Ad Astra Quilting


Stocking Stuffers for Quilters

I was recently asked to suggest some good gift ideas for those among us who sew (sewers? sewists? seamstresses? eh.). So today, I want to share some of my favorite notions that won't break the bank and will be heartily appreciated by the recipients. I should preface this that these are not showstopper gifts, they are handy gifts! These are the kind of gifts that even though I already own most of these I would actually appreciate having a duplicate or more of them! I mean how often do you take your favorite thread snips to do some hand sewing in front of the tv and then return to the machine disappointed that they didn't return with you? It doesn't matter how many scissors, pins, threads, or clips I have -- I want more!

Clover Wonder Clips

First off, Wonder Clips by Clover because they really are wonderful! I like to have at least 100 Wonder Clips hanging around because to clip on binding I need at least that to make it around a full size quilt. I also would like to recommend getting at least some in a second color, these can be used as reminder clips of upcoming changes in the sewing. For example, I own the original red Wonder Clips, but would throw a second color like pink or blue on to warn me that I'm approaching a corner or particularly rough area and need to pay attention. If you are gifting these that might mean you give one large bag of a main color and a small set of a second color, they usually sell in packages containing anywhere from 10 to 100 clips. These are sold everywhere, literally everywhere. You can order them online from Amazon, Joann Fabrics, Nancy's Notions, or numerous smaller vendors and you can even find them locally from Michael's, to WalMart for those who live in small towns!

Acme Titanium Curved Embroidery Scissors

Thread snips! I have two favorites in this group depending on what I am doing. The first are my go-to thread snips by Fiskars. I was surprised to see these have only an average rating online, because for me they are in my back pocket when I enter my sewing studio. These are some dandy chops! I use these Fiskars when I am quickly sewing and snipping at the machine and also when I am pulling and clipping threads on the Longarm. They have a spring action inherent in the design and the plastic that pops them open so you are only doing the quick squeeze to clip the thread, it shortens the average scissor motion by half! 

The second set by Acme are 4" curved embroidery scissors. This particular set has a curved blade allowing you to get up close and personal with the threads you are trimming. These are my favorite when I am doing any kind of hand stitching. They stay remarkable sharp even after many years of use and they can really do the trick when you want to trim as close as possible.

Again, both sets are pretty widely available online and the Fiskars will pop up in a lot of big box stores also for those who like to shop at brick and mortar locations close to home. These thread snips aren't pretty but they are dynamite!

The seam ripper is kind of like the odd uncle you wish you didn't have to invite, but know how essential they are to the party. Dritz Seam Fix is my favorite. The Dritz Seam Fix seam ripper comes in two sizes each has the standard pokey end you've come to expect on a seam ripper, but in addition there is a soft rubbery end on the cap. The soft rubber end is really the bit that makes this seam ripper special because it quickly grips and removes all of the leftover threads from the seam after you have ripped it apart. Finally, a clean up to all that damage! Seam Fix seam rippers had previously been a little harder to come by, they definitely pop up on the front counter of many local quilt shops (I bought mine at Stitch a local Des Moines shop) but now that they are part of the Dritz brand you can expect to find these online at most big box sewing stores, and many smaller online sewing stores such as Connecting Threads

Dritz Extra-Fine Glass Head Pins
Clover Flower Head Pins

Just like thread snips, I have two favorite types of pins. The first are extra-fine glass head pins which are my go to for sewing anything on my domestic machine or for draping on a dress form. The most important bit here is the glass head, this means they won't melt if you iron over them by accident or intentionally. Second, they are extra-fine so the hole left in the fabric is much smaller which is great if you are working with finer materials. Now, I am extra picky about my pins and I also require that my glass head pins are no longer than 1 3/8", frankly my favorites are only 1" in length. The longer the pin the more it will bend, also the more wasted pin hanging out to poke you. Short pins are strong no matter how thick they are, so you have fewer bent pins finding their way into your pin cushions.

The second type of pin I use and love are flower head pins, particularly those by clover. The flower head pin is the exact opposite of the glass head pin. These are plastic so they can melt, not a plus, but they can also be stitched through without breaking a needle, definite plus. They are typically quite long also making them extra flexible often able to bend and spring back to straight when released. I use flower head pins when I am pinning a quilt onto my longarm frame. The extra length allows me to cover more space with fewer pins. The flexibility allows them to wind onto the round beams of the frame but then spring back to straight when I remove them. The flat flower head allows me to push them flat against the beam removing any added bulk, and the plastic head means that I can accidentally sew over them when I am quilting to the edge without breaking my needle and slowing things down, the stitches and the pin survive another day! Both type of pins can be found almost anywhere, but if you are picky about length and brand like I am, I suggest searching online and carefully reading the details before purchasing.

Aurifil Threads

Need more suggestions? Throw in some really nice thread in any color you choose, Aurifil and Guterman are two of my favorite brands and they are BE-A-UTIFUL to work with. Find a clear quilting ruler (often used with a rotary cutter), they are like Pokemon, I've got to have them all. I'm currently eyeing the Bloc Loc, Sidekick, and Quick Curver Ruler (hint hint), as well as a 12.5 x 12.5" square. But my latest favorite are a 3.5" x 21" and 8.5" x 21" because 21" is long enough to reach across a half width of fabric (so a yard folded in half, or a fat quarter!).

Quick Curve Ruler


Finally, the last and possibly greatest stocking stuffer you can give a quilter is a gift certificate to a really nice fabric store. First check out your LQS (local quilt shop!), those owners so appreciate your business! But for those of us who live in rural areas or big cities, getting high quality fabric quickly and easily can be a real test. Thankfully social media gives us so many opportunities to find other images of fabric that we can finally have an idea about scale and color before purchasing when we shop online. Most quilters have brands they love and trust as far as touch and quality go, and designers that they covet, so let them shop for themselves. They will die over the idea of adding to their stash without taking from their wallet. Some of my tried and true favorite online stores are  Hawthorne Threads, Pink Castle Fabrics, Connecting Threads, and Fat Quarter Shop.

Quilters and stitchers, what would you add to this list?


A last note about this post, I did not receive any compensation for my recommendations here today. These are my true and honest opinions and no one is paying me to tell you. However, if you would like to me to use or review your product, I would love to do so please contact me!

Ad Astra Quilting.

Located in Des Moines, Iowa, USA.

Copyright 2015 .