Basic Sewing Supplies-What Do You Really Need?

Basic Sewing Supplies- What Do I Need to Start Sewing?

basic sewing supplies
Have you ever been in the sewing section of a crafting store and felt your eyes glaze over?

50 different pairs of scissors, all claiming to do something just a bit different.

No less than 10 varieties of pins and pin cushions.

Sewing machines that cost $60 and sewing machines that cost $6000!

What do you actually need? What basic sewing supplies are essential and which ones are a waste of money (at least for a beginner)?

First off, I want to do a quickie disclaimer here. I am not a trained seamstress. I am self taught and my opinions are and always will be based on my own experiences. YMMV ;)

I know you are hoping that I’ll just tell you to buy the cheapest items in the store and call it a day. Unfortunately, even though we’re looking for basic sewing supplies, quality can vary wildly and it’s worth investing in good materials from the start.

I speak from experience here. The wrong sewing supplies can make the difference between success and failure.

That said, no beginner needs a $6000 sewing machine. I’d argue they don’t even need a $600 machine!

Basic Sewing Supplies: The Sewing Machine

What kind of sewing machine do you need? Can you get away with a machine under $100? Do you need to spend $500?

My answer is: It depends.

I’m not going to lie, you’ll have a much easier time sewing on a quality machine.

You’ll have a much more stable machine if you buy one that is metal and not plastic.

You’ll likely have a longer lasting and higher quality machine if you spend over $100.

$300 seems to be the sweet spot. Below, you risk the chance of growing out of your machine quickly. Above isn’t really necessary unless you intend to become a professional seamstress or you are purchasing a hybrid machine (sewing AND embroidery for example).

That said, check the reviews and make sure you go with a well known brand and no matter what your price range is, you should find something that will work for your needs.

Basic Sewing Supplies: The Scissors

So many choices! Here’s the thing…you need 3 pairs of scissors, but only one needs to be high quality.

A high quality pair to cut fabric and ONLY FABRIC (that baby doesn’t touch anything but fabric. I’m serious!) You don’t have to pay a ton for your scissors, they just need to be sharp and fit your hand nicely.

A regular pair to cut paper and patterns

A small pair to snip threads

Basic Sewing Supplies: The Pins

Don’t go super cheap on pins. I have super cheap pins. They get lost in the fabric because they are SO tiny! I suggest investing in some sturdy pins that have a colored ball on the end.

Basic Sewing Supplies: The Iron

It doesn’t have to be super fancy, but it should be able to steam fabric. I suggest you also purchase an ironing board, but you can just lay out a towel if you have to.

Basic Sewing Supplies: The Rest

  • seam ripper
  • pin cushion
  • bobbins
  • canned air
  • ruler or seam gauge
  • washable marker
  • tape measure
  • hand sewing needles

You can likely purchase a hand sewing kit to take care of the pin cushion, seam ripper, ruler or seam gauge, tape measure and hand sewing needles. These don’t have to be top notch materials and I find that a small hand sewing kit tends to have all of these supplies and more for less than what they’d cost individually.

The other items can be easily found at your local crafting store.

Optional:

  • self healing cutting mat
  • rotary cutter

It took a long time for me to feel comfortable cutting fabric with the rotary cutter on my self healing mat. That said, I rarely use my scissors to cut fabric anymore. I even use my rotary cutter to cut curved edges! Be sure to get one with a guard and keep it hidden when you aren’t using it. They are SHARP and I have sliced part of my thumb off with one before!

These are my basic sewing supplies. What do you consider to be basic sewing supplies everyone should have? Do you have anything to add to my list? 

Comments

  1. Katie R says

    I like this article! It’ll be good when I finally get around to learning to sew….one day, one day….. lol!

  2. Renee S says

    Great List for the beginner!! The other two items that have helped me greatly in sewing are a 6″x24″ ruler (for cutting straight edges with the rotary cutter and drawing straigh lines on the fabric) and a sewing gauge ($1.99 in a multi tool pack with seam ripper and snips at joann.com)

  3. Tamika says

    I have to agree with almost everything you mentioned. Except the canned air. Never used it, used a hair dryer if I needed to “blow” anything.
    I especially agree with the comment about the pins. I forgot mine from home one day in home ec (dating myself, they haven’t had that course in years!) and had to use the school’s. Flat head, no ball at the end. Of course, I lost it and when I went to iron or try on or something, I stuck myself! Never will do that again! lol

  4. Melissa says

    Definitely a 6×24 ruler with an edge gripper for those of us who are shaky at times, and a thread storage tree and bobbin case with a lid – these are especially helpful to keep things from tangling. And if you are someone who has more than one project going at a time, 2 gallon zip-lock storage bags are helpful for keeping all the pieces together neatly.

    • says

      Great tips Melissa! I admit, I have NO storage solution for thread. They are all just thrown into a rubbermaid box…and YES they get tangled! Do you have a link to the one you have? I’d love to see!

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