26 Must Have Items For Every Sewist
My mother always said, “if you have the right tools for the job, you will achieve success.” Sometimes we can make-do with less than perfect tools, but other times, it is imperative to have something that is made-for-the-job. This Ultimate List of my favorite sewing supplies is a culmination of over 50 years (Yikes!) of sewing experience and trial and error.
You don’t need all of these items to begin your sewing journey, however, there are a few that will be key to your continued sewing success and will be required by most sewing projects. I have marked tools that I believe are critical to the sewing beginner with a double asterisk ** to make them easier to identify.
Where they are available, I have listed resources from Joann, Minerva, and Amazon for each tool.
Sewing With Sandi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for my website to earn fees by linking to Amazon and other websites at no cost to you.
Sewing Machine Needles
There are several types of sewing machine needles that you may want in your tool box.
1. Universal Needle **
A universal needle, no. 70 or no. 80 is a good, all-round sewing machine needle. Use it for every project until you begin to sew with special fashion fabrics like knits or denim.
2. Stretch Needle
When yout start to sew with knit fabric, a jersey needle will make a big difference in the quality of your stitches.
3. Twin Needle
A twin needle is two needles on one shank. You run a double thread from the top and a single bobbin thread. This creates a stretchy stitch and is used for sewing hems on knit fabrics.
Hand Sewing Needles
Sewing by hand seems to be even more of a dying art than sewing with a machine. You do need to have a good hand sewing needle to make well finished garments.
Sometimes only hand stitching will do.
Personally, I prefer Sharps sewing needles. I know they are small and delicate, but they are the best needle to produce perfect, tiny finishing stitches.
Sewing pins are a hot button issue for me. It drives me nuts when I see someone using dull pins (from grandma’s sewing kit) to pin their beautiful fashion fabric. Investing in a box of pins will save your fabric from damage.
Check out my primer on Everything You Need To Know About Pins for the best pin advice I have.
5. Glass Head Pins **
These are my favorite pins. In fact, they are the only ones I use. They have a fairly narrow shaft and a sharp point; perfect for pinning fabric pieces together.
Good pins hold your seams together better than ancient pins.
I like the snap strap that sits on my wrist, but this is where you should get what works for you. Many of my students use a magnet style — I say go for it!
6. Strap Pin Cushion
These are always with you and are right at your wrist when you need them.
7. Magnetic Pin Cushion
The magnetic holder is great at keeping your pins all together. It is a nice updated version of a pin cushion.
They are also perfect for picking up pin spills.
There are so many rulers and measuring tools out there that will make your sewing projects easier. You need a few simple ones to start, then you can add a fancy one or two on as you need them to assist you measure fabric correctly.
8. Tape Measure **
This is a must have sewing supply. You need to be able to measure your body with a soft and pliable measuring tape. It is a sewing supplies essential.
9. Clear Ruler **
A clear ruler will allow you to do all sorts of measuring. You can use it with a rotary cutter (highlighted below), you can use it for fussy cutting fabric (when you cut out a motif), and you can use it to measure.
10. French Curve
A French curve ruler comes in handy when you are drafting pattern pieces, altering necklines, and need a curved rule for hip or bust adjustments.
Miscellaneous Sewing Accessories
Below is the list of various miscellaneous tools and other sewing supplies you should consider adding to your sewing tool box.
11. Seam Ripper **
We all make mistakes. I use my seam ripper almost every time I sew. Things don’t always go as planned, so it’s good to have a way out.
A seam ripper can be your best friend in the sewing room.
12. Sewing Scissors **
Buy the best pair of sewing scissors you can afford. Every sewist will tell you their favorite scissors are the best. If you buy the best pair that fits you budget, then you will have the best. My favorite — Kai Sewing Scissors. These are the most important tool on my Ultimate List of my favorite sewing supplies.
Your household scissors just won’t do.
13. Rotary Cutter
Many years ago I taught quilting classes. A rotary cutter is an essential sewing tool for any quilter or crafter. I have seen sewists cut pattern pieces out with one, I don’t think they do a good job on pattern work — too hard to get around the corners.
As far as cutting tools go, rotary cutters are best left for quilters.
14. Self Healing Cutting Mat
I have a monster self healing cutting mat, it sits on my cutting table and I use it every day. Because the lines are perfectly square, you don’t need to purchase a T-Square to straighten your fabric. Purchase the biggest one you can store — you won’t be sorry.
15. Fabric Weights **
Don’t pin your pattern and fabric — use fabric weights.
