Sometimes success is all about having the right tool for the job. A ball point awl is one of my favorite softie-making tools. Here's how I use it:
To free fur from seams.
When you sew with faux fur, bits of the fur pile will get caught in the
seams. Freeing the fur from the seams will give your softie a fluffy,
nearly seamless look.
If you've ever tried to use a needle for this job
you know that the needles bend. They just aren't strong enough for the
job. But a ball point awl is perfect for freeing fur from seams. It's
strong, and its small tip lets you slide right under the fur bits. Give a
good tug and they'll come free.
Work your way all around the toy to
give a fur softie a professional finish.
To insert safety eyes.
Often you'll read pattern instructions that say, "Cut a small hole to
insert the post of the safety eye." Please don't! Cutting a hole
weakens the fabric irreparably. Over time that hole may grow larger,
especially after multiple washings, and compromise the whole toy.
Instead, use a ball point awl to poke a hole between the fibers of the
fabric. The awl is tiny at its tip so you can start very small and
slowly push it in further, stretching the fibers apart, to form an
opening large enough to accept the post of the safety eye without
cutting the fibers apart.
Ball point awls are available at many fabric stores, or online right here.
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yes, a useful tool you didn’t know you needed! I use a pickle poker I bought when I moved into my 1st apartment over…. 25 years ago? Could it be? Yours is much nicer though.
So good to know about the tool and why!
Amanda Faulkner says
What is the difference between a Ball Point awl and a regular awl?
I have several awls (including clover’s tailor awl) since I make corsets and it is a NEEDED tool for that.
Caroline B says
What a good idea – I usually use the point of my scissors and stab myself into the bargain!
Wow, I'd love to know more about how you make corsets. I think the difference is the sharpness of the tip. This one is very narrow at the tip, but not sharp. So it can widen a tiny hole, but won't cut any fibers.
Ha! An awl is much safer 🙂
Amanda Faulkner says
My awls (and a vintage icepick) are not as sharp as the 10″ doll needles I have. I can tell that the base is different, some awls, like those used to make eyelets for corsets and costumes, are smooth all the way to the handle making larger holes.
As for learning about making corsets.
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A question off subject. Do you every worry about all the fur getting into the machine? How often do you clean the bobbin area after working with fur or fleece? I’m upgrading to a midrange Bernina and am trading in my older model, but I am wondering if I should keep two sewing machines because of the lint factor and designate the older model for sewing furry or fleece material? Maybe I’m over thinking this? What are your thoughts? Thanks!
I sew all sorts of fabrics on my $500 Janome (fur, fleece, cotton, etc.) and have no problems. Fuzz does accumulate in the bobbin case, but it's easily brushed away with the little rush that came with the machine. I think one good quality machine is all you need! I hope that helps.
Thanks Abby! It does help.
Abby, the link to purchase the awl in your store actually took me to a set of needles. Perhaps the link is incorrect?
Abby Glassenberg says
Unfortunately the Amazon store listing has changed! Oh my. And now Clover ball point awls are no longer available on Amazon. So, here’s a direct link to Clover’s site. http://clover-usa.com/product/0/876/_/Ball_Point_Awl
So sorry about that!