Sewing School Lesson 3: Sewing Supplies

Tilly and the Buttons
This is Lesson 3 in our Sewing School series.  Today we are going to cover sewing supplies and next lesson we will cover sewing machine basics. New to sewing school?  Get caught up: lesson 1: welcome and intro first, lesson 2:  Guide to Buying a Sewing Machine.   


The cool thing about learning to sew is that you don't need a lot of supplies.  While there are a ton of notions (sewing supplies) you can buy (we'll get into more of that in a future lesson), there are only a few very inexpensive items that you will actually need.  You will find the below supplies at any sewing stores under the notion section.  You can even find some of the below items at your local drug store or Target.

What You Will Need To Get Started
  • A pair of really good scissors while you might not need a super nice pair or scissors to begin with this is the one item (next to a really good iron) I would suggest spending a little more cash on.   Any sewing store will have a few good scissors to choose from.  Make sure to get a pair that is all stainless steel and about 8 ".  They typically are priced $25-$50. Now that you have a new good pair of scissors, repeat after me "I will not use my new scissors on anything but fabric".  It will get dull quick if you do.
  • 1-2 seam rippers I seriously use mine all the time.  They are used to take out stitches.  I would suggest getting a few, since they cheap, indispensable, and easy to lose.
  • Pins (with heads) and a pin cushion
  • Thread to match your first project fabric
  • Needles (sewing machine standard size and hand sewing)
  • Marking Tools there are to many different options to cover them all, but here are a few: tailor's chalk, washable markers, tracing paper and wheel.  Really any one will work just use which one you feel comfortable with. 
  • Iron, an ironing board, and a press cloth.  A good iron is very helpful.  You don't need to go top of the line but I would not go with the cheapest iron you can find.  I have a Rowenta that I probably spent $50-60 on over 10 years ago.  I love it and have had no problems with it.  Make sure that your iron has an option to shoot steam through the fabric.  It is so worth the extra money.  Other features that are plus but not essential are being able to use tap water (otherwise you need to use only distilled water so there are no mineral deposits on your iron), having a larger water tank (so you don't have to keep refilling it), more holes in the sole plate (more even distribution of steam), and a higher wattage (allows for higher temps). A press cloth is used to protect your iron from man made materials melting onto your iron or from fabric that has melted on your iron to your fabric while ironing.  Any clean 100 % cotton fabric will do.  I use an old hand towel for mine.  You just place your press cloth between your iron and your fabric your ironing. 
  • Tape Measure 
Here are is a video from threads magazine about notions and equipment which covers an even broader range of items then we have discussed so far, like rotary cutters, mats, rulers, etc.  I hope it helps to watch the tools in motion.

Notions 101 Threads Magazine

While shopping in the notion section you will notice a lot of items.  I would take some time out to learn what is available, but don't get to overwhelmed all you need is what's mentioned above to start with.  We will in a later lesson go over some other supplies that might be helpful after you learn the basics.


Homework
  • Your homework is to go shopping at your local sewing store and look at the notion section.  So now you have an excuse to shop!
  • Start or join a discussion on this page under comments about what your favorite sewing supplies are or ask any questions you still might have. 
Next lesson : Sewing Machine Basics, Learn About Your Machine.

New to sewing school?  Get caught up:
lesson 1: welcome and intro first,
lesson 2:  Guide to Buying a Sewing Machine.   

Next Lessons:
lesson 4: Getting to Know Your Machine 

lesson 6: How to Sew Straight, Curved, and Corners
lesson 7: How to Sew a Basic Seam
lesson 8: Trouble Shooting your Machine 
lesson 9: Basic Sewing Terms
lesson 10: How to Fix Tension on Your Sewing Machine
Lesson 11: How to Read a Sewing Pattern Envelope
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33 comments:

  1. Nice one.. Just to add some tips. Learn the sewing tools, equipment and materials that will be used. It is very difficult to make a garment if you don’t know what are the needed tools to create one it in the first place. Make sure you know what are the right tools and materials to use in making your clothes.

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  2. My favorite supply is the seam ripper: I am just too in a hurry to do over the stitch that i feel the need to rip fast!

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    1. The seam ripper is one of my favourites too Leanne. It is by far my most used sewing tool next to my scissors. I suggest buying at least 2 if not more, since they are so inexpensive and something you don't want to be without when working on a project.

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  3. Mine would also be the seam ripper!

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    1. I agree a seam ripper is indispensable! I always tell me students to buy a few since they are inexpensive and you never want to be without one! I keep one in my sewing machine (in the hidden compartment) and one with my supplies.

