Gather your Toolkit – SEWING FOR BEGINNERS
Every job requires some type of tools or supplies. Without them, how could we get the job done? Experienced sewists will tell you your supplies are an investment and quality matters. Spending more money now will put more money in your pockets later. But do not fear, to begin your sewing journey, the supplies you will need will cost you less than $100 dollars (and if you are a bargain shopper, less than $50—not including your sewing machine if you chose to begin your sewing journey, might I add).
There is a long laundry list of things you can buy to enhance your sewing experience, but the list you will find in this chapter highlights exactly what you will need when starting off—the bare minimum to help you survive your trial and error stage. Any great sewing guide will tell you, you must have something to help you measure, mark, cut and press your fabric when you sew.
Precise measurements are essential to making the best use of your time and your fabric. Marking your fabric gives you exact points for precise cuts and leaves less room for error if your fabric shifts while you work. Pressing assists with folds, pleats and draping and perfects your final presentation. You don’t walk into a clothing store to wrinkled garments on hangers for a reason. And last but certainly not least, sewing wouldn’t be sewing without a needle and thread. So let’s begin:
Tape measure allows you to measure three-dimensional objects and take longer measurements.
A measuring tool that will give you a straight edge for accurate marking and cutting. A ruler is also acceptable.
*A seam gauge is not a necessity and is a commonly overlooked supply but is worth mentioning because it can save you loads of time and work when marking hems and seam allowances on clothing—its sliding piece works better than a ruler for some people.
This can be in the form of a pen, pencil, or chalk. Fabric chalk is great because it brushes right off the fabric. Water soluble pens and fabric pencils are also okay because they will easily wipe or wash out of most fabrics.
Seam ripper: Makes most sewing mistakes disappear. The sharper the seam ripper the better to remove any unwanted seams from your fabric.
Shears: You should aim for clean, precise cuts and while a pair of safety scissors may work for your thin cotton blends, investing in a pair of shears is a must for anyone serious about the art of sewing. For cutting fabric, the longer the blades, the faster the job and the cleaner the cut. For cutting threads or getting into the small nooks and crannies of your fabric, a smaller pair of shears is ideal.
*Some people like to keep a rotary cutter around (not to be mistaken for a pizza cutter). It’s not a necessity but it is great for cutting curves quickly and precisely—and don’t forget, the sharper the blade…. Note that this tool also requires a cutting mat.
Iron and ironing board
Some sewists chose irons, others like steamers. Starting off, I suggest the iron. You don’t need anything too fancy, just something with heat and steam control. If you chose the iron, find a board that fits best in your work space. They sell small boards that work just as great is your traditional ironing board. Some people with suggest a pressing cloth to protect your fabric but if you know the heat limits of your fabrics you should be okay. Delicate fabrics are where a steamer may come in handy.
For those who are starting out with a sewing machine, your machine should come with a set of needles but understand there are different needles for different weights of fabric. Your sewing machine manual should come with all of this information, should you need replacement needles. Hand sewing needles are best purchased in a variety pack so you have the right size needle for any job.
The more experience you have threading needles, the less you’ll find this supply necessary, but for beginners the needle threader is perfect for quickly getting your thread through the eye of your needle.
Just starting off, all-purpose thread will work well for most sewing projects. Find a color that matches or compliments your fabric and build your thread collection up with each project.
Pins and pincushion
Straight pins come in different varieties. Steel pins are your best. Some come with a flat head and others with small balls at the top. They all serve the same function. Pincushions can anything from your grandmothers’ traditional mini fabric pouf to the more modern magnetic trays that will keep pins secure when not in use.