What You Really Need To Get Started Sewing

It can be a little intimidating to start a new craft. I’m going to go through what supplies a beginner really need to get started sewing and what can wait.

It can be a little intimidating to start a new craft.  The ridiculous number of accessories makes it hard to know what beginner sewing supplies you actually need.  We’ve all been there, standing in the aisle at the local craft store surround by strange looking gadgets.  Though it would be fun to get one of everything, it wouldn’t help your wallet and what if you decide that sewing isn’t for you?

I’m going to go through what you really need to get started, what I would suggest adding, and what I would leave for later.  Your sewing machine may come with a few basic beginner sewing supplies so check to see if you already have some of the things on this list.

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Fat Quarter Shop Quilting Fabrics and Supplies

Bare Minimum Beginner Sewing Supplies

Sewing Machine, Needles, & BobbinsSewing Machine-This one is pretty obvious.  There are plenty of brands to choose from that do everything from sewing a straight line, to embroidery, and quilting.  I’m not an expert on sewing machines so I can’t help you much here, I’ve only ever had one.  You’ll want one that can do a few different stitches including a zigzag and a button hole.  My mom gave me a Heavy-Duty Singer when I learned to sew and I love it.  If you are just trying sewing to see if you like it, you may be able to use a friend’s machine.  Crafters love to share our passions and they may even give you a lesson or two.

Sewing Machine Needles-You will need needles that fit your specific sewing machine.  These do break and wear down so you’ll need a few before you get started.  Your sewing machine manual should tell you what kind to buy.  I like to use universal needs but over time you will eventually want a few for specific materials.

Bobbins-These will also need to fit your specific machine.  The machine won’t run properly with the wrong bobbin, even if it looks like it fits fine. Your sewing machine manual will help with this as well.  You will need a bobbin for each color of thread you use so you will need quite a few over time.  The Joann’s near me has a sewing machine section in the store where they have employees that only work in that section.  They are a great help when you are trying to figure out what you need for your specific machine.   I have a tendency to forget to look at the manual before leaving the house.

Pins, Scissors, & Measuring TapesPins-You will need pins to hold your fabric together while you’re sewing.  They have lots of different kinds of pins.  I prefer the ball point pins…because I think the others look stupid.  This pretty much comes down to preference.  Some of the flat pins can be ironed, which would be incredibly useful if that is something you find yourself doing a lot.  They aren’t something that I have ever needed.  I do have a pack of thicker ball point pins for heavy fabric like duck cloth.  I buy Dritz pins because they come in a little plastic case that keeps them corralled.

Scissors-Fabric scissors are incredibly important.  The first few times you sew you may not care as much but if you stick with it you will want a dedicated pair of scissors.  Cutting fabric requires a sharp pair of scissors and you can’t keep them nice if someone is opening Amazon packages with them.  Growing up, the orange scissors were Mom’s sewing scissors, you don’t touch the orange scissors.  I have also adopted this rule in my house.  Orange for fabric, any other color else is fair game.  Fiskars are my favorite, they are a little expensive but they are worth the price, bring a coupon.

Tape Measure-I have these all over the house.  These come in retractable and non- retractable versions.  I like both versions and have multiple of each.  It doesn’t really matter which you buy for the first time.  You will want to get one though.  The metal version in the garage won’t cut it, you’ll need one that’ll drape and bend with your fabric.

Pattern, Fabric, & ThreadPattern-The pattern or tutorial you use will tell you how much fabric you need and any extras like zippers, elastic, Velcro, etc.  I would recommend not doing something overly complicated for your first project…but I’ve never listened to that kind of advice so make what inspires you.

FabricUsing your pattern as a guide, choose fabric.  This is my favorite part of sewing, picking the perfect fabric.  The pattern should tell you if you should buy cotton or a different kind of fabric.  Quilting shops have the best quality cotton fabric.  Depending on the project you are working on you may not care about that.  I buy fabric from both quilting stores and big box stores.  Are you making a cat toy or a purse that will be used every day?  What you’re making will determine what quality you need.

Thread-Buy thread that coordinates with the fabric you bought.  I love to sew with a contrasting thread but leave that for later projects.  It takes awhile to get it down and thread that blends in with the fabric is much easier in the beginning.  I still only use contrasting thread on days I’m ready for frustration.

