Stilettos & Various Sewing Tools

Stilettos, Sewing Awls, Trolley Needles, Seam Rippers, Bamboo Skewers, Porcupine Quills

A sharp implement can provide an extra "finger" to hold fabrics together when sewing. Any of the following products may be among your sewing tools. They are useful for holding the fabric layers while pressing with the iron, or while the fabrics approach the presser foot and needle of the sewing machine.

Tailor's Awl or Stiletto

A small, sharp-pointed instrument used for making eyelet holes in needlework, sewing and leather work.  Stilettos come in a variety of styles and materials such as metal, bone, and wood. You can also purchase or inherit heirloom antique stilettos.

Seam Ripper

A seam ripper is a small tool used for unpicking stitches.

The most common form consists of a handle, shaft and head. The head is usually forked with one side of the fork flattening out and becoming a blade and the other side forming a small point. In some designs the blade side then tapers back to a point to allow easier insertion in tight stiching.

In use the blade is inserted into the seam underneath the thread to be cut. The thread is allowed to slip down into the fork and the tool is then lifted upwards allowing the blade to cut through the thread. Once the seam has been undone in this way the loose ends can be removed and the seam resewn.

Trolley Needle

A "trolley needle" is a tool that resembles a stiletto point mounted or welded on a circular band.

Slip the band around your index finger, and the sharp pointed tip funtions as a tool for holding fabrics together while sewing a seam.

 Bamboo Skewers

Commonly used by cooks to skewering cubes of food together for cooking, bamboo skewers also appear in many sewing, craft and embellishment tool boxes.

They are used for a variety of tasks including substitution for sewing stilettos. The tip will readily break away if struck by the needle, and causes no damage to the machine mechanisms or its finish.

Porcupine quills 

Straight, sharp quills from a mammal; the quills of the porcupine detach with ease, embedding into the skin of predators. Quills range in length from approximately  1" to 12"; African porcupine quills are the longest.

Native Americans used porcupine quills for jewelry, needles, hair ornaments, awls, and decorative elements.



Today quills are used primarily as sewing awls or stillettos; they are inexpensive, and the quill tip will break if accidentally struck by the sewing machine needle. It will not scratch the sewing machine surface nor cause machine damage if accidentally struck by the needle.


Teacher of the year 1998