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Unlikely places

2013 November 10
by elizabeth_admin

Yesterday, I needed some sewing notions so that I could continue constructing my faux fur vest.   But I didn’t go to a fabric store to pick them up.  I went to a hardware store.   Yes, the domain of contractors and weekend home DIY’ers.  Why, I hear you ask?  Well, my leather facings were making the lapels on my vest look poofy despite my industrious and long pressing session.   And because of the leather facings and heavy metallic zipper on the front of the vest, the back of the vest was feeling a little light in the loafers.  I needed something to weigh it down so it would hang evenly all around.

I went to the hardware store to pick up a rubber mallet to pound the leather in to submission and some chain to sew into my hem.  I found just the kind of mallet I was looking for right away, but the chain proved elusive.  I was standing looking at the chain selection in the store, when a helpful (male) employee asked if I needed help.  Sheepishly, I said I was looking to weight a hem for a vest I’m sewing and he didn’t even bat an eye.  He said his mom sewed and he had some great suggestions as alternatives to the chains, which, by the way, weren’t suitable as they didn’t have a flat profile and would protrude bumpily.  His first suggestion was magnets, but they were too thick.  Then he suggested washers and they were just right!  Perfect weight, thin in profile, and small enough to fit in to the hem.



I left the hardware store with a spring in my step, knowing I had the right tools (notions) for the job.  Where is the most unlikely place you’ve sourced notions or tools for your sewing projects?  Have you bought or used a tool meant for other activities/uses for sewing?  What’s the strangest thing you’ve used or bought for sewing?


12 Responses leave one →
  1. Shams permalink
    November 10, 2013

    I love the hardware store!!! If they only carried fabric, they’d be perfect! 😉

  2. November 10, 2013

    I found something fantastic at the automotive store: magnetic bowls! I use them for my pins, and the magnets are so strong I can just toss my pins in the right direction and the bowl grabs them. An auto mechanic would use them to hold nuts and bolts and things while working on cars so that they don’t fall or get lost. It works the same way for pins too!

  3. Carol S permalink
    November 10, 2013

    I always use a couple of heavyweight vintage staplers as pattern weights. They lay very flat and are easy to grab and move around.

  4. November 10, 2013

    I have used washers before so I think this will work well for your project. Besides hardware store for notions I have used fly fishing items from Orvis forever sewing projects!

  5. November 10, 2013

    Hem weights – fine idea me thinks.

    Women in the public eye often use weights in their skirt hems to avoid embarrassment if/when a breeze catches and lifts it. Imagine the media delight if Angela Merkel, Hilary Clinton, the various royals (etc), got caught flashing their bloomers to the world.

    Looking forward to seeing the images for this garment!

  6. November 10, 2013

    Um, Chinese take out joint would probably be the oddest for me. Chopsticks are awesome as a point turners, especially if you sharpen one end with a pencil sharpener.

    The hardware store is awesome, and Kenneth King said (in the bustier class I took) that heavy weight zip ties can double as boning. Seriously.

  7. BeckyMc permalink
    November 10, 2013

    I love the hardware store, too. I buy the biggest, heaviest washers for pattern weights. They have some flat L shaped brace thingies that would also be great for patterns. Those are next on my list. Kenneth King bought a piece of bannister (you hold it as you go down the stairs) to use as a pressing tool. He told us about it when I took the Moulage class.

  8. Miriam in KS permalink
    November 10, 2013

    When my oldest children were 2 and 4 years old, I made them pumpkin costumes for Halloween. I spent 79 cents a yard on orange broadcloth. I WAS NOT going to spend more than $3 a yard on the boning for two costumes. So I asked my husband to find plastic strapping tape from the box factory where he worked. He found me some that had been cut off of some product bundle. I used 5 strips per channel. (Lots of channels on a pumpkin costume!) He didn’t bring home enough so I asked for more. This time, he raided the bin where the machine had jammed, bringing home discarded yet unused strapping. This bunch had more “body” and helped me replicate the concept of boning without the expense. All from material which would have been discarded/recycled/thrown away. I just recycled it in a different manner!

  9. November 11, 2013

    I also use large washers as pattern weights. I also shopped the hardware shop for a tool box to keep my notions organised and an organiser box for buttons (designed for nuts, bolts and screws). Both were much cheaper than sewing versions.

    Love the hardware shop

  10. November 11, 2013

    I’ve also bought notions at the hardware store on occasion: a hammer to apply snaps and rivets, chain for a bag and various things to do with boning (which I find really difficult to explain in English).
    The strangest item I have in stash would be old bass guitar strings. My boyfriend was replacing those and we thought I might use the old ones in a bag some day. That day hasn’t come yet.
    Although thinking about using odd things in bags: I did once use a cable from the television (which didn’t work) as a thick cord for the strap of a handbag.

    By the way, I always deal with poofy edges in (faux) leather is by glueing the seam allowances in place. Multi-purpose glue or fabric glue (both from the hardware store) work well, but test on a scrap first because some glues make the end-result to rigid.

  11. November 11, 2013

    Drapery weights from JoAnn’s are perfect for this problem as they are already covered in cotton fabric and can be attached with thread to the seam or lining and they don’t slide or wander.

  12. November 13, 2013

    I love the hardware store for miscellaneous sewing stuff! I’ve bought my yardsticks and L-square type rulers; washers for pattern weights; and washers for hem weights. I’ve grabbed many paint chip samples to play with color combinations. I’ve been considering a slab of plywood to turn into a wide pressing board (cover it with layers of wool fabric). My oddest tool is my husband’s old wooden letter opener — it is the perfect tool for corners and smoothing seams!

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