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  4. Pins with brightly colored heads are a favorite because i tend to drop the pins and silver pins blend into my carpet

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    1. Good point Tieya! It's very important to make sure you are not dropping pins on the floor. I know I don't want to step on that! Nor would anyone else you live with or pets (assuming you don't live alone). I would suggest in addition to bright colored pins you make sure to always have a pin cushion nearby your sewing machine and to get into the habit to always put your pins into your pin cushion immediately. One good way to do this is to make a pincushion for your machine here is a tutorial for that http://icanfindthetime.blogspot.com/2010/07/sewing-machine-pin-cushion.html

      Happy Sewing!

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    2. I like these types of pins too. My problem isn't just in dropping them, but my 2 year old likes to be like her mommy and I often times will find her on my sewing table pulling the pins out of the cushion and putting them into fabric. The bright heads help me to make sure I don't leave any laying around on accident :)

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  5. I haven't done any sewing yet. Mainly because figuring out dimensions and stuff on my own is pretty intimidating to me. So my favorite would be store bought patterns or templates. I ordered some for a purse and waiting for it to come in as well as waiting on my machine.

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  6. I'm with Ariez. just bought my sewing machine online and i'm waiting for it to get here so i haven't use any tools yet. as a kid i use to love one of my dads old machines (even though i never really practiced much on it).

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    1. I would suggest first purchasing a seam ripper (if not 2), and pins and a pincushion, and thread. Often you can actually find all of the above mentioned supplies at your local non craft store, like Target or Walgreen’s. So no need to make a special trip to the store to get started. You will eventually need all the supplies mentioned in this post, but those are the most important ones you will always need to sew. Hope this helps Yanike, and thanks for your comment.

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  7. I have to say, I hate the seam ripper. Purely because I use it SO often that it's almost a friendly enemy! A bit of a love-hate relationship, that's for sure. I love my rotary cutter the most and my trusty lifelong seamstress scissors.

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  8. I also love the seam ripper...as I use it on EVERY project. This is going to be a challenge for me because it seems EVERYTHING I do is a challenge. lol

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  9. My favorite notion is the rotary cutter

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    1. I myself have not used a rotary cutter, but they can be indispensable depending on what kind of project you are doing. If you do a lot of quilting, or for cutting straight lines for example. It could also be useful for making Tarn (yarn made out of t-shirts). Thanks for the comment Ava!

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  10. Hello i am new to all of this! I was hoping that someone could help me figure out store would be best to purchase all of the essential tools i will nee to get started!! I am planning on learning how to sew and then going to school for Fashion Design!! If someone could send me a message through my facebook account my name is Hannah Kralik and my picture is of me and my daughter. Or email me at magicmaster0710@gmail.com. Thank you i am so excited to get started on this journey!!!

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  11. I also love the seam ripper! I am in hopes of making new sewing notion friends because Miss S. Ripper has been taking advantage of my weaknesses ( sewing )!

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  12. My favorite notion is the seam ripper.

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  13. I always love getting to use the rotary blade. I love how nice and straight it cuts the fabric!

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  14. I like the pins with coloured heads, they are by far easier to see than the silver coloured heads.

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  15. Hello my name is marian. I was hoping that someone can tell me about and online fabric store where i can purchase my fabric that has reasonable prices because the local stores don't have much of a selection.l plan on sharpening my skills so l can start sewing for other people.

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  16. I'm another fan of the seam ripper! I have stopped using all of my sewing tools over the past years with the exception of the seam ripper.

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  17. rotary cutter and seam ripper

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  18. I just got a pair of heavy duty old pinking shears at a garage sale for $1. They feel so good in the hand and will last forever!

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  19. I must admit, I don't have a favorite yet. Perhaps once I begin sewing a bit more, I might discover that I have a favorite.

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  20. hello, i love the video about the supplies we need before sewing. please what do i do if there are no notion section in our local sewing shops

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    1. I would just ask someone at the store where to find what you are looking for.

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  21. What in the world is a portable bobbin winder and do I need one lol

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    1. A portable bobbin winder is a way to wind a bobbin without a machine. I bought one because my winder no longer works on my machine and it was cheaper to buy that then to have it fixed. It can help to have one so that you don't have to rethread your machine to wind a bobbin.

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  22. Oh and what is that rotary cutter and do I need one of those? I always see them use one on project runway but after looking at them in the store, I'm really confused lol.

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    1. Watch the above video it talks about rotary cutters

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  23. I love the seam ripper... There isn't as much variety here in Malawi but I have got the basics. Am excited about the sewing lessons.

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  24. i just got my machine and found the cutest cactus pin cushion, so that has to be my favorite item lol

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