Sewing Essentials for Beginners

From the olden days where maidens at home sewed beautiful, intricate tapestries to the advent of modern high fashion, sewing has and always will be a fundamental skill that finely balances artistry, creativity, and craftsmanship. Now take a good look around your home – from your quilted bedsheet to your beloved wedding dress to even your favorite backpack, the influence of sewing has permeated every facet of our daily lives.

Keeping this in mind, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say this: everyone should give sewing a good try. 

Not only is it a crucial skill to help us through our daily lives but above all else, it is a highly enjoyable and rewarding hobby! You will be able to craft your own garments and accessories amongst other things, but above all else, you’ll have a chance to express your inner creativity into something tangible, real and beautiful.

Heck, it even lets you have a little ‘me-time’, improves your hand-eye coordination skills and may even broaden your social network if you reach out to sewing communities! 

Wait! Before you dive straight into the world of sewing, we have to be honest. Sewing isn’t easy and will require time, effort and dedication. That being said, we truly believe that anyone with even an ounce of interest will be able to have a fruitful experience with sewing. But even before all that, you’ll need some essential tools to even begin.

After all, what is an artist without a canvas and paint? Or a violinist without a violin or bow? So, this is where we come in – we’ve compiled a list of ten essential tools you need to have in your toolkit to get started as a beginner tailor down below.

Best Sewing Essentials for Beginners

 

1. Threads

Gutermann 26 Spool Thread Box

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Almost similar and analogous to the surgeon and his stitches, the thread to a tailor is their absolute lifeline. It is this very thin piece of string that will hold and bind the entire finished product together. It doesn’t matter whether you’re playing around with embroidery or skirts or suits, this thin line is what is universally shared amongst all sewed creations. While there are an endless variety of threads out there, we strongly recommend you purchase a spool of thread that is on the upper end of quality – no one wants to spend hours rethreading and repairing damage from broken threads after all! 

On that note, we personally love using Gutermann’s products and feel that their 26 Spool Thread box is a fantastic way for any beginner to equip themselves with high-quality threads of every color they may require from black to bone to charcoal.

2. Sewing Needles

Colonial Needle JJP11039 Pebbles Sharps Needles-Size 3/9 16/Pkg

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While modern sewing nowadays predominantly uses machines, any tailor will still need to equip themselves with a good set of old fashioned sewing needles. Sure, machines can do the heavy work but when you’re dealing with more intricate stuff like sewing buttons or onto a shirt or even playing around with hems, only hand sewing needles will suffice to do the trick.

And just like threads, you will certainly need sturdy, durable needles to ensure you don’t have to buy a new pack every month or so. 

If you don’t have a preference for any brand yet or don’t even know what you’re going to be sewing, we suggest you grab a pack of Colonial Needle’s Pebbles – they come in every possible size you might require for any variety of creations and will last for the many months to come.

 

3. Sewing Machine

Brother SE600 Sewing and Embroidery Machine, 80 Designs, 103 Built-In Stitches, Computerized, 4' x...

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By far the most expensive thing you’ll need to get started is a decent sewing machine (think of it as a long-term investment). This tool will be absolutely fundamental for anything you might want to create and without a sewing machine, you won’t be able to get the ball rolling much like a pianist without a piano.

There is a multitude of sewing machines out there that seemingly do things differently but don’t feel intimidated by this. All you need to do is to choose a reliable machine that is both affordable and adaptable to your needs. And if you’re not sure what you want to sew yet, the importance of quality, the flexible machine cannot be understated. It’s best to be overpriced than underprepared after all.

So, if you’re in the market for a sewing machine, do note that we wholeheartedly suggest you consider Brother Machine’s SE600. Not only is it fully computerized but it comes with 80 built-in designs, 103 built-in sewing stitches, an LCD touch display, automatic threader and even provides its own lighting.

This is professional-level equipment so you can rest assured that this will last for years if taken care of and will do the trick for just about any project on your mind.

4. Scissors

Singer Bundle - Detail Scissors, Thread Snips, 8.5' Scissors

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Another fundamental tool to have in your toolkit, though lower on the rung of price, is a pair of scissors. But wait, take careful note: you can’t just get away with any pair of scissors. Not only will you need something sharp, but you’ll also need something specifically designed to cut fabrics and you’ll need something reliable!

And equally important to remember is that you most certainly cannot use these scissors to cut anything else – not paper, not plastic not even rubber.

The moment you do this is the moment your scissors become dull and lose their edge thus wasting your money.

If you don’t have a decent pair of scissors yet, you should look at Singer’s Bundle which comes with 3 pairs of scissors each designed specifically for different purposes. With a set like this, you can rest assured that you’ll be equipped to handle any sort of task! 

5. Patterns

Skirt-a-Day Sewing: Create 28 Skirts for a Unique Look Every Day

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Before you even begin to start sewing, take a good look at your own skills and ask yourself: do you have any idea how to even begin sewing and designing your own products? Chances are if you’re reading this guide, you probably don’t. 

Drafting beautiful patterns for anything from quilts to clothes is a delicate and complex art that has its own nuances and can take a lifetime to learn. So, to get around this lengthy process, you’ll need a good guide to learn the basics of drafting. We suggest you look around for a decent book or video tutorial that interests you.

