True Confessions – I Own Some Truly Useless Equipment

It’s not just that I own these items. It’s the fact that I spent money on them that really hurts.

Let’s start with the loop turner in its red packet. Yeah, it doesn’t get out of that packet much. I’m amazed this wasn’t hurled into the bin months ago. The price tag is still on there. I paid £4.50 for this abomination! It’s entirely and utterly useless. A safety pin is more useful for turning loops.

Then, starting far left, there is the chalk pencil. What a joke. I paid for this item and then paid for P&P on top! For something that couldn’t make a mark if its name was Mark and it lived in Mark Street. Pathetic. I’ve found chalk to vary widely in quality and ability to perform. My favourites now are the Clover Chaco Liners and the chalk pencil set.

Moving along, the bias binding maker. Opinion is torn on these things. Some people love them. Then there are the sane members of the population. I’m not going to get too far into this debate, for fear of setting off a worldwide riot.

Beside those, two zip feet. At some point in my sewing career, I became very frustrated by my inability to insert a decent zip. So I bought these two items, neither of which made a jot of difference. Finally, I invested in a Bernina invisible zip foot and it was some of the best money I’ve ever spent.

Next to that … now I’m sure this item isn’t useless. It’s just that I don’t know what it’s for. It came with my machine. It’s a number 5 Bernina foot and of the most unusual construction. If you recognise it, let me know what I’m meant to do with it. Please!

And finally, on the far right, another item that came with my Bernina sewing machine. Um… A spatula? Again, I have no idea. Clues, please!

What about you? Have you wasted money on stuff that is just waiting to be land fill? To quote William Morris:

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

Um, William? Am I allowed to own stuff that I think is ugly and useless? Because I do!

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70 Responses to True Confessions – I Own Some Truly Useless Equipment

  1. Nicole says:

    Once you figure out the number 5 bernina foot you’ll love it! It’s a edge stitcher for when you need to sew close to the edge of a seam or a garment. I use it all the time- especially if i’m putting in (store bought) binding. In order to use it, you have to move your needle either to the right or to the left and then butt the fabric up to the corresponding edge. It’s great. I’m with you though on the zipper feet, I only use my invisible zipper one. I have no idea what the spatula thing is, I have one too.

  2. Isn’t it sad that you can’t always tell if something is going to be useful until you have paid good money for it? I confess I have lots of useless gizmo’s too – always with the intention of using them but truly some should have been binned years ago.
    Sadly, I have no ideas regarding your Bernina bits – I drive a Pfaff.

  3. MrsC says:

    I agree on most of these gadgets but I do love my loop turner. The only thing is that they are a bit short, so I opened the big eye thing at the end out so I could thread the roule right through the whole thing!
    Useless bitsos in my sewing room include the useless optical ‘automatic’ buttonhole foot that came with my machine (replaced with the usual kind at great expense) the useless little embroidery hoop thing that also came with it, At least three feet including that #5, the purpose of which remain a mystery to me. I too have invested in many useless pencils and markers, and my fave is the interchangeable one you blogged about – was so impressed I sent away for it too, thank you! 🙂

  4. debs2748 says:

    It’s a blind hem foot. Not that I have ever sed one as I don’t actually like machine stitched hems.

    • I’d have said an edgestitch or topstitch foot, it’s very different from my blind hem foot. BUT can it be used for blind hemming? (If so, I’ll have to try that as I find it far friendlier in lots of ways than the blind hem foot)

    • Jen (NY) says:

      Yes–my Bernina manual identifies it as a Blind Hem foot also. However, I tend to use it as an edge stitcher mostly. (A real edge stitcher would tend to have a firmer metal dividing thing). It’s a really useful foot, I think.

  5. vanessa says:

    The plastic spatula is a fabric guide which slides onto the extension plate, can be very handy for long straight seams. And I add another thumbs up for the edge stitching foot. Also a thumbs down for the loop turner.

