Basic Sewing Supplies- What Do I Need to Start Sewing?
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
- 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.
- 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?
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!
You can do it Katie! I know you have a machine!
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)
Good ones! I need a 6″x24″ ruler. I used to have one but it “walked off” like so many things tend to do in this house, LOL
calculadora credito hipotecario banco nacion says
Gee willikers, that’s such a great post!
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
Tamika, I have NEVER thought of that. The hairdryer. Mind.Blown. I will be doing that from now on!
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.
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!
I use mstchbox car storage boxes
I just found this on pintrest. I asked for a sewing machine for Christmas. And I intend to teach myself. I taught myself how to crochet just by watching online videos from foxyminx.com… She is a blogger and does all kinds of arts and crafts. I totally wasn’t sure what I needed to start sewing thanks for the tips:)
Like Jackie I too asked for a sewing machine for Christmas so I guess I can buy the other tools. Lol
Ashley C says
A tip for keeping thread untangled and organized is to get those small plastic drawer containers-the ones you put pens and pencils in and such and some dowels. Cut the dowels into peices and hot glue them in the drawers standing straight up, then you can slide you bobbins or spools on the dowels and close the drawers. Now they are nice and neat. I orangzied my drawers by color…
One item to add to your list of must haves is a good steam iron. And a note on pin selection. I have used all kinds, from silk pins ( that can not be picked up with a magnet) to safety pins and T-pins. I now only buy the long quilters pins with the glass ball at the end. They are finer and create smaller holes in fabric and if you get the colored glass ball they are easier to find and the glass does not melt when you might happen to iron or press over them. I have been sewing for about 70 years and have done my share of un-sewing, but I have found you learn a lot form your sewing errors. Keep up the good work and I am glad to hear that more of you gals and perhaps guys are taking up sewing!
I bought a beginners sewing kit at Micheals for $39.99 that had scissors, two kinds of pins, a measuring tape, thimbles and various little things one would need to start sewing. Then at Walmart for $24.99 a beginners quilting kit with rotary cutter, ruler and may. That combined with my inherited sewing machine I self taught myself how to basic see from the assistance of you tube and Pinterest for under $100. Saved christmas this year with homemade gifts!!
Another one of my favorite tools is the seam ripper with the magnifier & light.
Oooh, I need to get one of those!
Chalk is good to have when you want to trace out patterns instead of pinning so you can avoid holes. Wax as well to mark the wrong sides. A magnet is good too, to pick up pins off the floor to avoid injury. A small paint brush to clean dust from the bobbin and plates. Binding paper clips for sewing leather. Tracing paper for patterns, a case to keep everything together and different needles for different fabric. It’s also good to use a sewing machine cover to protect your machine and so it lasts longer. I think that’s it lol. Oh and a bobbin case can’t tell you how many times my bobbins have rolled around the house.
Thanks for all the tips! Sooo true on the bobbin case! Otherwise they roll everywhere!
I’m super happy!! I made four pillow cases. And now I’m going to try to make three giant floor pillows.. But I am having a hard time cutting my fabric it’s just so long I can’t make a straight line:/ any advice??
To be honest, I don’t cut straight lines anymore. I nip it with the scissors and tear! That’s probably not the smartest way to do it, but it works for me!
I Do this too works great because the tear follows the grain of the fabric (in either direction) I just don’t like the little strings that fray off the edges because of it, any suggestions ??
Well, I have a serger so I just serge the frayed edges!
Here I am searching Pinterest for the scoop on getting a good game plan for buying a sewing machine and setting up a little sewing corner in my studio & I happen upon this excellent pin! I literally pinned it not even noticing who created it because I was so pleased with the VERY useful info. Then I scroll all the way to the bottom & look who’s face I see lol! So, just wanna give you a technological high five and say thanks for the excellent post.
I know I want a good quality machine and a serger (possibly Baby Lock brand?) but there’s just so many options out there. Leah & I had a private sewing lesson with a wonderful instructor yesterday and we both got twitterpainted by the sewing love bug. She made an adorable pair of pj pants & I’m not trying to toot my own horn but I jammed out a rather ADORABLE throw pillow….(toot toot) Now I wanna sew more pillows, drapes, bench cushions….dear Lord I’ve awakened a monster! I’m just so motivated to make the things I would otherwise have to pay someone 3-4 times as much to make for me. Any extra lil tid bits of info would be greatly appreciated.
Theresa! I’m so sorry I did not see your comment here. I did respond on Facebook at least! Thank you so much for commenting!
Thank you so much for this Heather. I have been teaching myself how to sew for quite some time. It is very true about the quality machine you use. I got very frustrated as I had a brand new sewing machine which was low cost. I had a rough time with it because the thread always came out and snags etc. I am now using my mother inlaws singer old fashion mate series. I believe the base is medal. What a difference!!! Again thank you so much for this Board. It is my passion to craft and sew but it can be challenging but in the long run very practical for the family as I have 5 daughters who I can definitely sew for. Headbands is a project I am working on Anyways Have a wonderful week.
Stacy Warner says
I just found this on Pinterest! I was looking for somewhere to start with this sewing! My grandmother past away and I got all her sewing stuff. I want to learn and I’m at a loss. I have great memories of grandmother sewing and how much she enjoyed it! Thank you for this great article!
You are very welcome! I hope you enjoy learning!
Extremely encouraging, it seems I am current with all the basics and ready to sew some stuff up
Adaline Banks says
My everyday craft is greeting cards and simple home décor, and I am in love.
I am almost sure that my husband has gotten me a…. SEWING MACHINE for CHRISTMAS!!! I am enjoying your blog and thank you for taking the time to post supply options and tips to get me started on this craft….
Toe separators work fantastic for bobbins. You know, the little foam deals you use when you (or someone else) paints your toe nails? You can get a pack at the dollar store & have enough to store 8 bobbins…for $1!
I store the bobbins with the matching threads in the matchbox storage boxes. In 64 years of sewing these have worked the best
Oh interesting! Cool idea!