell..
I even take it on the plane because a cutter is built in – no scissors required! To view a demonstration, click on the video link below.
The Clover Embroidery Needle Threader
I have a dear friend who loves to embroider so we had lots of samples in our shop. Meg Hawkey of Crabapple Designs has single handedly revitalized this art form! This needle threader works for all embroidery flosses and pearl cottons. Use it to thread your needle during a demo, and let everyone try it – they will love it!
One of our sales reps attached it to the handle of her scissors with a fob so it is always available. What a great idea!
The Clover Bias Tape Makers
I love to applique so these are a Godsend! I use them to make all of my vines and stems. They come in five different widths – ranging from 1/4″ to 2″. I have used them so often that I can share a couple of tricks with you. My favorite size is the 3/8″ width, so I’ll use that size for this example.
Cut bias strips 3/4″ wide. Then cut the end of the strip at an angle so that it is easy to feed through the tape maker. I spray it with Mary Ellen’s Spray Starch so the edges are crisp after pressing. There is a slit cut into the top of it so you can push the fabric through with a pin – they’ve thought of everything!
Attach the end of the fabric to the ironing board with a T-Pin. You must keep the tip of the iron against the tip of the bias tape maker so that the fabric doesn’t splay before it’s pressed.
To see a video, click on the link below:
You can even insert a heat sensitive adhesive tape through the tape maker so the bias tape can be ironed in place on your finished project. It works well, but I usually don’t bother since I am going to hand-stitch it in place.
John James Straw Needles
Straw needles are long, fine needles that are very sharp and make it possible for you to applique with ease. My friend uses them to do exquisite embroidery. We couldn’t figure out how she could create such tiny stitches – when the eye of our needles was bigger than her stitches! I asked her to show us one day – and we ALL use them now!
Size nine are my favorite. The needle is so long that I don’t have to wear a thimble on that finger because the eye of the needle sticks out past my finger tip. It is no longer jabbing the tip of my finger! And, the eye of the size nine is big enough so that I know which end to put in the needle threader! I’m over 50 and sometimes I can’t even SEE the eye! But I can see these – and use them for applique, embroidery, and attaching bindings.
I love any gadget that makes it possible for my friends to continue sewing – at any age. I noticed that many of my customers were having trouble rotary cutting. As they aged and were dealing with arthritis, strokes, and tremors, cutting became a challenge. They just weren’t capable of putting enough pressure on the ruler to hold it in place to cut accurately.
This handle has suction cups that make it possible to attach it to any ruler that is at least 4 inches wide. They can grip it, move it, and apply even pressure with ease. They love it because it allows them to be independent as long as possible. There is a reason it is the #1 gadget.
Mary Ellen’s Spray Starch
I love this stuff! Spray the fabric and iron before rotary cutting. The added sizing stabilizes any stretch in the fabric and eliminates distortion when cutting and pressing. Spray and iron completed blocks for crisp, wrinkle-free projects. I even got crazy one night – and actually ironed my clothes!
It comes in four scents – Citrus Grove, Caribbean Beach, Cherry Blssom, Lavendar, or No-Scent at all – you’ll feel like you’re back in your grandmother’s kitchen. And, choose from three sizes – 8 ounce, 16 ounce, and a gallon refill size.
Several customers said that they iron their pillow cases – they feel like they are at a five star hotel in their own bedroom! I’ll probably only experience that if they invite me over, but it’s a nice idea…..
Next week, I’ll share six more. If you aren’t carrying these in your store, you may want to consider it!