In my workbox

A craftsperson’s toolbox is a vital to her trade, and a very personal thing. It contains the necessary tools, but is imbued with personal preference, experience, and accidental finds. This is mine…

The tool box

Mine is a vintage 45 singles case, from the sixties. It was in a charity shop window in my local town, and cost £5. It’s just big enough for my essential tools. It’s still a teeny bit musty… and I absolutely love it.

Pin pot

My pin pot is a toffee pot originally owned by Gran, a late family member who had false teeth and loved toffees. It is gloriously big, lovely to work with and is even big enough for tiny snips, tape measure and a thimble.

Lampshade makers’ pins should be…

  • fine, so they don’t create permanent holes in the fabric

  • short, so they are less likely to bend and will not get in the way

  • and have bead heads to help protect your fingertips. (Traditionally lampshade makers used lils, short steel dressmaking pins).


I have three pairs…

  • a 10in pair of fabric shears for cutting fabric. They are heavy buy nicely balanced with long blades. I use them for accurate fabric cutting

  • an 8in pair of shears - just like my 10in pair - which are easier to handle and are my everyday scissors for fabric cutting, edge trimming and notch snipping

  • a very small pair of snips, for thread snipping only.

All my scissors came from Merchant & Mills, and are made by British scissors specialist Whiteley.

Leather thimble

This leather thimble is perfectly shaped to fit snugly and is double-thickness so needles cannot puncture it. It is absolutely perfect for lampshade making.

I wear mine on my middle right-hand finger, which leaves my index finger free for holding and pulling. It is so comfy I often forget I’m wearing it.

Before I discovered leather thimbles I use to bind my finger in masking tape or fabric strapping, as I couldn’t get on with a metal thimble.

Tape measure

This tape measure s just 65cm long and came out of a Christmas cracker. I love the fact that it is so short – it doesn’t get tangled up like 150cm tapes. On teaching days it lives in my pocket, along with a 6B pencil and my leather thimble. Best for small lampshades.

Folding ruler

This lovely wooden ruler has three brass hinges allowing it to fold neatly to just three inches long. It was given to me by a customer who was looking for a home for her mother’s sewing treasures. I use it mostly for measuring 1in seam allowances and when I need a straight edge to draw along. It’s lovely to fiddle with.

(Thank you, dear daughter, for modelling).

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