What’s Near Your Sewing Machine?

Some supplies you just NEED to have handy at all times.  Thread, scissors, needles, and pins are all very common accoutrements for sewing and quilting.  The industry has created so many tempting supplies that you just must have as well.  I thought it might be fun to share exactly what is always near my little sewing area.  Join in the comments with some of your ‘must haves’.  We would love to hear them, and we may have to run out and get it!  Christmas is coming, and Santa needs our wish list you know.

On My Sewing Table

Newly found clamp and small Ott light are constant companions on the edge of my sew table.  Occasionally I pull over the Ott light, like when I’m working on dark fabrics.  The issue is that it gets in the way of bigger projects.  I really need to get one of those extra lights that stick directly to the sewing machine.  Assorted full bobbins, safety pins, and pressor feet rest in the area on top of my machine.  I have to laugh because my quilting table does NOT look like that right now.  It has a big ‘ole quilt sitting on it with my quilting gloves laying helter skelter on top of it.

Right Side Means Really Handy


Water is always available for quenching our dry throat.  The Miller Genuine Draft glass is mostly required as well because we live near brew-city, and it holds a good sized amount.  The scrap of fabric used for testing stitches is more often a coaster, and the quarter was in my pocket one day.  Behind that is my pin cushion with my preferred white-tipped pins, some of those annoying yellow-tipped pins, and assorted hand needles.  Finally, I wised up and put a side-loading needle there for burying threads.  Sue’s 20-year-at-her-school-district mug holds rulers, one fine point black pen, a stiletto, and a few water soluble marking pens.  Assorted colors of those are needed, right?!  Oh, and my white chalk marker rolling thingy.

Top Drawer Left Side

Qtips needles

This drawer sees a lot of action.  Holding the most often used oversized pressor feet like the walking foot and FMQ foot choices (open- or closed-toe, etc), I swap them out often.  The container that holds them on the back left also shares the space with some smaller spools of thread in odd colors.  I’m not sure why those are there upon reflection now.  Hmm.  Also in the back but closest to me is an arch/straight ruler, an old rotary cutter for emergency cutting (!), some 3M tape to stick the laser light on the front of the sewing machine.  Most importantly, under the rotary cutter is my ruler foot in the plastic bag it came in.  It could join the other feet in the box to the left but no.  It is special for some reason.  Needles of all sorts live in the front left box.  All needles that cross my path anyway, because Sue has her own supply.  The coolest stuff live in the rightmost front bin.  Q-tips for bobbin area cleaning, laser light for making HSTs, pink clips, extra filled bobbins used most often along with an empty one or two.  Did you notice there are two areas for filled bobbins?  One is the most often used color, while the other is the current color and you will definitely-need-two color.

Second Drawer Left Side

This drawer looks neat but it isn’t.  I stuffed these ideas for FMQing in there, printed off during a class with notes to myself about where to use them.  Underneath are some blocks and fabrics that Sue didn’t want to deal with and I didn’t want to throw away.  I don’t know what to do with them either so they’d better be close and very handy.  In case I find inspiration.  My quilting gloves live here but they are on top of the table right now.  Having just been taken off mid-quilt, they don’t go back in the drawer until the quilt is finished!

FMQ picture

Other Miscellaneous Stuff

The third drawer (the deepest one) holds two spools of Aurfil thread, and a ton of leftover binding scraps.  Every color possible and mostly the same width, I rummage through these leftovers often.  Dolly quilts, recent string blocks for charity, mug rugs, and other small projects fall into my realm for selecting the binding.  Larger project falls upon Sue to cut the bindings.

Lusting After Maybe?!

As silly as it sounds, I am thinking I may need to pick up a 1/4″ ruler for next year.  I know ALL rulers have 1/4″ markings but this only does that.  Rather indulgent perhaps?  I plan to tackle paper piecing and I like the idea of not picking out paper from a seam.  Not sewing through paper sounds like a good thing to me.  Doesn’t it dull a needle really quickly?  Also, my friend Quilting Gail just sent me a cool pattern that she designed (list it on Craftsy please!).  It uses the Easy Angle ruler which I may need to have.  I really DO want to make the pattern.  Anyway, we’d love to hear what you need and why we need it also.  And Wendy just recommended the Olfa Endurance blade.  I think Carol M. told us about that back in April.  Susan Marie, we need to get those blades don’t you think??


P.S.  If you made it this far, thank you!  Someone asked me for a list of Cozy Mystery book names that I now have.  I just can’t for the life of me remember who it is.  If it’s you, leave me a message so I can send you a bunch of author names!!  Good grief.


