Sewing machine needles are so confusing! Does it really matter what I use?

Using the correct tools always makes the job easier and usually ends with better results. The biggest problem most of us have with needles is not changing them often enough. Damaged and worn needles will cause problems like broken stitches, puckering, or damage to the fabric to name just a few. The type of needle is determined by the fabric, while the size is determined by the thread you plan to use. We will cover thread another day.


Using the correct needle makes the job easier and ends with better results.

The first number is a European number, the second American. The larger the number, the larger the needle. This is true only for sewing machine needles. Hand sewing needles are just the opposite. Use the smallest number that will pierce the fabric easily. A needle that is too large will leave a hole.  A universal needle has a slightly rounded point that works for both woven fabrics and many knits. I often use a universal size 12 with all-purpose thread for general sewing.  A ballpoint needle has a rounded point to prevent splitting fibers on knits or stretch fabrics. It could damage tightly woven fabrics.

• A Microtex or sharp needle is good for tightly woven fabrics. Works well on micro-fibers and polyesters with high thread counts. 

• A denim needle has a sharp point with a stiffened blade, and would work well for quilting, too. The quilting needle has a sharp point and a tapered tip for sewing through many layers, which also requires frequent replacement. 

• In addition to needles with coatings and special materials that handle iron-on adhesives and various glues, there are special needles for embroidery and top stitching.

You can find many good resources online by needle manufacturers that can answer more specific questions, along with wonderful diagrams of the parts of a needle. 

If you have any more questions contact:

Barbara George, CFCS Category Director Family & Consumer Sciences

Barbara George, CFCS
Category Director
Family & Consumer Sciences or leave a comment on our Facebook

Posted in Ask Barb, Family & Consumer Sciences, Nasco, Sewing | Leave a comment

I want to make pastry dough but don’t have a pastry blender. Is there a reasonable substitute in my kitchen?

Usually, the first thought is to use a fork. A fork will work, BUT the chance of a beginner making the dough tough is pretty high. If a fork is your first choice, be sure to not overwork the dough.


Try a whisk, its thin wires are like a pastry blender and will cut the fat into the flour.

It would be better to use something simple like two table knives and literally “cut” the fat in. The other option might be a whisk, because the wires are thin like the pastry blender and will cut the fat into the flour.

The trick to pastry dough is to handle it as little as possible, and to use ice-cold liquid. I recommend refrigerating your dough before rolling it out.

A few random tips to try would be to add a tablespoon of powdered sugar to the flour, and to use a tablespoon or so of vodka instead of some of the water. The vodka helps to make rolling easy, but the alcohol evaporate so the crust is still flaky.

If you have any more questions contact:

Barbara George, CFCS Category Director Family & Consumer Sciences

Barbara George, CFCS
Category Director
Family & Consumer Sciences or leave a comment on our Facebook

Posted in Ask Barb, Cooking, Family & Consumer Sciences, Holiday Baking, Latest News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Help, I don’t have baking powder. What can I use instead?


You’ll need about a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice for every 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda substituted for baking powder.

Baking powder puffs (rises) and baking soda spreads. Cut out cookies shouldn’t spread, they should just rise or your cutout will look fat. It is about the acid.

Baking soda needs an acid like buttermilk, lemon juice, vinegar, or sour cream to begin reacting, releasing gas bubbles, and rising.

Baking powder is actually baking soda mixed with just the right balance of another acidic ingredient, so you don’t have to worry about acid in your recipe or leftover soda in your batter. You can actually make your own baking powder. For one teaspoon of baking powder, combine 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch. (The cornstarch absorbs any moisture and prevents reaction from happening too early in the process, so don’t skip it.)

You can substitute baking soda for baking powder if you increase the amount of acidic ingredients in the recipe to offset the baking soda. You’ll also need much less baking soda as it is 3 times as powerful as baking powder. You’ll need about a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice for every 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.

Sometimes both leavening agents are used.