    • I’ve used my spatula thingy and its good actually. I had to take it into the Bernina shop to find out what the hell it was cos there wasn’t a single mention of it in the manual!

  6. Sam says:

    I’ve got one of those bias binding makers, and I can’t get on with it at all! It would possibly get easier to use with practice, but I can’t be bothered!

    I really wish there was a way you could try these gadgets before you commited to them!

    • LinB says:

      It does get easier with practice! I’ve used these for years, in several widths. However, that being said, I more often resort to two pins poked into my ironing board pad, at angles to one another (makes a little arch). Put the pins the distance apart you want your finished binding to be. Pull binding through and the pins will turn the edges for you, as you press merrily away to create single-fold binding (bias or straight). Watch out that you don’t burn your fingers — but you’d have to watch out with that on the commercial binding maker, anyway.

  7. Roobeedoo says:

    Fascinating! That spatula isn’t something to do with piping is it? Just a guess! Maybe the wide bit of fabric gets rolled and funnelled round the cord along the narrow spout…?

  8. The foot looks like a stitch-in-a ditch, a very useful foot indeed! Have no idea what clear spatula is for

  9. Ginny says:

    My zipper foot is probably my single most used accessory after the regular foot on my sewing machine. My invisible zipper foot vanished when I moved out of my mum’s two and a half years ago and never turned up, and I haven’t missed it since these days Ioathe invisible zips! Each to their own on that one I suppose. As others have said, the other foot is an edgestitcher/ stitch-in-the-ditch foot. They’re great for getting neat topstitching at an edge; you butt the edge up against the guide blade in the middle of the foot and move the needle to the side. They mostly seem to be used for quilting, using the blade as a guide along seam lines in the patchwork and along binding edges, but I can see them being really useful in dressmaking too. A blind hem foot is slightly different, but you can probably use it for that too if you wanted.

  10. shivani says:

    Ah the edge stitch foot! I use mine surprisingly frequently (I can’t actually stitch in the ditch, but with this foot I can stictch very closely to the ditch indeed!). I’m on the fence re the bias maker – I just don’t ever need to make bias tape enough to have justified the purchase. No idea about the spatula thingy. I probably do have a lot of ugly and useless junk – I think I’ve hidden it all away so that I don’t have to look at it.

  11. Erika says:

    The weird thing about the useless and strange objects I have in my sewing room is that they can all of a sudden be invaluable tools! For example the nr 5 foot… My Bernina is quite old, so my feet looks bit different from the modern ones. However, a fast google and the comments above and I’d say it’s the modern match for my most used foot after the zick-zack; the blind stitch/stitch in ditch foot. Granted, I most often hand stitch my hems, but for straight hems and home decor, the blind stitch is great. Stitch in a ditch must be one of the best things invented. =)
    I actually like the loop turner, although it doesn’t get much use. Same goes for the bias tape maker. The invisible zipper foot though… Bought at great expense, and I could just not get a decent zipper-installation with it! Ok, the fabric was very thin and flimsy, but hey – a thicker and more stable fabric I would have used a regular zipper. I’m keeping it around, though, as maybe one day that little foot too will go from useless item to valued tool =)
    So, basically – in my world it’s ok to have some things in my appartement that has no function and that I don’t even like (as both these circumstances can change) – as long as it doesn’t get out of hand =)

  12. Mema says:

    Foot Nr. 5, I like it and I overuse it. Here you can see a little video demonstration ( ).

  13. Nothy says:

    I laughed when I read the title of this post…don’t we all own equipment we don’t need? My basement is the wasteland where all kinds of bought and forgotten about items live! I agree with you on the chalk pencil – i have one that doesn’t work too. I love my bias maker – I have a bias making machine that I use with it. I’m glad so many readers have told you what that unknown foot does – I have too. I may make an organizer and label the feet so I don’t have to figure it out each time (sometimes it is quite awhile before I use a foot again).

