So, you've got your fabric, maybe you picked up a book or two on sewing projects. Maybe you've got so many things pinned on Pinterest you'll be sewing until Christmas! What now you ask? Before you jump into things you're making sure you're ready to get started.
Whether you're a beginner or have been sewing for a while you can never have too much thread! Ok, maybe you can but it's one of those things where you may not have every shade of green, but you will most certainly have a thread to coordinate which ever project you're working on. Thread isn't the only thing you'll need to get this project completed. I've done a basic round-up of sewing essentials. You'll see some familiar friends and some not so ordinary. I'll walk you through them and their associates. Maybe you'll notice some big players aren't shown (i.e. scissors, rotary cutter, SEWING MACHINE) but not to worry, we'll go in-depth with those next week. Today is more of a "stocking up for a rainy day", for that whim of "I'm going to whip something up today and get lost in my stash". Let's get started!
Pictured above is a cluttered portion of my thread collection. I've got my basics: black and natural. I pick up white thread when I have a need for it, but I'm much more willing to use colored or natural thread for most projects. Natural, to me, blends in with a lot of fabrics, and it is a great color to keep on a bobbin for the mostly unnoticed under-side of projects. Like white thread, I tend to pick up a new shade of thread (or two) when I need to match a fabric, sometimes I will pick up a coordinating shade as well, for variety. Those spools won't just be helpful for what you're working on at the moment, but may come in surprisingly handy for a project down the road.
This can include anything from a jar full of buttons to ric-rac, ribbon, or various trims. Sales are a great time to pick up something you may like but not know quite what to do with. Scraps are always wonderful too, I suggest only keeping scraps of these kinds of things that are of a useful length. To me this means something at least 5-6 inches in length, but use your own discretion depending on the item. One tip I have, save all loose buttons, they'll come in handy for something! Similar items: clasps, hook and eye, and snaps.
Maybe you've noticed that I've used my rotary mat for the background of
these photos. This counts as a measuring tool, because without it you
wouldn't be able to line things up. A nice long ruler, like the clear
one shown at the top of the photo, doubles as a straight edge to cut
against as well as measuring flat items. The measuring tape can be used
to measure flat items, but is most handy when it comes to measuring
yourself (or a friend) for a garment.Those are the bigger picture items,
when it comes to sewing up your project the measuring gauge (center of
the picture) is equally important! This is such a handy little helper, mostly for seam allowance.
Snippers and seam ripper: These two go together like sprinkles on ice cream. Hand sewing or at the machine you'll need these guys. Snippers are so much more convenient to work with than full size scissors. Maybe have a couple sets of snippers, you'll always need to cut one last thread on a project. Same with the seam ripper. The one pictured is my go to seam ripper, easy to hold and won't break if I'm a little rough with it. I have a few less sturdy seam rippers, they are also travel friendly for tossing in a bag when I'm sewing on the go.
Pins: Just like thread, you can never have enough pins. Maybe you're like me and sometimes you pin every 1/4 of an inch. You'll need a lot of those for just one project. Sometimes you might lose one or two. Or they'll break when you sew over them. (Maybe I'm the only one with bad luck?) A magnetic pin dish is great too, but not necessary.
Marking pencil vs. chalk. To me it's like comparing a microwave to an oven. You wouldn't use a microwave for baking a pie and you wouldn't use an oven to make a hot pocket. Depending on the type of fabric you're working with you'll want to cater to it by using the correct tool. I like having both around, sometimes I use a felt tip marker depending on how much that will bleed.
Thimbles are great for hand sewing and quilting. Whether your project is big or small a thimble is likely to help keep your fingers from looking like a pin cushion. And again, depending on your needs you may want an old fashioned metal thimble for the tip of your finger or you would like extra padding for your knuckle. Keep them close and your hands will thank you!
Needles: In the picture you see sewing machine needles, but hand sewing needles are just as important. I keep a pack of different size needles (varying in length, thickness and size of the eye). Sewing machine needles will vary similarly, but also in a much bigger way. You will find that even within one pack of these needles they will vary in size, which we won't go into now. But they are also packed by what you will use them on, knits, denim, silks, etc. Similar item: needle threader.
Safety pins: The pins pictured are bent quilting safety pins, great for holding together multiple layers! Yes, I use them spaced out on quilts, but I also use them for projects where I've got multiple layers (3+). They're better than using straight pins (again, depending on the project) because they will keep your work flat, but puckered. It helps for when you're still in a planning phase but aren't quite ready to sew.
Elastic: Keeping different widths of elastic on hand isn't quite necessary for a beginner but is ideal for your average re-fashioner. Depending on the use you may need a heavier duty elastic, or thinner (and my favorite) 3/4" elastic. Again, one of those things that's good to stock up on when there's a sale. Similar items would be velcro, bias tape, zippers, belting or twill tape.
Sure, maybe sometimes you need an awl, a bias tape maker or fray check. These are helpful but maybe not something you're using every time you sew. These are my basics and most fit in my sewing buddy, or adjacent. Let us know what other essentials you keep handy! Next week we'll talk about our star helpers! Have a great weekend!