Updated March 12, 2019
My husband went to nursery and grammar school at a school run by Sacred Heart nuns before they modernized their habits. He remembers vividly a nun, in her long habit going around with a tool belt around her waist because she was the convent’s handyman.
While our tools don’t require strapping on a belt, we can all use a needlepoint tool box, much as that nun no doubt had an old-fashioned tool box in her workshop.
What’s in your toolbox is really up to your habits. You might be like I am most of the time, keeping your tools in all kinds of places, but putting everything in one place does make your life simpler.
In my supply drawer or on my desk I keep multiples of most of this stuff. I have a metal tin I can pack with the items I need for a class. I also have some fabric pouches I can pack to take my tools with me on trips.
My toolkit has:
- a little spiral notebook for notes
- a pair of short embroidery scissors
- a long pair of kitchen shears for cutting canvas
- a sewing gauge from Clothilde
- a cross stitch gauge
- a wooden laying tool
- artist’s tape
- a needle gripper
- a little plastic magnifier in a case
- a bone envelope creaser
- a tiny crochet hook
- tins with needles sorted by size
- small highlighters
- needle minders
- lever-style staple remover
- Pigma micron marker
- Thread Zapper
- telescoping magnet
So why do I have some of this stuff?
The sewing gauge measures short distances (for sewing allowances) while the cross stitch gauge measures longer distances.
The plastic magnifier is helpful if I can’t see something. You may also want to keep your stitching glasses or flip-up magnifiers in a pretty case in here. I’m planning on buying two pairs of inexpensive reading glasses from Zenni Optical (I can’t use off the shelf reading glasses) to keep here.
The bone envelope creaser is for rubbing against the artist’s tape I use to finish the edges of canvases. You would be surprised how much easier and more effective this is than fingers. It is also pretty.
The tweezers are for “unstitching” and for removing waste canvas. I find it easiest to clip open the stitches on the back with my embroidery scissors and then use the tweezers to pull out the threads. The thinner the ends of the tweezers, the better. If they are REALLY sharp, they will have a little plastic cover.
The crochet hook is my cheap version of the Thread Grabber. Since it is very thin (the smallest I can find), I can poke it through most canvases to grab an errant thread end on the front of my work.
Since I am always losing needles, I decided to stock up when they are cheap. I also found bunches of partly used packs of needles when cleaning up recently. I don’t use any special kind of needle. So I have put all my needles in a little tins. You could do the same thing with film canisters or pill bottles and put each size in a different container. Just be sure to use containers with very secure covers, as they will get jostled. I also have a box of needle threaders as well.
Needles, scissors, and a threader go in the current project bag. Other tools I need for my current project live in a cloth pouch from Out of Print. Near my stitching chair are the telescoping magnet and the artist’s tape. Everything else lives at my desk in boxes and cups of various sizes. This makes it very easy to pull together what’s needed for any project.
You might think of other necessities which need to be in your toolbox. Perhaps a pair of stitching gloves, some hand cream, or a box for ORTs, such as my Lantern Moon silk container (reviewed here). Whatever helps you stitch better, or whatever you are always looking for, belongs in your toolbox.