25 of the Most Essential Sewing Tools and Equipment to Get Started
We all know that having the best sewing tools to practice is what really makes sewing an enjoyable activity. In fact, getting a few essentials tools can make all the difference.
So, what exactly would we recommend you go about using in your own sewing room? Well, that answer will largely depend on your own skill level and the size of space you will be able to dedicate to your sewing.
There are many different types of sewing tools you can get to make your sewing faster and easier so let me take you over the essential sewing tools and equipment that are a necessity in every single sewing room, from the very basic needle and thread to the fancier tools.
Read carefully and start taking your sewing time to its fullest potential.
1. Basic Stitching Tools
2. Sewing Pinning Tools
3. Sewing Measuring Tools
A Sliding Gauge
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4. Sewing Marking Tools
The old adage about measuring twice and cutting once is especially true with sewing. And all of the measurings in the world won’t do you a lick of good if you fail to properly mark your measurements down.
In sewing, marking tools usually take the form of chalk or marking pins. Of course, simple chalk isn’t going to be good for many types of textiles, luckily there is a variety of marking tools specifically designed for use with fabrics and sewing.
The old standby you have probably used yourself or seen used in movies is white triangular chalk that is known as Tailor’s chalk. This chalk, like all chalks, has the benefit of being able to be easily rubbed or washed off of fabric as required and it usually can be found in thin triangular slices that are great for marking on a variety of materials. Be aware though that it may not work as well for particularly fibrous or thick threaded textiles.
If you need more precision than a Tailor’s chalk can provide, consider going with chalk pencils. These pencils offer as much fine control as a conventional pencil and are good for heavier fabrics like denim or canvas. A perk is that chalk pencils can be sharpened like any regular pencil. However, if the sharpening of a pencil proves to be a drag for you, consider going with a refillable chalk cartridge pen. These cartridge chalk pens have the added benefit of easily allowing the user to swap colors.
A chalk pencil
The best marking tool for fabrics that also can be hot ironed, such as wool, is often wax. This is because the wax will disappear under the heat of the iron and leave the fabric unblemished.
The newest product to be introduced of the fabric marking variety is air-erasable, fabric pens. These pens are great because they can roll on like a conventional ink pen and that after a couple of days of exposure the marking will vanish on their own.
5. Sewing Cutting Tools
If you are just starting out, you will be able to get away with a simple pair of office scissors for most tasks that require a cut of fabric or thread. But where is the fun in that? Besides, when you upgrade to better scissors, not only will they last longer, but you’ll be able to more easily employ fringes and other styles into your works.
Fabric sheers are a utilitarian pair of blades that are best for cutting off large swaths of textiles in one go.
Conventional all-around scissors are a must-have and adding a pair or two with different blades for ripping seems, pinking, or embroidery is a safe bet. Of course, if you are left-handed, be sure to get a pair of lefty scissors.
Looking for some more advanced cutting tools?
An X-Acto knife is a good tool to make precision cuts or scores. These types of blades are lightweight and easy to handle, but children’s use should be supervised. Scoring some fabrics with an X-Acto knife is an easy way to distress them and simulate age.
You can also use a rotary cutter as it can be a really useful tool for more advanced sewers, but be aware that it should only be used in combination with the proper cutting table or self-healing mat – we’ll speak about those later -, as they will cut right through your medium and onto the surface below.
A final basic but somehow advanced cutting tool you’ll see is a thread snipper that lets you easily cut the end of the thread when you’re machine sewing. You’ll see how helpful it is to have it right beside your sewing machine.
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6. Sewing Pressing Tools
A clothes iron may seem like a prosaic piece of equipment to have included on this list, but a good iron is an essential piece of equipment that can truly be a lifesaver, as anyone who has struggled with a persistent wrinkle can attest to. And that’s a good reason to include an iron in your sewing room because if the pieces of clothing you’re trying to sew together have wrinkles, stitching a straight line is close to impossible – and I firmly believe nothing is impossible -.
Besides, it’s also one piece of equipment, that as long as it is of high-quality and well taken care of, doesn’t need to be exclusively reserved for sewing use, but can instead be shared amongst the household.
Some functions that are important to look for in a good iron include:
- The ability to mist or spray garments with steam. Higher-end models will allow you to make fine adjustments to these settings.
- Different heating settings are designed for different materials. For example, cotton would be a different heat setting than synthetic material. Some synthetic materials will burn or scar easily when closely exposed to high temperatures.
- An easy-to-fill water reservoir that also doesn’t leak or dribble water onto your garments. Getting excess water on an item you are attempting to iron can actually slow down the entire process.
Mini Steam Iron
7. 6 Extra Tools You Need in your Sewing Room
A Good Stash of Fabric
If you think of sewing like painting, then different fabrics are akin to the colors that make up an artist’s palate. So, it should come as little wonder that one of the most important things for anyone trying to build a good sewing room is to ensure plenty of storage for fabrics. While it may be intimidating to go into your local fabric store and order a yard of something off the wall now, soon you will find that you can hardly resist the siren call of buying “just a yard or two” of fabric.