  14. Robin says:

    No 5 ! I use it all the time to take up blind hems so easy and fast. One of my favourite feet. It is described on page 15 of my manual as ” blind stitch foot”.

  15. sewbusylizzy says:

    I love No.5 foot, great for precise edge stitching (I must have a similar model Bernina). I adore my Bernina invisible zipper foot too 🙂
    I think the spatula-like attachment is for when you have a super wide seam allowance or something like that??? I also have this but haven’t used it. And after a 13+ hr day in the office I’m too tired to go up into my sewing room and check.
    I’ve just started using my second spool attachment as I’ve conquered my fear of twin needles!

  16. I love my edgestitch foot! Obviously you know what it is by now but I had to add my voice to those who knew what it was and loved it too 🙂 Am very interested in the weirdo spatula though – I hope you find out what it is definitively and tell us…

  17. Jinty says:

    I feel your pain, I also bought a bias binding maker and I had visions of everything bound in any beautiful fabric that took my fancy but alas I find it impossible/confusing to use… maybe I’ll try it again… someday… when my level of patience is high 🙂
    So many people in the blogosphere make it look so easy and they can’t all be wrong!

    I also have a Clover double tracing wheel that I thought would be really good for adding seam allowances to magazine patterns… but I’ve yet to actually make something from my magazine hoard… so it has been rendered useless.

    OH and now I think about it there is also an Olfa rotary cutting that I HAD to have (it has tulips on it – pretty! :P) that has seldom been used… I have no confidence in my ability to cut a straight line under pressure 😀

  18. Looked like an edge-stitching foot to me too, but Bernina have a Youtube video saying a number 5 foot is a blind-hemmer:
    But I reckon with that guide blade, you could easily edge stitch or stitch in the ditch with it too… Definitely have a play with it for top-stitching using it as an edge guide with needle swung to the left- so much easier to get a neat line!

    I also have a loop-turner that I try to use and always swear at half-way through turning when it fails! Why is it still in my sewing supplies?! Hmm. I’m doing a pre-Xmas charity shop clearout, and I’ve just decided- it’s going!

  19. Ros says:

    Do you still have the manual for your machine? I expect it explains how to use all those feet.

  20. Michelle says:

    I use my loop turner constantly. I have a sharp one and a blunt one – – sharp for fabric, blunt for elastic and fishing the missing cord out of my husband’s draw string shorts.

    The plastic planky thing is a guide for your Bernina extension table. I’ve never used the extension table as my machine sits in a Horn sewing cabinet. I only keep it in case I sell the machine.

  21. So true! Luckily I haven’t bought into many gadgets. The only completely useless things I have bought are a tracing wheel and that sticky coloured paper for transferring markings. I loathe them. It’s refreshing to hear that you hate the bias tape maker. The hardest part about making bias tape is getting the edges straight and even and the gadget doesn’t help at all with that!

  22. Bia says:

    I, too, use the loop turner alot, and for the same purposes as Michele above. Useful for pulling or grabbing tie strings in hoodies, sweatpants, etc.

  23. Emma says:

    *confessional music* I didn’t recognise ANY of those doo dahs. I also rather like looking at them laid out like that. Like some obscure crafty installation. I fear this may make me very odd indeed.

  24. Szarka says:

    Another fan of the #5 here…I use it primarily for lace insertion and pintucks, as I do a lot of historical re-enactment sewing. When I took my Bernina orientation class from the dealer and they showed us how it could trace the flimsiest hemming lace with perfect evenness, my. world. changed.

  25. colleen says:

    HA! Both of those things (the foot and the spatula) came with my machine, too. I realized the use of the foot when the ladies from Colette posted a blind hemstitch tutorial, but I am still to use it. The bias thingie? I bought two of them and my daughter laughed at the sight of me trying to forcefeed fabric into them and have magic occur. I have no idea where they are now. I bought the Simplicity bias tape machine and have used it once. It’s wonderful but I wonder if I’ll get more use out of it. It just seems easier to do it all by hand!