Not the ones you use at the gym — the ones you use to weigh down your fabric and pattern tissue so you can cut it out. I use large washers, the kind that you find at the hardware store. They do a great job, they are faster than pins, and they are cheap. You can also find soft ones made for sewists but they tend to be expensive.
16. Steam Iron **
Just like with scissors, I suggest you get the best steam iron you can afford. Pressing your seams after each sew will yield a more professional looking garment.
Your pressing tools will make all the difference in your finished look.
17. Ironing board **
A solid and sturdy ironing board is required to get a great seam finish.
18. Pressing Ham
When you start sewing seams with curves, like a sleeve or a princess seam, you will need a pressing ham. The oval shape allows you to press a curve into your garment. I also use mine to steam and train my shirt collars.
19. Sleeve Pressing Board
This little pressing board works great for pressing hard to reach areas like sleeves, cuffs, and other small nooks and crannies.
20. Marking Chalk **
The easiest way to ensure your pieces go together correctly is to mark your pattern pieces.
You need some type of tool to mark fabric and wash away. Chalk is inexpensive and easily found. I like the powdered chalk in the wheel but a tailor’s chalk will also work well.
21. Tracing Wheel And Paper
I often use tracing paper and a tracing wheel to trace around a pattern tissue that I don’t want to cut. It is an efficient way to mark two sides of your fabric at once with tracing paper on the top and bottom of your pattern piece.
22. Extra Bobbins
Every machine has its own bobbin requirements. They are not interchangeable between machines. Please don’t purchase pre wound bobbins unless you are confident they fit your machine. There is a very good chance they will not fit and will interfere with you getting a great stitch line.
23. Sewing Supplies Box
Get organized, you will be a better seamstress.
There are tons of cute sewing supplies boxes out there. Pretty and fancy but sometimes not really practical. They often have plastic inserts and glued sides. I prefer a fishing tackle box. It has lots of little compartments that are used for lures which are the perfect size for pins, bobbins, presser feet, and more.
Not every sewist has a sewing room, so it’s important to have all your tools together neatly. Your sewing projects will progress more smoothly if you are not constantly on the hunt for your sewing supplies.
24. Sewing Machine Carrying Case
Your Sewing machine is heavy to carry.
If you are going to go back and forth to a class, you need a sewing machine bag with wheels, they are crucial to saving your back. Sewing machines get heavy after only a few steps — mostly because you are carrying all the rest of your supplies!
Everyone has their favorite sewing machine. You may get a few garments out of your grandmother’s machine, but just like every other appliance — sewing machines have changed over the last 50 years.
25. Brother CS6000i and CS7000X Sewing Machine **
This is the best sewing machine for beginners.
The Brother CS6000i (the new generation is CS7000) is the perfect machine for a beginning sewist. It will carry you well into intermediate skills. I recommend this machine to anyone looking to purchase a new machine. It has lots of updated bells and whistles, it makes perfect buttonholes, and it’s easy on the budget. It is a wonderful first sewing machine.
My review of the Brother CS6000i and CS7000X will give you a good overview of the machine.
You can purchase the Brother CS7000X on Amazon.
26. Bernette 38 Sewing Machine
I love my new sewing machine — it does lots of fun tricks.
I recently purchased a new sewing machine, the Bernette 38. So far, I am liking all the features of the machine — it does sew a little slower than my old Pfaff. However, it is so superior to my old machine that I’m sure I’ll love it once it settles in a bit.
You can see my Bernette 38 unboxing — it’s a sleek machine.
You can find the Bernette 38 at Amazon.
Must Have Sewing Supplies For Beginners
I have added two asterisks — ** — to every sewing tool I think you should consider for beginners in my ultimate List of my favorite sewing supplies. Of course, you will collect more as your sewing journey winds its way through patterns and fabrics, but this is a good place to start.
Consider getting the best sewing supplies when choosing your tools.
Now that you have all your sewing tools, it’s time to choose a project. I have an extensive list of sewing projects perfect for beginners. My advice, start small with something that has lots of straight lines. A crafty type project is usually a good place to start. You get familiar with cutting multiple layers, using straight pins, marking tools, thinking about seam allowances, maybe using your seam ripper, etc.
A beginner sewing project will allow you to experiment with many common sewing tools.
My Ultimate List Of Favorite Sewing Supplies
Remember, your job will be easier if you have the right tool.
I hope I have answered your sewing supplies questions with my Ultimate List of FAVORITE Sewing Supplies.
PS Other posts that might tickle your sewing fancy are: