Sewing is just like cooking, you need the right ingredients and kitchen tools to dish up a delicious dish. When you just enter the sewing world, it can be overwhelming with all the sewing tools you read online and see in shops.
With so much options, fret not. You can kick-start your sewing journey with the essential sewing tools in this list that can be of big help to you for most of your sewing projects. As a beginner sewist and as tempting as it may be to build a fully equipped sewing tools box, you won’t want to burn a hole in your pocket especially when sewing is an expensive hobby.
Finding a suitable and affordable sewing machine is the first step and first essential sewing tool you must have. A right sewing machine is going to be your capable partner who makes all your sewing projects done easily.
With a wide range of sewing machines in the market that offer different functions and features, it is going to be challenging to know which sewing machine to get. Janome, Juki, Brother, Singer and Bernina are some of the well-known sewing machine brands which produce reliable sewing machines that have price tag from S$100+ to few thousands dollars.
Your sewing machine doesn’t need to be expensive with a lot of stitches and operations as it is unlikely you will ever need all of them. At the core of sewing, you only need a straight stitch and zig zag stitch to accomplish sewing for almost all sewing projects.
Ultimately, get one sewing machine that feed your primary sewing needs and fall within your budget.
A measuring tape is one of the necessary tools that you have to keep in your sewing tools box. Being soft and flexible in texture, it is commonly use in taking body measurements. However this ruler is more often used for daily tasks like measuring fabric and drafting patterns.
There are two ways for measuring using the measuring tape, namely the Metric measurements and Imperial measurements. Metric measurements is measurements in centimeters, millimeters and meters whereas the Imperial measurements is measurements in inches, feet and fractions of inches.
In Singapore, we usually measure in centimeters and meters. On the measuring tape, these measurements are usually marked with inches on one side and centimeters / millimeters on the other.
The most common length of a measuring tape for measuring body is 45 inches / 1.5 meters long.
A straight ruler comes in handy when making markings on fabrics and drawing patterns. It is your best friend when you need to mark the position for your buttonholes, points to start and stop sewing for an opening, connecting dots with a straight line and to measure seam allowance.
It is ideal to have one 30cm straight ruler and a 15cm straight ruler for smaller measurements. Transparent rulers are great option as you can see where you are putting the ruler on.
You will be surprised at how often you use them throughout your dressmaking or accessories or embroidery or quilting projects. There are a few types of fabric markers – Chalk, Air dissolve pen, Water dissolve pen and Heat dissolve pen. Be sure to choose the one that works with your project as you want to remove any marking on your end products before mailing to your customers, family members or friends.
For dressmaking and accessories making, fabric markers are useful in outlining the sewing pattern on the fabric before cutting it, and good for marking certain positions on the fabric.
In quilting projects, drawing the quilting lines onto your fabric before sewing will allow you to have a good overview of your placement and to ensure that your stitching will be on-target.
Before you start embroidery, you will need to transfer your design onto the fabric with the help of fabric markers and transfer papers.
Fabric markers for sewing are not the same as fabric markers designed for decorating your t-shirt. If you use the wrong type, the markings may be permanent and won’t look presentable for your sewing projects.
Sewing Pins and Pincushion (Pin Cushion)
Sewing pins, also known as dressmaker or seamstress pins, are used to hold pattern onto the fabric to prevent shifting during cutting, keeping the fabrics and materials in place before or during sewing, and marking position on the fabric where you need to start and stop sewing.
In the market, there are a variety of sewing pins with different thickness, length and pinheads made of different materials. Each with their own purpose. Generally, have lots of pins with visible heads as they will work for most of your sewing needs and they make sure you are always ready for your next sewing project.
A pincushion is a small stuffed cushion which is used to hold the pins and needles upright to keep them organised and free of accidental pricks. It can be placed on your sewing table. Some sewists crafted it into an adjustable elastic wristband.
Sewing Fabric Clips
Sewing fabric clips are colorful flat back clips which comes in small and big sizes. Each clip opens wide enough to hold layers of fabrics and materials like zipper together thus keeping the stack in order.
Unlike sewing pins, these clips won’t prick you or leave holes on your fabrics.
Despite being easier to use and handle, these clips are only great to use on the edges whereas sewing pins are more flexible which can be use anywhere on the fabrics.
Make sure to have a handful of these fabric clips because you will be clipping here and there during sewing.
A thread cutter has sharp blades which makes it easy to snip off loose threads from seam and fabric, giving you the smoothest cut with no fray. Some use it as an alternative for a seam ripper to remove unwanted stitches since the sharp point is able to slip under the thread too.
It is a necessary tool to have to make your seam and stitches neat and professional looking.
