Frankly, The Folksy Magazine

My Essential Kit – Alex McQuade

by Emily. Average Reading Time: about 2 minutes.


Cute little brooches and embroidered badges make up Alex McQuade‘s textile collection – oh, and the odd Westie! Here she lists the crafting tools she cannot live without.

1. Princess Pleater

A fantastic tool I use to pleat fabric, my corsage collection utilises this tool combining layers of pleated fabric. The pleater provides endless possibilities for manipulating and creating texture with fabric. I came across the British made pleater during my final year at university when the key was experimentation and development of ideas, I remember pleating handmade felts, silk papers and fabrics that I’d burnt and distressed first!

2. Sewing Machine

A little obvious but I couldn’t leave something this important off the list! Used with the plate attachment to give increased surface area for free stitch embroidery I also nearly always use a hoop. Bernie – my baby!

3. Camera

With the essential tripod attachment for those macro shots of the final creations. I love taking photographs of my products, I have a record of almost everything I’ve ever made and I take photos of all the events I attend. A great visual diary of my creative journey so far.

4. Fray Check

The final addition to finished products. I love the raw edges of fabrics especially layers of them together but it’s just as important that my products are usable – art to wear. So the fray check is used to stop further fraying and prolong the life of the product.

5. Pins and needles

I’m always looking for a perfect finish to my products. To achieve this, the key for me is in the preparation! Pinning before stitching is so important. I also find I have favourite pins and needles and often it’s not until a needle is almost bent to 90 degrees that I think it’s time to get a new favourite!

6. Cardboard tags

I’m a little tag obsessed big, medium or small they all play a key part in the packaging on my products. It’s nice to keep a consistent look across the product range and the presentation/ packaging can really help to do this.

7. Badge blanks

One of the first products I started making for fairs and shows were my embroidered badges. Always a pleasure to make. I love the delicate hand stitching involved in the little applique designs. I’m sure the little birdie and heart badges will continue to feature in my collection for a very long time to come.

8. Wooden knitting need

An essential tool for filling my fabric creations, especially the Scottie dogs, a nice pointy end allows me to push the filling into every little dog ear and leg!

9. Super sharp scissor

These belonged to my mum and they are fantastic, ice tempered and super sharp. A good pair of scissors saves a lot of time and frustration! With a great point too for snipping those fine threads you get with free stitch embroidery.

10. Sleeve board

To achieve a professional finish I find ironing and pressing the products at every stage really important. Although a big ironing board plays a part this little one is great for purses and phone cosy’s etc. I can slide the board into the purses to achieve a really crisp neat finish.

You can browse and buy from Alex’s collection in her Folksy store.