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26 Responses

  1. Rebecca Grace says:

    Well, I have many of the same essentials next to my sewing machine as you do, except that I bought one of those Stella goose neck lamps so the base of the light is to the RIGHT of my machine, but the light bar reaches over to the other side where I need illumination, without getting in the way of my project. Other essentials that I keep near my sewing machine are either a steaming cup of coffee or a glass of wine (depending on the time of day) and a big, black Rottweiler who supervises whilst snoozing… 🙂

  2. Vicki in MN says:

    My email server is playing tricks on me-all weekend long I was receiving emails dated several days ago!! Yes this was one of them. Anyway I have many of the same things near my sewing machine, except mine are in baskets on a wall pegboard right behind the machine for easy grasp. My light is a $10 one from IKEA that sits on my cutting table(it has a goose neck and bendable so I can use it at the sewing machine or cutting area).

  3. What a great post! In a cute metal box on my sewing table I have many of the same things that you and your blog followers mentioned including needles, seam ripper, extra bobbins, short screw driver, sewing machine brush, small pair of scissors, presser feet, tweezers, and a few binding clips. Of course I have a pin cushion with red pins that look similar to your white pins and flat flower pins. I also have a holder for my phone, and usually my iPad mini is nearby. I also have a coaster for coffee or herbal tea (and sometimes water which I need to drink more of). Occasionally I have a cat on my sewing table! Many more of my sewing/quilting supplies are behind me on two metal pegboards above my pressing station (a modified ironing board using a tutorial by Quilting Jetgirl). As far as paper piecing, you will definitely be sewing through paper! I recommend a dull sewing needle anywhere from 70/10 to 90/14, and I use tweezers to put out small pieces of paper that are stuck inside the seam. We’ll talk more soon about paper piecing!!! Take care, Mary.

  4. You are clearly ready for anything, Roseanne! Glad someone is organized.

  5. quiltinggail says:

    Hi Roseanne,
    What fun to glimpse into your sewing space! I have many of the same tools, but after a water spill from a glass, my water is ALWAYs in an adult sippy cup! 🙂 I also have tweezers and a purple thang close by. Happy Quilting! 🙂
    P.S. I’m sure we’d all LOVE to see Sue’s sewing area!!! 🙂 🙂 (hint hint)

  6. It was so fun to have a peak into your sewing space!

  7. Many of the same things: seam ripper, sicissors, wonder clips, stilletto, chalk pens, sew line pencils, a triangular ruler holder. That triangle should be somewhere else but it is right there! I use a pipe cleaner gizmo for cleaning. There are also some feet in various containers – the official benina one and a three tier stacking storage boxes. Yes, too much stuff!!!

  8. dezertsuz says:

    You should make a post on your cozy mystery author favorites. We probably all read those. =) I’m amazed at how much you keep at your fingertips. On the right I keep my small Kai scissors, a pincushion and my Superior Threads cone holder with a cone of Aurifil. On the left, I have the seam ripper and a couple of thread catchers, in case I can’t think leader-ender at that moment. In back, I have boxes of scraps, bu they aren’t sewn often, it’s just where I toss them. My extra bobbins and machine cleaning supplies are in a box that’s part of my machine bed … and that’s it for the sewing table!

  9. I have about the same things you do – wonder clips, extra bobbins, couple of scissors (they tend to hide in the mess), some small rulers. But, my sewing are is no where as neat as yours… not even close!
    One thing I don’t have near my sewing machine is water or coffee or anything that may spill – lesson learned after several incidents 🙂

  10. Brenda Ackerman says:

    Hello Roseanne, First off, I have to say that I truly enjoyed reading this post and reading what everyone else said in their comment. My sewing table is our kitchen table, I love all of the space that it has. On it right now are my two sewing machines, both have a pad with pocket that hangs off of the table, sitting under them with scissors, a seam ripper and a sewing gauge, plus a pencil and pen and a chop stick. Right beside them sit a homemade fabric coaster for my coffee that I pretty much drink all the time. My magnetic pin holder that holds yellow headed pins…what is the difference Roseanne between the white and yellow? Just curious. I also have two storage containers for prewound bobbins, mainly in white. I also have the tall thread spool holders to hold the large spools of thread on, one for each machine. Plus, my computer is on my table. I also have two plastic storage units that are filled with items that I need and wow the list could go on and on. So, I have made my list end up being pretty long and not covered but a small bit. LOL. Thanks for sharing a fun post! Have a super day!

