Monday, September 16, 2013

My Favorite Sewing Tool

Invariably, from time to time, bloggers ask you to share your favorite notion or sewing tool.  I have a few -- but in the spirit of not repeating the most popular ones (my rotary cutter, its holder,  self-healing mat, thread snips, the miraculous sewing machine itself...) I usually share one that most people overlook or in-my-humble-opinion, under value. This time, in honor of National Sewing Month and under the tutelage of Sew, Mama, Sew! here is my favorite sewing tool.  Duh-dun-uhn-Dah!

Sure - there are so many pretty pin cushions out there to love.  I have collected, received, and even made a few.  I actually use them.

But nothing compares to my one-true-pincushion-love, the magnetic variety.

I'll admit, I was biased from the beginning because mom had one when I was little.  Hers is blue and round (like the Grabbit) and still working hard at her house next to the Pfaff she sewed my little girl clothes on.  It's got some heft and so it can double as a pattern weight.  When I started machine sewing almost two years years ago, I knew I wanted one like mom's.  Here's another pic of mine.

It's a Pin-Pal...and it's magic!

If you aren't among the devoted already, I'll tell you why it's a superior sewing helper.  It grabs your pins.  It holds your pins.  It finds your pins.

Let me explain its usefulness.

When you are sewing along your pinned seam, you can keep your full attention on what you are stitching because the magnetic pincushion will snatch/catch/grip/grab a pin tossed near its direction.  It even tells you it's made the connection with a little "chh" sound as it wrestles each errant pin home while you drive along.  I'm right handed, so I keep mine on the front right side of my machine.  It travels with me to the cutting table for pinning and back to the machine for unpinning while I sew.  That's the holding part.

When you do drop a small, sharp object (or your sewing machine needle breaks in spectacular fashion.)  And especially if you're like me and you most often sew in your bare feet...your magnetic pincushion is there to help you out of a dangerous situation.  Simply wave it around over the floor in the suspected vicinity of impact and it'll tell you with its happy little "chh" when it finds it.

Piece of mind, people.  That's priceless.

For travel, I bought a second one.  The Clover brand has a snap lid so my pins won't get into any trouble while packed away.  It also has a nice indentation for your fingers to help you pick up every last pin easily.  This actually comes in really handy for needles because they lay so flat and usually find their way to the bottom of the stack.

All magnets are not equal, however.  I really like the concept of The Needle Nest but it's power of attraction doesn't measure up.  I loved it while I was finishing each set of loose threads as I started and stopped machine quilting but when it got knocked off the table open -- by a bad kitty -- my needles didn't stay put.

If plastic is simply not your thing, you can make a more aesthetically pleasing variety out of a saucer, footed ceramic bowl, or wide shallow teacup.  I saw this idea on Amy Smart's blog, Diary of a Quilter, and there are plenty of neat-oh examples in a Pinterest search.  You glue a neodymium (powerful button) magnet to the bottom and viola! Of course, this one wouldn't make the "chh", it might be more of a "dnk" but you get the idea.

That's it. It's my fave and now you all know it.

Happy pinning.


P.S.  If you are Googling "Pin-Pal" with absolutely no luck, so was I.  I think my beloved model isn't made anymore even though I bought it less than two years ago.  The bottom says, "PinPal ©1986 BFP, Inc. Pat. Pend. Made in the USA." 
Besides the Grabbit and the Clover I mentioned above, another comparable item is the Dritz Magnetic Pin Caddy.


  1. Mom's is definitely a may be too young to remember the box it came in, but it looked just like the one in your link! I have one, too. Mine is lavender. Copyright 1980.

    1. Thanks, sis. Moms out there, take note! Your disinterested kids are watching and they just might pick up the stitchy habits later in life. ;)

  2. Those are such a clever idea! I didn't even know they were invented!

  3. Genius idea, those pins are dangerous when they get everywhere! :D

  4. This is my favorite tool as well! Mine is orange and was my aunt's. I throw pins in its general direction and it catches them all! This and the wondrous Wonder Clips are my two favorite tools :)


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