You don’t need a lot of fancy tools to begin sewing, but there are a few essential sewing tools for beginners that you’ll want to have on hand.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of different sewing tools that you can purchase. So many, that it can be quite overwhelming and confusing.
Do you really need a stilleto? And which size ruler do you need?
Don’t worry. The list of essential sewing tools that you’ll need to begin sewing is a short list. Let’s take a look.
Essential Sewing Tools for Beginners List
You will, of course, need a sewing machine. Be sure to read my list of recommended sewing machines for beginners if you are looking to buy or gift one.
Besides a sewing machine, you’ll also need:
- sewing machine needles (size 90/14)
- fabric scissors
- pins (and Wonder Clips are a bonus)
- seam ripper
- sewing gauge (metal ruler)
- tape measure
- iron and ironing board
Additional Sewing Tools
Some other tools that are nice to have but not absolutely essential for a beginner are:
- rotary cutter (my favorite)
- self-healing cutting mat
- Wonder Clips (that I mentioned above)
- fabric marking pen
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Sewing Tools Video
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What is this sewing tool?
Now that I’ve given you a list of essential sewing tools to have on hand as a beginner sewist, let’s take a look at what each of these tools are and why you need them.
I think it goes without saying that if you are going to learn to sew that you will need a sewing machine. But you don’t need a machine with 1,000 stitches and a price tag to match.
I highly recommend you choose quantity over quality. Just keep that in mind. Again, you’ll find my list of recommended sewing machine for beginners here.
sewing machine needles
Since most beginner-friendly sewing projects utilize easy to sew fabrics, like cotton or cotton blends, you’ll want sewing machine needles that are suited for this type of sewing fabric and project.
- I recommend Schmetz 90/14 sewing machine needles.
- I also recommend Organ 90/14 sewing machine needles.
Be sure to refer to your sewing machine manual to purchase the correct sewing machines for your machine. Most sewing machine needles can be used in any machine, but to be sure. Refer to your manual.
Bobbins come in different sizes and are made of different materials. Some are plastic and some are metal. You’ll definitely want to refer to your sewing machine manual to make sure you purchase the right kind of bobbin for your machine.
A bobbin is the round spool that goes into the bottom of your sewing machine. Thread is wound around the bobbin and it is placed inside the top or front of your sewing machine. The bobbin holds the thread that forms the stitches on the bottom part of your sewing project.
Bobbins also come pre-wound and empty – or ones you wind yourself. I like to keep some of both kinds on hand. For now, you’ll want to be sure to have several empty bobbins on hand.
- I recommend empty bobbins
- and pre-wound bobbins
Thread is used to stitch fabric pieces together. It is also used to add decorative stitches to projects. It comes in different types, such as cotton, polyester, nylon and more.
When selecting thread for your machine, my best recommendation is to choose quality first. Don’t buy the cheapest thread you can find. It can cause huge problems with your sewing machine. And lots of frustration.
- I recommend Gutermann, Aurifil or Coats & Clark
Yes, there really is such a thing as “fabric scissors”. What makes them fabric scissors? These are scissors that you ONLY ever use to cut fabric. If you will be cutting out patterns, you’ll also want a paper of scissors for paper cutting.
- I recommend Fiskars scissors.
Pins come in different lengths and different types. They are pretty hand for:
- Holding the pattern to the fabric to prevent shifting during cutting.
- Temporarily holding fabrics and materials together while you sew.
- Marking places in the fabric where you need to start or stop stitching.
- Holding trim in place while you stitch.
- Pinning up hems to keep them in place.
To start with, just get some 1-1/2″ straight pins.
- I recommend 1-1/2″ Pearlized Pins.
A seam ripper will become your trusty companion. You will use it a lot. So, having a good seam ripper will be essential. A seam ripper, in case you don’t know, is used to rip out a seam or a portion of a seam.
- This Seam Ripper from Clover is great because of the large handle which makes it easy to hold. And you’re less likely to lose it than say a small seam ripper.
sewing gauge / metal ruler
You’ll use a metal ruler or gauge a lot. Use it to measure seam allowances, mark fabric, measure hems, and more.
- I recommend a metal ruler with a slide, like this ruler from Clover or this ruler from Dritz.
A 60″ vinyl tape measure is used to measure curved and flat surfaces. You’ll use it to align your patterns, take body measurements and measure anything that has a curve to it.
- I recommend this tape measure from Dritz. The brand really doesn’t matter, but one with large clear markings is what you’ll look for.
iron and ironing board
You may be wondering what an iron and ironing board have to do with sewing, but trust me, your iron and ironing board will become your trusty sewing companion.
You probably already have an iron and ironing board on hand and, if so, that will work perfectly. I have a couple of recommendations, based on my experiences:
And as far as an ironing board, I recommend either:
- full size ironing board
- wool pressing mat or an ironing pad. (I use my Cricut EasyPress Mat right beside my sewing machine and I love it!)
Optional Sewing Tools for Beginners
You don’t “have” to have the following tools, but they will certainly make your life easier. I use the following sewing tools ALL THE TIME. I didn’t use them when I first started sewing – or for many years. But, now that I have used them, I can’t imagine sewing without them.
A rotary cutter is an amazing tool that cuts fabric using a cutting blade that glides (actually rolls) through the layers of fabric. The rotary cutter along with the acrylic ruler and cutting mat will help you to cut perfect straight lines with very little effort.
- I recommend this Fiskars rotary cutter for beginners. Although it has an ergonomic design, the design makes it much more comfortable and easier to use.
- I also recommend this Olfa rotary cutter. I love how easy it is to retract the blade!
When you use a rotary cutter, you typically use an acrylic ruler as your guide. You won’t always use the ruler with the cutter, but if you get into quilting, you definitely will! Rulers come in different sizes.
- I recommend the 6″x24″ Fiskars Acrylic Ruler.
If you use a rotary cutter, you’ll definitely want to use it with a cutting mat in order to protect your cutting surface, the rotary cutter and to aid with cutting straight lines.
- I recommend the largest size mat that you have space for, such as the 24″x36″ Fiskars Self-Healing Cutting Mat.
I LOVE my Wonder Clips from Clover. I use them all the time! They are great for holding pieces of fabric together. Plus, there are no pins to poke you!
fabric marking pen
There are all sorts of ways to mark your fabric, such as chalk, tracing paper and wheel or even water soluble markers. But, my favorite tool to use to mark fabric are these Frixion Pens from Pilot.
You may be wondering how on earth you’re going to remove the ink from the fabric. Well, you’ll use your iron! The ink reacts to heat. Simply run your iron over the fabric and the ink disappears.
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