Baking powder needs first a liquid and heat (from the oven) to react and begin releasing gases. You may see this described as “double-acting” baking powder.

If you have any more questions contact:

Barbara George, CFCS Category Director Family & Consumer Sciences

Barbara George, CFCS
Category Director
Family & Consumer Sciences or leave a comment on our Facebook

Posted in Ask Barb, Family & Consumer Sciences, Latest News, Recipes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Holidays from your Friends at Nasco


Image | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Get Your Baking On!

9cpbbagceThe Holidays are coming! Time for celebration and family – and baking. Why not let Nasco’s Family and Consumer Science Catalog help you with your gourmet ideas?

Of course we have the basics — OXO® Good Grips Silicone Spatula Set (WA31110), High-Heat Silicone Blue Spatula Set  (WA29373), Stainless Steel French Whip (WA05698),  Stainless Steel Measuring Cups and Spoons Set (WA21270), Snap Fit Measuring Set, (WA31276), OXO® Good Grips Balloon Whisk (WA31111),  Good Grips®Pastry Brushes Set of 2  (WA19953), or Silicone Brushes, set of 4 ( WA29409).

Nasco also carries the whole gamut of baking sheets, too, from T-fal AirBake® Mega Cookie Sheet (WA32695) and WearEver® Air-Bake® Ultra™ Baking Sheet (WA25828), to Wilton® Recipe Right® Round Cake Pans (WA24647) and Wilton® Performance Plus™ Square Cake Pan Set (WA28914).

But what about the fun stuff? The pans and decorating ideas that will make your holidays stand out this year? Not to worry – Nasco has everything you need to make your baking unique.

Bake the latest craze with a fun Cake Pops Kit (WA32145). You can buy the pieces individually as well (Cake Pop Pan, WA30187 or Cake Pop Sticks, WA31313). How about a 24-Cavity Tea Cake Pan (WA27676) that allows you to fill the center with sweets, or a Dimensions® Mini-Hearts Pan (WA23899) to share your love? We have a Chicago™ Metallic 3-Tier Cake Pan (WA27226) than makes four mini tiered cakes at a time. We also carry Mini Fluted Cake Pans (WA32689), Mini Loaf Pans (WA32690), Delectoval (oval-shaped) Mini Cake Pans (WA32720), 48-cup Mini Muffin Pans (WA33516H), and Mini Doughnut Pans (WA31901) for your baking creations.

Ah…but what about the eternal cookie cutter shapes? No problem. We have a Betty Crocker® 101 Piece Cookie Cutter Set (WA29928) to satisfy all shape cravings, or a Round Cookie Cutter Set (WA30059) that cuts in sizes from an itty bitty 1” to a decent 3-1/2”. Mrs. Anderson’s Baking® Crinkle Cookie Cutters are also the rage, in shape of Stars (WA30060), Flowers (WA30061), Squares (WA30062), and Hearts (WA30063), or, if you’re up for it, the whole set (WA30075)! How about a cookie press? Try the Wilton® Cookie Pro™ Ultra Premium Cookie Press (WA25350H) for beautiful results.

Cool off your baking creations on our Wilton® Recipe Right® Three-Tiered Cooling Rack (WA33507H) or Premium Non-Stick Cooling Rack Set of 2 (WA28456).

Then comes the fun part – decorating. Nasco has a number of easy-to-use, professional cake (and other products) decorating tools that put the finishing touches on your creations. We carry a Wilton® 48-Piece Decorating Set (WA31227), A 55-piece Master Tip Set (WA31891), Clear Piping Bags (WA31806, 14”, and WA31807, 21”), Disposable Decorating Bags (WA32340, 12”, plus 2 more sizes), or Nasco’s Cake Decorating Set (WA33011) which includes everything you need for cake decorating, including tips, couplers, icing bags, a flower nail, cake decorating comb, and a turntable with non-skid mat.

