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Notions and Sewing Supplies

Notions and Sewing Supplies

Our notions and sewing accessories are essential parts of your fabric projects. While many of these items may seem insignificant, when it comes to starting or finishing your fabric projects, you'll come to realize how important they are. In fact, when it comes to such things as making garments, quilts, crafts and curtains, our notions and sewing accessories will have a significant impact on how well your fabric ideas are realized.

What will you find in this section? First of all, this section will include such standard notions as needles, thread, scissors, seam rippers, seam binding, zippers, etc. Next, sewing accessories such as interfacing, stitch witchery, elastic, dress shields and pattern paper will be prominently featured.

Once you've gathered together all of the notions and sewing accessories you need, you will be completely prepared to bring your ideas to fruition. Make J&O Fabrics your online notions and sewing accessories headquarters.

Uses For Notions and Sewing Supplies


From #60/8 to #120/19, using the right size sewing needle will save you a whole lot of time and frustration when constructing a garment or project on a machine. Depending on the weight of the fabric, you will need to use a needle that can handle the load. If you're sewing up fabrics like silks, chiffons, sheers or lightweight cottons, a number #60/8 or #90/11 needle is your best bet. On the other side of the scale is your #100/16 or #110/18 needle for sewing thick denims, mud cloths, and heavy weight upholstery and decorative fabrics. Your #120/19 can be used for your very heavy canvas and hyde materials.

There are several different types of needles that you can purchase for your projects. A listing and usage chart are listed below for your convenience.

Standard needles

  • Universal - This is the most used needle of choice for seamstresses.
  • Ballpoint - Used for heavier, looser sweater knits.
  • Stretch - Used for highly elastic fabrics, like Spandex, or Lycra
  • Microtex - Used for Microfibers, silks, synthetic leathers, heirloom sewing
  • Leather - Excellent for sewing natural leather, has a cutting point like an arrowhead
  • Denim - Best for heavyweight denim, duck, canvas, upholstery fabrics, artificial leather, and vinyl. This needle has a deeper scarf, acute point, and modified shaft to sew without pushing fabric down into needle-plate hole. Goes through fabric and meets bobbin hook better on dense woven fabrics.
  • Handicap - This is a self-threading needle that enables easier threading for sewers with vision problems. It has a universal needle with a slip-in threading slot at the eye.

Decorative needles

These needles are designed to wed thread into fabric for surface embellishment.

  • Embroidery - Machine embroidering or embellishing with decorative thread. Has an enlarged eye to keep decorative threads from shredding or breaking, and prevents skipped stitches.
  • Metallic - Sewing with decorative metallic threads. It has a universal or standard point; large, elongated eye; and large groove to allow fragile metallic and synthetic filament threads to flow smoothly.
  • Quilting - Used for piecing and quilting. It has a special tapered shaft to prevent damaging fabrics when stitching multiple layers.
  • Topstitch - Used specifically for topstitching. It has an extra-acute point, extra-large eye, and large groove for heavy thread.

Special-Purpose Needles

These needles are used only with front-to-back threading machines with zigzag features.

  • Hemstitch - Hemstitching or heirloom embroidery on linen and batiste. These have fins on sides of shank to create holes as you sew.
  • Twin - Topstitching, pin tucking, and decorative stitching. Two needles on single shaft produce two rows of stitches. Embroidery, denim, and Metallica points.
  • Triple - Same uses as for double needle. Cross bar on single shaft connects three needles to sew three stitching rows.
  • Spring - Free-motion stitching with dropped feed dogs. Has wire spring above point to prevent fabrics from riding up onto needle, eliminating need for presser foot.


There are four commonly available brands of thread in America. Coats & Clark, Guetermann, Mettler and Sulky. They come in various fibers including cotton, cotton wrapped polyester, polyester, rayon, metallic, silk, and nylon.

Cotton thread is mostly used for quilting. It is weaker than most other commonly used fibers. This is actually considered an advantage, because if sufficient strain is put on the garment or quilt to make something break, it's better if it's the thread that breaks rather than tearing the fabric. It’s easier to replace a few stitches than to mend a hole in the fabric.

