Laying tools give an amazing advantage when you are stitching with flat threads or multiple strands of threads, all of which can get twisted and make the front of your stitching look messy. Not only that, but they can be another beautiful needlework tool to collect! But there are so many choices! What’s out there?
The trolley needle is simply a large tapestry needle attached to a ring you can wear around your finger. These aren’t my preferred tool, because I find them in the way even if I put them on my ring finger. This is a personal quirk, and you may see why as we get into how to use them. I own one. But I can never find it, hence it’s absence from the photo!
Decorative Laying Tools or Awls
These are where you can easily become a collector. Laying tools come in all shapes, sizes and materials. I have seen gorgeous hand turned wood tools, antique Victorian tools made from mother of pearl or sterling silver, lovely acrylic resin designs and even some made from polymer clay. If you fall in love with them, the sky’s the limit on cost and beauty! In the photo, the two middle tools are my hand-turned ebony awl and my sterling Victorian laying tool.
Japanese Tekobari Style Tool
These get their own section because they are unique. Designed for work in Japanese embroidery for silk thread, these are hand beaten steel, and have a very slight texture to them. Smooth enough to keep from catching the threads, the texture gently combs the threads to help them lie flat. Another feature is an extremely sharp point. You do you have to take care not to impale yourself when using these! Shay Pendray’s “Best Laying Tool” is patterned after the authentic tekobari.
I have to admit, while i have at least one of all of these, and I love my ebony wood awl and my tekobari, I am much more likely to just use the tip of my scissors as a laying tool. Even your fingernail can serve in a pinch.
So How DO I Use a Laying Tool?
Basic technique is the same for all tool types.
- After bringing your threads to the front of your fabric, pull it away from the stitch you will take.
- Stroke it from where it exits the fabric toward the needle until your threads lie flat with no twisting.
- Hold the threads down with the tool while you plunge your needle to the back.
- As you pull the thread taut, guide it into place with the laying tool.
- A perfect stitch!
When Should I Lay My Thread?
I use my scissor tip or laying tool whenever I am stitching with more than two strands of floss, when I am using a ribbon that tends to twist, or whenever railroading (next week!) isn’t working properly.
Try it out. Play with your tools. Do you see a difference in your stitching?