Artwork for podcast Stitch Please
I'm a Sewist Series: Lessons Learned!
Episode 22413th March 2024 • Stitch Please • Lisa Woolfork
00:00:00 00:23:19

Share Episode


In this episode of the Stitch Please podcast, Lisa Woolfork shares lessons from the I'm a Sewist series on the Stitch Please Instagram and provides tips for sewists of all levels. She discusses the importance of using a prescription pill bottle for sharps as a safe and convenient way to dispose of needles. Lisa also recommends using a bodkin for threading elastic and drawstrings, and highlights the benefits of investing in a heat press for advanced sewists. Hopefully, these tips will help you to improve your sewing practices and make the process more fun, efficient and enjoyable.


Lisa Woolfork is an associate professor of English specializing in African American literature and culture. Her teaching and research explore Black women writers, Black identity, trauma theory, and American slavery. She is the founder of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. She is also the host/producer of Stitch Please, a weekly audio podcast that centers on Black women, girls, and femmes in sewing. In the summer of 2017, she actively resisted the white supremacist marches in her community, Charlottesville, Virginia. The city became a symbol of lethal resurging white supremacist violence. She remains active in a variety of university and community initiatives, including the Community Engaged Scholars program. She believes in the power of creative liberation.

Instagram: Lisa Woolfork

Twitter: Lisa Woolfork


The Black Women Stitch 2024 Wall Calendar is available NOW! Do not miss out on your chance to and get your stitch together with a year of artistic inspiration!



Sign up for the Black Women Stitch quarterly newsletter

Check out our merch here

Leave a BACKSTITCH message and tell us about your favorite episode.

Join the Black Women Stitch Patreon

Check out our Amazon Store

Stay Connected:

YouTube: Black Women Stitch

Instagram: Black Women Stitch

Facebook: Stitch Please Podcast


Ready to tap in to the visuals of Stitch Please? Then join our Patreon! For only $5 a month you can get all of the video versions of the pod. PLUS more goodies at higher patron levels. We couldn't do any of this without your support. Thank you!


Lisa Woolfork 0:10

Hello stitchers. Welcome to Stitch Please. The official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork. I'm a fourth generation sewing enthusiast with more than 20 years of sewing experience. I am looking forward to today's conversation. So sit back, relax, and get ready to get your stitch together.

Lisa Woolfork 0:40

ce toward the end of December:

Lisa Woolfork 3:36

In this episode, I'm going to be sharing a variety of tips that I've divided into three categories, things that are good for beginners, good for advanced, good for everyone. Then there's tips that I recommend for intermediate sewists, things that will help make your sewing more efficient. Things that might improve your practice overall. And then the third category is advanced. It's advanced because it requires a greater degree of financial commitment. It's about equipment. And yet it is still something that is absolutely worth doing and will save you time and effort in the long run. And so these are the three categories that we'll be talking about today. We've got tips and recommendations for everyone, which also covers beginners, if you're just getting started. It's always good to start with the best practices that you can so that you can build a really good foundation for your sewing. If you're intermediate, you've been doing this for some time, you can always learn that there's other ways to maybe go about it that you might end up liking even better. And if you are intermediate, if you are advanced, then you have a very well cultivated sewing practice, but maybe there's some things you had not considered. And so that's what this episode is for. It's designed to help bring to you some of the practices that I share in the I'm a Sewist series so that you can hear more about them.

Lisa Woolfork 5:01

Let's start with the easiest thing, or something that I think is a basic fundamental thing that is not that difficult to do. And that is using a prescription pill bottle for your sharps. The reason a prescription pill bottle is a good thing to have is because it has the anti-child lock on it. Now I know sometimes those anti-child locks are also anti-parent locks. But because I know I don't have little children anymore, I can get a regular easy cap removal prescription bottle and put my sharps in it. Why do I like it so much? I like it because it is very sturdy plastic. I like that it can hold the sharps but also let me see what is inside. I like that there's a way, or a use, for these medicine bottles when I am done with them. Now, if you are a person that's like "I never take medicine. What on earth am I supposed to do? ". Well, congratulations for being healthy. What you could do is to connect with somebody who's taking medicine and doesn't sew and will not be using their bottles for anything. So this means something like Facebook marketplace or if you have a local buy nothing community where you live. You could say "does anybody collect bottles of this size, or does anyone have any extra pill bottles?" and there will be people that will have them. The pill bottle I believe is a superior way to easily dispose of these needles. It's something that many of us have on hand or have access to, they have the child lock. And that is a great way to keep people safe from your sharps. Another thing I like about the medicine bottle is that it is large. And so I get the type, there's lots of different types of medicine bottles, but the one that I use has a diameter that's about two inches across. It's like almost like a two inch circle or two and a quarter inch circle. So they're pretty sizable. Not only have I been able to put pins and needles and staples in there, I've also been able to drop rotary blades in there, which is a very big deal because those can sometimes be very difficult to dispose of. The medicine bottle is great, because after when I get ready to dispose of this, I can lock it down with the child lock, I can tape it and write "sharps" on the tape. And then you can put it into the regular trash can. I have done some research both with medical professionals as well as with the sanitation overall. And the way that one disposes of sharps in our local trash system is to put them in a really tough container. And the way they kind of describe that kind of container is a laundry bottle. So you can put it in after you've used your laundry detergent or your bleach or whatever. They recommend those types of containers. Other containers that I believe could work, or what I've heard other people use, are spice bottles, because they have the holes up top and you can drop stuff in there and then tape it up and seal it up. Those are glass. I've heard other people take them and stick them in something, like in a ball or something like that or wrap them really well and stick them in the trash. You absolutely want to protect yourself from sharps. Myself. Lisa, me personally, I like to get as much trash into a trash can as I can. And so I will press with my hands or my foot depending on what the trash is. Press it down so I can get more in the bag. I think that helps to you know, not waste so many bags, et cetera, et cetera. There is a danger when you put unprotected sharps into a trash can. Even if you are not the type of person who would push down on a trash bag to get more trash in there. There will be someone, some human person will come into contact with your fabric trash or your sewing trash. One good way to think about disposing of the sharps is to make sure they are secure enough that nothing will poke out, nothing will slice out and no other person or animal can be injured by them. That is the most important part. So even if you don't use a medicine bottle, don't just toss it in the trash. Don't just stick it in a napkin. Do anything you can to keep that from hurting someone else. And that's the first basic tip.