  26. why are there so many useless marking tools on the market?! ugh.
    and bias tape makers – i share your rage. mine see exactly as much use as my disaster of an avocado slicer does…none. they have been used once and left to languish in uselesstooldom, where they belong. actually, they belong in the trash. why am i keeping them?

  27. Alice says:

    I have a loop turner and I am completely with you. It’s absolutely useless! At one point I started to wonder (and I still do) whether I am just not using it correctly…

  28. I hate my loop turner so much I can’t even tell you. I can barely even close the stupid little latch thing, and then half the time it pulls out anyway. Why? I’ve always wondered if it was me. It kind of makes me crazy.

  29. LLADYBIRD says:

    Hahaha, I love my loop turner, but they can be very frustrating to work. One must be very very careful to not rip the fabric when turning. But they do come in handy!

    Those bias tape makers are the devil. Such a pain! My mom did point out that the smaller ones are a little easier to maneuver; like you, I have the 1″ and I rarely get a crisp fold with it. Ugh.

  30. Katherine says:

    awwwww. 🙁 i’m sensing a lot of distaste for bias tape maker thingummies. i love my bias tape maker – it makes me so happy to easily make my own bias tape! it’s probably the only sewing gadget i have (wait, do those chalk marker things from clover count?), and i lurve it.

    but then, i’m the kind of OCD that would go literally insane trying to make the folds perfect if i tried to make bias tape without one of these. so i definitely fall into the insane categorie of sewing peoples. . .

    heh, i just realized that i’m “biased” about the bias tape maker thingy. hee

  31. Sarah says:

    I fairly recently bought my first chalk pencil, a red one, made by the people who package everything in pink & make lots of sewing-type bits. It’s not much use – until you lick it.
    I can’t remember what drove me to try that and I don’t know what it might be doing to my insides but it does leave a good red mark. Still not much use for drawing long lines but fine for pin dots and dashes!

  32. Jen (NY) says:

    Here’s the Bernina guide to presser feet:

    The #5 is a blind stitch foot. An edge stitch foot would be marked #10.

  33. trumbelinasews says:

    I love my fellow women who sew. I read all of these comments, ending with licking a chalk pencil. Made my morning. I think my most useful gadget is a little white plastic corner-poker-outer (technical name) my mother-in-law gave me. In the past I’ve poked out corners with anything pointy within reach (useless chalk pencil works okay for this if it’s reasonably sharp), but this little piece of plastic works the best. And it has some useful ruler markings on it as well!

  34. very entertaining post. I think you will pulling that # 5 foot out of the mystery pile and using it soon. For anyone sewing with an older machine, I recommend this book: The Sewing Machine Attachment Handbook, by Charlene Phillips. She goes through all these mystery feet and shows how they are used. A sewing book I actually purchased and refer to often. I think the info can apply to modern machines, the attachments have not changed all that much (ruffler, binder, pleater etc). I have many feet for my Singer machines and yet still buy others on Ebay. To me its fun to have a big toolbox filled with goodies.

    • Sofie says:

      Beth I think I have borrowed this book from the library and I love it! I was just thinking yesterday how would I find out what it was called but you have come to my rescue!

  35. Carolyn says:

    Oh Karen, I’m sorry that the binder foot doesn’t work for you! I have that thing in 3 sizes and can’t live without them. I love making my own binding and that foot is essential to making it work.

  36. Sunni says:

    I recently started using my edgestitching/ice skating/blind hemming foot only a few months ago. Oh Karen! Its AMAZING! Don’t write that little gadget off quite yet. I had not idea what it was used for either, but when I started using it as an edgestitching foot, it made my dreams come true! Ha ha ha! It really is fabulous. When you do baby hems on say a circle skirt – that thing will come in so handy. Promise! The other things…. meh. I rarely use my loop turner – I’m a bodkin user myself. I find the bias tape maker thing you’ve got there to make really sub par bias binding and prefer to do it by hand anyway.

