“What is a good starter pack for a beginner sewer?” …right?
I want to start by letting you know that there isn’t such kit that’s yet available to buy in the market that you can grab off the shelf and begin your sewing. That is why my request to you is to view this post as ‘The Kit’ Why?
because I have, I have curated a list of the 13 sewing essentials for beginners.
The bare sewing essentials that any person who wants to start sewing clothes will need hands down!
It’s the stuff that I would pack in a suitcase if I had to… start life over again in Mars!
Wait-what? that’s such a lame joke!
BUT you get my point!
P.s I would like you to know that I haven’t added anything extra to the list because I understand how quickly things can add up, especially with a craft like sewing. Plus you may be glad to find that you already have some of these stuff at home.
I also want you to go into reading this post knowing that this is the stuff that even if you don’t buy one of the items from the list today, then at some point sooner or later you will need it.
Therefore my advice is that you grab a pen and paper and jot down the list to make sure you’re well equipped before you start on your project.
Here’s the list at a glance with quick links as well:
- Sewing machine
- Fabric shears
- Standard paper scissor
- Seam ripper
- Tape measure
- Thread Snips
- Two other optional yet potentially essential items you may need to consider
Here are the 13 sewing box essentials every dressmaker must have:
1. Sewing machine
A sewing machine will help speed up the sewing process in making our clothes. There are two ways you can attain one; use a preloved one or buy one brand new. Either way, the one thing that’s vital is that the machine should be able to make decent stitches. Without problems like skipping stitches or irregular stitches as this will result in you having a garment made with weak seams. Plus it’s frustrating!
When you’re on the lookout to purchase a new machine then it’s worth knowing what you intend to use it for in the long run. Heres why;
Sewing machines come with many different features and abilities where some are better for upholstery sewing, some for quilting and others for sewing clothes. Therefore knowing this beforehand will help to nudge you in the right direction.
Being that here at Start Making Clothes my focus is to help someone who wants’s to sew clothes then I sure will help you find the one for that purpose.
What is the best sewing machine for beginners any recommendations?
I recommend the Brother XM2701 sewing machine for a beginner. It is the best budget-friendly machine that I found to best suit somebody that intends to make clothes.
I have also written a whole post under how to choose the best sewing machine so you can check that out for more info.
The scissors that you cut your fabric with should glide through it like butter, which means without it tugging or pulling at the fabric threads causing unwanted distortion in the fabric.
3. Standard paper scissors
You may think “well, I have the fabric shears for my sewing stash so I’ll skip on this one!” …please, don’t. The reason being we want to avoid using our fabric shears to cut paper. This is so we can keep our fabric shears stricktly for the use of fabric, so we don’t blunt/damage the blade.
When it comes to sewing and making our clothes, we need our fabric shears to be able to snip through the fabric without tugging and pulling our final fabric (ultimately damaging the fabric).
Therefore having a regular scissor handy in the toolbox to cut out your paper patterns with is a good idea. AND you don’t need anything fancy here any-old functioning scissors lying around the home will do!
Pressing is very important when it comes to sewing clothes. Frankly speaking, the iron that’s lying around your home will get the job done.
If you are going to buy one then I strongly urge it has these qualities:
- It should be somewhat heavy
- That gives off lots of steam!
It is vital to have a good sewing thread. Working with good thread will ensure two things:
1. Help keep machine free from lint build-up (over-time).
2. Your garment seams won’t be weak as a result of bad thread.
In the beginning, I would grab myself a black, white, and red thread- if you are bound by budget. Then naturally, as you go along sewing different fabric colors, you can match and buy thread accordingly this way you won’t feel like your spending extra. Plus you will see your thread stash building up very quickly.
If you’re fortunate enough with a good budget then, by all means, go ahead and buy yourself a pack of all different color threads!
Here are some of the quality thread names to look out for:
At some point, when you sew your own clothes, you will have to do some hand stitching. One of the major ones I can think of is stitching on buttons!
7. Seam ripper
Ok. I don’t know how I managed to get this one to be on position number seven because it should be one of the first ones I should mention- given that how many times I used it in the early days of my sewing.
Nonetheless, you will need a seam ripper… or two.
A seam ripper will be your best friend when you’ve stitched one of your trouser legs inside-out for example. “Yep. that is what I went through in my early days!”
Nowadays I like to keep two of these in my surroundings simply because I am lazy. When I sit at the machine, I can’t be bothered to go to my toolbox to grab my seam ripper, so I now keep one in my sewing machines storage compartment.
