Equipment & Tools
Here's our list of essential & not so essential but nice-to-have sewing equipment & tools. You'll need to gather these together to get sewing. At the bottom of this page, we've compiled a shopping list to help get you sorted quick!
Essential Tools - Pattern Printing & Assembly
You really can't get started until you've all of the essential tools listed below, or at least a tool that will do a similar job.
Paper Scissors, Steer clear of being tempted to grab those sewing scissors to chomp out your paper pattern. There is no quicker way to lose that nice sharp edge on your fabric shears, than to use them for cutting paper. Invest in having multiple scissors in your sewing kit with a pair of scissors for cutting paper being one of them.
A4 or US Letter Size Paper, White is best so you can see all instructions & markings clearly. However if your household only stocks lime green printing paper - go for it!
Glue stick or sticking tape, My preference is always to use a glue stick for assembling my patterns. However if there's none in the house & you need to sew tonight, get sticking with tape.
Printer, This is definitely a can't do without tool for getting that pattern printed. Our patterns are mostly in black & white except for the cover page & a touch of colour throughout the instructions. So it's more than alright to print your pattern in black & white.
Check out our how to video for printing & assembling a PDF sewing pattern.
Essential Tools - Sewing
Dressmakers Scissors, I've been through numerous pairs of scissors in my sewing life. I've read a lot of blogs where people prefer the lighter fabric shears like pictured. I find these are perfect for starting out, & plenty of sewers never change. I was taught using heavy metal scissors, & I love them. So I purchased a good pair about 5 years ago. I find they stay sharp for a lot longer if you look after them too.
Iron, if you want your garment looking professional, then it's well worth having an iron on hand (preferably one that steams). You'll need an ironing board as well.
Transferring Pattern Markings, I have a selection of marking tools at home depending on the project I'm working on. As a simple guide, I use the air-erasable pens on plain and lighter coloured fabric. However I find them not so easy to see on patterned and darker fabrics. Tailors Chalk is great for busy patterns. If you don't want to go cutting your pattern, you can use a clover tracing wheel and dressmaker's carbon to transfer markings to your fabric. Other fabric marking tools that are available to try out are: chalk pencils, washable felt pens & roller chalk.
Tape Measure, you'll need a tape measure to work out the best size pattern to download for your measurements. You'll also need it to line up your pattern pieces on your fabric before cutting.
Sewing Machine, definitely an essential item for anyone wanting to sew! I suggest doing a little research online to see what other people are using and loving. I am on my third sewing machine and have had an Elna, Janome, & Bernina. They've all been great. so really just shop around & do your research. At the moment I'm sewing on a newish Bernina and overlocking/serging on a 15 year old Janome Babylock. I love them both. Just make sure you look after your machine by cleaning fluff out of the working parts and keeping it well oiled. I get mine serviced once a year.
Pins, there are so many different types of pins - plastic head (pictured), glass head, T-head, pearl head, quilting..... and I'm sure I've missed some! Generally I use a glass or plastic head pin. I'm always buying new brands to find the 'ever sharp' brand of pin.
Quick Unpick, or seam ripper as it is also referred. I would stay this is an essential, because sometimes things just don't go the way you want in sewing (or you sewing something on back to front - don't worry we've all been there many times). This little gem of a tool makes light work of undoing stitching. My absolute favourite quick unpick is the Bernina one. Its got a really fine tip on it & its sharp, so makes the job really easy.
Nice-to-Have Tools - Sewing
Our Nice-to-have list of equipment & tools are items you can gather over time, as you find you need them. Or you just so desperately want them, because it'll make sewing a lot more fun for you.
Needles, for hand sewing. I always have a range of different size needles on hand as you'll need different size needles dependant on the weight & or thickness of the fabric you're sewing.
Lead Pencil or Pen, for making changes to your paper pattern. Make sure you use a lead pencil with a nice soft lead so you don't tear your paper pattern.
Safety Pins, I always have a stash of safety pins in my sewing kit. They're great for pulling elastic through waistbands. Sometimes if my fabric is really hard to tell which is the right side & which is the wrong side, I'll put a safety pin on all the right sides of my pattern pieces so I don't get confused whilst sewing my garment.
Overlocker/Serger, These are definitely not an essential for sewing as you can always use your zig zag stitch on your sewing machine. They're great for finishing the raw edge of seams and making quick work of sewing anything in knit fabric.
Snips or Small Scissors, I always keep a pair of these wee handy tools next to my sewing machine. You're always cutting threads from your garment so a small pair of scissors or snips at hand just makes the job that much quicker.
Point Turner, I didn't purchase one of these until only a couple of years ago (I always just used the good old Japanese chop stick). Anything with a blunt point which will help you get sharp corners in your sewing. A point turner is great for plackets, waistbands, collars and basically anything where there's a point or corner.
Blunt Tracing Wheel, a blunt clover tracing wheel is great for tracing off your patterns onto your fabric without having to cut your paper pattern. (Be sure to get the blunt tracing wheel as there is also a sharp tracing wheel which is used for pattern making).
Dressmakers Carbon, & your tracing wheel go hand in hand. If you want to use dressmakers carbon to trace off your pattern & markings you'll need the last three items on this list.
Cutting Board, You'll need a self healing cutting board if you want to start tracing your patterns onto your fabric with a blunt clover tracing wheel & dressmakers carbon.