Tools and Materials for Hand Sewing

Required Tools Needed:

Felt Coaster Materials:

  • 9 x 12 inch craft felt sheets - a big pack like this one is a great deal
  • Six stranded embroidery floss - the huge cheap packs like this one are perfect for this project
  • Pattern for coasters (included in Lesson 3) + a printer to print the pattern

Gadget Case Materials:

  • 1/2 yard quilting cotton for outside
  • 1/2 yard quilting cotton for lining
  • 4 inches of 1/16 inch round elastic cord in black or white
  • All purpose thread to match fabric
  • Flat or shank button to match fabric

Optional Tools:

Understanding the Tools

Dressmaker'sshears will be your best friend - you'll use them to cut pretty much all fabric you use. I recommend getting a pair of Gingher 8 inch shears. (This is honestly the one sewing tool you should splurge on!) They're comfortable to use for long amounts of time and they cut so nicely. I've had my pair for over a decade now and I love them.

You'll use these scissors to cut fabric primarily, so you'll want them to stay nice and sharp for crisp cut lines. Use cheaper scissors for cutting other materials.

Pinking shears cut the fabric with a serrated edge - the edge will be shaped like a row of tiny triangles! Pinking shears are useful because cutting the fabric in this way keeps it from unraveling. I frequently use pinking shears to trim down seam allowances. :)

A clear sewing ruler is perhaps the most used tool (well, except a pencil and scissors!) in my crafting arsenal. Use it to mark out patterns, as a straight edge for using the rotary cutter, or for marking placement for hems and designs.

My personal favorite clear sewing ruler is this 5x18 inch one from Olfa. I also have a 2 x 18 inch clear ruler that's useful, but the bigger size is the best bet if you're only buying one.

A cloth tape measure can be used on curved surfaces and for quick measurement checks. I almost always have one draped around my neck or nearby when sewing.

A sewing gaugeis definitely optional - if you have a clear sewing ruler, you can use it for the same things! However, a sewing gauge is wonderfully small and compact, so I'll often keep one of these next to me so I don't have to drag out the giant sewing ruler for teensy measurement corrections.

A sewing gauge is useful for making sure your seam allowances and hems are the right size. See the tool in the photo that looks like a ruler with a slider? That slider allows you to set the measurement you're looking for and easily check your project to make sure the measurements are correct.

I use water soluble pens for both embroidery and hand sewing. The ink is a light blue, so it doesn't show up on all fabrics, but you can use white tailor's chalk for darker fabrics. :)

These pens write with an ink that disappears once you wet it. You must use cold water to rinse it out, and make sure to NEVER apply any heat to the ink or it will become permanent. If you're using a particularly fancy, expensive, or important-to-you fabric, I recommend testing the pen out first to make sure it works on the fabric!

Chaco pen OR tailor's chalk are great for drawing on dark fabrics, and also when you want the marks to be even more temporary. I prefer a Chaco pen to the tailor's chalk just because it's less messy. You can buy both of these in white, blue, and yellow. Sometimes you can find them in other colors, too!

Glass head pins are the best buy for your money - they're really durable and you can use an iron on them. (P.S. Never iron over your pins if you're not sure if they're plastic or glass - the plastic ones will melt into your fabric and also get all over your iron. Eek!) Sometimes they're also called quilting pins. Plastic head pins are cheaper, but not nearly as useful or durable.

A seam ripper is what you'll use to remove lines of sewing that might not have gone as well as you wanted. These are cheap and come in a variety of sizes, so just choose whichever you like the most. They all work essentially the same. Also, these are crazy useful for removing scratchy tags from clothes!

You'll need an iron for sewing. You don't need anything too fancy, but you will want an iron with a steam setting, auto-off, and variable temperature controls. If you have a chance to pick out an iron in person, go for the heaviest one. A heavy iron is an awesome iron.

I'm currently using the Black and Decker D2030. You can get it for around $50 and it's one of the best irons I've used.

