Magnetic pin “cushion”


This is one of my favorite ‘tools of the trade.’  It is a magnetic pin cushion, although there’s nothing really cushion-y about it.  I have seen them referred to as pin holders, pin grabbers, and pin dishes as well, but I still call mine a pin cushion.  I own a few actual pin cushions, the soft, pillow-type ones that you poke pins and needles into.  I keep them because of their sentimental value–having been made by various family members–but I use the magnetic one almost exclusively.

I like that I can toss pins toward it while I’m sewing on the machine.  I don’t have to stop and aim and get the point of the pin into a cushion.  I can just pull and toss the pin in one movement while I continue sewing.

I also use the cushion to pick up pins, more than one at a time.  For example, when I’m finished cutting something out using a pattern, I simply pull all the pins and leave them lying on the pattern.  Then I sweep over the pins with the magnetic pin cushion to pick them all up.  Or when I drop a pin on the floor, I can just hold the pin cushion down near it, and it magically magnetically pulls it up off the floor.

You can find these little beauties in a rainbow of colors and a multitude of shapes at just about any fabric or craft store.


I didn’t plan to be doing laundry on the day I’d be writing about laundry, but that’s what happened today.  I was doing just the normal family laundry, but I wanted to write about how laundry relates to sewing.

ALWAYS wash washable fabric before you use it!  Even if you think the color won’t bleed.  Even if you think the fabric won’t shrink.

I recall a dress I made several years ago.  Some fabric had been donated by a clothing company to…well, I don’t know exactly who it was donated to…but I ended up with some of it, because I knew somebody who knew somebody…you know how that goes.  Anyway, I was so excited to make this dress, I just started cutting out my pattern without washing the fabric first.  The dress turned out perfect!  It fit me like it was made for me (because it was!), and I loved it.

After the first time I wore it, I put it in the laundry.  It washed and dried nicely, and I hung it in my closet.  The next time I wore it, it was a different dress!  It didn’t fit me any more.  It was too short.  It was tight under the arms.  The neckline was different.  I ended up giving it to a friend who wore a smaller size.

Since that incident, I have never used fabric without washing it first!


I mean, what else could the letter F possibly stand for at this blog, right?!  Fabric!  That’s where it all begins.  Without fabric, there is no sewing.  No little girl’s dresses (and matching doll’s dresses).  No little boy’s shirts, nor husband’s shirts.  No quilts (gasp!).  No costumes.  What a sad thought.

But cheer up, because there is, indeed, FABRIC!  Lots of it.  In my stash alone.  And in that bag out in the garage that’s supposed to be going away, only it hasn’t found a place to go away to, yet, so there it sits.  Fabric, fabric everywhere.  I have my fabrics sort of organized by type.  I have colorful plastic bins that slide in and out of a wooden frame.

This is from IKEA. My bins are different colors, and my frame sits with the short side on the left.

Each bin has a different type of fabric in it.  There’s a medium sized bin of cotton prints, a small bin of solids (mostly cotton blends), a small bin of ribbed knit, and a small bin of “special” fabrics—lace, satin, tulle, non-slip (for footed pajamas).  Then there is one large bin to hold the fleece and flannel and all things snuggly, and another large bin for upholstery fabric, brocades, tapestry, leather (and leather-like), and all things stiff.  Hey, it’s my system, and in my system, “stiff” is a category.  = )  There is a last little bin that is kind of the catch-all, like a junk drawer in the kitchen.  This little bin has interfacing, handkerchiefs (for future projects?), some crocheted lace made by my sister-in-law’s great aunt, and whatever else doesn’t fit into another bin’s category.  I also have denim and old jeans, pants, and shorts in the cubbies of another shelf.  I have a lot of fabric.

But I’m going to use it all!  Someday…no, really!

(I can hear you laughing…)


Today, we will look at bobbins and bobbin holders.  There are a LOT of different kinds of bobbin holders out there–a simple acrylic box with a hinged lid, a box with individual wells for each bobbin, doughnut shapes, magnetic, improvised.  There are also different types of bobbins (plastic and metal), and the kind of holder you use will be determined partly by the type of bobbins you have.

I have mainly this type of bobbin...

...and I also have a few of these plastic ones.


I have mainly metal bobbins, although some plastic ones came with my sewing machine.  I don’t use those unless all my metal ones are full and I need to wind a new bobbin.  The plastic ones don’t seem to spin as easily in the bobbin holder; they ‘catch’ sometimes and cause thread to break and tempers to flare.  OK…to be honest, my temper doesn’t flare until it’s about the fourth or fifth time the thread breaks and there is NO reason for it (that I can see) and I’ve rethreaded the machine about a dozen times and it’s STILL not working and…you get the idea.  Plastic bobbins: last resort.

Each bobbin in its own cozy compartment.

To store my plastic and metal bobbins, I have several of the boxes with the individual compartments.  The boxes are clear acrylic, and the bobbins are stored on their sides, so I can see exactly what colors are in there.  I mainly use this type of keeper for bobbins that are not in constant use–colors of thread that were purchased for a special project, funky colors, duplicate colors, colors for which I inexplicably have no matching spool of thread.  I keep these boxes in the bottom of my sewing basket, easily accessible but not in the way.



Not mine, but the same kind.

For the bobbins I’m currently using, I have a nifty magnetic holder that was my grandma’s.  This one stays by my machine, and it holds black, white, off-white, brown, navy, red, yellow, green, and whatever colors are in my current project(s).  I LOVE this bobbin holder!  It’s trim and tidy, nice to look at, practical, handy, and just a tad sentimental.  This type is also available in a plastic version, but I’m glad Grandma had a wooden one.  It’s lovelier to me.  Alas, if you have only plastic bobbins, this will be of no help to you.


Some other bobbin-keeping ideas I’ve seen don’t require a trip to the notions wall at your local fabric store, but rather the hardware store, plumbing supply, or discount department store (Target, Wal Mart, or even a dollar store).  Flexible tubing (with ribs like a bendy-straw) or clear vinyl tubing may be cut to any desired length then split open to hold bobbins. Little girls’ stretchy terry ponytail holders (the teeny ones) can keep thread from unwinding from its bobbin.  (The greatest drawback to this idea is that you can’t see the thread once the ponytail holder is in place…unless you’re using plastic bobbins.)

Who'da thunk it?


If you need to take a few bobbins along to a class, a retreat, a friend’s house, or any place that isn’t your own sewing space, you can use a toe separator to keep those little spools from unwinding and making a mess in transit.  I love it when someone thinks outside the box, then lets us share in their cleverness!

There are many, many more ideas out there for the storing of bobbins.  Find what works for you, and share it if you like!