Sewing Tips and Tricks: Unexpected Tools for the Sewing Room

Don’t you just love it when something so unexpected becomes a convenient and useful tool for sewing? Today, I’m talking about a simple flat-head screwdriver and a wallpaper roller. You heard me right -- two tools that are likely to already be in your home that you can add to your sewing room.

Wallpaper Roller and Screwdriver

Photos via Simply Sewing Studio

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Believe it or not, both a flat-head screwdriver and a wallpaper ruler can serve a useful purpose in sewing.

OK, you might already have a screwdriver in your sewing space.

Often a decent sized one comes with your sewing machine to use when changing presser feet or to get into the throat plate. But, if your machine is like mine, you have this funny looking device to do the same tasks. Using a screwdriver for those purposes, however, is not what I am talking about.

How many times have you been sewing bulky fabric and you need something to compress the fabric down as it approaches a chunky intersection? Or, when your fabric begins to shift a bit with the potential of creating an unwanted tuck and you want something to stabilize it? In the past I would place the tip of my nipping scissors or a seam ripper on top of the seam to hold the fabric in place. That worked pretty well, but I always hated sticking those pointy tips near the sewing machine needle. Furthermore, sometimes I needed a bit more than just a tip of a seam ripper to do the job sufficiently. A screwdriver with a flat head works much better.

Close Up on Using Screw Driver While Sewing

I have one with a fairly wide head that sits among the sewing supplies I have next to my sewing machine. The wide head does a much better job of compressing or holding the fabric down as I sew. It’s wide enough to hold the fabric securely and I can get very close to the edge of the presser foot without worrying the machine needle will hit it. With it there next to me at the ready when needed, I can’t tell you how many times it has saved me.

The other tool I’m fairly certain is not in too many sewing boxes is a wallpaper roller.

Once again, you heard me right. It's that thing you roll over the wallpaper seams to ensure the edges adhere securely to the walls. Well, it sort of does the same thing when used for sewing. I use to help flatten and secure open seams on fabrics like wool and fleece.

Using Wallpaper Roller to Flatten Fabric

First things first -- buy a clean one! They’re cheap and readily available at any store selling paint and wallpaper supplies. You don’t want to use one with layers of wallpaper glue already on it, because when used for sewing, the steam from your iron will transfer the glue onto your fabric -- yuk!

This simple device does the same thing a clapper and seamroll would do, but if you don’t have either of those, this is a great alternative. What I especially like is that it prevents the edges of a typical ⅝" seam from leaving an imprint on the right side of the fabric. Wallpaper rollers are typically only 1" wide, so logically the seam edges remain untouched. This works well on wool and is a great tool for sealing glued seams on leather and even felt for craft projects.

Using Wallpaper Roller on Leather

Who knew something so simple and handy can become must-have tools in the sewing room. I love when that happens!

You might also enjoy my post on sewing stitch starters.

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25 Comments

Patricia Fairman

I use a flat dinner knife that has now got a bend in the end which I use for everything. Holding things down when sewing. For undoing the screw part for new feet and for putting in new needle. I have mobility problems and small screwdrivers don’t work for me but loved your Idea for the wall paper roller.

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Ramona Putnam

Love the wallpaper seam roller. I actually looked for something similar for pressing leather seams and didn’t have any idea I could find it in the paint store. Thanks so much!

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Sizzlewaggle

I love my double ended dental probe for getting around those tight spots in the innards of my machines to remove lint and other crud.

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Emma smith

Hi, I love your machine foot with the seam allowance markers, where did you get it from?

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Christina in Cleveland

Love the flat head screwdriver idea! I do have the roller… two of them… one rounded and one flat. 🙂

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Mar

I use a plastic wand that has a magnetic tip (sold in the canning department for getting metal jar lids out of boiling water) to pick up pins that fall on the floor. This tool is also useful for changing rotary cutter blades without touching those deadly edges.

