Thursday, October 3, 2013

So Sew! Day 3: Sewing Tools

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Welcome to day 3 of our 31 Days series! Today we're talking about sewing tools.

This is an updated post from the archives.

If you want to learn how to do anything, you must have the proper tools and equipment to get the job done. That applies to sewing as well. While to a newbie the options and devices may seem overwhelming, there are really just a core group of helps that are necessary, depending on your project. The first and most important is, of course, a sewing machine. But you knew that. :) Here is a list of the other basics from my sewing arsenal:



Regular shears - this may be a no brainer, but keep those babies separate and ONLY USE THEM FOR SEWING! Nothing dulls your shears faster than using them on paper, so have a pair that are set apart just for fabric and thread. I also like to have a small pair to clip threads, they are a little more convenient around the sewing machine.

Pinking shears - when you cut fabric with these, it keeps things from getting all frayed. I don’t find that I use mine much because I have a serger that takes care of all my “loose ends.” :) You will find these are handy for cutting out clothing or something where the edges will be exposed.

Rotary cutter - if you are going to be mostly sewing clothes, you probably won’t need these. But if you plan to do quilts or something else with lots of straight lines, these babies will take loads of time off your prep work. Lets hear one for time savers! My only complaint is that the blades seem to wear out to fast and cost too much. They are a huge help when I’m working on multiple things for the shop, however, and worth the cost in the end.
If you are using a rotary cutter, you will also need a cutting mat to work on.


Machine needles - generally these come in a package like those seen above. There are different kinds of sewing machine needles, but these 80/12 ones are the “normal” ones for general sewing.

Needles for hand sewing - just a basic pack of assorted sewing needles will do the trick.



Straight pins - You’ll want both longer ones and shorter ones, all with colorful round heads. These are much easier to work with than the small silver ones with no head to speak of.

Safety pins - I use these primarily to turn things inside out. I’ll be showing you how to do that later in this series!

Pincushion - in the very first picture, you can see I own one of those tomato pin cushions that every seamstress has. Seriously, I think it is written in the sewing code of ethics somewhere. The truth? I don’t ever use mine. I prefer to keep my pins in a small flat container so I can easily grab some, or in a flat-bottomed pin cushion. I find that the tomato one tends to roll away when you try to stick your pins inside! So yes, I own one...but don’t use it. Do whatever you want with that information.

Here is another secret tip about straight pins: I kept mine for years in a small container with a magnet in the bottom. It really helped keep those stray pins from getting away. {and they actually do sell magnetic pin cushions, so the idea is not original with me.} After a few years of storing them that way, the pins themselves started acting like magnets, which is what happens to metal that is stored by magnets. So now they stick to each other, grab on to my scissors, and anything else that is metal. This is so helpful! It really keeps them from rolling around so easily and falling on the floor...which is kind of like a “safety first” measure since Judah plays on my floor quite often.

{How many times did I say “magnet” in that sentence? Magnet, magnet, magnet…}

Measuring devices

You will use any or all of the following items, depending on what kind of sewing you are doing:



measuring tape

6” ruler - I wasn’t sure what this was called, but it is that small ruler in the picture above. This is great for measuring hems and smaller things.

The cutting mat that you use with a rotary cutter {see above} also acts as a measuring tool - and is so handy to cut on, even in you aren’t using the cutter. I have a huuuge one that covers my whole workspace, and I just love it!

Other Sewing Extras

Chalk or marking pens - chalk is my favourite thing to use to mark on fabric with, because it brushes right off when you are done! Pictured here is a chalk pencil from the sewing aisle at Walmart, but just a regular ‘ol piece of chalk works fine. There are other marking pens and such in the sewing aisle, so you can explore some other options if you want.

Seam ripper - you will need this. Promise. And I’m going to teach you how to use it this month. =)

Fray check - great for sealing the ends of ribbons, ties, or any area that might fray and cause a problem. Every crafter needs this!

Quality thread - We’re talking about this tomorrow so stay tuned!

That is my list of essential tools that I use nearly every day in my sewing biz. Not every item is needed for every project, but it is good to have all of these on hand if you are planning on sewing regularly! Let me know in the comments section - did I leave anything out? What tools do you find essential for your sewing needs?

Challenge: Right now, write down the things you have yet to acquire from this list. Determine which of these are necessities for you and which are optional, depending on your needs and/or project. Plan to pick those items up soon! Feel free to ask in the comments if you need specific direction or have any questions!

Other posts in this series:
Day 1: Introducing my craft
Day 2: Explore your machine



  1. My mom made a sewing toolbox for me when i was 16, It wasn't my favorite gift at the time but I'm so glad to have it now!

  2. That is great! Its funny how things like that happen, isn't it? =) What is in your toolbox?


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