Today is Day 5 of 31 Days of Sewing School.
While it seems like there is an infinite amount of gizmos, doo-dads and thingamabobs out there for whatever hobby you choose, I do think there is a short list of required items if you want to take up sewing (with a machine). Tomorrow I’ll talk about some of the more frivolous tools that I enjoy, but today is about the basics.
I’ll be linking to most of these on Amazon, but you can probably find most of them at your local Joann, Hobby Lobby, other fabric or sewing machine store, or even a WalMart or sometimes Michael’s. These are the staples that would be required if you were taking a sewing class.
To be realistic, they can also be used for soft notions like ribbon, elastic and the like, and I also use mine on thin pattern/tissue paper. But that’s it! Otherwise, stick to fabric. That keeps your scissors smooth and sharp.
I don’t have an expensive pair like these Ginghers but just a decent pair from my local fabric store. I like to have a large pair for fabric and a smaller pair for snipping threads on hand.
I splurge on pricier thread. I learned early on that nicer thread is indeed nicer to your machine… it makes for less pilling and lint in your machine, and it’s stronger, too. I like Gütermann‘s and Mettler– I say pricier, but it’s still only $3-5 per spool.
The general rule I follow is cotton thread for quilting, polyester for clothing and other projects, but sometimes I cheat, and just use whatever I have for whatever I’m doing.
Straight pins are a definite sewing staple. They usually come in a box, but a pin cushion is the most easily-accessible way to store them. Choose pins with a large ball on the end, as they’ll be easier to use. You might have to experiment to see what size you like. My mom likes short ones for sewing and long ones for quilting. I tend to like the longer ones most of the time.
My sewing machine came with one of these, but if yours didn’t, it’s a worthwhile investment. These are invaluable for correcting inevitable mistakes. I keep an extra one handy, too, just in case. Even the most experienced sewista will want to have a seam ripper handy.
If you’re a total sewing newbie, you might be surprised at this one, but an iron is a must. I was given that vintage hand-me-down one pictured above and I ended up loving it even more than my newer iron… which is to say, any iron will do.
A flexible measuring tape will be useful quite often with sewing, whether it’s for taking your baby’s measurements, checking your seam allowance (I’ll explain what that is later) or sizing up your fabric swatch.
You’ll probably want a tote, box, basket or some other method of storage to keep your sewing supplies in. I recommend something portable because traveling will be much easier– and sewing with friends is super fun.
Go ahead and throw in a notebook while you’re at it because you’ll often be wanting to jot down ideas, notes, or measurements as you go.
And lastly, you’ll need your sewing machine, and all that that entails. But we’ll be getting to that in just a couple of days…
If you have any questions about the bare necessities, feel free to ask in the comments. If you’ve got sewing experience, it might be helpful for you to mention what I may have left off this list, or what brands you like. Tomorrow I’ll share about some additional fun tools.