Need a few new ideas? Nasco has just what you need in the book department, too. Baking and Pastry: Mastering Art and Craft (WA33501) teaches you principles and techniques of baking and deserts, and Cake My Day! (WA33262H), filled with easy, eye-popping designs for cakes of all kinds.  And if you and your friends want watch DVDs first, try Cake Decorating Basics  (WA26450) or Just the Facts: Cake Decorating DVD (WA26228) for truly creative techniques and demonstrations.

Enjoy your Holiday celebrations! And as Marie Antoinette (never) said – Let Them Eat Cake!


Posted in Cooking, Holiday Baking, Latest News, Nasco | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Keep Your Calves Warm and Healthy

ac157240pThe chill of winter is upon us. Whether North or South, it doesn’t take much for the temperature to dip below freezing. And there’s no better way to keep your calves protected than with blankets and supplements from our Farm & Ranch catalog.

Keep your valuable calves warm and toasty with Thinsulate™ insulation in double layer thickness with our Double Insulated Calf Blanket. These extra protective blankets come in Small (C29653N) and Regular (C29654N) sizes. Try our Calf Warming Blankets in Large (C32287N) or Extra Large (C32286N) to keep your calf warm and comfortable, or the Weaver® Calf Blanket (C34356N) with its quilted design and elastic bands that provide the perfect fit. And our Calf Coats for Holsteins and Large Breed Calves (C23124(A)N) and Jerseys and Small Breed Calves (C23124(B)N) do an excellent job of cutting the wind and repelling moisture, allowing the young calf to maintain body heat.

Nasco’s Warm-Up Calf Jackets Small (C33542N) and Large (C33543N) have a Cordura® outer shell and quilted 3M Thinsulate™ lining that traps and holds heat while allowing moisture to escape for warm, dry, and healthy calves. The Original Calf Jacket also is weather resistant with a Cordura® outer shell and quilted 3M Thinsulate™ liner. Try the Jersey-Size (C28930N), Medium (C31616N), Large (C27111N), X-Large (C28931N), or XX-Large (C28932N) Calf Jacket for lasting wear and warmth.

Newborn calves need extra nutrition, especially during the cold months. Nasco carries nutritional supplements to help build a defensive shield against the pathogens that can appear after birth.

SHIELD Colostrum & Nutritional Supplement (C32173N) is the reliable choice when quality colostrum is needed to supplement maternal colostrum, with a guaranteed 50 g or colostral Ig in every 350 g feeding. Calf Solutions™ ULTRA START® 150 Calf Colostrum Replacer (C30268N) is made from only high-quality, first- and second-milking bovine colostrum from selected Grade A dairies. Save-A-Caf® Colustrum Replacer 100 (C33958N) contains a minimum of 100g of bovine globulin proteins per feeding, fortified with essential vitamins and trace minerals.

Nasco also carries colostrum supplements in the form of colostrum paste and boluses. Check out First Defense® Bovine Coronavirus-Escherichia coli Antibody Boluses (C31275N), the only USDA and CFIA approved colostrum-derived product to defend against K99+ E. coli and Coronavirus. Colostral•Aid (C31939N) is a revolutionary colostrum product delivering unmatched levels of colostral Ig in an oral syringe formula.

Take care of your newborn calves with blankets, supplements, and health supplements from our Farm & Ranch website pages. Try Colostrum Supplements, Blankets, or Vitamin Supplements to keep your young livestock warm and healthy during the cold days of winter.

Questions on any of our products? Feel free to call our friendly Customer Service Center at 1.800.558.9595, or visit our website at


Posted in Dairy, Farm, Farm & Ranch, Farm and Ranch catalog, Latest News | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Money Money

coins-currency-investment-insurance-128867It’s getting to be that season again – the season of spending more than we have. Why not teach children at an early age the plusses and pitfalls of money and credit?

Nasco’s Math catalog has everything you need to teach students all they need to know about dimes, quarters, dollar bills, and checking accounts.

Let’s start with the basics.

