Thursday, March 10, 2016

Day 1 - Beginner Sewing Series - Basic Sewing Tools

Today is the start of a new series on sewing!  I will be covering the information that I covered in my adult beginner sewing classes.  Some of the topics we may cover quickly and some we will linger on but I want to open things up to discussion so please leave your comment or question in the comments section of the applicable blog post.  If you prefer to email me your questions, you can do so at  

Let's Get Started!!!

When students come to the first class, they want to know what sewing tools they will need to purchase that will help them in sewing.  These are things that they NEED...the sewing store has a gazillion sewing tools but what do you really need?  These are all things that I could not live without in sewing on a daily basis.

Here is a picture of the handout with the list that I gave in class.  You can save it and take it to the store with you.  We will go over the first 6 bullets today and then linger over the last items as they need more explanation.


Well, this one seems a bit obvious but when you go to the store there is a wall full of scissors.  You will need a pair of scissors for sewing (we will go over those in a minute) and a junky pair of scissors for cutting paper pattern pieces or cutting off the ends of a zipper.  We ALL have a junky pair laying around so you probably have that one covered.  

In terms of a good pair of sewing scissors, here is what to look for:

~ About 8" long
~ Bent handle shears (can you see how the handle is bent in the pictures?  This is to help with cutting on a table)
~ Buy a name brand like Fishers or Gingher (try to resist the no-name scissors that Hancock Fabrics is trying to sell you at the counter)
~ ONLY use them for fabric use...yes, lock them away from your husband and children because they will find them and use them on awful things! Using them only on fabric (and keeping them away from your family) will help to keep them sharp.

Scissors don't have to be a huge investment.  Every store now is sending you a coupon in an email or they have an app with coupons.  Grab a coupon and buy a decent pair of scissors.  The top pair in the picture is a basic sewing pair from Fiskars, the middle is a spring loaded pair which helps if you have wrist issues, and the last pair (my favorite) are a pair of Gingher scissors (they are extremely sharp!).    

And this picture shows my junky, non-bent handled scissors at the bottom.  See the difference in how they look? (Ignore the paint on the handle).


You will need to buy some long, straight pins if you don't already have some.  I like the longer pins with the big ball heads on them.  This makes them MUCH easier to work with and if you drop one you can find it before your child or husband steps on it (ask me how I know).

This picture shows the varying sizes...I would buy pins that are AT LEAST 1" long...a little longer would be perfect.  I would buy pins in the sewing notions sections of the sewing store (Dritz or Singer) and avoid the cutesy pins with flower/decorative heads on them.  I have those and the metal tips of the pins aren't very sharp so it is hard to make them go through fabric.

The last pin in that picture is a tailor's pin and sometimes they will come with clothing you purchase.  Yes, I keep them but they are shorter and the lack of head makes them no fun to work with.  


Okay, so if you have ever taken a class of mine, you know that I have a thing for pincushions.  I have 8 that I can see around the room right now. 

You probably don't need that many but I would suggest having two once you get into sewing. Here is the pincushion to take pins out of wherever you decide to cut fabric and pin pieces together and another pincushion to have next to your machine to put pins into as you take them out of the fabric.  

Can you tell which pincushion gets used the most?

There are lots of free pincushion patterns on the internet and you can find a couple of them over on the right sidebar plus I will do a future post just on pincushion patterns that you can make.

Tape Measure and Seam Gauge

You probably know what a tape measure looks like (the blue measuring tape).  I would suggest one that is 60" long.  I have a longer one but I never use it for anything over 60".  You mainly use it to measure pillows or yourself or your children.  If you need to measure for curtains, use one of the retractable metal hardware measuring tapes as those work better for those.

A seam gauge is a small (usually about 6") ruler with a sliding piece on it (mine has the red sliding piece).  This is one of the cheapest sewing tools and one that I use on almost a daily basis to measure hems with.  If you want to hem pants, the top of a bag, dress, skirt, pillowcase, etc, this little tool will be your best friend.  I will post later on how to use it for hemming when we get to that part of this series.  You may already own one of these. I find that most people do...they just didn't know what to do with it!

Seam Ripper

You will make mistakes.  The machine will act up on you when you are trying to fix something at the last minute before a school concert.  You will not like how something looks after you sew it sometimes.  This is where the seam ripper comes into the picture.  

If you have a sewing machine, chances are you have one in the little bag with the extra presser feet that came with the machine.  They are tiny though. Mine is the one on the right.  My sister purchased the one on the left for me after she laughed at the before mentioned one.  The one in the middle is a very common that you can find in most any store.  All will work!  I do like the bigger handled ones.  They are easier to hold.  Sister was right.

Fabric marking pencil, marker or chalk

You will need something to mark your fabric with.  Go simple with this one to start with.  Here is what I have on hand:

You can buy a pack of two tailor's chalks.  One light for dark fabrics and one darker for light fabrics.  I use these if I just need a simple mark.  The bottom pencil is a washout cloth pencil.  It is like chalk but in a pencil form.  The middle pink pen (isn't she pretty) is a Frixion pen which is probably my favorite to use.  When you iron over it, the mark disappears.  WITH ALL OF THESE THOUGH, I would only use them on the wrong side of the fabric or where the mark wouldn't show if in case the mark doesn't come out (yes, it has happened).  If you need to mark a spot that will show afterwards, I would suggest a pin or a piece of tape that can be removed without the fabric being damaged.  *Frixion pens can be found in office supply stores and not in sewing stores usually.

WOW!  That was a lot of information for the first post!  Students were always surprised by all that we covered on the first day class and WE AREN'T DONE YET!  

Stay the next post, we will cover more sewing tools...the rotary cutter, mat and ruler.  A wonderful set of tools to help make cutting easier!

Thank you for joining me today!  If you want to be notified of when blog posts are posted, you can enter your email on the right sidebar in the spot to be notified of new posts.

1 comment:

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