Before we start with any tutorials, I thought it might be useful to go over some of the things I find necessary for any sewing project. Of course, you could probably get buy with just a needle, thread, and a pair of scissors, but these things make any project easier, faster and cleaner (more professional looking).
1. sewing machine – A standard sewing machine will do for most projects. If you’re looking to buy a machine, unfortunately I can’t help too much, but I’d definitely do the research. If you know anyone with a machine, ask if they like it and if you can try it out. I wouldn’t go with anything super fancy or expensive (it’s just not necessary), but I would also avoid the cheapest “beginner” machines. They’re just . . . cheap. I actually do not own my own sewing machine yet. I borrowed my mom’s for a long time, and now I’m using Hideko’s mom’s machine. But, my amazing friends and family just pulled together and are going to get me a new machine for my birthday!!! I can’t wait.
2. iron & ironing board – Hopefully this is something you already own. Ironing (or pressing) is super important when you’re sewing, so never skip that step. After you’ve bought fabric, you’ll want to wash, dry and iron it. Before you sew certain seams, you’ll need to iron it. After you sew it, you need to press it open. Your everyday run-of-the-mill iron will work just fine.
3. cutting mat – There’s not a lot to say about this. You need a surface to measure and cut fabrics, especially if you’re using a rotary cutter. Get the biggest size that you can, keeping in mind that you’ll need room for storing it. Mine is 18″x24″.
4. fabric scissors – Go and buy a nice pair of fabric scissors and make sure they are used for just that (and thread and ribbon). These scissors have extremely sharp blades (so be careful!). Cutting paper and other things dull the blades on scissors really quickly and you will not get clean cuts on fabric. Apparently you can get these blades sharpened if you need, but I’ve never had to do that.
5. rotary cutter – This is a circular blade (think pizza cutter). Paired with a yard stick, this makes cutting straight lines in a fabric a piece of cake. It is also really useful for cutting through several layers of fabric without shifting the fabric.
6. yard stick, ruler, measuring tape – Get a good quality yard stick, either made with a hard wood or lined with metal. The first yard stick I had was not meant for sewing and the rotary cutter would cut slivers of the ruler right off. Measuring tape has only become necessary to me since I’ve started to sew clothing. You’ll need it to measure your model.
7. pins – You’ll need pins to hold together pieces of fabric so they don’t shift as you sew.
8. marking pen – Not actually an ESSENTIAL item, but very useful. This is used to mark lines on your fabric before you cut or sew. I bought this two sided one because at the time I didn’t know what the difference was. Disappearing ink fades with time (it’s air soluble). Depending on the fabric, it could disappear as fast as 30 seconds, or it may never fade, so it’s really important to test it out on a scrap of fabric first. Disappearing ink is also water soluble, so you can remove it with water. The Mark-B-Gone is ink that is water soluble, so it’ll stay on your fabric until you remove it with a damp towel. I used this ink when I tried quilting. I was able to mark all the lines I wanted to quilt and they stayed for as long as I needed them to (which was a loooooong time) until I was done and washed them off. You can also use water soluble pencils or marking chalk.
The thing on the very right is called an awl. It can be used for many things, but I mainly use it to unpick stitches. I was going to include it, but it’s not actually necessary. Most people probably use a seam ripper, which is a useful tool to have, but since I don’t have one, I use the awl. It can also be used for putting holes in thick materials like leather.
So that’s it. It may seem like a lot, but they will make your sewing life much much easier! I like to wait until I have a good coupon at Joann’s or they have a sale (and they always do) and then you can get most of these things for 40-50% off (except the sewing machine). And trust me, you’ll use them A LOT and for a long looooong time.
Now that you have all your supplies, next time, we can get sewing!