How Do We Use Money: Book Set (TB26486T) teaches children how to earn money and spend it wisely. This four-book set includes Understanding Credit; Earning Income; Budgeting, Spending, and Saving; and Growing Your Money.  Nasco’s Checkbook Charlie (TB25956T) combines math skills with life skills as students balance checkbooks and help “Checkbook Charlie” set up his post-graduate life. Bills, Budgets, and Bank Accounts Activity Unit (WA25376T) contains 22 current activities that let your students use their math, thinking, reading, and writing skills in helping “Cary Cash” with his personal finances. And Life Project (TB17850T) prepares students for the adult world of personal finance, including banking, budgeting, paying bills, income taxes, and more.

Games can teach life lessons while encouraging fun and freethinking. Real-World Math: Unexpected Events Game (TB24381T) starts players with a checking account balance of $100, and as they go through the game, must budget for expected (and unexpected) experiences. Money Bags™: A Coin Value Game (SB29582T) teaches valuable money skills while students collect, count, and exchange money all the way to the finish line. Managing My Allowance (WA26415T) teaches players to use coins and bills to pay for purchases, compute change, handle allowances and gifts, and make deposits. Discount (TB25647T) players face over 400 real-life challenges as they purchase furniture, clothing, and appliances. And who can forget the popular standards The Game of Life® (SB24729T) or Pay Day® (SN01403T)? Both games teach you about earning and spending money.

And nothing beats learning about money than money itself! Nasco carries all sorts of play money including a Money Classroom Kit (TB23342T), Complete Set of 500 Bills (TB18722T), Paper Bill Set (TB20560T), Mixed Coins (TB15529T), or the Giant Coin Set (TB20588T), which includes over 750 coins in a clear tote box.

Explore these and many other money teaching tools at Nasco’s Math website. Questions on any of our products? Feel free to call our friendly Customer Service Center at 1.800.558.9595, or visit our website



Posted in catalogs, Latest News, Math, Money | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Get Fresh Information Here!

enasco-logoNow that cooler days are coming, most of us are settling into the routine of getting and staying warmer until spring. Happy to say, Nasco has been warming up its stock and deals, too!

One way to keep on top of our sales and specials is to sign up on one of our Facebook pages. Each catalog has its own page you can follow, including Arts & Crafts, Farm & Ranch, Special Education, Early Learning, and more. Just go to our website and follow the   button and sign up! We always welcome your thoughts, contributions, and suggestions on how to make your school and home world easier, faster, and more fun. Facebook is one way to keep in touch.

Another way to keep up on what’s going on in the Nasco World is to check out our Website. Both the main site and indvididual catalogs broadcast their specials on their front page, along with celebrations and sales and free shipping. Just click the catalog you’re interested in and come explore our diversity and individuality.

Still want to be up-to-date? Keep up with our ever changing and developing sales landscape is to sign up to receive our e-mails. It’s simple and precise. Just follow the link on our home page (or follow this one: Nasco E-Mails) and choose just the areas that interest you. Our mailing lists cover every field from farmers to lab technicians to sculptors to P.E. coaches, all individualized to your field and budget. Nasco never sells our addresses to third parties, and will not fill up your mailbox from week to week.

Nasco is changing and growing and developing, and so are you. Check into our social media sites any time and bring our catalogs into your home electronically!

Posted in Facebook, Latest News, Nasco, Social Media | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

King Tut Day!

king-tut_maskKing Tut Day is celebrated on November 04, 2016. It celebrates the date of the discovery of King Tutankhamen’s Tomb. The discovery of the tomb as a whole was one of the most significant and famous archeological discoveries in modern times. What better way to celebrate than a creative project from Nasco?

You know Nasco carries a vast selection of paper, colored pencils, colored markers, and crayons. Why not put those to use by making your own pyramid? Our Pyramids (9715191) collection is precut, white, coated card stock that easily folds into a 3-D pyramid you can decorate. Or how about stencils? Try Pacon® Hieroglyphics Stencils (9728358), durable, washable plastic stencils with a variety of people, animals, and every day shapes.