Lisa Woolfork 9:53

The second tip is more intermediate. This is an intermediate tip because it does require a purchase, beyond just having something or upcycling something you already have. And that is get a bodkin. Get a bodkin. You deserve a bodkin, sis. Get a bodkin. A bodkin is going to totally help your sewing. It's going to make things easier. Let me tell you what a bodkin is. So the word bodkin has two distinct definitions. One that's Old English, and it means a weapon. It's a small dagger. And this was something that was referred to in Shakespeare's Hamlet. So it's a short knife with a thin blade. This is not a sewing bodkin. That is not a sewing bodkin. Do not get a short dagger/knife and then call me or text me and say "your advice tore up my whole thing!" You know, no, don't, don't use that. The bodkins that I mean, is a sewing notion. And it is a tool that's used to grab or hold material, especially things like drawstrings or elastic. And it works in the same way that we use like needles to go through fabric. You know how when you pierce the, if you're hand sewing and you pierce the needle with thread, and then as you pull the thread, that thread will follow the eye of the needle, right? That is how a bodkin works, too. But instead of threading thread through the eye of the needle, you can thread your material, either your elastic or your drawstring cord, your ribbon through the bodkin. The bodkin has a locking mechanism or some way to keep the material that's in the eye, fixed and closed, so that you can pull it through.

Lisa Woolfork:

Hey, friends, hey! I know you're enjoying the audio version of Stitch Please. And thanks so much for listening. But you're missing out on all the great stuff going on behind the scenes. That's why I'm inviting you to join our Black Women Stitch Patreon. For as little as $5 a month, you can see all the video versions of the podcast. Plus, you get some amazing swatch cards. You know how much I love these swatch cards! Look, look, see how cool these are? Oh, wait. You can't see them because you are not yet on the Patreon. So when you join the Patreon, you'll be able to see this, me showing you these amazing cards. We also have some great perks at other tiers, like discount swag, office hours and more. Don't be the last sewists in the group. Now, head over to or click the link in the show notes and become a Patreon supporter today. We truly cannot do this without you. So thank you so much.

Lisa Woolfork:

I will tell you also, honestly, a bad bodkin is worse than a safety pin. I personally, Lisa, I consider using a safety pin to thread a drawstring or elastic to be hazing. That is hazing. You do that so that people learn to hate sewing. Because it is so freakin tedious. Free yourselves friends, get a bodkin. Now there's lots of different kinds. I've seen some bodkins at the fabric store. I've even seen them at the Daiso. Then they have a two pack of bodkins that had the traditional kind with the tiny small teeth. And then the type that is a loop. And then you pull down this rubber, this rubber cap and it keeps the ribbon or elastic locked into that tight string. The one I'm most interested in, and this is the one that I've recently purchased, is a new one by Clover. And it's called the clip and glide bodkin. I saw this demonstrated in person back in 2023. And I thought it was AMAZING then, but then between then and now I haven't really thought about it again because I'm pretty satisfied with the other bodkins that I have. But I've recently ordered this one so I can give you an update on the Patreon to let you know how this bodkin turned out for me. So that is my advice for the secondary tip, the intermediate tip. Get a bodkin. Again also noting that in the US it is very easy to find bodkins. They are where you can find needle and thread etc. I've been told that these things are not very easy to find in other parts of the world. There was a great suggestion in the comments on how you could make a bodkin just using a piece of cardboard or a piece of paper, and then cutting a small gap in the bottom, threading your elastic or whatever through that. And like either pinning it or somehow folding it, so it doesn't come out. And it gives you the same result. The point is that working with a safety pin, especially if it's small and your material is thick, can be very frustrating. And my concern has always been if you have a gigantic pin, then you have a gigantic hole in your elastic. And so that was something I didn't want. All of this is to say that I have really appreciated having a bodkin and building in a sense a type of bodkin collection. The bodkins that I have purchased have all been about between $2 and $6 US. That's how much they've cost. I don't consider that a very large investment, especially if it's going to save me frustration. So the second tip is to think about using a bodkin for your elastic drawstring and ribbon threading.

