Before you can get started with any sewing project, you will need some of the following equipment to get you started and assist with the completion of your project/garment. This is a general guide, and you will find that not all the items listed here are needed up front. Although, I think it is a good idea to start accumulating them along the way, as your creations expand through necessity and confidence.

Sewing Equipment

My Sewing Equipment List Consists Of:

Tape Measure

A flexible ruler made out of plastic. Sewings favourite measuring tool as it will measure around corners, compact and is a must in your sewing kit.

Tape Measure for Sewing

Sewing Scissors

Dressmaking scissors, not to be confused with paper scissors. These will make or break when it comes to cutting out as the sharper your scissors the better (a rotary cutter is a convenient option for an alternative).

Dressmaking Scissors

Pinking Shears

Scissors that cut a zigzag edge which is used for finishing seams, and prevent fraying. Picture By The original uploader was Pavel Krok at German Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 2.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

Pinking Shears

Rotary Cutter/Ruler/Cutting Board

A razor sharp round cutter usually used in conjunction with a clear cutting ruler and a self-healing cutting board. Especially great with straight lines and used a lot in quilting for this reason.

Rotary Cutter Ruler Board

Pins, Needles & a Pin Cushion

To be able to sew you will need needles… but which one? For both needlework and sewing machines, you will need different types of needles.

Straight pins

Straight pins are used for pinning your pattern to the fabric, to hold it in place for you to cut out. They are also used to pin seams together ready for sewing as they hold everything in place until removed.

Pin Cushion

A little cushion for storing your sewing pins when not in use. You can either buy one or make your own.

Hand-Sewing Needles

Sharps: Are used for general hand-sewing; with a sharp point, a round eye, and of a medium length. Betweens: Shorter than sharps with a small rounded eye, used for making fine stitches on heavy fabrics and are also commonly called quilting needles. Milliner’s: Generally longer than sharps, with small, round eyes. Very useful for basting and pleating, and commonly used in millinery work. Tapestry: Has a large eye and blunt tip usually bent at a slight angle from the rest of the needle. It will pass through loosely woven fabric such as embroidery canvas or even-weave material. Darning: These are designed with a blunt tip, with a large eye making them similar to a tapestry needle but longer. Sometimes called finishing needles.

Sewing Machine Needles

Universal: an all-purpose needle, preferred for woven fabrics where a sharper needle could ruin the fabric. Similar to a ballpoint needle but tapered to allow the needle to slip through without producing a run. Ballpoint: Similar to a universal needle but has rounded edges and is not tapered the same way. Intended for closely knit fabrics where the rounded tip will push the weave out of the way rather than cut through it. Jeans/ Denim: for tightly woven cottons such as canvas. Has a strong, sharp point and very slender eye. Sharps: More slender and sharper than the universal needle. More Suited for fine woven fabrics, but is ideal for quilting and appliqué. Twin: Needles set in pairs on a single shaft are designed to sew multiple, usually decorative topstitching, threads at once.

Iron & Ironing Board

You will find that you will need an iron and ironing board mainly for pressing your seam open. You will find they are a critical part of sewing to give your garment a nice neat professional finish.

Fusible Interfacing

Using a fusible interfacing with add firmness to the areas of your garment such as collars, cuffs, and facings when applied to the wrong side of the fabric with an iron, as it melts when heated. It is used in the areas of the garment that extra strength is required for either buttons/buttonholes or simply to hold the garments shape.

Sewing Thread

A good quality matching thread is needed to complete your garment. You will find there is a lot to choose from, and as long as you are using sewing thread for a sewing machine and not embroidery thread then all is well. You will find that it is only the thickness of the thread that varies and will dictate the longevity of the item you are making. If in doubt, ASK!

Sewing Machine

Unless you are intending on sewing your garments by hand, you will need a sewing machine. Fortunately, they are now of a price that anyone can afford to budget for one and start sewing from home. I would advise just getting a basic one to start with, and once you have gained confidence with it, and wish to continue with sewing for yourself and your family, you may wish to upgrade. Until then, just practice, practice practice… and gain confidence in using your machine. Unless you are intending on sewing your garments by hand, you will need a sewing machine. Fortunately, they are now of a price that anyone can afford to budget for one and start sewing from home. I would advise just getting a basic one to start with, and once you have gained confidence with it, and wish to continue with sewing for yourself and your family, you may wish to upgrade. Until then, just practice, practice practice… and gain confidence in using your machine.

Fabric

By having a selection of fabric on hand, you are always ready to sew. The fabric you collect could be large leftovers from a previous project or a fabric Sale you have taken advantage of in preparation of a future sewing project you have in mind. Depending on what it is you are looking into making, will depend on the most suitable fabric for your garment/project. It comes in many different weights and made from different fibres, whether they are natural or man-made (synthetic).

Sewing Pattern

Your sewing pattern is your paper guide to cutting out your fabric to size as per their individual instructions. A sewing pattern will give you a picture of the item you wish to make as well as what you will require to complete your project.You will find you can also get PDF sewing patterns online that you can either get for free or purchase online from the comfort of your own home. You will find you can also get PDF sewing patterns online that you can either get for free or purchase online from the comfort of your own home. Oh, the convenience of shopping nowadays.

Notions

Your sewing notions will vary, depending on your current projects, but these are a few you may want to keep on hand:

Buttons/Zippers/Hook-and-Eye Closures

These are the most common of closures used in garment making to create an opening which can be closed as required and also for decorative purposes. Buttons/buttonholes: used on shirts and cuffs etc Zippers: Used on Trousers, skirts and jackets etc Hook & Eye: Generally used at the top of a zip to hold it together and take the strain off of the zip. Can also be used to hold things together, such as bras and blouse openings etc

Embellishments

Just a bit of bling really, whether it be with ribbon, braid or applique, just to give your project that finished look you are looking for.

Thimble

Well, if you have sewn by hand before, then you may appreciate a good old fashioned thimble to protect your finger/thumb from those sharp needles.

Seam Ripper

As it says, it rips seams. When I started out, I used one of these on a ‘regular’ basis. Not so much anymore as my mistakes are fewer and far between. But, is very helpful with cutting the thread required or for cutting open that buttonhole.

Needle Threader

Gosh, this saves a lot of time if you have problems threading a needle for whatever the reason. I believe the holes in the needles are getting smaller the older I get.

Chalk or Fabric Pen

This is an easy way to temporarily mark your fabric until you have it sewn accordingly. It is not always convenient to use pins and this is where you will find chalk or fabric pens a life saver.

In Summing Up

When you are a bit unsure of exactly which threads, notions, and accessories you should buy, then pick up a sewing kit. A Sewing kit will take ALL the guesswork out of which threads, notions, and accessories are the most common, by putting them all in one place for your convenience… generally saving you money in the process

JoAnne Adrian
Director: Learn to Sew at Home with Jo ‘n’ Sew

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