Every craftsperson knows that work is made easier when done with well-made tools that are appropriate for the job at hand. Very often good tools are also objects of great beauty that become even more beautiful as they acquire a patina through years of use. 

As we introduce a new series about tools for design, sewing, and making, I found myself, over-and-over again, writing about how the basic tools of sewing find their origins in antiquity. “The needle (insert thread, yarn, or cutting instruments) seems to be as old as humanity itself.” This is because the work itself, the work of sewing and embroidery, are as old as humanity. Sewing is a part of sustaining life, that is providing ourselves with food, clothing, and shelter—the most basic necessities of existence. And for this reason, many of the earliest manmade tools were those that aided in the sewing process. Some tools, like scissors, have developed over the millennia. Other tools, like the needle, have retained the same basic shape and function: a hard substance, with a point on one end and a hole on the other, used for carrying thread (or some binding material) through a diverse range of materials, from leather to fabric. These tools became essential to life and, consequently, household staples.  

Well-made, beautiful tools can be expensive, but don’t always have to be. The most important aspect in selecting the right tools is the function: How well does the tool accomplish that function? How does the tool fit in your hand or on your body? Does it make the work easier? 

In our series For the Love of Tools, we will include a thorough overview of all of the tools that we use in our stitching practice at Alabama Chanin and The School of Making. To get started, all you need is a needle, thread or yarn, fabric, scissor, pencil, and sewing cards. I’ve always suggested curating your tool collection over time as your skills and interests grow. Stay tuned for more…


2 comments on “FOR THE LOVE OF TOOLS

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  1. corinne

    Greetings from Canada!

    My fabric weights are old & odd. They were a naval draftsman’s tools belonging to my husband’s deceased father. I believe they had a purpose beyond being just paperweights due to the strange shapes. I like that they’ve been re-purposed to my sewing room.

  2. Beverly Threadgill

    I love tools, too, Natalie! Fancy or humble–we have an intimate connection to the implements that make our work easier, or our world more beautiful.