When going about building your own fabric stash, don’t forget these principles:
- Try to get at least a yard of fabric if you want to be able to make something useful out of it.
- If you plan on buying from a fabric outlet you will most likely need to purchase a yard of fabric minimum.
- Especially in the beginning, try to mix and match different colors and designs so that you can be sure to have a varied palate to try to draw from for your sewing projects.
- While care instructions will differ for different textiles, in general, keep your fabrics in a dry, temperate space. Be sure to store them away from any direct sources of heat or light. Consider hanging longer pieces of fabric that may wrinkle easily, like satin or silk.
- When considering how much fabric to buy, keep in mind these approximations. In general, fabric that is 44 inches wide will require 2-yards of fabric for a skirt or shorts, 3-yards of fabric for long pants, 4-yards for a dress, and 1-and-a-half-yards for a shirt or blouse.
Sewing is a uniquely visual medium, and a little bit of planning when undertaking a new project can often save a whole host of trouble later on. For those that find it hard to come up with ideas for new projects, perhaps designating a physical space to brainstorm can help unlock some latent creativity.
So, what does a good idea board look like?
Honestly, it can look however you want it to, as long as it helps you in your creative process. For some people this may be a whiteboard where they can write down measurements and keep track of ideas, for others a pinboard with fabric swatches may be preferable. Feel free to experiment to find whatever works best for you.
Dressing forms may seem like an advanced, or luxury, sewing item to have, something that only professionals would have a need for, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone from the professional designer to the simple hobby stitcher can greatly benefit from a dressing form’s aid. For those that are having trouble with placing what a dressing form is, think of a clothing store mannequin, but often with a soft cloth exterior that can be used to pin in fabric or patterns, and without any arms or head articulated off of the body. Imagine just a shoulder and torso and you have the basic idea of a dressing form.
While you can spend good money and get a professionally made dressing form, you can also order a cheap one online. Making your own dressing form is another good option you have, it’ll require just a few basic materials and will be a good test of some of your sewing skills.
When thinking of a dressing form of your own, keep these considerations in mind:
- Dress forms will differ based on desired body type. For example, a dressing form for a man will have a rounder chest while one for a woman will have a bust.
- Be sure to have a height-adjustable dressing form handy if you are planning on sewing any garments like skirts or pants.
- Dressing forms can also be had for specific body parts like the head or feet. These are useful if you primarily work on the same body part.
A mirror is a great tool for anyone who likes to model their own clothes for fit. So, while you can probably get away with repurposing a mirror from around your house, what you really are going to want to do is have one within a quick eye’s glance. This is because a mirror can let you get a second look of eyes on your work quickly and easily, even if you’re all by yourself.
Other factors to include in your own mirror selection include:
- Get a mirror that is taller than it is wide so that you can see any outfits you are working on from top to bottom.
- In a pinch, you can hold up a hand mirror, like this one, while facing with your back towards a larger mirror so that you can see what is happening behind you.
- To get a sense of your sewing with more depth of field, consider making yourself a three-way mirror. Such a setup can be had easily by organizing three mirrors together at a specific angle, as described in this blog post. This is useful because you can then view the sides and front of your creations simultaneously.
To be honest, putting a chair this far down on the list is a travesty to its importance, as anyone who has ever altered a large dress can tell you, having a comfortable chair can make all the difference in the world in terms of enjoyment between the first and fifteenth hours. Think about it this way, if you don’t have a comfy chair to look forward to doing your sewing in, you probably won’t end up doing much sewing at all.
So, having the right chair for sewing is clearly important, but what factors, in particular, should be noted? Well, a good sewing chair will provide the following:
- Normally, sewing chairs tend not to have armrests as they can sometimes get in the middle when you’re sewing or moving around the fabric. However, considering whether having a chair with arms that extend out comfortably to support either the forearms or elbows during sewing activity is something you’ll need or not.
- An essential but often forgotten lower back support, it can be supplemented with a cushion as needed.
- Consider ease of movement with a feature such as wheels for rolling. This will be helpful when you want to move a piece from station-to-station around your sewing space without the hassle of having to stand up and adjust everything.
- Make sure your chair has a good, thick cushion for the seat. This is more than recommended, and your bottom will thank you after a long stitching session!
A vacuum is another tool that might not immediately come to mind as important, but if you ever do work with something tiny like sequins, then you know how indispensable of a tool a vacuum can be. However, this doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy a new, high-powered shop vac, as you can probably get away with sharing a vacuum with the rest of your house.
But if you are wondering what to keep in mind as you look for a vacuum for your sewing space, keep the following in mind:
- You don’t need the most powerful vacuum on the market for your sewing room. Too much power may damage the clothing or stitching that you are working on so a handheld vacuum is probably fine, and they have the added benefit of generally being less powerful.