Posters are the way to go, King Tut Day or any day! How about our Egyptian Art Poster Set (9729164), which includes three beautifully illustrated and extensively researched Egyptian themes, including Nefertari and the Tomb of Seti. An informative poster comes your way with the Egyptian Art Poster – The Ancient Egyptians (9729163), measuring 24” x 36”.

Want to get the whole class involved? Then check out our FREE lesson plans. These plans have all the information you need to get your class excited about King Tut and the world he lived in. Try Egyptian Face Mask, Egyptian Scarab Pendants, Cartouche, or the Egyptian Sarcophagus. All lesson plans include objectives, art project, and materials list.

Explore the history of this ancient culture in general and King Tutankhamen in particular with art projects from Nasco. Questions on any of our lesson plans or products? Feel free to call our friendly Customer Service Center at 1.800.558.9595.

Posted in Arts & Crafts, King Tutenkhamen | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Celebrate International Artists Day With Nasco!

000_3666According to Days of the Year Calendar, International Artists Day honors those creative souls that leave a record of today for the future that can’t be captured in history books. The anguish and joy of the human soul is portrayed through the haunting tones of a melody, the violence and fury caught in a photograph, or the serene gaze of a statue staring off into eternity.

Because of the importance of the Arts to families, students, and teachers, Nasco encourages the diversity of creativity with basics anyone can afford.

Paint. Our website showcases over 5,673 paint products which include acrylics (acrylic resin), encaustic (wax colors fixed with heat), inks (alcohol-based), gouache (gum-based watercolors), tempera (egg- water or egg-oil based), watercolors (water-based), and oils (oil-based).

Canvas. All sizes and styles are available at Nasco. You can try gesso board (premium high-density hardboard panel), canvas board (closely woven artist canvas), canvas pads and paper (made from real artist canvas), stretched canvas (stretched cotton duck canvas), and unprimed cotton canvas (stretch your own).

Brushes. Over 1,824 individual, styles, and sets await you: natural bristle (animal hair), synthetic bristle (nylon and/or polyester), camel hair (soft animal hair), chungking (long, deep flags), hake (oriental-style wash brush on a long flat handle), sable (kolinsky hair),  taklon (thermoplastic polyester that mimics sable), watercolor (hair and synthetic), assorted brush sets, and more.

Paper. Every artist needs paper for sketching, painting, and drawing. You can find Bristol board, construction paper, sketchbooks and drawing pads, charcoal paper, illustration board, watercolor paper, drawing paper, newsprint, card stock, mixed media boards, paper, and more.

How do you make your creative mark? It’s hard to choose your medium with over 2,300 pencils, pens, and markers that meet your every desire. Try calligraphy pens, colored pencils, chalk, crayons, double-ended and single markers, charcoal and graphite sticks, pastels, and dozens of pen colors and styles.

How about learning ceramics? From kilns, pottery wheels, bisque pieces, and firing clay, to over 1,100 glazes, Nasco has your ceramic classes covered.

Art is not only about painting and drawing – it’s about crafts of all styles and properties. Decorative crafts, sculpture, chenille stem art, bookmaking, basketry, beadery,Papier-Mâché, candle and soap making, decoupage, latch hooking, macramé, jewelry making, leather crafts – the possibilities are endless.

Nasco carries a great selection of projects, materials, and books for every aspect of an artist’s career. Come check us out at and find just what you need to make your International Art Day an International Art Year!

Posted in Arts & Crafts, catalogs, eNasco, Latest News, Nasco | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nasco Releases 2017 Agricultural Sciences Catalog

10AgScip001-FCThe 2017 Agricultural Sciences catalog, offering the latest instructional aids and supplies for the agricultural sciences, is now available from Nasco in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, and Modesto, California.

