Do you stilletto?

Not stilletto shoes. A sewing stilletto.

Until recently, I never heard of using a stilletto in sewing. My first exposure was watching Eleanor Burns on her TV show that runs on PBS. She used the point of her stilletto to keep her seam allowances matched because she didn't pin all her seam intersections when she sewed two pieced sections together. Since then, I've collected quite the set of stillettos. My tastes have developed from a common handyman's awl to the three nice ones shown below. The one on the left is from a set, seam ripper and stilletto that Sydney gave me for Christmas. They're hand turned and have carved handles. The handles aren't exactly alike tho, so if I put them in my tool holder, point down, I can tell them apart.

So, what do I use a stilletto for? You've all seen this. Two seam allowances cross. They're coming toward the foot of the sewing machine. If they're pressed right, one points up, the other points down (unless you press open). If you measured and cut right, they cross at the same spot and there's not extra fabric on top or bottom to have to deal with. You can stick a pin in that and hold it together, but sometimes, that top seam will creep down just a fraction of an inch and the points won't match.

I can use my stilletto to push that seam allowance so it stays perfectly match as it crosses the machine bed, moving toward the foot. All I have to do is slightly push the seam allowance on the far side of the match point and that keeps it from creeping down. I can feel the ridge through the point of the stilletto and can make sure that they stay next to one another and don't cross or stack. And, I can make sure the one that points up doesn't get caught on the tip of the foot and turn down. That's the most common cause of unmatched points for me.

And, unlike my finger tip, I can keep the point of the stilletto on the seam allowance as it passes through the tip of the foot and right up til the seam passes under the needle without worrying about putting the needle through my finger tip.

I think of a stilletto as a safety feature.


All these pictures are with Ken Moore, my 1950's Kenmore sewing machine. He's so linear and masculine looking and he has a very deep voice. I rewired him last summer, everything but the light. After I rewired everything else, I was just too tired to keep messing with him. I've had a flickering light problem for a while, where it was fine when I started sewing, but eventually worked itself loose and the light would start to flicker as I sewed. Very annoying.

This morning, I was jiggling the light switch with one hand and had the other on the machine bed and he shocked me. That got him on the sick list for the day and he was immediately unplugged. Sometime this weekend, I'll get around to rewiring that light, but until then, I'll be using another machine to sew. How convenient that I just got Alba Tross working right and got her light bulb replaced (a whole blog post can be written about that ordeal). So, she's going to be the go-to machine to finish the story time stars.

What would I do if I didn't have so many vintage sewing machines to work on? Imagine how much more sewing I'd get done. But, I enjoy tinkering, too.

Tonight, we're going to dinner and the theater. It will be a special occasion for us. We're going to dress up (okay, not a whole lot dressed up). We're just going to the middle school production of Annie. Sydney's best friend is in the play and I think that Sydney is going to spend the night at her house after the performance. The dog will not be happy.

But, I did have to explain to Sydney that when we're doing something special, we should dress a little special and that means a nice shirt with her jeans. It is Austin, after all. Jeans go everywhere here. Even the opera.

Everybody have a great Friday. In keeping with my resolution yesterday, I am going to set a goal to pin baste three quilts this weekend. I can't start quilting them 'til they are pinbasted. And, that takes time. So, I'll pin baste them now and can take my time quilting them out.

Wish me luck. Of course, I could start something new........




Bonnie K Hunter said...

I'm a vintage machine lover too! my bernina isn't quite vintage, but she is my main piecing workhorse and is easy to take with me if I"m on a driving trip. The featherweight flies well -- but sometimes if I'm working on a bigger project, I need a machine with larger throat area and more weight so the machine doesn't go moving around due to the weight of the quilt. I spent last light sewing on my Blue Wizard...LOVE that machine! It's a japanese singer knock off from the 50's ---sews like a dream!


Seraphinalina said...

Love the tip about stilettos. I don't have one myself, maybe it should go on my wish list.

I was in the middle school production of Annie when I was in Grade 8. I have many fond memories of practice and being on stage.

Have a good time tonight.

Richard Healey said...

You mean the blood on my quilt is not a good sign of quilting. My first day sewing I almost cut my finger off trying to straiten out that seam. Every since they been off kilter lol good thing to know their is a better way.


Bubbles said...

Thanks for the time about the stiletto, up until now I thought they were just for wearing. lol

Have a good time tonight, live theater is always a treat especially if someone you know is in the show.

And good for you for keeping the resolution to finish up ufo's before you start anything new.

Best of luck. Love hearing from you.

Tanit-Isis said...

Oh, neat trick with the stiletto! I will remember that. I won one (along with several other sharp things) in a giveaway from 3hourspast.com last winter, and I use it quite a bit for putting in studs and small eyelets. I've used it for threading fabric into a rolled-hem foot and stuff like that, but never thought to use it for controlling seams.

Patricia said...

Love all your fancy stiletto's---mine is a take-out chop stick :c)

Pauline said...

My stiletto is an orange stick. Great point and the other end is a flat angle that I often find useful. And, they are cheap. Had to shop for supplies today, 110 mile round trip, just 4 stores to visit, plus a lunch stop. So tomorrow I sew!
Good luck on your pinning and basting.

Coloradolady said...

I have a stiletto and never use it. I hate to pin and thought this would be great to have....nope, I guess I am just not with it and that tool, pinning is what I do...and I don't like it much!! Have a great weekend!

qltmom9 said...

I love using a stiletto also. Mine are wood, although I tried metal. The wood grabs better.
My teens have to dress up now and then too. 17yo ds bought some dressy jeans and said, "Hey, these are nice enough to wear to WEDDINGS!" Um, no.
It's probably too late, but we'd love a photo.


lw said...

I learned to sew curved seams with a stiletto. I have both the metal and the bamboo skewers. Which one I use depends on the fabric. The bamboo is "stickier" and works well for some of the softer cottons/flannels.