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My Sewing Essentials

So many pretty things and interesting gadgets that you’ll surely need, and that you won’t possibly be able to sew a single garment without it. Fifteen different ways to cut and mark fabric. Hundreds of different needles, sewing machine feet and odd pizza-cutter things!

Luckily you don’t need all of it. I repeat… you don’t need all of it!

I’ve put together a little list of what I think are the bits and pieces you do need, at least to get started.

Let’s start with the cutting tools shall we.

A really flippin good pair of fabric scissors makes cutting a dream. Seriously! Fiskars are probably the most well-known and good quality brand. Word of caution here; keep them scissors safe! Do not leave them lying around where some poor unknowing soul could pick them up and start merrily cutting up paper with them. Cutting paper with these scissors will blunt them, meaning they will start struggling to cut fabric. Keep them safe people.

A little pair of embroidery scissors a great to have close by for snipping threads and clipping into corners.

So, a rotary cutter isn’t strictly essential but it certainly is a handy tool to have around. Especially if you’re a fan of quilting. It can make cutting straight lines through a few layers of fabric really easy. If you do go down this route make sure you invest in a cutting mat and ruler to protect your surface. I purchased a starter pack from creative grids.

A seam ripper will become your best friend… but you’ll hate them at the same time. Trust me, you will need them. I probably use them at least 2 or 3 times for each project. If you make a mistake, yes it’s annoying but it’s not the end of the world.

There are a few different tools you can use to transfer pattern markings onto your fabric. It’s down to personal preference what you go for. Tailors chalk, air/water erasable pens, chalk pencils… I’ve yet to try dressmaker’s carbon and a tracing wheel.

A good tape measure will help you take accurate measurements across your body. It’s also a useful if you find you’re having to do alterations to a pattern. I regularly have to check the patterns piece measurements to make big arm adjustments, full bust adjustments and to grade between sizes.

There are so many different sewing machine needles and it’s important to make sure you use the right one for the fabric you’re using. Most machines will come with a standard or universal needle which will cover most projects. But you will need to buy more and change the needle regularly. If you’re planning to work with stretchy knit fabrics then you will need a stretch or ballpoint needle in your machine. Sewing needles will also come in useful for sewing on buttons or hand-stitching a hem.

You’ll need a lotta pins for pinning patterns pieces to fabric and pinning together fabric pieces ready to sew.

A selection of thread will ensure you have the right colour for the fabric you’re working with. If you can buy quality thread such as Guttermann you will find sewing a lot less stressful. Poor quality threads will get bunched up as you sew… not fun!

Sewing machines will come with a standard sewing presser foot which will cover you for most projects. But you’ll need to get yourself a zipper foot and an invisible zipper foot for working on projects where you’ll need to insert, you guessed it, a zip!

Finally an ironing board and steam iron. Pressing open seams will make your sewing look much more professional and give them a better finish.

You will need something pretty to store all these goodies in. There are so many sewing boxes available out there. This one was a Christmas gift from my in-laws. You can find some gorgeous storage boxes at Hobbycraft.

I have a small(ish) collection of sewing books that I find really useful for reference as well as extra projects to try out. If you haven’t already got it I highly recommend Love at First Stitch by Tilly Walnes for really clear and easy to follow instructions on a variety of techniques. There are also some gorgeous patterns included in this book.

Of course there had to be some books from The Great British Sewing Bee included. After all we have it to thank for getting people excited about sewing. The Makery is a lovely book with some great projects, not just for sewing. Definitely worth a look if you want to make gifts for Chrimbo! Finally Learn to Sew with Lauren is another great project book for beginners, I loved making cushion covers for my lounge with the help of this one!

Phew! So there we have it. This list isn’t in any way extensive, it’s all about finding what works for you.

Do you have any other tools that you think should be part of this list? I’d love to know. Add them into the comments and share the knowledge!