As a beginner sewer you can easily get going with just some fabric, thread, scissors and a sewing machine ( or sewing needle if you are hand stitching) however as with any hobby there are definitely some items that are going to make your life a lot easier and more enjoyable when Sewing (who doesn’t love a good gadget!)
I have put together this list of items which I think are handy when starting off, I have listed them in the order of most importance, so here goes…
A really good pair of dressmaking scissors which are sharp make all the difference when cutting your fabric. It is definitely worth investing in a decent pair with a long blade. We use Fiskars Classic dressmaking scissors here at the shop to cut our fabrics – so they are highly recommended by us. These Scissors have a long 25cm blade and retain and stay sharp even with many hours of cutting. If you are investing in a good pair of scissors be sure not to use them for cutting paper and non fabric items as they will become blunt and harder to use!
As a beginner sewer this is definitely a must have, the addition of a seam ripper makes unpicking stitches a dream and when you first start sewing its likely that you will have a bit of unpicking to do at first!
Make sure you have a decent tape measure, we love the retractable designs as they are easy to tidy away and if your sewing room is anything like mine you could do with all the help you can get with tidying up 😂
Tailors chalk and/or wash off pen
Tailors chalk and wash off pens are very useful for marking your fabrics when cutting out, making alterations and marking points of reference such as darts etc. The marks are then easily washed or brushed off your fabric. You can also buy air erasable pens which don’t need washing off , the markings magically disappear on their own!
What a joy these little gadgets are! Plus, they are really cheap and worth every penny. There are lots of different designs of these useful items and they all work in pretty much the same way, saving a ton of time messing about trying to thread your hand sewing needles, get a few of them and keep them handy!
Thread Snips or a small pair of scissors
A little pair of sharp scissors or thread snips are a great addition to you sewing tool box. You don’t want to be cutting your threads and tidying up your sewing with large dressmaking scissors. These thread snips are so handy to have next to your sewing machine and so easy to use. I have a few pairs of the thread snips nearby so that I can always find them when I need them.
Pins & a pin cushion
A good set of decent pins to secure your fabric to your pattern and a pin cushion to pop them into when you are busy sewing are a great addition to your sewing kit. You can get lots of different lengths & sizes of pins, but I would suggest medium length dressmaking pins. In fact a pin cushion is a great beginner sewing project so why not make one yourself!
Iron & Ironing board
Your usual iron and ironing board are perfectly fine to use to press your sewing projects. Some sewers like to invest in a mini iron and board to keep handy near their sewing machine. You can also purchase cordless irons too and these can be quite handy to move to your sewing without the restriction of the cord. These might be something to invest in when you have purchased all the essentials and you want to treat yourself ( or perhaps put it on a gift list for your birthday !)
Not Essential, but nice to have if you want to measure precise seam allowances. As you will discover, a lot of good sewing is all about getting the correct measurements of your fabric, hence the saying ‘measure twice, cut once.’
24 inch Ruler
Consider a good ruler once you have all the above, they are great for lots of projects not just patchwork, they are especially good when teamed with a rotary cutter. We will often cut our premium cottons with a ruler and rotary cutter as it achieves a very straight edge which is great particularly if you are working with squares, triangles & rectangles.
Fantastic for achieving very accurate cutting of straight edges, most rotary cutters need the blades changing periodically and when you purchase a rotary cutter it usually comes with a spare blade. They come in different sizes from small (28mm) to large (60mm). We use a size 45mm here in the shop and that is a nice size to start with. Be aware that they are very sharp and it is good practice to always put the guard down when not actually using them to cut. If you are going to invest in a rotary cutter you will also need a self healing cutting mat, see below
Cutting mats come in a variety of sizes. They usually have rulers along the sides and also across the mat the help you cut accurately and come in a variety of sizes so think about how you are going to be using it. If you are sewing small items you will need a smaller mat ( 12 x 9in) however if you are cutting larger pieces of fabric an extra large mat is a good investment (36 x 24in/90cm x 60cm)
A good cutting mat has a self healing property which prolongs the life of the mat, it definitely worth spending a bit more on a good mat if you are going to be using it frequently.
I could go on forever but I think that to get started if you work down the list you will have a great collection of equipment to help you get started on your sewing journey. The list of gadgets and devices is endless and that is even before you start on all the beautiful fabrics available.
Enjoy your sewing and be sure to share what you make with us