As you know I work for British Patchwork and Quilting magazine and we are running a series of features by Chris Hammacott on ‘Sustainability in a P&Q World’. The first was on needles and pins which got me thinking. For the full feature, you will have to get the March 2020 (issue 314) but I was inspired to do something that Chris recommends – look after your needles and pins. The idea really appealed to me especially after giving my drawers of fabric the ‘Kondo’ treatment.

Fabric folded the ‘Kondo’ way. Easy to find!

My first problem was finding them all! You know what it’s like, you’ve been to the local quilt shop or perhaps a quilt show. You pick up a pack just in case or you find a pack (or four) in a sale basket. I’ve bought needles for specific jobs: appliqué and millinery needles for appliqué, hand quilting needles in ever smaller sizes, some with big eyes, some without. Cross stitch, embroidery, chenille and regular sewing needles. You name it, even some beading needles are lurking around in my sewing room somewhere. (Still haven’t found those yet!) But what to do to keep them locatable and easy to use, rather than going out and buying some more.

At the moment, I’m hand quilting a huge 90″ square quilt. Pieced with Janet Clare’s ‘Wordsmith’ fabric. I normally make my own designs but this one was a block a week from Pat Sloane, ‘Winter Solstice’. I fell in love with the asymmetric setting and, as is my want when making for myself, it’s pieced by hand. This led onto it being hand quilted but I digress. Because I happened to be working on hand quilting I gathered all my hand quilting threads along with my hand quilting needles together and, luckily enough, found a tin in which they would all fit. I’ve added a pack of the Thimble Pads I favour, some Thread Magic which I sometimes use and a pair of embroidery scissors for snipping the threads and now have a ‘Hand Quilting Tin’ I can grab and go. This has saved me time already!

I decided that, as I had also started working on a little Stained Glass block idea, I now needed an Appliqué Tin. Again, I’ve gathered all my appliqué needles together, the thumb pin cushion (click for the link to make one – they really are very handy!), which I find works really well when doing appliqué, and my 60 and finer threads. Again, I do like a fine thread for hand needle turned or reversed appliqué.

Appliqué Tin Kit

So far I’ve only tackled two types but have gathered my machine needles together in my sewing machine cabinet. With a couple of packs stashed into the machine bags for workshops but again, I’ve found this ‘tidying’ helpful and time-saving.

It is quite fashionable at present to worry about the environment, rightly so, but from the money and time-saving aspect, together with the reduction in waste by not buying what we just can’t find, this is certainly something I will try and stick too.

Now, where are those beading needles?????