If you’re a beginner sewing enthusiast, you already know you’re going to need some basic tools and supplies to get started. Seamstresses are always adding to their sewing kits because that’s half the fun of being able to sew, but when we’re talking about the must-have items that you can’t get started without having, the list of tools is a bit smaller.
Researching sewing tools and their uses usually ends in a long list of items, but keep in mind that not every one of them is needed in the very beginning. Nevertheless, you should at least have chalk, gauge, measuring tape, needles, pattern weights, pins/pincushion, rotary cutter/mat, ruler, scissors, seam ripper, thimble, threader, threads, and tracing wheel.
Sewing projects don’t always require tons of tools and supplies, but you’ll quickly notice that there are quite a few tools that you use over and over again, and fortunately, most of those items cost very little. Starting out by purchasing some of the must-have items is a smart idea and will ensure you have what you need for that very first project and the rest of them too.
So, are you wondering what these must-have items are? Although some people might consider this list to be incomplete, below are 14 items that you’ll definitely use over and over again from now on.
Sewing Tools and Their Uses
1. Tailors Chalk
This is not standard school or crafts chalk. It is a specific type of chalk made just for sewing, and it is used to make markings on your fabric. The reason you can’t use regular chalk is because it won’t stay on the fabric for very long, which makes completing the project very difficult. You should always have plenty of tailors chalk on hand because you’ll use it quickly and they often break into small pieces.
If you like, you can keep some standard chalk around in case you run out of tailor’s chalk, but use it quickly before it fades.
2. Sewing Gauge
This is a small ruler device and can be used for a variety of tasks, including adding seam allowances, measuring and marking the depth of a hem, drawing circles and scallops on your fabric, and making sure buttonholes, pleats, and tucks are spaced evenly. It is a versatile lightweight tool that you’ll find yourself using over and over again.
You’ll also find that the sewing gauge is one of the least expensive sewing tools you’ll have in your kit.
3. Measuring Tape
Flexible measuring tapes are inexpensive and super easy to work with, and most sewers have more than one in their sewing kit. Most of these tapes are marked either in inches or centimeters, and some have inches on one side and centimeters on the other. They are usually a minimum of one yard long and therefore can measure items that are very large.
Even better, measuring tapes usually come in a variety of colors, so they can actually be fun to collect for your sewing kit.
4. Hand-Sewing Needles
Even though you’re using a sewing machine, you’re still going to need regular hand-sewing needles at some point because they make certain projects simpler and faster. If you plan on working mostly with thick fabric or fabric that is difficult to sew on, you’ll need thicker needles, while smaller and lighter needles work best for lightweight fabrics such as cotton and others.
Having a few packs of needles on hand at all times is always a smart idea because you’ll be surprised how often you can actually use hand-sewing needles. When learning about sewing tools and their uses, this is a very basic item that is on every list of must-haves.
5. Pattern Weights
When you’re working with fabrics such as sheer, knits, leather, or fabrics that are difficult to stick pins through, you need pattern weights to hold down the fabric as you cut it.
You can also make your own pattern weights if you like, or you can use canned foods or even heavy coffee mugs. But since pattern weights are made specifically for this purpose and don’t cost much, you might as well choose them instead.
Naturally, you’ll use tons of straight pins on each and every sewing project you work on. Add to that the fact that pins get lost and they break, and it’s easy to understand why you need to have a lot of these items on hand at all times. If you’re going to buy lots of pins, you’ll also need a pincushion to keep them all nearby and handy.
The good news is, pins and pincushions are very inexpensive, so you won’t have to break the bank to buy them.
7. Rotary Cutter/Mat
Rotary cutters and mats, which are sometimes sold together as a set, are made to cut through several layers of fabric at a time, making the task much easier on your hands the entire time.
One thing to remember is that rotary cutters have very sharp blades in them, which is one of the main reasons you always have to use the mat at all times. You can also purchase a rotary ruler to help make sure your cutting is as straight as possible, and all of these items are very reasonably priced.
No, you do not need a fancy ruler for sewing – a regular wood, metal or plastic one will do. This is one tool you’ll be using again and again, however, so make sure the ruler is a good one.
Fortunately, most rulers are very inexpensive, so you can buy several of them for your kit without ruining your budget. The 12-inch rulers work best, and you’ll be using it again and again to make sure your lines are straight when measuring and before you start cutting.
9. Heavy-Duty Scissors
This is where it might get a bit expensive for you. A good pair of heavy-duty scissors – those made just for seamstresses – is going to be used with every single one of your projects, so you might as well get a pair that is sturdy and well-made. Otherwise, you’ll be replacing the scissors shortly, which will cost you even more money.
For many reasons, it’s best to go ahead and get a high-quality, strong pair of sewing scissors right from the beginning because you’ll always get your money’s worth out of it.
10. Seam Ripper
All sewers mess up on their seams occasionally, so when it’s time to do it over again to get it nice and neat, a seam ripper is what you’ll use to get those stitches out of the fabric. Seam rippers are small and fit in the palm of your hand and they have a long pointed end. You just stick the pointed end in the seam and pull gently to remove the thread.
When deciding on your sewing tools and their uses, the seam ripper is a must. Best of all, seam rippers are super inexpensive, so there’s nothing wrong with having several of them in your sewing kit. You will definitely need them at some point.
Thimbles can be made out of metal, leather, rubber or silicone and fit on the tip of your finger to protect it from the needle you’re using. Since you’re going to be hand-sewing at some point, a thimble is a must-have sewing tool for everyone. Working without a thimble will scratch up the tip of your finger and eventually cause it to become sensitive and even bleed.
If you don’t believe you need a thimble because you don’t do much hand-sewing, you’ll change your mind once you do so a few times without the thimble.
12. Needle Threader
Needle threaders are small devices with a tip that you place inside the eye of a needle so that you can pull the thread through it easily. It is indeed the simplest and fastest way to thread a needle, and the only bad part about them is the fact that some of them break easily.
But not to worry – threaders are very inexpensive and usually come with several of them in a package, so you can keep lots of them on hand and still not go over your budget.
13. Sewing Threads
Naturally, you cannot sew without spools of thread, and since most thread isn’t expensive and lasts a very long time, you should plan to buy at least the basic colors when you first start sewing; for example, black, white, beige, blue, green, yellow, and so on. There are many different types of threads as well, but the basic cotton ones are all right to start with.
Just make sure you have enough of them on hand to complete at least a few projects. You can always add more spools of thread as you add more projects to your schedule, and you can do this without making a mess of your budget.
14. Tracing Wheel
Tracing wheels are used when transferring pattern markings to the fabric. It does this by leaving a fine imprint on certain smooth fabrics that you will iron afterward.
If you want the markings to be a little more noticeable, simply use these wheels along with chalk paper or some wax. If you’re looking for a list of sewing tools and their uses, you may not always find this one, but it is certainly a handy item to have around.