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Sewing and Design Tools
Tools Dictionary
Click on the pictures to see a larger version

Many of these items are available on-line.
For some sources  go to Notions: Where to find them on-line.

Awl Wooden handle with sharp metal point. Used for Making small holes in paper.
Beeswax Thread is drawn through the slits in the plastic case to coat and strengthen it.
Buttonhole
Cutter
Flat, sharp blade on a wooden handle and a small wooden cutting board.  The blade cuts the buttonhole against the board without marking the table.
C-Thru Rule Transparent ruler with a grid of markings every 1/16" or 1/8", sometimes has a 0-centering marking. Used to mark seam allowances and draw lines.
Centering Rulers Ruler designed with "0" in the center and measured out towards both ends. Used to easily find the center of a line or equal distances away from a point.
Chalk, Tailor's Triangular or square pieces of clay chalk used to mark fabric before cutting or stitching.  Comes in a variety of colors to suit different colors of fabric.  Wax chalk should be used carefully because if ironed, it will melt into the fabric.  Varieties with disappearing ink may leave a chemical residue in the fabric. 
Compass Instrument consisting of two legs, one of which has a sharp point at the end and the other holds a pencil. The legs are joined at the top and are held together by an adjustable hinge to provide a variety of markings. Used to create curves, circles.
Cuff Rulers Rulers made in the exact width of a cuff and used for quick and accurate measurements. Comes in varying cuff widths, common are 1-1/2" and 2" wide.
Curved Rulers Also called "French Curves." A set of rulers, plastic or metal, in a variety of sizes, all with different angles and curves. Used to smooth curved lines on patterns, typically in the collar, armhole and neckline areas.
Cutter, Rotary This instrument has a round blade like a pizza cutter.  It may be used to cut out patterns or for cutting through multiple layers of fabric.  Blade sizes include:  18mm (about "); 28mm (about 1 1/8"); 45mm (about 1 "); and 60mm (about 2 3/8").  Must be used with a special cutting mat.
Dressmaker's
Tracing Paper
Paper with a coating of colored wax or chalk on one or both sides. Used to transfer markings from pattern to fabric.  
Eraser There are various types of rubber erasers. The kneadable type used for art is preferable as it lessens the chance of ripping the pattern paper.  Used to get rid of unwanted lines and "clean up" the pattern.
French Curves A set of rulers, plastic or metal, in a variety of sizes, all with different angles and curves. Used to smooth curved lines on patterns, typically at the collar, armhole, and neckline areas. May also refer specifically to an armscye ruler.  See "Metal Rulers, Armscye" and "Curved Rulers."
Metal Rulers, Armscye Aluminum ruler with strong curve.  Used to create or correct the neckline and armscye (or armhole) curves.  
Metal Rulers, Hip Curve Also called "Curve Stick."  Aluminum ruler with slight curve to create the hip, hem and lapel curves.  
Metal Rulers, "L" Square Aluminum ruler with precise 90 degree angle. Used to create perpendicular lines and to measure off parallel lines.
Metal Rulers, Straight Aluminum ruler to precisely mark and measure. Comes in a variety of sizes for a variety of uses, see "Cuff Rulers", "Centering Rulers"
Notcher A tool which creates 1/4" deep square cuts in the edge of patterns.  Used to make notches on slopers or patterns.
Oaktag Heavy paper (lighter than cardboard) used to make slopers. This paper is more durable than pattern paper and will keep longer.  
Pattern Hook Metal hook and "T"-bar strung together with 8" of nylon cord.  Used to hold sloper or pattern pieces together in storage.   Also comes in an all metal type
Pattern Punch A metal tool designed with a stable base and handle that, when pushed, cuts a circular hole in paper.  Used to make a hole in a pattern or sloper to accommodate the pattern hook.  Tool can make holes in a variety of sizes.   
Pencil,
Mechanical
A pencil with a part to turn to extend the lead. Does not go into a pencil sharpener. Gives a more consistent sharp point than a pencil that must be sharpened.
Pencil,
Colored
A pencil with colored lead. Used in correcting pattern lines.
Pin
Cushion
May be any shape or size. Standard type is tomato shaped with a strawberry attached at the top. The strawberry is filled with coarse sand that will sharpen pins and needles stuck into it. Some pin cushions attach to the wrist. Used to hold pins and needles while working.  
Push Pins A sharp pin approximately 1" long with a plastic  or metal drum-shaped end. Used to hold pattern pieces down on a cork covered table. Also used to "walk" or pivot pattern pieces to determine correct fit.  
Rotary Cutter This instrument has a round blade like a pizza cutter.  It may be used to cut out patterns or for cutting through multiple layers of fabric.  Blade sizes include:  18mm (about "); 28mm (about 1 1/8"); 45mm (about 1 "); and 60mm (about 2 3/8").  Must be used with a special cutting mat.
Scissors,
Fabric
A good quality pair of scissors used specifically for cutting out fabric.  Industrial scissors may be 10" in length, custom sewing may use 8."  Good brands are Mundial, Wiss, Gingher and others.  Never use these for cutting out paper as it dulls the blade
Scissors,
Paper
A pair of scissors used specifically for cutting paper. 
Seam
Ripper
Small handled device with a sharp hook at one end that can slide under a stitch or a row of stitches and cut them. Used to take out unwanted lines of sewing.
Sewing
Gauge
A ruler, typically 6" long, with a movable measuring guide. Used to mark hems and make alterations.  
Snips Small cutting device which can fit into the palm of your hand.  Used at the sewing machine to cut off thread at the end of a row of stitching or used when inspecting a garment to cut off unwanted threads
Straight Pins Standard sewing pins. Pins come in a  variety of styles, widths, and lengths. Some have large glass or plastic heads.  Used to pin fabric to fabric or fabric to pattern. Selection depends on the type of fabric and personal preference.  
Tailor's Chalk Triangular or square pieces of clay chalk used to mark fabric before cutting or stitching.  Comes in a variety of colors to suit different colors of fabric.  Wax chalk should be used carefully because if ironed, it will melt into the fabric.  Varieties with disappearing ink may leave a chemical residue in the fabric.  
Tape Measure A 1/2" or 5/8" wide plastic or fiberglass tape in 60"  to 120" lengths with measurements every 1/8." Used to measure the body.   May also come with metric measurements on one side and imperial on the other. One variety of tape measure has a 2" section of cardboard attached for use in the measuring of the crotch area.  
Tape,
Transparent
Adhesive tape used to hold paper pattern pieces together.  Opaque tape (also referred to as "Magic" tape by the Scotch brand) is best as it doesn't rip paper when repositioned and you can write on it.  
Tracing Wheel, Needlepoint An instrument with sharp, 1/4" long "teeth" on a wheel attached to a handle.  Makes pinholes. Used to transfer pattern markings onto paper or oaktag.  Also used in the creation of knock-offs.  
Tracing Wheel,
Plain Point
An instrument with serrated teeth on a wheel attached to a handle. Makes slotted perforations. Used with or without tracing paper to transfer marking from paper to paper or paper to fabric.  
Tracing Wheel, Smooth An instrument with a smooth wheel attached to a handle.  Used with or without tracing paper to transfer markings from paper to paper or paper to fabric.  More often used on fine or lightweight fabrics.  
Triangle Ruler A three-sided ruler, typically has two equal sides which meet at a 90 degree angle joined to a third side at a 45 degree angle. Used to identify true bias lines or to square a corner.  
Tweezers Metal instrument for picking up small items. Also used for threading the serger.

 
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