- Be sure to be on the lookout for a vacuum with different nozzles and head attachments that will be gentle on your garment, yet still be able to remove any dirt, dust, or pet hair.
- Feel free to use it for different purposes. Almost any small, battery-operated vacuum cleaner, like this one normally used to clean laptops, will be good enough to keep your sewing area clean and free of dust and dirt.
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8. Sewing Storage Equipment
As your collection of sewing materials grows, so too will you need to have the proper storage system for it. While, for some, this can mean a sewing cabinet with fancy wooden drawers filled with special needles and patterns, for others it can be as simple as a plastic bin, or an old shoebox. Whatever you use to organize your sewing, as long as it works for you, will be just fine.
Sewing Table or Sewing Cabinet
A good sewing table is a right foundation on which any good sewing space is built. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy, or something that you have bought especially for this purpose. In fact, you can probably use a table you already have around the house, and, in a pinch, other flat surfaces will do.
However, in order to facilitate and not hinder your work, all sewing tables should have the following
- A sewing table should provide a good surface on which to work, this includes one that is flat and clean.
- You will want your sewing table to be made of a heavy material, such as wood, so that it is sturdy enough to handle the vibrations caused by equipment, such as sewing machines.
- The best level for a sewing table is whatever you find comfortable personally. You want to take care not to put pressure on the back or arms when sewing and having a table that is at the proper height can ensure this doesn’t happen. If you are having trouble finding out what height might work best for you, go with whatever height your dining room table is at and adjust from there.
- Make sure your sewing table is free from anything that could catch or snag your sewing. You don’t want to have your hard work marred by a stray screw or splinter!
- Although you can obviously sew with no storage around, the best sewing tables will have multiple drawers, like a regular office desk.
- Professional sewing tables often will envelop you on three sides, so that you have much more usable surface area. Since such tables can be very expensive, if you want to achieve a similar effect, you can save money by grouping smaller tables around yourself.
Table + Storage
Sewing Cutting Table or Self-Healing Mat
While you may think that your sewing table is a perfectly suitable place to do your cutting, you would be mistaken. A cutting table and a sewing table are one and the same thing only if they absolutely have to be. They actually are two separate stations, as you wouldn’t want to score or scrape up your sewing table, or any other surface, and you may also need a surface on which you can pin things in place as well.
Some may have space for a dedicated cutting table, others may want to look into a cutting mat that can be removed when not in use.
For any sewing process, the table to be used for cutting will need to fulfill some basic qualities:
- A cutting table need not be as sturdy or heavy as a sewing table, as you won’t be putting anything like a sewing machine on top of it.
- Many people swear by a self-healing mat which can be useful for sticking things down while scoring and also keeping cuts straight.
- Some companies make portable or foldable cutting tables. For the most part, buying such tables is no more efficient than putting a self-healing mat on a card table yourself.
Grid Top Table
Some tips to help you organize your sewing space in no time
- Keep alike items stored together so you can easily find them. For example, it’s a lot easier to find one particular ribbon amongst many of them, than it is to find ribbon mixed in with string, needles, and scissors.
- Consider using a pin cushion for storing your most often used pins. This can be as simple as reusing an old pillow, or something you can use for practice and make yourself.
- Don’t be afraid to use your walls for extra storage space! People forget about the vertical area around them when considering how to maximize their available space for storage. Even just adding a few wall hooks can make a huge difference.
- Don’t feel pressured into thinking you have to buy fancy wooden drawers. While they obviously can be nice for storing thread and needles, they don’t need to be bought new. If you care to look, you can often find nice drawers for much cheaper at local flea markets, vintage shops, or yard sales.
- You can never have enough storage baskets, use them to hold irregular objects that aren’t easily tucked away in drawers, like scissors and spools of yarn.
- Collecting fabric is fantastic and even just having a basket for fabric scraps you may be able to make use of later is a good idea. Organizing them in a transparent basket will help you clean faster.
And this concludes our guide with the basic sewing tools and equipment to organizing the perfect sewing room for any space. We hope that you’ve learned something new and that you’ve enjoyed your reading.
Thank you for making it this far!
Some more articles you can read:
Of course, the most basic sewing tools are a needle and some thread. But if what you really want to know is the essential sewing tools every sewing room should include, here’s a complete list.
While the list we’ve created goes from the most basic tools to some more amateur ones, as a beginner, you want to focus on the first three categories: stitching, pinning, and cutting.
A sewing kit usually includes some needles, some thread, a thimble, a pair of small scissors, a thread ripper, and some measuring tape.
I wouldn’t say there are 8 types as some of them actually intertwined. I’d say the most important types of sewing machines are regular sewing, quilting, embroidery, sergers, and coverstitch machines. Then, all of them can include some bells and whistles like some decorative stitches and again, all of them can be made for domestic use or industrial purposes. Some might be mechanical while others are computerized.
In any case, you can read a complete buyers guide that goes over the different types here.