Whether you have just begun sewing or you are coming back to sharpen up rusty skills, you may be wondering, do I have everything I need? We’re going to run through the basic sewing tools- along with an explanation of why they are important. If you’re in a pinch (or on a budget) ,you can get by without this entire list.
Remember to download your Sewing Tools Checklist at the end of this post!
Cut Your Fabric:
Thread Snippers– Yours may look like these, or they may simply be a small pair of scissors. Keep them by your sewing machine to snip loose threads.
Pinking Shears– The blade on pinking shears creates a zig-zag finish. This zig-zag prevents fabric from fraying. A pair of pinking shears provides you with a simple, fast way to create a clean finished edge on a seam.
Bent Handle Scissors– A bent handle scissor allows your fabric to lay flat while you cut. A nice pair of scissors will be your best friend. This is an item I would consider splurging on. (Watch for coupons, the large fabric chain by us runs 50% off coupons not infrequently- use them to scoop up a great scissor)
*A Special Note About Scissors- Only EVER EVER use your fabric scissors to cut fabric. No paper, craft items, or notions. If you ding or dull your scissor blades it will cause you heartache. (Seriously ask our family members. They would probably break into a cold sweat at the mention of misusing the fabric scissors….)
Flexible Measuring Tape– This is a nonnegotiable. You’ll need it to take measurements of whomever or whatever you are sewing for.
Fabric Chalk- You are going to need to transfer information from your pattern to your fabric. This can be done a bunch of different ways. We prefer this very simple chalk. It wipes away easily and can be used quickly. If you are worried your marking device may leave a permanent mark, test it on a corner of your fabric!
Seam Gauge (This one features a built-in point turner)- A seam gauge has a small moveable piece (in the picture above it is black) that you will set to your desired measurement. Then slide your gauge along while pinning or sewing to create an even seam. This is most often used for hems.
Thread- You’ll need thread for your sewing machine and hand sewing
Needle- There are situations when a little hand sewing will be necessary, no matter how good you are on a sewing machine.
Bobbin- You are going to want a couple extra bobbins so that you can keep them wound in your basic colors. Bobbins can be metal or plastic, they come in different sizes check your machine first.
Sewing Machine Needles- For the best results, switch to a new needle at the beginning of every project. Needles vary in thickness, and different materials require different needles. Needles will occasionally break so always be prepared with extras. Avoid sewing over pins to save yourself from breaking needles (and other potential sewing machine disasters).
Seam Ripper- The truth is that ripping is part of sewing… sometimes a much bigger part than you would like. You NEED one of these. I wish I could say you will never ever have to rip out a seam that you put in, or that you will certainly NEVER fight to get something in just right and flip it over to discover somehow in the struggle you managed to sew a right side to a wrong side…that never ever happens….but if it does, this handy tool makes ripping more bearable.
Pins- Make sure you get some with these easy to grab round heads. Go with your standard yellow or jazz it up with a variety of other color options.
Pin Cushion/Magnet- We use a magnetic pin cushion. We’re totally sold on them. As long as you are near them when you drop a pin, it catches them, and if you drop one on the floor you can flip this guy over and slowly sweep until it picks it up! If you are sewing in a house with little ones this is a HUGE benefit!
An old fashion stick pin cushion will get the job done too! Lately all the cute patterns I’ve seen on Pinterest have been tempting even me! Want to see some of our favorites? Check them out here.
Optional Tools: As a beginning sewer you can get along without these tools, unless you are going to quilt. Quilting will require these tools.
Self Healing Mat– This mat will serve as a barrier between your blade and pins and your work surface. While this is a nice to have (and a must if you are using a rotary cutter), but you can cut with your bent handle scissors and pin on your kitchen table. If you are a beginner, just be careful that you don’t dig into your table with overzealous pinning.
Cutting Square (or ruler)- These transparent rulers grip your fabric and offer easy measurements. Again these can be very nice to have but if you are on a budget they aren’t necessary for basic sewing and crafting.
Rotary Cutter- This is a sharp blade that rolls as you cut. A rotary blade is very handy- it will cut through multiple layers of fabric at a time. Make sure you are using the proper equipment if you choose to use a rotary cutter (a self healing mat and a nonslip ruler). They are very sharp and move fast, so be cautious.
There will be speciality equipment you may find you want to pick up as your sewing basket grows, but this list will get you up and running.
Take a list with you by downloading your Sewing Tools Checklist Here.
What is your number one MUST HAVE sewing tool? Tell us in the comments below!
Rachel & Donna