flatlay of helpful sewing tools

11 helpful sewing tools you can’t live without

Tailoring tools

At some point in your sewing life, you really want your sewing projects to look professional. One of the easiest ways to do that is to invest in some good tools for tailoring. Pressing is so much of tailoring, and this trio of tailoring tools will help you get nice pretty pressed seams.

5. Tailor’s Ham

helpful sewing tools: Tailor's ham

Tailor’s hams are called that because they look like a ham. So original, I know. This sturdy little device, usually filled with sawdust will help you press curves really easily.

Once you get used to pressing sleeve caps, collars, and curvy hems on a ham, it’s really hard to go back. All you do is drape a curve over the ham and press it as it lies. Let it cool on the ham and you’ll have built some beautiful shape into your garment.

For collars, you can wrap it around the ham and steam the shape right in.

There are holders you can buy for hams, though I’ve never found I need one.

Fun fact: a football tee will hold a tailor’s ham quite well.

6. Sleeve roll

Helpful sewing tools: sleeve roll

Sleeve rolls are like tailor’s hams, but for sleeves. Press the seams on long leg seams or inside a sleeve.

Sleeve rolls can really help you press a long seam nice and flat. And because they’re fairly small in diameter, they help you create a pressing surface in places the pointy end of a ironing board is too wide to reach.

Bonus: Pressing on the curved surface of a ham or sleeve roll can also stop the pressed seam from making an imprint on the right side.

7. Point presser/clapper

Helpful sewing tools: point presser and clapper

Let’s just throw it out there that tailoring tools have cool names. Clappers combine a little brute force with steam to help you make pancake-flat seams.

Press a seam, plunk down the clapper right over it to hold in the steam. Most of the time, you don’t actually have to actually smack the fabric [though clapping fabric is indeed cheaper than therapy]. Holding the clapper firmly on a pressed seam will do the trick.

The clapper will help the heat relax the fibers of the fabric. Just like with the ham, let the fabric cool and you’ll be rewarded with such a lovely seam.

I like this combo point presser/clapper. In the combo, the point presser is a handle for the clapper. Point pressers can help you get into the tiny nooks and crannies of a collar when you press it.

If you like sharp collars, a point presser is a must. It’s another one of the those helpful sewing tools that it’s hard to go back after having used it.

I keep my team of pressing supplies right under my ironing board so I can batch my pressing. That’s one of the 41 tips in my ultimate guide to sewing efficiently.

next page graphic with spool of thread

13 thoughts on “11 helpful sewing tools you can’t live without”

  1. I love everything on your list! There are some things that I would like to get from your list. I didn’t know the Gingher embroidery scissors doubled as a seam ripper. I would like a clapper (Love the name!), because one day I would like more crisp collars. I think the buttonhole marking tool looks very cool and is must have. I love the idea of the glass pins, because melted pins are not my friend. So many get stuck to my iron. My favorite tools are my Clover chalk rollers. I have tried marking pencils, which weren’t helpful for me at all. I love that the chalk only comes off when I need it to. Kudos to whom ever came up with that idea! Loved this article!!!

    1. Thanks Capresha! A clapper will change all your collars and denim sewing forever! I have a few of those melted pins too, LOL! The Clover chalk gadgets are great too–love that ultra fine line!

  2. Those Kai scissors sound interesting. I’ve been using those springy Fiskars ones for years because it’s easy on my carpal tunnel, but I feel like they only last a year or two and then I have to relegate them to paper scissors. And somehow, I’ve ended up never getting a tailor’s ham, though I have some variation of every other tool you mentioned, if not the same thing.

    1. My Mom always had the springy Fiskars–they are pretty nice on your hands, but I had the same experience as you of them losing their edge. Kais were an investment but definitely have helped with my own repetitive motion issues. Hams are the best! Such pretty curves with them!

  3. I pretty much have everything on this list! The only thing I don’t have is a clapper/press thing – instead I just use a scrap of wood. I would like my husband to make me a real one though. I recently switched from Ginghers to Kai after my Ginghers got loose and I found basic Kai’s on Amazon and Wawak for under $20. I love them so much more than my Ginghers!

    1. Scrap wood is really smart for a clapper! I think the one I have is maple so it seems a lot denser than the 2×4 scraps we have in the garage–but no matter. It’s always a good thing to use what you have! That’s an awesome deal on your Kais! I love mine so much more too!

  4. I started using a clapper when I decided to fuse lightweight interfacing on the back of a really scrappy quilt block. I hate the little bubbles and waves that sometimes appear with fusibles, but the clapper did its magic and no bubbles.
    I don’t know if it cools it off or holds the heat, but it works.
    And I love the idea of wearing your embroidery scissors. I’m always mislaying my favorite pair.

    1. You’re so right Jan; clappers are so useful for so many things. That’s a great idea with interfacing! And forgetting where I put my embroidery scissors is exactly why the ribbon happened. As long as you’re careful with them, it’s so handy to have them right there at all times!

  5. Hi
    Where did you get your ironing board cover in the gadget video with the of fashion pattens in it ? Love it
    Thank you

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *