Sewing is a relaxing hobby which does not require expensive equipment. I love to spend my weekends on my sewing projects. It helps me unwind myself after a hectic week at work. Making your own things by hand-sewing is therapeutic and fulfilling, especially when you are making unique gifts for your loved ones.
Are you not quite sure what you need to get your first sewing project started? Let me share with you what I consider the must-have sewing tools for beginners.
All sewers should have 3 pairs of scissors – a pair for cutting fabrics, a pair for embroidery and a pair of paper scissors.
Fabric Scissors (or shears)
This is the most expensive tool you will ever get for sewing. The quality is totally proportional to and reflected by the cost. The higher the price, the better the quality. High quality scissors can cut through all sorts of fabrics. It is worth investing in a good pair; they are safer and easier to use. Use fabric scissors to cut fabrics only. Do not lend them to anyone in your family; you risk them being used to cut something other than fabric and they will lose their edge. Take good care of your fabric scissors and they can last forever.
Embroidery Scissors – These scissors are small with pointy tips. They can cut a normal thread or multi-ply embroidery thread easily. Due to the sharp pointy shears, they can cut through tight areas and get a clean cut without fray.
Paper Scissors – You might already have these plain paper scissors in your drawer. They can be used for cutting patterns for your sewing projects. Use this pair of scissors for everything, instead of your fabric scissors.
Hand sewing needles come in different thicknesses, lengths, point shapes and needle eye sizes. They are packaged by type and size – the larger the needle size, the shorter and finer the needle. Use heavy needles on thick fabrics. Use finer needles on delicate fabrics.
You may easily be confused or overwhelmed by all different kinds of needles that are being sold in a store. I recommend buying a variety pack for beginners. It will include needle sizes for all your needs. Singer Assorted Hand Needles 25-Count is an example of a good variety pack.
When you are sewing with thick fabrics, you do not want to hurt your fingers and shed blood over your beautiful fabric. A thimble protects your finger when pushing a needle through fabric. They are commonly made from metal, leather and rubber. The specific type of thimble is your own preference. The important thing is to make sure it fits your finger and it doesn’t fell off. Clover Leather Coin Thimble is an example.
There are different varieties of threads available. The two most commonly used embroidery threads are 6-strand embroidery threads and pearl cotton threads.
6- Strand Embroidery Thread
Stranded embroidery cotton thread is sometimes being called “Embroidery Floss”. The thread consists of six single threads which you can separate easily. This is most commonly used in embroidery and there are wide range of colors available to choose from.
You can choose to thread your needle with one thread or all six strands, depending on the project you are work on or the fabric you are using. The thicker the thread you used, the larger the holes in your fabric. If you use a thick thread on a very fine fabric, the thread will easily displace the fabric. Use one strand for fine and delicate fabric. DMC Embroidery Floss Pack is an example.
Pearl Cotton Thread
This is a rope-like twisted thread. It comes in one single strand and is not dividable. There are different thicknesses available. The higher the number of the thread, the finer is the thread. For example, Pearl no. 3 is thicker than no.5. Pearl No.3 is about the thickness of whole six strands of embroidery thread. Pearl No.8 is about the same thickness as three strands of embroidery thread. LE PAON Pearl Cotton Balls 15 Colors are one type.
You will use a lot of pins once you start sewing! Although pins small, they do important jobs. They hold pattern pieces in place, secure trims, mark seam allowances and much more. I always use glass head pins – it will glide through most fabrics with ease. They are very sharp and never rust. The best part is that the ball head is made of glass, not plastic. This is very important because you will come across with projects that require ironing with pins. The cheap plastic pin head will melt under the iron, while the glass head pins never will. Clover Quilting Pins are one brand.
For beginners, I suggest using fabric with a looser weave. These fabrics have lower thread count, which allows the needle to pull the thread through easily. I recommend beginners start projects with quilting fabric (cotton), middle weight linen or plain cotton muslin (or calico). Beginners should avoid using these fabrics - satin and other very smooth and shiny fabrics, stretchy fabrics, velvet, corduroy, fleece, gauze and very thin and transparent fabrics. Try Calico Quilting Squares 5”.
These essential tools for hand sewing can be paired with great ideas on how to organize your sewing space, check out 5 Great Sewing Room Ideas for Small Spaces.