10 Must-Have Sewing Tools

So you’re thinking about making something to get acquainted with your sewing machine or just for fun? How about a cute pillow to spruce up the sofa, an apron or a tote bag? Any of these are great projects to start with, but before you head to the fabric store, let’s make sure you have THE must-have sewing tools to make the process easier.

I’m sure you already have pattern, fabric, and thread on your shopping list, but you’ll also need these must-have sewing tools. These must-have tools are just the basics that everyone has.  As you get into more complicated projects, you’ll need additional tools and trust me there’s a tool for just about everything!  As you read the list, you may find that you already have some of these tools and that’s great!

Must-have Tools To Start Sewing

  1. Scissors– In the sewing world, there are different kinds of scissors! Fabric scissors- sometimes called shears, have 7” – 9” blades are for cutting FABRIC ONLY. A great brand for beginners is Fiskars as they are moderately priced. Here’s a set you might like from Amazon. You will also need a pair of scissors to cut paper or other materials.  And, because these scissors are for cutting, paper, patterns, etc., you can buy them from Dollar Tree if you don’t have any. And while you’re at it, you could get a smaller pair 3” – 5” blades for cutting threads at the machine.
  2. Straight pins– You will need straight pins to pin your pattern to your fabric and to pin your fabric pieces together before you sew them.
  3. Pin cushion– Used to store your straight pins. Remember the red tomato pin cushion? Now, there are so many options to choose from. Personally, I prefer a magnetic pin cushion over the fabric pin cushion, but both will do the job. Here’s a magnetic one from Amazon, but you can also find it at some Walmart stores.
  4. Safety pins– You may have these at home too. For sewing projects, you can use safety pins to insert elastic in a casing or to turn a strap or belt inside out. They also sell special tools for this, but for me, a simple safety pin does the job perfectly!  A package of safety pins with assorted sizes is great for sewing.
  5. Measuring tape– We typically use it to measure around the body to determine the correct pattern size. You can also use it to measure fabric as well as other things.
  6. 12” Ruler– If you have kiddos in school, you might have this as well. For sewing, you can use a 12″ ruler for measuring, drawing straight lines, and to make patterns or pattern alterations.  If you don’t have one, the Dollar Tree is also a great place to pick this up also.
  7. Marking Tools– Used to make marks on the fabric for placement of various things like where to: leave an opening, place a pocket, place your pattern piece on your fabric, etc.  There are so many marking tools on the market, but for most projects, a regular #2 pencil will work if you aren’t heavy-handed.  You can also use chalk, chalk pencils, fabric markers, washable markers, and a tracing wheel with tracing paper.
  8. Sewing Gauge– A sewing gauge is the perfect measuring tool for sewing! It has a sliding marker that holds the desired measurement. It’s used for measuring casings for a waistband or drawstring bag, hems, and anything else you might need that is less than 5”.
  9. Seam Ripper– Now, this THE TOOL that you don’t want to be without! You will use it to remove stitches made in error and to cut buttonholes open. I suggest you buy at least two as you want to make sure that you always have a sharp blade. Also, if you misplace one, you’ll have a backup.
  10. Iron– This is the tool that when used properly, will make any homemade project look professional! It is used to press fabric before you cut out your pattern and to press seams open during the construction process. If you don’t already have one, any steam iron will do.

Is Sewing Really Cheaper?

There is a misconception that when you make your clothes YOU WILL SAVE MONEY. There are many factors to consider when calculating the cost to make a garment (cost of: fabric, notions, sewing machine, tools, your time, etc.). So, sometimes you will save money and sometimes you won’t. Personally, when I sew for myself, it’s usually a dress and it’s usually cheaper. However, I might get lucky and find a dress on a clearance rack, that fits my upper and lower body, and that’s long enough. And, if I do I’m buying it!  Now, when it comes to sewing for the home (pillows, window treatments, shower curtains, etc.) I’ve found that the possibility of saving money is much greater!

Because keeping cost at a minimal is something that most of us like to do, here’s a Tool Kit.

It includes: 1 traditional tomato pin cushion, marking pencil, tracing wheel and paper, hand needles, needle threader, 60″ fiberglass tape measure, thimble, sewing gauge, seam ripper, straight pins and 7-1/2″ scissors. The fabric scissors/shears aren’t the best quality, but they will get you started.  There are also a few tools included that you may or may not need at first, but they are good to have: tracing wheel and paper, thimble, and hand sewing needles.

And yes, there are SEW many other tools you may need as you sew more challenging projects, but these must-have / essentials will get you off to a great start!  Please let us know if you have any questions about sewing tools or sewing in general.