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Barbara

Bamboo skewers made for barbeque are a favorite. I use them as a point in making collars, tape them down on the machine as a quick guide for sewing very long straight seams (creates a little bump to guide the fabric accurately), as a tool to guide fabric and keep my fingers away from the needle, as a spool extender when using multiple spools and double needles. And they are cheap.

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Pat Burch

I use two items all the time: an eyebrow trimmer for a seam ripper. Works great without cut the fabric. The second one is what I used to call an ‘orange stick.’ Originally meant as an instrument for pushing cuticles. It has a flat side end to help fabric under the presser foot and a pointed end for various tasks. Being wooden it won’t hurt my machine and best of all, it’s easily replaceable.

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Anny

My unusual tool is a chopstick. I use the the smaller end for coaxing fabric under the presser foot. I use the larger end when I’m using the hot glue gun and need something besides my bare finger to press down on the spot I’ve just glued. Love the roller idea! I can use that when working with laminated fabric.

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Marlene Darby

I use an ear syringe instead of canned air to blow lint from my sewing machine and serger..

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Amber Vargo

I like using a long paintbrush for cleaning my machine, Heavy washers are great pattern weights, and wrapping paper is great for making pattern pieces.

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Amber Vargo

I like using a long paintbrush for cleaning my machine, Heavy washers are great pattern weights, and wrapping paper is great for making pattern pieces.

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Wendy, Vermont

I am working with clear vinyl for see thru bag fronts. Pinning is tough through the vinyl and a backing fabric, so I use clips to “pin” the edges together.

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P ART

Great ideas. I use THAT PURPLE THANG, a purple plastic thing that has a pointed end and a flat end, like a flat head screw driver. I also keep chop sticks near my machine.

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Jane

The roller is brilliant! Thanks for that. The screwdriver is a good one, too.
Here are a couple of mine:
A crochet hook works for lots of things. larger ones turn corners gently, smaller ones grab threads you can;t reach with your fingers.
I use freezer paper for making patterns – write on the paper side, and iron the plastic side onto your fabric to avoid using pins, weights, etc. In order not to let the fabric slip when you’re cutting two layers, use a piece of non-slip shelf liner (Dollar Tree) or go more expensive with rug liner.
Hope you like them!

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Chari

I love the roller idea. I will use it for butting quilt batting when I don’t have a large enough piece for the whole project. I find lots of stuff in my husband’s workshop also. His clamps help in secure a quilt top to my table when I am squaring it before layering and quilting it. The metal washer make nice weights in clothing construction. Cut a circle of scrap fabric with pinking shears, gather it around the washers. Sew a button on top

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Lisa Jenni

My most used Non-sewer tool is a bone folder. Instead of ironing out every seam, press it wit the bone folder. Works well with stuff you can’t iron, like plastic or coated fabrics. Since I’m a quilter, it saves me a lot of trips to the ironing board! Think paper piecing…

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Gina Bisaillon

When using a seam roller or finger presser, and especially an iron, if I don’t want an impression on the other side I use a piece of dowelling underneath instead of the ironing board.

For guiding the thick fabric, I use a plastic spatula – the kind that artists use for applying the paint, or a stiletto.

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Marlene

I use a pipe cleaner (commonly used for childrens’ crafts) for cleaning lint and thread from hard to reach places in my machine.

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Cheryl cooch

Reading all of the wonderful ideas are a blessing. Keep them coming. Thanks

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MadebyBarb.com

That is a great idea, I will add that to the ‘millions’ of tools I have!

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AnnaAnne

My favorite non-sewing items used as sewing notions are 1) Blue Tape in place of pins when pins or clips won’t work. 2) FriXion pens to mark on fabric–marks disappear with a hot iron. I haven’t found a fabric that holds the ink mark! 3) Thick, business card-sized, advertising magnet to place on throat plate to maintain even seams (I use blue tape on it if the seam is wider than plate!), 4) A metal carpenter’s square to make perfect on-grain ends to the fabric cut poorly at store. This works in amazing conjunction with long Fiskar rulers. 5) Steel Wool stuffed inside homemade wool ball to sharpen pins. Every now & then, I sit watching TV while pushing pins in & out of this pad to sharpen them all!

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