My Suggestions for Beginner Sewing Supplies

These are the things I would add to a beginner kit if you can afford it.  These aren’t expensive but not absolutely necessary to try sewing out.  Some of these may be necessary depending on your project.

Pin Cushion, Iron, & Ironing BoardPin Cushion-I have a few pincushions as well.  I like to have one near where I’m cutting, the sewing machine, and the ironing board.  Making a sewing machine pin cushion would actually be a great first project.  This tutorial is easy and incredibly useful. If you buy the Dritz pins you could just use the case they come in until you get a pin cushion if you don’t want to get one right away.

Iron and Ironing Board-When you buy fabric it comes off the bolt and gets folded up to take home.  This leaves unavoidable creases that you will need to iron out.  If you are doing a small project you may be able to get away with skipping this.  The bigger the fabric the less likely you can skip this.  The type of iron doesn’t matter, you can just use your clothes iron.  I know what you’re thinking, I don’t have a clothes iron either.  My Mother in law got tired of me using hers and bought me an iron and gave me her extra ironing board.  I don’t think the iron has ever been used on clothes.

Seam Ripper, Needles, & Fabric Marking PencilSeam RipperInevitably you will need to rip out a seam that was sewn incorrectly.  I’ve done it all, backwards, crooked, wrong piece, the list goes on.  It’s incredibly frustrating but it happens all the time.  Seam rippers are great for…ripping seams.  It’s what they do and they do it well.  You can use scissors for this is you don’t have one but they aren’t expensive so pick one up the first chance you get.  My sewing machine came with one, it wasn’t awesome but it worked.  The one in this picture has rubber on the top that you can rub across the broken pieces of thread to collect them.

Hand Sewing NeedlesThese aren’t always necessary but they are nice to have on hand.  I use these to close up projects with stuffing like the pincushion I mentioned above.  I also use them to go through really thick fabric my machine can’t handle, it’s rare but it happens.

Fabric Marking Pencil-It’s nice to be able to mark on your fabric.  I don’t sew clothes but I imagine this would be necessary if you did.  I like mechanical chalk pens because they are easy to use and the chalk comes out of the fabric.

You can buy these in lighter colors for dark fabric and darker colors for light fabric.

Things To Buy Later

Once you have decided that sewing is for you and you are getting into larger projects you will want a few accessories that will make life easier.

Rotary Cutter, Cutting Mat, & RulerRotary Cutter, Cutting Mat, and Ruler-These are great for cutting large pieces of fabric.  They help keep your lines straight and make it possible to cut more than one piece of fabric at a time.  I started with a set made by Fiskars that had all three.  The mat is a little small depending on the project you’re working on but it works for smaller projects.  I now have 2 cutting mats and a small collection of rulers.

IMG_20190121_131737647.jpgSewing Machine Feet-You may find that certain projects call for specific sewing machine feet.  These are specific to your sewing machine and can be expensive.  I slowly grew my collection as I needed a specific foot.  You can buy an entire set from Amazon for much cheaper.  I ended up going this route eventually but I wish I had thought of this earlier.  I put them all into a Plano organizer and labeled them.  There are still quite a few I’ve never used but the set was much cheaper than buying even just a few separately.

Completed project bag.Project Bag-These are nice when you have a few projects going at one time.  There are tutorials all over Pinterest so you can make them yourself.  You could always just use a Ziplock but I like the project bags so much better.  It may also give you some motivation to finish the project so you can use your project bag for something else.  My Project Bag Tutorial can be found here.

Though there are plenty of other fun tools out there that are helpful, these are the things you really need to get started.  Most of these tools will last a long time and don’t cost much.  The sewing machine is by far the most expensive followed by the rotary cutter set.  Luckily the rotary cutter isn’t usually necessary to start.

Sewing isn’t the cheapest hobby to start but it is worth it.  I’ve saved a lot of money on clothes and bags that I was able to repair with my sewing machine.  There is also nothing better than bringing a handmade blanket to a baby shower.

What would you add to the list?

It can be a little intimidating to start a new craft. I’m going to go though what tools you really need to get started sewing and what can wait.

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