Here’s my list of sewing supplies – split into essentials, somewhat essential and not-essential-at-all items. I’ve linked to items where I could for things which I have personally used!
[The Amazon links are affiliate links which will make no difference to you whatsoever if you decide to purchase through them but allows me to earn a little bit to help keep the site running!]
A sewing machine – I currently use a Bernina 330 machine which I love. I’ve been sewing on a Bernina machine for over 10 years now! For a starter machine though, it’s worth seeing if you can borrow one or getting one second hand before investing in a more expensive model.
Measuring tape – get a reasonably decent one! I’ve seen many from Christmas crackers which aren’t accurate!
Pins – glass headed or stainless steel pins are the best. You can iron over these pins if needed without worrying about any plastic melting.
Hand needles – I always recommend getting a range of sizes.
Spare machine needles – most machines take a standard sized needle. I always recommend getting a range of sizes (you can get a range in one pack of needles) as you may need to change them depending on what fabric you’re using.
Fabric marker/ tailor’s chalk – chalk is the traditional option but there are many other alternatives now. Washable fabric markers work well as well as Frixion pens. I also like the chaco liners from Clover.
Fabric scissors – try to get a relatively decent pair as struggling to cut out fabric is the worst way to start off a project. My recent dive into the sewing community hive mind has led me to a pair of spring loaded scissors (I got these Fiskars off Amazon) which are great for tired, achey hands.
An iron (and iron board!) – an essentially tool for pressing seams flat.
Paper scissors – normal craft scissors will do!
A safety pin – for threading through elastics, drawstrings etc.
Seam ripper – this tool has a pointy end which has a blade at its curved base. You slide the pointy end under the stitch you want to cut and pull! These are usually easy to find at local hobby shops and markets.
Thread – an all polyester thread is good for the majority of projects. The most commonly found brand is Gutermann. Depending on the project you may also need different threads such as topstitching thread.
The “make life easier” tools
Carbon paper and tracing wheel – this is a great way of transferring over markings (notches, darts, pocket placements etc) to your fabric. Lay the carbon paper between the pattern and the fabric and go over the
Loop turner – this weird looking tool has a hook on one end, a long metal shank and a big loop on the other end. It’s used to turn thin tubes of fabric right side out – perfect for straps!
Pattern master – this is a combination of ruler and French curve (see it here). It has markings for depth which allows for easy addition of seam allowances! It’s a great tool for anyone who needs to alter their paper patterns.
Pattern weights – if you’re using a rotary cutter you can get away without using pins and weight down your pattern against your fabric instead. You can use whatever you have lying around as a weight (I like using empty mugs of tea) or buy/ make your own!
Point turners – a small plastic or wooden pointed device which helps you turn out corners (on collars for example) and will make things look neater. You can also use a blunt knitting needle! I have this bamboo one.
Rotary cutter and mat – Many people will argue that rotary cutters will allow you greater accuracy when cutting out. Which I think is true! I have two sized rotary cutters. the bigger 45mm size is great for long lines but the smaller 28mm size is better for more detailed areas. I recommend getting the biggest cutting mat you can afford/ have space for.
Seam gauge – This little ruler makes measuring hems a doddle!
Simflex button gauge – This handy little thing allows you to evenly space buttons and buttonholes. Such a time saver if you make a lot of clothes with buttons like I do!
Thread clips/ snips – small spring loaded scissors which are perfect for cutting off excess threads. I have this budget pair.
The “unnecessary but nice to have” stuff
Bias tape maker – if you’re making your own bias tape, this little devices can help to get the edges folded and ready for use. They normally come as a set with different widths.
Buttonhole cutter – this little chisel will let you cut your buttonholes with precision. They’re probably more using in thicker fabrics like denim where it’s sometimes harder to gather scissors though.
A dressform/ mannequin – you really don’t need these despite what we imagine in our heads! Unless you are really interested in draping (creating garments directly on the mannequin), I find they’re more decorative than anything! They’re useful for even out a hem though! I have a student form for Kennett & Lindsell.
Duckbill scissors – these scissors have a “bill” on the back blade which keeps fabric out of the way. Using when grading seams.
Fray check – this glue is great to put over buttonholes before you cut them open to prevent extra threads from fraying. It helps to keep things neat and keep the buttonhole strong!
Lace pins – you can get very fine pins which are perfect for very thin, fine fabrics. Check out Merchant and Mills for lots of different types of fancy pins.
Magnetic pin cushion – I prefer these over regular pin cushions as I have a tendency to leave stray pins everywhere and this makes it a doddle to tidy them up!
Wonderclips – these are basically tiny strong clothes pegs which you can use to hold fabric together instead of pins. They’re great for item like faux leather where you don’t want to pierce the fabric!
Wooden clapper – this is a piece of hardwood which is used on a seam after it’s been ironed (you press it on the seam and allow it to cool) which helps give really crisp seams. It’s great when making jeans!