You’ve taken the first step on your creative adventure – deciding to enter the wonderful world of sewing. But what equipment do you need?
A good sewing machine is an obvious one if you’re going to be making items that will require a lot of sewing. But that’s not the focus here – it’s the essentials that go alongside the sewing machine that we’re thinking about for your beginner’s sewing kit – and whether it’s best to buy a ready-made kit or to build your own choosing the best equipment for you and your projects.
Essentials for your Sewing Kit
Depending on your projects, the equipment you’ll need could vary but the basic essentials will be the same for most sewing beginners. So, the list that follows has been narrowed down to include the most important equipment for your kit, with just a few suggestions of where to find the best ones.
With the wide range of fabric available and an array of stitches quite literally at your fingertips, a good set of needles is a must. But which ones do you choose, is there a best needle? If you do your research, you’ll find there are needles for all sorts of different fabric and stitching from general purpose needles, to quilting needles, to leather needles to cross-stitch needles, the list is extensive! To find out more, you don’t need to look any further than the post Which Needles? on the website, Needles by John James.
To get an idea of the variety of needles that are available to purchase, visit Sewing Essential and browse through their extensive range.
It’s difficult to put enough emphasis on the importance of a good quality fabric scissors. A poor quality scissors will make cutting your fabric laborious and damaging – threads can get caught in the hinge and edges can rip instead of having clean cuts. Finding the right scissors for the job can be a hard task but, fortunately, some experts have written helpful articles, such as Best fabric scissors: Ask the experts from Textile Artist.
Just like needles, there are a variety of fabric scissors to suit all your sewing needs. Visit My Fabrics to get an idea of the range available.
Without pins, learning to sew, and continuing to sew would be incredibly difficult! Picture fabric slipping apart as you sew, your perfectly matched seams distancing themselves as you tie yourself in knots trying to keep them together. The humble pin removes all the potential stress and anxiety but also comes in a range of styles. Explained in some detail in the blog 6 Sewing Pins Every Sewist Should Have on Hand on Craftsy.com, you’ll eventually need to make sure you have the right pins for all your sewing projects but to begin with just buy good quality basic pins that are not cheap – you don’t want them snapping as you push them into the fabric.
For a good selection of pins, visit MacCulloch and Wallis and consider buying something from their wide range of good quality supplies.
The need for a tape measure is pretty straightforward – if you can’t measure your fabric, your sewing won’t be much use! Tape measures are easy to come by, you can pick up them up in a range of stores. However, there are a variety of styles available, from a basic plastic roll-it-yourself tape measure to the nifty self-retracting type – you’ll even find self-sticking tape measures to help you measure awkward fabrics correctly.
Have a look at the range available on Sew Essential and consider which type would be best for you.
“What do I need tailor’s chalk for?” You might be asking. Before you cut your fabric, you will need to mark it and tailor’s chalk is a very easy tool for doing just that. Tilly and the Buttons have a post Marking and Cutting Fabric which explains how to use tailor’s chalk correctly along with some other suggestions for tools to use to mark your fabric.
It’s best to have more than one colour of tailor’s chalk to make sure you always have a colour that contrast with your fabric. Tailor Mouse have a wide range of chalks, pencils, fabric pens and they supply chalk sharpeners!
Okay, so thread seems simples – thread is thread, right? Well no, not exactly. You’ll find some threads are much better quality than others. Poor quality threads will fray and break easily meaning you’ll have to sew up your seams for a second time, and probably buy more thread too! Also, they come in different weights and they can be made of cotton or polyester. If you need some help deciding which type of thread you need, take a look at the quasi-tutorial: understanding thread (weights and uses) from Sew Happy Geek.
Uk Sewing Machines has a brilliant range of threads for you to browse through. The prices should be a reflection of the quality of the thread.
One of the biggest bug bears for any sewer has to be having to rip open newly stitched seams – but while it’s frustrating, you must be prepared to correct any mistakes you might accidentally make. A good seam ripper will become your best friend for these situations, making it easy for you to open just a small section of the seam without having to open the whole thing. It’s also handy for the times when the thread is just too tight to pull and a scissors won’t fit under the stitch to cut it loose.
Seam rippers are widely available in shops and from online retailers, but if you need some thought-provoking reading about the type of seam ripper to buy, have a read of So Sew Easy’s blog, Tool tips-budget or quality? The brass seam ripper
Buttons and other fasteners
One of my first sewing creations was a set of clothes for a doll, and being under prepared, I had to run out and buy press-stud fasteners to be able to complete the outfit. So, buttons and other fasteners are definitely an essential for your kit, you will use them when making outfits.