Although most sewing machines come with thread cutter mounted on them or high-end sewing machines has automatic thread cutting function, some still prefer to use a thread cutter to snip off thread after sewing.
When sewing mistakes happened, a seam ripper is your saviour by removing any unwanted stitches out of your fabric without ruining it.
The sharp tip on one side of a seam ripper allows easier insertion in tight stitching. To pick out one thread at a time, insert the sharp tip into the seam underneath the thread and lift upwards. The round tip on the opposite side can remove the full seams.
Once done, the loose ends can be pull out from the fabric and you can resew the seam.
Fabric Scissors (Dressmaking Scissors / Sewing Shears)
A fabric scissors is specially designed just for cutting fabric and thread.
Using scissors that is not dedicated for cutting fabric or dull fabric scissors will cause uneven fabric cutting, shredded fabric and hand fatigue. If budget allows, invest in a high-quality fabric scissors to keep your fabric cutting accurate and prevent damaging your fabric.
One important tip is keeping your fabric scissors safe in your sewing tools box away from other stationery to avoid it from being used for other purpose which will spoil the blades.
A needle threader is a small device to help put thread through the eye of a needle. Be it to cut the hassle or to avoid straining your eyes, using a needle threader will solve all the difficulties you face when threading a sewing needle.
It is very easy to use which can put the thread through in three seconds! Hold a needle with one hand and the needle threader with another while putting the wire loop of the needle threader through the eye of the needle. Insert your thread into the wire loop then pull the wire loop and thread back together through the eye of the needle.
You can use the needle threader to thread your sewing machine too if your sewing machine does not come with a threading function. One thing to note is to use the needle threader with a needle that has an eye large enough for the thread and wire to go through.
Pressing Tools – Iron, Ironing Board and Spray Bottle
Pressing tools play an important role in all sewing projects that draw a line between poorly made and professionally made sewing product. Iron, ironing board, spray bottle and pressing cloth (muslin or silk organza) are the 4 essential pressing tools.
The first thing you have to do before cutting any fabric is to iron your fabric to ensure that it is wrinkle free thus preventing inaccurate cutting that will put your sewing project at risk.
It is necessary to press your fabric in between each step as you sew in order to achieve amazing end results. Pressing is often needed when you need to open curves and flatten seams.
Hand Sewing Needles
Hand sewing needles come in varies sizes (length and thickness), different types of points and eye holes, that serve different purpose. The most common hand sewing needles for general sewing is called Sharps. Sharps are medium length needles and usually thin with sharp points that is suitable for most fabrics.
With the abundance of having a sewing machine, there will still be times when hand sewing is still required. Times like:
- Closing an opening using whip-stitching to hide the stitches
- Temporary holding layers of fabric steadily together as they go through the sewing machine
- Attaching decorative embellishments such as buttons, beads to your project
- Mending rips and tears in clothing
For specialised crafts like stitching leather material or doing embroidery, you will need specialty needles. For instance, if you decided to hand embroidery name or wordings on your project to give a personal touch, you cannot do it without your hand embroidery needles.
Sewing Machine Needles
Sewing machine needles come in different sizes. The type of sewing machine needles you need will depend on the material of the fabric, fabric thickness and the kind of sewing project you will be doing. There are needles dedicated for sewing thick fabric like denim and leather, and needles specially for finer fabric like silk.
The numbers on the sewing machine needle packages represent the thickness of the fabric you are able to sew with the needles. The larger the numbers the thicker the fabric you can sew. Contrarily, smaller numbers are for sewing finer fabrics.
Most of the sewing machine needles in the market can be used in all sewing machines with the exception of a minority sewing machine like Sergers, Overlock machines and embroidery machines that require specific needles to work well. Schmetz is one of the sewing machine needles that works well with all sewing machine brands.
Using the right sewing machine needles for your sewing project is crucial in preventing your needle from breaking or damaging your fabric or having any frustration during sewing.
Read more on the different types of sewing machine needles.
Threads are essential in sewing. Without it, you cannot sew anything.
Choosing the right thread for your sewing project is a big step to a successful outcome. Thread that is too thin or weak in material can cause a project to break apart while thread that is too thick or coarse can tear the fabric. Investing in good quality thread like Gütermann helps to keep your sewing machine in good condition and avoid any frustration during and after sewing.
The type of sewing you are doing will determine the kind of thread you need. Cotton and 100% Polyester threads are the two widely used thread type as they are suitable for all kinds of projects and types of fabric including stretch.
To start and keep it simple, you can purchase the basic colors such as white, black, cream and blue for your threads kit first as they generally can match with all fabric patterns.