Tool fool

My mom has always been a lover of gadgets. She worked for a time in a kitchen shop, and she had every kind of peeler, slicer, dicer, and trimmer known to chefs. It was great because she'd get the low-down on what really worked and then we'd sometimes get the good ones as gifts.

In the past few years she's given me a few sewing tools that she bought because she was sure she needed them. Unfortunately for her, she'd get home and already have one. Fortunately for me, I've been the beneficiary of her duplicate purchases. Most recently I got a Clover mini-iron. I used it for the first time this weekend, when I was making trees to go along with the Liberated Houses. It was really helpful to not have to jump up and down to get to my iron every time I finished a section.

There are two other tools I especially like. One is this wonderful stiletto given to me by Mel, Mary Lou, and Brenda. I have to admit when I was in Houston I thought these fancy stilettos were a bit over-the-top. I'd been using the tip of my seam ripper, which seemed to work just fine. And I kept telling myself I could always just get a plain, 'ol barbecue skewer if I needed to. But when I opened my box of Christmas goodies, one of the items was this wonderful stiletto and I have to say, that very lovely handle makes all the difference. It's so easy to hold (and so much easier to see than a plain 'ol barbecue skewer) and I never have to worry about accidentally poking a hole in something, like I do when I use my circa 1975 turquoise seam ripper.

Finally, a tool I've had since around 1990, when I took a doll-making class at New Pieces in Berkeley from Elinor Peace Bailey, is the Bow-whip. It's a really simple tool--just some tubing and skewers/sticks of three different sizes that you can use to turn tubes right side out after you sew them. Sondra was making aprons last year using that wonderful Vanilla House Four Corners apron pattern. I'd made a couple earlier and used the Bow Whip to turn the apron ties. (This is a shot of Rebecca in hers: it's on Christmas morning and she hasn't combed her hair and she'll kill me for using this...but she rarely reads Pearl the Squirrel, so I think I'm safe.)

Sondra liked the Bow Whip so much she bugged her local quilting shop, Pine Needles (a terrific shop, with lots and lots of fabric, in Cedar Rapids) and they found them. Lo and behold, nearly 20 years later, not only do they still make them (now called the Turn It All Bow Whip), but Elinor Peace Bailey endorses them right on the package!