  37. Sewer from Across the Bond says:

    One of the things I like about sewing is that most sewing notions and tools are relatively cheap and its fairly painless to experiment — at least in the U.S. I shop in the Garment District in New York or buy from

    My loop turner, which only cost a couple of dollars, is invaluable. It did take me a little while to learn how to use it, but I’m a klutz.

    I’m always experimenting with different kinds of chalks and marking tools. Different projects require different marking instruments.

    One of the many reasons I’ve hesitated into looking seriously into buying a Bernina is the high cost of the presser feet. I often use an industrial machine and the feet are only about $4. I’ve seen Bernina feet that cost $30.

  38. Graca says:

    I love my bias tape maker, it is one of my favourite tools. I do agree with your insight on invisible zipper foot specifically for our machines. Now, those plastic invisible zipper foots found in fabric stores, that has to be where I wasted my money.

  39. Clio says:

    Wow! I didn’t realize that we were all so divided on the loop turner. I just did a big re-org of the Craft Lounge and somehow lost mine in the process. I immediately bought another; I simply refuse to turn anything without it.

    I have at least a dozen useless marking tools. The chako is best, but not perfect IMHO.

  40. kaitui_kiwi says:

    Totally with you on the chaco liners & the chalk pencil set, best marking tools I ever bought!

  41. sheila says:

    bias binder thingy – what’s not to love! In fact, I just had to buy the Simplicity machine. All those left-over bits of fabric can be transformed into metres and metres of delectable bias binding. So what if you don’t use them! So enabling and comforting to have a bias binding stash (my fabric, pattern, habby etc stashes need a little company!) And we all know that end use is not the determining factor – possession is 9/10ths of the fun!

  42. Pella says:

    Bias binder maker – chuck it, use two needles in the ironing board instead. Blind hem foot – keep, you’ll learn to love it. Turning loops, is there a definitive gadget or method?

    • LinB says:

      Best I’ve ever used for turning tubes is the Fasturn tube set. You thread your fabric tube over their metal tube, insert a wire turner — with a pigtail hook at the end — into the metal tube, yoick it through the end of your fabric, and nearly effortlessly pull the fabric tube right side out. Takes far longer to set up the operation than the turn the tube (and it takes very little time to set up!). You can stuff a tube at the same time you are turning (as for self-made piping). When turning the fabric tube over the stiff edge of the Fastturn tube, you can “fingerpress” the seam open for easier pressing later. I use mine nearly every week for some project or other: apron ties, narrow bias tubes for decorative Celtic knotwork or as garment closures, double-row binding to insert into a seam, small parts of doll-making (legs, arms, ears for animals, etc.), handles for tote bags.

  43. Salma says:

    Oh I bought a loop turner too, it was a total waste of money!

  44. Lizzie says:

    You made me lol with your “mark if its name was Mark and it lived in Mark Street” comment!
    I love my loop turner I use it loads, also my niece thought it was the best thing ever at age 10 and turned fabric all afternoon – so you could always use it as a toy to entertain youngsters?
    I have several feet that I have found useless, especially my bias binding foot – hopeless unless you have exactly the right size bias and even then, still hopeless. Invisible zip foot, pointless, my normal foot does a better job. Any why do I have so much Velcro? Must be leftover from the 80s.

  45. I would have sworn that foot was an edge stitch foot – live and learn! Thanks for the marker tip. My chalk pencils are utterly useless so I’m definitely checking that out.

  46. I’m a complete sewing accessories geeks and can spend quite some time drooling over something like all the kind of pins that exist, so I might have a few useless thingies in my studio too (like a loop turner I never managed to use properly :))… I was always frustrated with marking tools, especially when I wanted to draw precise shapes on fabric to make jewelry, but the sky suddenly opened and filled with little singing angels when I discovered the Bohin mechanical pencils ( And I recently discovered that Clover made some too (!

