Beginning a new hobby can be daunting, especially if you have practically zero experience in the activity you are about to undertake. This is true for all forms of art, including sewing.
If you don’t know yet how to begin your foray into the world of textile arts, don’t worry; you are in good company. A lot of people who are now experts in sewing started out as absolute beginners. They taught themselves how to sew, and many of them ended up becoming so good at it that they started their own businesses making clothes, bags, linens, and other useful items.
Before jumping into your first sewing lessons, however, you need to know about the essentials to have in your sewing kit. Read through this short guide, and familiarize yourself with the most common paraphernalia that sewing enthusiasts and professionals keep in their supplies box.
Sewing machine needles and hand sewing needles
Using sharp needles all the time is important if you want to keep your stitches polished and beautiful. This is especially true for sewing machine needles, which can become dull, burred, or bent after just a few hours of sewing time.
It is also essential that you use the right types of needles for your projects. Most medium-weight fabrics can be sewn with needles marked 12/80 or 14/90 in size. Lower-numbered needles can be used on lighter fabrics like silk, voile, and taffeta, while higher-numbered needles can be used on heavier fabrics like tweed, denim, and canvas. Take note that needles are also available in various point types (sharp, ballpoint, etc.), and these are also made for specific types of fabrics. Buy your needles from a store with knowledgeable staff who can help you choose the right needles for the fabrics you are working on.
Thread and thread organizer
You don’t have to have a big collection of thread spools at the outset. What you can do is to acquire neutral-colored threads like black, white, and a few shades of gray and brown, then just build your collection as you get more colors for every project you do. When buying spools, check the quality of the threads. Make sure that the thread’s surface is smooth and not fuzzy because such threads tend to break easily.
It can be difficult and frustrating to thread needles, so make sure that you keep a few needle threaders in your kit. These small tools usually come in the form of small tin plates with a diamond-shaped wire loop. To thread a needle using the threader, you just have to place the wire loop into the needle eye, insert the thread through the wire loop, and then pull threader back out of the needle eye.
Tailor’s chalk or fabric pen
Using a tailor’s chalk or a fabric pen is the easiest way to make temporary markings or transfer sewing patterns on a fabric. Never substitute these items with regular marking materials because marks from a tailor’s chalk or a fabric pen are designed to come off easily when you rub or wash the fabric.
Round-headed sewing pins
Round-headed sewing pins are used to temporarily hold the fabric while the garment or workpiece is being sewn. Pins crowned with brightly colored heads are better than headless pins because the former are easier to drive into the fabric, and they’re also easier to spot when its time to remove them.
Pincushions or magnetic pincushions
Pincushions are essential for keeping all those pins neatly stored in your sewing kit. The magnetic variety allows you to easily pick up the pins you drop by simply hovering the magnet over them.
Also known as seam unpicker, a seam ripper is a small tool with a forked and bladed metal head, which can be inserted between seams in order to cut the thread that holds them together. This is a very useful tool because in sewing, you’ll make a lot of mistakes. You’d want something handy to undo all those wrong stitches. Seam rippers are also helpful when you need to remove unwanted stitches on previously finished garments or workpieces that you want to alter.
Fabric shears typically have handles that are differently-sized and are bent upwards, allowing the user to easily cut the fabric on a table while that fabric remains flat. Fabric shears are available either as regular shears or as pinking shears. The latter creates a zigzag-patterned cut on the fabric, preventing the fabric’s edges from easily fraying.
A tailor’s tape measure is a flexible ruler usually made of plastic or fabric. Some are made of fiberglass, which makes them more resistant to tearing or stretching.
Gridded rulers are made of clear plastic and have measurements that form a grid pattern on their surface. Because the material is transparent, it allows users to easily see where they should put the marks on the fabric they are working on.
A sewing gauge is a small ruler with a sliding gauge that can be moved along its entire length. The ruler is used to make small markings on the workpiece, as is the case when you are making hems for alterations.
You might not need a thimble when you’re using the sewing machine, but they may come in handy when you’re hand-sewing a heavy piece of fabric. The thimble is a small metal cap that fits on a fingertip. It has small indentations on its surface, which you can use to push the needle through the piece of fabric you are sewing.
Finally, there’s also the press cloth and self-healing cutting mat. These items might not necessarily fit into your sewing kit, but it’s a good idea to have them around when you’re working on a project.
A press cloth is a piece of fabric which you can place between the iron and your workpiece when you’re ironing it. The press cloth adds a layer of protection that will prevent your workpiece from being exposed to too much heat.
Self-healing cutting mat
A self-healing cutting mat is made of a special material that can “heal” over time after being cut repeatedly. They make for a great cutting board when you work on a lot of fabrics.