Lisa Woolfork:

The advanced tip I have is about equipment. And that is, for the advanced folks, consider getting a heat press. There are at least three types of heat presses that one might consider getting. The first one is one I think we are pretty much familiar with. It looks like an ironing board, like a travel sized ironing board. It's about maybe two and a half feet long and 12 to 14 inches across. It's a clamshell shape. And it has the heating agent at the top. And you close it down kind of like a clamshell. That is, I know there's different brands, I'm not going to remember who they are, but my mother had one. I think she might still have it or maybe it's not working anymore. But this was something she really enjoyed for pressing pants and pant legs. And it was really great for that. And I think because of the shape of the nose of the thing, you could also, if you had an iron nearby, or you could manipulate your garments to have the heat element press down on it from that angle and it would still press it as if it were an iron. So that is a heat press that is an option. The second one is one I think we are a little less familiar with. It's a pretty old tool, though. It goes back to the time when you could wring your laundry like you would if you had a washboard and then you could put it through this thing called, I think they call that a mangler. And I thought the mangler was the washer, but some say that the mangler is the iron. Now it's called a rotary iron. And if you've ever watched the show about, its reality show about these people who work on a yacht, they have one on the boat. If you've also ever happened to walk past a hotel laundry, they often have them in there as well because they're very good for pressing lengths and widths of fabric, for pressing sheets, and for pressing the napkins. So the rotary press is another idea. I think the one that we are most familiar with might just be because of vacations or because of seeing these at different shops, but the kind you use for T shirts. This is the kind of heat press that I use. I first got a heat press because I was interested in sublimation printing and heat transfer vinyl. I started being interested in vinyl because I had a Silhouette Cameo and I enjoyed doing that and taking the adhesive vinyl and then the fusible vinyl or the heat activated vinyl. It's fun for T shirts and lots of different forms of personalization. And then I fell in love with sublimation. And that became something I was using it for. I think I might have had it a few years, or maybe I had it for a year, before I realized that it would be great for interfacing and I make this recommendation to get a heat press with the understanding that it can be an expensive tool if you're only doing it for one thing. If you think that you'll only use the heat press for interfacing, then maybe this is not the investment for you. But if you, for example, are a bag maker, and you have to press interfacing on all of these different parts of the bag, a heat press, especially like the one that I have, I've got this Max Pro 13 x 19 press, you will love this! It just makes that process, that fusing process which is so necessary for bag making, it makes it so much easier. I believe that even if I wasn't using it in the beginning for the heat transfer vinyl and then for sublimation and now sometimes for direct to fabric transfer, even if I wasn't using it for that, I would still think it was really beneficial for sewing. I'm just acknowledging that because I have had it for a while and have used it for other crafts, the value of it is already built in for me. At the same time, I do believe it is one of those tools that one might wish they had earlier. And so that's why, even though it's an advanced recommendation, it is something that many sewists could use and incorporate into their sewing to make that much more fun and easy for them. I'll include the link to Heat Press Nation and I think I can include a link to my particular presses. I've had two from them. I've had a 15 x 15 that I grew out of and now I have the 13 x 19. So and I really enjoy working with Heat Press Nation. I'm part of their affiliate program so the podcast gets a a donation, you know, from the sale. But, I do enjoy working with them.

Lisa Woolfork:

Okay, so that's it for today, everybody. Thank you so much for listening to the lessons from the Sewists series. Today we talked about recommendations for beginners, intermediate and advanced, I recommend the pill bottle for beginners. I recommend bodkin for the intermediate. And I recommend a heat press, which is a huge jump from a $5 bodkin. I'm totally recognizing that now. I recommend a heat press for the advanced, that's to recommend a heat press. Recommending a heat press for the advanced is a little challenging because if you're advanced, you probably been doing it so long in the way that you already like. So this is not mandatory. That's why these are recommendations or invitations for things for you to think about. But I do hope that everyone has some happy stitches and that you'll come back next week and listen to the Stitch Please podcast.

Lisa Woolfork:

Stitchers, thank you so much for being here. Thank you for listening to this episode. Thank you for watching the social media. Thank you for liking and sharing and all that great stuff. Thank you and we'll see you next week.

Lisa Woolfork:

You've been listening to Stitch Please, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. We appreciate you joining us this week and every week for stories that center black women, girls, and femmes in sewing. We invite you to join the Black Women Stitch Patreon community, with giving levels beginning at $5 a month. Your contributions help us bring the Stitch Please podcast to you every week. Thank you for listening. Thank you for your support, and come back next week and we'll help you get your stitch together.





More from YouTube