What can you do when the handle on your favorite wooden spoon breaks? Or perhaps you’ve just finished making a Covered Dish Tote which uses pieces of a 3/8″ dowel rod for the handles and you have a piece left over. It’s just an 7-inch piece of dowel rod. What can you do with that?
Oh, my friends, you know me. I don’t like to throw anything away!
Just a few minutes of time and you could have a new tool to help make your sewing easier.
I decided to turn that piece of dowel into a stiletto. Yep. Easy peasy!
Of what use is a stiletto?
It can help you hold fabric in place as you guide it under the presser foot to be sewn. (That keeps your fingers clear of the needle.)
It can help guide the fabric evenly along straight seams when a walking foot might get in the way.
When you use a sandpaper board to keep fabric from shifting while you mark it, use a stiletto to lift the corner of the fabric off of the sandpaper.
That protects your fingernails and nail polish from scratches.
Here are the supplies you’ll need to make one for yourself:
1 piece of 3/8″ diameter dowel rod or the broken handle from a wooden spoon about 7″ long
A hot glue gun and glue stick (you don’t need much)
1 used sewing machine needle that has passed its prime for use in your machine
A drill bit that is 1/16′” diameter
An electric or battery powered drill/screw gun
Medium-fine sandpaper (If you don’t have sandpaper, I have a solution. Read on.)
Measure your dowel piece and wrap a small piece of masking tape around the dowel at about the 5″ mark. Draw a line on the masking tape at 5″.
(Wrapping the dowel with tape will help to protect the ends from fraying and splintering when cutting.)
Cut the dowel on the marked line.
I used my compound miter saw to cut it.
Cut SLOWLY and you will have little to no splintering.
You will now have a 5″ stiletto “handle” and a 2″ cap.
Remove the tape.
The dowel pictured (top) was not wrapped with tape before cutting.
See how the edge splintered?
The bottom one was wrapped first, then cut.
This simple trick makes a nice clean edge.
Use the sandpaper to round both ends of your dowel. Hold the dowel and pull it toward you. Do not push it over the surface of the sandpaper. That will splinter the ends.
Note: The only sandpaper I had on hand is on my board that I use to mark sewing or cutting lines on fabric. I did not want to get wood dust in the grit of the paper, so I just rounded my dowel ends by pulling it across the concrete floor in our mud room. A concrete surface, whether it’s a floor, a patio, or a driveway, makes a great abrasive surface just like sandpaper.
With the 1/6″ drill bit, drill a hole in the center of one end of the dowel, about 1/4″ deep. (No more than 3/8″) You want part of the needle’s shaft to extend above the top of the handle. You will probably need to ream this hole until the needle shaft just fits into it. (REAM: move the drill bit in and out while drilling to increase the diameter of the hole.)
(Using the next size larger drill bit makes the hole too big and can make it a bit more difficult to keep the needle straight as the glue cools and hardens. So I prefer to ream the hole to be just large enough to insert the needle’s shaft.)
Drill a shallow hole (about 1/2″ deep) in the center of the cap. DO NOT REAM THIS HOLE as it will serve two purposes.
First, insert the sharp end of the sewing machine needle into the unreamed hole of the cap. This gives you a way to hold the needle and insert it into the handle without stabbing yourself.
Hold the needle with the cap to “dry fit” it into the reamed hole on the handle before adding glue. (See how the painted red part of the needle’s shaft shows? You want that.)
When the needle shaft can be inserted into the handle, squeeze a drop or two of hot glue into the hole.
Using the cap, quickly push the shaft end of the needle into the hole, and hold it as straight as you can. Hold for a few seconds until the glue cools.
When the glue is cooled and set, remove the cap. Using the 1/16″ drill bit again, drill the hole in the cap to a depth of 1 + 1/4″. DO NOT REAM THIS HOLE. Leaving the hole at 1/16″ lets the cap snug down on the exposed shaft of the needle, holding the cap in place. Cool, huh?
Oh, and remember how the stiletto helped guide the green and yellow triangles under the presser foot at the top of the page? Well, since I rounded the cut ends on the handle, I can use it to “press” the seam to the side or open. That saves trips to the iron!
Less time ironing, more time sewing. And lower electric bills! Woohoo!
The next time something breaks or wears down at your house, I hope this tutorial will encourage you to find a new purpose for it.