I want to sew, Where do I start? Part I

Sewing opens up a world of possibilities when it comes to your family's wardrobe, allows your creative vision to come to life, and is a great way to spend all that extra money you have lying around. (Kidding! You can get started with very little.) These posts contain affiliate links.

Before you go all in, decide on a budget for your inital purchases. Once you decide sewing is definitely for you, then you can decide whether you would like to invest more. There are couple of items that are MUST haves for sewing, and many more that are helpful but not absolutely necessary.

Don't worry if you don't understand all of the vocabulary here. We will cover a lot of it later. 


MUST HAVE: Fabric shears. Sharper and constructed differently from paper and other craft scissors, and you will definitely notice a difference when they cut through fabric like butter.

save: Singer 561 561 8-1/2-Inch Professional Series Scissors Heavy Duty Bent 

splurge: Gingher 8-Inch Knife Edge Dressmaker's Shears

Nice to have: Rotary cutter. Much easier on the wrist, especially for large projects. Added bonus is that they create very smooth lines. The downside is that the blades need to be changed every so often or they stop working. 

save: Fiskars 45 mm Stick Rotary Cutter

splurge: Olfa Deluxe Rotary Cutter (60mm)


MUST HAVE: Sewing needles. While kind of a no-brainer, sewing needles are sort of by definition necessary for sewing. Look for a set with different sizes and a threader all in a case. 

save: Singer Assorted Hand Needles in Compact, 25-Count

Nice to have: A sewing machine. You can definitely sew entirely by hand, but it is time consuming and more difficult to be precise. There is nothing wrong with finding a used sewing machine, just make sure it works before you drive it off the lot. You can also find a machine for beginners. Brother is a popular entry level brand.

save: Brother XM2701 Lightweight, Full-Featured Sewing Machine with 27 Stitches, 1-Step Auto-Size Buttonholer, 6 Sewing Feet, and Instructional DVD 

splurge: Janome 4120QDC-B Computerized Quilting and Sewing Machine with Bonus Quilt Kit


MUST HAVE: Pins. While you are sewing a seam, you will need something to hold the pieces of fabric in line. Try to get the kind with glass heads so that they won't melt when you iron. 

save: Dritz 250 Piece Quilting Extra Fine Glass Head Pins

Nice to have: Clips. Safer than pins, but more expensive. Great for thicker fabrics. You would still need pins for any fabrics that won't be attached at the seam (for example, applique or topstitching). 

save: IPOW 100 PCS-2 Sizes Plastic Clips Multicolor for Sewing Clips,Crafting,Crochet and Knitting,All Purpose Clips for Quilting Binding Clips,Paper Clips,Blinder Clips


MUST HAVE: A tailors tape. Before you sew clothing, you will need to use your (or your models) measurements to choose a size according to the sizing chart that comes with the pattern. Tailors tape is flexible, so you can wrap it around where you need to measure.  You will also need a way to measure the seam allowance (which we'll cover next time) , and while you can use a hem ruler, before you dive in, you can use a tailors tape. 

save: Singer 96-Inch Extra Long Vinyl Tape Measure

Nice to have: Quilters ruler. For long, straight lines including bands for necklines and waistbands, nothing beats a quilters ruler. They come in many different widths and lengths. I recommend 24" by 6", which is long and wide enough to do most clothing projects (even if you have to fold the fabric and then cut... we'll cover that later

The one I have :) Omnigrip 6-Inch-by-24-Inch Non-Slip Quilter's Ruler

MUST HAVE: Fabric. You really cant sew without fabric. Hit your nearest fabric or craft store and look for muslin fabric. This lightweight and inexpensive fabric is perfect for practicing all sorts of stitches without breaking the bank. Muslin is also a term for a first draft of a pattern that you may make up to check for fit before using your *nice* fabric.

Nice to have: A variety of fabrics to work with. Muslin is athin,  woven material. Woven is a popular choice for beginning sewists since it doesn't stretch along the grainlines. Once you are comfortable with different stitches, its time to invest in other types of fabric. The two major categories are woven and knit (more on the differences later), but within those categories there are many different fibers and construction methods. Woven includes jeans, burlap, quilte's fabric, and shirting. Knits include jersey, swim, brushed poly, and wicking layers. It's good to get familiar with the different types so that when you start sewing you will know what you're working with. 


Next time, we will talk about some lingo and techniques!


What's your MUST HAVE item for sewing? Anything that you would add to this list?