Tools of the Trade - The What & Why



One facet of my commitment to building a sustainable business concerns the hardware used to create my work.  After all, it is not only the obviously environmentally-impactful elements like fabrics that have consequences - everything we choose to buy has baggage, and I am trying to make myself a list of suppliers whose ethos aligns with mine. (Please note, none of the following are affiliates - this is an honest list of what I use and why)


These are my fabric shears - EXO's from William Whiteley.  They may be on the large size, but their ability to cut right to the tip means I end up using them for cutting the smallest of pieces, and even for clipping seam allowances.

Whiteleys' tick my boxes by being a heritage brand - founded in 1760 & still having members of the original founder's family on the board, plus being the last remaining scissor factory in Sheffield, England.  Their location means that goods are not being shipped around the globe to reach me, and their solid engineering means that I should not need to replace them for decades, if ever.  An investment buy.


Bohin needles - of all shapes & sizes - star in my workbox.  They just seems to stay sharp & thread-able much longer than the alternatives.  Plus their multi-pack packaging is retro-fabulous!

Another family-run business since 1866, Bohin are committed to fair treatment of their workers and are actively looking at ways to reduce their environmental impact. 


Pins, pins, pins.... Here I do not have a preferred brand, but a specific type - entomology pins.  Intended for use in displaying deceased insects, these are long, very sharp, and available with black enamelled heads.  This latter feature is crucial - I always, always use pins with pronounced & coloured heads so as not to overlook any when constructing a piece. The last thing I want is to have a customer's blood on my hands! (Although my own is spilled on a not-infrequent basis - an inevitable result of so many sharp points, I fear. )


In order to minimise the bloodshed, I have a little drawer filled with vintage thimbles. So much more stylish, and definitely more environmentally-friendly than purchasing new plastic versions. My very favourite is the one in the foreground, made of silver and inherited from my grandmother.


Last but not least, a couple of tools which have very specific time-saving uses.

In the background is Makers Cabinet's "Iris", a ridiculously beautiful circle-drafting gadget. Although much of the company's production is done in China, which thus entails more shipping than I would like, their use of solid brass and commitment to fixing any maintenance issues means that it should last a lifetime.  Plus they do use recyclable packaging, and it was a Christmas gift from my son, so I love it even more.


In the foreground are a set of brass tubes used to assist in turning through tiny doll parts like fingers.  It took me a while to get the hang of them, but now would not be without them - in fact, they are so well-used that you might spot a bit of a bend in there!  Handmade in England, thus cutting that carbon footprint, they are available from Jan Horrox.