For instance, Nicole Smith’s Skirt-a-Day Sewing pattern guide is universally respected and loved if you’re into stylish skirts!

6. Iron

BLACK+DECKER Classic Steam Iron, F67E

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No one – beginner and pro alike – likes to sew with crumpled materials with uneven surfaces. After all, there’s a good reason why artists don’t craw on creased paper! You simply won’t be able to bring out your creation’s fullest potential.

A good iron will both help you work your way through pressing seams, but it will also eliminate any annoying wrinkles that may get hinder your efforts. 

The good news is you don’t have to go out of your way to get a pricy, super-fancy iron for your sewing needs – any high-quality steam iron like BLACK+DECK’s Classical Steam Iron will do just fine.

 

7. Machine Needles

Euro-Notions Universal Machine Needles

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Machine needles are a tailor’s ammunition when it comes to sewing and will do most of the heavy work for you (i.e. the stitching). The art of selecting the perfect needle for your needs is an intricate one and only time and experience can help you decide.

To get started, we suggest you purchase a set of universal needles that are perfect for any generalist such as Euro-Notions’s Universal Machine Needles.

Oh, and before we forget, do make sure you buy more needles than you think you need. All beginners will make mistakes (e.g. not threading the sew with your sewing machine the right way) that will cause your needles to break. So, to save you the trouble of repeated orders, stock up! 

 

8. Seam Ripper

Dritz 665 Seam-Fix Seam Ripper, Large

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A seam ripper is akin to an eraser – if you make a mistake while stitching, fret not for a seam ripper will undo any errors by effortlessly removing stitches. As a beginner, you are almost guaranteed to make countless mistakes, so the usefulness of a seam ripper goes without saying.

Do take note, however, that seam rippers tend to dull out quickly so make sure you purchase at least two to three units before getting to work. Try also finding something well-used by tailors across the world like Dritz’s 665 Seam-Fix Seam Ripper – can’t go too wrong if you follow the established crowd! 

 

9. Tape Measure

CLOVER 'Shiro Tape Measure

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While some may scoff at how seemingly obvious it is for a tailor to have a tape measure, we cannot stress enough on how important it is. Taking accurate measurements is crucial to ensure whatever you’re making is a good fit and that you are minimizing any wastage of materials. 

Sure, you can technically use something more rigid like a ruler, but tape measures will be far easier and convenient to use in comparison. What a ruler can do, a tape measure can also do and then some!

Further, there are specifically designed tape measures intended for sewing such as CLOVER’s Shiro Tape Measure, so we recommend you don’t get just any tape measure if you can afford it.

 

10. Serger

Brother 1034D 3/4 Thread Serger with Differential Feed and Brother 5300 Universal Sewing Machine...

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A serger is much like a sewing machine – it is a specialized tool. While some out there may say it’s not essential for every tailor’s toolkit, we strongly believe it will only complement your sewing machine.

They will help you to sew seams, trim allowances and overcast all in one fell swoop thus saving huge amounts of time that could be better spent on designs and drafting up ideas.

These things, however, aren’t exactly cheap and can rack up a high price so it’s essential to balance out quality and cost. On that end, Brother Serger’s easy-to-use 1034D offers the best balance between these two factors and with its intuitive design, even a beginner can grasp how to effectively use this machine in a matter of days! 

Before You Sew: 4 Things to Note

Overspending

 The biggest mistake we always see beginners make is when they rush out and choose the most expensive sewing machine out there. There’s nothing wrong with going for high-quality products but for a beginner, pricey products are overkill. They’ll have features and nuances that will go underappreciated and thus, your money will be wasted.

Think about it this way: if you were starting out on the piano, would you go and get yourself a Steinway Grand Piano for your first instrument? Absolutely not. You’d start out with something far humbler before making a costly investment.

Measurements

Taking measurements accurately and properly isn’t a walk in the park if you’ve never done this before. It’s actually is a skill that takes time, patience and practice – without making good measurements, your product isn’t going to be the right size and you could be wasting expensive materials.

To get a grasp of this, we suggest you do some research with internet resources or find someone skilled to show you the ropes before sewing.

Baby Steps

We get that you have a newfound burning passion for sewing and may want to charge out of the gate with guns blazing by taking on multiple projects all at once but hold on. Don’t forget that you are just a beginner! Ambition is a great motivator to have but we want to emphasize that your first priority is to learn how to sew properly.

You can’t really do this if you’re rushing through multiple projects. Focus on one project at a time with all your attention, learn from the mistakes you make and appreciate the finer details instead of overwhelming yourself and you’ll be able to set yourself on the right path towards success.

Expectations

Take a deep breath and relax – you’re sewing for your enjoyment first and foremost. You shouldn’t expect an A-grade, perfect product from the start. Expect to fail and be constantly humbled.

Sewing is a lifelong journey that (when done right and with love) will be able to accompany you throughout your life so don’t worry, there’s no rush at all, just take your time and learn along the way while keeping an open mind and you’ll be a fine tailor in no time.