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I'm starting a new needlepoint project today and as a result had the chance to try two tools I've had for a while but hadn't used and a third in a new way. First, for tacking the canvas onto the stretcher bars, I used an EZ Tack-It kit that included a set of tacks, an ergonomic magnetic tack pusher to insert the tacks and a large metal with plastic handle tack remover tool. It comes with the good sturdy style flat tacks in a really sturdy box, and I'd actually bought it because it was on clearance (due to a packaging change) for about the price of buying just the tacks and I'd thought the sturdy box would hold up better for traveling. The tools are great! And while the small tack removers that often come in the box with the tacks (ie if you buy Clover tacks) are great, they are so small that I usually lose them - this tack remover is the size of a small screw driver so it won't be so easy to drop unnoticed! I would totally buy this set again at full price.
I've been quilting and sewing lately and I bought a June Tailor Quilter's Cut 'n Press II a few months ago for sewing purposes. I've found that the padded back (intended for ironing) makes it great for use for cutting fabric on my lap while sitting on the couch. Today I discovered that using it like that allows for excellent ergonomics when tacking canvas onto stretcher bars. Also, the marked 1" grid makes it really easy to mark your canvas, as you can see the grid through the canvas easily. Since one side is dark with white lines and the other is light with dark lines, it should work with any color canvas. The padded side would be great for steam iron blocking and is also marked for blocking circles. The Cut 'n Press II has a 12" by 18" grid with about an inch margin on each side and a handle at the top. The original Cut 'n Press has a 10" by 10" grid if you mostly do work in that size.
Finally, several months ago I saw a Berkley Hot Line Cutter at the sporting goods store. Its a small battery powered hand-held tool designed to instantly hot cut fishing line. I immediately thought of the tabletop hot cutters I'd heard about for use with synthetics like Kreninik and Rainbow Gallery threads that provide a nice fray-free cut. Since it was under $10, decided to buy one to try it out. Naturally, I've been stitching exclusively with cottons and wools ever since. However, my new project has a number of synthetics in it so I finally got to try it. Wow, what a difference!
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