Sewing Materials, Equipment & Supplies

A seamstress needs sewing materials, just as a mechanic needs wrenches and a chef needs knives and bowls.

Tools and supplies are essential to get started and make your tasks easier and more interesting, as well as, professional looking.

If you are new to the craft of sewing and do not have the essential sewing materials, notions and equipment, below is an over view of some supplies and what they are used for.

As your skills improve and your projects become more difficult, your need for different tools, increase accordingly.

You can find most of your supplies in fabric stores, craft stores as well as in your local sewing machine dealer.

You can purchase supplies online and in some cases, you will find items online that you cannot find in the stores.

Try Nancy's Notions, I like to look here for information, products, and to see what is current for the home sewer. I also have her catalog come to my home. It is handy to have as a reference when I am not at my computer.

Sewing Kits

Consider giving a sewing kit as a gift for yourself or someone interested in learning to sew. Here are some examples to choose from. This is great way to get started if you don't have any sewing materials and sewing supplies. You will learn very quickly which tool you use the most often.

Sewing materials: 
Sewing Machine
Needle

There are a variety of sewing machine needles, that serve a variety of purposes. I suggest having as many packs as you can afford in your sewing materials, and supplies.

Your sewing machine, if you bought it brand new, may come with a package of standard size 11 or 14 needles.

These sizes are called universal, because they are used for most easy to handle light to medium weight fabrics.

Below I have listed the purpose of each needle, combined with the correct thread and fabric. This is a valuable guide to show you which sewing machine needles you will need for leather, sheer fabrics, cottons, stretch jersey's etc.

Needle and Thread Chart

This chart gives you an over view of what type of needle and thread to use with the type of fabric your sewing. I find it to be a useful reference tool.

*Note: If you need to see the chart below, more clearly, hold your ctrl key down, and hit the + button, this will expand the page.

Needle and Thread Chart

All About Pins

There is a variety of pins available. A very simple, but invaluable sewing tool. Keep plenty of them in your sewing supplies. Choose quality rust proof pins made of stainless steel, nickel-plated or brass. I recommend sewing pins with color heads. They are easier to see when sewing, as well as making it easier to see them when you drop some.

Don't use pins that have become dull, they can damage fine fabrics and frustrate you when using medium and heavy weight fabrics, when the pin is not sharp enough to penetrate the fabrics.

I have added a number of boxes to my sewing materials and supplies. You will find it frustrating to run out of pins, and pins are not expensive, so once again, having a lot on hand will not break the bank.

Pin Holders

Pin Cushion

  • It is a good idea to have your pins & needles stored in a pincushion or magnetic holder.
  • Pincushions keep pins secure and keep your pins & needles clean.
  • The inside of the cushion is filled with natural abrasive fibers. When the pin slides in and out, it removes dirt and debris.
  • Also available, are wrist pin cushions. The wrist version is very convenient, you always have a place to quickly put your pins.
  • You can also get creative and make your own personalized pin cushions, it is a fun easy way to start sewing a simple project and you can use it after you are done.

Homemade Pin Cushions

Have some fun and get creative. Make your own pin cushions. It is a fun way to start learning to sew.

You have a useful sewing tool when your done.

Magnetic Pin Holder

Magnetic pin holders, are most convenient at picking up loose pins off the floor, trust me you will run into this often.

If you spill the magnetic pin holder, you will not risk stepping on that rogue pin that you could not find.

Hand Sewing Needles

hand sewing needles

Milliners

The Milliners needle is used for basting and gathering. These needles are long, with a small eye. They are also called straw needles.

Shorts

Shorts are used for hemming and finishing of a project. They are small and fine, and a little easier to get into small spaces.

Yarn Darners

Heavy-duty needles commonly used for darning.

Darners

Darners are used to baste and darn cotton fabrics.

Ballpoint

Best for knits, this needle has a rounded point. It separates the knit loops to avoid damaging the fabric.

Beading

Beading needles are long and thin. Used for beading and sequin work on fine fabrics.

Thimbles

Thimbles come in two sizes and should fit snug around the finger. They commonly are metal or rubber. However, these days, you can find some colorful fun variations.

thimble

Tracing Wheels & Paper

Dressmaker’s tracing paper is special waxed carbon paper that transfers markings like seam lines and grain lines.