    Oh, and thanks for making me laugh very early this morning with your “Mark in Mark Street”. 🙂

  47. Joanne says:

    All chalk pencils are the work of the very devil for me, as is my loop turner. I thought it was me! Bias bind makers have their uses but you gotta have asbestos finger tips to protect them from iron steam. My pattern tracing wheel and waxed paper comes out once a year and then gets thrown back in the cupboard when I remember why I hate it. Why don’t I throw it away?!

  48. Lisa says:

    Thanks for this.. is it going to be followed up by your top tips of things that are worth buying?? (or have you already done this??)

  49. prttynpnk says:

    Gee, I always thought that quote was a measure for my men and pets…I’m not sure I want to test my foolish purchases with it! I have some doozies!

  50. Sofie says:

    I love my loop turner, and you do have to be careful with delicate or open weave fabrics but it truly ruly works.

  51. I agree foot 5 is great! Edgestitching and understitching are easy peasy and perfectly aligned! As for the spatula 😉 don’t use it much for margins but it you need to sew straight lines on long pieces it’s great

  52. Jen (NY) says:

    I’m just going to say that the right size of bias tape maker is a convenient tool for making self fabric drawstrings. I don’t use them much, but I think they help keep me from burning off my finger tips with the iron. And the Clover brand ones are sorta cute.

  53. I see many other comments explaining the BERNINA accessories! Yes, I agree that once you try the #5 foot you will love it. I use it for edgestitching, creates perfectly placed stitches every time. And the “spatula” is a large seam guide that slides on the extension table for your BERNINA. Could come in handy for larger projects, I have to admit I haven’t used mine in awhile!

  54. Anne W says:

    Haha, now the spatula I have no idea what you’d use for, but the un-named foot is brilliant for using to stitch in the ditch! And loop turners, I use mine all the time…

  55. Paola says:

    Now I know what the No 5 foot is for! I have yet to find a tailors chalk that could be thought to make any sort of mark. Universally absolute rubbish.

  56. stefpulls says:

    I hear you about chalk pencils! I thought it was just me 🙂
    I love bias tape to the point of needing intervention. Sometimes when I want to sew but don’t have enough time or I am between projects I’ll just sit down and make some bias tape out of charity shop bedding.
    My favourite version of a bias tape maker is a tapestry needle, iron and ironing board:
    This is a great system that works out of stuff most sewing enthusiasts already have around the house.

    I have bought not one but 6 different sizes of rolled hem feet back in August and didn’t use them once. I was frustrated because I didn’t “get” hems, but I do now and I am not sure how much use I will get from them. I would love an overcast foot but for now I am making do with my Teflon M foot. I love that I can see what I am doing and align the edge of the fabric with several different markings on the foot.

  57. Pingback: I Own Some Truly Useful Equipment, Too! | Did You Make That?

  58. Jessi says:

    I have the #5 foot too- I’ve never used it. It is a blind hem foot, but works very similarly to the #10 edge stitch foot. But I like the edge stitch foot better, as that center guide is placed a little differently. I’m a little annoyed though they recommended I buy the #10, since the 5 was included and it seems like it could do the same thing.

    The spatula is a seam guide. It goes on the plastic tray, and you can line your fabric up with it to make sure it is an even line. I use mine occasionally.

    I like the bias tape maker when I need folded bias tape, but I usually don’t use that kind.
    I’ve always wanted a loop turner, because I hate turning straps, but have never bothered buying one.

  59. Valerie says:

    I actually love my bias tape maker. I think that a lot of garment look much nicer when the bias tape is from the same fabric as the garment itself. I use it a lot when I make dresses and blouses for my daughter, to bind te armholes or the neckline. And once you get the hang of it, it goes pretty fast. The trick is not to cut your fabric to wide: it will jam up every time. Just cut
    3 mm less and it will go much easier.

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