  11. Kathryn says:

    How interesting. Can’t quite follow what you are saying about the paper piecing to keep the paper out of the seams? Is there a way of doing that? Oh just see someone talking about pipe cleaners instead of q tips that I use too. Must look into that.
    A little further from my sewing machine at the ironing area I have just bought a small woollen mat for pressing – ironic as it is New Zealand wool but bought in the USA! Hasn’t arrived yet. I wouldn’t mind one of those red light thingies for half square triangles but not sure if I can get one of those.

  12. chrisknits says:

    I have a jar of marking tools, seam ripper, scissors and rotary cutter. I have my pin cushion mason jar, a tin of binder clips, a dish for my unused bobbins, feet, and tools, and an empty space for whatever gadget doesn’t fit the others but I put down mid sewing. Usually a FMQ ruler

  13. Rochelle Summers says:

    I bought a basket/tote from Craftsy that you store sewing things in and are able to pick up by handles to take with you when you go places….only the area where the handles are is inaccessible because of the tall rulers that cover those handles. But it has lots of pockets that are filled with pencils, pens, scissors, smaller rulers, tweezers, snips, paper, scrap fabric, chop sticks, and miscellaneous sewing essentials. I have a cone holder on the right side of the machine to hold large cones of thread, too. It also acts as a paperweight for miscellaneous patterns or pieces of scraps. The best thing I have is the light I attach to my sewing machine. It’s rechargeable and I use it often! I occasionally pull out a dust rag to move a little dust around and that rag is often sitting there for days!

  14. What do I have next to my sewing machine? Besides piles of stuff? Haha! I have a small cutting mat(5 x 7) to the left of my machine that I use almost constantly, especially when I’m paper piecing or working on an improv project. I have my Quilter’s Planner, so I can pretend I’m organized and whatnot. Haha! Actually I do like it; it has great resources and project pages. To the right of my machine I have my pens, seam rippers, stilettos, needles in handy little containers. Oh, and I have one of those lights that stick to the machine for you. I’ll email you separately. 🙂

  15. Mari says:

    Oh, you need to get one of the Bendable Bright Lights for your sewing machine. I have one on each machine and they’re wonderful. It would be a nice Christmas gift, too, because they’re a little pricy. Also, pipe cleaners are great for cleaning out the machine, much cleaner than q-tips. Your machine area is much neater than mine right now!

  16. I have many of the same items but yikes I am sewing in such a mess right now. Too many 1/2 done projects, some mending that I am procrastinating on, and dust! Plus that is where the router is kept for our wifi so that sits on the sewing table. Notebooks, a stack of cards that I have received from quilters and I don’t want to throw away but am unsure what to do with them. It is cluttered and that is not a great feeling!!

    • Roseanne says:

      Oh, the cards from other quilters!! Mine are in the LIVING ROOM. That’s where I open the mail . . . I can’t toss them . . . they don’t have an official home (yet). I need them right at my finger tips, apparently. I drive Sue absolutely nuts. I do. Happy Happy FRIDAY! ~smile~ Roseanne

  17. sandradny says:

    What a great post! If I showed mine, it would have to include dust bunnies — some old enough to have names . I’d rather create than clean any day! LOL!

    • Roseanne says:

      FOR SURE! Clean?? What is that word? Never heard of it . . . HAHAHAHAHAHA! Happy Happy FRIDAY! ~smile~ Roseanne

  18. Shannon Fleming says:

    I have small scissors and a seam ripper sitting under the throat of my machine. And my presser feet and bobbins in an ice cube tray are right under my table above the drawers. Those are the things I use the most when sewing.

    • Roseanne says:

      Oops – I do have a seam ripper too. Of course, I never, EVER use it because . . . well, I can’t even continue that sentence because I do use it. LOVE the ice cube tray idea!! Happy Happy FRIDAY! ~smile~ Roseanne

  19. Jayne says:

    What a fun post!! It’s fun to see what people have near their machines and many of your ‘things’ are my things too! I also have my chapstick close by, a lint roller, a USB phone charger. Other stuff: a bag of coconut strips, a paper mushroom, washi tape, and countless mini notebooks and colored pens!

    • Roseanne says:

      Yup – I need to add to the list washi tape for sure. And what the heck is a paper mushroom??? I never heard of that. Happy Happy FRIDAY! ~smile~ Roseanne

  20. Sue Saynay says:

    Thank you for not sharing a photo of my sewing station. I would be mortified! Especially in its current state!

    • Roseanne says:

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! You’re reading early! You’ll note that the picture doesn’t reflect my exact sewing table either. No Plus Playtime quilt in a heap and quilting gloves all over the place. Happy Happy FRIDAY! ~smile~ Roseanne

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