So, what's in your bag?
This is my little sewing buddy. I absolutely love this organizer (from Hobby Lobby, but I've seen it at other craft stores, too); I love it so much I got two, one for sewing and one for other craft tools. And I keep all kinds of goodies in it.
One of my favorite little things? This sewing needle organizer:
And please ignore this crazy tablecloth; I needed a new one for my craft desk and this is what was on clearance. Not much to look at, but it's not covered in paint or melted by the hot glue gun.
Anyway, this little thing has been a life saver; now all my needles are in the same place -- it has a section for sheer, ball point, regular and heavy duty.
What the what? (As my son would say, and too often, starting to drive me a little nuts...) Um, ball point needles? Sheer? If you're new to sewing, this probably sounds completely weird; however, head over to this website I found that has an excellent list of sewing needles, what all the numbers mean and their uses.
Needle side note: Don't think you need to run out and buy a new needle for every project; I have tried most of these needles. And for the most part, I use my universal and my ball point (for stretchy fabrics) the most. I just bought stretch needles for some swim bums I was making for my daughter -- didn't see a difference and totally broke one two seconds after I started sewing with it in my serger. So maybe try something you already have on some scrap fabric before you run out to buy a specialty needle...
As I was saying, love my organizer. It's so nice having all my needles in one place. But I've had one little issue: While ball point and heavy duty needles are marked by colored bands across the shank so I know what size they are, my universal ones aren't. Yeah, yeah. The needle says right on there what size it is, but they're so hard to read if they're printed on the rounded side. Apparently my almost-30-year-old eyes ain't what they used to be. :)
The solution? Make some shank markings of my own.
I'm too lazy/get annoyed if I have to stop in the middle of a project to squint at my needles until I find the right one. So, using a Sharpe, I came up with my own marking system. I marked my 75 with a vertical line straight up the backside of the shaft. I marked my 80s with two horizontal lines, and I left my 90s blank. Now no more squinting to see if I'm grabbing the right needle. A little time saver and maybe saves my eyes, too. :)