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So you’re thinking about getting into sewing? Well, you have come to the right place. Whether you’re looking to start a new creative hobby or develop a full career, learning the basics is equally as important. Yet, we all know how expensive and time consuming starting a new hobby can be.
Admittedly, as with most hobbies, there are some tools that you are going to need for your sewing projects, but there are also cheaper or home-made alternatives to some of these tools that can make this a much more affordable hobby for you. Sewing is meant to be something fun, and really, you don’t need a lot to get started. Below, we have created a list of some of the basic tools that you might need, some tools that you might want and some tools that you can make yourself at home.
1- Cutting Tools
One of the first tools that you need when working with fabrics is some fabric scissors. Fabric is a bit more tricky to cut than paper, and using regular crafting scissors to cut fabric can result in a lot of frayed ends and uneven cuts. Worry not, you can find fabric scissors at most local arts and crafts stores, and on Amazon for around $5-15USD. A simple pair of fabric scissors will cover most of your sewing needs, but there are other cutting tools that can make your experience a little easier.
If you’re going to be quilting a lot, a rotary cutter is great to cut even shapes for all of your quilting projects. With the help of a ruler, a rotary cutter is capable of cutting perfectly straight lines.
In addition to cutting your fabrics and threads, you’re probably going to be cutting lots of patterns and since you should only use your fabric scissors for fabric, it helps to have some extra crafting scissors. They don’t need to be expensive at all, any drug store scissors would do.
2- Measuring Tools
One of the most essential tools that any sewer needs is the measuring tape. It’s pretty obvious that our bodies are not flat, and having a measuring tape makes it ideal to measure all of the curves on our bodies. Measuring tapes are super cheap and you can find them at any craft store.
Having a long ruler is super helpful for sewing because most of your projects are probably going to be bigger than a typical 9 inch ruler can cover. If you’re getting a new ruler, you should aim for a transparent one because it makes it easier for you to draw even seams and pleats.
A curved ruler is not a huge necessity for quilters, but if you are sewing clothing garments it comes in very helpful. Say bye bye to those uneven crotch and arm seams thanks to this handy dandy tool.
3- Drafting And Tracing Tools
Another tool that can help make fabric cutting and pattern tracing easier are fabric weights. Fabric weights help you keep your patterns straight as you are tracing them on fabric, and they can also help you hold fabrics in place when cutting multiple layers. Unless you’re looking to splurge, there are dozens of other cheaper things you can use as fabric weights, for example, cleaned/decorated rocks, mason jars filled with sand, or anything heavy, really. My personal favorite are candles! Not only do they serve as great weights, but they smell great too (just remember not to light them while using them as weights, you don’t want anything to catch on fire).
When it comes to turning your ideas into fashion, getting it down on paper is incredibly helpful, but buying rolls and rolls of pattern paper can get expensive, and quite wasteful too. Some alternatives to pattern paper that you can find at home are old newspapers and old wrapping paper. Those two types of paper are pretty busy, so it may help to use a sharpie to draw your pattern on them.
When you are ready to transfer your pattern onto the fabric, my recommendation is using chalk. Chalk is very easy to see on fabric but it washes away very easily. You can get some tailor’s chalk or, if you already have some blackboard chalk at home, that will do as well.
If you want to get some experience with these tools, check out our #ProjectBasedLearning series. Every week we upload new beginner friendly projects that can help you practice the basics of sewing while creating a fun project. Our Pincushion Tutorial is a perfect first project for a new sewer. It takes less than 10 minutes but it helps you get to know all of the basic sewing tools that you need.
4- Pins And Seams
Another very important tool that every sewer has in their crafts table are pins. There are many different pins, but ideally you want to get straight pins with the circle tops as they are much easier to place on the fabric. If you’re going to be quilting a lot, you should also consider getting some sewing clips as they are much easier to use than pins. To store your pins in a nifty and accessible place, you also want to get a pin cushion, but lucky for you, we have created a tutorial on how you can hand sew your own pin cushion.
This nifty little tool is any new sewers best friend. Rather than having to cut off fabric every time you mess up a stitch, you can just unpick those stitches. There are a variety of additional seam ripping and cutting tools that you can get beyond just the traditional seam ripper, and they can be very helpful for people who have hand dexterity problems.
While you don’t really need thread cutters, they come in handy when you’re making some cleaner sewing projects to sell as they can get really close to any loose strings in your garments. Thread cutters are a great investment tool for sewers who want to take their projects to the next level.
5- Irons and Steamers
A good steam iron is a must have even for the beginner sewer. Besides actually sewing, steaming and folding is probably the second biggest way a sewer shapes their fabrics. From pleats to perfect seams, your steam iron can do it all, and they are all pretty much the same, so the brand does not really matter.
If you have a steam iron, you don’t really need a steamer, but they are super handy. When it comes to steaming shirts, jackets, blazers, dresses and anything draped, a steamer is quicker than your iron and easier than setting up your ironing board.
6- Sewing Machine
Since our current domestic machines have been discontinued, we have been looking for similar machines in a similar price range to recommend to fellow sewers, and the two most recommended ones seem to be: (1) the Singer MX60, a simple, traditional mechanical sewing machine perfect for any beginner, and (2) the Brother XR3774, a machine more geared towards quilters with a wider sewing plate and more embellishing stitches. Both of these machines are perfect domestic sewing machines for most projects and they are both under 150$! You can find some 20-40$ sewing machines on Amazon, and we have actually tested one and they are really not ideal for anyone who’s going to be sewing more than once. They don’t sew through many layers, they have an incredibly tiny pedal, and they jam way too much. You’re better off saving up to get a real machine otherwise it can make your experience much less fun.
When it comes to heavy duty sewing machines, we absolutely love Singer Heavy Duty Sewing Machines. Singer makes an incredible line of heavy sewing machines at fairly reasonable prices including the 4452, 4423 and the 4432. We currently have the Heavy Duty Singer 4432 for bigger projects like making hand bags or making thicker corsets and it is working great. These machines are a bit more expensive than traditional domestic sewing machines but they are great for working with thicker fabrics like jeans, leather, and corduroy. This machine is not a necessity for a beginner but it is a great investment for the sewer that is looking to work on some bigger projects.
If you’re ready to start your first sewing project but need some quality fabrics, threads, and sewing accessories delivered right to your door, check out Fabric.com. They have a wide selection of fabrics and threads with great discounts for sewers looking to buy fabric in bulk, and right now, they are offering free shipping on all orders over $50, so what are you waiting for? Get ready to plan your next sewing projects with gorgeous fabrics from Fabric.com.
If you want to get better acquainted with your sewing machine, you should check out our face mask tutorial from our #ProjectBasedLearning series. Face masks are a fun and easy project that is ideal to help beginners practice some basic stitches and get used to the settings on your sewing machine. Plus, you’ll have some awesome, unique face masks to follow health codes in style.