Friday, January 15, 2010

Tools of the Trade: Needle Grabbit

Does anyone else out there suffer from memory loss?  As soon as I got a machine and realized that not every needle is made equal (learned this the hard way after I attempted to applique on my first onesie.  Note to self - use *ball point needle for jersey*), I started amassing a small army of machine needles.  But could I ever remember which ones I already had and which ones I needed when I actually had a chance to go to the fabric store?  As many of us feel at the supermarket when we've forgotten to write ourselves a list, I started to develop temporary amnesia whenever I faced the notions wall.  As Jerry Seinfeld said (in one of my most favorite stand-up performances to date "I'm Telling You for the Last Time") about the most elusive staple in our fridge:
People are never really sure if they have milk.  You think you have milk, you might have.
"I know there's a carton in there, I don't know how much is in it."
"Well, what shall we do?"
'Cause you wanna be sure.  There's nothing worse than thinking you have milk and not having it.  You know, you got the bowl setup, the cereal, the spoon, the napkin, the TV, the newspaper, everything's ready to go.  You lift up the carton and it's too light.
"Oh, no!  Too light!"
So milk. Machine needles.   You don't want to be out of either.  Especially if your machine is not idiot proof and you tend to break needles often.  For the record, my 7470 is pretty doof-proof, but I used to sew on a much older machine (when I knew even less what I was doing) and this happened to me quite a bit.  With that being said, needles still break and it's always good to have some extras on hand.  The problem was, I kept coming home with the wrong kind and started developing a very lopsided stock of needles.

Come to think of it, this is how I felt about my spice rack for a long time.  Eventually I emptied out all my spices into identical magnetic containers and it was a breeze knowing how much of each one I had and what was running low.  Lovely, huh?
Anyway, the Needle Grabbit.  I found it on eBay awhile back and snagged it for probably $6 or so (new they are $10ish).  Very simple concept, but kind of genius.  You could even make one yourself if you were so inclined.  Basically It's a sturdy piece of magnet (I think - you could use cardboard or whatever you have sturdy that's lying around), with 2 strips of the fuzzy side of velcro attached to the front.  You slide the needles into the sections corresponding to type and there's even a flat head pin that serves as a marker so you can always remember which kind of needle you currently have in your machine.

Sure, you could just sew up some pieces of felt into a little book, label the "pages", and slip your needles in.  It'd be cheaper too.  But if you're like me you have limited time to make stuff and just need to get things organized.  What can I say, it works for me!


Ronni and Sean January 15, 2010 at 2:18 PM  

so very jealous of your spices! i've wanted to do something like that for a long time now, but the thought of buying all the spices up front prevents I never feel like I use up enough of each throughout the year before they expire. but i don't cook nearly as often as you!

Skooks January 15, 2010 at 2:33 PM  

Buying the spices wasn't the issue. We were overflowing with spices (got 2 spice racks for our wedding that were stocked in addition to ones we had acquired along the way once we started doing real cooking). Though the canisters were a bit more DIY, it was still an investment to get "the system" in place. With that being said, I want to upgrade to some better containers at some point (the dern magnets keep popping off the back and the lids are a bit loose on some of them). I still love them, but it will be awhile before I throw money down for new containers. Just NOT a financial priority, you know?

Skooks January 15, 2010 at 2:42 PM  

P.S. You could just do the spice rack thing with fewer spices to accomodate the ones you use the most.

Nadia January 15, 2010 at 3:01 PM  

hmm i think i only use a ball point needle.. but then again i do have a twin needle.. and maybe a stretch? i dunno.. but this is a great idea so that things dont get confused and lost.. thanks for sharing

Skooks January 15, 2010 at 4:03 PM  

I'm typically an All-Purpose needle-user, but the ball point I do need for some things, and it's good to have some Denim needles on hand for the tougher stuff. I was also a bit of a spazz when I started sewing and got an assortment because I had no idea what I would need. :P

arwenalasse January 16, 2010 at 3:19 PM  

Man, your post is another reminder of how much I have to learn about sewing! I have made heaps of clothes and costumes, but never once paid much attention to what kind of needle I'm using. I know some are thinner, and if I'm sewing on really delicate material, I try to use a thinner one (the ones with bigger numbers, right?), but other than that, I'm completely lost when you're talking about ball-headed needles, etc...

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