TOOLS OF THE TRADE: Clothing Production


In our new Tools of the Trade series we’re celebrating the lovely gizmos and gadgets that help us to create wonderful clothing, effects and objects – exploring a different creative industry each time.

At Antiform we take great care for our tools in line with our no-waste approach, to make sure that they last. This means we quickly develop a fondness for these objects and it’s not uncommon for us to have a favourite machine, threaders, snips, etc! Here are some of the key tools we use on a regular basis in the production of our clothing…


Tailor’s Shears

These shears are Lizzie’s from when she was first at university in 2003. The fabric wrapped around the handle is to protect the hand as the shears are very heavy. We don’t use them every day in the studio as metal shears are better for heavy fabrics and often we’re cutting lightweight jersey. Instead we have lightweight pairs as each garment is hand cut. A piece like the Epic Trousers has 10 pieces cut from 3 different fabrics; woven silk, woven cotton and knitted wool.


Pattern Weight

We don’t use pins when we’re cutting as they slow us down a lot, can leave holes in delicate fabrics and when forgotten can do a sewing machine some serious damage. So in order to hold the cardboard pattern blocks down and prevent them from curling we use a weight with a handy handle (an upgrade from our student days of using tins of beans!)

On our Slouch Dress, the neck piece is so thin we can’t use the weights so we hold the pattern block down with our fingers and then after the first cut, follow the line of the weave.


We have one pair of threaders per machine, although we each have our favourite pair so they always get switched around. They are like large tweezers and you hold the thread in them to thread the machine.

The 5-thread overlocker has 5 threads running through 5 different needles and our threaders help us to get into the spaces where fingers can’t reach. This 5-thread machine is used for sewing a stretch fabric to a non-stretch fabric such as the sweatshirting meeting the vintage curtains in our Unisex Sweaters.

Spring Hanging Scales

When you buy waste materials it’s often by weight, the fabric goes in a bin liner or an Ikea bag and is hung off the hook.

We produce on average 1kg of fabric waste per month during production, which we recycle back into other things. We use any Yorkshire tweed offcuts for our Tweed Purses and since moving to Bristol our studio scraps are being turned into Baby Shoes!



Snips are very handy, we keep one pair on each machine. The squeeze handle mechanism enables us to quickly & efficiently cut the machine threads and the threads left trailing off the garments once the seam is sewn.

An impressive 46 threads are snipped off one of our Box Jumpers during manufacture.


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