If you don't already have an ironing board, pick up a cheap one! These come in both tabletop and floor models, so choose whichever one works best for your space and the projects you plan on sewing. I have both a full size ironing board and a tabletop one. :)

Needles come in a variety of sizes. For nearly all hand sewing, "sharps" are the standard! I recommend buying an assorted pack of needles, like this, to get started. That will get you the sharps and embroidery needles you'll use in this class.

I recommend using an all-purpose thread for the majority of hand sewing. All purpose thread is either cotton wrapped polyester or straight polyester. Both are very strong and perfect for hand sewing projects, but I'll go over alternate thread types later as well!

My favorite thread brands are Coats & Clark and Gütermann.

It's common to choose a thread that matches your fabric, but honestly, I often just use white or black thread for everything. ;)

For hand sewing, I really recommend using natural fabrics like cotton, linen, muslin, felt (wool felt is lovely, but synthetic craft felt is cheaper!) and light canvas. If you aren't familiar with fabric types, going into a fabric shop and looking around and touching everything will be very helpful for you!

If you don't have a fabric store around, I suggest shopping on Fabric.com. They ship internationally and carry all the fabric and notions you'll ever need. Shipping can be a little slow, but I love their selection.

I'll go more in depth regarding fabric types later on in the class, too. So no worries if you're lost fabric-wise!

Beeswax OR Thread Heaven is optional but highly recommended. When you run your sewing thread over a piece of beeswax, it'll coat the thread and make it smoother and easier to work with. It won't tangle or snag as often while sewing, which is wonderful.

Thread Heaven is an alternative to beeswax that works the same way, but makes your thread even smoother. :D

Please check out my "how to sew a seam" instructable to learn more about using beeswax.

I love my rotary cutter. They're perfect for cutting lots of material at once.

Rotary cutters come in a variety of sizes, but my personal favorite is the 45mm size. Rotary cutters also have various types of blades you can buy! You can get a pinking shear-style blade for your rotary cutter, as well as decorative and straight blades. You may also want to invest in rotary blade sharpener - it will extend the life of your blades quite a bit!

If you choose to get a rotary cutter, you'll definitely want a self healing cutting mat. These mats will allow you to cut fabric and paper on them without causing permanent damage to the mat, which is fantastic. They come in various sizes, so choose one that works for the area you have. I have four in different sizes because they are my jam.

I don't use thimbles that often, but they are a wonderful thing to have around just in case you need them. My favorite type is the leather coin thimble because they actually stay on your finger and they're pretty comfortable to wear. :)

You'll most often use thimbles when you're sewing with thick fabrics or seam allowances and it's hard to push the needle through. A thimble will help you get the extra pressure you need to push the needle through without injuring yourself!

Needle threaders are super cheap and they come with almost any sewing kit. If you're having issues getting the thread through the eye of the needle, be sure to pick one up to make your sewing less stressful. :)

My Favorite Places to Buy Supplies

Create For Less

Everything but the fabric, pretty much! Very reasonably priced and you can sometimes get discounts when you buy in bulk. :D

Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores

My favorite place to shop for fabric and embroidery floss in person. They have a huge selection of everything, really. Be warned that if you shop online the shipping can be very slow and costly. (They have also sent me the wrong fabric more than once. :P)


Extensive selection of everything you need to sew! They have lots of great sales and a huge selection of Cotton + Steel fabrics - my favorite! :D


I buy all my big stuff there when the other shops aren't having sales. Things like irons, ironing boards, rulers, cutting mats, etc.

Shopping for fabric online can be tricky - I tend to only order quilting cotton, felt, muslin and linen online. With those I know exactly what I'm getting! Apparel and stretch fabrics can be very tricky to figure out and it's best to see them in person.

Always try to find a local shop and support it, too! Networking with other sewists is a great way to learn about new techniques and products. Not to mention it's always best to shop in a place where someone with more experience can help you out if you get lost. :)


Share a photo of your finished project with the class!

Nice work! You've completed the class project