Tracing wheels have serrated edges as well as smooth edges. Smooth edge wheels are better for fine fabrics, as they do not penetrate the fibre and possibly damage the fabric.

sewing tracing wheel

Chaco Liner


This sewing tool is and an updated version of the tracing wheel.

It has a serrated edged wheel encased in the tip of a tube shaped canister.

chaco liner
Chaco Liner Marker - White

The chalk is inside and has a screw cap for easy refill of chalk.

The fine chalk is released when you roll the wheel along a ruler edge or use it free hand. Use to trace the grain lines and other markings.

I use it to make an "X" mark when making exact point markings from the pattern. Right here at the bottom, is the wheel where the chalk comes out.

Tailor Tacking

tailor tacks


Tailor tacks can be made with needle and thread, the more common way to make tailor tacks is with needle and thread, shown in the photo here.

Marking Pens

Marking tools are essential for sewing. I prefer chalk to most other pens and marking pencils. The reason is the chalk does not tend to stain the fabric. Marking pens are supposed to be water soluble and wash out but I have found that they don't always wash out.

Test any marking tool before using it. Here are some samples of marking tools for sewing.

  • Note: The marking tool on the the far left below, does not mark with ink or chalk. It works much like a tracing wheel with out leaving holes. I have one and I like it for marking lines from the pattern onto the fabric. It works quite well.

Sewing Supplies

Measuring Tools

Good quality, legible measuring tools are very important. You will measure throughout your projects, and accuracy is essential. Most of these tools are not expensive. I have added all of them to my sewing supplies.

Tape Measures

A flexible 60" (152.5cm) tape measure is what you will need.

This tape measure is used for body measurement and should not stretch. If your tape measure is old or of poor quality, you risk stretching and inaccurate measure.

They are relatively inexpensive, so having a few of them amongst your sewing materials is a good idea.

sewing measuring tape
Dritz(R) Lifetime Tape Measure - 5/8''x60'' White

Yard Stick

yard stick


The Yardstick is used to measure grain line when laying out the pattern on the fabric.

Also used for measuring hemlines accurately.

If your yardstick is made of wood, be sure it is smooth with no splinters as not to catch on fine fabrics. It may seem as though some sewing supplies over lap each other in use. In some cases they do, but you will see as your sewing experience increases, how necessary each tool can be.

Clear plastic rulers allow you to see under the ruler. This sewing tool is useful for marking buttonholes and pleats. It's an inexpensive tool to have amongst your sewing materials.

clear plastic ruler

T-square

The T-square is available both in metal and clear plastic. The T-square is used for squaring off straight edges, locating grain lines and giving accuracy when altering patterns. As your sewing skills improve, this is a handy tool to have in your sewing materials supplies.

T square

Seam Gauge

sewing seam guage

This ruler is 6" (15cm) long. Seam gauges have a sliding marker and makes accurate measure of seams , buttonholes, hemline and pleats. It is small and easily used with one hand. I would definitely add more than one to your sewing materials list.


Flexible Ruler

flexable sewing ruler

The flexible ruler is a relatively new tool on the market. This measuring gem is flexible, yet, unlike a tape measure it stays in the shape you need.

It comes in different lengths for different project uses, and has inches on one side and centimeters on the other.

I find this sewing tool, is great for measuring the crotch area, where it will hold the shape of your body, therefore, you can adjust pants and shorts patterns to your curves. This tool is quite easy to find, in most sewing materials and supplies section in your local fabric stores.

Folding Cutting Board

pattern cutting board.
  • I love this board. I do not have a cutting table per say, so I use this fold out board on my kitchen table to save from scratches from scissors.
  • It prevents fabric from slipping, like chiffon or satin.

It is made of cardboard so you can stick pins in it to keep fabric in place. The board has 1" (2.5cm) measurements to help square up your fabric grains. It is 36"X60" (91.4cmX152.4cm) and is easy to store because it folds in three sections. Below are two different examples of boards available.

Pressing techniques do fall under the category of sewing materials and supplies. 

However, the need to press as you sew is very important, so I have added a page just on this topic. Click the link to go to this page.


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