So maybe you have always wanted to sew but you’ve been too intimidated to try. Or maybe you finally got up the guts to try and snagged a sewing machine on Black Friday or got one for Christmas, but you’re thinking now what? Well, no need to be intimidated or lost any more.
Today I’m launching a new series- Sewing 101. In this series I’m going to cover a lot of the basics in a simple, simple way so that you can hit the ground running and start doing some sewing. Please believe me, it’s not as complicated as it seems and you will enjoy the creative process!
Also, you should know that I am not a professional seamstress or a granny who has quilted for 50 years… I love to sew and have been sewing for years but I may not always do things the “correct” way. Forgive me if you know better and I show how to do something my own way (quick & easy!) and not the proper way.
So let’s get to it. To start sewing you don’t need a ton of things but you will need some basic supplies.
- Hand-sewing Needles
You are going to want a variety of these. When I first started sewing again in 2010 my mom got me this 50-Piece assorted needle set and so far I have not needed to buy any others.
- Sewing Machine
Sewing by hand is OK for some projects but for many projects you are going to want a sewing machine. To begin with I recommend that you get a basic sewing machine. The more expensive sewing machines are amazing and can do so much more but I think before you spend the money on a more expensive machine you should be sure that you enjoy sewing. The SINGER 2259 and the Brother XL2600I are both similar to the machine I have been using for 3 years (The Singer Promise) and would make excellent beginner machines. I just got the Brother SE400 Combination Computerized Sewing and 4×4 Embroidery Machine for Christmas and I’m beyond excited to begin working with it.
- Sewing Machine Needles
Sewing machine needles wear out more often than you would think and when they wear out they no longer work properly, which messes up your work and that’s no fun. You want to have at least a few Size 11 and Size 12 needles on hand as those are generally appropriate a lot of fabrics. Depending on which fabrics you want to work with you may need some other sizes or needle types but I’ll talk more about that in my coming post on fabrics.
- Quilt Ruler
These are fantastic. I love that they help with measuring and keeping me straight and I especially love that they are clear. There are a few different sizes of these but the two I have are 6.5 X 24 inch ruler and a 5.5 inch square which I cannot find a link to anywhere online but it’s similar to a 5-Inch by 5-Inch. You can get a whole host of different sizes depending on what you need to make. I recommend starting with the 6.5 X 24 inch ruler as it is the one I use the most.
- Tailor’s Tape Measure
If you plan on making any clothing then a tailor’s tape measure is essential. And if your kids are like mine then they enjoy wearing it and you’ll never be able to find it. So maybe get two.
There is a whole world of scissors available to meet every sewing need you have. But before you mortgage your house to be able to afford them all maybe just start out with a couple pairs and then see what you need. I like having a pair of dressmaker’s shears and another pair of regular old scissors for snipping threads. One important thing to note about your scissors. Do not use them to cut anything other than your fabric or they will get dull and not cut as well.
- Rotary Cutter & Self-Healing Mat
I also really, really love my rotary cutter! But beware, I have sliced myself a time or two, so please be careful. A rotary cutter helps to get cutting done more quickly, especially when you’re quilting and a lot of cutting is involved. I also feel it helps me to be more precise. To go along with your rotary cutter you will need a cutting mat or you could purchase a kit that has a rotary cutter, quilting ruler, and mat all together.
Pins keep everything together. Good pins are essential to professional looking sewing. You’ll also need someplace handy to keep your pins when you need them. You can use a pincushion or a baby food jar like I do. Classy, I know.
Making marks on fabric is helpful when using some patterns so having some tailor’s chalk is useful.
- Seam Ripper
Sadly, not all projects go so well and things need to be undone. A seam ripper enables you to undo mistakes.
- Sewing Basket
You’re going to need somewhere to keep all the needles, scissors, etc. I have an old-school sewing basket. I also keep some things in a caddy so that I can quickly grab my scissors and rotary cutter quickly when I need them. However you choose to do it you will need some way of organizing your things so that they are where you need them when you need them.
- Iron & Ironing Board
A good iron is super important to sewing. I keep my iron and ironing board next to my sewing area in the basement because I use it way more for my sewing than I do for our clothes. Luckily this is one of the tools you probably already have on hand. Some will say that for sewing you need a really goo iron (and you do!) but until you know you’re really going to love sewing I would hold off on purchasing anything new and just make due with what you already have.
Hopefully this list gives you an idea of the stuff you should have on hand to get started sewing without being too overwhelming. Next week I’ll be sharing a lesson on getting familiar with your sewing machine. Future lessons will include how to choose fabrics and threads, getting started with your machine, hand stitches, and more so be sure to check back for future lessons or subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss any of them!
Are you interested in learning how to sew? Let me know what you’d like to see featured in this series.
Now onto Lesson 2: Getting to know your machine.