From the basics to the obscure, following is a list of some of my favorite sewing supplies, resources, and things to make life easier. Many of these products have been recommended to me by other dressmakers and bloggers, and I am delighted to share them here.
1) I prefer Gutermann’s cotton thread for most of my sewing. Sometimes, especially when I am sewing with silk, I’ll use Gutermann’s silk thread. Both are available at JoAnn’s Fabrics.
2) Shibori Dragon carries a wonderful cotton basting thread, which somehow does not get tangled, no matter how much abuse I give it!
I know of only one source for waxed tracing paper, which comes in a variety of colors and in large sheets: Richard the Thread.
Sometimes cheaper is not better when it comes to this basic supply. Muslin should have some “heft” to it to make a successful mock-up/pattern/toile. Dharma Trading Company carries a nice assortment of quality muslins. Also, I will often buy 5 yards of “quilting” quality muslin at Jo Ann’s in the 120″ width. Then I tear it in half lengthwise, which gives me 10 yards at 60″ width.
There is only one place to buy the best silk organza for underlining – and that is from Susan Khalje’s online store. (In fact, everything in her store is the best quality – and often difficult to find elsewhere!) Her silk organza comes in black or white. I usually buy ten yards at a time, so I have it available when I need it.
Hug snug rayon seam binding is a delight. It is available from Amazon in 100 ft. rolls of every color you can imagine. (Search by name and color on Amazon.)
Clover fork pins:
These pins are essential when sewing plaids, checks, or printed designs which need to be matched. They are also available from Amazon (search by name).
Especially useful for those of us who sew with vintage patterns, this app for your iPad, smart phone, or home computer, is a quick and easy way to calculate fabric requirements for various widths of your dressgoods.
As there are no fine fabric stores left in the area of Pennsylvania where I live, I tend to purchase much of my fabric online. Britex Fabrics, B & J Fabrics, Mood Fabrics, Gorgeous Fabrics, and Emma One Sock are all wonderful sources of fashion fabrics and linings, and some also have buttons and trims. (Sadly Waechter’s Fine Fabrics went out of business in early 2014. This was such a loss for those of us who appreciate and buy fine fabrics.) Although Mendel Goldberg Fabrics does not have a website, for me no trip to New York is now worthwhile unless I can slip into this store at 72 Hester Street for an hour or two.
Custom-made covered buttons and belts:
Pat Mahoney of Lodi, California makes the most beautiful made-to-order covered buttons and belts. She does not have a website, but you can contact her by telephone or regular mail. Her address is: Pat’s Custom Buttons and Belts ~ 537 York Street ~ P.O. Box 335 ~ Lodi, CA 95241. Her phone number is 209-369-5410. Her service is quick, and her prices are very reasonable!
Books and Magazines:
My 1970 Vogue Sewing Book is still one of my favorite “go-to” books. It is out of print, but sometimes is available on Etsy or e-Bay.
Also no longer in print is Susan Khalje’s Linen and Cotton.
I purchased my copy on Amazon from a used book dealer. For excellent tips and procedures for fitting patterns, this book was recommended to our French Jacket Class by Susan:
It is available on Amazon.
Threads Magazine continues to be my favorite source for innovative and tried-and-true sewing techniques.
And, finally, as I often mention in my posts, the fashion coverage in The Wall Street Journal is current and savvy and frequently totally relatable to fashion sewing.