May 28, 2017

The stitching accessory I didn't know I needed!

My lovely mother was very good at craft, sewing all our clothes for many years, knitting our jumpers, and crocheting exquisite doileys. When she died, I received her craft gear and there were some lovely little treasures amongst it all, like the antique Alfred Shrimpton wooden crochet hook case, (which I will show you another time!)

Another little gem was this pearl handled sewing stilleto/awl.

It has sat in a pocket in my sewing compendium for many years and I may have used it once or twice for poking a hole in something, but it has languished, hidden away, out of sight and out of mind.

Recently I have done quite a bit of piecing and ... you know what it is like when you want to get that sewing machine needle in exactly the right place when you're stitching, so that the patchwork point doesn't get cut off, or doesn't have too generous a space above it. There is no way your finger can hold that point in place until the needle is right there. What could I use? I've used tweezers before but they don't work well ... and then I thought of it - that sweet little stilleto/awl! It is the absolutely perfect little tool for holding that fabric in place.

Then because it now sits in pride of place on my sewing cabinet, I began to find lots of other uses for it. That little awl will guide braid and trims and ric rac into position under the needle. It steers the appliques when machine blanket-stitching. It evens out gathers and ruffles and eases them beautifully under the needle. Hold it on the fabric at the end of a seam and it prevents the fabric from shifting. It is wonderful for moving layers to align raw edges or gripping straying fabric. It gives me an iron grip on nested seams so that they stay in place as I stitch. A quick push with my awl and that recalcitrant seam is made to turn the right way.

I've found it is ideal for pulling out the loop when you lift up the bobbin thread. It is great for lifting layers of fabric when I'm counting how many squares I have cut. It holds down turned edges when I'm pressing, so no more burnt fingers!  And it's even flat so it doesn't roll off the sewing table. How I wish it had come out of hiding many years ago!

A project that has come 'out of hiding' is my Enchanting Forest cushion. You can find it in the May edition of Homespun magazine.

Felt is a medium I love using and I had a lot of fun giving these toadstools texture and dimension with layers and stitches.

Palestrina Knot stitch is my new favourite stitch for felt work and I've used it a number of times in this design, particularly in the scallop edge. 

See the little bird above for another favourite - cast-on stitch.

I hope you have a great week of stitching - and if anyone gives you a stitching stiletto/awl, don't hide it away like I did!



  1. Your little awl has definitely come out of hiding. What a lovely piece. I love your toadstool cushion as soon as I saw it in the magazine and have put it on my to-do list.

  2. It's also handy for holding down the seam allowance you are ironing on freezer paper appliques. =) What a great little tool and doesn't it make you wish you could talk with your mother about it? Beautiful new project! Your palestrina curves are so perfect.

  3. I just recently acquired an awl and I am happy I did. Thanks for all your suggestions for its uses. It is lovely that you have your mother's sewing tools to love.

  4. How very special to not only have your mother's tools but to also be able to use them in your beautiful stitcheries. Love your wool applique pillow. I need to look up that scalloped row you made using the Palestrina stitch which I am not familiar with. Lovely post dear. <3


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