Category Archives: Tools

Making the cut

Slicing open completed buttonholes with a seam ripper is a little akin to pruning a rose bush with a chain saw; not the optimal tool for the job.

But both you and I have been cutting open buttonholes with a seam ripper for years, mostly without mishap, right? Well, sometimes we do slice thru the bar tack stitching. Occasionally we even nick a few threads in one of the two parallel rows of zig-zag stitches. Not exactly a disaster, but buttonholes are not generally improved by adding even MORE stitching to repair cut threads.

Back in the day my mom used to have a set of black buttonhole cutters with several different blade lengths, and in my infinite wisdom I threw them out many years ago. Did I somehow get the mistaken notion that the seam ripper was superior? Maybe I wasn’t making many buttonholes at that time and another specialty tool seemed superfluous (WAH-aaat? I LOVE tools!) Criminy, now that I make dress shirts for my DH, I am constantly making batches of buttonholes, which, of course, just increases the opportunities for mishaps.

Enter the Japanese buttonhole cutters. I coveted them. I tested them. I fell in love.

Buttonhole tools

A block of wood, a hammer, and a stinkin’ sharp Japanese steel blade will make buttonhole slicing a joy. Just position the blade (yep, the stinkin’ sharp one) right between the 2 parallel rows of zig-zag stitches. Do NOT get your fingers under that blade!

Positioning the blade

Give a gentle tap on the handle end, and DONE!

Making the cut!

I love these blades so much I added them to my Etsy store.  C’mon, I dare you to try them and NOT find them vastly superior to a seam ripper.


Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen





Japanese sewing supplies!

It’s official! I opened my little Etsy shop to offer you serious sewists the finest quality sewing notions and tools. If you have been a reader for a while, you know how addicted I am to good tools. And I think these products are among the best. The very best. So if you want to test them out for yourself, head on over to the newly minted Sew Maris Etsy shop and go crazy!

I love these Chakoner markers. They create a super fine chalk line that does NOT fall off as soon as you pick up the fabric!


I detest pins that have dull points and thick shafts. These are made from Japanese steel and slip into silk, wool, cotton like budd-ah. And they come in 2 sizes – 60 count and 200 count – sweet!


I will be adding more products soon, so check back often. Happy sewing!!

Maris Olsen


Time-saving tool?

Y’all know how much I love good tools.  Almost as much as I love high quality fabric. And conversely, there is almost nothing I hate more than a crappy tool. And that is just what I was asked to evaluate last week. A big waste of $10.

Color me surprised when I listened to my voicemail last week, and heard, “Hello, this is Jesse Jones from KING-5 TV, and I would like you to help me evaluate a sewing tool for one of my  “Let Jesse Buy It” segments.” WA-HAAAT? Jesse Jones wants to interview me and get MY opinion about a sewing product? Who the heck am I to be doing such a thing, I ask you?

It sounded like a barrel of fun to me, and indeed it was. They came. They filmed. They filmed some more. Took more than 2 hours for a few seconds of usable footage, but both Jesse and Brad, his camerman, made it all enjoyable. The final analysis? Don’t waste your money. I think the packaging cost more to produce than the package contents. If you want to see my short-lived TV career, check out the video below. And no, this was not my TV debut. I was on JP Patches when I was in the first grade. 🙂