I mean they ain’t that pricey and you can never have enough of these (You’ll find out!)
Easily found at any store online or in-person; I noticed major supermarkets stock them now too!
8. Tape measure
This one’s a no brainer, right? First off if you are going to sew clothes, then you’re going to need your body measurements not to mention all the other times you’ll need a tape measure when it comes to sewing.
A tape measure for sewing is one that has ‘inches’ measurements and ‘cm’ measurements.
Another one that you can easily at any store online or in-person; I noticed major supermarkets stock them now too!
It is good practice when you sew that you snip away extra thread as you go along.
You’re going to be at your desk in front of the sewing machine; it’s likely that, if you use a big scissor for that you could end up snipping off some of the fabric by accident. I can testify to that as it’s happened to me many of the times!
Thread snips are light and small enough to catch only your thread and not your fabric in the process.
There are all sorts of pins out there in the market from paper pins to hairpins but the ones we’re after today are dressmakers pins- “duh Shazia! who doesn’t know that?”
When you go shopping for one yourself, then you will pretty quickly learn that there is a multitude of sizes and types available out there, which is fine because each is useful to its own purpose. For instance, you have the glass head pins that are for dressmakers, whereas the glass heads are more helpful to quilters.
If you’ve walked past the crafty corner at a superstore like Walmarts or here in UK Asda’s, then you must have come across pins over there as well. However, I wouldn’t advise buying them as I noticed they’re often the pearl headed pins.
With pearl headed pins, what happens is when we sew clothes, there are times where we need to temporarily pin an area like the hems so that we can press the fold flat.
Usually, if it’s a pearl headed pin, you will be left with the inconvenience of plastic melting onto your fashion fabric.
Now, I know I don’t want my fabric getting spoilt before I get a chance to even wear it!
I find that it’s handy to stock up on them for other uses like when you do a toile fit then use these and keep the other ones strictly for the other purpose and actually, it’s wiser that way because losing and buying more glass heads can quickly add up. As the glass headed pins tend to run a little pricier than the pearl headed ones.
Pro tip: A pin magnet goes hand in hand with pins because it helps keep all your pins in one place plus if you are like me (messy) who’s prone to get them all over the place then it helps to hover the magnet over the ground picking up the dropped pins off the floor.
Chalk is another one of those most needed items for sewing because you need it to help you map out your cutting lines to sewing lines.
There are many other forms of markers available, like water-soluble pens and more. However, you do have to be careful using them as we don’t know how they’ll behave on different fabrics, which is why I tend to stick to and prefer using chalks.
However, when you buy chalk, make sure you don’t buy the cheap ones as they crumble and waste away. The good ones are chalks that are wax based.
Some people like to sew their clothes ‘free-style’ without a pattern, and some prefer to go by a pattern and, I am the latter of the two. I am a true believer in patterns, and I exceptionally believe a pattern is a beginner’s true friend. I happen to go on a little rant (if you like) about this whole topic in another article I wrote previously – curious about what I have to say? Check it out over here.
In short, a pattern is a template that comes all equipped with all necessary elements required to construct a decent garment; whether that’s with the addition of adequate ease, to the seam allowance and not to mention design details.
It truly is a shortcut approach for a beginner who is keen to start making their own clothes.
Anyway, when you buy your first pattern make sure to buy one that indicates ‘for beginners’ on the envelope.
I find the best ones to be beginner friendly go by the name Kwik Sew.
13. Two other optional yet POTENTIALLY essential items you may need to consider
Aside from the essentials listed above, I thought I should mention to you two more items that could be crucial to you.
- Thimble is helpful for those of us that are prone to get pricked by a needle while hand sewing. A prick can quickly lead to blood oozing out and spilling onto the new fabric. So, if you know you’re one of those, then this might be a must for you!
- Needle threader can come to aid to you if you struggle to thread a needle. It can be due to your sight, or maybe your hand tends to shake.
I said it in the title of the article, and I’m gonna repeat it, “this is the stuff that makes a kit complete.”
P.s If you’re wondering why I didn’t mention ‘fabric’ in the list is because I thought it’s only common sense that you’ll need fabric as, after all, it’s the core component from which you will make a garment- these are the tools that will help you to make that garment.
Anyway, I hope I’m not overexplaining myself lol
If you get stuck or have any questions about any of the products mentioned in the article, then feel free to ask in the comments below, and I will get back to you.