Nasco’s Agricultural Sciences catalog is a resource for nearly all vocational agriculture teaching needs. It’s been updated with the newest educational items, including books, DVDs, hands-on teaching aids, STEM education products, educational kits, animal models, and supplies for the Vo-Ag classroom. The catalog includes items for livestock production, agronomy, horticulture, showing and judging, safety, aquaculture, veterinary supplies, artificial insemination, testing equipment, beekeeping, and much more.

The 355-page catalog contains over 600 new products, covers all areas of agriculture, and includes a broad selection of farm supplies and equipment, plus hundreds of hard-to-find farm and home supplies!

Visit Nasco Agricultural Sciences online at to view the entire catalog, including teacher resource materials, new products, and special website sale items.

For your free copy of the 2017 Nasco Agricultural Sciences catalog, call 1.800.558.9595, order online at, or write to: Nasco, 901 Janesville Avenue, P.O. Box 901, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538-0901.

Posted in catalogs, Farm, Farm & Ranch, Latest News | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Celebrate National Chemistry Week

1dacff80d6deff4599652d5c2b00d0c4-copy“I would tell you a chemistry joke…but all the good ones ARgon…”

So goes the world of Chemistry in general and the Periodic Table of Elements in particular.

October 16-22, 2016 is National Chemistry Week. Local schools, businesses, and organizations all work to promote the value of chemistry in everyday life. From Ac (Actinium) to Zr (Zirconium), the world of elements can baffle the most curious of students. Nasco has a number of products that take these baffling elements and puts them into practical, eye-catching use.

Let’s start with the Photographic Periodic Table (SB43808M). This beautifully photographed periodic table adheres to strict scientific accuracy, but its focus is inspirational rather than strictly informational. The samples have been carefully chosen to represent the diversity of each element. Measuring 53” x 27”, the reverse side includes greater technical data along with brief descriptions. The Periodic Table in Earth and Sky Poster (SB37494M) features 117 color photos and graphics, showing samples of minerals and crystals for elements. Includes element symbols, atomic numbers and weights, electron figurations, and more. The Periodic Element Chart (SB16425M) measures 24” x 36”, and is a seven-color depiction of the modern periodic table with 114 elements.

Something bigger in mind? How about the Super Size Periodic Table of the Elements Poster (SB46808M)? This durable, long-lasting vinyl poster measures 48” x 64” and is filled with colorful, eye-catching presentations with key information for 118 elements. Our Giant-Sized Periodic Table (SA05540M) makes teaching more effective in larger classrooms and lecture halls. It measures 96” x 48”, and its three-color printing ensures maximum visibility. Our 3-D Periodic Table (SB46735M) measures 22” x 11”, and is the first and only lenticular 3-D photographic periodic table of the elements. A beautiful 3-D photo of the element represents each element, with detailed descriptions on the back.

For those who cannot get enough of the Periodic Table, or want to delve deeper into its fascinating world, Nasco carries two different sets of DVDs for your viewing pleasure. The Periodic Table for Students Series (SB42359M) examines the relationship between atomic structure and the properties of matter. The five-volume set includes Atomic Structure and the Periodic Table, The History of the Periodic Table, Properties of Compounds, Properties of Elements, and Using the Periodic Table. The Periodic Table of Elements 5-Pack DVD Series (SB41287M) examines the role of the elements in our daily lives, including exploring alkali metals, alkaline-earth metals, and transition metals.

Of course, we cannot have a periodic table without having a little fun, can we? Why not check out our Periodic Table Shower Curtain (SB43366M), which presents the building blocks of all matter on a white, translucent background. It measures 71” x 71” and is 70% EVA/30% PE, an environmentally friendly alternative to PVC. We also carry a Periodic Table Pen (SB48226M) for those times when you need a quick portable glance at the elements.

You can find more information about Chemistry, the Periodic Table of Elements, and Science in general on our website,



Posted in Latest News, Nasco, Periodic Table of the Elements, Science | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment