Creating beautiful handmade projects is what we all love to do. However, we probably don’t put in quite as much effort thinking about how to keep them looking beautiful. So we spent some time with our clever friends at Dritz to explore their Clothing Care category, coming away with nine products that help smooth, dry, repair, protect, and more. The majority of them are “multi-taskers” with additional uses outside the sewing room, including as travel solutions. Do you have your own unique uses for these types of products (your own “hacks” for the social-media-savvy)? We’d love to hear them. Leave us a comment below.
Often times, the coolest solutions are also the simplest. This product firmly attaches eight plastic clothes pins from a center ring, which is in turn suspended from a open hook so it’s easy to hang it anywhere. Plus, it’s collapsible for storage or travel. Obvious use: drip-drying fine washables. Multi-tasker uses: 1) corralling straps, ribbons or other fabric strips during project construction, 2) clipping small pattern pieces within easy reach so they don’t get buried on the sewing table or fall into the garbage, 3) hanging children’s artwork, 4) drying small bunches of herbs for sachets, 5) as a “chore wheel” – similar to a restaurant’s order wheel: clip a chore request onto each clothes pin then point to it next time someone claims, “There’s nuthin’ to do!”.
Although the Clip and Dry Hooks above can be folded for travel, we actually like these little Swivel Drying Hooks better for on-the-go usage. Each package contains two heavy-duty, spring-loaded plastic clips on a swivel hook. They’re small and easy to tuck in your suitcase, and the hook is slightly flexible so you can clip it securely over a thin hotel room shower rod or a heavier closet rod. Obvious use: drip-drying fine washables when traveling. Multi-tasker uses: 1) slip over the closet rod at home to hold belts or scarves, especially to organize them for the next day’s outfit, 2) clip to the edge of your sewing table to keep your measuring tape close at hand, 3) clip on the ironing board to hold small, freshly pressed pieces, like pockets, facings or collars, 4) use in the car to hold gas receipts and parking tags.
Like the mousetrap, the classic clothes pin is a darn good design. How to improve it? Add fun colors and designs and make it plastic so it’s water and stain resistant. You get 12 handy pins, six in hot pink and six in mod floral. These are so cute, they kind of make us want to to do the laundry! Obvious use: hanging clothes. Multi-tasker uses: 1) incorporate them into craft projects for message boards and the like, 2) hang your cut fabric pieces to keep them organized during a project’s construction – the smooth plastic surface of these clothes pins is less likely to leave a mark than their wooden counterparts, 3) substitute these for those ugly black binder clips; they hold nearly as much and are way prettier, 4) use them to tame leftover lengths of yarn or thin trims: pinch the head of the yarn/trim, wrap the length around the body of the closed pin, then pinch the tail end to secure – easy to see, easy to store, 5) clip together items that tend to drift apart, like gloves and mittens – the plastic surface is snag-free.
My local dry cleaner gave me a cardboard version of this product, but it was a) really ugly, b) super hard to carry when it was full, and c) dented and ripped in no time because I’m just not very gentle with my hangers. The Dritz® version is sturdy, canvas-covered board with carry handles, and it folds flat for storage. The triangle shape can hold standard wood, plastic or wire hangers. Obvious use: keeping your hangers from becoming a tangled mess. Multi-tasker uses: 1) transporting hangers to the laundromat, dry cleaner or recycling center, 2) unused hangers are often in the way on a closet rod, use this to store extras out of the way on the floor, 3) as fabric storage in your sewing room – stack folded yardage in the box; the opening in the front will allow you to see what’s stored inside – you can also use the opening to grab the proper amount of the stack to lift out in order to reach the fabric you want.
This sturdy spray bottle holds 15.9 oz (470 ml). The angled trigger-grip sprayer is easy to squeeze with just two fingers, but is well-engineered to be long-lasting. And, we all know stainless steel keeps the water inside smelling better – no plastic chemicals leaching into the contents. Obvious use: misting clothes while ironing. Multi-tasker uses: 1) keeping indoor plants hydrated, 2) use one in your sewing room to spritz away water soluble marking lines, 3) stash one in the bathroom to dampen hair prior to styling.
This over-the-door plastic hook is a perfect way to add a bit of extra hanging space in even the tightest spaces. Obvious use: air-drying freshly washed clothes. Multi-tasker uses: 1) hold in-progress projects in the sewing room, 2) add some much needed hanging space in a dorm room or small apartment, 3) organize all your pressed clothes to wear the next day, 4) put one up by the back door to hold wet outerwear; slip a rubber mat below to catch the drips.
This product isn’t a new one like many of those above, but is a standard item every sewing room should contain. Can you make your own pressing cloth? Of course, but it’s also nice to have one that you know is 100% cotton and designed to protect without transferring any kind of marks or dyes. Remember, a pressing cloth is meant to protect the fabric, but that doesn’t mean you can use it on a heat sensitive surface; always use it on an ironing board or protected work surface. Obvious use: protecting fabric from the heat of your iron. Multi-tasker uses: 1) keep one in your suitcase when traveling; those hotel irons are not always the cleanest on the block, 2) a professional pressing cloth, used with the correct heat setting, can allow you to gently press substrates not normally known for their love of the iron, like vinyl, fleece and embellished fashion fabric, 3) moisten the entire cloth to give you a large, damp surface for fabrics that press best with steam heat.
Keep lint, pet hair, small fibers, and dust at bay. This tool uses two curved surfaces covered in napped fabric – the nap is running one direction on one surface, the opposite direction on the second surface. Use the lever to switch surfaces as you brush away debris. When you’re finished cleaning, slide open the top compartment door to empty the collected lint. Dritz has a short video showing this product in action. Obvious use: cleaning lint from the surface of your fabric. Multi-tasker uses: 1) use it to clean lint and pet hair from furniture, 2) it’s a Go Green product that is completely reusable, unlike those sticky tape lint rollers, 3) the softer surface of this brush makes it a good choice for cleaning hard surfaces like cutting mats, which sometimes don’t react well to the sticky rollers.
Growing up, I never heard my mother swear. The worst it ever got was a hissed, “Dagnabbit!” This is one reason we had to profile this product. The other reason is that it’s a great little tool to fix snags in knits and wovens. Simply insert its sharp point into the center of the snag, then push/pull the tool through the fabric to the back, carrying the snag with it. The opposite end from the point is textured with teeny-tiny barbs that help catch the snag to pull it through to the back. Depending on the thickness of the weave, it may take a few times through to capture the whole snag at the back. When done, gently stretch the fabric from the right side to realign the fibers. This is one clothing care item that really has just the one best use. But then, they always say it’s best to do one thing very well.