Cotton wrapped polyester is said to give you the advantages of using cotton (nicer against the skin, slides easily through fabric) and the strength of polyester. But some of the disadvantages may be that it frays more easily and makes more lint which can cause jams at the needle.

Polyester thread has become the standard thread for sewing clothes. It's cheap, it's strong, and it comes in a great variety of colors.

Rayon thread is used for embroidery. It's not particularly strong, making it unsuitable for garment construction, but it has a lovely lustrous appearance, giving an excellent sheen to finished embroidery. It is usually somewhat more expensive than most other fibers of threads.

Metallic threads are pretty and fun. They are also used almost exclusively for embroidery. They tend to be extremely weak and as such are decorative only. They're notorious for breaking very regularly while sewing with them by machine. When purchasing metallic thread, if you intend to use it in a sewing machine, be sure you're not accidentally getting thread marked "for hand sewing only" as there are some metallic threads which are too bulky to fit through a machine needle. Also strongly consider using special needles designed for use with metallic threads.

Silk for silk fabric only, silk all the time, or silk none at all? The answer….silk thread is actually too strong. Even the tension of the sewing machine can pull hard enough on the thread to actually cut the fabric. Silk thread is best used when hand stitching or hand basting. It slips easily and smoothly out of almost any fabric for a flawless finish.

Finally, there’s nylon thread. There are two kinds of nylon threads. One is thin and transparent. It is called “invisible thread”. It can be a little stiffer to the touch, but if you are looking for a thread that just disappears or can’t match your fabric color, this is a good choice. The second one is called “wooly” nylon and is usually used in sergers. After sewing, the wooly nylon creates a soft nap look and feel, yet it is still very strong.


When we think about closures in regards to fabric, we usually visualize garments with fasteners and strategically positioned to hold the garment in place or protect the body from exposure. This step of application and construction is probably one of the most important. If you can’t get an outfit on or off, or if it doesn’t perform once it’s put on due to the fact that you haven’t properly provided for the means of keeping it on, then you have a problem.

Here at J&O we offer a selection of closures for completing your various fabric projects. From buckles and buttons (used as ornaments or closures) to toggles and ties, you'll find what you are looking for to bring that pillow, dress or accessory to life.

In our Button section you can find the following:

Shank              These have a small ring or bar with a hole called the shank protruding from the back of the button. This is the part that gets threaded through and attached to the fabric.

Covered           Fabric covers the form of this type of button and has a separate back piece that secures the fabric over the knob.

Flat/Sew Through         These buttons have two or four holes punched through the button. The thread is sewn through them to attach the button. They can be attached by machine or by hand.

Cloth                          Created by embroidering or crocheting tight stitches over a knot called a form.

Mandarin / Frogs          Knobs made of intricately knotted strings. Traditionally used in Mandarin dress.

In our zipper section, you can find the following:

Coil      Most widely used zipper. The slider runs on two coils on each side; the teeth are the coils. Coil zippers are made of polyester.

Invisible           The teeth are behind the tape. The tape’s color matches the garments, as does the slider, so that, except for the slider, the zipper is invisible.

Metallic            These are considered the classic zipper type. They are used mostly in jeans. The teeth are not a coil, but are individual pieces of metal molded into shape and set on the zipper tape at regular intervals. Metal zippers are made in brass, aluminum and nickel. A special type of metal zipper is made from pre-formed wire, usually brass but sometimes other metals too. These type of pre-formed metal zippers are mainly used in high grade jeanswear, workwear, etc., where high strength is required and zippers need to withstand tough washing.

Plastic-molded             These are the same as metallic zippers, except that the teeth are plastic instead of metal. They can be made of any color plastic for easy coordination.

Open-ended                 This zipper uses a “box & pin” mechanism to lock the two sides of the zipper into place. They are usually used in jackets.

Closed-ended               This zipper is closed at both ends and are often used for accessories like purses or bags.

