I often get lots of comments and questions on the blog/social media asking from those who are completely new to sewing. I thought it was therefore about time to launch a new mini-series, Sewing for Beginners. I’m a firm believer that anyone can sew; it’s just knowing where to start. Think of this series as a friendly, encouraging voice to get you started on your sewing journey. We’ll start by discussing the essential tools you’ll need.
If you're new to sewing, it's easy to walk into a fabric shop/haberdashery and be overwhelmed by all of the tools and gadgets on offer. Sewing doesn’t need to be expensive, and you certainly don’t need lots of fancy things to do it, so hear are some tips for where to save money, and where it’s best to invest your hard-earned cash.
Cut it out!
I've found that cutting things out well makes life so much easier and ultimately gives you better results. If you’re going to invest in one thing, make it your fabric scissors. I actually have two pairs, which is definitely not essential, I just like scissors! My black fabric scissors used to belong to my Granny, and are really lightweight and easy to use. I’ve also got a pair of copper effect ones which are a bit heavier. Only ever use your fabric scissors on fabric, anything else will make them blunt! I use my general craft scissors kitchen scissors for interfacing, fleece, and wadding, so that my fabric scissors always stay super sharp.
Once you’ve fully caught the sewing bug, there are a number of other tools that may be useful:
- Pinking shears. If you don’t have an over locker, these are an easy way to finish seams so that they won’t fray. Again, don’t let them touch anything other than fabric!
- Small embroidery scissors. Mine are primarily used for hand sewing and finishing off; they are super handy for snipping little threads.
- Rotary cutter. Essentially a pizza cutter for fabric! I adore my rotary cutter, and it really made life easier when mass-making bunting for my wedding. I tend to use mine when I need to cut a few layers of fabric, as you can easily cut them all at once.
Pins and needles
Pins are a really essential piece of kit, but you can easily pick them up cheaply. I tend to separate mine into a few pots so that I can keep one by my sewing machine, and one by my iron when I’m dressmaking.
You’ll also need a pincushion. You can easily make one using scraps of fabric and some toy stuffing, however if you’re like me and you tend to drop your pins a lot, I’d definitely recommend investing in a magnetic pin holder.
When it comes to needles, you just need a few of varying sizes. You can usually pick up a multipack for a couple of pounds. From experience, I tend to avoid the cheapest needles as they can snap easily. Having said that, you can pick up a pack of decent sewing needles for just a few pounds. If you’re looking for something to keep your needles in, a small piece of felt works well, although you can of course buy a snazzy needle case too!
Measure twice, cut once
A tape measure is essential. I have a basic one and also a fancier retractable one. I tend to use the more basic one if I'm pressing a certain width with my iron, as the numbers are much larger and easier to read.
If you are using a rotary cutter, a metal ruler is a must! You can also use an acrylic quilting ruler, but these are generally a bit more expensive. If you are starting out, a basic metal ruler can be picked up quite cheaply.
I know that there are plenty of fancy fabric pens on the market, including washable ones and air-fading ones. However, I find these quite pricey and for the majority of things, a good old basic pencil will do. I use a normal pencil for lighter fabrics and white/yellow for darker colours. Just be sure to mark the wrong side of the fabric!
Despite your best efforts, you will inevitably making some form of mistake when sewing. When this happens, the quick unpick is your friend, helping you to undo that wrong stitching. If you’re tempted to have a go with scissors, I’d strongly advise against it! Using an unpicker is much less likely to result in a holey piece of fabric!
I hope you’ve found this post useful. What’s in your sewing kit, have I missed out anything essential? Let me know below in the comments.