INSIDE: The Best Sewing Supplies for Beginners
I learned to sew when I was 12 years old. My journey began Christmas morning, 1970, when I received a humble Singer sewing machine alongside a wicker sewing basket filled with a pair of Gingher scissors, a seam ripper, needles, a yellow tape measure, and a few other notions. I was fortunate because my mother and grandmothers were all seasoned sewists thrilled to help me get started on my sewing adventure.
Not everyone comes from a sewing family and choosing sewing supplies can be as daunting as sewing itself.
Do you know how much you should spend on supplies? What supplies are best for a beginner? Are there particular brands you should buy? If you’re wanting to learn to sew but have no idea what supplies you need to get started, then look no further. I’ve put together a few must-have sewing supplies for beginners.
1. Sewing Machine
The first thing you will need to have if you’re learning to sew is an entry level sewing machine. Before purchasing any sewing machine, I suggest you read my post Tips for Buying a Sewing Machine.
Below are a few beginner machines that consistently get good reviews. You can see more of my favorite machines at this link.
2. Fabric Scissors
You will need a good pair of scissors that are dedicated to cutting fabric only. These must be kept separate from all other scissors because they will quickly become dull if they are used to cut paper. As a sewing beginner, you may want to keep a plastic storage box with your sewing supplies hidden away from family members who will snatch those scissors and use them to cut everything in site.
3. Seam Ripper
All sewists know that your best sewing tool is a good seam ripper. I have more than one and prefer the more ergonomic seam rippers. An inexpensive one will serve you well, but I recommend having a backup in case you misplace it.
4. Small Scissors for Snipping Threads
When you’re sitting at your sewing machine working on a project you will need to have a small pair of scissors for snipping threads, clipping corners, and other small sewing tasks.
5. Measuring Tape
When sewing garments or small projects you will need to take accurate measurements. A measuring tape is ideal. Because they are so inexpensive, I recommend having a regular measuring tape and a retractable measuring tape.
6. Steam Iron
You will need an iron and ironing board handy when sewing. Most inexpensive steam irons will work if you keep them clean and in good working order. I recommend looking for an iron with an automatic shut-off and some sort of non-drip feature. Sewing takes its toll on irons, so I recommend getting the best one you can afford.
7. Ironing Board
A sturdy ironing board is also a must for sewing. It needs to be steady with T-shaped legs and non-slip feet. I recommend looking for one made from a perforated material for steaming fabrics. It also needs to have an adjustable height feature that locks in place.
8. Sewing Machine Needles
I only recommend Schmetz sewing machine needles. They are high-quality needles and have a great color-coded system for helping you remember which needle is in the machine. For most sewing you will need a universal 80/12 needle.
However, when sewing with knits you will need a ball point needle.
Heavy fabrics will require a jeans needle and quilting is best done with a topstitching needle.
9. Straight Pins
Straight pins are needed for pinning your projects together prior to sewing. You will need pins for sewing with woven fabrics and pins for sewing with knits.
10. Pin Cushion
If you have pins you will need a pin cushion. Keeping them in the plastic box they came in is a recipe for disaster. A pin cushion keeps your pins from scattering if you accidentally knock them over. I prefer magnetic pin cushions, but the old-fashioned tomato pin cushion will get the job done.
There are so many variations to thread, however, a sewing beginner really needs a small collection of general purpose threads. Gutermann or Coats & Clark threads will work perfectly for most of your sewing projects.
12. Fabric Marking Pen or Chalk
Occasionally you will need to make a mark on your fabric to show where darts or other features will be placed. There are a few options which will depend on the fabric and type of project you’re sewing. Water soluble markers are very good for marking things like buttons and buttonholes. Tailor’s chalk is very cost effective and comes in several colors. Tracing paper is also a good way to mark fabric.
13. Tracing Wheel
If you are using tracing paper then you will need some sort of tracing wheel to get the pattern markings onto your fabric.
14. Rotary Cutter
A rotary cutter, self-healing mat, and ruler are essential for cutting out many of your projects. It speeds up the process and allows you to get accurate cuts. I recommend getting a rotary cutter that is sized for a 45mm blade.
Click here for thorough information on rotary cutting.
15. Self-Healing Cutting Mat
The size of your cutting mat will depend upon your available space. One thing to remember is always store your mat flat and never place anything on top of it.
16. Rulers for Rotary Cutting
Eventually, you will need more than one ruler for rotary cutting, but these are a good place to start.
17. Sewing Books
It’s always nice to have a book to refer back to when learning to sew. I recommend these books for anyone starting out.
When I think back to that first sewing machine I still wonder what my parent’s had to sacrifice in order to make such an extravagant purchase. My dad, who never forgets a number, said it cost $99 plus tax. I’m guessing there was a lot of overtime involved.