Grommets and eyelets are metal, plastic or rubber rings that are inserted into a hole made through another material. They may be used to reinforce the hole, to shield something from the sharp edges of the hole, or both. Use them for lacing corsets or upholstered leather furnishings.

Hook-n-eye’s are usually found on bra and bathing suit straps, as they allow for adjusted fitting. They range in size and come in a metal or color coated plastic material.

Snaps serve the same purpose as buttons and create a similar look, but many find they are faster and easier to fasten than buttons. They are functional and decorative. Use them on bags, garments, and outerwear.



Elastic is a stretchy material most commonly used in clothing and undergarments to provide for a flexible but secured support and fit. Strips of it are sewn into or onto a piece of fabric larger than the size that is needed. The waistband can then be stretched and the expanse of fabric will move with it, making an adjustable fit that is easy to slip on or off.

Elastic is also used to make arm and leg cuffs .It can also be used as a support with strapless tops, dresses, and bras. Other uses for it include cuffs for boots, socks, or gloves in order to keep them snug. Wrist bands, and hair accessories are often made using this stretchy material.

In home décor project, elastic can be used for “skirts” for furniture such as vanities and it is often used to make bed skirts or ruffles that can be put on and taken off more easily than tradition styles.  Elastic thread, yarn, or cording can be used to make jewelry or to create embellishments for home accessories.

Fabric Adhesives

The name fabric adhesive encompasses a variety of products that provide temporary or permanent ways to attach fabric without sewing.

Regular household glue. White school glue or glue sticks can act as a fabric adhesive, temporarily holding fabric until it is sewn. Using this kind of glue can be particularly useful for felt and other thick fabrics. The advantage is that it is discrete and doesn’t wash out.

Spray Fabric Adhesive. Spray fabric adhesive is useful and neater to apply than glue, but not permanent if the fabric is cleaned by laundering or dry cleaning. Also, it has toxic fumes and must be used in a well-ventilated space.

Fabric Glue. There are several different types of fabric adhesive that go under the name of fabric glue. Glues for attaching rhinestones, sequins, glitter and gems to fabric are made in both washable (permanent) and non-washable formulas. The permanent one is for clothing or crafts that need to be cleaned. The non-washable one is for decorative fabric arts. Some fabric glues come in color and sparkles for ornamentation.

Bonding Fabric /Fusible Web. Another type of fabric adhesive is iron-on bonding fabric, sometimes called fusible web. Here, a layer of adhesive material is placed between two layers of “regular” fabric to fuse them together permanently. It comes in tape and sheets, with or without backing paper.

Fusible web in tape form can be used for hemming garments, pillow cases, blankets, table cloths, and curtains. Tape widths range from  ¼ inch to 1¼ inches. This kind of tape can also be used in no-sew projects, including quilts.

Fusible Interfacing. Fusible interfacing includes fabric adhesive already bonded to a material. Fusible interfacing can be used for garments, window shade backing, handbags, and other projects. It also comes in a variety of materials, including tricot, 100% polyester and various polyester/nylon blends.

Besides fusible interfacing, there are several other products that have fabric adhesive pre-applied to a material. There are fusible fleece and fusible cotton batting for padding quilts, pillows, and other items; fusible bias tape in ¼-inch and ¾-inch widths for hemming, edging, and similar applications; fusible ink jet printable sheets for applying graphics and photos to clothing, pillows, and so on; and fusible thread for basting, appliqué, and other applications.


When we start talking about embellishments, we are speaking of all the little ‘extra’s  that are sewn, glued, or otherwise attached to a garment or upholstery. From beading and lace, to sequence and applicades, it is the creative use of these wonderful decorating tools that makes one project stand out from the rest.

Some other great embellishments include ribbons, fringe, and shells. The list can stretch as far as your imagination. Decorate bags, childrens’ clothes, and so much more. With J&O, it’s quick and easy.

Now that you have a little more information about your sewing supplies, fabrics, and notions, you are safe to roam freely on our website with the added confidence that absorbing this information has given you.

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