Supplies and Tools I can't live without:

Everyone has their own preferences; and over the years I've formed some pretty strong opinions about which products make my life easier, stop me tearing out my hair, or are the only version of something that actually WORKS. I've made a wide variety of things from a pretty wide variety of materials, and had a good share of spectacular failures. So if you've felt overwhelmed about choices and wish there was someone to give you an opinion - even if you wind up disagreeing in the end - here you go. A selection of my favorite things.

Product what is it? what is it for? alternative to/similar to
Fabri-Tac clear glue for fabric, leather, etc. Gluing any fabric pieces. Pieces won't move when you set them down, but it sets quickly. Dries flexible and clear. Haven't found much it doesn't stick to and it holds well. May irritate skin if you leave large quantity on hands too long. consistency like rubber cement, but dissimilar to other fabric glues
Gem-Tac gluing over larger areas, gluing non-porous materials In some circumstances I prefer Gem-Tac to Fabri-Tac, though I'm not a huge fan of the Aleene's glues (most of which are basically identical in spite of their claims). It will bleed through some materials but does dry clear and has good hold. Elmer's glue in appearance/consistency
G-S Hypo Cement precision glue designed for watchmakers, modelmakers for high-precision gluing. Ideal for rhinestones and other small gems, has a needle-like metal tip. Dries clear with a 10-minute set but allows repositioning; doesn't damage materials. Fumes are intense but the hold is quite good. E-6000 in a syringe (good option for larger but still precision work)
E-6000 glue for pieces you really need to stay put; not ideal for fabrics If you can't get it to stick with anything else, this is my go-to. Prefer to similar glues by other companies. Will not damage plastics/resins like cyanoacrylate (super) glue. Requires the full 24-48hr curing time to set or pieces will come loose. FUMES ARE BAD FOR YOU, use with ventilation. Goop
silicone mat for hot gluing on Sure, you've thought why pay money for a stupid mat to put my hot glue gun on? Why buy a new table, or a new house when yours burns down? Get the mat. Easy to clean, lasts forever, saves your surfaces. a smoking hole in your carpet

Product what is it? what is it for? alternative to/similar to
lighter + votive candle in holder what it sounds like for sealing ends of ribbons, as well as some trims, cords, and fabrics which are likely to fray. Only synthetic materials. Polyester melts (you want this); nylon burns. Votive candles prevent dangers from dripping wax. Fray Block (which works for some things)
freezer paper cutting accurate fabric pieces Draw designs in pencil on paper side, put shiny side down on fabric and iron lightly 8-10 seconds. Allows accurate cutting especially on small pieces which can't be pinned. Peels off easily, can be reused 2-3 times. pattern transfer papers, pinned patterns, etc.
air erase pen marking fabric Felt-tip marker or pen, for marking fabrics for alterations, eye placement, etc. Marks vanish within 24 hours on MOST fabrics. (Very rarely the marks will stain.) chalk pencils, tracing wheels, depending on your needs
quilter's fabric quilt patternmaking thin, interfacing-like material with 1" square grid. I keep my patterns on this since it's foldable and easy to pin. Draft in pencil, mark with Sharpie (put cardboard underneath). alternative to printer paper, tissue paper
Fiskars ergonomic scissors cutting fabric These scissors are my preference for cutting large pieces of fabric while still having accuracy. Spring makes a huge difference in ease/hand fatigue. The different types really are different. I use the "heavy duty" ones for thick fabric, doubled fleece; "titanium" for everything else. standard scissors, cutting wheels
Fiskars softouch micro-tip scissors for small fabric pieces, accuracy on larger ones; plus foamies, etc. Good all-around scissors when you want precision but still need them to go through a variety of materials. Locking blades make you less likely to stab yourself, spring makes cutting easier. I have the titanium and regular; the titanium ones are sharper. random scissors you have lying around
thread snips for cutting loose threads Best choice for cutting loose threads without cutting anything else by accident. I keep a pair by my machine and a pair where I handsew. It's much faster and easier than other kinds of scissors. random scissors you have lying around

Product what is it? what is it for? alternative to/similar to
Jacquard NeoPaque fabric paint There's no comparison to the other paints. Pass over the cheapie fabric paints and get the good stuff. It's thicker and will actually cover in one go. Can be used for stamping, works on a wide variety of materials besides fabrics, thins with water because it's just good quality acrylic. Tulip fabric paint, etc
Dylon fabric dye A better option than Rit for the vast majority of situations. Dyes more evenly and more thoroughly, does not wash out or fade as easily. Rit has its uses but most of the time you're better off with Dylon. Rit
iDye poly fabric dye I've only used the type for polyesters, but it DOES dye them (it works on fleece). It's not an extreme result but it works. It can be used in a washer, results are even, does not involve toxic chemicals like other dyeing options for synthetics. dyes that won't work at all on polyester

Product what is it? what is it for? alternative to/similar to
Magic Sculp(t) air-hardening resin epoxy clay anything hard you want to sculpt; can be drilled, power sanded, painted. Highly durable, easy to work, fairly long work time, medium weight. Most people prefer it to alternatives, especially for toy customizing and props. Two-part material is easy to mix and safe; not tacky or stiff like related two-part epoxy products from hardware stores for other uses. Apoxie Sculpt; alternative to Sculpey/polymer clay in some cases
Roper Whitney No. 5 Jr hand punch putting holes in metal using anything else will cause immense amounts of despair. If you need to punch holes in brass, copper, etc, get one of these. Clean holes without distorting the material. Metalworkers swear by them; after trying every other thing, so do I. Get a used one on eBay to save $$. tears and a lot of cuts
Dremel Stylus rotary tool sanding, cutting, etc. If you are working on anything genuinely small or precise, one of these will save you a lot of trouble. Much easier to hold, more natural position to work in for most tasks. Cordless. Takes standard bits. I do still use a standard Dremel too. other rotary tool types
X-acto Fingertip detail knife precision cutting of various materials In the natural position department, it looks totally stupid and useless but actually IS more accurate and more comfortable for precision cutting in my opinion, especially because I have problems with the joints in my hands. You'll still want other kinds depending on the use but these are pretty great. Minimizes the chance you'll detail your fingertips, too. other types of hobby knives