Sewing Tools and Supplies

Sewing requires some special tools, but luckily none of the essentials have to be too expensive. Here's everything what you'll need to get started.

You'll use these tools all the time in your sewing practice:

You don't absolutely need these tools, but they'll definitely be useful in certain circumstances:

We'll be using the following materials to complete the projects in this class:

Know Your Tools

In the following lessons, I'll talk in more detail about where and when to use the tools we're buying, but for now, here's a little more info to help you understand the purpose of each tool.

Sewing Machine - This is, of course, the main tool we'll be using in this class. We've already talked a bit about the different types and how to choose one, and in the next lesson we'll take in in-depth look at how a home sewing machine works.

Iron and Ironing Board - From getting wrinkles out of your fabric before you cut it, to pressing open seams during sewing, ironing is an essential part of sewing. You'll need a good iron and a board to iron on. In a pinch a towel laid out on a table can work as an ironing board too.

Sleeve Board or Tailor’s Ham (optional) - A sleeve board is a mini ironing board that lets you iron small tubes like sleeves and other hard to access areas, and a tailor's ham is similar but used especially for pressing concave and convex seams. They aren't essential tools but if you have them, you'll use them a lot especially the sleeve board.

Smaller Tools

Bobbins - bobbins are a small spool that holds the bottom thread on your machine. You'll want to have a lot of extra empty bobbins on hand for different colors of thread.

Zipper Foot - a special kind of foot attachment for you machine that lets you sew on zippers, or sew next to any raised area. Sewing machines usually come with one, but you can also buy them separately. Make sure you are getting a foot that fits your specific machine.

Invisible Zipper Foot - an even more specialized type of zipper foot that is designed for sewing on invisible zippers. Your machine may also come with one. They can be useful, but to be honest, I have never used one, and I am going to teach you how to attach invisible zippers with a regular zipper foot.

Buttonhole Foot- some machines have a specialized foot for sewing buttonholes, which is usually included. My machine has a simple buttonhole foot, but I actually found that my regular foot worked better. Check your machine manual to see if you need to buy a special buttonhole foot.

Extra Standard Sewing Machine Needles - Breaking needles on your machine happens from time to time, so make sure you always have an extra set handy of you need to replace one.

Needles for Stretch and Heavy Duty Fabrics - different fabrics require different types of sewing needles, and we will be sewing with both heavy duty and stretch fabric in this class, so make sure you have a range of needle options. Getting a needle combo pack that also contains a double needle is a good idea.

Fabric Shears - having a good pair of scissors for cutting fabric is essential for sewing, there are many brands of scissors that will work just fine as long as you keep them sharp! Label your fabric shears, and try to never cut anything besides fabric with them! Protect them from uninitiated interlopers who try to grab them and use them for chopping up any old thing! Be mean and possessive! There's nothing more frustrating than trying to cut fabric with dull scissors.

Paper Scissors - you will also be cutting paper and other things while sewing, so have a pair of scissors dedicated to that as well, and when people try to borrow scissors from you, hand theme these :)

Thread Snippers- these tiny little guys are handy to have for trimming the ends of threads off seams and other small jobs where regular scissors are unwieldy.

Pinking Shears- pinking shears are scissors with a zigzag blade that cuts a shaped edge in fabric. Cutting the edge this way makes the yarns of the fabric less likely to fray, and is used as a seam finishing technique on some projects. Personally I don't use pinking shears that often, but they are a good tool to have in your sewing box.

Seam Ripper- this little tool that looks like a tiny lobster claw, or some kind of scary implement from the dentist's office is used to remove stitches if you make a mistake. It's a very important tool because no matter how long you've been sewing, you're going to make mistakes.

Hand Sewing Needles - even when you're sewing by machine, you're always going to have to do a little hand sewing every now and then, so have a set of hand sewing needles handy.

Pins- an absolutely essential tool, pins are how you hold your fabric in place so you can sew it together. I like glass head pins best, and I usually try to have a variety of sizes, some finer, some thicker for different types of fabric.

Magnetic Pin Holder - There are a few different kinds of pin holders, from the old fashioned kind that looks like a stuffed tomato to these magnetic dishes. I prefer the magnetic kind because they are easiest to grab from.

Transfer Paper - used to transfer markings from patterns onto fabric, it's usually good to have some in both light and dark colors so it will show up on any color fabric.

Tracing Wheel - this is what you use with the transfer paper to trace markings through from a pattern.

Pattern Paper or Large Sheets of Tracing Paper - you will need this if you want to trace your commercial pajama pants sewing pattern onto thicker paper before you cut it out.

Tailor’s Chalk or Disappearing Marker - these are used to make marks on fabric that will disappear later. Both are good options, but chalk usually shows up better on dark colors than the pen does.

Flexible Measuring Tape - used to take measurements on yourself, on a dress form, or any other place where you can't use a stiff ruler.

Clear 18"x2" Ruler - these are one of my most essential sewing and drafting tools, the clear grid makes them great for drafting and measuring seams etc.

Metal Ruler or Thick Plastic Quilting Ruler - you really only need one of these if you are planning to use a cutting wheel, which is a great tool that I highly recommend.

Cutting Wheel- cutting wheels are basically like pizza cutters for fabric. They have a sharp retractable wheel blade and come in different sizes. Mostly used for cutting straight lines, but sometimes used for for curves as well. You don't absolutely need one for this class but they are very useful tools.

Cutting Mat - when you're using a cutting wheel, you need to cut on top of a cutting mat or other appropriate cutting surface. Cutting surfaces need to be flat, smooth and somewhat soft so your blade doesn't get dulled or broken too easily. Depending on what you are sewing, they also need to be fairly large.

Hip Curve- a curved ruler used in pattern drafting. Very helpful for creating smooth curves.

French Curve - another type of curved drafting guide used for creating smaller curves.

Box to Hold Your Tools- staying organized is helpful in any crafting situation. So I like to have a box that holds all my thread, tools, chalk, etc. A tool box will work, or you can find cases designed specifically for sewing tools. Bonus points if yours looks like it came out of 1970s version of Lord of The Rings... :)

Plastic Divider Cases for Small Notions - you use some small notions in sewing, like buttons, snaps, hooks and eyes, etc. So having an easily visible place to store them can be nice.

What You'll Need for Each Project

In each lesson we'll be learning different skills and then applying them to a project. Here's what you'll need for each lesson.

Grocery Bag

Stuffed Creature

Infinity Scarf

  • Fabric: 1 yard each of two colors or patterns 60" wide jersey, spandex or light knit
  • Materials: matching thread

Zippered Dopp Kitt

Pajama Pants

Moving On!

In our next lesson we'll continue our tool education by learning all about our sewing machine itself, threading, changing feet, winding a bobbin, and sewing our first few stitches!


Share a photo of your finished project with the class!

Nice work! You've completed the class project