Press-stud fasteners come in a range of sizes and it could be a good idea to buy a pack that provides you with a good selection, such as this assorted pack of 20 Sew on Snaps from Sew and So.
Buttons are also available in a range of sizes, colours and designs. Whereas press-stud fasteners are hidden from view, buttons are often the finishing details of a project. So, it’s best to either buy a good range of buttons, like this pack of Assorted Buttons from My Fabrics or, alternatively, purchase your buttons to compliment your fabric.
You’re probably thinking, “obviously”. And you’re right of course – you can’t make anything without fabric. I’m thinking more about the fabric scraps you’re going to need to practice on though. Practicing stitches, hemming, marking and cutting patterns – even sewing buttons and fasteners onto. I know when I started out sewing, I managed to get my machine to chew up a few pieces of scrap fabrics before I mastered the stitches! Much better to waste scraps than good fabric. Don’t get stitched up paying over the odds for scraps, be savvy and visit some local charity shops or even be cheeky and ask if there are any scraps available at your local fabric store.
Sew…. To buy a kit or make up your own?
Hopefully the list above has helped you gain an idea about the essential items you’ll need for your sewing kit. You could purchase them individually by following the links or visit other retailers to ensure you make the best choice for you. By purchasing the equipment individually, you’ll be able to control the quality and price of each individual item.
However, purchasing a sewing kit with all the essential equipment is great – everything you need in one neat bundle. You won’t need to worry about locating all the different pieces of equipment and in some cases, they even come with their own reusable storage containers. Beware though, sometimes kits contain cheaper quality equipment so be sure to check out reviews of the kit before you commit. If possible, you could even research the reviews on individual pieces of equipment if the manufacturer is named in the product information.
A lovely little sewing kit from Plush Addict that includes most of the essentials. The kit on its own will cost you £9.30, with an option to add Fiskars scissors to the kit for an additional cost. In the kit, you’ll get tailor’s chalk, a tape measure, a pack of 12 assorted needles, a stitch unpicker, 2 Guterman threads and a pack of 40 pearlized head pins.
So, the advantages of this kit are the Guterman threads, the opportunity to add on the Fiskars scissors and the essentials that you’re getting in one purchase.
There are a few possible disadvantages. Firstly, there is no kit bag or container so you’ll need to source somewhere to store your equipment. Secondly, the needles are an unnamed brand so it’s difficult to gauge their quality and pearlized pins can sometimes lose their heads!
Available from Amazon, this kit will cost you just £8.99 but is missing some of the equipment that you’ll probably need such as tailor’s chalk and pins. However, it does include cottons, threaded bobbins, scissors, an assortment of needles, a needle threader, seam ripper, tape measure and thimbles. There could be some disadvantages to the kit. Similarly to the kit from Plush Addict, there is no container so you will need to source your own.
At just £12.99, the Singer Beginners Sewing Kit contains everything you will need to start you off well on your creative sewing journey. Supplying you with 10 hand needles, 100 straight pins and a novelty pin cushion for handy storage, you’ll also get a tape measure, needle threader, blue and white marking pencils, a sewing gauge, seam ripper, thimble, scissors and 11 threads! The kit also comes in a reusable storage box so you won’t have to search for safe storage for your equipment.
A brilliant selection of equipment in a neat little storage box. Available at £11.99 from Find Me a Gift, the kit has an excellent selection of the essentials, missing only the tailor’s chalk. For the price, you’ll be getting 18 cottons, a tape measure, a seam unpicker, a pack of 10 needles, a thimble, a pair of scissors, a box of buttons, a box of safety pins and snap fasteners, glass headed pins, a needle threader and 10 bobbins. If you choose this kit, you’ll need to purchase a separate fabric scissors as the one in the box is a basic scissors but still useful. You’ll also need to get some tailor’s chalk to mark your fabric.
Available from Argos for £14.99, the Professional Sewing Kit doesn’t contain all the recommended equipment from our list but it does have a good selection which is neatly stored away in a well-designed plastic storage box. It comes with a good range of colours of cottons, elastic, pins and needles, to name just a few. There are a good number of product reviews to look through with a lot of excellent ratings. This kit definitely looks worth considering even if you need to add to it so you’ll have all your sewing essentials.
Whether you build your own beginners sewing kit, or purchase one from the huge number available from retailers, remember to go for quality rather than false economy.
Get a good storage container for your equipment, one that will organise them, as well as protect them, to make your sewing easier!
Most of all, have fun choosing your Beginners Sewing Kit, and enjoy using it!